Almost nothing. Both are desperate yet well-planned attempts to lure the United States into a multi-regional war. A first and second attempt to set off WWIII, acts of provocation very similar to the assasination of Archduke Ferdinand one hundred years ago this year. The progression here is from dispersed terror group guest to an Islamic state, to claimed state-level government, however fleeting on these geographic terms, it has a source. The question becomes, why did we agree to be lead into the first? And was it a feint, was the invasion of Iraq a distraction from the true target? Wahhabism within Saudi Arabia. Strange, no? We attack a country that enforces sexual equality and religious secularism, a Sunni totalitarian state (Iraq) and ignore a Sunni kingdom with oppressive laws for women and a legal definition of witchcraft that sometimes ends in a death sentence. Will we be smart enough to engage the coming wars symmetrically, finally? If not perform them, admit them, admit the internal conflict. The east-west divide between Saudi Arabia and pre-invasion Iraq.
A recent incoherent op-ed by the architect of multiple military coups over democratically elected officials (including Pinochet over Allende), Kissinger now writes as if converted to the fantasy view of democracy of Bush 2, not the strern real politik he practiced when in office. The facts are: most world state borders of the 'developing world' are arbitrary, many designed by external colonial concerns, in the aftermath of war. To enforce most of them one needed enforcers, and that's what the West backed, not democratic or parlimentary systems. Each state, no matter its origins, needs a central bureaucratic authority. The fragmenting of power in Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and now Libya caused their collapse since they lacked properly defined transitions to power. It's time to teach global realities. A bureaucracy comes before all other realities. If one is shattered, then the country may shatter. Colin Powell's mythic words to his President have come true: "If you break it, you own it."
Although it may be a tool to find individuals and catch them before acts of mayhem, Prism is likely a prediction tool that may spot approaching trouble weeks before it spreads chaotically across the globe. Big Data can spot minor fluctuations, waves or ripples, that can spread rapidly. An example: a Saudi crude price that is an anomaly, or even a mistaken listing that can predict a devastating rise in gas prices weeks or months prior to reaching the U.S.
Obviously the algorithmic possibilities are critical: is Turing in PRISM's future?
Julian Barbour uses Leibniz to explore the nature of physical reality. Beyond Ted Talk levels.
Lecture from the Perimeter Institute http://streamer.perimeterinstitute.ca/Flash/9a93c428-c616-4dca-8713-915277e28056/viewer.html
Lee Smolin's great, all over the place pursuit of current theoretical implications in physics (particle, wave, and of course quantum). Smolin edges us towards the possibility "space" is an illusion and that "time" is an evolving word that may house the eventual meaningful measuring of 'now.' Right now though, it seems illusory. His book is more than a clearinghouse of recent research into a pivotal tangent inside physics. It's also a warning that as we destroy mathematics in our physical world, we deform it psychically in parallel realms like academia and worse, media. That by distorting equilibrium to make a buck, we may be proving equilibrium wrong in other fields. From the epilogue:
"Neo-classical economics conceptualizes economics as path-independent. An efficient market is path-independent, as is a market with a single, stable equilibrium. In a path-independent system, it should be impossible to make money purely by trading, without producing anything of value. That sort of activity is called arbitrage, and basic financial theory holds that in an efficient market arbitrage is impossible, because everything is already priced in such a way that there are no inconsistencies. You cannot trade dollars for yen, trade those for euros, back for dollars and make a profit. Nonetheless hedge funds and investment banks have made fortunes trading in currency markets. Their success should be impossible in an efficient market, but this does not have seem to have bothered economic theorists."
- pg. 260
What Smolin suggests, without stating, is that our markets are eccentric, they thrive and die on minute eccentricities that traders pounce upon, like tears in reality.
Here's James Gleick's review in NYRB.