Jared Diamond, author of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, earlier in the week in the New York Times:
Conversely, geographic advantages don’t guarantee permanent success, as the growing difficulties in Europe and America show. We Americans fail to provide superior education and economic incentives to much of our population. India, China and other countries that have not been world leaders are investing heavily in education, technology and infrastructure. They’re offering economic opportunities to more and more of their citizens. That’s part of the reason jobs are moving overseas. Our geography won’t keep us rich and powerful if we can’t get a good education, can’t afford health care and can’t count on our hard work’s being rewarded by good jobs and rising incomes …
Before the Cybersecurity 2012 went down to defeat, there was a massive lobbying effort for it, based on exaggerated scenarios of looming catastrophe.
OVER the last decade, the United States has built a sophisticated security system to protect the nation’s seaports against terrorists and criminals. But our nation’s critical infrastructure is not similarly secured from cyberattack. Although we have made progress in recent years, Congressional action is needed to ensure that our laws keep pace with the electronically connected world we live in. The bipartisan Cybersecurity Act of 2012, currently before the Senate, offers a way forward.
A disruption of our electric grid or other critical infrastructure could temporarily cripple the American economy. What’s less well known is that such an attack could threaten the nation’s defense as well …
This legislation is a critical step for defending America’s infrastructure against the clear and present cyberthreats we face.
Readers know how effortlessly the very important national security experts and policy makers massage newspapers, television and the Internet in the run ups to getting things they want.
There is dissent but it’s been eliminated from American discourse, relegated to “[a] handful of media stories, blog posts and academic studies,” as ProPublica put it in a piece destroying statistics on losses due to cybercrime earlier in the week.
Those pursuing expanded funding of cyberdefense, more predatory and invasive technical and legislative protocols, always add that they want to have a debate, to bring to public discourse, the issues of the matter.
This is not what they mean at all. What they really want, and what they always get, is a free ride to publicizing, with approval, whatever claims they have come up with to push their arguments. And in the past few weeks, as always, they generally got everything they wanted.
Paradoxically, Cybersecurity 2012 failed — not because of the value of any criticism — but because of the politics of our time: the Republican party’s unrelenting opposition to anything pushed by the Obama administration.
In the two bits chosen for comparison, Jared Diamond’s comes from a criticism of Mitt Romney, who misinterpreted his book Guns, Germs and Steel, thinking it taught “one factor explanations for multicausal problems.”
The opinion piece by Ashton Carter, a relatively undistinguished career government appointee who has been around since the Clinton administration, was — like every bit on Cybersecurity 2012 before it’s defeat — a one-factor riff.
The country’s cyberdefenses need strengthening because a cyberattack will turn off the power, cripple the economy, take down the national military, do something to the water, and result in ‘the greatest transfer of wealth in history.”
Readers see the difference. There are “multicausal problems” behind our national weakness and failure. Attacks on the nation through cyberspace are not the problem.
— DickDestiny (@DickDestiny) August 3, 2012