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Libya Matters to Cloud Computing, Like It or Not

Wars Have a Way of Screwing Up Business Plans

A lot of Republican politicians in the US have become instant policy experts on the situation in Libya. They seem united that, one way or another, President Obama is simply not doing the right thing.

The latest is former New York City mayor and failed presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. Not to single him out, but he provides a very good example of someone who was found wanting, early in the process, in his attempt to become the nation's Commander-in-Chief and head of state and government.

Why would his opinion on this issue matter anymore than any other individual's opinion?

The Journalistic Backdrop
Sportswriters are not supposed to cheer in the press box, and for a few decades, very few journalists were allowed to reveal their politics. Today's ugly environment has brought us to the brink of the bad old days of the 18th and 19th centuries.

It has also resulted in a loss of credibility for almost all politicians and commentators; we believe they have thought things through and are commenting on them honestly as much as we believe a Microsoft or Oracle press release is a fair-minded analysis of Cloud Computing.

Meanwhile, Silicon Valley is noted for its bloodless political climate, an absence of passion in a region that stays focused on technology, creating wealth if not culture. So it may seem a bit rude-or more important, off-message-to muse about geopolitics in a discussion of Cloud Computing.

But none of us lives in a vacuum, no matter how hard some of us may try to. Wars have a way of screwing up even the best business plans. We should all be paying attention to Libya and the rest of the Arab world. Ignoring it or rationalizing that it's not germane to our business is a cop-out.

All War & No Business
To say we need to pay attention to the world situation is not to say we need to inject politics into the conversation. I'll leave my views of George W. Bush's Iraq and Afghanistan policies to conversations with my friends.

What I will say he is that he seemed to ignore completely any concerns with the domestic economy during his time in office. Iraq seemed to become an obsession with his Adminsistration and those reporting on it and opining about it.

Meanwhile, the US manufacturing base rotted out beneath us, losing far more jobs in those years than it had in the infamous Rust Belt Era of the 70s and 80s. The US economic transition to a "service" economy resulted in higher income disparity, even as masses of people flocked to the fast-food franchises and Wal-Marts that they blamed in large part for hollowing out the economy.

Inflection Points
The election of President Obama was seen as a major inflection point in US history because of his father's DNA. The premature awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to him on the grounds of him not being George W. Bush now seems bitterly ironic, given that he's felt compelled to let the Tomahawks fly.

Yet the literal absence of American leadership in Libya-a deliberate strategy taken as a middle ground between non-involvement and traditional US belligerence-represents an inflection point as well. The US has been looked to as the world's policeman, rightly or wrongly, for decades now.

Historians may draw a parallel between this position and President Wilson's reluctance to enter World War I. The reality then was that, in the end, the US ended up committing in a big way, and probably could've ended the war earlier had it gotten involved earlier.

So where do we stand? 
What is the proper course for the US in Libya? What was the proper course in Egypt, and what is it now? How about the rest of the Arab world? What if there is sudden trouble in Saudi Arabia?

The big step in entering a war is not choosing the level of aggression and involvement. The big step is entering it in the first place. Once you've, frankly, decided your country is going to kill people, history has shown that doing so in a limited way with changing objectives will fail.

Meanwhile, the battle to convert IT people to Cloud Computing continues. This is not a life-and-death struggle, and perhaps even using the word "battle" is disrespectful to those who do put their lives on the line.

But business is important. Productivity is important. Economic progress is important. Human ethics and behavior have clearly not changed since the Stone Age, but our lifestyles have. War always threatens to set the clock back.

For now, the US has entrusted Barack Obama to be its Commander-in-Chief. How he handles this task will be judged by history. Listening to politicians speak hypocritically even by their standards about his performance is a bigger time waster than Farmville.

My only hope is that the President remembers something I'm sure many of his friends from Chicago have told him-once you throw that first punch, you had better be prepared for a big, ugly fight. If this is not what you want, don't throw the punch.

But don't have somebody else do it for you. That's weak.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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