27 November 2019

Defense Dialogue Highlights Singapore-India Security Collaboration

By Prashanth Parameswaran

Last week, India and Singapore held this year’s iteration of the defense ministers’ dialogue between the two countries. The dialogue spotlighted some of the ongoing efforts by both countries to make further inroads in their security ties amid wider domestic and regional developments.

The annual Singapore-India Defense Ministers’ Dialogue (DMD) was first held following the signing of the revised Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) in 2015 as both countries commemorated the 50th anniversary of their defense relationship during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Singapore. This was part of a series of developments that have spotlighted India’s growing effort to deepen security collaboration with key Southeast Asian states under Modi.

Last week, the defense aspect of the relationship was in the headlines again with the holding of the fourth iteration of the DMD. The dialogue was co-chaired by Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen and visiting Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh in Singapore – the first time that both had done so since Singh had taken over from his predecessor Nirmala Sitharaman earlier this year.

Hot Issue – Al-Qaeda’s Long Game in the Sinai

By: Michael W. S. Ryan

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s long-game strategy has created international networks with the ultimate intention of creating a united Islamic Emirate to take the place of the lost Ottoman Caliphate, across a continuous band from Turkistan to the Atlantic coast. [1] Bruce Hoffman brought the implications of al-Qaeda’s expansive international presence, including countries beyond Zawahiri’s traditional caliphate, into bold relief over a year ago when he argued that al-Qaeda “should now be considered the world’s top terrorist group.” [2] A renewed look is especially important now that the United States has shifted its national security priorities away from counterterrorism in the Greater Middle East and North Africa to focus on the threats posed by Russia and China. Now, President Donald Trump has also signaled his intention to abandon the successful American counterterrorism strategy that is based on strategic relationships with local partners who provide ground forces and are assisted by small cadres of American Special Forces.

While the world press has been focused on the potential resurgence of Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq in the aftermath of the fall of the physical caliphate and the death of its self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a serious threat may emerge from al-Qaeda’s networks of like-minded Jihadi-Salafist groups. Many IS fighters in Syria are not Syrians. Academic studies and past experience have shown that once converted to an extremist ideology, such individuals resist surrendering to reason. If they escape from Syria, do they return to another prison in their home countries, or do they travel to another “hot jihad” location with an IS affiliate in Egypt or North Africa, or perhaps this time disappear into al-Qaeda’s networks? [3] Like others before them, will Egyptians with significant experience fighting with Jihadi-Salafist groups in Syria or Iraq decide to find their way to use their battle skills in the Sinai or elsewhere in North Africa? Al-Qaeda’s online voices are suggesting that IS fighters join them in a common struggle against the forces of unbelief. Could IS under its new caliph, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi, allow cooperation in the field with al-Qaeda networked groups without requiring a formal alliance? While this decision will likely come slowly, if at all, in the battlefields across the Greater Middle East and Africa, the lines between IS and al-Qaeda have begun to blur. If the recent past has one lesson, Sinai could provide logistical and command links from the central Muslim lands into the active fields of jihad in North Africa, the Sahel, and sub-Saharan West Africa.

Like In Iran, 1979 Changed The U.S.-Pakistan Relationship Forever

by Connor Martin

2019 marks the 40th anniversary of 1979 – which, aside from being just another anniversary, was a landmark year for American foreign and national security policy regarding the Greater Middle East. In fact, 1979 may be said to mark the year when multiple developments fundamentally changed our approach to security policy across the Islamic world. 

That year, particularly the months of November and December, saw the occurrence of several tectonic events: the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and the start of the Iran hostage crisis, the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Alarming and frustrating at the time – these events represented a sea change that we’re still grappling with today.

But another notable incident also occurred exactly 40 years ago – one that was somewhat overshadowed by other events at the time, and that has, unfortunately, been somewhat lost to history since.

US-Taliban Unofficial Talks Underway in Doha: Sources


Discussion between the US and Taliban has begun again in Qatar, but in an unofficial capacity, two sources familiar with the matter told TOLOnews.

The sources said the two sides are discussing a reduction in violence and the resumption of official talks between American and Taliban negotiators.

“The talks right now are underway secretly and I think that they are in favor of Afghanistan,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander now based in Kabul. “Based on my information, official negotiations are not underway like they were in the past.”

The Presidential Palace said Washington is consulting with the Afghan government during these unofficial talks. 

“This time, we are in agreement in the sense that our goals and priorities for peace are completely clear, with issues like a reduction of violence which will result in a ceasefire, and, ultimately, the start of direct negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban,” said presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

Pentagon races to end China's 'dream' of military domination in space

By Bill Gertz
Source Link

The United States and China are rapidly building space warfare capabilities as part of a race to dominate the zone outside Earth’s atmosphere.

Air Force Gen. John W. Raymond, commander of the Pentagon’s new Space Command, said last week that the threat of attacks against vital American satellites is real.

“I can tell you from my perspective, the scope, scale and complexity of that threat is alive and well and very concerning,” Gen. Raymond told an audience Nov. 18 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

China’s strategy for dominating space was detailed this month in the annual report of the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The commission report warned that China wants to dominate the zone between the Earth and the moon, known as cislunar space, as part of what the ruling Communist Party of China calls the “Space Dream.”

Takeover Trap: Why Imperialist China Is Invading Africa

by Akol Nyok Akol Dok, Bradley A. Thayer

China is in Africa not to advance Maoism, but to control its resources, people, and potential.

Africa is on the cusp of a new period in its history, its renaissance. Freed from centuries of colonialism and neo-imperialism, Africa has the opportunity to become a center of economic might to provide prosperity to the continent’s growing population. Yet, at present, Africa unfortunately faces a new danger: Sino-imperialism, the risk of falling under the control of China largely through Chinese economic investment and loans. The People’s Republic of China has long supported African states since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) came to power in 1949. Under Mao, China’s backed African liberation movements in an effort to advance Maoism and offset Soviet and American influence. In much of Africa today, China is the imperialist power. 

China is in Africa now not to advance Maoism, but to control its resources, people, and potential. From building railways in Kenya and roads in rural Ethiopia to running mines in the Congo, China has drastically changed the African economic landscape in the twentieth century. China lent nearly $125 billion to Africa between 2000 and 2006 and recently pledged $60 billion at the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Co-operation. The Chinese superficially appear to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with Africa by providing financial and technical assistance to Africa’s pressing developmental needs. Trade between China and Africa has grown from $10 billion in 2000 to $190 billion by 2017. It is estimated that 12 percent of Africa industrial production, or $500 billion annually—nearly half of Africa’s internationally contracted construction market—is carried out by Chinese firms.

Report: 7 Reasons That China's Military Is No Pushover

Michael Peck,

Key point: The U.S. military can no longer take its advantages for granted.

Western media seized on a new Pentagon report that Chinese bombers are training to strike deep into the Western Pacific, including Guam, the Philippines and Japan.

But China's military is improving in numerous other ways, according to "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2018," a report that the Pentagon is required to deliver to Congress each year.

China's army is becoming more flexible: 

Threat From China Requires Innovative Approach, Says DOD Official

BY DAVID VERGUN

Alan Shaffer, deputy under secretary of defense, acquisition and sustainment, discussed the threat from China and what the U.S. must do to respond to the threat.

''We’ve been in conflict with China for 10 years and I'm not sure we know it. But we've got to wake up to it,'' he warned, citing an example.

''How valuable is your intellectual property to you?'' Shaffer asked several dozen small and large military contractor executives in the audience.

''Very valuable,'' they responded.

''It better make you mad,'' Shaffer said. ''China doesn’t play fair.''

Each year, China steals over half a trillion dollars of IP in the U.S. through human and cyber espionage, he said, citing several reports.

The Uneven and Combined Emergence of “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics”

GEORG MCCUTCHEON

The People’s Republic of China’s (henceforth named China) development over the past decades has been nothing short of extraordinary. While undergoing constant transformation and recording the world’s second highest GDP ($) in 2017[1], the socialist past appears a distant memory. Put bluntly, since the start of economic reform in 1978, China is booming with a “unique blend of planned economy and unbridled capitalism”.[2] Meisner even contends that the self-proclaimed Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has evolved to become the guardian of Chinese capitalism.[3] At a glance this may appear as a paradox, due to the apparent zero sum game between communism and capitalism that has been continuously perpetuated by the rhetoric of the Cold War.[4] Conversely, this essay will argue that the emergence of specific ‘Chinese characteristics’ within the country’s manifestation of capitalism, can be understood as an outcome of uneven and combined development (U&CD). Through applying Trotsky’s framework of U&CD to China’s development since 1978, the aim is to show that the Chinese economy is not paradoxical in itself, but rather possesses distinct features which materialised as an amalgamation of pre-existing internal socio-political structures and international influences of Western capitalism. The argument will be structured in the following manner. Firstly, an outline is provided of the advantages that are adherent to the theory of U&CD in explaining the particular elements of Chinese capitalism, followed by a section on the important impact of socialist policies on the peasantry under Mao. Next, the essay shifts focus to Trotsky’s theory of U&CD before applying it to the nexus of 1978. Finally, the argument will be sharpened through detailing some of the precise combinations in the context of labour relations and enterprise management that have resulted from the interaction of China with the global capitalist economy. In sum, this essay will show that conceptualising China’s economic development through the lens of U&CD allows for a specific understanding of the peculiarities in China’s socio-economic spectrum and ultimately elucidates the allegedly paradoxical synthesis of a self-proclaimed communist party adopting a capitalist mode of production for economic gain.

The Complicated Geopolitics of U.S. Oil Sanctions on Iran

by Amy M. Jaffe

It is often said, perhaps with some hyperbole, that Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers was the best hope for conflict resolution in the Middle East. Its architect John Kerry argues instead that the 2015 deal’s limited parameter of closing Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapon is sufficient on the merits. The Trump administration is taking a different view, focusing on Iran’s escalating threats to U.S. allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Those threats, which have included missile, drone, and cyberattacks on Saudi oil facilities, are looming large over the global economy because they are squarely influencing the volatility of the price of oil. One could argue that the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Iranian deal, referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has injected an even higher degree of risk into oil markets, where traders now feel that the chances of Mideast conflict resolution are lower.

Will Iran Become the Next Soviet Union (As In Bankrupted by Massive Military Spending)?

by Michael Peck
Source Link

While Iran’s rulers have no aspirations to be a superpower, they do seem to covet being a regional hegemon as the Persian Empire was. So far, Iran has waged war on the cheap by using proxies rather than massive troop commitments as the U.S. did in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. But as Hezbollah has discovered when its Iranian subsidies were slashed, even war on the cheap can be expensive.

That means more ballistic missiles to hit its enemies, as well as mines and other naval weapons to close the Persian Gulf to oil tankers, according to a new report on Iranian military power by the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s pet spy service.

But the question is whether Tehran can afford to develop these capabilities.

DIA expects that Iran will continue to use unconventional means such as terrorism, or supporting proxies such as Hezbollah to do the dirty work against perceived enemies such as the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. But it is also determined to build up capabilities in more conventional arms.

What ISIS Will Become

KATHY GILSINAN, MIKE GIGLIO

The group has lost its territory and its leader. But it has survived before—and can do it again.

It was the summer of 2014 when most Americans took notice of the Islamic State, but the group had been around in different forms for about a decade. Many of its fighters were the same people who’d fought U.S. troops under the name of al-Qaeda in Iraq, until a massive U.S. military effort suppressed them. Then the American people and their government decided that the war was done.

What came next was a renewed militant group with even greater international ambitions, as ISIS captured territory across Iraq and Syria and declared it a caliphate. Now, with the U.S. government once again trying to wind down a war following the so-called caliphate’s collapse, the question is whether ISIS can repeat its history of survival, and what it might morph into next.

Radicalizing In The Name Of Islam – Analysis

By Johanna Markind

In the years since the 9/11 attacks, the individual perpetrators of these and similar crimes have scarcely been studied although, since July 2015 alone, Islamists have murdered at least 92 people in the United States.[1] Many others have been convicted—or are being prosecuted—for joining or trying to join the self-named Islamic State (ISIS).[2] Analysis of all mass murderers’ motivations, ideologies, and radicalization is crucial, but it has been neglected for offenders claiming to act in the name of Islam. However, a data-rich study by sociology professor Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a window into Islamist terrorist radicalization.

Overlooking Islamic Radicalization

Understanding who radicalizes and why they do is a crucial undertaking. “If you know yourself but not the enemy,” Sun Tzu famously wrote in the Art of War, “for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.” Likewise in criminal justice, understanding offenders helps prevent crime.[3]

Europe Wants ‘Strategic Autonomy,’ but That’s Much Easier Said Than Done

Stewart M. Patrick 

When NATO leaders meet next week in London, one phrase will be on everybody’s lips: European strategic autonomy. While the ambiguous concept is open to competing interpretations, its general thrust is clear. It connotes a growing aspiration among many countries in Europe to set their own global priorities and act independently in security and foreign policy, and to possess sufficient material and institutional capabilities to implement these decisions, with partners of their own choosing. The notion is at the heart of President Emmanuel Macron’s vision of a “sovereign” Europe, and of the ambitions of the incoming president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to create a “geopolitical commission.”

Strategic autonomy has obvious appeal to Europeans at a time of fraying trans-Atlantic bonds and deepening great-power competition. Aspiring to self-reliance is one thing, however. Achieving it will require much more from the European Union. The heterogeneous bloc will have to develop a coherent strategic culture and come to some agreement on a shared assessment of threats—and on how the EU should pursue its interests and promote its values internationally. Europeans must also reassure the United States that any new EU military capabilities will complement rather than undermine NATO. ...

The Suez Canal: A Route for Cultivating the Peace with Egypt

Ofir Winter

Egypt is currently marking the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Suez Canal. The centrality of the Canal has increased since August 2015, when President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi inaugurated the New Suez Canal – an engineering project intended to increase the revenues from the Canal. An interim evaluation of the project and the efforts at development of the Suez Canal Economic Zone indicates successes alongside disappointments, and sheds light on the challenges awaiting Egypt in the coming years. These challenges include: the mobilization of investments for the development of the Canal Economic Zone; the reduction of bureaucratic impediments facing investors; and the training of a suitable workforce. Israel and Egypt have a common interest in nurturing and intensifying their relations surrounding the Canal along the following channels: secured shipping in the Canal and along the maritime routes leading to it, in the face of possible threats from Salafist-jihadist terrorist forces and from Iran and its proxies; the expansion of economic cooperative efforts in the industrial zones along the Canal; and the initiation of urgent regional activity aimed at reducing the ecological damage caused by the invasion of species from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea via the Canal.On November 17, 2019, Egypt marked the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Suez Canal. The Canal was inaugurated in 1869 with an impressive ceremony attended by the world’s elite, and over the years became an important shipping artery – currently 10 percent of world trade passes through it. The Canal’s status increased further during the era of President el-Sisi, who in August 2015 inaugurated the New Suez Canal with an event intended to recreate the opening of the original Canal. The 2015 ceremony branded the Canal’s upgrade as the regime’s flagship project, whose aim was twofold: 1) to increase the revenue of the Canal by expanding the traffic passing through it – more ships and larger ships in less time; and 2) the development of service and industrial zones along the Canal for the purpose of maximizing its economic potential.

Don’t Break Alliances Over Money

by Bruce Klingner 

However, such exorbitant demands overlook not only the key contributions already made by both allies but the fact that our alliances are all about shared interests. Trump should adopt an incremental approach to address his concerns with cost—one that can also maintain allied cohesion. At a time when Pyongyang is rejecting a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear crisis and threatening to take more dire actions by year’s end, the need for a careful approach could not be more evident.

The Importance of U.S. Forces Overseas

Attaining and defending American national interests in Asia requires U.S. bases and access, sufficient forward-deployed military forces to deter aggression, robust follow-on forces, and strong alliances and security relationships with South Korea, Japan and other countries in that part of the world. The U.S. military presence in Asia is also an indisputable signal of Washington’s commitment to defend its allies and maintain peace and stability in the region.

Russian troops take command of U.S. airbase in northern Syria


Northern Syria — Russian troops have taken command of a U.S. airbase in northern Syria — and without firing a shot. Russian state media showed commandos staging what looked like a military invasion.

Choppers descending onto the dusty runway, troops taking up combat positions. The Russians are playing up the takeover of the Kobani airfield as a victory.

The former U.S. airbase that served as the main logistical hub for America's fight against ISIS, now with the Russian flag flying above it.

The Russians moved in just a day after U.S. forces moved out, leaving behind barracks, beds, abandoned medical supplies and the skeleton of a gym with weights removed, to render it useless.Russians have taken command of the Kobani airfield in northern Syria. The same can't be said of the runway, however. An American-made landing strip now under Russian management.

Assessing North Korea’s Cyber Evolution

By Ali Crawford

Ali Crawford has an M.A. from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce where she focused on diplomacy, intelligence, cyber policy, and cyber warfare. She tweets at @ali_craw. Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.

Author and / or Article Point of View: The author believes that the international community’s focus on addressing North Korea’s nuclear capability sets the conditions whereby their cyber capabilities can evolve unchecked.

Summary: Despite displaying a growing and capable cadre of cyber warriors, North Korean cyber prowess has been overshadowed by threats of nuclear proliferation. While North Korea remains extremely isolated from the global community, it has conducted increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks over a short span of time. In a relatively short period of time, North Korea has cultivated a cyber acumen worth recognizing as threatening as its nuclear program.

The War in Ukraine Must End

by Lyle J. Goldstein
Source Link

For the parade of American diplomats visiting Capitol Hill lately, the “clear and present danger” is that America might fail to deliver on the half-billion dollars or so of annual aid that keeps the current regime in Kyiv afloat, as such aid has now for almost the last thirty years. To be sure, there have been some benefits. With European and American aid, the former Chernobyl nuclear plant is apparently now adorned with solar panels and wind farms are to follow. How charming. Of course, these renewables are not likely to solve Ukraine’s energy problems any time soon, but it might at least give comfort to millions of HBO fans. Indeed, if Kyiv loses the substantial transit fees that it has gotten for years by transporting Russian gas, Washington will have a much larger hole to fill in helping Kyiv out of its 

That point invites greater scrutiny of the famous phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, wherein the two Presidents together muse about how lackluster support has been for Ukraine from both Berlin and Paris. Perhaps these two aloof North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies just need to be educated by the American foreign policy elite on the alleged stark reality confronting European security? Or maybe the threat is actually not so grave, after all? Should Ukraine, with all its foibles, really constitute the crucible on which the future of world politics will turn, as Washington’s legions of Ukraine advocates constantly argue?

A Rebellious World Is Taking It to the Streets

Charles Glass

Mass protests are happening in a growing number of countries for different reasons and with various goals.

The inclination is to look for a common thread that ties today's popular outrage together; such a search not only would prove difficult but probably also futile.

Protests forced change in Sudan and Algeria this year, and have animated Lebanon with a new spirit of anti-sectarian unity; so, while success is rare and hard to sustain, the powers that be don't always prevail.

Demonstrators were out on the streets when I returned to France last week, most of them peacefully protesting but enough burning cars and smashing windows in central Paris for the police to deploy water cannons and tear gas. The latest outbreak marked the first anniversary of a movement, les gilets jaunes or yellow vests, outraged by President Emmanuel Macron's attempt to increase the tax on diesel that fuels most vehicles in rural areas. Although Macron swiftly withdrew the tax, protests have continued in Paris and elsewhere every Saturday since. Participation dwindled, but the anniversary riot showed that the yellow vests are not going away. In this, they stand with the mainstream of protests all over the world.

A Growing Tally

Bolivia After Morales

By Santiago Anria and Kenneth M. Roberts 

In the days since Evo Morales stepped down as president of Bolivia and fled to Mexico, two starkly divergent accounts of his downfall have emerged among observers around the world. In one, Morales is the victim of a brazen right-wing coup, the latest in a long line of progressive Latin American leaders toppled by reactionary forces. In another, Morales had turned increasingly autocratic, clinging to power with little regard for checks and balances, and his ouster was a rare victory for democracy and the rule of law at a time when authoritarianism is on the upswing.

Neither narrative captures the whole story, yet both contain a kernel of truth. Morales and his allies all too often used their popularity as license to concentrate political power and marginalize opponents, and in so doing laid the groundwork for his ultimate downfall. Yet in his nearly 14 years in power, Morales also oversaw social and economic reforms that vastly reduced inequality and gave countless Bolivians a new voice and influence over how the country was run—a remarkable legacy of social transformation that any future government should work to preserve.

Mending Gulf Fences Could Weaken Support For US Sanctions Against Iran – Analysis

By James M. Dorsey

Saudi efforts to negotiate an end to the Yemen war in a bid to open a dialogue with Iran could call into question continued Gulf support for US President Donald J. Trump’s maximum pressure campaign against the Islamic republic.

Saudi officials hope that talks mediated by Oman and Britain between the kingdom and Houthi rebels will lead to a revival of stalled talks between the Yemeni insurgents and the Saudi-backed, internationally recognized government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has tasked his younger brother and Saudi deputy defense minister, Khalid bin Salman, with engineering an end to the Yemeni war as part of a broader revamp of Saudi foreign policy.

The revamp involves a return to a more cautious foreign and defense policy that embraces multilateralism after several years in which the kingdom adopted an assertive and robust go-it alone approach that produced several fiascos, including the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen 4.5 years ago.

Global Deaths From Terrorism Fell 15% In 2018


The 2019 Global Terrorism Index has been published and it has good news - deaths from terrorism fell 15 percent between 2017 and 2018. The trend is distinctly downwards and deaths have now halved in the past four years. Unfortunately, there is also some bad news and the number of countries directly impacted by terrorism has increased to 71, the highest number recorded since 2002.

The report also highlighted another grim trend - an upswing in right-wing terrorism. It has increased for the third year in succession with deaths up 52 percent in Western Europe, North America and Oceania in 2018.

Deep Fakes And National Security – Analysis

By Kelley M. Sayler and Laurie A. Harris*
Source Link

“Deep fakes”—a term that first emerged in 2017 to describe realistic photo, audio, video, and other forgeries generated with artificial intelligence (AI) technologies—could present a variety of national security challenges in the years to come. As these technologies continue to mature, they could hold significant implications for congressional oversight, U.S. defense authorizations and appropriations, and the regulation of social media platforms.

How Are Deep Fakes Created?

Though definitions vary, deep fakes are most commonly described as forgeries created using techniques in machine learning (ML)—a subfield of AI—especially generative adversarial networks (GANs). In the GAN process, two ML systems called neural networks are trained in competition with each other. The first network, or the generator, is tasked with creating counterfeit data—such as photos, audio recordings, or video footage—that replicate the properties of the original data set. The second network, or the discriminator, is tasked with identifying the counterfeit data. Based on the results of each iteration, the generator network adjusts to create increasingly realistic data. The networks continue to compete—often for thousands or millions of iterations—until the generator improves its performance such that the discriminator can no longer distinguish between real and counterfeit data.

The Growing Power and Threat of Government-Imposed Internet Blackouts


The government of Iran has shut off access to the internet in most of the country amid recent protests, a tactic also used to control civil unrest in India, Ethiopia, Iraq and Sudan. Such restrictions are aimed at preventing protesters from organizing, halting the spread of misinformation, quelling communal violence and even obstructing communications among coup plotters. Governments are likely to continue to use internet blackouts for the foreseeable future, especially as they gain more control over internet and mobile networks.

Editor's Note: ­This security-focused assessment is one of many such analyses found at Stratfor Threat Lens, a unique protective intelligence product designed with corporate security leaders in mind. Threat Lens enables industry professionals and organizations to anticipate, identify, measure and mitigate emerging threats to people, assets and intellectual property the world over. Threat Lens is the only unified solution that analyzes and forecasts security risk from a holistic perspective, bringing all the most relevant global insights into a single, interactive threat dashboard.

Internet Companies Prepare to Fight the ‘Deepfake’ Future

By Cade Metz
Source Link

SAN FRANCISCO — Several months ago, Google hired dozens of actors to sit at a table, stand in a hallway and walk down a street while talking into a video camera.

Then the company’s researchers, using a new kind of artificial intelligence software, swapped the faces of the actors. People who had been walking were suddenly at a table. The actors who had been in a hallway looked like they were on a street. Men’s faces were put on women’s bodies. Women’s faces were put on men’s bodies. In time, the researchers had created hundreds of so-called deepfake videos.

By creating these digitally manipulated videos, Google’s scientists believe they are learning how to spot deepfakes, which researchers and lawmakers worry could become a new, insidious method for spreading disinformation in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election.

Leaks of NSA, CIA Tools Have Leveled Nation-State Cybercriminal Capabilities

Jai Vijayan

The wide availability of tools leaked by the Shadow Brokers and WikiLeaks in 2016 and 2017 have given emerging cyber powers a way to catch up, DarkOwl says.

The public leaks of classified NSA and CIA hacking tools in 2016 and 2017 appear to have leveled the playing field for nation-state cybercriminals to some extent, new research shows.

Threat intelligence firm DarkOwl recently analyzed Dark Web data gathered from public and proprietary sources and found the leaked cyber weapons have strengthened the ability of emerging nation-state actors to attack rivals and project attribution to others.

The NSA and CIA data — released publicly by a group called the Shadow Brokers and WikiLeaks, respectively — included an NSA espionage and mass-surveillance system called UNITEDRAKE, a multiplatform CIA malware suite called HIVE, and numerous documents describing sophisticated false-flag and other cyber-offense tactics.

No, Google's Search Results Aren't Biased

by Mark Jamison

The Wall Street Journal recently reported a shocking revelation: Senior Google employees exert “editorial control over what (its search engine) shows users.” Another journalist and member of the managing board of the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago echoed: “Google is everything we feared.”

The numbers can be impressive: About 1.5 billion people visit this critical and unique information source. Human intervention is involved in directing about 70 percent of academic users, but the humans claim their motives are unprejudiced. Outside groups apply intense pressure to selectively censor information. And it is feared that up to 50 percent of the information presented as scientific is demonstrably false.

Oh, wait. Those are data for US libraries (public and academic). (See here, here, here, here, and here.) Google seems to have less human bias than libraries, and its information is no less accurate.

Warmaking by Remote Control Is a False Choice

by James Holmes
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War is a deeply human undertaking. Trying to take human beings out of it is fraught with unintended consequences. I had a similar inkling about the future after Desert Storm, where Swofford and I both deployed. In March 1991, to herald the armistice, a Navy Times headline blared out that the “ghost of Vietnam” had faded in the desert as U.S. expeditionary forces displayed “unrivaled military might.” That was a bold claim. It was also a plaintive way to announce a victory. Why situate a freshly won triumph in the context of a past defeat?

Because military folk still fretted constantly about losing in Southeast Asia. The ghosts of Vietnam, better known as the “Vietnam Syndrome,” had haunted the U.S. armed forces since the downfall and destruction of South Vietnam almost sixteen years before. President Richard Nixon, who presided over the denouement in Indochina, reputedly coined the phrase to describe a malaise afflicting the American armed forces, government, and society.

Believers in the Vietnam Syndrome regarded it as a cultural impediment to martial success.

The University of Notre Dame is founded.

How 3 Key Allies Will Respond to U.S. Demands on Troop Deployments


Seoul finds itself in a weak position to resist U.S. demands for more money to base troops in South Korea, but the demands will spur its efforts to reduce its dependence on the U.S. military.

Japan will try to bargain Washington's asking price down, but its significant wealth and need for close alignment with the United States mean it will reach a deal. 

Germany's relatively secure, by contrast, and the fact that U.S. troops would likely depart for neighboring Poland, and still shield Germany from Russia, means a complete drawdown of U.S. forces is more likely there.

U.S. demands for huge payment increases from three of its major allies, South Korea, Japan and Germany, for basing military forces on their territory could cause significant shifts in the global U.S. military footprint. The centrality of the United States and its military to South Korea's and Japan's security strategies means Washington is in a strong position to extract more money. But the effort could push Germany further away from the United States.