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Rebuilding Iraq's Internet 876

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the other-side-of-war dept.
Anselm writes "According to this article at Wired.com, "The war has left Iraq's Internet infrastructure in shambles. Now, a British ISP hopes to fund the reconstruction through sales of domain names ending in .iq." While I have no use for an IQ domain, the article does make me wonder: Should geeks around the world take the lead in getting Iraq back online?"
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Rebuilding Iraq's Internet

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  • GeekCorps (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AbdullahHaydar (147260) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:11PM (#5703016) Homepage
    Geeks should definitely get involved and they should do it through GeekCorps [geekcorps.org] since that works through the PeaceCorps and international organizations.
  • Re:Why don't we... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Beatbyte (163694) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:15PM (#5703069) Homepage
    internet will help with social unrest (hobby) and will also help with businesses (puts food on small business person's table).

    i am better at giving away IT help than food ;)

    besides.. i'd imagine the red cross and the humanitarian efforts around the globe are taking care of this problem.

  • Re:Why don't we... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by capnjack41 (560306) <spam_me@crapola.org> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:15PM (#5703070)
    Try and feed them first.

    True, but there are non-geek groups already doing that. It wouldn't hurt helping them out a bit, getting rebuilt technologically.

    Besides, technology -> jobs -> money -> food. Hooray for more places to which the US can outsource work :-p!

  • give them dignity? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dAzED1 (33635) <brianlamere@yahoo.cBLUEom minus berry> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:16PM (#5703072) Homepage Journal
    as someone mentioned, they have lots of oil. Its very easy to get from the ground there (as compared to oil in texas, alaska, etc) and Iraqi oil is even very low in sulphites as compared to its neighboring countries, making it very cheap to refine.

    They don't need our money to build an isp or some such thing. There really are, you know, more important things than the internet. They need food, medicine, and a little help rebuilding a government. Once that's done, they need to be left alone, and they need us as far away from them as possible. And I say that, having been in support of our actions from even before we started ;)

  • The Geek Cross (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zapateria (597451) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:22PM (#5703154)
    Why can't we set up kind of a geeky Red Cross to deliver free or heavily subsidised computer equipment and internet connections to war torn countries?

    Surely it would go a long way to helping such countries as Iraq get back on their feet.
  • Re:Why don't we... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MAXOMENOS (9802) <(maxomai) (at) (gmail.com)> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:31PM (#5703261) Homepage
    Actually, the humanitarian problem right now is very, very bad. Water is in short supply everywhere, hospitals don't have sufficient power, there are no medical supplies to speak of (they're giving headache pills to surgical patients instead of anaesthetic), and there's no government to maintain any kind of law and order. The Coalition's going to have to pull something together quick.

    So no, in fact, humanitarian efforts around the globe are <i>not</i> taking care of the problem.

    I'd be glad to help set up Iraq's Internet and Wireless when the time comes, but I think there are more immediate needs that have to be met right now.
  • Re:The problem is (Score:4, Interesting)

    by einhverfr (238914) <chris...travers@@@gmail...com> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:35PM (#5703311) Homepage Journal
    There's only so many funny domains you can make that end in IQ, cause there's only so many pun sentences with IQ in them...

    When Bush said he wanted a free Iraq, evidently he meant "Free as in Beer."

    Honestly, I think that this is a very bad idea. The integrity of the nation should be left intact and reconstruction should not be funded by allowing foreign companies to pilliage the property of the nation.
  • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:36PM (#5703323) Journal

    Okay, good post, but I think it would be good for us to rebuild their communications infrastructure as soon as possible since our stated goal is to bring democracy to the Iraqi people. It's sounding more and more like Iraq will be ruled temporarily by an American viceroy until "things settle down". This is quite likely to piss off a lot of Iraqis and make them feel like they are being ignored and don't have a voice. I think making sure they have a communications network that lets the average Iraqi let his voice be heard would at least make them feel good. We can argue all we want about whether that will actually make any difference, but I would argue that it would be a huge morale boost for the Iraqi people to feel like their opinions are being heard by someone -- for the first time ever.

    Yes, I did read the article and, yes, I do realize that selling .iq domain names doesn't automatically ensure that Iraq will have a viable internet. What I'm saying is that I think building up the ability for average Iraqis to communicate on a grand scale with one another will really open their eyes to the possibilities of what this new era can bring for them. Since Iraq has no experience with democracy, they really have little idea what Bush is talking about when he claims that this is some new glorious era for them. All they know right now is that they are thrilled to be rid of Saddam. But that excitement won't last and when they see American troops in their country six months from now with no sign of leaving anytime soon. We need to give them some indication that progress is being made and that Iraqis DO have a voice in what's going on. Building up good internet access for all would have significant psychological benefits for this very wounded country.

    GMD

  • Yeah... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by scovetta (632629) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:43PM (#5703380) Homepage
    Yeah, look how well .tv did.
  • Re:Why don't we... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Beatbyte (163694) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:51PM (#5703466) Homepage
    well, either way, the article isn't about immediate telecom/internet infrastructure reconstruction. its about future preparation for it. in the end, would you agree or disagree that:

    a> Iraqi's are better off with the internet socially
    b> Business is easier done with the internet
    c> Business puts food on tables
    d> Freedom of speech is good, and a forum for Iraqi's would be great
    e> i know your root password
  • Re:Why don't we... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by elefantstn (195873) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @01:52PM (#5703478)
    Stop making things up. Here, for your consideration, are some facts [afghanistangov.org].
  • Re:Why don't we... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 1u3hr (530656) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @02:03PM (#5703587)
    It helps a British ISP make money/name on products enjoyed by other Western customers.

    See this story in The Register: Iraq, its domain and the 'terrorist-funding' owner. [theregister.co.uk] This has a lot of background on the current owner of .iq (in jail) and what could or might happen to the TLD. It also dismisses the British ISP mentioned in Taco's lead.

    A race will soon be underway to get to Baghdad first. One IT contractor in Britain has already put together one bid for the domain, albeit laughably amateurish, but others will soon follow. While the US government has ultimate power over every aspect of the Internet and could redelegate .iq to whomever it pleased, it is very unlikely to want to be seen to be doing it. As with Afghanistan - when some suspicious paperwork suddenly saw .af transferred to the US-backed new administration - we may well see the same thing again.
  • stumbling blocks ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Combuchan (123208) <sean@emvis. n e t> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @02:16PM (#5703722) Homepage
    I think before CITRI plants their flag in Baghdad, they might want to consider the fact that somebody already owns the .iq root server [iana.org].

    From linked page:

    Sponsoring Organization:

    Alani Corp.
    c/o InfoCom
    630 International Parkway
    Richardson, Texas 75081
    United States

    I'll pass up expected comment about Texans owning a chunk of Iraq... </troll>
  • by Iguanaphobic (31670) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @02:22PM (#5703773)
    That has been the case since the fall of the Soviet Union and will be true for at least another decade, when China gets its legs.

    The point being, now everyone knows it. The gloves are off and the neo-cons will strike while the iron is hot. On the one hand, the U.S. denies [bbc.co.uk] that it intends to hit Syria and Iran next and on the other hand they're [independent.co.uk] already setting up to do exactly that.

  • Re:Why don't we... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by N3WBI3 (595976) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @02:27PM (#5703814) Homepage
    Take a freaking economics lessons you 'no blood for oil' stooges:

    Oil is what's known as a fungible commodity, so once they sell it -- anywhere -- it becomes part of the world oil supply. That increased supply in turn reduces the world oil price, until some equilibrium is reached between supply and demand.

    From thereon in, it makes no difference to anyone where the Iraqi oil actually goes. If it goes to Japan, the Japanese will buy less oil from Venezuela and Nigeria. More oil from those countries would then go to the U.S. As the oil supply sloshes around on world markets, no one really cares -- or keeps track of -- where it originated, so long as it meets quality standards. For all you know or care, every drop of Iraqi oil could end up at New York City gas stations.

    The best way for the us to 'whore' Iraqi oil would have been to cut loose the sancations 5 years ago because even if they sold it all to france our price for oil would go down just as much as if they sold it to us. The only people who wanted to end it 5 years ago were the French, so maybe they are the oil whores.

  • Re:Why don't we... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FatherOfONe (515801) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @02:33PM (#5703882)
    Lets see. The war has lasted around 20 days and the regime has collapsed. This was done this with minimal civilian casualties, and very little civilian structual damage, and most importantly little coalition deaths. The former government thought it would be a great idea to mine their own waters... knowing that this would NOT stop the coalition military BUT prevent significant aid from reaching it's own people. The coalition has mentioned that it is one of their top priorities in getting aid to the people of Iraq.

    The regime has not been completely defeated yet and now the anti-war people are TELLING the U.S. and it's allies what to do next. The same people who said that the allies would have huge casualties, the war would be another Vietnam, tons of innocent lives would be lost, the war was only about oil, and that the people of Iraq will see the allies as invaiders, and the the allies would not find any weapons of mass distruction.

    To add to this we now have the French TELLING the allies that they and Russia WILL be involved in the rebuilding process. Yeah right...

    Now that it looks like they have found extreme levels of radiation in certain parts of the country, and the empty 7X7 Jets on a runway war probably not used to train stewardesses, they also find a huge chemical factory that was guarded by the military AND camouflaged. It appears that the regime did have terrorist ties.

    Do I believe that the allies don't care about these people and are not doing everything possible to help them? No. Unlike the liberal anti-war/anti-Bush people they seem to have been telling the truth, and when they say that they need to secure an area BEFORE they bring in aid, I believe them.
  • Re:Why don't we... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by broter (72865) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @02:45PM (#5704003) Homepage Journal
    ...but they are used to a way of life none of us can relate to, and will provbably start to move in "the wrong direction" unless we can quickly influence them.

    Indeed, some of the open questions are: If the Iraqi people do get a true democracy, will it be pro-US? If not, will America stand for it, or will we declare it illigitimate?

    That article on the post beneth or above meine from arabnews.com about America controoling the world is bs.

    I agree that it's lame, but what does that arab world think about it? An important factor in this action was the middle east's reaction to a new Iraqi state. Will they see it as an opportunity, or as a slight? Right now, much of the arab press seems to see it as an insult and a humiliating defeat for arabs. Will this view win out, or will we be exhonorated in time?

    It's too early to tell from where I'm sitting. But rumour has it that recruits to terrorist camps is up.

  • doomed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ralphclark (11346) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @02:54PM (#5704101) Journal
    This embarrassing project is doomed to fail for two very obvious reasons:

    1) Very few (non-Iraqi) people or organizations will want a domain name visibly associated with an ignoble war, death and destruction, and a long-term dictatorship.

    2) Very few people (and I include the members of Mensa which are mentioned as an example in CITRI's web page) will want a domain name that broadcasts how proud they are of their ability to pass standard intelligence tests. You see it's just not cool to be clever. Not that way, anyway.

    I suspect the only takers - at a knock-down price - will be the tasteless owners of shoddy porn, gambling and con-merchant websites. And spammers great and small.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2003 @03:06PM (#5704247)
    Iraq's people have just emerged from a 25+ year unjust prison sentence.

    actually many people where released from years of unjust prison sentences back in October of 2002. Saddam granted amnesty to all Iraqi prisoners including political prisoners. Read the full story.

    Iraq amnesty scorned by US [bbc.co.uk]
  • How convenient! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xutopia (469129) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @03:29PM (#5704424) Homepage

    Is this some company owned and operated by some of Blair's "close" friends?

    This just goes to show that the politicians just wanted to profit in as many ways as possible from this supposed war of liberation.

  • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @04:10PM (#5704814)
    I would say freedom of information coincides quite nicely with the coalitions effort to build Iraq into a land free people.

    I would remind everyone that freedom of information existed long before the Internet.
  • by e2d2 (115622) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @04:16PM (#5704866)
    How does having an internet infrastructure improve the odds of freedom of information?
    Well with truly unhindered access to the Internet one can see many points of view outside of one argument. For instance, an Iraqi citizen can read foreign newspapers and Al Jazeera and decide for themself what is "true" about the US occupation and decide for themself where they stand.

    The Gutenberg press had the same affect by allowing anyone to print media for a low cost, helping the spread of information. Gutenberg's process, which permitted the inexpensive dissemination of ideas and knowledge, paved the way for dramatic cultural and social change in Europe, including the Protestant Reformation.

    Although information one gathers might be _garbage_ I don't think one could argue that MORE information on a particular subject is a bad thing and I would argue that it does help citizens become more informed on what is going on in the world around them.

    Also, the US had freedom of information (to one degree or other) before computers, although they didn't have as much knowledge.
    And the US is considered a free country. What is your point? Wouldn't you agree that the Internet has helped US citizens stay aware of it's government's actions and also aware of the world around them? People can spread their words over the Internet with very little cost. Anyone in the US can walk into an Internet cafe and post a free web page spouting "truth" until they can no longer type. And that has changed the world. US citizens are more aware of it's government and the world at large because of the Internet. They are no longer restricted to the traditional media as a source of information.

    When information is truly free governments and others in power will no longer be able to hide behind lies and deceit. Why do you think those in power try so hard to stop the free flow of information? Because again, knowledge is power.
  • Re:Why don't we... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GlassHeart (579618) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @04:39PM (#5705116) Journal
    Now Iraq's oil will be sold at market rates, and the proceeds will actually go to the Iraqi people.

    Yes, as opposed to it mostly going to a dictator. This is a good thing.

    However, oil companies make a profit off oil, and these companies donate heavily to politicians, and therefore policy. Even if this war isn't entirely about oil, you'll still want to sever that chain of interest. Even if this war isn't about oil (and that's a big "if"), the next one just might be.

    Forgetting the oil companies for a second, the money doesn't all go to the Iraqi people. They have roads, buildings, and bridges to rebuild, and equipment to purchase. They have an entire military machine to re-equip. Do you think some American companies - the same ones that donate millions to election campaigns - might profit from this?

    People are "insinuating" because your political system is horribly broken.

  • Re:Why don't we... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dylan Zimmerman (607218) <Bob_Zimmerman@my ... m minus language> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @05:19PM (#5705489)
    Well, if Iraq is anything like the Democratic Republic of Congo, then we'll have their democraticaly elected leader assasinated and we will put someone we like in charge by rigging the next election. Then he'll screw things up worse than Sadam ever could. He'll sell all of Iraq's oil to pay for his personal army of mercenaries. He will use all of the foreign aid money we give him to fund that same army. Eventually, his own people will rise up in revolt and kill him.
  • by Zathrus (232140) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @05:52PM (#5705737) Homepage
    Which is why I said it wasn't so simple... neither was our support of Hussein (who was already in power btw, we didn't put him there), or pretty much anything in the Real World.

    And frankly, I do consider the toppling of him to be fixing a problem we helped cause. But if we hadn't supported him in the late 70s and 80s then it's entirely possible that Iran would've taken over Iraq... which would've been disasterous for the entire Middle East (and thus the world).
  • Re:damn people! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JoeBuck (7947) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @05:57PM (#5705774) Homepage

    So how does turning over their national domain to a British IT consulting firm contribute to the rebuilding of Iraq?

  • Re:Excellent point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by broter (72865) on Thursday April 10, 2003 @06:11PM (#5705898) Homepage Journal
    No one seems to consider the possibility that entire population of human beings could be into a form of national BDSM or D/s where they enjoy the brutal, criminal oppression from a power hungry tyrant...

    Sarcasm aside, there supposedly is a rather significant portion of the Shia population (either in Iraq or Saudi or both) that wants a Caliphant and not a democracy. So, yes, some people don't want a democracy as we have it.

    I think a more valid, but difficult, question is do we believe in the UN charter that says people have a right to self governance implies only democracy in the world or does it suggest that a population can choose to support a different kind of government?

    This is an actual question. We in the US have been brought up to be part of a democratic republic. It was certainly better than what we had before, and it's certainly better than most of the post colonial governments on earth. I certain don't want another. But is it the only valid form of government?
  • Re:Why don't we... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@NospaM.yahoo.com> on Thursday April 10, 2003 @06:47PM (#5706133) Journal
    Is that the same democracy that we promised to bring to Kuwait after Gulf War I? Or is it the democracy we promised Afghanistan? Maybe it's the kind of democracy we've created in so many Central and South American countries? You know, the kind with dubious elections, dictators, death squads, and continual coups?

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