Military & Security

The West Is Dead

Joschka Fischer: “Now that Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States, the end of what was heretofore termed the ‘West’ has become all but certain. That term described a transatlantic world that emerged from the twentieth century’s two world wars, redefined the international order during the four-decade Cold War, and dominated the globe – until now.”

“Trump does not have the luxury of an imperial approach. On the contrary, during the campaign, he heaped criticism on America’s senseless wars in the Middle East; and his supporters want nothing more than for the US to abandon its global leadership role and retreat from the world. A US that moves toward isolationist nationalism will remain the world’s most powerful country by a wide margin; but it will no longer guarantee Western countries’ security or defend an international order based on free trade and globalization.”

“But we should not harbor any illusions: Europe is far too weak and divided to stand in for the US strategically; and, without US leadership, the West cannot survive. Thus, the Western world as virtually everyone alive today has known it will almost certainly perish before our eyes.”

Autistic People Can Solve Our Cybersecurity Crisis

Kevin Pelphrey: “Alan Turing was the mastermind whose role in cracking the Nazi Enigma code helped the Allies win World War II. He built a machine to do the calculations necessary to decipher enemy messages and today is hailed as the father of the computer and artificial intelligence. He’s also widely believed to have been autistic.”

“While Turing’s renown has arguably never been higher, today we are failing to recognize the potential in millions of other talented minds all around us. Like Turing, many of them are also capable of exceptional technological expertise that can help to safeguard our nation.”

“The common prejudice is that people with ASD have limited skills and are difficult to work with. To the extent that’s true, it’s a measure of our failure as a society. Almost half of those diagnosed with ASD are of average or above-average intellectual ability… more than three-quarters of cognitively able individuals with autism have aptitudes and interests that make them well suited to cybersecurity careers. These include being very analytical and detail-oriented as well as honest and respectful of rules.”

Growing Out of U.S. Leadership

Adair Turner: “Donald Trump’s election has been greeted around the world with justifiable bewilderment and fear. His victory – following a fact-free, vicious election campaign – has trashed the brand of American democracy. But, while Trump is impulsive and occasionally vindictive – a potentially fatal mix in an already fragile world – his election should be a spur to challenge failed ideas and to move beyond excessive reliance on the United States’ inevitably imperfect global leadership.”

“Few of Trump’s campaign comments can be described as insightful and fair, but he had a point when he suggested that Europe cannot rely on America to defend it if it remains unwilling to make a fair contribution to military capability. America spends close to 4% of its GDP on defense, and accounts for some 70% of total military spending by all NATO members. Most European countries fail to meet the Alliance’s 2%-of-GDP target for defense spending, but still expect America to provide security guarantees against, for example, Russian adventurism. A credible commitment by the United Kingdom, France, and Germany to increase defense spending not just to 2% but to 3% of GDP, would at least reduce the dangerous imbalance at NATO’s core.”

How Trump’s Victory Could Give Russia Another Win

Eric Edelman and David Kramer: “The Obama administration has worked closely with the European Union to ensure trans-Atlantic unity on sanctions, arguing that they are crucial to containing Russia. But Trump’s victory threatens this tenuous agreement by providing skeptical European nations with a credible argument against renewal: Trump will lift U.S. sanctions soon anyway. Thus, before even entering office, Trump may cause the sanctions regime to crumble, reducing pressure on Moscow and emboldening Putin.”

“Even before Trump’s victory, the sanctions already faced deep suspicion among certain European countries. Leaders in Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece and Cyprus have argued that not only are sanctions not working but, combined with the drop in oil prices, they are hurting EU members economically. Any single one of those countries could upend the current sanctions regime because renewal requires agreement among all 28 EU member states.”

“Thanks to diligent work by U.S. and EU officials, that consensus has held so far, but it is likely to dissolve in light of Trump’s expressed intentions toward Moscow. Even among the staunchest supporters of sanctions — Germany, Poland, the U.K. and the Baltic states — maintaining such measures will become untenable if it looks like the United States will break ranks.”

Report: The Next President Will Face a Cybercrisis Within 100 Days

CNBC: “The next president will face a cybercrisis in the first 100 days of their presidency, research firm Forrester predicts in a new report.”

“The crisis could come as a result of hostile actions from another country or internal conflict over privacy and security legislation, said Forrester analyst Amy DeMartine, lead author of the firm’s top cybersecurity risks for 2017 report, due to be made public Tuesday.”

Bitcoin-Style Security May Soon Guard US Nukes and Satellites

Defense One: “DARPA, the storied research unit of the US Department of Defense, is currently funding efforts to find out if blockchains could help secure highly sensitive data, with potential applications for everything from nuclear weapons to military satellites.”

“The case for using a blockchain boils down to a concept in computer security known as ‘information integrity.’ That’s basically being able to track when a system or piece of data has been viewed or modified. DARPA’s program manager behind the blockchain effort, Timothy Booher, offers this analogy: Instead of trying to make the walls of a castle as tall as possible to prevent an intruder from getting in, it’s more important to know if anyone has been inside the castle, and what they’re doing there.”

“The prospect of the US military using a blockchain to secure critical data could spark a boom in uses of the technology outside finance… In an age of mega-hacks on corporations and political organizations, an indelible record that detects tampering has its attractions.”

Why the Military Should Set Up a “Digital ROTC”

Defense Tech: “The military should consider setting up a ‘Digital ROTC’ to attract cyber experts and also try harder to appear ‘cool’ to a new generation of potential recruits, a defense panel said.”

“Board member Marne Levine, chief operating officer of Instagram, said the Defense Department should consider offering tuition payments for students who commit to joining a ‘Digital ROTC’ to pursue high-tech positions in the military. Students in those programs would focus on cyber operations and cyber defense.”

“The Digital ROTC would be one way for the Defense Department to compete with the private sector for cyber talent, Levine said.”

How America Will Accidentally Join the Syrian War

Micah Zenko: “During Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate, there was a brief exchange between the moderator and candidates that perfectly captured the muddled confusion over potential new U.S.-led military missions in Syria. It showcased the type of slippery and imprecise rhetoric that could easily result in the United States entering a war the public opposes.”

Pence called for the U.S. to “immediately establish safe zones so that vulnerable families with children can move out of those areas, work with our Arab partners real-time, right now to make that happen.”

Kaine’s response: “I said about Aleppo, we do agree [that] the notion is we have to create a humanitarian zone in northern Syria.”

“People running to serve as commander in chief, or even commander in chief in-waiting, should not be allowed by debate moderators or interviewers to toss out distinct military missions offhandedly without being pressed for specifics on how they would be implemented. A humanitarian zone is not a safe zone, which is not a no-fly zone. Each requires different levels of military commitment, different basing and overflight rights, different degrees of logistics and analytical support, and ultimately would affect the behavior of the combatants in the Syrian civil war differently.”

How Artificial Intelligence Is Replacing Human Decision Making on the Battle Field

Defense One: “The Pentagon’s oft-repeated line on artificial intelligence is this: we need much more of it, and quickly, in order to help humans and machines work better alongside one another. But a survey of existing weapons finds that the U.S. military more commonly uses AI not to help but to replace human operators, and, increasingly, human decision making.”

“The report from the Elon Musk-funded Future of Life Institute does not forecast Terminators capable of high-level reasoning. At their smartest, our most advanced artificially intelligent weapons are still operating at the level of insects … armed with very real and dangerous stingers.”

“So where does AI exist most commonly on military weapons? The study, which looked at weapons in military arsenals around the world, found 284 current systems that include some degree of it, primarily standoff weapons that can find their own way to a target from miles away. Another example would be Aegis warships that can automatically fire defensive missiles at incoming threats.”

Preparing for North Korea’s Inevitable Collapse

Eli Lake: “Crimes against humanity generally cost a regime its legitimacy, if not its sovereignty. And yet most national security professionals would regard the collapse of the North Korean slave state as a calamity. The reason for this is simple: all the nuclear weapons and material.”

“Trying to secure all this after a chaotic collapse or overthrow of the Kim regime would be a nightmare.”

“A far better use of American diplomacy is to quietly push China and South Korea to begin planning with the U.S. for the day the North Korean regime falls. It’s a long shot.”

“That said, North Korea is a time bomb for China as well as for the U.S. Beijing is worried about refugees coming over its border, and loose nukes would be as much a danger to China as to America’s East Asian allies.”

GOP Losing Ground as Better Party to Handle Foreign Threats

Gallup: “More Americans say the Republican Party will do a better job than the Democratic Party of protecting the country from foreign threats, but the gap between the parties has narrowed in the last year. The Republicans now lead by seven percentage points, 47% to 40%, down from their 16-point lead a year ago (52% to 36%).”

“Americans, by a narrow 46% to 43% margin, say the Republican Party would do a better job than the Democratic Party of keeping the country prosperous.”

Google Has a Plan to Stop Aspiring ISIS Recruits from Joining the Extremist Group

International Business Times: “According to a report by Wired, Google-owned think tank Jigsaw has been developing a program called Redirect Method, which combines Google’s search advertising algorithms and YouTube’s video feature to identify and target wannabe IS hopefuls and subsequently deter them from joining the terror group’s Armageddon-style proliferation of violence.”

“Redirect Method, which is slated to be launched in a new phase later in September, will involve the placement of advertising in any search results for specific keywords and phrases, which according to Jigsaw’s analysis, have previously been commonly used by people gravitating toward IS. The ads will display links to both Arabic and English YouTube channels.”

“The videos include testimonials from former IS members, imams denouncing the terror group’s violence and corruption of Islam and secretly filmed clips showing the internal dysfunction within IS.”

“Jigsaw’s early pilot program that took place earlier in the year exceeded expectations, with over 30,000 people in the span of two months being drawn to the anti-IS YouTube channels. Jigsaw also observed that people clicked on the program’s ads three to four times more than any other typical ad campaign.”