19 December 2014

Mediterranean Gas Won't Fix Europe's Energy Woes

December 17, 2014

WASHINGTON - The energy ministers of Israel, Cyprus, and Greece are talking up possible natural gas exports from their countries as a way of diversifying Europe's energy supplies away from Russia. They have lobbied the European Commission to conduct a feasibility study for an undersea gas pipeline to bring Israeli and Cypriot gas to Europe via Greece. Silvan Shalom, energy minister in Israel's outgoing government, said that such a pipeline would ensure that European consumers obtain the cheapest possible gas.

Such advocacy catches the mood of anxiety in Europe about possible blackouts caused by continuing hostilities between Ukraine and Russia. However, studies for the German Marshall Fund show that the technical and commercial viability of a sub-sea Mediterranean pipeline is doubtful. The water between the offshore fields and Greece is very deep, some 2,000 meters in places, and the distance involved is 1,200 kilometers, a major challenge.

Eastern Mediterranean gas would not be cheap for European consumers, given the high costs of exploration, extraction, and transport. In any event, future gas prices in different markets are uncertain, new sources of supply are coming on stream constantly, and demand for additional gas in Europe will remain subdued in the absence of significant economic growth.

The quantity of gas so far discovered offshore Israel and Cyprus limits their capacity to become major exporters. Proven reserves are sufficient to be a game-changer for their own economies but not to attract the kind of investment needed to transport gas to Europe by pipeline or by ship as liquefied natural gas (LNG). Moreover there has still been no final investment decision to develop Leviathan, the largest Israeli offshore field. Discoveries offshore Cyprus are modest and contested by Turkey, which has sent a warship to the zone.

The European Commission has included a sub-sea Mediterranean pipeline or electricity cable on a list of possible future "projects of common interest." But without major technological breakthroughs, these notional projects will remain on the drawing broad. However, exploration is continuing offshore Cyprus, seismic surveys in the Israeli Exclusive Economic Zone have detected a possible large new field, and export prospects could be re-evaluated if considerable additional quantities are found.

With elections in the offing in Israel, Greece, and, indeed, northern Cyprus, there is a temptation to brandish ambitious schemes to build pipelines or electricity cables, without worrying about the fine print. But this is likely to meet a skeptical response in the absence of significant new discoveries. It is also a distraction from more realistic options.

Israel and Cyprus have significant export markets on their doorstep: Egypt and Jordan. Both countries face supply bottlenecks, and Egypt has raised fuel and electricity prices to cut state subsidies and reduce the budget deficit. Gas from Israel could help close the gap between demand and supply in Egypt and Jordan and prevent blackouts, which are a major source of discontent in countries already facing severe political pressures. The relatively short pipelines involved would not require huge infrastructure investments. Existing LNG plants in Egypt could also process Israeli gas for export. When the Palestinian Authority builds a planned power station in the West Bank, it too could become a customer for Israeli gas.

Lift Sanctions Now to Humiliate Putin

DEC 17, 2014 

As Russia's economic crisis deepens, hurting trading partners from Germany to Tajikistan, many will say Westerns sanctions have succeeded. It's a classic stone soup -- or, in the Russian tradition, axe cereal -- story.

In this folktale, a wayfarer, usually a soldier, tricks a stingy host by saying he knows how to make a meal out of some inedible object, a stone or an axe. He starts boiling the thing in a pot, asks for one necessary ingredient, then another -- potatoes, carrots, a bit of meat, some salt -- until the host ends up sharing all she had in the house and eats the soup with relish. (In the Russian version, it's cereal, so not that many ingredients are required.) Economically, Western sanctions are the stone in the soup that is the Russian crisis.

Unconditionally lifting them now would probably be the best way to humiliate Russian President Vladimir Putin and undermine his standing at home.

The sanctions were first introduced in March, after Russia annexed Crimea, but they only got serious in July, after someone -- apparently Russia-backed rebels -- accidentally shot down a passenger airliner over eastern Ukraine. Their effect was to cut off Russia's state-owned companies from Western debt markets. By extension, all Russian borrowers became toxic to Western lenders. Even this, however, did not cause any major turmoil in Russia: It is a commodities-based economy, and with oil fetching more than $100 per barrel, the state companies and the financial authorities could attend to any and all refinancing needs without outside help.

Wrecking Russia’s economy could be a disaster for the west

16 December 2014

It’s sheer folly to hope that the country is destabilised and Vladimir Putin overthrown. We’ve no idea what the outcome would be 

'Bush understood nothing about Russia – from the moment he looked into Putin’s eyes and told us he got a sense of his soul.'

Like a rudderless ship running out of fuel and buffeted in an icy storm, the Russian economy looks as if it is heading for a crash. All the graphs – the rouble-dollar rate, the slump in GDP, bank interest rates, oil prices – look like menacing icebergs. The only question seems to be how long the ship can stay afloat.

There are two immediate causes of the crisis: the price of oil, and western sanctions. Oil is trading at below $60 a barrel while Russia, still overwhelmingly dependent on exports of its most precious resource, needs a price of $105 to balance its books. That’s the consequence of having failed to reform and diversify the economy over the past 20 years.

As for the west’s sanctions, they were introduced with one explicit aim – to force Putin to change tack in Ukraine. At least, that was the stated aim. But since the measures show no sign of having any effect on his thinking, and yet the west is considering even more sanctions, there is obviously another goal – to punish Putin for his actions, regardless of whether he changes his mind. Sadly, it is not Putin who feels this punishment. It is the Russian people.

The west needs to accept a simple fact: that Putin’s response to sanctions is always bizarre. He tends to favour reactions that hit his own people rather than the west. America passed the Magnitsky Act to “punish” those alleged to be responsible for the killing of the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, and Putin responded by banning adoptions of Russian orphans by Americans. There is no sign that the killers of Magnitsky suffered in any way; indeed the only official being investigated for the crime was released. The west imposed sanctions on Putin’s “cronies” and Russian banks because of the invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea; and Putin responded by banning the import of western foodstuffs.

A Geopolitical Nightmare: No Happy Endings If Russia Melts Down

December 17, 2014 

"What happened in Crimea was a terrible thing. What happened in Ukraine was a tragedy. What is happening in Russia now is a threat to the global order."

As the ruble plummets, there is a degree of satisfaction and even relish in the West at the sight of Russia’s difficulties. The balloon of Putin’s strategic genius is rapidly deflating in the face of harsh economic realities: now the Russians will be put in their place.

But as Russia faces its worst crisis since the 1998 default, let us not deceive ourselves: this is no time for perverse delight. Russia’s meltdown cannot and will not have a happy ending.

Today’s Russia is not the Soviet behemoth, comparatively disconnected from the world economy. Nor is it the struggling reform economy of the 1990s. It is the world’s eighth largest economy, well integrated into the global marketplace. If Russia goes into a prolonged recession, it is not just Russia itself that bears the consequences—it will be the rest of the world as well. First in line is the European Union, whose member states—some barely emerging from recession—have extensive trade links with Russia.

Ukraine’s economic fiasco has already put Europe under stress. Russia’s collapse will make Ukraine’s problems seem insignificant. In our days of global risks and mutual interconnectedness, “losing” Russia is like shooting yourself in the foot. Or in the head.

But it’s not the economic nightmare that we should be most concerned about: it’s the political consequences that follow from it. It is almost taken for granted in the West that the current crisis will lead to Putin’s demise, perhaps by means of a coup that could land someone more acceptable in the job: someone like the former finance minister Aleksei Kudrin or the ousted premier Mikhail Kasyanov or even, if we are lucky, the liberal darling Boris Nemtsov, the formerly jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, or the anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalnyi.

How Crimea Crashed the Russian Economy


The crunch is coming for people on the street, and the Kremlin doesn’t have any good answers for them. 

KAZAN, Russia—On Monday evening, shoppers at the Korston-Kazan Mall here in the capital of Tatarstan were mesmerized by news that the ruble has become just about the weakest currency in the world. At currency auctions, it traded at around 64.45 rubles to the dollar and 78.8 to the euro. Shoppers complained that was translating into almost instantaneous price hikes that have seen some goods go up by 20 to 50 percent in recent weeks. And things have gotten worse in the last 24 hours. 

Does Moscow have a good way out of this crisis? Probably not. 

People on fixed incomes and government pensions are the first to feel the pain. “Prices at my favorite Auchan hypermarket grow every day and my salary remains the same, so it means I grow poorer every day,” said bookkeeper Irina Smirnova as we talked at a checkout counter. She’d watched the numbers change: In the summer salmon was around 300 rubles per kilo at Auchan, now it is 600 rubles. Even local chickens were more expensive than in the summer, Smirnova and another woman at the counter complained. Just a few months ago, an average chicken cost 110 rubles per kilo and Monday it is 130 rubles. Tomorrow, who knows? 

Those who want to reconstruct the Soviet Union not only outside of Russia’s present borders but also at home should realize that the major difference between those days and these is that, now, everything in Russia is tied to the values of Western currency, and inflation hits every pocket. 

In Australia’s pain, lessons for allRory Medcalf

December 18, 2014 

It is hard to think of more vivid proof of the futility and failure of terrorism than the resilience and rallying together of Australians from many backgrounds, and a far more powerful image to show the world than any sterile propaganda of hate

When I first lived in Delhi in the year 2000, I was struck by how present was the awareness of terrorism as a risk in daily life, in India as in other parts of South Asia. But this was not the same as fear, for I was also impressed by the philosophical and practical resilience of Indian people — the widely-held sense that terrorists should not be allowed to succeed in intimidating their country or destroying India’s diverse social fabric.

Back then, these seemed distant concerns for Australians. In the years since, that has changed — Australians have fallen victim to terrorist violence in New York and Mumbai, London, and of course on the Indonesian island of Bali, where the 2002 bombings killed 88 of my compatriots.

This week, a deranged lone criminal has brought the terrorist tactic of hostage-taking to the great Australian city of Sydney. Now he is dead, along with two courageous innocents who may well have died trying to shield others.

This does not, however, mean that Australia itself has suddenly or fundamentally changed. Whether this shock changes Australia for the worse will depend on the way Australians choose to think and act in the days ahead.

The greater truth is that Australians are responding to this crime in their midst with a strength and a largeness of spirit made possible by the peculiar qualities of this country — a multicultural democracy allergic to bombast, intimidation and hate.

Past incidents

Terrorist intent on Australian soil is not new. In 1978, three people were killed by a bomb believed to be planted by the Ananda Marga sect with the intention of assassinating Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai on a visit to Sydney.

Last decade, Australian security and intelligence agencies thwarted elaborate plotting from self-styled jihadists before an atrocity could be committed. This year we have heard repeated warnings of the deadly risk of ‘lone wolf’ attacks in support of the hateful ideology of the so-called Islamic State.

So it was probably a matter of time before Australia’s luck ran out, despite heightened awareness and efforts by the security services.

At the same time, the mass horror and inhumanity of the school killings in Pakistan must put our own national security challenges into perspective. None of this can be consolation for the families of the victims in the Sydney café siege.

But it is hard to think of more vivid proof of the futility and failure of terrorism than the resilience and rallying together of Australians from many backgrounds that we have seen over the past few days.

“One of the grim lessons of Mumbai was how all forms of media can inadvertently become a perilous instrument. In Sydney, the authorities managed to restrict the spread.”

Sydney is a city renowned the world over for its sheer love of life. Its grand pedestrian thoroughfare of Martin Place, the scene of the café siege, has been transformed into a vast living memorial, a bright sea of flowers in this harbour city. Thousands of Australians — of all faiths, and of none — have spontaneously assembled here to pay tribute not only to the victims but also to the spirit of tolerance that makes this country what it is.

This is a far more powerful image to show the world than any sterile propaganda of hate.

It should also impress the world that the incident has led to immediate calls for tolerance, understanding and cohesion across multicultural Australia. Muslim community figures have spoken out against the crime, and sensible voices have emphasised the need to avoid any backlash against Muslim Australians, with about 3,00,000 people offering via Twitter to escort Muslim Australians on public transport to ensure they were not harassed.

Australians will take from this harrowing experience other lessons too.

Time to Make Psychology a Part of International Relations

December 17, 2014 

Cultural studies, sociology and psychology are not fluffy, useless subjects. They are serious, underrated subjects that need to be given a more central role on the international-studies stage.

Everyone has knowledge gaps. Take it from Ted Mosby in an episode of “How I Met Your Mother.” Despite being an intelligent professor of architecture, Mosby mispronounced “chameleon” his whole life, and when he uses it in a lecture, his students can’t help but chuckle. Similarly, I pronounced the “b” in “subtle” for a long time as a kid. My mother, bless her heart, corrected me at age fourteen, sparing me more embarrassment later in life. Some knowledge gaps are comical and not cause for concern. Others require serious attention and demand filling. One such knowledge gap for international-relations experts lies in the realm of psychology. There is a strong need for a psychology requirement for all international-relations, strategic-studies, security-studies, public-diplomacy majors and so forth, but it seems to go largely overlooked.

If we liken the human brain to a computer, the need for a psychology requirement in international-relations curriculum becomes simple and clear. If one wanted to become a computer technician, it would follow that one would take a few courses on how computers work, yes? So if one wanted to become, say, a diplomat, a political analyst, an academic, a foreign-service officer, a State Department employee and so on—in short, someone whose job it is to know how political and economic systems function (because they do not function of their own volition or in a vacuum; humans are at the root of politics, naturally), offer up solutions on how to improve the functionality of those systems and help manage relations with the rest of the humans in this world—would it not also follow that one should be well versed and well learned in how humans work? After all, how useful are our leaders and ambassadors (notwithstanding other reasons for questioning the appointments thereof) at facilitating good relations with leaders of other nations if they are not experts in human behavior?

At the very least, anyone engaging in serious negotiations with leaders of another country should be extremely knowledgeable about that country’s culture, including the nuances and patterns in psychological and sociological behavior that are prevalent in that country. For example, one leader whose behavior seems to have vexed most U.S. politicians as of late is Vladimir Putin. Nina Khrushcheva, the granddaughter of former Soviet Union premier Nikita Khrushchev, offers up a few works of literature, including Gogol’s Taras Bulba, that she believes give insight into Putin’s behavior and motivations for getting involved in Ukraine’s political affairs and annexing Crimea. Khrushcheva, a longtime Putin watcher and accomplished academic, uses her extensive knowledge of comparative literature, politics and Russian culture to try and understand why leaders such as Putin behave the way they do. Perhaps 

if some of our top leaders bothered to learn about Russian culture and how it manifests itself in Russian politics and foreign policy, we would have a better shot at repairing relations with one of the largest and most influential countries in global politics. (The onus is also on Russian leaders to understand U.S. leaders, but that does not make it any less critical for U.S. leaders to understand Russian leaders.) The last thing we need is our own president making any more misinformed comments about countries upon which he claims to be focusing. It seems that Obama knows very little about the aspects of Russian cultural and psychology that influence and motivate Putin’s actions. Further, the issues raised in Kenneth Yalowitz and Matthew Rojansky’s article about the demise of Russian and Eurasian studies in the United States seem indicative of just how little we care about establishing good diplomatic ties with Russia’s leaders and how little importance we place on understanding the psychological motivations behind their actions.

Espionage in the Cyber Era


The Edward Snowden affair delivered a serious blow to the NSA. What lessons may be learned? Hannan Gefen, former Commander of IDF Intelligence Unit 8200 in an exclusive article

The computer system of the US National Security Agency (NSA) is probably one of the world’s most heavily protected sites. The databases of this agency store the most sensitive intelligence information collected by this huge intelligence organization all over the world. The NSA has been familiar with the cyber world since its very inception and was a partner in the shaping of many of its rules, mainly in order to safeguard the state’s abilities to monitor communication traffic, when required, and prevent hostile elements from hiding inside the information jungle. 

This organization has been exposed to the most substantial and most damaging cyber break-in any organization could have been exposed to. The damage was caused neither by a ‘Trojan Horse’ or any other state-of-the-art technology, nor by a sophisticated team of hackers, but by a single person, and to add insult to injury – that person was an outside contractor hired to carry out a seemingly technical mission of operating some of the agency’s non-mission computer systems, a kind of “transparent, back-office” type of person. 

The NSA operates under severe compartmentalization of all intelligence materials, developed methodically and through considerable effort, by the book,. The agency’s access authorization and document classification table is strictly enforced and observed. This system had not been applied, however, to their collection plans, cooperative alliances with organizations around the world and other administrative aspects that pertain to the management and collection of information. Those aspects were readily accessible by a technical administrator of computer systems who, in his free time, over a relatively short period of three months working at the NSA, managed to store on magnetic media thousands of documents and classified professional presentations and submit them to the media. 

This is not the only case where computer systems were broken into by a human element. The case of US Army Corporal Manning is very similar: a soldier serving with US military intelligence and enjoying legitimate authorizations, went on to store diversified intelligence material and eventually released it to the public. The damage he caused was massive; it had an adverse effect on US relations with numerous countries, it exposed active field agents and may have initiated change-of-government processes in several countries. 

The Units of Combat: The "Flyers" of the IDF C4I Directorate


The people operating the IDF C4I Directorate's airborne relays are regarded as the special operations unit of the military communication world. They accompany the IDF’s elite units, from the air, in every corner of the globe. A rare glimpse

The airborne relay unit of the IDF C4I Directorate was established during the War of Attrition and is still regarded as one of the Directorate's most confidential units. The unit has two primary objectives. The first objective is to enable command of operations in mountainous terrain where the mountains mask and disrupt communication between IDF elements. In such scenarios, a wireless communication operator mans a mission aircraft, where he receives messages from the forces on the ground and relays them to the command echelon. The second objective is to enable IDF GHQ to command special operations at particularly long ranges. 

Special Measures for Special Operations 

In effect, the operators of the airborne relays are C4I specialists who "live" with the IAF, which provides the platform and the pilots. The cooperation between the C4I Directorate and IAF is one of the most important points stressed by Lt. Col. Itzik, commander of the Tzameret battalion of the C4I Directorate – the element in charge of employing the airborne relay unit. “It is a specialized, small and highly operational organization, measured by its ability to respond promptly. The battalion provides services to IDF GHQ. The airborne relay unit is engaged in operational activity – parts of which are covert while other parts are overt. We are subordinated, administratively and professionally, to the IDF C4I Directorate, but receive our mission orders from the IDF Operations Division. This is also the reason why the battalion is located at the Quirya compound in Tel-Aviv – to be close to IDF GHQ,” explains Lt. Col. Itzik. 

It is important to note that the C4I Directorate is not the only element within IDF that operates airborne communication relays. Owing to the importance of this capability, the IDF provided redundancy and similar units operate under IAF and the Intelligence Directorate as well. “The difference stems from the different requirements. The aircraft of IAF and the Military Intelligence Directorate are fitted with certain capabilities that these branches require. We have to serve everyone. At the same time, the platform is interchangeable, namely – the equipment of the C4I Directorate may be removed and replaced by the equipment of the IAF or the Intelligence Directorate,” says Lt. Col. Itzik. 

Do you provide your services to the IDF exclusively? 

“I have never encountered a request for our services from another agency (ISA or Mossad, A. R-D), but it is possible. We have the ability.” 

As stated, the unit was established pursuant to a need that had emerged during the War of Attrition (March 1969 – August 1970). In those days, the Egyptian Army launched numerous offensive operations against the IDF elements deployed in the Sinai. In response, the IDF executed special operations deep inside Egyptian territory as reprisals. These operations gave rise to the need for a communication relay in the sky that would enable the forces operating on the ground to communicate with rear-area command elements. 

Along with Lt. Col. Itzik, Sgt. Maj. Denis serves as the acting commander of the airborne relay unit. He has been manning that position for almost a decade and was responsible for the rehabilitation and rebuilding of the unit. “At some point, the unit was abolished owing to budget cuts, and was subsequently re-established on the basis of a different aircraft type. We had to rebuild everything – the reserve personnel of the unit, the training system and the recruitment process,” explains Denis. 

Behind the Scenes of Cyber Warfare


The Operations Department of the IDF C4I Directorate is responsible for operating all of the IDF's C4I resources at any time and under any weather conditions

The IDF C4I Directorate is undergoing a revolution with regard to the employment of C4I resources in operational environments: instead of employing communication channels in a vector manner, according to need, the Directorate is switching to the regional communication methodology. This architecture is similar to the one used by the cellular service providers. 

"The same principles that apply to the civilian telecom market, where the user turns on his cellular phone and connects to the cell that provides the best service, apply to the battlefield: the communications officer requests a bandwidth and it is assigned to him by the regional C4I element," explains Col. Miki Buskila, Head of the Operations Department at the IDF C4I Directorate. "As far as he is concerned, the question of where the bandwidth comes from is irrelevant. You need communication and you will get it. The user of the cellular communication service providers does not know which cell serves him and how the network architecture is constructed. As long as everything works OK – he does not want to know." 

Unlike other directorates of the IDF, which operate their own C4I resources, in the case of the IDF Ground Arm the C4I Directorate is responsible for operating the Arm's C4I resources in the field. Buskila commands the C4I operations center at the Quirya compound in Tel-Aviv. This center is responsible for responding to the regional commands' demands for bandwidth during operational and routine security activities. "Every regional command has C4I resources, and we also have GHQ resources like satellite communication or airborne relays. If the regional command wants to employ C4I resources, they will request these resources from us and we would coordinate the allocation to them. It is not really different from a situation where the regional command requests fighter aircraft support from GHQ," explains Buskila. 

In the past, the communications officer was independent in operating telephone systems or computers in the field. In recent years, the IDF have switched to a centralized concept. The trigger for this decision was the need for bandwidth that would be wider than the narrowband radio channels normally employed at the front line. With systems like the Tzayad (Digital Ground Army) and other systems that are evolving into the default selection in the operations of ground forces, bandwidth is either a facilitator or an inhibitor, and only a regional architecture can provide high rates in a combined configuration of wireless ground communication. 

"You will need us in order to operate some of the systems deployed on the border," says Buskila. "The operational doctrine says that the warfighter should receive whatever he needs from the regional C4I element in the area where he operates, with a sufficient bandwidth. It does not matter for the user where the communication resources are coming from and how things work in the background. The change stems from the need for bandwidth and also from the desire to provide communication that is better suited to the needs of combat operations. The IDF currently possess many other sites and capabilities, and the regional C4I element can provide a service that is superior to the single channel they used to allocate in the past." 

If you think about it, the regional concept of the C4I Directorate corresponds with the IDF's fire employment concept as presented during the last fire conference. In both cases, an end user (a communications officer/infantry battalion commander, respectively) demands services from the IDF regional command element in that that area, as required – whether those services consist of bandwidth or fire support. "Today you can open a communication channel opposite several sources. It provides flexibility to the communications officer. This is not about 'red tape' that may interfere with the employment of the capabilities, but rather about providing the regional command with additional capabilities. We operate an operations center at the Quirya compound in Tel-Aviv 24/7, through which we manage the IDF regional C4I elements – from Eilat to Manara," says Buskila. "This model had worked as far back as 2006, during the second Lebanon war. Since then, it has been put to the test in all of the IDF's operations and routine activities." 

"Plasma Screen in the Field" 

Even Air-Gap Networks are Vulnerable


Researchers succeeded in demonstrating that data and commands may be conveyed from a PC to a smartphone even in a sterile environment

In the world of information security it is the norm to distinguish between networks that are connected to the Internet and networks that are isolated from the Internet. This concept assumes that isolated networks are islands of information cut off from the rest of the world by ”air” – an “air wall” or “air gap”. Hence the expression “Air Gap” that is used to define such networks. This defensive concept may be likened to the moat – the water ditch excavated around medieval castles to provide them with a line of defense. This concept has remained valid as long as it was impossible to prove that the air gap can be passed and that the information in the isolated network can be accessed – and that is precisely what they managed to do at Ben-Gurion University. 

“The objective of the study was to find a way to leak information from computers to smartphones in air-gap networks,” explains Mordechai Guri, a PhD student in the field of cyber from Ben-Gurion University, who found a way to convey data from a PC to a smartphone in an isolated network. The study was conducted at the University’s Cyber Security Labs, under the management of Professor Yuval Elowitz. 

“The technological concept in question is known by the code name TEMPEST – it offers the option of converting the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) of the computer into a radio wave transmitter,” explains Guri. “The idea surfaced after we had noticed that a major percentage of smartphones feature an FM reception chip, enabling the user to listen to radio stations. During the experiment, we attempted to generate specialized FM waves that would affect this chip in the smartphone. We reverse-engineered the FM chip on the smartphone side and managed to modulate information in a manner that enabled the transmission of data from the computer to that chip in the smartphone from a range of 6 meters. In some of the cases, the smartphone was in an isolated network behind a wall, and even then we managed to transmit data to it.” 

Before we continue, it should be noted that the code name TEMPEST had been coined by the NSA, the US espionage agency that is the equivalent of Israel’s Unit 8200, as far back as the 1960s. According to a document available on the NSA website, as far back as the mid-1950s the Russians had understood that radio wave emanations can be utilized in order to read or convey data, for example – by remotely listening to the sounds of the operation of the American encryption machines and interpreting the keys or the transmissions. 

“In order for the conveyance of information to work, the hacker should infect the PC and the smartphone with a malicious code,” explains Guri. “After infection, the PC can be used to send commands or information to the smartphone, which activates the malicious code on the other side. In other words, if until now information security executives have believed that an isolated computer is necessarily a safe computer, we demonstrated that it is not necessarily so. This can be accomplished from any laptop or desktop computer that has a GPU.”

The Wheels of the Cyber Industry


According to market research & analysis firm Frost & Sullivan, the global cyber industry is expected to generate a financial turnover of about US$ 155 billion in the year 2020. A fascinating analysis of the connections between money, technology and transparency

Much has been said and written in the last year about the prosperity Israel has been enjoying as an outstanding supplier of cyber technologies. Chief executive officers of foreign technology giants, senior executives of the local industry, Members of Knesset, government ministers and even the Prime Minister and the President announced that the advancement of knowledge in the field of cyber is a national mission. We have witnessed a steadily growing number of new companies entering this field, as well as capital raising campaigns by existing cyber companies. But will this extensive supply meet with suitably extensive demand, or are the bleak prophecies regarding critical infrastructure systems vulnerable to attacks by hostile elements nothing more than a sophisticated marketing ploy by those technology suppliers? 

Well, at least according to a large-scope study conducted by the consultants and analysts of Frost & Sullivan regarding the cyber industry, it appears that the market – the end users and the governments – takes these risk scenarios very seriously and announces the implementation of preventive programs and future plans for handling the challenges and risks. 

According to Frost & Sullivan, the 2011 turnover of the cyber defense market was about US$ 50 billion; in 2013 it was about US$ 71 billion and until 2020 it is expected to grow at an average rate of 13.4% per year, reaching a turnover of about US$ 155 billion in that year. The USA and Europe were the most active players in this market in 2011 in terms of the scope of investments: US$ 25.1 billion and US$ 17 billion, respectively. 

In the coming years, the USA and Europe are expected to concentrate most of the investments in this field. In 2020, the scope of investment is expected to amount to about US$ 85 billion in the USA and to about US$ 35 billion in Europe. During the same period, Asia will awaken, too, and in 2020, as predicted by Frost & Sullivan, the total investments in the field of cyber in that region will amount to about US$ 22 billion. 

Espionage, Counterespionage & Public Transparency 

The organizations responsible for spending these massive amounts of money are diversified, so numerous companies, operating in various niches, can earn a living. In 2013, governments and government agencies were responsible for about 40% of the total expenditure in this market. Non-government industrial companies were responsible for about 35% of the total expenditure in this market, and the balance (25%) was attributed to expenditure by private consumers. 

Spurious argument - Basel III norms cannot end social banking

Prabhat Patnaik 

Nationalized banks in India are being sought to be privatized on the basis of an argument, originally advanced by P. Chidambaram and more recently by Arun Jaitley, that without it India cannot meet the Basel III "norms". The argument goes as follows. The Basel III agreement has set "norms" with regard inter alia to the size of the equity base that banks in all the signatory countries must meet, for ensuring their sound financial health; fulfilling these "norms" requires an increase in the size of the equity base of the nationalized banks in India, for which the government does not have the budgetary resources; hence it must tap private capital by reducing the share of government equity and increasing that of private equity.

Neither of the two finance ministers, to be sure, has yet argued for reducing the government to a minority share-holder in nationalized banks, so that calling such equity dilution "privatization" may be objected to by some; but one cannot pretend that with the private equity share at 49 per cent, the nationalized banks can ignore private attempts to influence their behaviour. Even if the ownership of this 49 per cent is widely dispersed, it still makes nationalized banks vulnerable to private pressures. Such dilution in short doesamount to de facto privatization.

The ministers' argument, however, is a completely spurious one. Whether India should be following Basel III "norms" at all is itself a debatable point. Bank nationalization in India was meant to serve a social purpose: to reach bank credit to peasants, petty producers and small capitalists who had been excluded from it earlier, and it is precisely because of this widening of the reach of bank credit that the country could break out of the stagnation that foodgrain production had entered into by the mid-1960s (even if the abysmal output levels of 1965-66 and 1966-67 which produced the Bihar famine are ignored).

Don't Worship at the Altar of Andrew Marshall

December 17, 2014 

Andrew Krepinevich and Barry Watts’s The Last Warrior seeks to canonize longtime Defense Department strategist Andrew Marshall. But his record was far more mixed than his incense burners are prepared to admit.

Andrew Krepinevich and Barry Watts, The Last Warrior: Andrew Marshall and the Shaping of Modern American Defense Strategy(New York: Basic Books, 2015), 336 pp., $29.99.

I FIRST met Andrew Marshall, the longtime director of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment (ONA), in the mid-1990s. The occasion was one of the late Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington’s “Strategy and National Security” conferences at the Wianno Club on Cape Cod. A number of Huntington’s students, including Eliot Cohen, Aaron Friedberg and my Olin Institute for Strategic Studies colleague Stephen Rosen, were also Marshall protégés—alumni of St. Andrew’s Prep, as they referred to themselves—having spent some of their careers under his tutelage in the ONA.

The conference gave me my first taste of the reverence with which they held Marshall. Rosen had arranged to recognize him at the dinner for the thirty or so national-security experts in attendance and had carefully selected a memento to mark the event. It was a handsomely framed print of Jean-Léon Gérôme’s painting of François Leclerc du Tremblay, the Capuchin monk who was Cardinal Richelieu’s alter ego. Du Tremblay was so influential that French courtiers referred to him as his “Gray Eminence,” in deference to the authority he reputedly exercised behind the scenes belied only by the color of his humble friar’s habit.

It thus does not come as a surprise that in their new book The Last Warrior, two more St. Andrew’s alums, Andrew Krepinevich and Barry Watts, adopt a similarly reverential tone. They trace the arc of Marshall’s career, beginning with his early days at the newly established RAND Corporation through his founding in 1973 and long-term directorship of the ONA, from which he is slated to retire in 2015 after sixty-five years of U.S. government service. He was, they tell us, “an intellectual giant comparable to such nuclear strategists as Bernard Brodie, Herman Kahn, Henry Kissinger, James Schlesinger, and Albert Wohlstetter,” and was one of the most visionary thinkers of the post–Cold War era by virtue of his advocacy of the “revolution in military affairs” (RMA).

With their worshipful tone and appropriation of the parochial-school designation for Marshall’s coterie, the authors invite comparisons with the doctrines of the Catholic Church. To my well-catechized eye, it all resembles the panegyrics in The Lives of the Saints that I dutifully absorbed as a child. Unlike the biographies by the Roman pagan Plutarch in his Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans upon which they are modeled, The Lives of the Saints are short, easily digestible biographies of the holy men and women of the church that offer tutelage in moral sanctity rather than a searching chronicle. They accomplish this hortatory task by emphasizing the saints’ virtues and glossing over, or passing over altogether, the less edifying aspects of their lives.

Loyalty to a Leader Is Overrated, Even Dangerous


The other night I watched Raymond Reddington, fictional star of the TV series The Blacklist, pull off another impossible plotline without breaking a sweat, explaining calmly to one of his minions that the key to winning is to “value loyalty above all else.” The notion of loyalty as a protective force that leads to great success is so much a part of how we think about leadership that it is very easy to accept, even when it is not espoused by someone as exceptionally interesting to watch as James Spader.

I would contend that loyalty is linked with success in many people’s minds because the archetypal successful leader always demands utmost loyalty and in turn this demand is linked with a special competence. Remain loyal, the story goes, things will go well. Think of (my daughter’s favorite) Kung Fu Panda only developing as a fighting warrior when he submits fully to his master, Grand Master Oogway or (in a more serious vein) Moses leading his people out of Egypt because they believed in him enough to follow. On the other hand, when followers don’t do as they are told and express disloyalty, then disaster ensues. Think of Homer’s description of Odysseus’ men, who encountered hardship primarily when they disobeyed their warrior leader, such as opening the “bag of winds” even though he had ordered them not to and thus being unable to ride the winds home. Over and over again throughout history and art we are given the strong leader who simply wants to aim for the proper goal, and the disloyal underlings who continually threaten to undermine his (or her) greatness by disobeying. Over time these stories lead to an implicit expectation that when loyalty prevails, so does success.

This idea is, I submit, one of the most dangerous myths in organizational life.

I teach a course on ethics at the McCombs School of Business and have run the McCombs Speaker Series on Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility for the last seven years. I have had many speakers share their stories with our community, including people convicted of very serious corporate crimes. Despite a popular conception of governmental and corporate crime as stemming either from rampant greed throughout the ranks, or from the solitary crimes of a few misfits, in my experience unethical behavior in organizations almost always is caused by belief in and too much loyalty to a “great leader” who turns out to be morally compromised.

Killing Is Not Enough: Special Operators

December 16, 2014 

ARLINGTON: “We have, in my view, exquisite capabilities to kill people,” said Lt. Gen. Charles Cleveland. “We need exquisite capabilities to manipulate them.”

Psychological subtlety and the US military don’t always go hand-in-hand. Worldwide, we’ve become better known for drone strikes and Special Operations raids to kill High Value Targets. But that wasn’t enough for the last 13 years of war, according to a RAND study led by well-known special warfare expert Linda Robinson and sponsored by US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), which Gen. Cleveland heads. In the future, just being great at killing will be even more inadequate against the Islamic State or Putin’s Russia, Cleveland warned. When it comes to the subtler arts of war — from advisor work to propaganda — we’ve tied our hands with our own bureaucracy, processes, and laws.

“We’ve built a great apparatus for terrorism and to some degree we’ve got to be careful that doesn’t create blind spots,” Cleveland said Friday morning during a panel discussion at RAND. “There’s a cottage industry that’s built up around it [counter-terrorism]. You run the risk of basically taking on an entrenched infrastructure” whenever you try to broaden the focus killing and capturing the bad guys, he said, but we have to try.

“I don’t think we understand completely the fight we’re in,” Cleveland said. “This is unlike anything that we’ve confronted in our past.”

Russia, once best known for its lumbering Red Army, has moved down the spectrum of conflict to conduct operations using separatist proxies and deniable “Little Green Men.” Islamic extremists, once best known for suicide bombs, have moved up the conflict spectrum to create a quasi-country, the self-proclaimed Islamic State, that not only governs territory but also boasts forces capable of conducting major military operations to grab more. (Such combinations of conventional and guerrilla tactics are often called “hybrid warfare“). Both the Kremlin and the jihadis have become remarkably savvy with social media and online means of propaganda — waging what the military calls “information war.”

In the US, though, “we’re horrible at ‘influence operations,'” said Cleveland. The US approach is “fractured” among multiple specialties and organizations, he said. Some key elements are in Cleveland’s USASOC — civil affairs, for example, and Military Information Support Operations (MISO), formerly known as psychological operations — while others lie entirely outside — such as cyber and electronic warfare.

America’s Military Academies Are Seriously Flawed

W.J. Astore

The Air Force Academy Chapel: God and Fighter Jets
U.S. military academies are neither Spartan in being dedicated to war, nor are they Athenian in recognizing humanism (even the humanism of war). They are Archimedean. They focus on engineering and the machinery of war. But two millennia ago even Archimedes with his clever war machinery could not save Syracuse from defeat at the hands of Rome.

There is a lesson here for America’s military academies – if only they spent more time studying history and the humanities and less time solving equations. But they do not. I taught history at the Air Force Academy (AFA) for six years. My experience? The AFA was far too focused onSTEM subjects (science/tech/engineering/math) to the neglect of history, political science, and the humanities. Today, America’s military cadets still concentrate on STEM, and they still receive Bachelor of Science degrees, even when they choose to major in subjects like history.

A technical emphasis may make sense for Air Force test pilots or Navy nuclear engineers; it does not make sense for Marine or Army lieutenants patrolling the mountains of Afghanistan. Nor does it make sense in counterinsurgency warfare and nation-building operations, which involve soft skills and judgment rather than kinetic action and calculation. Small wonder that the U.S. military in 2007 had to hire civilian anthropologists to teach the troops that winning is not only about hammering the enemy with superior firepower.

Emerging from an engineering mindset, young officers are too number-oriented, too rule-bound, too risk-averse. U.S. military officers, old as well as young, tend to think geopolitical problems – even in destabilized cauldrons like Iraq and Afghanistan – are solvable if you identify and manipulate the right variables. They think history and politics, human and cultural factors, can be controlled or compensated for.

Ever since their service academy days, they have internalized a puzzle-solving mindset, one that is suitable to technocratic hierarchies in which “progress” is measured by metrics. Their thinking about war is infected by quantification and business-speak in which assets are leveraged and force is optimized. Reinforcing this impoverished view of war is an officer evaluation system that stresses numbers, numbers, and more numbers, since if it cannot be quantified, it did not happen or does not exist.

18 December 2014

Terrorism and domestic politics

G Parthasarathy
Dec 18 2014

Pakistani politicians too fan terrorist violence in India
In our public discourse on terrorism from territory under Pakistan's control, there has been a tendency to hold the military establishment as being solely responsible for the rise of terrorist outfits in Pakistan, as though the country's political parties are devoid of any responsibility for the burgeoning of radical Islamic groups in the country. The Deobandi-oriented Jamiat Ulema e Islam (JUI) headed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman has backed the Taliban in Afghanistan, Harkat ul Mujahideen in J&K and Jaish e Mohammed, responsible for the hijacking of IC 814 and the December 2001 attack on our Parliament. Pakistan Government assistance to the Taliban was organised by Benazir Bhutto's Interior Minister, Gen Nasrullah Babbar, when Maulana Fazlur Rahman was her political ally. Jamat e Islami, a perennial ISI favourite since the days of General Zia, backs Hizbul Mujahideen in Jammu and Kashmir.

It is in this context that the role of Nawaz Sharif in the promotion of terrorism across Pakistan's borders with India and Afghanistan has to be analysed. While the Sharif family may have lived in Punjab (initially in Amritsar and thereafter in Lahore and Raiwind), their roots are really in Kashmir. Mian Mohammed Sharif (Nawaz's father) hailed from Anantnag and his mother from Pulwama. Sharif has a far more hardline position on J&K than many other politicians. Despite the obvious futility of seeking international mediation and a UN role in Jammu and Kashmir, Sharif is obsessed with creating conditions to keep international attention focused on Jammu and Kashmir, even if this involves promoting terrorist violence across India.

Sharif started his political career in the 1980s with patronage from the Islamist-oriented President Zia ul Haq. He was elected for his first term as Prime Minster, heading a group of Islamic parties, stitched together by then Army Chief, Gen Aslam Beg. His Islamist inclinations towards Afghanistan became evident when, in 1992, he became the only foreign Head of Government to visit Afghanistan, then ruled by a motley group of radical "mujahideen," put together by the ISI. More importantly, Sharif appointed a bearded fundamentalist, Lt. Gen Javed Nasir, who was a member of Tablighi Jamat, then backed by Mian Mohammed Sharif, as head of the ISI. There is substantial evidence that it was General Nasir, backed by Sharif, using the services of Dawood Ibrahim, who masterminded the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts in which 250 Indians perished,

Equally ominous are the links of the Sharif family with an obscurantist “Ahle Hadees” fundamentalist, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, who was an asset for the ISI during its Afghan jihad in the 1980s. When Sharif returned to power in 1997, he accorded formal diplomatic recognition to the Taliban led by Mullah Omar. He ordered Governor of Punjab Shahid Hamid and his Information Minister Mushahid Hussain to call on Hafiz Saeed. Lashkar e Taiba thereafter replaced Harkat ul Mujahideen, backed by Benazir, as the primary instrument of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in J&K and elsewhere in India. Sharif also moved to strengthen residual ties with “Khalistanis” worldwide with the appointment of Gen Javed Nasir as the head of a so-called “Pakistan Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee”. Barely hours after the conclusion of Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore, “Khalistan” banners and slogans came up in gurudwaras across Pakistan to incite Sikh pilgrims, then on pilgrimage. An Indian diplomat witnessing this was beaten up.

Pakistan’s greatest enemy is denial

Written by Husain Haqqani
December 18, 2014 

The policy of allowing militants to operate on Pakistani soil has proved disastrous.

Over the last few decades, Pakistanis have become accustomed to terrorists, as well as terrorism. But the Taliban’s slaughter of schoolchildren in Peshawar on Tuesday was an unprecedented act of savagery. It has caused grief and generated outrage that earlier attacks on hotels, mosques, shrines and even the army headquarters did not.

But will Pakistanis respond to the Peshawar school attack by starting to change the national narrative that has brought us to this point? Or will the narrative take over, as it has done after previous tragedies, allowing tweaking of Pakistani policy without significantly changing it? The December 16 attack is the result of a sustained national policy gone wrong. It can only be changed by a new, sustained policy.

The origins of Pakistan’s ill-fated romance with jihadism lie in the notion that the country faces an existential threat from India. Driven by six decades of insecurity, the Pakistani deep state wants the country to have parity in status and power with India, a country more than six times the size of Pakistan and increasingly wealthier. Arguments about the 1947 Partition and the two-nation theory, hardly relevant in the current context, continue to fuel the ideology of Pakistan. The division of Pakistan and the birth of Bangladesh, with support from India, in 1971, also still looms large in the Pakistani elite’s imagination.

Jihadi militancy and terrorism have just been ways of enabling Pakistan to stand up to a bigger and increasingly powerful India through asymmetrical warfare. During the war against the Soviets, Pakistan used American money, weapons and training not only to equip fighters to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, but to also raise brigades of irregular fighters for Jammu and Kashmir and for permanent influence across the Durand Line.

The problem with ideologically motivated warriors is that their ideology can morph and mutate in directions unacceptable to a pragmatic state. The attacks within Pakistan by the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) and other militant groups should have made the Pakistani deep state realise some time ago that asymmetric warfare through ideologues is not a reliable military capability.

Islamist extremism has always brought with it a domestic component that hampers Pakistan’s evolution as a modern state. There will always be extremists who say, “Why are women wearing Western dress? Why are girls going to school? Why are we accepting Shias or Ahmadis or non-Muslims as equal citizens?” Similarly, the Inter-Services Intelligence might feel reassured by commitments from the Haqqani network, Mullah Omar’s Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Toiba/ Jamaat-ud-Dawa to not conduct militant operations inside Pakistan. But there is no guarantee that these instruments of regional influence would not, in turn, support groups such as Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Pakistani Taliban, which can attack inside Pakistan.

The Unmasking of an Islamic State Twitter Troll

DECEMBER 17, 2014
Source Link

What Shami Witness tells us about the potency of the Syrian jihad’s message around the world -- and online.

Hassan Hassan is an analyst with the Delma Institute, a research center in Abu Dhabi. Follow him on Twitter @hxhassan.
The Unmasking of an Islamic State Twitter Troll

The last private message I received from the pro-Islamic State Twitter user Shami Witness was one day before an investigation by Channel 4 revealed his true identity.

“Will you journalists ever talk about the continuous deportation of Arabs, burning their homes and properties … and killing them by YPG [Syrian Kurdish militants]?” he asked me. “Or are you waiting for [the northern province of] Hasaka to be Arab-free before the faux wailing can begin? Aren’t they Syrians too or is YPG that much venerated that their war crimes can’t be touched.”

This was typical Shami Witness — simultaneously defending the Islamic State’s attacks on its enemies, while accusing its critics of violating their principles in failing to do the same. And he was influential: He had gathered over 17,700 followers by the time his identity was uncovered, and a reportreleased in April found that he was followed by two-thirds of foreign fighters on Twitter.

In reality, as the Channel 4 investigation discovered, Shami Witness was a 24-year-old executive in Bangalore named Mehdi Masroor Biswas. 
The cleanshaven young man didn’t live the life of a grizzled jihadi, instead posting pictures of eating pizza with his friends and attending Hawaiian-themed parties at work on his Facebook page.The cleanshaven young man didn’t live the life of a grizzled jihadi, instead posting pictures of eating pizza with his friends and attending Hawaiian-themed parties at work on his Facebook page. Mehdi was arrested in his one-room apartment on Dec. 13 and, despite initial confused attempts to deny it, eventually confessed that he ran the account.

I started following Mehdi on Twitter in August last year. I interacted with him often, publicly and privately. His tone in private messages was noticeably different than his tweets to thousands: He toned down the aggressive jihadist rhetoric, and would write in a more detached manner. Until recently, I had the suspicion that he either worked for a foreign intelligence service — and I told him that at least twice — or that he exaggerated his dogmatism in public because he wanted jihadists to trust him.

The disclosure of his identity is significant, not only because his tweets were effectively the link between many Syria analysts and Islamic State supporters on social media, but also because his behavior after the arrest showed he was not what he was pretending to be. After writing thousands of tweets praising the Islamic State and trying to convince other Muslims to join the fight, hetold Channel 4 that he would not resist arrest if the police came, and attempted to downplay his loyalty to the Islamic State. In the end, he was never willing to push his radicalism as far as he wanted others to go.