Passport

Leaping the Great Firewall of China

Firewallofchina

Wondering if your website is blocked in China? Plug your URL into www.greatfirewallofchina.org, and you'll know instantly if your page is reaching the Middle Kingdom's 125 million Internet users. The slick site is the work of a group of artists and journalists who want "to make the censorship system transparent and keep open the discussion on censorship." The site keeps a record of every URL tested and the result, revealing that the status of many blocked sites changes almost daily. If your site is available, you can even see a preview of how it appears to Chinese surfers. 

Here are some blocked and available sites, according to the Great Firewall:

Wikipedia.org Blocked
Google.com
Sometimes Blocked
Nytimes.comAvailable
CNN: Lou Dobbs Available
Youtube.com
Sometimes Blocked
FreeTibet.org Blocked

FP is not blocked. For more on Chinese censorship, don't miss Mike Boyer's interview with Li Wufeng, China's top Internet censor.

UPDATE: Robert Mayer over at Publis Pundit points out that Chinese bannination doesn't just happen on a site-wide scale. While FP Passport's main page is available in China, some individual pages, such as our previously mentioned interview with China's top internet cop are blocked. Could China's filters be so sophisticated that they can whittle down websites to knock out individual, offending pages? Looks like it.

Passport

Debating Plan B

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP

Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution who is ubiquitous in the U.S. media, told CNN's John Roberts on Saturday:

It seems to me the logical thing is to wait four to six months and use that four to six months to evaluate the surge, and then to develop some plan B proposals.

That's exactly what the U.S. public and political class shouldn't do, Colin Kahl argues in a new web exclusive for FP. It's choosing a future path now, not four or six months down the line, Kahl says, that will allow the United States to avoid being caught off guard if the surge fails. As a Council on Foreign Relations fellow at the U.S. Department of Defense, Kahl traveled to Baghdad in July of 2006 to conduct a study on post-conflict stability operations, so he knows the terrain.

Kahl isn't the only one worried about Plan B. One of Iraq's three vice presidents, Sunni Arab leader Tariq al-Hashemi, told the Associated Press:

I was very frank with the American administration. I encouraged them to think seriously about 'Plan B,'" he said. "What sort of alternative do we have in the future in case the current security plan fails?"

The answer appears to be "none," at least so far. Check out Kahl's piece to see why waiting until the last minute is a bad idea.