Credit where credit’s due

Paul Raven @ 28-02-2011

Or maybe not; very much depends on how you see causality in action in geopolitics, really. But enough with the preamble. I can’t seem to locate where I first said it (though I’m pretty sure it was on Twitter, around the time the Egyptian revolution was really hotting up), but I remember someone joking about how a Middle Eastern country had managed to achieve regime change almost in spite of the best status quo reinforcement efforts of the West, and me responding that – if the revolutions turned out to be even remotely successful – the very meddlers who caused the whole damn mess would start claiming the revolution as the hard-won victory that they’d always been aiming for in the first place.

So, here’s Thomas Barnett on the “opportunities” of the Libyan crisis.

To me, this is an ideal sort of SysAdmin intervention opportunity: keep it small and proportional and elevate in response to events. Big point:  not pre-emptive but responsive.  You want to ride with globalization’s natural tide as much as possible, letting the “new map” tell you where to apply pressure next, thus making local demand your primary guide.

Naturally, the fearful and paranoid will see the usual Western plot to grab oilfields, but denying the bottom-up nature on this one reduces them to sheer lying.

Don’t think anyone’s denying the “bottom-up nature”, Mister Barnett, but framing a violent popular uprising in an oil-rich country as an “opportunity” is rather to invite the very criticism you claim to be paranoid, despite the historical precedents, no? Where you see an “ideal sysadmin opportunity”, a lot of other people can see a country shaking off the legacy of decades of sloppy sysadmin work… and looking at the state of the prospective sysadmin’s own hardware at the moment, I’m not sure it acts as a great curriculum vitae for someone looking to tell other people how to run a safe and secure server, do you? But wait for it…

Me? I see a beautiful, globalization-driven process at work here. Let it roll!  Because I like our longer-term odds versus those of the Iranians, al-Qaeda and the Wahhabist Saudis.  Then again, victory was never in doubt–just timing and cost.

Bingo! That didn’t take long, did it? Political shamanism: if I wait long enough, the sun will rise just like I the gods promised it would! Now, where’s my private cave and mammoth-skin blanket, eh? Plenty more insightful prolepsis where that came from, but you’re gonna need to keep me sweet if you want the benefits thereof…

(For the record, I’m on the same page as Barnett when it comes to seeing the globalisation process as an inevitability driven by a huge number of complex interacting factors, and as – over the long term, at least – a net good for the entire human species. Where we disagree is at the point where each step in the globalisation process becomes a crack into which the prybar of American influence should be poked; if the last ten years haven’t shown you that the cost of meddling with other people’s countries isn’t far too high to justify the rewards – not just for your own people, but the people whose countries you decide to reorder – then I doubt anything I can say will convince you to the contrary.)