Happy Veterans Day, and thank you to all of those who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Today we live in the “Land of the Free”, in large part thanks to the men and women who have defended America and its values.
Today, we live in a global society whose most fundamental infrastructure element isn’t water, electricity, or food. The most necessary commodity to the world economy is information, which by and large travels over the network called the Internet.
For better or worse, the United States has among the freest and most open Internet. We can share information across borders and with reasonable privacy; a right that is not available to many citizens of the world.
So how did the United States military veterans save the Internet? Let’s look at a few examples.
World War II
Many years before the Internet, when information could largely be controlled by governments, Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy controlled their citizens through misinformation and propaganda. So powerful was this weapon that many German citizens believed the atrocities committed by their government were acceptable and to their benefit.
After toppling the axis powers, Germany and Japan have both become the bedrocks of the European Union and Southeast Asia, both economically and in terms of a free and open Internet. Today, the EU and Japan both have more rights to a free and open Internet than even available here in the United States.
While Italy hasn’t become an economic powerhouse, they brought us pizza and the sexiest cars on the planet, so that’s not nothing!
The Korean War was a less decisive victory, but let’s compare the north and the south today.
The North Korean regime is among the most oppressive. The government controls information available to its citizens. The government also has one of the most powerful state-sanctioned cyber-terrorism operations. Together with the Russian, Iranian, and Chinese governments, they wreak havoc on global cyber security. This tiny country has weaponized the Internet.
The South Korean government not only believes the Internet should be open, but they have created an infrastructure that provides incredibly low cost and incredibly high-speed Internet service to virtually their entire populace. South Koreans have high-speed Internet service in 99% of homes, far exceeding the United States.
Without the veterans of the Korean War, South Korea would certainly be controlled by its tyrannical northern neighbor.
The Gulf Wars
The toppling of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq influenced millions of young people living in Muslim countries. First, a desire for democracy was stirred. Second, these young Muslims also recognized that they didn’t want foreign troops invading their country to topple the oppressive oligarchs in power.
The Arab Spring, for those that may not be aware, was a civil uprising across many Muslim nations with protesters organized exclusively using their cell phones and apps like Twitter, to protest their governments. Massive reform swept through the Middle East and Egypt. Most of it was achieved with extremely little violence.
The success of the Gulf Wars is certainly debatable, however, the impact that a free and open Internet has had on this region of the world is undebatable.
The Internet was built by veterans.
The origins of the Internet date back to the 1960s and the US Defense Department’s research and development arm, DARPA. The US military built a network of computers that connected the Defense Department, its contractors, and many of the universities involved in research and development.
The power of this early Internet was remarkable, and the US government later opened this network, not only to other organizations and universities, but to other nations. In the past 30 years, this project of the Defense Department has become the backbone of information infrastructure worldwide.
Mediastead is proud to be an Internet-based company and proponent of a free and open Internet worldwide.
We still have a ways to go, but information as a free-flowing commodity will continue to secure global prosperity and, hopefully, global peace and human rights.