Sunday, November 26, 2006

1239. 7018. 4766. Now start a war

This is very bad news from Baghdad, via, but note some details. For a start, a neat primer on modern urban warfare:
On Saturday, the Web site displayed a recipe for civil war. It recommended protecting Sunni neighborhoods by "spreading snipers on the roof of buildings," planting roadside bombs at neighborhood entrances and distributing grenades. It advised "antitank missile holders" to make trenches and to attack the first and last vehicles of any convoy.

At the end were instructions for preparing ambushes by "attracting the enemy by using small cars as bait so they would chase them and be dragged to the killing zones."
It's the full Grozny toolkit - snipers on the rooftops, RPG teams in the shopfronts, set up and fight the vertical battle. Note also the mystery flood of SMS messages - I wonder whether this is simply a social cascade attack, as fear spreads like a virus, or do the insurgents have access to the Cell Broadcast interface on the GSM networks? In a sense it doesn't matter which insurgents - fear and hate-mobilisation work as well for both sides. You could well find it useful to spread terror on your own side.

Back in July, Charlie Stross floated the idea that "it's not virtual reality until you can stage a coup in it." Perhaps the bandwidth required for such a thing is far less that we assumed - SMS seems quite effective, and that will work at 9.6Kbits/s. Alternatively, it's easier to hack society at the human level - it's not the medium, but the message in this case. As long as there is sufficiently credible fear/revenge floating through the memepool, it's of secondary importance how it is transmitted - what matters is the mesh network topology, which means the spread has increasing returns to scale.

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