Anthony J. Pennings, PhD

WRITINGS ON DIGITAL STRATEGIES, ICT ECONOMICS, AND GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS

HOW IT CAME TO RULE THE WORLD, 1.3

Posted on | March 26, 2010 | No Comments

This is the eighth post in the mini-series How IT Came to Rule the World

1.3 Three targets shaped the FDR-Truman strategy of containment and helped information technologies (IT) become a strategic financial, commercial and military factor.

The first mark was the financial speculation that helped precipitate the Great Depression. Roosevelt felt that unbridled financial activity not only resulted in the Great Crash of 1929 but retarded America’s economic and industrial growth in the 1930s and was complicit in the formation of fascist states in Europe and Asia.

The second target was the colonial trade blocs that excluded the US, particularly the British Empire. Roosevelt delayed entering the war to improve the US’s financial condition and build up its industrial base. Then at the Atlantic Conference in 1941, FDR forced England and its other Allies into agreeing to end imperialistic colonialism as a condition for the US entry into the war. While the Axis powers represented the most immediate threat, the British Empire presented long-term obstacles to US interests. While FDR did not want to replicate the colonialist strategies of the European powers, he recognized that an industrial society needed access to critical resources such as oil and scarce metals from around the world and set out to ensure American interests in the Middle East and other strategic locations were secured.

The third target was the spread and growing power of Communism which by 1950 had not only created the atomic bomb but had seduced the largest country in the world, China, into its ranks. The fear of Communism would be prime motivator for the mobilization of political and economic resources to enforce the strategy of containment and a rationalization for a continuance of the war economy that brought the US out of recession.

Containment would transform the telegraphic political economy, based on the telex and telephone into a computer-mediated world environment that linked banks and foreign exchange markets, connected global markets and production facilities, and integrated radar into the first computerized command and control system that would later become NORAD.

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AnthonybwAnthony J. Pennings, PhD is Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Technology and Society, State University of New York, Korea. Before joining SUNY, he taught at Hannam University in South Korea and from 2002-2012 was on the faculty of New York University. Previously, he taught at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas, Marist College in New York, and Victoria University in New Zealand. He has also spent time as a Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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    Professor and Associate Chair at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea. Recently taught at Hannam University in Daejeon, South Korea. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, media economics, and strategic communications.

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