Shoulder Fired Rocket Launchers to Do It Yourself Wireless Internet

Our government is learning, slowly, but they’re learning.  They’ve seen the writing on the wall, it says, “this way to open societies and democratic governments”, with a big WiFi symbol above.

It’s truly amazing that it took this long for our government to figure out that connectivity was the deadliest weapon against both authoritarian rule and Islamo-facism.  In fact, it is the only weapon that has the breadth of reach to transform a society.  And let’s face facts, we’re trying to transform societies here.  Because of hundreds of years of oppressive rule, some with our consent, we have some pretty backward societies in certain parts of the world.  And that’s not just the viewpoint coming from a liberal democratic westerner, it’s a fact.

But it is obviously apparent that our government has changed tactics in its quest to bring these societies into the 21st century, where they will not produce the same hatred for liberal democratic western ideas.  In the 1980’s we sent shoulder fired rockets into Afghanistan on the backs of camels to shoot down Soviet Heind helicopters.  It was a proxy war for sure, and we won.  But in the end, we lost when those same Afghanis and Pakistani intelligence officers we helped take down the Soviets, became the oppressive government we are fighting today.

That story is repeated several times in other parts of the world, with different details.

But today, instead of sending those who we wish to fight on behalf of our beliefs rockets and guns, we send do it yourself WiFi kits.

The New York Times has a great article out today about this effort being undertaken by the State Department.  It’s definitely worth a read.  In a nutshell, we’re smuggling in kits for rebels and activists to set up in order that people are able to have internet and cell phone connections independent of the government run networks.  There is no way for the governments to shut them down, short of physically destroying them.

You have to applaud our government for this effort, and a great deal more funds should be spent towards the goal of providing anyone who wants it, no matter what their political beliefs are, the ability to set up an open network.  Information is power, plain and simple, and the best weapon we can give to these people is information.  Not only that, but we can pretty much guarantee that anyone wishing to have a completely open means of mass communication most likely shares our liberal democratic views.  I wouldn’t put the number at 100%, but it’s close.

This effort does raise questions as to whether countries like China see this as a direct act of subversion.  But like any proxy war, there are vague lines that must be crossed in order for China to declare that our supposed violation of their sovereignty is worthy of military retaliation.  The same can be said about cyber terrorism, or whatever you want to call it these days.  Can a battle for information, or lack there of, really be met with a physical military strike?  My view is that it’s going to take much more than setting up WiFi networks or Google hacks to see shots fired on either of our sovereign soil.

The Chinese obviously aren’t happy about it, but in the end they are smart enough to know there’s not much they can do in the long run.  They have been pragmatic to the core over the past 15 or so years and will continue to be when the time comes that their way of rule has overstayed its welcome.  I hold the view that they see China’s inevitable rise to being the world superpower as more important than any one group of individuals running that government.  There will be a moment when they will face the choice between their rule and a peaceful China, and I expect they will make the right choice.

In the war to transform these societies from backward and dark to modern and open, information is the biggest weapon and open connectivity is the tool of implementation.  This is the 21st century battlefield.

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