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OPINION: Washington’s Threat to Germany Over Huawei Another Knee-Jerk Reaction

By Ernest Worthman, AWT Exec. Editor, IEEE Sr. Member

It is always fun to start the day out with a laugh. When I read this feed, I just about fell over. Seriously? Is this entire administration just delirious with a vision that it can snap its fingers and everyone will jump to attention? I am referring to the headline that the administration has threatened Germany if they use Huawei hardware.

Of all that has been written about Huawei and it being the evil empire of tech so far, not one shred of evidence has been turned up that they did anything wrong. And, with the exception of a couple of allies near the south pole (who, likely, sided with Washington against Huawei because they are yet to get on the tech fast track and just want Washington to go away), nobody is listening, anymore.

Now, in a typical act of desperation and childishness, Washington has resorted to threatening one of our best allies – Germany. It says it will withhold intelligence information from Germany if they use Huawei equipment in their 5G networks.

The administration’s rationalization is that Huawei hardware in our allies’ equipment opens the channel for security leaks across players. Again, there is no evidence of this. Besides, this is not new. The fact is that such subversive hardware can be made by anyone and snuck in anywhere. Moreover, this has been an issue for some time already, and not just from China. Therefore, prudent design treats this possibility as a generic security hole. In fact, that is exactly what the EU is doing. Their parliament has adopted the EU cybersecurity act. It is intended to, simply, certify that the hardware meets the EU’s cybersecurity standards. The EU has also put out some actions that will ensure China (and other countries) and the EU can move forward, cooperatively.

All this came about because, recently, German regulators unveiled a plan to implement more stringent security requirements for operators. However, the draft regulations did not explicitly prohibit any equipment provider.

If one reads the report, Washington has “sort of” threatened them by saying, “While intelligence sharing would not cease entirely if Germany allows Chinese equipment, it would not continue at the same level.” How embarrassing for this country to act like it is so important. I am sure Germany is rolling its eyes at this (at a minimum).

Does the United States think it is the only country with intelligence gathering capabilities? Israel has long been ahead of the United States in worldwide counter-intelligence (and technology, in general). I just wonder if all of the other first-world, nation-states, like Germany, France, England, etc. will, eventually grow tired of all this posturing and retaliate. Alternatively, perhaps they are just waiting patiently and hoping this country comes to its senses in 2020.

We have seen this behavior, over and over, by this leadership. This is no more than an immature game of one-upmanship; when the bully cannot convince others of what they want, they start to threaten. I cannot believe that this president, and his minions, thinks that all he has to do is rattle a saber and everyone starts shaking in their boots!

I am reminded of the line that “M” said to Daniel Craig in the 007 movie Skyfall (I believe that was the one but I am open to correction), “We don’t get our news from CNN.” Similarly, I doubt Germany is betrothed to the United States for that much of its intelligence.

In the end, this U.S. position against Huawei and the bullying from Washington is not going to fare well with our 5G rollout. Much has been written about how banning Huawei will have a significant effect on the development and manufacture of 5G equipment and hinder the pace of development and deployment. The administration claims that Ericsson and other manufacturers can pick up the slack. That may be true, eventually. However, replacing Huawei across the board is a monumental task and will take a long time. It will, also, cost United States 5G vendors redesign time and money.

Now that he has had enough time to show the world what kind of president (and person) he is, let us hope 2020 will bring about leaders with cooler heads and brighter minds. That will ensure the “5G revolution, as some have started to call it (and I believe that to be a fitting term), will evolve with cooperation as opposed to confrontation.