I don’t get a lot of chance to write here anymore, but the current geo-political situation has left me without a suitable communications channel, so although it is slightly off topic (although does connect to technology and software engineering), I return to wordpress to voice an opinion that I have not heard voiced before.
I recently read this article by the LA Times, on how the CIA is using the the Paris Terror attacks as an excuse to smear Edward Snowden and Silicon Valley for their privacy agenda.
Former CIA chief James Woolsey said Snowden “has blood on his hands” because, he asserted, the Paris attackers learned from his disclosures how to hide their communications behind encryption. Woolsey thus decreed on CNN that the NSA whistleblower should be “hanged by the neck until he’s dead, rather than merely electrocuted.”
Since the former CIA chief, is going on CNN to voice his (rather weak) assessment of the reasons behind the Paris terror attacks and suitable remedy, I thought I would like to do the same.
However in my version, I will use the principle of root cause analysis and technique of 5 why’s to try and get to the bottom of the situation, as this is a method I am lucky enough to use day in and day out at my job as associate head of technology in Razorfish to uncover failure scenarios in different software projects and get them running more smoothly.
So, what follows is highly subjective and controversial (and I also go over the limit of 5, but sometimes you need to). Enjoy.
Problem : One hundred and twenty nine people were killed in Paris on the 13th of November. Why?
Answer : Because extremists murdered them.
Problem : Why did extremists murder them?
Answer : Because they were trained and ordered to do so.
Problem : Why were they trained and ordered to do so?
Answer : Because the group of extremists they belonged to decided they needed to retaliate against the French government.
Problem : Why did the group of extremists feel they needed to retaliate against the French government?
Answer : Because the French governments has performed air strikes of various territories in Syria and Iraq over the last 1.5 years, also killing unknown numbers of soldiers and civilians.
Problem : Why has the French government performed air strikes of various territories in Syria and Iraq over the last 1.5 years?
Answer : Because they are part of a coalition of western nations fighting an extremist movement.
Problem : Why is there a coalition of western nations fighting an extremist movement?
Answer : Because this region of the middle east became extremely unstable and a breeding ground for extremism since 2003 (probably longer but this is out of scope).
Problem : Why did this region of the middle east become unstable in 2003?
Answer : Because a coalition of US and UK forces, invaded Iraq and destroyed it’s government/dictatorship and a lot of infrastructure.
Problem : Why did a coalition of US and UK forces invade Iraq in 2003?
Answer : Ok, so this is probably most contentious of all, at the time the invasion was supposedly about defence, and the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, however in the time since then, this has been shown to be untrue and the more likely motivator of the Iraq invasion was actually commercial reasons. Iraq has the second biggest known oil reserve in the world and having a competitive oil market not dominated by one group/country is a big plus for a market driven economy. Although, many scholars agree the war was not directly to ‘steal’ oil, the underlying premise of creating a consumerist nation in the image of the US with significant oil wealth happy to trade for luxury goods and have it’s natural resources willingly depleted and it’s government and social policies influenced by wealth and the global elite would act as a signifier to other nations in the region to follow suit and encourage overall prosperity in the US and west, whose economies at this point were in stagnation.
SO, my answer to this one can be summed up as : BIG OIL
The CIA chief above suggests that the solution to the terror attacks is to murder Edward Snowden and remove privacy from the software of the world.
With my slightly more in-depth (but by no means exhaustive) analysis, my root cause analysis suggests that having a market economy over dependant on one natural resource (in this case Oil) can cause global instability.
Advancing decentralised alternative solutions to oil (electric cars & infrastructure, renewable energy for example) would alleviate this addiction and add redundancy and resiliency to the market economy. This in turn would remove the need to practice ‘work arounds’ in the middle east and ensure consistent resource flow into the economy. The lack of interference in the middle east would begin to allow a lasting government and increase stability there (think wound that you keep itching, which doesn’t heal until you stop itching) and this stability in the middle east would in turn lead to stability and lack of extremist attacks on western cities.
Preventing this in the long term might involve a system to identify highly sought after natural resources that have the potential to spark conflicts and investing in a system to ensure there are always decentralised alternatives.
It’s pretty straightforward when you think about it, and there are a lot of possibilities. I’m damn sure murdering one person and removing some code from computers will not create a useful or even lasting effect. I suggest you ignore the calls of this clearly incompetent and former director of the CIA and if you want a fuller understanding, I would recommend reading Peter Senge’s ‘The fifth discipline’ to aid in understanding of the systems theory involved in all this.