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Trump, Niger and Connecting the Dots
OCT. 31, 2017 | The New York Times | Thomas L. Friedman.

It is easy to ignore the recent story of four U.S. servicemen killed in Niger, the giant state in central Africa, because the place is so remote and the circumstances still so murky. That would be a mistake. Niger highlights a much larger problem — just how foolish, how flat-out dumb President Trump is behaving.

Trump is a person who doesn’t connect dots — even when they’re big, fat polka dots that are hard to miss. ..... To understand why groups affiliated with ISIS and Al Qaeda are popping up in that region of central Africa, you have to connect a lot of dots, and recognize the linkages between a number of different problems....As defense systems expert Lin Wells once put it: To ameliorate problems in places like Niger, you must never think in the box. You must never think out of the box. “You must always think without a box.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linton_Wells_II]

Why? Because what is destabilizing all of these countries in the Sahel region of Africa and spawning terrorist groups is a cocktail of climate change, desertification — as the Sahara steadily creeps south — population explosions and misgovernance.....Desertification is the trigger, and climate change and population explosions are the amplifiers. The result is a widening collapse of small-scale farming, the foundation of societies all over Africa. And that collapse is leading to a rising tide of “economic migrants, interethnic conflicts and extremism,”......Trump’s response to this reality? It’s to focus solely on using the U.S. military to kill terrorists in Africa while offering a budget that eliminates U.S. support for global contraception programs; appointing climate-change deniers to all key environmental posts; pushing coal over clean energy; and curbing U.S. government climate research.

In short, he’s sending soldiers to fight a problem that is clearly being exacerbated by climate and population trends, while eliminating all our tools to mitigate these trends.
That’s just stupid, reckless and irresponsible — and it evinces no ability to connect the dots or think without a box......Nothing Trump ever says has a second paragraph. His whole shtick is just a first paragraph: Build a wall, tear up the Iran deal, tear up TPP, defeat ISIS, send troops to Niger and Afghanistan to kill terrorists, kill climate policy, kill family planning, cut taxes, raise military spending. Every box just marks an applause line he needed somewhere to get elected. Nothing connects — and we will pay for that.
Donald_Trump  Niger  ISIS  climate_change  Tom_Friedman  Africa  connecting_the_dots  the_Sahara  terrorism  the_Sahel  misgovernance  desertification  sub-Saharan_Africa  weak_states  failed_states  farming  population_growth  U.S._military  mismanagement  destabilization 
november 2017 by jerryking
U.S. Cyberweapons, Used Against Iran and North Korea, Are a Disappointment Against ISIS - The New York Times
By DAVID E. SANGER and ERIC SCHMITT JUNE 12, 2017.

In 2016, U.S. cyberwarriors began training their arsenal of cyberweapons on a more elusive target, internet use by the Islamic State. Thus far, the results have been a consistent disappointment......The effectiveness of the nation’s arsenal of cyberweapons hit its limits against an enemy that exploits the internet largely to recruit, spread propaganda and use encrypted communications, all of which can be quickly reconstituted after American “mission teams” freeze their computers or manipulate their data..... the U.S. is rethinking how cyberwarfare techniques, first designed for fixed targets like nuclear facilities, must be refashioned to fight terrorist groups that are becoming more adept at turning the web into a weapon......one of the rare successes against the Islamic State belongs at least in part to Israel, which was America’s partner in the attacks against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Top Israeli cyberoperators penetrated a small cell of extremist bombmakers in Syria months ago, the officials said. That was how the United States learned that the terrorist group was working to make explosives that fooled airport X-ray machines and other screening by looking exactly like batteries for laptop computers......ISIS' agenda and tactics make it a particularly tough foe for cyberwarfare. The jihadists use computers and social media not to develop or launch weapons systems but to recruit, raise money and coordinate future attacks.

Such activity is not tied to a single place, as Iran’s centrifuges were, and the militants can take advantage of remarkably advanced, low-cost encryption technologies. The Islamic State, officials said, has made tremendous use of Telegram, an encrypted messaging system developed largely in Germany......disruptions often require fighters to move to less secure communications, making them more vulnerable. Yet because the Islamic State fighters are so mobile, and their equipment relatively commonplace, reconstituting communications and putting material up on new servers are not difficult.
ISIS  NSA  security_&_intelligence  disappointment  Israel  encryption  disruption  London  London_Bridge  tools  cyber_security  cyberweapons  vulnerabilities  terrorism  Pentagon  U.S._Cyber_Command  campaigns  David_Sanger 
june 2017 by jerryking
Canada can no longer rely on U.S. for global leadership, Freeland says - The Globe and Mail
ROBERT FIFE AND MICHELLE ZILIO
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Jun. 06, 2017

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says the Liberal government will make a “substantial investment” in the military because Canada can no longer rely on Washington for global leadership in the face of threats of Russian adventurism and the need to combat the “monstrous extremism” of Islamic State......Ms. Freeland said Canada has been able to count on the powerful U.S. military to provide a protective shield since 1945 as she argued this country needs to significantly build up the Canadian military with “a substantial investment” to help confront strategic threats to liberal democracies.

“To rely solely on the U.S. security umbrella would make us a client state,” she said. “To put it plainly: Canadian diplomacy and development sometimes requires the backing of hard power.”

Ms. Freeland listed North Korea, the civil war in Syria, the Islamic State, Russian aggression in the Ukraine and Baltic states and climate change as major threats to the global order.

“We will make the necessary investments in our military, to not only address years of neglect and underfunding, but also to place the Canadian Armed Forces on a new footing – with new equipment, training, resources and consistent and predictable funding,” she said.....The minister described how and why Canada’s role in the Second World War allowed the country to help shape the post-1945 multilateral order.

Canada has continued to play a large role in promoting multiculturalism and diversity and providing a home to the downtrodden – refugees fleeing persecution, famine or wars – she said. It has taken a strong stand on the world stage, promoting gender equality and a rule-based international order.
capabilities  U.S.foreign_policy  Donald_Trump  Canada  Canadian  foreign_policy  leadership  Chrystia_Freeland  ISIS  hard_power  sovereignty  WWII  post-WWII  world_stage 
june 2017 by jerryking
Oxford Diary
4 March / 5 March | Financial Times | Madhumita Murgia.

The goals is to build a conversation around change, to make technological change less scary, to make sure people don't feel left behind because of technology---do this within 26 hrs.....In the Cotswolds, too, senior British media executive tells me his own experience of working with YouTubers "was more like a one-night stand than a marriage". "We use each other for numbers and legitimacy, but the question is will they ever understand the subtler issues of traditional programming? Rules? Political correctness?.....A government adviser tells me that they are afraid that AI will change the relationship between state and citizen....Algorithms helping governments make important social decisions. Algorithms are a kind of black box and that government many not be able to explain its choices when questioned.
Google  future  conferences  change  handpicked  entrepreneur  ISIS  civil_servants  algorithms  YouTube  mass_media  digital_media  artificial_intelligence  biases  value_judgements  large_companies  print_journalism  technological_change  cultural_clash 
march 2017 by jerryking
U.S. Cyber Command Chief on What Threats to Fear the Most - WSJ
June 19, 2016 | WSJ |

But the types of threats that we worry most about today that are new are adversaries taking full control of our networks, losing control of our networks, having a hacker appear to be a trusted user......MS. BLUMENSTEIN: Extraordinary investments are required now for cybersecurity. But looked at another way, there’s an extraordinary cost to getting it wrong.

I was talking to one of the CFOs out there who said, “Can you ask, what is the estimated loss?” Is there a total number? Or do you just know specific incidences?

On the military side, you can imagine the difficulty that would cause a commander, if he didn’t trust his own network or his data.
adversaries  cyber_security  cyber_warfare  threats  North_Korea  ISIS  network_risk  capabilities  Russia  China  Sony  data  Pentagon  U.S._Cyber_Command  cyberattacks 
june 2016 by jerryking
Robert F. Worth’s ‘A Rage for Order’ - The New York Times
By KENNETH M. POLLACKAPRIL 25, 2016
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Middle_East  Arab-Muslim_world  Arab_Spring  ISIS 
may 2016 by jerryking
U.S. Directs Cyberweapons at ISIS for First Time - The New York Times
APRIL 24, 2016 | NYT | By DAVID E. SANGER.

The United States has opened a new line of combat against the Islamic State, directing the military’s six-year-old Cyber Command for the first time to mount computer-network attacks that are now being used alongside more traditional weapons....The NSA, which specializes in electronic surveillance, has for years listened intensely to the militants of the Islamic State, and those reports are often part of the president’s daily intelligence briefing. But the N.S.A.’s military counterpart, Cyber Command, was focused largely on Russia, China, Iran and North Korea — where cyberattacks on the United States most frequently originate — and had run virtually no operations against what has become the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world...The goal of the new campaign is to disrupt the ability of the Islamic State to spread its message, attract new adherents, circulate orders from commanders and carry out day-to-day functions, like paying its fighters....The N.S.A. has spent years penetrating foreign networks — the Chinese military, Russian submarine communications, Internet traffic and other targets — placing thousands of “implants” in those networks to allow it to listen in.

But those implants can be used to manipulate data or to shut a network down. That frequently leads to a battle between the N.S.A. civilians — who know that to make use of an implant is to blow its cover — and the military operators who want to strike back. N.S.A. officials complained that once the implants were used to attack, the Islamic State militants would stop the use of a communications channel and perhaps start one that was harder to find, penetrate or de-encrypt.
ISIS  cyber_warfare  NSA  security_&_intelligence  terrorism  cyberweapons  exploits  hackers  software_bugs  vulnerabilities  Pentagon  U.S._Cyber_Command  campaigns  David_Sanger 
april 2016 by jerryking
Hacker Killed by Drone Was Islamic State’s ‘Secret Weapon’ - WSJ
By MARGARET COKER in London, DANNY YADRON in San Francisco and DAMIAN PALETTA in Washington
Aug. 27, 2015
ISIS  targeted_assassinations  drones  cyber_warfare  security_&_intelligence 
august 2015 by jerryking
Islamic State’s Gains Reveal New Prowess on Battlefield - WSJ
By MARGARET COKER
May 25, 2015 6:18 p.m.]]

Long War Journal....Long before Islamic State declared a caliphate last summer, its supporters fought in Iraq’s Anbar province, piggybacking on local Iraqi Sunni grievances against the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.
ISIS  Iraq  Ramadi 
may 2015 by jerryking
A ‘war on terrorism’? No thanks. There are smarter ways to meet the threat - The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, Feb. 07 2015

What do terrorists want? ....They want us to react to them, and above all to overreact....Using the language of war dignifies their delusions and elevates their crimes. Better to meet and defeat them on our country’s preferred turf: old-fashioned police work, patient intelligence gathering, meticulous legal proceedings and the fairest of trials. We know how to do this....Over the past few weeks, the Prime Minister has seemed intent on riling people up and making the most of the terrorist threat. He has exaggerated the danger of ISIS and its connection to possible terrorism in Canada. That’s wrong. At a time like this, the PM should be the chief minister in charge of deflating hyperbole, putting things in perspective – and reminding Canadians that we must continue as we always have, on guard but free.
terrorism  Stephen_Harper  overreaction  ISIS  Canada  Canadian  lone_wolves  editorials  sense_of_proportion  the_big_picture  home_grown  self-radicalization  strengths  security_&_intelligence  perspectives 
february 2015 by jerryking
From War Room to Boardroom: Leadership Lessons From Two Generals - WSJ
Dec. 8, 2014 | WSJ |

Start to build relationships so that you have something to fall back on when you disagree on the issues.

What leadership lessons should we take from the American experience in Iraq and Afghanistan?

GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: The first thing is we didn’t do due diligence before we went in. We didn’t understand the problem to the depth that we needed to. We didn’t take the time to do it, and we didn’t nurture the experts.

If we gathered all the Pashtun and Arabic speakers in the U.S. military, we could probably fit them on this stage. And yet, after World War II began, after Pearl Harbor, we trained more than 5,000 military members to speak Japanese. We just haven’t made that level of effort.

The other thing is we go at this with different parts of our government. Every agency wants to help but they want to protect their equities, and you can’t do a complex endeavor like this unless you can build a truly integrated team in which everybody is focused.
leadership  lessons_learned  shared_consciousness  operational_tempo  Stanley_McChrystal  teams  NSC  security_&_intelligence  generalship  ISIS  al_Qaeda  Taliban  learning_organizations  adaptability  decision_making  speed  languages  Arabic  Pashtun  relationships 
december 2014 by jerryking
Can we defeat the Islamic State? | Fareed Zakaria
September 11, 2014 | | By Fareed Zakaria.

Here are a few lessons to think about.
* Don’t always take the bait. In one of his videotaped speeches to his followers, Osama bin Laden outlined his strategy. “All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda,” he said, “in order to make [American] generals race there.”
The purpose of the gruesome execution videos was to provoke the United States. And it worked. We have to act against this terror group. But let’s do it at a time and manner of our choosing, rather than jumping when it wants us to jump.
* Don’t overestimate the enemy. The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is a formidable foe, but the counterforces to it have only just begun. And if these forces — the Iraqi army, the Kurdish pesh merga, U.S. air power — work in a coordinated fashion, it will start losing ground.
* Remember the politics. Military action must be coupled with smart political strategy.
Fareed_Zakaria  Middle_East  lessons_learned  ISIS  Iraq  provocations  overestimation  politics 
september 2014 by jerryking
With Islamic State, the chickens come home to roost - The Globe and Mail
LYSIANE GAGNON
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Sep. 03 2014
al-Qaeda  ISIS  Iraq  Libya  Syria  unintended_consequences 
september 2014 by jerryking
The Revolt of the Weak - NYTimes.com
SEPT. 1, 2014 | NYT | By DAVID BROOKS.

there are certain unconscious habits and norms of restraint that undergird civilization. These habits and norms are now being challenged by a coalition of the unsuccessful.

What we’re seeing around the world is a revolt of the weak. There are certain weak movements and nations, beset by internal contradictions, that can’t compete if they play by the normal rules of civilization. Therefore, they are conspiring to blow up the rule book.....People who conduct foreign policy live today under the shadow of the postwar era. People instinctively understand that just after World War II, Harry Truman, George Marshall, Dean Acheson and others did something remarkable. They stepped outside the immediate crush of events and constructed a context in which people would live for the next several decades.

Some of the problems they faced did not seem gigantic: how to prevent a Communist insurgency from taking over a semi-failed government in Greece. But they understood that by projecting American power into Greece, they would be establishing certain norms and creating a framework for civilization.
Vladimir_Putin  Henry_Kissinger  George_Marshall  Harry_Truman  David_Brooks  ISIS  rogue_actors  U.S.foreign_policy  post-WWII  Dean_Acheson  diplomacy  asymmetrical  APNSA 
september 2014 by jerryking
Is Islamic State the best possible enemy? - The Globe and Mail
DOUG SAUNDERS
The Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, Aug. 23 2014
ISIS  Doug_Saunders 
august 2014 by jerryking
A New Kind of Terrorist Threat - WSJ
Aug. 21, 2014 | WSJ| Peggy Noonan

The question "What should we do about ISIS?" is not the same as the question "Do we want to go back to Iraq?" One is about facing up to an extreme and immediate challenge, which we have to do. The other is about returning to an old experience, which almost no one wants to do....The U.S. cannot be certain of ISIS' immediate strategic plans. Perhaps they will concentrate on holding the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It is possible they will widen their war. In an audio statement in January the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, referred to America while speaking to ISIS fighters. "Soon we'll be in direct confrontation," he said. "So watch out for us, for we are with you, watching." Those associated with ISIS have promised to raise their black flag over the White House...Continue bombing ISIS where potentially efficacious, as heavily and for as long as needed. This week's bombing forced them to give up the dam they'd seized at Mosul, an act that left ISIS looking, for the first time in its history, reduced and stoppable. Go to Congress for authorization of force, showing the world we have gained at least some semblance of unity. Give the Kurds, our actual friends, every kind of help they need, from military to material. Use the threat of ISIS to forge new bonds with allies and possible allies, such as the leaders of nearby countries that are immediately threatened. Go to the U.N., pound the table, ask for the world's help. Let them humiliate themselves by doing nothing if that's what they choose. At least it will be clarifying.

And be prepared, to the degree possible, for a hit or hits on American soil or that of our longstanding allies. ISIS says it's coming. So far they've done pretty much everything they said they'd do.
Peggy_Noonan  ISIS  terrorism 
august 2014 by jerryking

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