Virilio writes of how dominated we are by global information through satellites, worldwide detection systems, real-time transmission of information and the rapid analysis of data. This is the age of optical snooping. More important, the extent of electronic surveillance now constitutes a cosmic phenomenon; nothing anywhere can escape detection.
Writing during the events of the intervention in Kosovo, he observes the military importance given to the control of information flow; hence attacks first on Serbia's electrical supply and TV services. War is a practice ground for weaponry and, as the US's leadership in orbital and cybernetic warfare strengthens, so the influence of the UN and other members of NATO declines. The huge investment in cybernetic monitoring and surveillance systems has created the hegemonic quality of the US armed forces. Now it is likely that deterrence is sustained by the threat of electronically inducing systemic accidents rather than by the mutual danger of the nuclear bomb. So the politico-military aim is to interrupt the coherent, cause mental confusion in the enemy, destabilise everyday life.
Virilio barely hides his anger at the events in Kosovo. He also explicitly comes down on the side of the huge numbers of people throughout the world who have gradually been made definitively useless by the military-industrial, scientific civilisation that has assaulted them for some centuries, zoned them into urban wastelands and controlled them by the use of kapos, criminals and other predators. The permanent civil wars are in fact wars waged against civilians.
This very slim book is a collection of articles published in 1999 during the Kosovo conflict. It continues Virilio's castigation of the military development and deployment of information technology to the detriment of humanity. Interesting and easy to read though not as useful as 'The Information Bomb' as an introduction to the trajectory of his work.