Google Earth: A Path to Peace?

Cody Hoesly

The New York Times reports that Google Earth is making world leaders nervous.  It seems the high quality, laser precision photos are making all kinds of things available, including senstive government sites and other likely targets of terrorism and espionage.

Oh well!

Now you only need see Syriana for the latest reminder that global peace doesn't stand a chance for at least a couple hundred years.  But I just couldn't help thinking as I read the article that these folks were far less concerned about preventing attacks on their citizens and far more concerned about the threat Google Earth and other such sites have on their ability to engage in sketchy warmongering.  Case in point:  the Indians and Pakistanis who don't want photos taken near the Kashmiri border (wherever it may truly lie).

With photos of every place on Earth, maybe it'll be that much harder for any nation (or non-nation, I'm not forgetting Professor Yoo!) to hide their military installations and operations.  To a tiny degree (and, as technology advances, to a greater degree), we can all become UN weapons inspectors.  (How's that for a blog?)  Maybe with more transparency, the costs of doing business in war will increase to a point where the war industry is no longer sustainable.  After all, is knowledgable understanding not one of the foundations of peace?

It's also kind of exciting to think that the Internet, a system designed by the military, might ultimately serve to render miltaries unnecessary.

  • Skip from Gresham (unverified)

    Your reference to Syriana kind of deflates the credibility of your otherwise well written article. Syriana is truly a BAD movie with no basis of rational thought. Oh well....aside from that bit of nonsense, I agree with your over all premise.

  • Wes Wagner (unverified)

    There is a presumption in the entire premise of Google Earth, which is that sovereign nations have no right to privacy. This is an easy logical argument to arrive at, because of course as individuals, we do not have any privacy anymore either. The mindset of American security and Imperialism is so deep rooted in our culture from the era of the Communist Scare and the Cold War - that we believe we have a right to spy on others.

    There are people who would argue that it is naive to think that if we didn't spy on Iran they would build nuclear weapons aplenty. Ok, maybe they would, but why do the Iranians have any less right to weapons than we do.

    Perhaps if we stopped acting morally superior to everyone else, got our industry out of the political affairs of other nations and stopped persecuting wars of aggression around the world, we would find we had fewer enemies to keep track of.

    Wes Wagner NW Meridian Publisher

  • Albert Gore (unverified)

    During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. -March 9, 1999

    I took the inititive, really I did, and mommy says I'll be the Pwesident some day

    Source Transcript: Vice President Gore on CNN's 'Late Edition' Web posted at: 5:06 p.m. EST (2206 GMT) on 3/9/1999

  • Sid (unverified)

    Gore was instrumental in securing funding for the development of the internet.

    I can't believe there are still losers out there who obsess about this.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    "Securing the funding" is something that happens in a legislative body with many legislators: Gore was one of those votes. He may have sponsored or co-sponsored legislation, but he was still 1 of 100 votes.

    "Securing the funding for" is a far cry from "creating" the internet. DARPA and a bunch of academics created it; Al Gore simply supported their funding, and lobbied on their behalf.

    More importantly: lying about your record of achievement or puffing out your chest and saying "IT WOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT ME" are quick paths to alienating all the "little people" that contributed to a very complex development trajectory.

  • unk (unverified)

    Your comments are incorrect when you state the military designed the net. It was setup so universities could share information more quickly. Syriana was only a movie, don't take it seriously. Google Earth is 3 year old data and has been scrubbed to prevent anything of substance from countries that share an MOU with us, on releasing data.

  • Varner (unverified)

    Last weekend I used Google earth to try and look at a hotel I'd be staying at last weekend on the coast. It only came up with a very grainy picture. Same is true for most non-urban areas of the state.

    I think we're a long way from using it to actually be citizen inspectors.

    With that said, I've heard the 'rendition' flights were found out largely by amateur plane spotters who shared their observations on the web.

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