Archive for the 'policy' Category

An Event of the Highest International Urgency

January 19, 2007

The recent destruction of a Chinese weather satellite should be a cause of serious concern to those of us in the West. It has the potential to destabilise the balance of power that exists between the East and the West. Hours following the event, America’s media had already decided that it was China that had destroyed its own satellite. The BBC continues to maintain and stress that it is unconfirmed that China is responsible as they have made no comment. CNN has reported that the missile appears to have been “launched from or near the Xichang Space Center.”

Not only did this action cause the governments of the US, UK and other NATO members to launch full scale diplomatic protests, CNN reported that “this is viewed as an action taken by China to directly affect the United States”. President Kennedy said something very similar to the citizens in a broadcasted address to the American people during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962, as follows:

“…It shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” – President John F. Kennedy

The political climate that is developing between the governments of the United States and China at the moment has similarities to the one that existed during the cold war of the 1960s. The unexpected development of surface to space weapons by the Chinese government that could destroy the US and other countries’ surveillance and GPS satellites is an obvious escalation in what has so far been a very quiet cold war between the United States and China. The role of Russia, then the USSR, in the sixties has been assumed by China. A significant mitigating factor that was not present in the 60s is the strong economic relationship now tying western countries to China.

We all remember the Strategic Defense Initiative or Star Wars project championed by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s which called for weapons to be placed in orbit. These weapons would have been capable of destroying nuclear missiles launched from Russia directed at the United States. It was said at the time that once this technology was developed it should be shared with the USSR. In a 1985 issue of Peace Magazine, Andrew Pakula proposed that “Possibly the Soviets, faced with the reality or the perception of being at a disadvantage, of losing the deterrent power of their arsenals, might feel compelled to take the dangerous course of destroying the ‘Star Wars’ equipment.

Continuing to compare the cold war of the sixties with that of today, has China taken on the role of the former Soviet Union? It appears that China has destroyed its own satellite. This action was not an experiment “just to see if they could do it” but an announcement to the rest of the world that they have the power to disable some of the most important tools in modern warfare, specifically our strategic orbiting satellite systems. Apparently, the West has been caught off guard by this event.

The question has to be posed: If China did not launch this missile then who did and if it was some other country why have seen no reaction from China?

In the film, “The Sum of All Fears”, a secret organization detonates a nuclear device in the American city of Baltimore. The United States, believes that the Russian government is responsible for the attack. After intense negotiations fail, the United States and Russia attack each other but refrain from using nuclear weapons. Subsequently, we learn that the secret organization wanted to get the US and Russia to fight each other rather than for it to engage them individually.

How close to reality could this film be? Could it be possible that someone might really try to instigate a conflict between such powerful nations as the US and China. There is, of course, no evidence to suggest any validity to these speculations. There is, however, cause for concern that the United States and its allies measure their response accurately and appropriately. The last thing that we need is another war or skirmish especially with a military might of the size and power of that of China.

Those involved need to take a deep breath and figure out who, if not China, might have fired that missile.  In the words of Dean Acheson, a close advisor to President Kennedy, “Let us hope that cooler heads prevail before we reach the next step…  In the future, will our children be able to look back on the decisions of our leaders today and believe that they showed wisdom, prudence and discretion?



Social Internet Browsing with Boingle

December 6, 2006

No, not Boing Boing, Boingle. What is it? While surfing through new Web 2.0 links I came across this service although I am not too sure what it is all about. I went over to their website and did some digging around to find out what is what.

Although the website is covered with a massive column ad on the left, and it feels like a old style website that has been recently upgraded but not quite there yet.

Boingle which is a social web browsing website is an interesting idea, but I don’t like how in order to use their service you need to download a Internet Explorer or Firefox extension. Because I don’t really understand what the service does, I cannot justify installing an application to find out.

One think about Boingle that is great is their security statement about downloading the extension and it reads:

As you may know, to use Boingle, you will need to download the BoingleBar, a toolbar that resides within your web browser. The BoingleBar is available for both Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorerthe two most popular browsers on the internet today. The choice you make will depend on your browser preference, and security.

Malicious software often exploits Microsoft Internet Explorer’s elaborate object model. With tremendous flexibility comes tremendous opportunity – both to do amazing things with the browser, and to do great harm to the client PC. Microsoft Internet Explorer offers developers the ability to extend the browser using a technology called ActiveX. Because ActiveX technology allows developers incredible control over the behaviour of the PC, it means that security is difficult if not impossible to enforce.

Because ActiveX allows such granular control over your PC, hackers typically exploit the technology to do harm to your machine. If you do not have spyware protection, or you do not yet have the free Malicious Software Removal tool from Microsoft, you should do so prior to downloading the BoingleBar (or any other software product, for that matter). Although we can state unequivicolly that we do not intend to harm your PC through the ActiveX version of the BoingleBar, it may be easier and in your best interests to consider the Firefox version.

This statement is not only informative it is very responsible for them to place it on the site. Although as you can see there is a minor mis-spelling of “unequivocally” – but they knew what they wanted to say. It is also really good that they are not really promoting Firefox, but they are suggesting it as the browser that you ought to be using.  It is a wide-spread belief among the technology community that Firefox is more secure than MS Internet Explorer although you are more safe if you use Internet Explorer 7.0. I applaud Boingle 100% for placing this statement on their Security Section.

If you want to know more about Boingle you are going to have to take the plunge and download the BoingleBar. If you choose to check it out..please leave a comment and let us know how it is and what it actually is.