Tuesday, September 4, 2007

It's Not Both Sides: It's All Sides

In a week, it will be September 11: six years after airliners crashed into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.

I may come up with something reflective and thoughtful when that date comes around, but for now I'll just take a quick run through today's headlines.

"Chinese military hacked into Pentagon" Financial Times (September 3, 2007). The Pentagon had to shut down part of its network recently. Apparently the data that was compromised wasn't particularly important. And, the attack came from computers in China. "Current and former officials have told the Financial Times an internal investigation has revealed that the incursion came from the People’s Liberation Army," the London news outfit reported. "These hacking attacks go on everyday but this was a more complicated attack with more sophisticated technology that broke through the current firewalls," another news service reported. The Chinese government denies having anything to do with the Pentagon attack, and on a hack attack on German government computers earlier.

China isn't involved in the jihad against the west: or if it is, it's showing it in a very strange way. The Online Times reports that "Beijing’s 'war on terror' hides brutal crackdown on Muslims" (July 22, 2007). The article focused on the late Ismail Semed, "a Muslim and a political activist." He confessed to "attempting to split the motherland," after being encouraged with torture.

China's western holdings include Uighur Muslims, a Turkic people who would just as soon not be part of China's regime. Chinese authorities were quiet about killing unruly Uighurs until 9/11 and the "war on terror" gave them an excuse for their anti-Muslim actions.

Please note: 9/11 didn't make the Chinese government start killing Muslims. It gave them a polite excuse for doing what they'd been doing for years.

The conflicts of the early 21st century are not a simple, two-sided confrontation.
  • Fanatic Muslims are killing westerners, Muslims who aren't Islamic their way, and anyone else they don't approve of
  • China is killing Muslims who don't want to be Chinese on the Chinese government's terms
  • Russia is flying long-range bomber patrols over the Atlantic, and, according to President Putin, putting money into their aircraft industry, because "Russia ... faces the task of maintaining supremacy in producing military aircraft," according to CNN.com / World, which quoted Reuters
  • America and a coalition of other nations have attacked nations which harbor the Islamic fanatics
Whatever else can be said about today's world: it's not boring. There are at least three, probably more, major powers at work.

"Budget Cut Will Delay Anti-Missile Laser" Yahoo! Finance (September 4, 2007). A flight test of the airliner-based Airborne Laser (ABL) system last week went very well. ABL system development is running behind schedule and over budget.

A big reason for the delay and expense is that "jitter," vibration that's part of a 747's normal flight, interferes with the precision aiming needed: and is harder to deal with than expected.

The Senate and House Armed Services committees, acting with the responsibility and wisdom that we've come to expect, cut the president's proposed fiscal 2008 ABL budget of $549 million. So far, the House Armed Services committee wants to cut the budget by $250 million. The Senate Armed Services Committee wants to cut $200 million from the ABL program.

With any luck, nobody will try to shoot down an American airliner until the system is finally ready. What astonishes me about the congressional decision is that those people often use civilian airliners themselves. You'd think that they'd be more concerned about airplanes blowing up with people inside, when they could be some of the people.


Jay said...

9/11 is now approaching its 6th year. I was not aware of that. Time really passes by quickly. :D

Ottavio (Otto) Marasco said...

Not sure that the defence establishment would openly admit it if sensitive information was compromised. I wonder if the PLA was really behind it? If so, let it be a learning curve for I.T. whizz's within the Pentagon.

Since 9/11, it has become much more normal for people to represent the future in negative terms. Since that fateful day US foreign policy was changed in many ways. Intelligence was re-organised and streamlined, counter-terrorism prioritised accordingly and homeland security elevated. It was also the catalyst from which the decision to invade Iraq was made - a decision the full consequences of which, cannot yet be measured.

The most enduring element might be in the emphasis placed on the term "freedom".

I noticed Bush using the term frequently just this morning in a news conference in Sydney about the APEC summit.

Brian H. Gill said...

The PLA may not be responsible for the Pentagon hack attack.

The computers involved were, physically, in China: but at least one article pointed out that computers in China are notoriously insecure.

Conceivably, a couple of kids in a garage in Oakland, CA, with a couple of Macs and a PlayStation, could have brought down part of the Defense Department's system, after first hacking into Chinese computers and using them as zombies.

My bets, though, are on the PLA.

Whodunnit will probably be sorted out in the next century or two.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.