Internet cable cut conspiracies

I, like many, am intrigued by the news of the various broken fibre-optic cables in the past week or so – see here (breaks 1 and 2), here (break 3) and here (failure 4 – system failure this time). When the fourth issue was reported, unsurprisingly the conspiracy theorists who were already in full flight on three redoubled their efforts. I’ve read a few of them tonight – see here for a typical cross-section on the types of things being said. The most compelling piece of evidence is that it would appear that Iran is completely off-line – see here.

The series of breaks do seem fairly improbable, and wouldn’t be hard to arrange (in fact the US have a submarine to do exactly this sort of thing – see here). And, there is even some logic found for why the US would try and isolate Iran at this time – the launch of a new international oil exchange which is based there. But, I can’t help feeling that if it is a conspiracy, it’s a fairly ham-fisted one :-

  1. It doesn’t take long to route around or repair the breaks. For most areas it never really stopped, and to be honest I’m not that convinced that it is out in Iran – they may have just asked their main router to not respond to pings (government web sites are still available – e.g. here. Might be cached somewhere of course). So, the inconvenience is very temporary, and I haven’t noticed any new overt war going on
  2. There is little lost ‘face’ in delaying the launch of the new exchange by a few days in the event that it is affected. The worst case would be that they had not built in redundancy properly, in which case they deserve to get some flack … but will now build it in
  3. It signals vulnerability to Iran, so giving them opportunity to remedy the dependence (if they want to)
  4. If found out it will get the US even less international credibility, and give a cause celebre for Iran – a monumental own goal

So, even though it seems pretty unlikely, I do find it even less credible that it’s deliberate (always possible it’s to create or avoid a situation that is not public, and so not prone to external analysis). And, statistics about how improbable it is miss that extreme coincidences are BOUND to occur statistically – it’s only predicting the area that they occur in that is impossible.

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