Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mutually Assured Distraction

A lot of commentary on the current fad for extra-territorial mass surveillance misses the point - the reason countries are doing this isn't just because they can, its because they can't currently be held to account.

In the old days, spies would be caught from time to time, and executed (or exchanged). Now, the spies aren't in the other territory, and plausible deniability means you can't even use extradition agreements between allegedly friendly countries (e.g UK &US) to get them bought to book/justice. This shows up in other domains than mere military intelligence:

1. Drones
2. Finance
3. Energy

Sadly for all these, the level of technological development of a country really doesn't have to be that great to gear up to use a bunch of 100$ radio control quadcopters, or a cunning HFT instrument, or even just the ability to turn off the gas pipeline to a neighbour - of course, there are expensive versions of these weaponised tools (e.g. BAe Systems drones that US uses in Pakistan are quite pricey - surprisingly so given cost of crop spraying, or outside sports broadcast drones, really - but then the MoD/DoD were always targets for ripoff pricing) - also the US threatens banks who don't reveal US taxpaying customers accounts/transactions details with massive fines if the bank has a stateside operation (of course, swiss and german banks just close down US tax payer accounts rather than face this), and Putin wields the russian gas wealth like the playground chess playing bully he is:)

But the low cost versions are just as bad.

Hence, talking about this needs to move up a level, methinks, as the realpolitik of using this stuff is not going to go the way of nukes, quite the reverse, since the Use of Weapons of this type doesn't lead to Mass Destruction, just death by a thousand strikes......

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misery me, there is a floccipaucinihilipilification (*) of chronsynclastic infundibuli in these parts and I must therefore refer you to frank zappa instead, and go home