Bend it Like Beckham

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 GCC states, as a UK “Technology Ambassador” last year, presenting on InfoSec issues. For anyone who might be interested in the business opportunities in the region, my eighty page report on Saudi Arabia is on the DTI website and there’s even more information sitting up on

In fact, as I noted in every report I have written on the region, information security is an oxymoron which makes the development of eGovernment and eCommerce problematical. What little good 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 only has 12,000 people online - possibly 24,000 - and like its neighbours, you can be sure that all the traffic passes through a heavily-censored 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 now, 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 cellular 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 screen of any radar stations that have escaped the attention of the 'Wild Weasels' and are still working.

So 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 modest solution to the problem is simple and doesn't involve explosions. Given that David Beckham is a hero-figure 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.


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