Archive for October, 2010

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Despite Scare Talk, Attacks on Pentagon Networks Drop | Danger Room | Wired.com

How are things going on the cybersecurity front?  According to Wired.com’s Danger Room, things may be looking up despite what you may hear from those charged with defending our critical information systems.

In the first six months of 2010, there were about 30,000 such incidents, according to statistics compiled by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Last year, there were more than 71,000. “If the rate of malicious activity from the first half of this year continues through the end of the year,” the commission notes in a draft report on China and the internet, “2010 could be the first year in a decade in which the quantity of logged events declines.”

The figures are in stark contrast to the sky-is-falling talk coming out of the Beltway.

“Over the past ten years, the frequency and sophistication of intrusions into U.S.military networks have increased exponentially,” Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn wrote in a recent issue of Foreign Affairs.

In his April Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing, U.S. Cyber Command and National Security Agency chief Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander said he was “alarmed by the increase, especially this year” in the number of attempts to scan military networks for potential vulnerabilities. His NSA predecessor, retired Adm. Mike McConnell, took things three steps further, writing: “the United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing.”

Everything old is new again. The tendency for defense officials to exaggerate threats in order to justify larger budgets and enhanced missions as old as we can imagine. It’s understandable, too, but then so is the old story about boys crying wolf.

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What my students think of NATO | Stephen M. Walt

Walt reports on a class discussion that paralleled a discussion we had in class the other day about the continued existence of NATO.

Walt’s students concluded that NATO should continue:

First, NATO has been around for sixty years, and has acquired a nearly iconic status among students and practitioners of foreign policy. Institutionalists often emphasize the “sticky” nature of well-established organizations, and NATO has been such a familiar part of the international landscape that hardly anyone feels comfortable supporting a resolution calling for its dissolution.

Second, NATO doesn’t cost much anymore, and students don’t see a lot of potential benefits from ending it. You know: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The United States doesn’t devote a lot of money to defending Europe (for the obvious reason that there’s no serious threat there), and the Europeans are spending a lot less themselves. Ending the alliance would also involve some short-term costs (e.g., the United States would lose basing rights, etc.), and in a situation like this, the status quo naturally triumphs.

Third, many people still see NATO as an insurance policy against a deteriorating security environment in Europe, and (for Americans) as a way to retain political influence there. Dissolving NATO could lead to renewed security competition within Europe, or it might encourage the European countries to get serious about a common foreign and security policy. Neither of these outcomes is attractive from Washington’s perspective: The United States doesn’t like trouble inEurope, but it also doesn’t want the trouble that a more united Europe could cause. NATO’s continued existence helps avert both of these negative possibilities.

For these (and other) reasons, the real question to ask (and the resolution we should have asked them to debate) is not about NATO’S continued existence, but rather its continued relevance.


So the question isn’t whether NATO has a future, but what is the future for NATO.



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To repeat what I posted in an earlier blog, the use of contractors in the US war in Afghanistan and Iraq in no way benefits our soldiers or gets us closer to our proposed goal of peace and security. Yes it is true that there were not enough US soldiers to fill the positions needed, plus the need for the security of businessmen and NGOs, but that is what some would call spread to thin. The US government cannot use privatization as a means to support itself in war, these mercenaries are often undertrained, overpaid and ignorant of their impact on the larger image of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. In its recent dissemination of over 390,000 military documents, wikileaks shows us the devastating result of the role contractors play in the wars. From their unflagged and unmarked SUVs serving as magnets for insurgent and belligerent civilian attacks, they also confuse US and other foreign soldiers as to whose side the contractors are on. A lack of rules of engagement and a strange gray area of immunity from persecution has lead to many many deaths, of both foreign contractors and Iraqi civilians. The use of contractors as mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan must stop if we are going to improve our image and leave the region in relative peace.


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Is this how we spread democracy?  By allowing the same practices used by Saddam Hussein which we supposedly fought to end?

The whisteblowing website WikiLeaks recently leaked nearly 400,000 classified US military documents now dubbed “The Iraq War Logs” which various international news outlets (including The New York Times, The Guardian, and Al Jazeera) have been examining for information.  As of yesterday, these news organizations have revealed that US military authorities allowed the abuse, torture, and execution of Iraqi prisoners.  In addition to this, the number of civilian deaths were severely under reported during the six year period these documents cover.

A snippet from The Guardian’s article:

The new logs detail how:

• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.

More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

As a result of this new information, the United Nations is calling on President Obama to investigate the complicity of the United States military forces in these human rights abuses.  Increasingly we are discovering (with the aid of sources like WikiLeaks) that the US military has engaged in these sorts of things.  We used to think Abu Ghraib was the exception, but now it’s beginning to look like there is a possibility that turning a blind eye to prisoner abuse has been standard operating procedure for the military in Iraq for quite some time.

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Here we go again

The US after 9/11 has lifted sanctions from Pakistan and Pakistan became our ally, in a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. But the fact that bothers many is the position that Pakistan is suppose to play. It still seems unclear:

In the region and in the wider war against terrorism, Pakistan has long played a vital positive part — and a troublingly negative one. With Pakistani civilian and military leaders meeting with Obama administration officials this week in Washington — and with The Times report on Tuesday that Afghan and Taliban leaders are holding direct, high-level talks to end the war — cutting through this Gordian knot has become more urgent and more difficult than ever before.

Pakistan has done, and continues to do, a great deal of good: many of the supply lines and much of the logistical support for NATO forces in Afghanistan run through Pakistan. Drones striking terrorists and militants in the tribal areas do so with the Pakistani government’s blessing and rely on Pakistani bases. And Pakistani security services have worked with the Central Intelligence Agency to capture hundreds of Qaeda operatives.

At the same time, Pakistan gives not only sanctuary but also support to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani terrorist network. This has hampered our military efforts; contributed to American, coalition and Afghan deaths; and helped sour relations between Kabul and Washington.

So why do we keep giving billion of dollars in aid, only to aid the enemy? Time for a longer battle? Or Time for:

accepting a major setback in Afghanistan and in the surrounding region[?]

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“According to  a NATO office who told CNN Osama bin Laden is living comfortably in northwest Pakistan protected by local tribespeople and some mebers of the Country’s intelligence service. U.S intelligence officals have long believed that bin Laden is living in the remote tribal region of northwest Pakistan. But at times, the government has also claimed that the al-Qaida leader has had to move frequently”

This news statement COMPLETELY exposes the ie that Bush and Obama has been telling the American citizens since 9/11, the idea that bin Laden has been moving from rock to rock and cave to cave.

So what does this say about American media and how it affects U.S Foreign Policy? The government simply has too much power on their hands controlling the media and what it tells the American citizens. Based on simply this small stream of bin Laden’s actual whereabouts it shows the fact that the American government was never open from the beginning about this ordeal.


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Foreign Policy’s Robert Pape explains new research that overturns one of the most dangerous misconceptions of our time, linking suicide terrorism to Islam. Pape first explains how since 9/11 America has come to make the connection between terrorism and Islam. We have invaded two Islamic countries, and sent Special Forces troops to many many more, we do it all in the name of national interest ,to protect the American people.

Pape puts forward an argument that I hope will be taken into account by our government and military heads. Using research to show the explosion of the number of suicide bombings (bad pun) in the last 10 years, Pape links these bombings to foreign occupation, not Islam. Showing how we can better understand and prevent these bombing by understanding their root causes. By increases troops and invading countries we only play into the hands of our enemies, creating more people with anti-American attitudes. For those that dispute the link, Pape uses to factors to explain the suicides. One is social difference between the occupied and occupier, if there is a large difference and thus more of a threat to the way of life of those occupied than threat of suicide bombings increase. Religion has plays a role, when the religions are different there is a higher propensity toward suicides. Not because any particular religion is predisposed to use suicide bombings, but because it allows religious figures to claim that the occupier is doing so as a religious agenda. The second factor is prior rebellion. Suicide bombing is used only as a last resort, when a fighter is weak and feels there are no other options.

Pape’s article is informative and daring in its questioning of hardest American assumptions. It faces the reality of the situation and if acted upon, could hopefully lead to a safer US as well as a safer place for those we are now occupying.




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