Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The War on Terror? This May be The War For Freedom

The War on Terror is a fairly common name for the efforts of America and other nations to keep Islamic enthusiasts from killing their citizens. A few things I read over the weekend made me consider using a new name for the 21st century's first major conflict.

Another Front in the War on Terror?

China has been exporting pre-infected consumer electronics to America. Last week's news included "Electronic gadgets latest sources of computer viruses" CNN (March 13, 2008), about an interesting new wrinkle in cybersercurity: electronic gizmos with viruses already loaded at the factory. All you have to do is plug them into your computer, and you've got a potpourri of malware. Gadgets affected include iPods, digital picture frames, and navigation systems: "some of today's hottest gadgets are landing on store shelves with some unwanted extras from the factory: pre-installed viruses that steal passwords, open doors for hackers and make computers spew spam."

The little v-bombs, for the most part, come from Chinese factories. Since the malware seems to be loaded at the end of the production process - ironically, in a quality-control check - this may not be intentional hacking: just the sort of sloppy work that brought us lead-tainted toys, and sent poison dumplings to Japan. ("'Just When You Thought it was Safe to Plug in Your iPod...' " Apathetic Lemming on the North (March 17, 2008), "China: Toxic Toys and Dubious Dumplings Aren't Signs of Terrorism" (January 30, 2008))

Factory-infected consumer electronics isn't the only concern that Americans should have when it comes to the Middle Kingdom. China's government says that the United States should stop thinking that they're trying to hack into American military computers. ("China denies U.S. computer hacking agenda" CNN (March 4, 2008))

I can understand why China's leaders want America to look the other way. They seem to be paying hackers to get information out of American military networks. ("Cyber Tensions Flare Amongst U.S., Chinese Military" (March 12, 2008))

For most of the Cold War, cameras, spy planes and wiretaps were the high tech intelligence tools. These days, it's hacking on the Internet. Attacks on American territory in cyberspace aren't anything new:
  • 2007:
    • Homeland Security networks shut down, sensitive data compromised
      Attack traced to the Chinese People's Liberation Army
    • Unclassified Pentagon email system used by the offices of Defense Secretary Robert Gates accessed,
      taken offline and fixed
  • 2006: Naval War College computer network attacked and temporarily crippled
Quite a few cyberattacks have Chinese fingerprints on them, and Chinese computer enthusiasts say that they're occasionally subsidized by the Chinese government to hack into American networks.

China's motives are clear enough. These days, it's easier to have someone in Beijing break through firewalls and encryption to get weapons blueprints and battle plans, than it is to arrange for an agent to go snooping around with a flashlight and lock picks.

All of which has nothing to do with Islamic extremists blowing up markets and beheading people they don't approve of. Apparently.

The War for Freedom?

My educated guess is that China and Russia are already involved in the global conflict that's been called the War on Terror.

Last year, I wrote about WWII's odd couple, Germany and Japan. ("Iran and Russia and Germany and Japan" (October 19, 2007) ) Germany's leadership was dedicated to the premise that the "Aryan Race" was superior to all others. Japan's very non-Aryan leadership undoubtedly did not share this view.

That didn't keep them from cooperating, a lesson that seems to be lost on people who insist that Iran couldn't possibly be supporting Al Qaeda because Iran is Shiite, and Al Qaeda's Sunni. Differences in philosophy don't make alliances impossible.

Last year, I suggested that Russia could be repeating the same mistake that it made in WWII, forming an alliance with Germany. Russia and its empire were called the Soviet Union then, and this time Russia seems to be leaning toward Iran: but the principle of forming an alliance with an up-and-coming tyranny is the same.

Now, I think that China may have gotten involved.

I don't suppose it's politically correct to say this, but it's not hard to see Russia and China as nations interested in gaining (or re-gaining) an empire. With a goal like that, either of them might make strange alliances, or at least take advantage of America's, and others', trouble with terrorists.

If Russia and China become more, and openly, involved in this global conflict, it won't be quite "the War on Terror" any more. I suggest calling it the War for Freedom. Whatever their ideological differences Al Qaeda and the Taliban, Russia, and China have, they are united in this: None can tolerate the free expression of ideas, open communication of facts, or people deciding how to spend their own money and live their own lives.

That's "freedom." This is a war with terrorists and tyrants on one side, trying to limit freedom, America and some other nations are defending freedom.

Under the circumstances, "War for Freedom" isn't such a far-fetched name for it.

A related post: "Deterrence in Cyberspace: This Just Might Work" (March 18, 2008)

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store


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.