After losses, US eyes tile trackers for at-risk states

Obama to attach tracker tiles to countries to prevent losing themWASHINGTON — Reeling from widespread criticism that his administration has lost Egypt and is presiding over the loss of Iraq, President Obama has announced he intends to affix iOS tile trackers to other troubled countries in the region.

The bluetooth-enabled tiles are more commonly attached to keys and wallets, or placed in purses. Users can then quickly locate misplaced items by means of a tracking app on their iOS device.

The move is designed to ensure that the president will be able to keep tabs on Middle Eastern and Southwest Asian countries — even from the golf course or swanky Manhattan restaurants.

In an ironic historical twist, the tracking technology was originally developed in the 1980s as a top-secret joint venture between the CIA and the Rand Corporation to prevent the loss of more friendly countries following the 1979 overthrow of the American-backed Shah of Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan later that year.

But the project was shelved amid Clinton-era defense cuts, and the rights to the system were later sold to smartphone app developers.

Proponents of the plan, said to include Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden, believe it could prevent vulnerable countries being lost to radical Islamists or drawn into the orbit of a resurgent Russia.

It’s believed that Jordan will be the first Middle Eastern nation to be fitted with a tile, and sources say that high-level negotiations are also under way with Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

Talks aimed at securing an agreement to stick a tile on Afghanistan have so far been stymied by erratic President Hamid Karzai, who has claimed the U.S. would use the tile to direct drone strikes, which he alleges kill innocent civilians. However, both candidates to replace Karzai have committed in principle to accept the tile should they emerge victorious from the current electoral recount.

The current political unrest in Pakistan has forced the State Department to put on hold its plans for a tile there. Diplomatic sources have not ruled out covert affixation of tiles if foreign governments do not acquiesce with U.S. requests.

The policy is not without precedent. Stung by criticism over the loss of China to the Communists in 1949, the Truman administration tied brightly-colored balloons to several Asian countries in the early 1950s, including South Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam. However the balloon attached to Vietnam blew away in a storm, resulting in the eventual loss of that country in 1975.