Monthly Archives: September 2011

The fantastic scourge of wireless communications and online networks

I’ve been struggling to cross the threshold of digital mastery. There is Facebook and twitter, and YouTube, not to mention RSS feeds, google reader, linked in and various hybrids and competitors… I have been resistant to say the least. But the extent of information now available is irresistible to an information-hoard like myself. What has been striking me, the more I learn, is how revolutionary this is to empowering people everywhere. From helping to organise civil uprisings to providing health care and health stats via mobile phones, it’s joining up the dots like never before. I’m sure this is not news to many but it has just hit me how exciting this is. When we look back will we say twitter galvanised the Arab Spring?

It seems to me the key to continued failings in civil rights, provision of public services and maintaining peace is transparency, or lack of. And monitoring & verification work to boost confidence. With information that can be collected everywhere and sent anywhere what better apparatus do you need?! I see there is the problem of misinformation… That will need to be addressed but regulating mechanisms are springing up to counter this.

What is more the regions that have yet remained unconnected from the world, sub-Saharan Africa, the middle east, are prime for this kind of communication and information gathering. The mobile networks driven by massive telecomms companies that have sprung up provide an inbuilt network ready for SMS info sharing. Maternity health advice can be given to a far wider catchment than ever before, not to mention harassment monitoring sites and sitings of violence. It can play into a despotic state’s hands easily but where the many outweigh the few, I think we will see a vast majority of positive interactions and results than the few malevolent ones. But hey, we’re only human. Not until we finally meld with all this technology will we be able to act rationally…

Iran – playing the nuclear game (does it remind you of DPRK?)

I haven’t fully read this article yet but I had to laugh when I saw the heading: ‘Iran clarified on Tuesday that its offer of allowing “full supervision” of its atomic programme in return for lifting of sanctions does not include snap checks by UN inspectors of its nuclear units.’

Am I being overly cynical? Or is it fair to feel like this is yet another tactic being played in a really ineffective negotiating process? The trouble is, if, in the worst case scenario, Iran does want to develop nuclear weapons, it will not come out BEFORE it has managed to develop them. Rather it will string along international community (well all the countries willing and wanting to enforce nuclear non-proliferation) getting as much as it can from the deal – civil nuclear technology and materials – which will help speed along it’s nuclear ambitions. The system seems unfairly weighted on the international community to somehow convince the country not to proliferate.

I am not advocating a military response – I don’t think that would work. And I don’t think economic sanctions would do much good either (show me evidence that it has ever worked before). But there needs to be more in place that will enforce all the alarm bells going off right now. The IAEA has found IRAN to be in breach of the NPT for some time now (since 24 September 2005, they had been investigating 2.5 yrs previously but didn’t have access to sites so couldn’t be conclusive in their findings) but really what has happened because of this international breach? There has been a UNSC resolution and there has been economic sanctions but so far they have been ineffective and there seems to be a lack of follow-through and escalation. I know there is not the political will behind this – China and Russia being 2 of the biggest obstacles. I do not know this subject well enough to shine much insight on this, but the fact that Iran will ahve a nuclear weapon which will drive other countries to gain nuclear weapons, particularly in the Middle East seems to be of the utmost importance to nearly everyone’s safety across the world.

UN is not an enforcement mechanism, it is a consensus builder and a norm em-bedder. What if there were protocol set-up within the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (of which Iran is still, just, a member) whereby if requirements were not met entitlements would be immediately cut – specifically entitlements to nuclear fuel and civil nuclear technologies. It would be easy to continue escalating these responses, and if they were put into protocol. ‘decisions’ would not have to be made, it would be simply in response to meeting, or not meeting, criteria.