27 May 2021

China’s Cyber-Influence Operations

  Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd) 

The digital era has transformed the way we communicate. Using social media like Facebook and Instagram, and social applications such as WhatsApp and Telegram, one can be in contact with friends and family, share pictures, videos, messages, posts and share our experiences. Social media has become an effective way of influencing human society and behavior, and shaping public opinion. By sharing a post, tweeting an idea, contributing a discussion in a forum and sharing a sentimental picture, we can influence others and sometimes convince into with our opinion.

Use of cyber tools and methods to manipulate public opinion is called ‘Cyber Influence Operation’. In the present day, many countries use cyberspace, especially the social media, to accomplish Cyber Influence Operations as a part of Information Warfare. Most of these operations are done covertly. It is difficult to differentiate between legitimate or malicious influence operations. Continue Reading..... 

China’s Nuclear and Missile Capabilities: An Overview

 Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Since China first conducted a nuclear weapon test in 1964, its nuclear doctrine has remained unchanged and is underpinned by two principles: a minimum deterrent doctrine and a No First Use (NFU) policy. China’s 2019 defence white paper states, “China is always committed to a nuclear policy of NFU of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones unconditionally.”

However, a recent U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) report claims that the scope of China’s nuclear modernisation and its lack of transparency “raise concern that China is not only shifting its requirements for what constitutes a minimal deterrence but that it could shift away from its longstanding minimalist force posture.” The data available show that China is modernising and expanding virtually every element of its nuclear forces, including each aspect of its nuclear weapons and missile, sea, and air delivery systems. What is not clear are China’s current and planned holdings of nuclear weapons, China’s future plans for deploying additional delivery systems, its commitment to some form of NFU, first preemption, or launch on warning, and the extent to which it will accept what might be called a form of ‘minimum assured destruction.

Afghanistan’s Importance to the Future of U.S. National Security

By David S. Clukey


September 11, 2021 will mark 20 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011 (911) and United States (U.S.) President Joe Biden recently called for the complete withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from Afghanistan on this date. U.S. forces have been on the ground in Afghanistan since October 7, 2001. In this time, the U.S. invested over 240,000 in human capital and over $2 trillion U.S.D. From 2001 – 2010, after the immediate route of the Taliban, the U.S. orchestrated a series of disjointed campaigns and priorities shifted almost as frequently as commanders. This misalignment with a concurrent refocus of U.S. resources to Iraq in 2003, realized a deteriorated situation in Afghanistan. Conditions improved in 2009 under a series of pragmatic U.S. Army Generals who commonly advocated Special Operations Forces driven Village Stability Operations (VSO).[1] VSO (2010 – 2014) achieved quantifiable improvements through a nested application of U.S. joint capabilities. Unfortunately, VSO’s potential was not realized due to U.S. President Barrack Obama’s decision to drawdown of U.S. forces in 2014.

The tumultuous history of Afghanistan has reinforced threefold enduring dynamics: 1) never underestimate the resilience of Afghanistan’s people, 2) Afghanistan is the proverbial “graveyard of empires”, and 3) Afghanistan and Pakistan are inextricably linked. Understanding these dynamics without diving into the cultural nuances of the country, it is imperative the U.S. does not permit Afghanistan to deteriorate into the conditions that ultimately realized 911. The U.S. arguably did this once, and can trace pre-911 conditions in Afghanistan to the conclusion of Operation Cyclone (1979-1989)[2], when the U.S. supported Mujahadeen insurgency drove the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan. Once the Soviet’s departed, so did U.S. support. The Soviet backed Afghan-government crumbled soon after in 1992, and Afghanistan subsequently endured years of turmoil. First, civil war ensued as warlord factions vied for control, and ultimately the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) supported Taliban asserted its Islamic fundamentalist influence from its power base in Kandahar.

U.S. Foreign Policy, implications of the past shape the future

The American People Have Biden’s Back On Afghanistan

by William Ruger

Bad news from Afghanistan following President Joe Biden’s withdrawal announcement was inevitable. We got it in spades last week with the terrible attack on a school in Kabul that killed dozens of young girls and a mosque bombing that killed another dozen people in the capital.

It is important, though, to understand that such tragic events are not new for Afghanistan—a country that has been in a state of civil war for over four decades. Sadly, civilians—including innocent school children—have been killed in large numbers before.

Even when the United States and its coalition partners had over 130,000 troops in Afghanistan, civilian casualties were widespread. During President Barack Obama’s surge, when U.S. forces numbered nearly 100,000, there were almost 8,000 civilian casualties in 2011 alone, including over 3,000 killed that year. In 2019, the last full year before the Doha agreement was signed to end U.S. participation in the war, there were more civilian casualties than in 2020. Last year was actually the first time civilian casualties fell below 10,000 since 2013.

Do China and Vietnam Have Similar Alliance Policies?

By Khang Vu

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Sino-Korean Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance. In July, China and North Korea will have to make a decision whether to extend it for another 20 years, as they did in 1981 and 2001. The treaty has had its ups and downs, but remarkably it still stands despite the end of the Cold War and considerable skepticism in the modern era. It has been China’s only formal alliance treaty since the country adopted an “independent foreign policy” that shunned joining formal alliances in the early 1980s. The key question to ask is not whether the treaty is still relevant, but why it is the exception to China’s foreign policy even under the most unfavorable circumstances.

Similar to China, Vietnam also has a formal alliance commitment to Laos that survived the end of the Cold War. Vietnam is famous for its “Three Nos” defense policy – no military alliances, no foreign military bases on Vietnamese territory, and no reliance on any country to combat others – but its alliance with Laos is the exception to its alliance policies the same way North Korea is to China. Scholars often consider the Sino-Korean alliance to be a deviant case that go beyond the scope of existing alliance theories. However, the existence of another deviant Vietnam-Laos case implies that there is a pattern that is worth further research, especially so when Vietnam and China are communist countries that once fought a common U.S. enemy. Deviant cases are significant in the sense that they can be the exceptions that prove the rule. Ignoring them can risk selecting on the dependent variable, which could lead to biased results in studies of Chinese and Vietnamese alliance policies.

Taiwan at the Nexus of Technology and Geopolitics

By Ian Bremmer and Ali Wyne

The Economist raised eyebrows recently by characterizing Taiwan as “the most dangerous place on Earth.” President Tsai Ing-wen herself responded, noting that Taipei has “actively worked to strengthen our national defense, especially our asymmetric capabilities.” Many other recent assessments would suggest an armed confrontation over Taipei is approaching. “Beijing may be planning an invasion of democratic Taiwan in the next few years,” one warns. “China is readying itself for American and Japanese involvement in any Taiwan Strait conflict,” another advises.

While military frictions and technological competition between the United States and China will pose increasing strategic risks, the near-term chance of a fight over Taiwan remains low.

How China’s Thinking About The Next War


The PLA Navy (PLAN) and PLA Air Force (PLAAF) are now the world’s largest, but China’s military modernization is not only focused on equipment. The PRC appears to be developing new strategies and doctrines.

The PLA began shifting in the 1990s from preparing to fight “local wars under modern, high-tech conditions” to “local wars under informationized conditions” to today’s “informationized local wars.” In each case, the Chinese phrase embodies both the scale of the conflict and the key methods by which it would be fought. The PRC’s assessment is that wars will be “local,” not global; as important, they would not be nuclear or total wars.

At the same time, the weapons and tactics would increasingly rely on technology, not sheer mass, for their impact. “Modern, high-tech wars” would be like the first Gulf War, which saw the first large-scale use of precision-guided munitions. Wars “under informationized conditions” would see greater use made of information and communications technologies (ICT), including space-based guidance and communications systems, enhancing older weapons and platforms. “Informationized local wars,” in turn, would see the eclipsing of those older systems, with systems employing artificial intelligence, advanced sensors, and networked capabilities becoming the new standard.

Why the suspicion on China’s Wuhan lab virus is growing. Read these new analyses


It’s been nearly eighteen months since the coronavirus brought the world on its knees, with India in the middle of a deadly second wave that is claiming 4,000 lives daily on an average. No one can tell when this will end. But it is possible to probe how this catastrophe began, and China’s role in it. Fortunately, even as cover ups go on. Several reports are out in the public domain and anybody who isn’t afraid of speaking the truth should be able to connect the dots.

One report out is that of the Independent Panel, set up by a resolution of the 73rd World Health Assembly. The specific mission of the committee was to review the response of the World Health Organization (WHO) to the Covid outbreak and the timelines relevant. In other words, it was never meant to be an inquisition on China. And it wasn’t. Not by a long chalk. It went around the core question of the origin of the virus, even while indulging in what seems to be pure speculation. Then there are two recent publications investigating the origin of the virus, which are worthy of note. Neither are written by sage scientists, but by analysts viewing the whole sequence of events through the prism of intelligence. Which means that these efforts skip the big words, and get to the facts. Collate all these different sources, add a little more of the background colour, and you start to get the big picture.

Is this biological warfare?

What We’re Learning About China’s Use of Social Media for Propaganda

Thomas Joscelyn
Source Link

A new analysis of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) presence on social media raises important questions about how disinformation and propaganda are currently being spread online. The study, published by the Oxford Internet Institute, documents part of the CCP’s social media strategy. The researchers analyzed “every tweet and Facebook post produced by PRC [People’s Republic of China] diplomats and ten of the largest state-controlled media outlets between June 2020 and February 2021.”

The study’s key finding is that the CCP’s diplomats and state-controlled media organs are increasingly prolific on Twitter and Facebook—two platforms that are prohibited inside China itself.

Over the course of a nine-month period, the CCP’s “diplomats tweeted 201,382 times, averaging 778 times a day.” The CCP diplomats’ tweets “were liked nearly seven million times, commented on one million times, and retweeted 1.3 million times.” The Chinese diplomats “also produced 34,041 posts over this period” on Facebook. Meanwhile, the CCP’s “media outlets managed 176 accounts on Twitter and Facebook,” posting 700,000 times, with 355 million likes, and “over 27 million comments and re-shares in the study period.”

That sounds like a lot, and maybe it is, but it is difficult to put these figures into perspective. To do so, we’d have to perform a comparable study of U.S. diplomatic Twitter and Facebook pages, or of the social media presence for other countries, to see how the CCP’s activity compares. Such benchmarks aren’t readily available.

No One Is Coming to Help the Palestinians


“Today Iran, tomorrow Palestine.” Thus cheered the crowd in Tehran in February 1979, during the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s visit to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini just days after the success of the Iranian revolution. Arafat was the first foreign dignitary to visit Iran after the fall of the shah. For him, Khomeini’s success was a win for the Palestinian cause: His guerrilla fighters had helped train Iranian revolutionaries in Lebanon, and he was hopeful that, with Khomeini’s help, he would soon be on his way to establishing a Palestinian state.

This fascinating and relatively little-known episode in the Middle East’s history altered the region’s political landscape, and still informs the context in which today’s events in the Palestinian territories and Israel are unfolding. Although the personal relationship between Arafat and Khomeini soured within a year, their encounter marks the moment when revolutionary Iran’s involvement with the Palestinians began, and when the Palestinian issue inserted itself into a then-still-nascent regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Forty years later, Iran continues to brandish the Palestinian cause to shore up its anti-imperial credentials and project power in the region, posing as the only true defender of the Palestinians. In Tehran’s view, that offers it a contrast to Arab countries that either signed peace deals with Israel, such as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, or cozied up to it, such as Saudi Arabia. This is why the Biden administration must view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a piece of the wider puzzle as it seeks to revive the nuclear deal with Iran: because that’s how Tehran sees it.

Israel Is a Cyber Superpower But Chooses Bombs to Fight Hackers in Gaza

By Emanuel Maiberg

One way Israel describes itself as an exceptional Middle Eastern nation is with its technological prowess. It produces mountains of scientific research, Nobel laureates, and, as Motherboard has reported over the years, is a major cybersecurity player globally, both because of its government operations and booming private sector, which exports everything from network security products to hacking tools from firms like NSO Group and Cellebrite.

Earlier this year, Israel's intelligence capabilities were on full display when Iran's nuclear program was once again sabotaged. No one has confirmed exactly what happened, but an explosion killed the power to Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment site, sabotaging centrifuges. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn't confirm Israel was behind the attack, but raised a glass with the Mossad in a thinly veiled celebration of a successful operation. The operation also of course conjured up memories of the Stuxnet virus, which was infamously used in 2010 to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program and is largely believed to be made in collaboration between Israel and the United States.

However, when it comes to Hamas militants in Gaza, Israel's most intimate enemy and most persistent security threat to daily lives of its citizens, the Middle East's cybersecurity superpower suddenly only knows how to respond with conventional bombs, many of which are supplied by the U.S., and that killed more than more than 200 people, according to the health ministry in Gaza. Some of these bombs, according to the Israeli Defense Force, are being used to retaliate against Palestinian cyber operations.

A separate peace? What the Gaza crisis means for Arab regimes

Shadi Hamid

Two months ago, Jared Kushner declared, as if tempting fate: “We are witnessing the last vestiges of what has been known as the Arab-Israeli conflict.” The theory of the case for President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor was that the problem of Palestine could be solved by putting unprecedented pressure on the Palestinians. It was never entirely clear how this would work in practice. The presumption was that the threat of isolation, irrelevance, and the prospect of getting nothing rather than something would force the Palestinian Authority to accept far less than it might otherwise politically. This was novel. Whatever else one might say about Presidents Barack Obama or George W. Bush and their approaches to the conflict, they occasionally saw a place for carrots and not just sticks.

Another Kushner belief proved more prescient — that Arab nations could be peeled off from the Palestinians one by one. In other words, the Arab-Israeli conflict could be made separate from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet in a sense this is how it has been for decades. Washington had supported a separate peace between Israel and key neighbors, succeeding with Egypt in 1978 and with Jordan in 1994. Palestine was the reason there was an Arab-Israeli conflict in the first place. To then ignore Palestine in making peace with Israel suggested an intriguing feat of inversion.

The Blocking of the Suez Canal: Lessons and Challenges

Tomer Fadlon, Ofir Winter, Shmuel Even

The giant cargo ship that stopped traffic in one of the main arteries in world trade exposed the vulnerability of the Suez Canal and the global supply chain, and the incident sharpens the question of viable alternatives. However, any Israeli alternative on transport of cargo from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean must consider Egyptian interests, so as not upset the relations between Jerusalem and Cairo

In late March 2021, maritime traffic in the Suez Canal was blocked in both directions, after a ship ran aground in the canal. The event exposed the vulnerability of the global trading system, and highlighted the medium and long-term challenges to international transportation of marine cargo in general, and for Egypt in particular. For Israel, the crisis resulting from the obstruction of the Suez Canal showcases its potential for serving as a land bridge between Eilat and the Mediterranean Sea. The Europe Asia Pipeline Company has pursued this idea in the energy sector for many years, even if only to a limited extent, and there is an initiative to use the route in order to transport oil and refined oil products from United Arab Emirates to Europe. Any future Israeli project, however, must take into account the concerns of Egypt, for whom the Suez Canal constitutes not only an important source of revenue, but also a national symbol. Jerusalem should coordinate plans with Cairo, act transparently, and strive to avoid implementation of these plans at Egypt's expense, if possible. In addition, Israel should assess the environmental risks of these projects to the land and marine nature reserves in the south of the country, and seek to contain ensuing environmental damage.

Don’t Vilify Insurers Over Ransomware Attacks


The search for answers to the ransomware epidemic in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline hack has turned up an unlikely scapegoat: insurance. The assertion that the “explosion of ransomware cases has been fueled by the rise of cyber insurance” has quickly become accepted wisdom among commentators and, more worryingly, policymakers. The prominence afforded cyber insurance belies its still modest scale: despite several years of rapid growth, dedicated cyber risk policies are purchased by relatively few organizations (33 percent in the United States, according to one survey), and globally only a “tiny minority” of cyber risk is insured.

The payment of ransom through insurance does raise important questions for public policy and risk management, but the analysis should approach insurance as a vital part of the solution to managing cyber risk, not a root cause of the problem.


Every major cyber attack reveals new facets to the challenge of how best to secure the world’s digital economies. The Colonial incident has surfaced two in particular: the threat to physical infrastructure (especially the importance of separating the operational technology that controls critical functions from back-office information technology), and the legitimacy of ransom payments to criminals. Insurance can be part of the solution to both problems, but intensifying criticism could prompt insurers already spooked by rising claims to withdraw cover altogether—as the major European insurer AXA has announced it plans to do in France.

What Comes Next in the Standoff Between the U.S. and Iran?

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein and Freddy Deknatel talk about the latest developments in the standoff between the U.S. and Iran, following the U.S. assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iran’s retaliatory ballistic missile strike against two military bases in Iraq where U.S. troops are stationed. Did the U.S. reestablish deterrence, as the Trump administration claims? Or will Iran take further covert action to avenge Soleimani’s death? And what impact will the U.S. political calendar have on how both sides manage tensions moving forward? Judah and Freddy discuss those topics and more on this week’s show.

Open Letter Calling for Urgent High-Level US Leadership to Address Escalating Global COVID-19 Vaccine Crisis

The unprecedented wave of COVID-19 now engulfing India, Brazil, and other nations—and the extreme and widening global inequities in access to vaccines—test our collective conscience and threaten our national security. Worsening mass illness and deaths, a preventable humanitarian catastrophe, are destabilizing, and projected to increase. Urgent action is required to stem global circulation of the virus and the consequent inevitable emergence of new variants, which threaten to undermine Americans’ hard-fought but fragile vaccine immunity, putting lives and economic recovery at risk.

President Biden has promised to restore American leadership abroad. The world is now in great need of high-level engagement that up to now has been conspicuously absent—to mitigate death and suffering in the short term, chart a sustained exit from the COVID-19 pandemic in the medium term, and insure against another global pandemic in the long term.

As a global community, we are extremely fortunate that our collective partnerships across the public sector, philanthropy, industry, and academia have yielded multiple safe and highly effective vaccines that are protecting Americans against COVID-19. These vaccines offer an exit route out of the pandemic—but only if they reach a critical mass of people in need across continents, socioeconomic strata, and marginalized populations.

Today, the vaccines are predominantly available in only a few select high-income countries, leaving much of the world unvaccinated and vulnerable. Forty-six percent of Americans and over a quarter of Europeans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but only 14% of those in South America, 4.8% in Asia, and 1.2% in Africa. Addressing this inequity requires an urgent mobilization that adapts the successes achieved in the US to bring the same benefits to all those in dire need as quickly as possible.

Op-Ed: ‘Grand strategy’ has a bad rep. To fix it, get beyond hard power and traditional statecraft


The term “grand strategy” has acquired something of a bad reputation in global affairs. It sounds pompous, and as a buzzword, it can serve as a mystification, tempting leaders to formulate glib doctrines or to rely excessively on reputed wise men, like George Kennan or Henry Kissinger. Some have seen it as a cover for American adventurism or even imperialism.

More charitably understood, though, constructing a grand strategy is a way for policymakers to think analytically, with an eye toward long-term goals, about how nations and peoples should engage with one another. It is about conceiving, organizing and operationalizing policies and plans, anticipating obstacles and aligning lofty aspirations with limited means to realize them. Today, President Biden stands poised to revive just this sort of grand strategy.

Effective global strategizing has not been easy for the U.S. in recent decades. After 9/11, George W. Bush’s administration embraced a strategic vision of sorts, centered on stopping Islamist terrorism. But Bush’s highly ambitious ends bore almost no relationship to any realistic means. His 2003 invasion of Iraq backfired disastrously, diminishing the public’s appetite for involvement overseas. Meanwhile, the Great Recession of 2008-09 cast a harsh light on the ways that the free trade policies of the 1990s and 2000s — a centerpiece of the strategic vision of the immediate post-Cold War era — made the United States more prosperous but left behind many in the working class.

Urgent: Replacing the Inherited US National Defence ‘Strategy’Gregory D Foster

A new US National Defence Strategy will need not only to question but to summarily reject many of the fundamental premises of the previous administration.

Assuming the presidential administration of Joseph Biden holds true to form, it will issue its first National Security Strategy (NSS) document by mid-June, as required by US law.

What isn’t clear is when the administration will issue a new National Defence Strategy (NDS). In the final analysis, that is by far the more urgent task, considering the highly flawed nature of the 2018 James Mattis-directed NDS, which essentially supplanted the largely stillborn 2017 Donald Trump NSS and remains on the books as the presumptive equivalent of the US national strategic posture.

The Interim National Security Strategic Guidance issued by the Biden national security team in early March thankfully foreshadows – among other things – a much more robust conception of security (including environmental and health security) than narrowly conceived defence, as well as an associated intent to subordinate the military to other instruments of national power. This alone accentuates the immediacy of determining what the US military’s role and intentions will be going forward.

By law, the US secretary of defence is required to submit a new NDS every four years, although the law specifies that, following the election of a new president, a newly appointed secretary of defence must present a new NDS ‘as soon as possible after appointment’. The time to do that is in conjunction with the new NSS, not later, in order to counteract as soon as possible the numerous strategically counterproductive false narratives contained in the Mattis NDS.

Finding the Right Words: Ending the Confusion on What “Information Operations” Actually Means

By Daniel de Wit and Salil Puri

The Defense Department is confused. Numerous manuals and joint publications testify to the importance of information and influence in the contemporary operating environment, as do countless studies, articles, books, and official testimony. And yet despite this trend, different sectors of the military have adopted widely divergent concepts of the role of information in competition and conflict, leading to a fractured understanding of how the military should view information functions, and even what they should be called. “Information operations” has been the standard term across the military for twenty-five years, though its usage has changed significantly since it was originally employed in the context of the 1990s-era “revolution in military affairs.” In the post-9/11 period, the Army briefly experimented with “inform and influence activities” before returning to information operations, while the Marine Corps and Joint Staff began using the term “operations in the information environment” in 2018. As a result of all this definitional churn, elements of the military have embraced two very different understandings of what the term “information operations” is meant to describe and how it fits into the military’s broader operations and campaigns. One faction privileges lethal action, and sees information operations as a mechanism to provide commanders with an awareness of the battlespace and a means to precisely target enemy assets. The second uses information operations to describe activities designed to influence behaviors for strategic effect, ideally without lethal action.

This discrepancy is not merely academic. Influence and battlespace awareness are both important functions - the United States must be able to succeed in the day-to-day the contest short of war and should that contest rise to the level of armed conflict. The confusion about what information operations are is likely to hinder U.S. forces’ ability to conduct either of these functions effectively. In keeping with the U.S. military’s longstanding preference for decisive and lethal solutions to strategic problems, this confusion is also likely to result in organizational changes that overemphasize major combat operations at the expense of success in the ongoing contest for influence with great powers like China and Russia.

Opposing Frames

Biden orders wide cybersecurity changes for government, contractors

Mark Pomerleau

WASHINGTON — Following government cyber breaches, the Biden administration issued a cybersecurity order requiring improved protections at government agencies and prompt breach reports from federal computer network and cloud service suppliers.

The executive order signed Wednesday touches on many issues that the Defense Department is weighing to ensure adequate protections among its vast information technology supplier network, an effort driven in large part by lawmakers’ alarm over recent high-profile government network compromises. For example, lawmakers ordered the DoD to assess programs to share cybersecurity information with the defense industrial base and to consider the possibility of a threat-hunting program on vendors’ networks.

The security of the military’s most sensitive information, such as weapon controls and service members’ locations, rides on its cyber protections.

The Biden administration is trying to eliminate any hesitation or contractual barriers that might prevent IT providers from sharing cyber threat information with the government.

“Federal agencies can’t defend what they can’t see,” a senior administration official said during a call with reporters the day Biden approved the plan. “Removing barriers to information sharing regarding threats and incidents is a fundamental first step to preventing breaches in the first place and empowering the federal government to respond when they do occur.”

Protecting Critical Infrastructure After the Colonial Pipeline Attack

Emily Taylor 

Last week brought the news that Colonial Pipeline made a $5 million ransom payment to an organized criminal gang to recover data held hostage in a ransomware attack. Separately, Ireland’s health care system was brought down, also by a ransomware attack. It feels like the good guys are losing the fight against international cybercrime.

Action is urgently needed at the domestic and international levels to improve the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure—and to bring the criminal gangs responsible for these attacks to justice. The problem is that there are seemingly irreconcilable conflicts between the pressures felt by the individual organizations targeted by ransomware attackers and the public policy goals that could drive change in responding to them. ...

Israeli Multi Domain War Gets First Test In Gaza


TEL AVIV: For the first time, the Israeli Defense Force is using multi-domain operations in the strike against Hamas in Gaza.

The air, infantry, armor, artillery and naval forces are finding, fixing and destroying targets in Gaza according to “who has the best shot,” an Israeli defense source here says.

Key to this is deployment of the “Ghost” unit, created about a year ago as part of the multi-year program known as Tnufa (Swing). The unit is the main pillar of the new multi-domain strategy.

The IDF’s new multidimensional unit is based very generally on the idea of the U.S military concept of Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), that was developed years ago to lay the basis for the change in the US Army. The similarities to the American All Domain Operations are obvious.

Big Tech is Facilitating Jihad Against America and Israel

by Aron Wagner

Over the past several years, Big Tech has clearly revealed itself to be an existential threat to the American way of life. By booting citizens from its social media platforms, let alone often without warning or recourse, it has quashed freedom of expression—possibly the freedom most essential to our democracy. And through the nefarious practices of shadow bans and demonetization, Big Tech has deprived Americans of the ability to earn a livelihood and, thus, pursue happiness.

At the same time, quietly but increasingly, Big Tech—the handful of U.S.-based corporations that make up the Silicon Valley cartel—has been taking its ideological war against America abroad. Now its hypocrisy and cravenness—and arguably its treason, too—has been exposed during this latest outbreak of carnage against Israel.

For the entire world to see, Big Tech offers forums to extremists and genocidal leaders, fueling radicalization and inciting violence. But it’s likely that Big Tech has also been selling hardware that’s been used by our sworn enemies for death and destruction.

Israel’s Real Existential Threat

By Yossi Klein Halevi

JERUSALEM — Israelis are adept at the pretense of normalcy. We move with seeming ease between daily life and life-threatening crisis. Our home front has endured assaults from Saddam Hussein’s Scud missiles, Hezbollah’s Katyushas and precision missiles, Hamas’s homemade rockets and the more lethal Iranian models currently falling on our neighborhoods, along with suicide bombing and car ramming and stabbing sprees.

The Israeli ethos of coping is summed up in an ironic but heartfelt phrase, Lo na’im, lo norah, “not so pleasant but not so terrible.” Even when it is terrible, as it is now, with half the country forced into air raid shelters and “safe rooms,” we know there is a morning after.

But now it is the morning after that I worry about most. Even as the missiles fall, Arab citizens and Jewish citizens are violently attacking one another. More than the missiles, I worry about the terror we have internalized. How will we overcome the hatred and fear?

Israel Is Bluffing About Ever Invading Gaza

By Anchal Vohra

At half-past midnight on May 14, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted that its air and “ground troops” were attacking Gaza, a tiny strip of land populated by around 2 million Palestinians living cheek by jowl in cramped housing. The tweet caused many journalists to report that a ground invasion has started. But in a few hours came a swift clarification by the IDF that there had been some “miscommunication” and that the ground troops were still on the periphery of Gaza and had not marched in.

The midnight tweet, however, was not a bureaucratic misunderstanding but rather a ruse to cause panic among Hamas’s cadres, to draw them out of their dens and kill a large number in one go. It worked, the Israeli press reported. Hamas’s anti-tank crew was lured to the massive underground network of tunnels, referred to as “the Metro,” where Hamas buried its stockpiles. They were preparing for the supposed ground incursion and for their own counterattack, but as soon as they were in the tunnels they were bombarded by 450 missiles within minutes. “We struck 150 targets and damaged many kilometers of the Hamas ‘Metro’ network,” the IDF boasted at 9 a.m. that morning.

Israel and the Palestinians: From the Two-State Solution to Five Failed “States”

Anthony H. Cordesman

There is an important distinction between prediction and warning. No one can now predict how the current fighting between Israel and the Palestinians will end, or if it will even pause for a prolonged period – a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas can easily become the prelude to a new low-level, sporadic war of attrition or Intifada. History teaches all too well that any form of new agreement can become the prelude to new acts of political extremism and polarization – to acquiring new arms and defenses, taking new security measures, and creating forms of resistance and terrorism.

The latest rounds of Israeli and Palestinian violence have already reached levels where they are a further barrier to any real and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel has reported that more than 3,400 Hamas rockets had been fired at Israel in the week ending on May 17th. Israel had responded with steadily intensifying precision air strikes on 766 targets, and Hamas claimed that they had resulted in 200 casualties, including 59 children and 35 women – 1,305 injured by the same date – although Israel claimed that more than 130 of those killed were Palestinian militants.

Nigeria's Boko Haram militants: Six reasons they have not been defeated

By Ishaq Khalid

The phrase that Nigerian militant group Boko Haram had been "technically defeated" is ringing increasingly hollow.

Seven months into his first term in 2015 President Muhammadu Buhari coined the term, but the group and its offshoots have never gone away.

The military has managed to retake territory and dislodged the fighters from some of their hideouts. But a recent spike in deadly violence, focused in the north-east, where the Islamist group began its insurgency in 2009, has led many to ask what is at the root of the authorities' failure.

Already this year there have been nearly 100 attacks, according to one estimate. A number of military bases as well as towns, including Geidam and Damasak, a hub for aid workers, have been overrun. Hundreds have been killed and weapons, food and medicines have all been looted.

DoD Publishes DevSecOps 2.0 Docs For Accelerating Apps


WASHINGTON: In just three years, the Department of Defense has made significant progress in creating a secure software development operations environment, or DevSecOps, to make better code faster. As part of these ongoing efforts, the Pentagon has released a batch of Enterprise DevSecOps v2.0 documents — and one of the leaders behind that initiative has just started working with the Joint Staff J6 on making DevSecOps resources available to Joint All Domain Command and Control.

JADC2, as it’s called, is the future interservice meta-network to link forces across land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. It’s such a daunting technical challenge that traditional federal procurement processes can’t develop it fast enough — but DevSecOps could.

“DevSecOps is the foundation of the success of JADC2,” said Nicolas Chaillan, the Air Force’s chief software officer, in an interview with Breaking Defense. “Without DevSecOps, you won’t be able to move at the pace” needed, Chaillan told me.

Busting Big Tech

The European Commission’s recent decision to charge Apple with antitrust violations is further evidence that regulators around the world are seeking to curtail the market power of Big Tech. But official motives differ considerably across countries, and breaking up today’s internet behemoths might not produce the desired result.

In this Big Picture, Columbia Law School’s Anu Bradford shows how America’s laissez-faire approach to governing the digital economy has enabled the European Union to emerge as the leading global rule-maker, but notes that US regulators are starting to wake up to Big Tech’s excesses.

But Eric Posner of the University of Chicago cautions that targeting market-dominant tech firms will require transforming public opinion as well as overcoming legal obstacles. And MIT’s Daron Acemoglu warns that antitrust enforcement alone will not be enough to push technological change in the direction of empowering workers, consumers, and citizens, rather than toward the creation of a surveillance state and an economy bereft of good jobs.

Huawei’s Global Cloud Strategy

By Jonathan E. Hillman and Maesea McCalpin

The Issue
Many developed economies are restricting Huawei from their 5G networks, but developing economies are still welcoming the Chinese tech champion into the center of their government operations. The CSIS Reconnecting Asia Project identified 70 deals in 41 countries between Huawei and foreign governments or state-owned enterprises (SOEs) for cloud infrastructure and e-government services.

Key Findings

Emerging markets focus: The majority of deals (57 percent) are in countries that are middle-income and partly-free or not free. Africa leads the way with 36 percent of deals, followed by Asia (20 percent), the Americas (17 percent), Europe (17 percent), and the Middle East (10 percent).