Undersea Cables, Connectivity, and the Gap


Laying Undersea Cable

I'm a fan of Thomas Barnett's gap-core lens for understanding world events. My simple paraphrase goes something like this: states that are part of the core (and that's a lot of them) don't make war on each other, don't sponsor state terrorism, and are, in general, predictable players on the world stage. Those who are not connected economically and culturally to the core are the trouble makers. (Tom, if I got it wrong or simplified it to much, forgive me.)

Radical Islam, when viewed through this lens, is an attempt to stall and hopefully stop the integration of Islamic states into the core. In their worldview, the core is secular, godless, and will destroy their culture. They're probably right in many respects. Other religions, including my own, have had times where their efforts to avoid integration caused lots of folks considerable heartache. Most have realized that getting past the pain requires being able to live in the world as it exists without giving up your fundamental values. We continue to have that argument on all kinds of fronts in the US, but without the overt violence.

This story about recent undersea cable damage not being an accident fits the Core-Gap model pretty well (more here). After all, the Internet is the prime tool that the Core has for connecting more of the Gap. If Barnett's theory is right, then the result will be decreased violence worldwide. Surely one can't doubt the effect of such connectivity on Eastern Europe in the 80's and on China now.

Gizmodo is dubious:

I don't know how a saboteur gets that deep to cut cables in the first place, let alone five of them, so I'm highly skeptical. I mean, come on, aren't we giving the terrorists a bit too much credit here? This isn't a James Bond movie.
From Terra: International Telecommunication Union Claims Cut Cables Were Sabotage
Referenced Tue Feb 19 2008 14:47:11 GMT-0700 (MST)

I don't think we have to imagine this being the work of run-of-the-mill terrorists. Most of the leaders of Gap states are personally motivated to restrict and resist connectivity. They're power depends on it. I don't know enough about these states to know if one or several is capable of deep sea operations sufficient to cut a cable, but it's more plausible than imagining a rogue Al Queda cell in Baghdad doing it.

I'll be interested to see what future inspections turn up here.