Archive for the ‘China’ Category

So what about those North Koreans? As the SWJ put it, a small war in Korea was postponed. I’d query “small”, especially in the special sense they use it – it wouldn’t have been particularly small and it would have been defined by high-intensity battle – but perhaps they are really thinking of whatever would happen after North Korea, as in David Maxwell’s paper I linked to. (Maxwell turns up in the comments thread.) The postwar is reasonably certain to show up; the big question is whether Korea has to go through the big war to get there.

It’s worth noting that the North Koreans took care to be seen to be alert and causing trouble during the exercises off Yeonpyeong, but without doing anything that would be unambiguously hostile. It’s also interesting that they seem to have used electronic warfare as a way of signalling their continued determination to fight in a field that wasn’t a direct challenge to the South Koreans and their allies.

Actually, all parties to the conflict attempted to find alternative forms of confrontation in order to exert power while trying to keep control of the escalation dynamic. I recently saw somewhere on the Web a reference to the idea that having multiple independent forms of power or status was an egalitarian force in society as they could balance each other. It’s certainly an important concept in international politics. North Korea’s original bombardment of Yeonpyeong was a direct and physical, kinetic, attack on the disputed border – at one level, they hoped that if there was no response from the South, they would have set a precedent that South Korea could not treat the island and part of the surrounding sea as entirely its own territory. More strategically, it was a demonstration that they were willing to cause trouble in order to extract concessions, and that they were willing to escalate significantly.

From the Southern side, there were serious restrictions to the possible response. Anything they could do in the same context would either have involved risking bringing about the big war, or else risking a disastrous fiasco – a major raid over the border would have been too much, a commando operation to destroy the guns facing Yeonpyeong would have risked ending up with prisoners in North Korea. There is not much at the moment they could do to put pressure on North Korea economically, and the North Koreans often respond to economic problems by provocations designed to get economic concessions. The North Koreans held escalation dominance – they could choose whether to go further, without necessarily having to go for the ultimate deterrent.

This is why the navies were so important. Although they were constrained in what they could do in one context, the Peninsula, the US Navy and its allies were not so constrained in bringing ships into international waters in the area. The response was to move the focus of the conflict into a different context. Also, cooperating at sea allowed Japan and South Korea to demonstrate alliance unity in a way that they could not otherwise – nobody would bring Japanese troops to Korea, for example, but there is no such objection to Japanese, US, and South Korean ships (or aircraft) cooperating. This is still true even though the US-made or US-inspired equipment aboard those ships permits them to cooperate very closely indeed, with radars aboard one ship, aircraft from another, a command centre in yet another, and missiles aboard a fourth being internetworked.

Also, there was very little the North Koreans could do about it without taking unacceptable risks (even for them). The biggest concern for the allied ships was that the North might lay mines in the narrow seas west of Korea. Paradoxically, the North Koreans were probably self-deterred from doing this – had they got lucky and sunk the Jimmy Carter while she was spying around Yeonpyeong, the consequences would probably not have been ideal from their point of view.

Another parallel form of conflict was the nuclear issue. North Korea had just revealed its new uranium enrichment cascade when it started shelling Yeonpyeong, after all. Bill Richardson’s officially-unofficial mission to North Korea brought back the offer to sell North Korea’s stock of plutonium to the South. This sounds better than it is, precisely because they now have the capability to use uranium rather than plutonium. On the other hand, accepting it is sensible – it’s a matching concession to de-escalate the situation, less plutonium in North Korea is probably desirable, and it moves the nuclear debate onto the slower “enrichment track”.

The nuclear debate also provided an opportunity for the Chinese government to play the role of turning up late but bringing a solution. If the 12,000 rods do leave North Korea, a big question is where they would go. The Chinese might buy them and might even offer fuel of some description in return, a replay of the 1994 framework agreement.

I’m beginning to worry seriously about Korea. There’s the wikileaked cable suggesting that Chinese tolerance is running out. There’s more recent confirmation. This after the initial non-reaction. Even if Peter Foster is right that the Chinese position hasn’t changed that much, it still looks like something has changed in the deterrent balance.

On the other side, Joint STARS has been deployed. You know to start worrying when the ugly grey kit comes out. The US Navy has put 2 carriers and their reinforced task groups off Korea, including a ballistic-missile defence destroyer (USS Paul Hamilton) and four Ticonderoga class cruisers. In all there are something over 900 vertical launch missile tubes on surface ships alone, as well as 70 or so F/A-18s. The Jimmy Carter is in the area, but we don’t know which other submarines are, or what percentage of the cruisers’ VLS tubes are full of Tomahawks as opposed to SM-3 air defence missiles, Harpoon ship-to-ship missiles, or ASROC antisubmarine ones. And the US Navy has chosen this moment to send 30,000 tonnes of jet fuel to Korea. They do move this stuff around, but it’s surely an odd moment to move the jet fuel if you weren’t preparing for war. There are also two Marine groups in the area, so chuck in 16 Harriers and a bit shy of a brigade of Marines.

Unlike, say, Iran in 2007, US carrier availability is currently high. They have more ships to send if required.

The South Koreans have been as good as promising to retaliate hugely if there is another attack. They’ve sacked the defence minister and replaced him with a serving general. People are throwing D’Annunzio-style demonstrations for war. General upcranking is going on. So you can probably see why I’m worried. The whole Japanese navy is at sea, probably in part to get their Aegis missile destroyers deployed on their anti-missile radar picket patrol line early. And there’s that unexpected uranium enrichment.

So it’s probably high time to worry. Here’s more worry: an excellent piece in the Small Wars Journal by US Army Colonel David S. Maxwell, on the problems of either occupying North Korea or just coping with the upshot of a collapse. I hadn’t been aware of the degree to which the state ideology is based on the anti-Japanese guerrilla years. In comments, Maxwell says that what worries him more than the prospect of guerrilla war in post-North Korea is a warlord scenario, more Afghanistan than Iraq. Rather, it would be more like the worse-case scenarios for the end of the Soviet Union, given some of the kit that would available.

Maxwell’s policy recommendation is to start at once with a propaganda drive to persuade the middle levels of the North Korean state not to go guerrilla and not to sell any highly enriched uranium they may have hanging around, and to come up with a plan for reunification led by Koreans and secured by all-party talks. That’s all very sane, but it’s not going to be of much help if someone fires artillery into Seoul tomorrow night. So from a British point of view, the best advice I could give would be “get on a plane and go and do an Attlee”.

There are also PowerPoint slides to go with that. Hence the title – it could almost be a motto for the blog.

export any

So we were talking about China exporting its internal chaos, while also importing Indian internal chaos. Then, the good folk at 31 Jin-rong Street, Beijing gave us a practical example. That would be AS4134, CHINANET-BACKBONE, aka China Telecom’s long lines/Internetworking division. Starting at 1558 GMT, they leaked a very large number of other people’s routes into the global Internet. According to Martin Brown of Renesys, the incident affected some 31,847 routes in 10 minutes, or several times the number normally announced from 4134.

Anyone who accepted one of the leaked routes would have seen their traffic to that network go to China Telecom first, and only then to their destination, presuming that China Telecom’s internal routing was valid. Otherwise it would have gone nowhere.

The key thing to remember here is that Internet routers know where to route your traffic because they tell each other which routes they have. Network A – in this case AS4134 – tells its peers that it can route to network B directly and to C via D or E, but preferably D. The peers pass on this information to their peers. Eventually, this means that any router connected to the Internet can have a full copy of the routing table for the entire Internet at any moment, should it need it. The downside of the Border Gateway Protocol which governs this is, however, that it doesn’t perform any verification of the routing updates; like a lot of Internet engineering from the 70s and 80s, it relies on trust. More to the point, it relies on trust in others’ competence.

Occasionally, bad things happen, as when Pakistan accidentally routed all inbound traffic to YouTube into the censorship proxy at Pakistan Telecom. In this case, somehow, China Telecom issued 31,847 routing updates to the world at large. An important distinction here is that between internal and external BGP; it’s possible that a huge national backbone operator might have offered its customers a seriously large number of routes, indeed a full route-view. But they certainly shouldn’t have offered them to the wider Internet – hence the idea of a routing “leak”.

We’ve blogged before that the Chinese Internet isn’t characterised by “cyberwar” or even by censorship, but rather by chaos. This is a physical, real-time example of internal chaos within China being exported to the rest of the world. As a result, not just because of BGP issues but also of spam, etc, quite a lot of networks filter all or most netblocks inside China; here’s a sample access control list.

The new Shadowserver Foundation report is out; everyone has ooh’d over folk stealing the Dalai Lama’s e-mail, etc. Others have pointed to the concentration on the Indian military establishment.

Technically, all that’s interesting here is that the attackers used mass market Internet services, like Yahoo! Mail, as transports for their botnet command-and-control messages, and that they made a lot of use of dodgy PDF files as an attack vector, usually personalised to the target. Also, their network visualisations suggest that registering DNS names with minimal consequences is very important to the system as a whole – each name is requested by many, many bots and is used to identify many, many Web servers. Fast-flux would seem to be a crucial node in the system.

Politically, the first major insight is that it’s India that’s the top priority, and India beyond the Tibetan exile institutions. India, excluding the Tibetan targets, vastly dominates all categories of everything in the report. Indian institutions are the top targets – as well as a wide range of defence organisations, the Indian Railways are in there. There’s no word on Bollywood yet. So far, so clear – rather than worrying about much fancied dissidents or Tibetans, the strategic priority is the local peer competitor.

On page 33, however, detailing what was extracted from the Indian National Security Council Secretariat:

In addition to documents containing the personal and financial information of what appears to be the compromised individual, the exfiltrated documents focus on India’s security situation in the states of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, and Tripura, as well as the Naxalites, Maoists, and what is referred to as “left-wing extremism”.

Now, it’s very possible that this is just the effect of dragging a big scoop through a flock of top Indian Civil Service presentations. On the other hand, why would China prize data on Shokly’s lot? Various options are possible. One, they’re splittists causing irresponsible destabilisation and obstructing construction – and they want to either know all about them in case of war, or else know all about them because they’re both a bunch of modern thinkers very keen on big coal mines.

Another would be that the Chinese side is interested in the Naxalites as a potential model for their own internal chaos, as Jamie Kenny would say. China’s forced-draft modernisation – as Samuel Huntington might have said in one of his periodic bouts of moral self-abasement – is constantly reacting with a tough working class that expresses its protests by burning down Communist Party offices. Like India, they have deeply uneven development, and a strange relationship between top-down, authoritarian modernisation and federalism. Perhaps they’re wondering what form a super-MGI would take?

Yet a further option would be that the Ghostnet team are interested in the Naxalites because they’re rebels themselves. They may be working for the Party, but it’s very clear from the report that the line between the commercial spammer/botherd business and the spooks is blurred. The same techniques and the same people and the same places appear in both. In one way, this suggests that the crimeware world is a significant resource for the Party and the government; in another way, it suggests that they’re beholden for this to an unruly and uncontrollable gang of botnet masters who’d frame their grandmothers as paedophiles for money, and do worse for bragging rights.

Also spinning off that post, I’d like to reiterate a couple of points from this post and this one. As far as I can see, not much has changed since Beijing was identified as the world’s biggest concentration of compromised Windows machines; Spamhaus ROKSO looks pretty bad for the big provincial networks in ChinaNet and China Unicom, and the Abuseat Composite Block List also shows the Chinese Internet as a very large source of spam and nasties in general.

By network rather than by country, ChinaNet is still the eighth spammiest domain on the Internet. Arbor Networks has some interesting charts on fast-flux DNS abuse, which show .cn as being the biggest real TLD for this particular form of mischief. Tellingly, it takes on average 7.8 days to get rid of a domain taster in .cn, as against 1.6 for .eu; however, Verisign is not doing great either, as it takes 7.23 days on average to get rid of one from .com.

Arguably, the correct model here isn’t some kind of cold war vision of satellites and missiles and invisible hackers, but either a wild frontier or a failed state – which are of course the same thing, looked at from optimistic or pessimistic points of view.

That China has “Internet police” is beside the point. Afghanistan has a force called the Civil Order Police, Italy has Tax Police, and the US has something called the Central Intelligence Agency, but you wouldn’t necessarily expect civil order to be maintained, taxes to be paid, or signs of intelligence. The UK even has a commission on standards in public life, and we know that’s a joke.

You thought the Hummer being put on the block was symbolism? This is symbolism: the bloated, militaristic, fuel-guzzling cultural trope itself is being sold to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery. Yes; an unheralded outfit from the deep west, not even Shenzhen or Shanghai. Seeing as its core business is making construction gear, tankers, and off-road vehicles, it may even return to being something roughly designed for a purpose.

It’s probably worth mentioning that the Humvee, in its post-2004 up-armoured version, and its later, baroque replacements, get singled out in David Kilcullen’s Accidental Guerrilla. Specifically:

As Steve pointed out, this is truly an urban submarine – we drive around in an armoured box with three-inch thick windows, peering out through our portholes at the little Iraqi fish swimming by. They can’t see us, and we don’t seem human to them. We are aliens, imperial stormtroopers with our Darth Vader sunglasses and grotesque and cowardly body armour. The insurgents have done to us what we said they would do to them – isolated us from the population…

An artefact is an ideology made manifest; the caricature America we’ve known since the 1980s could hardly be better illustrated, whether outwards in its violent and paradoxically vulnerable military sense or inwards in its lumbering, debt-bloated, hyper-capitalist civilianised sense. Both of which relied upon the engine technology of the 1950s.

Here are two news stories whose contrast should tell you a lot, via Charlie Stross. Spy chiefs fear Chinese cyber attack:

INTELLIGENCE chiefs have warned that China may have gained the capability to shut down Britain by crippling its telecoms and utilities.

They have told ministers of their fears that equipment installed by Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant, in BT’s new communications network could be used to halt critical services such as power, food and water supplies.

And here’s F-Secure’s take on the big story that supposedly-Chinese hackers created a botnet of compromised Windows machines in Tibetan and Chinese-dissident organisations that let them remotely activate and monitor webcams and microphones.

The first thing is that the Times story is a classic of the discourse of “cyberwar”. Threats are by definition from state actors, Dr Evil is behind everything, and the solution turns out to be indistinguishable from giving lots of money to favoured military-industrial vendors. And there is no sign of any engineers anywhere near the story – just that very British product, the intelligence-administrative complex, telling itself stories.

But surely there is a risk from Teh Huawei? Well. First of all, what are we trying to protect? “Security” isn’t an answer. There are, as far as I can see, essentially three things an attacker could do in the BT core network – crash the whole thing (denial of service), spy on somebody’s traffic, or spoof a network entity, to pose as one in order to misroute traffic for some sinister aim. The horrors described in the article are presumably thought to be possible consequences of a massive denial of service attack.

How would they go about attacking it? Well, the whole point here is that they can attack from the public Internet. (If they can attack from within BT, it doesn’t matter whose routers we buy…) Physical layer attacks are much less dangerous because you would need to do much more work for every unit of trouble caused – you’d need to physically tap wires and find ways of backhauling the traffic you tapped.

So we’re concerned about a breach of Internet security, which implies that the crucial element in our defence will be to prevent malicious traffic getting access to the system’s administrative features. For our purposes, a secret backdoor is essentially the same as an administrator interface.

Well, that’s good news – this would be absolutely no different if the equipment came from Cisco Systems, Alcatel, Marconi as was, Nokia, ZTE, Motorola, NEC or anyone else, and the security solutions involved are applicable across them all, being essentially good internetworking practice. And 21CN’s architecture actually makes an attack from the IP layer rather difficult. It’s probably worth opening the Wikipedia page in another tab to follow this bit.

21CN is made up of Multi-Service Access Nodes (MSANs), which replace the old local exchanges, terminate the copper wires from your house, and switch different kinds of traffic into appropriate pipes – steam voice gets converted to VoIP at this point as well, metro-nodes, which are the gateway routers to the core network, core nodes, which are really big MPLS routers, and iNodes, which are voice softswitches and which will control calls, video sessions etc. Huawei’s bit is the MSAN, plus some of the optical splitters, repeaters and such.

Importantly, the MSAN isn’t an Internet entity; it is a Layer 2 Ethernet device, which talks to the metronode it’s connected to. In 21CN, both other ISPs and BT Retail are sold wholesale service in the form of Ethernet links, and the MSAN is responsible for putting the traffic into the right link, but the metronode is the first element to actually route Internet packets. Therefore, even if the Chinese were to secretly control all the MSANs, they would have to create a new Wholesale Broadband Connect Ethernet pipe from each one in order to get the traffic out to the Internet. And to control it, they would have to first of all get in, then break out of the encapsulation to access the MSAN itself.

And most of the IP layer equipment, including the big routers that link the whole thing to the Internet, is made by Alcatel, Cisco, or Juniper Networks; in fact, 21CN has a fair amount of diversity, which is usually good from a security standpoint. So I would suggest that this is a classic movie plot threat. Like most of them, of course, it taps deep political assumptions and vested interests; there is no evidence of Huawei’s equipment being secretly controllable by the Chinese intelligence service whatsoever, but there are a lot of rightwing congressmen who just know it, and they receive contributions of funds from competing vendors with unstartling regularity.

And more to the point, what is the evidence that Huawei is any more likely to be spying on its customers than the alternatives? If the equipment came from Cisco Systems, as some of it does, shouldn’t we worry that the Americans have secretly fiddled with it? If from Alcatel, as some of it does, what about the French? (Don’t laugh, they’re building a Total Info Awareness clone.) The Swedish government wants to run absolutely all Internet traffic on its territory through the facilities of the FRA, its national signals-intelligence agency, so obviously Ericsson (and Juniper, which is an Ericsson division) can be ruled right out.

However, we don’t have a single documented case of any of these things happening. In fact, the best documented telco core-network hack, the Vodafone Greece case, involved an Ericsson AXE10 switch and specifically the lawful-interception system, which is really a nonsecret backdoor into the switch for the cops and spooks to listen in. (And the iNodes in 21CN? They’re AXE10s. ) So it’s quite possible that the security bureaucrats might be the cause of the security threat.

After all, they have Windows PCs in their offices. And they get hacked. By the Chinese. And they *do* have back-door access. Now, no-one knows who was behind the Vodafone Greece case, but we do know who is behind the vast majority of real information security breaches: non-state actors. But for some reason, there is a strange kind of cognitive bias against accepting the reality and agency of non-state actors. Just as a certain kind of government official cannot believe that guerrillas or terrorists can exist without the Dr Evil figure (Iran! Syria! Cuba! Canada!), they can’t believe that their computers might get hacked by hackers. I’ve had to come back to this again and again and again.

The problem is, of course, that it involves believing that the little people have agency, intelligence, and skill. Here’s some evidence from F-Secure; the malware used in the Tibetan spying operation is maintained by a group of hackers and is openly on sale (and some people say it’s Swedish – didn’t I tell you we can’t trust those terrible Vikings?). Accepting that is an important political act, and it is absolutely necessary, both for effective security and in general to move beyond fear.

(Update: China Mobile isn’t worried and trusts the French. And there is a metal band called Beyond Fear, which is almost as cool as Bruce Schneier.)

gaseous Goodhart

China’s top climate change negotiator wants the Chinese export sector to be excluded from their targets, and “consumers to pay” instead. This is not good news.

For a start, the tactics. It means accepting the principle of letting some special interests off. We know, after all, that there will be the mother of all lobbying wars about this, all wanting their pet interest group to be left out. Therefore it’s best to hold a firm line as long as possible, minimising the damage. Also, even if this isn’t just special pleading, the output (no CO2 target for much of Chinese industry) is identical to the effects of special pleading. So it’s worth treating it as such until proven otherwise.

After all, if it proved to be honest, you can always make a gracious concession later; but you can’t take back concessions you made earlier so easily.

Secondly, there is no end to this argument. If they claim a right to export all they like and bill the customer for the CO2, then for this right to be effective, they must also have a right to import capital goods – machine tools, Siemens power stations, that kind of stuff. Wham, half the German engineering sector wants a note from mum too. What about the primary exporters? And come to think of it, if it’s the consumer’s fault, some of that responsibility must rest with the people who lent them the money…which for the dollar zone was the People’s Bank of China, State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

More seriously, it’s a really bad idea on the substance. The mechanism of action is something like this – imports containing a lot of embodied CO2 would be taxed and would cost more, so people would buy less carbony ones, and Chinese exporters would stop producing so much CO2. But it’s a very long set of tongs; too many moving parts. Unless the energy used in the product is a hell of a lot, the tax component won’t be that great compared to the range of prices for that kind of product. The exporter might not notice, or might attribute the drop in sales to something else.

Just taxing fossil fuel at the point of sale, already, has the huge advantage that it falls directly on the user, who has the most control over how much gets used, and it’s explicitly and unmistakably down to the fuel.

Further, how many SKUs (Stock-Keeping Units – individual products) does the Chinese export sector produce? It’s got to be in the tens of thousands at the least. Under this proposal, each one would have to be carbon-audited accurately and regularly and assessed for taxation on that basis. It is far from clear whether the importing state or the exporting state would do this. Just taxing fossil fuel, already, involves less than a dozen SKUs, which happen to be bulky, smelly, heavy, or black and dusty, and therefore difficult to hide on a big scale.

And every manufacturer would have a fine incentive to lie about the CO2 emissions associated with their product; if you can bring yourself to put melamine in the milk, you can surely lie about your electricity bill. It’s the worst Goodhart’s Law violation I’ve seen for a long time.

But here’s the really weird bit. Whether the CO2 tax is applied at source as a fuel tax or a cap-and-trade system, on crossing the border like a tariff, or at the point of final sale like VAT, the economic upshot is essentially the same; goods subject to it would cost more than goods not subject to it, and goods subject to it that contained more CO2 would cost more than ones with less.

Either yer man is hoping that the importing states wouldn’t bother to impose the tax, or else his argument is actually indistinguishable from the one he’s trying to shoot down – that there should be a tariff on goods from states that don’t implement a CO2 tax.

Alternatively, he’s just talking his book, setting a negotiating marker in a cost-free fashion. In which case, time to pick it up and run it back.

If this leaves you in need of an optimism fix, have a look at this GSFC feature. The “shorter”: ozone depletion would have made it unsafe to go out in the sun for as long as five minutes essentially everywhere by 2065, but we, ah, fixed it. (Via German ScienceBlogs; if you speak German there’s also a fascinating interview with Paul Crutzen here.)

Meanwhile, this is good news. As more and more ships from various parts of the world – like China and Iran – arrive in pirate country, somebody’s made vaguely sensible arrangements to put them on trial in Kenya, which is what has been done with the ones captured by Northumberland. This is a much better idea than returning them to the tender mercies of Somali rivals, or alternatively to their home base, or any evil nonsense promoted by tiresome Internet hard men. (You know who you are.)

I’m not sure whether to be pleased, or worried that China and Iran are apparently cooperating in an exercise designed to be more law-abiding than some British courts, and far more so than whole swaths of the US defence establishment. This is incredibly important; I keep saying that a primary reason for the success of some Islamist movements is that they offer some form of legal order, rather than Franz Neumann’s Behemoth.

After all, dogs have an innate appreciation of justice, so we should surely accept that it matters for human beings too. As a modest proposal, now the EU has taken over the lead in combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden, could we perhaps give the naval task force a further mission – to compel EU-flag fishing vessels to respect the Somali EEZ? (We wouldn’t have legal authority to stop anyone else without a UN resolution, but it’s a start.) I agree they have plenty on their plate, which is why I’m going to make a second modest proposal.

Rather than frigates, EU states participating in this could instead deploy some of their sizeable fleet of amphibious assault ships, with a deckload of helicopters, a dock of small craft, and a tankdeck containing a mix of marines for boarding parties, and medics, engineers etc to support the UN’s aid activities.

More China convergence blogging. Declan McCullagh reports on efforts by the US and China to sneak something nasty into the ITU standardisation process, through a committee that doesn’t publish its documentation or let anyone else in the room. But the Chinese appear to be the ones leaning forward;

The Chinese author of the document, Huirong Tian, did not respond to repeated interview requests. Neither did Jiayong Chen of China’s state-owned ZTE Corporation, the vice chairman of the Q6/17’s parent group who suggested in an April 2007 meeting that it address IP traceback.

A second, apparently leaked ITU document offers surveillance and monitoring justifications that seem well-suited to repressive regimes: A political opponent to a government publishes articles putting the government in an unfavorable light. The government, having a law against any opposition, tries to identify the source of the negative articles but the articles having been published via a proxy server, is unable to do so, protecting the anonymity of the author.

Now that’s what I call a use case! The standards group in question includes someone from the Chinese ministry of telecoms and an NSA official whose biog appears to be secret, as well as someone from Verisign; who is hilariously quoted as saying that:

“The OSI Internet protocols (IPv5) had the capabilities built-in. The ARPA Internet left them out because the infrastructure was a private DOD infrastructure.”

(Trust me, if you know your Internet history, it’s hilarious.) The poor darling, still wishing for someone to bring back OSI. And the representatives of the Chinese Communist Party conspiring away with the NSA.

Oh well; it’s not as if it’s going to work. Viz:

“Since passage of the Patriot Act, many companies based outside of the United States have been reluctant to store client information in the U.S.,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. “There is an ongoing concern that U.S. intelligence agencies will gather this information without legal process. There is particular sensitivity about access to financial information as well as communications and Internet traffic that goes through U.S. switches.”

But economics also plays a role. Almost all nations see data networks as essential to economic development. “It’s no different than any other infrastructure that a country needs,” said K C Claffy, a research scientist at the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis in San Diego. “You wouldn’t want someone owning your roads either.”

Read the whole damn thing; it’s one of the best reported stories on the Internet infrastructure I’ve ever seen, they spoke to the right people (Renesys, k c claffy, Odlyzko), and the conclusions are interesting to say the least.

The Renesys rankings of Internet connections, an indirect measure of growth, show that the big winners in the last three years have been the Italian Internet provider Tiscali, China Telecom and the Japanese telecommunications operator KDDI.

Firms that have slipped in the rankings have all been American: Verizon, Savvis, AT&T, Qwest, Cogent and AboveNet. “The U.S. telecommunications firms haven’t invested,” said Earl Zmijewski, vice president and general manager for Internet data services at Renesys. “The rest of the world has caught up. I don’t see the AT&T’s and Sprints making the investments because they see Internet service as a commodity.”

If the “American Internet” is ending, it’s because they don’t deserve it any more.