3 Geo-political links, short to long

Dave Winer is a man with an interesting angle on a whole bunch of things. Here he makes a point about the Snowden leaks that I haven’t heard anywhere else. What starts, seemingly, as just another tech journalist having a go at Apple is in fact nothing of the sort. In fact its a nice and concise argument suggesting that at no stage did we need a whistle-blower to tell us that there was a significant issue that needed the attention of a horde of tenacious investigative journalists. Instead we get the PR department’s (from all the big tech companies, not just Apple) increasingly bland orchestrations. You have no doubt heard of the invisible layer of modern society, the computing or coded layer so to speak. Some of it, at least, is not as invisible as it once was. Winer makes the interesting observation that Snowden’s revelations, the biggest story of the century (so far), was an unambiguously technical story, but that all the tech journalists were prostrate at the feet of forced obsolescence and, some might say, were therefore somewhat derelict of duty.


The Strait of Hormuz is a very important body of water. Something like 20% of the world’s oil supply passes through the narrow choke-point (21 miles wide at the narrowest point) with Iran on the one side, the United Arab Emirates and Oman on the other. The US has apparently spent $20 trillion dollars on protecting and maintaining access to this deeply important bit of the world. This article from the Diplomat, outlines an Iranian strategy to try and re-balance the vast military asymmetry, focused on this body of water, with a surge in production of light submarines. The plan is essentially a predetermined suicide mission, the idea being that these small submarines can pre-deploy to the Straits and then wait, silently, for the moment they are expected to fire their torpedoes. At which point they are no longer hidden, the asymmetry reasserts itself and destruction follows.


This final article is a very long, serious piece from the Yale Journal of International Affairs, which asks, somewhat frighteningly, “Who authorized preparations for war with China?”. It covers a great deal more than just that one stark question, describing the components and derivation of a likely military strategy designed specifically for the potential conflicts with China, that someone, somewhere thinks we need to be ready for.

The article is worth reading for an introduction to the concept of Air Sea Battle (ASB). ASB is, in short, an acknowledgement that anti-ship missiles have become pretty good, and have subsequently reduced the actual threat of naval superiority via unimpeded access. If your aircraft carrier can be blown out of the water, then what good is your aircraft carrier? ASB, therefore, targets these anti ship installations (in the lingo, “anti access area denial capabilities”) at a very early stage in any conflict. The flash point inherent in this line of action is that these installations are situated on mainland China, and hence as a strategy ASB has the unfortunate side effect of increasing the risk of nuclear conflict.

The main question being asked here is about the lack of civilian, and hence elected, oversight to the development of this somewhat intense military approach. This is a very important question, no doubt, but for me and my money this article’s value lies in a somewhat detailed explanation of the whole concept and its history. Eye watering stuff.


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