2 August 2019

Ending the Afghan war (messily, yet again)


Could Donald Trump end the Afghan war someday? It’s a possibility that been on the mind of this retired US Army major who fought in that land so long ago. And here’s the context in which I’ve been thinking about it.

Back in the previous century, it used to be said that “only Nixon could go to China.” In other words, only a longtime Cold Warrior and red-baiter like US president Richard Nixon had the necessary tough-guy credentials to break with a tradition more than two decades old in February 1972. It was then that he and national security adviser Henry Kissinger traveled to Beijing and met with Communist leader Mao Zedong. In that way, they began a process of re-establishing relations with China (now again being impaired by Donald Trump) broken when the Communists won a civil war against the US-backed Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek and came to power in 1949.

By the same token, perhaps no one but Nixon could have eventually – after hundreds of thousands more Vietnamese, Lao, Cambodians and Americans died – extracted the United States from what was then (but is no longer) America’s longest war, the one in Vietnam. After all, in 1973, it was hard to imagine just about any Democrat agreeing to the sort of unseemly concessions at the negotiating table in Paris that resulted in an actual peace accord with a crew of Communists. But Nixon did so.

In Overflowing Syrian Refugee Camps, Extremism Takes Root


On a scorching day in mid-July, the signature black flag of the Islamic State rose over al-Hol refugee camp in northeastern Syria. In videos posted online, women and children can be seen cheering as the homemade flag flutters over the camp, which holds roughly 70,000 Syrians displaced by the country’s devastating civil war.

This is the sort of development that worries Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the deputy commander of the U.S.-led military coalition to defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. “The real danger to me is it’s the next generation of ISIS that’s being programmed right there in those camps,” he said in a recent interview. “I see this as the greatest long-term strategic risk to the overall global campaign against ISIS.”

Across the region, which is mostly controlled by the U.S.-led coalition and its local partner, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an estimated 130,000 women and children are living in overflowing refugee camps like al-Hol. But while most of the focus is on the humanitarian crisis, U.S. military leaders such as Grynkewich see an ideological one as well, as the camps become hotbeds for extremist ideology even as U.S. forces are planning their withdrawal.

Trump promised Americans he will make them win again, but a bad Afghan deal won’t help


The Donald Trump administration flattered Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and army chief General Qamar Bajwa, hoping that Pakistan will use its influence over the Taliban to advance the Afghan peace process. The recent spate of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, including the one targeting vice-presidential candidate Amrullah Saleh over the weekend, makes it obvious that the Taliban see an imminent US withdrawal as an opportunity to escalate violence, not to end it.

The optics of Khan’s visit have encouraged Pakistan’s belief in its indispensability to the US. The ongoing talks with the Taliban in Doha without a ceasefire have contributed to the Taliban’s faith in their imminent victory. But such exaggerated Pakistani and Taliban expectations could delay rather than expedite a reasonable settlement.

President Trump should now take steps, including an invitation to Afghanistan’s president Ashraf Ghani for an Oval Office meeting, to dispel the impression that the US is ready to abandon its Afghan allies for the sake of a quick US withdrawal.

Amid Rising Violence and Taliban Peace Talks, Afghan Campaign Begins

By David Zucchino

KABUL, Afghanistan — As Afghanistan’s presidential election campaign began on Sunday, the country’s leader was facing a series of daunting concerns, from unrelenting violence to fears that his government could be derailed by a peace deal with the Taliban.

Now there are the voters: Weary of waves of terrorism — like an attack on one candidate Sunday — they are skeptical of risking life and limb to cast ballots, especially given the widespread fraud in recent elections.

“Why should I vote?” asked Fatima Hussaini, a resident of Kabul, the capital, expressing a widespread view among the electorate.

“The government hasn’t done anything for us, and we’re not stupid enough to vote again,” declared Ms. Hussaini, who said her 2014 vote had been wasted.

Mohammad Ashraf, 41, a shopkeeper, said he, too, would not vote because he does not believe it would improve security. “I don’t want to take the risk,” he said.

Al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri Invokes Kashmir Again, Calls for ‘One’ Jihad

By: Animesh Roul

On July 9, al-Qaeda’s Emir Ayman al- Zawahiri incited violence against India and Pakistan by vehemently criticizing these neighboring countries for the plight of Muslims in Kashmir. Zawahiri’s video message titled “Don’t Forget Kashmir” was released by al-Qaeda’s propaganda arm, As-Sahab media foundation, on the online messaging platform Telegram. [1] Al-Qaeda, which struggled for many years to establish its foothold in the region, considers Kashmir as a core component of its Islamist campaign in South Asia. In spite of having a dedicated South Asian branch known as al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), it failed miserably to entice Kashmiri youths or militant elements directly into its fold in the past. However, it has been successfully coopting the local Ansar Ghazwat ul-Hind (AGH), founded by a renegade Hizbul Mujahideen militant Zakir Rashid Bhat, (a.k.a. Zakir Musa), since July 2017.

AQIS and AGH have openly showcased jihadist solidarity and the desire for establishing an Islamic state in Kashmir in accordance with Sharia law. Al-Qaeda welcomed AGH’s emergence in Kashmir’s militant landscape, and on July 27, 2017, announced that the insurgency in Kashmir had entered a stage of awakening and the region was committed to carrying the flag of jihad against India’s atrocities. It vowed in a message to liberate Kashmir under Musa’s leadership (New Indian Express, July 27, 2017). Following the death of Zakir Musa on May 23, AQIS paid rich tribute to the slain AGH leader and later welcomed the appointment of Abdul Hameed Lelhari (a.k.a. Haroon Abbas) as Musa’s successor in early June. Despite having less influence and clout on the ground, both of these groups are often critical of dominant militant groups in Kashmir, such as Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba, for toeing Pakistan’s separatist agenda rather than fighting for the supremacy of Islam and Sharia.

Afghan 'insider attack' kills two US soldiers in Kandahar

Two US service members have been killed by an Afghan soldier in an apparent insider attack in Afghanistan, local police say.

The soldier opened fire on the Americans in Shawalikot district, Kandahar, the office of the province's police chief confirmed to the BBC.

US officials have only confirmed that two soldiers were killed on Monday.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan by 2020.

A news release by Nato stated only that the soldiers had been killed, and that in accordance with department of defence policy, their names would not be released until 24 hours after the soldiers' families had been notified.

It is believed the Afghan soldier was wounded.

Why Has Pakistan Set Up an FATF Cell at the Federal Bureau of Revenue?

By Umair Jamal

Pakistan has set up an independent Financial Action Task Force (FATF) unit at the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) to monitor the ongoing implementation of reforms to curb terror financing and corruption. Reportedly, the government in Pakistan is setting up several other such units in various departments to expedite the implementation process before the next FATF deadline approaches.

Will Pakistan be able to meet the FATF next deadline in terms of implementing the action plan that it committed to during the last hearing?

The existing urgency and action being taken in Pakistan suggest that the country is taking the issue very seriously. A few days ago, the government in a statement said that the “timely completion of the FATF action plan” is its utmost priority. The FATF is expected to commence the next review of Pakistan’s Progress in October 2019. For Pakistan, what should be worrying is that during the last hearing, FATF conveyed its concern that “Pakistan had failed to complete the action plan first by a January deadline and then again by a May deadline.”

China’s Soft and Sharp Power Strategies in Southeast Asia Accelerating, But Are They Having an Impact?

by Joshua Kurlantzick

In a recent analysis for the Jamestown Foundation, Russell Hsiao of the Global Taiwan Institute presented a thorough and compelling case of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence operations in Singapore. Singapore is a critical state for China in Southeast Asia, given the outsized role Singapore plays in regional diplomacy, the fact that it is the only Southeast Asian state with a majority ethnic Chinese population, and the fact that its leaders have an increasingly wary approach to China’s regional assertiveness. Hsiao notes that Singapore long has been a target of Chinese influence activities, through the United Front, through business associations, through clan associations, through Chinese influence over some Chinese-language Singapore media properties, and through other tools.

His documentation is thorough, and it notes that, in recent years, China has utilized its influence at times of high Singapore-Beijing tensions, including, as he notes, one critical recent spat:

This New Report Shows How Fast China's Miltiary Is Becoming a Threat

by Mark Episkopos

First published in 1995, China’s biannual White Paper has long been regarded as one of the foremost sources of Chinese strategic messaging. What does its 2019 edition, “China’s National Defence in the New Era,” tell us about the PRC’s security orientation?

Popular news coverage has focused on the report’s repeated insistence that Chinese “national sovereignty” is irreconcilable with Taiwanese independence, and rightly so; the White Paper reaffirmed that China “makes no promise to renounce the use of force”, and reserves “the option of taking all necessary measures” to reunify with the wayward island off its east coast. So as to preempt any ambiguity, the report confirms that these “necessary measures” include a military solution: “the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) will resolutely defeat anyone attempting to separate Taiwan from China and safeguard national unity at all costs.

With US trade war, China’s long-running economic reforms have been thrown a spanner in the works

Hans Yue Zhu
Source Link

China has been trying to rein in debt, correct the public-private imbalance and spur consumption-led growth. The real danger of the trade war is it risks distracting policymakers from their focus on such structural reform

The trade war that US President Donald Trump launched a year ago has bruised China’s economy. Yet, since 2010 China’s gross domestic product growth has been trapped in a 

. Trade war aside, the real danger for China lies in the daunting structural weaknesses in its economy, accumulated through decades of rapid development and growth.

The trade war, beyond denting China’s exports, complicates matters by abruptly distorting Beijing’s ongoing endeavour to disentangle its structural problems.
Even before the 2008 global financial crisis, the Chinese leadership had 
declared that China’s growth model was “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable”.

Israel’s Growing Defense Ties With Asia

By Alvite Ningthoujam

After having established successful bilateral relationships with countries like China, Singapore, and India over the last two decades, Israel is making unrelenting efforts to expand its footprints in select Southeast Asian (particularly Vietnam, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand) and East Asian countries (Japan and South Korea). The realpolitik and strategic interests of both sides have been instrumental in bringing the ties closer than ever before. The long-term goal for Israel is to translate its economic and gradually growing defense cooperation with these counties into political partnerships.

No longer do the anti-Israeli sentiments in some of these Southeast Asian countries, out of support for the Palestinian issue, remain an obstacle to promoting cooperation with Israel. The visit of an Indonesian trade delegation to Israel in early July this year (in the absence of official diplomatic relations), for instance, is a testimony to the growing bonhomie between Israel and the region. Even in the recent past, barring a few protests (particularly in Malaysia and Indonesia) condemning Israel’s excessive use of force during its military operations and handling of the Palestinian issue in general, Southeast Asia has been relatively silent, with negligible anti-Israel rhetoric. It is this lukewarm response that has created fertile ground for Israel to embolden its relations with these Asian nations.

China’s Evolving Strategy for WTO Reforms

By Antara Ghosal Singh

In June 2019, China made headlines by withdrawing a high-profile case at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over its market economy status and thereby agreeing to accept continued U.S. and EU anti-dumping duties on its cheap goods. Calling China’s retreat a “seismic shift” in its WTO stance, the international community vigorously debated if it was a tactical move or a sign that the Asian giant has finally woken up to the vastly changing global trade landscape and is re-evaluating its priorities. The ongoing debates and discussions within Chinese strategic circles provide interesting insight into how China plans to recalibrate its WTO game plan in the new era.

Lately discussions on WTO reforms have gained currency in China, amid growing apprehensions over ongoing global trade practices. In particular, major economies like the United States, the EU, and Japan, while circumventing the WTO multilateral trade framework, are opting for a series of special bilateral free trade agreements among themselves. The Chinese side is particularly concerned about U.S. President Trump’s “poison pill” trade deals, restricting countries doing business with the United States from signing free trade agreements with China. This, they argue, is aimed at isolating China in global trade and adversely affecting its economy. Given the circumstances, there’s a broad consensus within the Chinese strategic community that China needs to prioritize the cause of WTO reforms, multilateral trade, and other related aspects of trade liberalization. Doing so not only ensures China’s participation in the global economy, but also provides a rare opportunity for China to have its say in the development of next generation global trade rules, thereby creating an external environment conducive to its rise.

Is Russia Worried About China’s Military Rise?

by Dimitri Alexander Simes

Even with its economy starting to slow down, China’s military is still on the rise. Years of higher military spending fueled by high economic growth are starting to manifest themselves in new technologies and newfound assertiveness. Beijing has made visible strides in its aviation, naval, and missile defense capabilities. Whether it be making territorial claims in the South China Sea or opening up its first overseas military base in Djibouti, China is starting to exert military influence in its near abroad and beyond.

How does Russia view this development? Even as Moscow and Beijing strengthen their cooperation across all areas, many Western experts warn that China’s growing military might will increasingly become a source of tension between the two countries.

The National Interest spoke with several Russian defense analysts and Sinologists to better understand the Russian perspective on China’s military rise.

Why Excluding Turkey From the F-35 Program Is the Right Call—and Sufficient

Richard Weitz 

On July 17, the U.S. announced that it had terminated Turkey’s participation in the F-35 fighter jet program, five days after Ankara took delivery of components for four batteries of Russian S-400 air defense systems that Turkey purchased in 2017. The systems will not be assembled and operational until the fall, but in receiving the first shipment, Turkey ignored repeated warnings from Washington that it considered the presence of the S-400 to be incompatible with operating the F-35. 

The Trump administration gave several reasons for the suspension: the intelligence risk posed by the presence of an advanced Russian data-collection platform in a NATO country; Turkey’s refusal to accept a Western air defense system as an alternative; and the damage to NATO interoperability resulting from the deployment of a non-Western weapon system by a member state. 

How to Prevent a War with Iran

by Jamal Abdi Ryan Costello

President Donald Trump has bought into a maximum pressure strategy that has undermined diplomatic opportunities and brought the United States and Iran to the brink of war. However, there are signs that the president is growing frustrated with the lack of results and is exploring opportunities to re-open the diplomatic window that he has willingly closed. At this critical juncture, the Trump administration still has time to shift from dead-end pressure to serious diplomacy. Fortunately, a number of foreign policy practitioners from both sides of the aisle recently joined together to outline a series of achievable steps that could be taken to reduce the likelihood of war and open up space for serious diplomacy.

To start, the United States and Iran are locked into stiff negotiating positions. Tehran insists it will not negotiate under pressure, while Washington shows no sign that it will back off pressure for Iranian concessions. Given that it was the U.S. decision to violate the nuclear deal in pursuit of maximum pressure that undermined hopes for future negotiations, it is incumbent on the United States to take the first step to open up space for diplomacy. As a result, Washington should suspend recent sanctions it has imposed, including by extending waivers for foreign purchasers of Iranian oil. Doing so would not necessarily be an abandonment of maximum pressure, which has already been demonstrated, but is necessary for Iran to show its bottom line has been met to engage in talks.

Trump wants forces reduced in Afghanistan by next U.S. election - Pompeo

By Lesley Wroughton,
Source Link'

WASHINGTON, July 29 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump wants combat forces reduced in Afghanistan by the next U.S. presidential election, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday, introducing a timeline to Washington's plan of cutting troop numbers there.

Trump's South Asia strategy, unveiled in August 2017, called for an open-ended deployment of U.S. forces with the goal of compelling the Taliban to negotiate peace with the Kabul government to end nearly 18 years of war.

"That's my directive from the president of the United States," Pompeo told The Economic Club of Washington D.C. when asked whether he expects the U.S. to reduce troops in Afghanistan before the next election in November 2020.

"He's been unambiguous: end the endless wars, draw down, reduce. It won't just be us," he said, referring to Trump's directive. "We hope that overall the need for combat forces in the region is reduced."

Infographic Of The Day: Agriculture As A Share Of Global GDP

One of the things that everyone on earth has in common is the need for food. As a result, agricultural production plays a pivotal role in the world economy. Today's infographic take a closer look at how agriculture as a share of GDP.

Trump’s Message to U.S. Intelligence Officials: Be Loyal or Leave

By David Rohde
Source Link

This past Wednesday, during Robert Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Representative John Ratcliffe, a Republican from Texas who was previously a federal prosecutor, accused the former special counsel of illegally smearing President Trump. Ratcliffe demanded to know why Mueller had stated in Volume II of his report—which investigated whether the President had obstructed justice—that, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” His voice rising, Ratcliffe said that the sentence “was not authorized under the law to be written” and violated a “bedrock principle of our justice system.” He urged Americans to ignore the “Democrats and socialists on the other side of the aisle” who cited it. Fact checkers found Ratcliffe’s claims to be false, but he ended his appearance with a dramatic flourish. “I agree with the chairman this morning when he said Donald Trump is not above the law. He’s not,” Ratcliffe said, his voice rising. “But he damn sure shouldn’t be below the law, which is where Volume II of this report puts him.”

Ready For A Rate Cut?

by Felix Richter

The Fed is expected to cut rates for the first time since 2008 as tariffs and fears of a global economic downturn are weighing on economic growth. According to preliminary figures released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis on Friday, U.S. GDP growth slowed to 2.1 percent in the second quarter, down from 3.1 percent in the first three months of 2019.

Ahead of the Fed’s meeting on Tuesday, economists are widely expecting a 0.25 percentage point cut, to bolster the economy preemptively and keep the current expansion alive. The target range for the federal funds rate stands at 2.25 to 2.50 percent since December 2018, when the Fed had announced the latest of nine interest rate hikes after the end of the Great Recession in 2009.

President Trump has repeatedly criticized the Fed for what he considers excessively tight monetary policy, demanding a more significant rate cut than we’re probably going to see this week. “The E.U. and China will further lower interest rates and pump money into their systems, making it much easier for their manufacturers to sell product. In the meantime, and with very low inflation, our Fed does nothing - and probably will do very little by comparison. Too bad!", he said on Twitter this morning, referring to reports of the ECB preparing a rate cut to prevent the euro area from sliding into a recession.

U.S. Senate Targets Saudi Nuclear Technology


A bipartisan group of lawmakers is introducing new legislation aimed at restricting the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, the latest sign of growing congressional backlash to the Trump administration’s close relationship with the wealthy Gulf nation.

The bill, put forward by Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, would bar the U.S. Export-Import Bank from financing the transfer of nuclear technology and equipment to Saudi Arabia, absent nuclear cooperation agreements, and adopting restrictive international standards to safeguard against nuclear proliferation. The Export-Import Bank plays a key role in funding the export of U.S. nuclear energy equipment and technology abroad.

“We should never allow nuclear material to fall into the wrong hands, and certainly the [Saudi] crown prince and this regime have demonstrated they can’t be trusted,” said Van Hollen in a phone interview.

North Korea Launches Ballistic Missiles for Second Time in a Week

By Ankit Panda

North Korea launched two projectiles presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles on Wednesday, South Korean authorities said. The missiles were launched from Kalma on the country’s eastern coast.

According to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, a first missile was launched at 5:06 a.m. local time and was followed by a second 21 minutes later. Both missiles flew to a range of 250 kilometers with an approximate apogee of 30 kilometers, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. South Korean authorities have said that further analysis of the missile tests is ongoing.

“Successive missile launches by North Korea are not conducive to efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula and we call for a halt to these acts,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs said in a statement.

Diplomatic Drawdown: Why America Has an Ineffective Department of State

by Paul R. Pillar

Earlier this year the Trump administration, while stoking an atmosphere of crisis with Iran, withdrew “nonemergency” personnel from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq. It is unclear what specific development, if any, triggered this move. Insofar as the administration was contemplating a military attack on Iran and given the certainty that in response to any such attack Iran would strike back at U.S. interests, it may have been prudent to evacuate Americans from the neighboring state of Iraq. But skepticism is appropriate regarding this White House’s interpretation of security hazards in that part of the world. During violent disturbances last September in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, some mortar rounds striking in the neighborhood of the U.S. consulate were enough for National Security Advisor John Bolton to tell the Pentagon to draw up plans to attack Iran. The consulate was unharmed—the shells fell harmlessly in a vacant lot. It was the Iranian consulate in Basra that wasset afire during the same disturbances.

Now it appears that the drawdown of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Iraq has in effect become permanent. To the extent the original evacuation was an adjunct to the administration’s saber-rattling against Iran, this latest development is not surprising. To return the evacuated diplomats back to Baghdad would mess up the messaging. It would be taken as a sign that tensions had eased even though the administration’s preferred theme continues to be “maximum pressure” against Iran, saber-rattling and all. This situation is one more example of how the administration’s Iran policy has pushed it into an unproductive cul-de-sac.

After Crimea: Does NATO Have the Means to Defend Europe?

By Gustav Gressel

After Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO pledged to adapt to the new situation the action heralded. At the Wales summit that year the alliance recommitted to the 2 percent spending goal, extended the role of the NATO Response Force (NRF), and created a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) to react within five days to a contingency on NATO’s eastern flank. Two years later in Warsaw, the alliance agreed to send battalion-sized military contingents to each of the Baltic countries and Poland. The US would later add three battalions to rotate between eastern flank states. And at its 2018 Brussels summit, NATO put the NRF’s readiness goals in more tangible terms: 30 battalions, 30 fighter squadrons, and 30 warships to be ready within 30 days. In addition, the alliance’s command and logistics structure was to be updated to deal with deployments of larger formations in the same region.

But it is much too early to declare “mission accomplished”. The steps taken after these three post-Crimea NATO summits are not enough to deter Russia from further use of military threats and force against other European states, even NATO members. A RAND wargaming exercise carried out in 2016 showed NATO forces on the eastern flank to be insufficient to defend Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Russia would be able to field ground forces in superior numbers and, together with air forces and air defence, could defeat local forces before NATO reinforcements arrive. If surprised by a Russian offensive, Russia’s spearheads may even circumvent NATO-Enhanced Forward Presence forces (NATO battalions based in the Baltics), leaving them unable to join battle. Indeed, Russia’s ability to dictate the time and location of any assault entrenches its military superiority across the entire eastern flank – not just the Baltic states, but from the high north down to the Black Sea.

The challenge in securing critical information

By: Lindsay Gorman 

One decade ago, Cyber Command was born as a sub-unified command of U.S. Strategic Command with the mission of securing critical Defense Department networks from adversary incursion. Its creation codified a recognition that malign actors seeking to access, control, and exploit our information systems constituted a core national security threat and heralded a new domain of warfare: cyberspace. Cyber Command’s foundational charge to “ensure U.S./Allied freedom of action in cyberspace” is as vital today as it was 10 years ago. But the next 10 years will require U.S. cyber policy to confront a new challenge: to secure not only critical networks, but critical information — about everything and all of us.

The internet of things and future of connected devices promise an explosion of personal information to the tune of 175 zettabytes of connected data by 2025. As our homes, cars, appliances, wearables and factories come online, members of the connected population will have a data-producing interaction once every 18 seconds. Data generated by these interactions is already being used by internet companies for tremendous economic gain from targeted advertising-based business models.

Facebook Connected Her to a Tattooed Soldier in Iraq. Or So She Thought.

By Jack Nicas

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — On a Monday afternoon in June 2017, Renee Holland was draped in an American flag at Philadelphia International Airport, waiting for a soldier she had befriended on Facebook.

The married 56-year-old had driven two hours from Delaware to pick him up. Their blossoming online friendship had prompted her to send him a care package and thousands of dollars in gift cards. She also wired him $5,000 for plane tickets to return home.

Now she was looking for a buff, tattooed man in uniform, just like in his Facebook photos. But his flight was not on the airport arrivals board. Then a ticket agent told her the flight didn’t exist.

From there, Ms. Holland said, it was a daze. She walked to her car, with “Welcome Home” written on the windows, and sobbed. She had spent much of her family’s savings on the phantom soldier. “There’s no way I can go home and tell my husband,” she remembered telling herself. She drove to a strip mall, bought sleeping pills and vodka, and downed them.

Interested in All Things Tech?

Ep. 50: Cyberwarfare yesterday

Today we turn from the possible future of cyberwarfare and to its fairly incredible past. We’ll start with the first major cyber attack on U.S. military networks, work our way up to the OPM hack of 2015, then all the way to East Germany in the 1980s. We’ll even make some brief stops in Hollywood, where a few films over the past 35 years got cyber risks you might say helpfully wrong, while others got various key elements uncomfortably right.

A transcript of this week’s episode can be found below — beneath the table of 50 key events in the history of cyberwarfare.

Select key events in cyber history (through 2018):

1986 Cliff Stoll notices, helps nab Soviet-linked hacker Markus Hess in honeypot folder scheme involving the U.S.military’s “SDI Network.”

1990 The military of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait in August; the U.S. hacks Iraq systems ahead of Desert Storm (Jan 1991).

1991 Internet goes mainstream (August).

Facebook’s Audacious Pitch for a Global Cryptocurrency

If you wanted to make a lot of money, quickly, you could not have done much better than to have bought bitcoin in September, 2017. At the time, the cryptocurrency was trading at just under four thousand dollars; three months later, it topped out at more than nineteen thousand dollars. Bitcoin’s volatility (it is nowdiscouraged merchants from accepting it for payment. A vender can never be sure how much a bitcoin will be worth by the time a transaction has cleared. The Bitcoin network is structured in such a way that it can process only seven transactions per second. (By contrast, Visa, the credit-card company, processed a hundred and seventy-five billion payments in the last year, which works out to about fifty-five hundred transactions a second.) At the height of Bitcoin’s popularity, in late 2018, there was so much activity on the network that it could take as much asa week for a transaction to go through—in that amount of time, its value could have changed by thousands of dollars.

Calls for backdoor access to WhatsApp as Five Eyes nations meet

Dan Sabbagh 

British, American and other intelligence agencies from English-speaking countries have concluded a two-day meeting in London amid calls for spies and police officers to be given special, backdoor access to WhatsApp and other encrypted communications.

The meeting of the “Five Eyes” nations – the UK, US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – was hosted by new home secretary, Priti Patel, in an effort to coordinate efforts to combat terrorism and child abuse.

Dealing with the challenge faced by increasingly effective encryption was one of the main topics at the summit, officials said, at a time when technology companies want to make their services more secure after a range of security breaches.

The meetings, however, were held in private with no agenda being made public, making it difficult to conclude exactly what had been discussed by the ministers, officials and intelligence agencies from the countries involved.

Our Adversaries Are Using Cyberwarfare. We Must Be Prepared.

Alexandra Marotta

James Di Pane is a research assistant in the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation.

The recent incidents between U.S. and Iranian forces demonstrate the importance of cyberwarfare for national security and reinforce the importance of funding and developing the cyber capabilities of the United States.

Following the June attacks by Iran on oil tankers and then the downing of a U.S. unmanned drone, President Donald Trump chose not to retaliate with physical attacks. Instead, he reportedly approved an offensive cyberstrike that disabled the computer systems used to control Iran’s rocket and missile launches.

That was considered a more proportionate retaliation for the downing of the drone. 

How the Army will take advantage of tactical cloud

By: Adam Stone   
The Army has its sights set on cloud computing and is looking to the “tactical cloud” to bring forward the power, speed and scalability benefits of commercial cloud deployments.

“We want to take the flexibility of enterprise cloud, the big commercial cloud services, and put that into the tactical theater,” said Tom Sasala, director of operations and architecture and chief data officer in the Army’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO)/G-6.

The vision: to embed interconnected, high-power computing capability into a wide array of drones, soldier-worn sensors and vehicle-mounted intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tools. Rather than collect data in the field and ship it back for processing — a time-consuming and bandwidth-intensive process — the Army would leverage the cloud to process on the edge. So, how would tactical cloud transform the fighting force?

Better data, faster