Wikileaks 4, a different view of the infrastructure list

Last December, I commented on the State Department’s leaked list of critical infrastructure, saying that as a target list it left a lot to be desired. Now, architecture/geography site BldgBlog has posted an insightful article on how the items on the list define the outer limits of US security, and so in a way become part of us. UPDATE: a more complete article, with map, is available at Domus.

Seen this way, it matters less what specific sites appear in the Wikileaks cable, and simply that these sites can be listed at all. A globally operating, planetary sovereign requires a new kind of geography: discontinuous, contingent, and nontraditionally vulnerable, hidden from public view until rare leaks such as these.

Of course, you don’t have to be a planetary sovereign to be able to create a list like this, you just have to be a country that is enmeshed in the web that is global trade. The list defines a country’s economic diversity as much as anything. A similar list from the UK, or Italy, would include many of the same installations, and for the same reasons. And if their list didn’t include a rare-earth mine or widget assembly factory, it’s because they don’t have any industries that use rare-earths or widgets as primary inputs.

If you were to do this for every country in the world, and then connected the dots, you would get something that looked like a connectivity map of the Internet, with some nodes having a wider reach than others. Of course, that will never happen — the Internet is built on cooperation, and I could build such a map from my mom’s basement, while the econosphere is built on competition, and it took a Wikileak to get even one country’s list.

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