For heaven’s sake, any return match with Iraq is not going to be played out in cyberspace, regardless of media pressure on the Pentagon to drop millions of "nanobots" or Kylie CDs infected with a more potent version of Slammer on Baghdad.
Outside of the playground of the Emirates, the Middle East is not particularly well joined up or connected. I should know, having visited all the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states as a UK “technology ambassador” last year and presenting on InfoSec issues.
In fact, as I noted in every report I have written on the region, information security is an oxymoron which makes the development of e-government and e-commerce problematical.
What little effective security there is may have already been stripped down by Arab governments worried that the CIA or Mossad might have clandestine access through American or even Israeli-sourced software.
According to the BBC, Iraq has only 12,000 people online and, as with its neighbours, you can be sure that all the traffic passes through a proxy server, which makes using the web as an information and communications medium a challenge akin to watching paint dry.
Unlike the Americans, who rely on the internet and even instant messaging as a fundamental component of their command and control network, the Arab world is rather less sophisticated and learned from the last Gulf war and the more recent conflict with Serbia.
So while Iraq will expect to have its both mobile and conventional telephone networks targeted by a mix of different weaponry, I very much doubt if the internet figures much in any plans they might have, because they can reasonably expect to have their circuitry "fried" by a large electromagnetic pulse within minutes of the first cruise missiles appearing on the screens of any radar stations that are still working.
While it makes great TV to speculate on a country bought to its knees by Keanu “Matrix” Reeves or John “Swordfish” Travolta, I’m sorry to tell you that this fixture, if it isn’t cancelled, will be played out with all the traditional toys and the cover of night.
My own solution to the problem is a simple one. Given that David Beckham is a hero in Iraq, why not offer the Iraqi people a swap. David for Saddam, a friendly visit by Manchester United in exchange for any weapons of mass destruction and we’ll throw in Posh too. It’s too good an opportunity to miss.
What do you think? Beckham, not bombs? Or is cyber-war an option? Tell us in an e-mail >> CW360.com reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.
Zentelligence Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of the futurist writer, broadcaster and Computer Weekly columnist Simon Moores.
What do you think?
Beckham, not bombs? Or is cyber-war an option? Tell us in an e-mail >> CW360.com reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.
For more information on IT opportunities in the Middle East, visit www.arabgov.com
This was first published in February 2003