11 January 2017

*** Thinking About a US-China War, Part 2

Source Link By George Friedman

China has a key geopolitical imperative. It depends on exports to sustain its economy. Most of those exports are shipped by sea, and therefore access to the world market begins at its eastern coastal ports. Geography poses a problem for the Chinese. Shipments from the country’s east coast ports, both south and north of the Taiwan Straits, must transit through a string of islands. Some are large islands, while others are extremely small. But they form a string of choke points through which Chinese maritime trade must pass.

Choke points are normally geographic realities important to navigators but no one else. But they also create a potential vulnerability for China. The existence of choke points, however many, makes the movement of Chinese vessels predictable. More importantly, given a sufficient air-sea force, blocking those points can block Chinese exports and cripple the Chinese economy.

A Jan. 2, 2017 photo shows a Chinese navy formation, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, center, during military drills in the South China Sea. STR/AFP/Getty Images

The Chinese see the United States in three ways. First, the U.S. has an extremely powerful Navy. Second, the U.S. is highly unpredictable in how it responds to challenges. The Chinese saw this unpredictability in Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo, Operation Desert Storm, Iraq and so on. At times, the U.S. does not respond. Other times it over-reacts, from the Chinese point of view. Third, the U.S. prefers economic sanctions that at times include physically blocking the trade of a given country.

*** We will cross again

Sandeep Unnithan

India Today Executive Editor Sandeep Unnithan in an extensive interview spoke with India's newly appointed Army chief General Bipin Rawat.

25 Safdarjung Road, the official residence of the vice-chief of army staff, thrums with activity early on a foggy January morning, just days after General Bipin Rawat assumed office on New Year's Day as India's 27th chief of the army staff. (His official 4 Rajaji Marg residence is under renovation.) His twin Dachshunds, Dash and Tickle, shoot around like little guided torpedoes clad in identical red-and- black-trimmed winter fleece. Staff officers and Tavor rifle-wielding bodyguards of the special forces flank the fleet of black armoured Scorpios waiting to make the short two km drive to his office deep within the sandstone corridors of South Block. The general appears in the verandah of his home, proffers a firm handshake. He's of medium height, stockily built, with salt and pepper hair and a neatly trimmed white moustache. He listens carefully, looks you in the eye when he speaks, and the clearly articulated sentences are delivered like a military drum roll. He clearly plays on the front foot. There is simply no question that will induce any hesitation on his part, from tackling China and Pakistan, surgical strikes, the controversial Cold Start war doctrine to the polemic around his selection as army chief, superseding two senior army commanders. As he sat down for an extensive interview with Executive Editor Sandeep Unnithan, General Rawat revealed why he was supremely confident of navigating the minefield that lies ahead in his three-year tenure. Excerpts: 

** The Swedish Kings of Cyberwar

Hugh Eakin

President Barack Obama with then Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt at Stockholm Arlanda Airport, September 2013. At a joint press conference with then Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt the same day, Obama discussed surveillance by the NSA.

On April 24, 2013, just weeks before Edward Snowden went public with his leaks about mass surveillance by the National Security Agency, General Keith B. Alexander, then the head of the NSA, welcomed a group of Swedish intelligence officials to a secret three-day meeting at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. In the delegation were Ingvar Åkesson, the longtime director of Sweden’s National Defense Radio Establishment (known as the FRA, for Försvarets radioanstalt), a shadowy Swedish government intelligence agency, and five members of Åkesson’s senior staff. One of the aims of the meeting was to discuss Sweden’s growing importance to the NSA. 

In a 2008 law, the FRA had been given expansive powers by the Swedish government to vacuum up all communications traveling over fiber optic networks into and out of Sweden—including e-mails, text messages, and telephone calls. This was of great interest to the NSA, not least because a large percentage of Russian communications traveled through Sweden. In 2011, the Swedes began sharing their surveillance data with the nsa, which included—as NSA officials described it at the time of the meeting—a “unique collection [of communications data] on high-priority Russian targets such as leadership, internal politics, and energy.” 

** Is Europe Disintegrating?

Had I been cryogenically frozen in January 2005, I would have gone to my provisional rest as a happy European. With the enlargement of the European Union to include many post-Communist democracies, the 1989 “return to Europe” dream of my Central European friends was coming true. EU member states had agreed on a constitutional treaty, loosely referred to as the European constitution. The unprecedented project of European monetary union seemed to be confounding the deep skepticism that I and many others had earlier expressed.1 It was amazing to travel without hindrance from one end of the continent to another, with no border controls inside the expanding zone of states adhering to the Schengen Agreement and with a single currency in your pocket for use throughout the eurozone. 

Madrid, Warsaw, Athens, Lisbon, and Dublin felt as if they were bathed in sunlight from windows newly opened in ancient dark palaces. The periphery of Europe was apparently converging with the continent’s historic core around Germany, the Benelux countries, France, and northern Italy. Young Spaniards, Greeks, Poles, and Portuguese spoke optimistically about the new chances offered them by “Europe.” Even notoriously euroskeptical Britain was embracing its European future under Prime Minister Tony Blair. And then there was the avowedly pro-European Orange Revolution in Ukraine. As I watched peaceful protesters in Kiev waving the European flag, with its yellow stars on a blue background, I could inwardly intone the European anthem—Beethoven’s music for the “Ode to Joy.”2

** twitter googlepluse Line of no control

Shashank Joshi

Tactical support from China, Russia and a new army chief mean Pakistan will remain a troublesome neighbour for India. 

Though 2016 has been a geopolitical annus horribilis all round, it is easy to forget that it was not supposed to be so. "Ab to yahaan aana jaana laga rahega (Now there will be much coming and going)," remarked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, during his 2015 Christmas Day visit to Lahore. "Aap ka ghar hai (This is your house)," replied Sharif, perhaps channelling the heady optimism of another celebrated meeting in that city 16 years beforehand. There was indeed much aana jaana over the year. Unfortunately, most of it was carried on by jihadists and special forces, resulting in the worst period for India-Pakistan relations since the Mumbai attacks of 2008. How did we arrive at this point? 

A week after Modi's triumphal visit, as the New Year dawned, normal service was resumed. Early on January 2, six heavily armed terrorists breached the Pathankot air force station in Punjab and killed seven members of the security forces. That, however, was far from the end of the story. Never in living memory have India and Pakistan handled such an attack, obviously of Pakistani provenance, with such maturity, calm and pragmatism. The two national security advisors, spy and soldier, spoke to each other within hours of the attack and met in Paris. The Indian government allowed a five-member Pakistani team to visit the air base itself in March. 

* People Who Live in Glass Houses: Remember That U.S. Intelligence Also Steals Russian Data by Cyber Espionage

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday on foreign cyber threats to the U.S., there were several references to the saying that “people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” The point, made by DNI James Clapper, was that the U.S. should not be too quick to penalize the very espionage practices that U.S. intelligence agencies rely upon, including clandestine collection of information from foreign computer networks.

But perhaps a more pertinent saying would be “It takes a thief to catch a thief.”

U.S. intelligence agencies should be well-equipped to recognize Russian cyber threats and political intervention since they have been tasked for decades to carry out comparable efforts.

A newly disclosed intelligence directive from 1999 addresses “information operations” (IO), which are defined as: “Actions taken to affect adversary information and information systems while defending one’s own information and information systems.”

“Although still evolving, the fundamental concept of IO is to integrate different activities to affect [adversary] decision making processes, information systems, and supporting information infrastructures to achieve specific objectives.”

The elements of information operations may include computer network attack, computer network exploitation, and covert action.

NSG's 'future soldier' programme to be revived with Make-in-India twist

Kamaljit Kaur Sandhu

The National Security Guard, India's special forces unit, plans to revive its 'future soldier' programme, which was shelved in 2013 due to logistics issues. The renewed project comes with a Make-in-India twist, as the elite force has roped in DRDO and IIT-Mumbai to give a final shape to the soldier prototype. 

In The Name Of Secularism: Why It’s Difficult To Separate Church From Politics In India

Aravindan Neelakandan

Aravindan Neelakandan on how the Church wields its influence in electoral politics in India and why it nobody calls its an assault on “secularism”. 

The Aam Admi Party (AAP) has written a letter to the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Goa against pulpit campaigning. If you just read that and thought that at last the so-called secular parties have come to their senses, you are wrong.

The letter written by AAP to Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao in Goa, states that parish priests 'overtly canvassing for a candidate of their choice' could become a 'dangerous trend' in the coming elections for legislative assembly.

That surely looks secular. That surely looks like a call for the separation of Church and secular affairs of the state, you say? Wait. The letter further reads, "The act of each parish priest of overtly canvassing for the candidate of his choice shall lead to a very dangerous trend and may literally pit one parish priest against another and lead to chaos instead of following any clarion call given by the Church."

Why India should take a bolder line with Beijing on Tibet

Brahma Chellaney

While it has become fashionable to pair China and India, as if they were joined at the hip, it is often forgotten that the two have little in common politically, economically or culturally.

Comparatively speaking, the countries are new neighbors. The vast Tibetan plateau, encompassing an area greater than Western Europe, separated the two civilizations throughout history, limiting interaction to sporadic cultural and religious contacts.

It was only after China’s annexation of Tibet in 1951 that Chinese army units appeared for the first time on India’s Himalayan frontiers. This was followed 11 years later by a war in which China’s battlefield triumph sowed the seeds of greater rivalry.

Today, Tibet remains at the center of the China-India divide, fueling territorial disputes, diplomatic tensions and feuds over river-water flows. For example, Beijing was harshly critical of New Delhi in December for allowing the exiled Dalai Lama — who has lived in India since fleeing Tibet in 1959 — to visit the presidential palace for a public event and meet President Pranab Mukherjee, India’s head of state.

China´s Future SSBN Command and Control Structure

By David C Logan

China is developing a credible nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) force. That is both an opportunity and a problem for the country, observes David Logan. The problem is that Beijing has historically favored tight, centralized control over its nuclear deterrent, which is suboptimal for SSBNs. So what should China do? Should it opt for 1 of 3 broad command and control models or align on a hybrid approach?

Key Points 

China is developing its first credible sea-based nuclear forces. This emergent nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) force will pose unique challenges to a country that has favored tightly centralized control over its nuclear deterrent. The choices China makes about SSBN command and control will have important implications for strategic stability. 

Despite claims that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force will be responsible for all Chinese nuclear forces, Chinese SSBNs currently appear to be under the control of the PLA Navy. However, China may choose to revise its command and control structures as its SSBNs begin armed deterrent patrols. There are three broad command and control models, allocating varying degrees of authority to the PLA Navy or the Rocket Force. 

China: Strategic Encirclement of India’s Core Interests

By Bhaskar Roy

Having failed to constrict India within South Asia with its “String of Pearls” (an American euphuism) Strategy, China has now embarked on a new initiative to trip India’s growing comprehensive national power (CNP) and influence beyond South Asia.

India’s neighbours swam with China periodically, depending on the government in those countries. For Example, the Mahinda Rajapksa government in Sri Lanka jumped into China’s lap for their own political reasons. The Mathiripala Sirisena government has restored the balance.

The BNP led four party alliance government (2001-2006) in Bangladesh brought relations with India to the lowest ebb. The alliance had parties like the Jamaat-e-Islami which were beholden to Pakistan and actively complicit in the savage rape and attempted extermination of the pro-liberation Bengalees in 1971. They were natural allies of not only Pakistan but also China which supported Pakistan. The return of the Awami League to power changed this policy drastically. The Awami League government, due to practical necessity and real politics, crafted a friendly relationship with China, but not at the expense of their relationship with India. China, however, is trying to entice Dhaka, but this does not worry India because India-Bangladesh relationship has more than political market imperatives. There is a cultural and historical conjunction. 

What Does It Mean to Be At War with “Radical Islam”? On the Attractions and Dangers of a Vague Term

By Daniel Byman

Who is the enemy in American counterterrorism? Is it the Islamic State, the broader jihadist movement, or a set of ideas about the role of religious and politics, often labeled “radical Islam?”

The President-elect and some of his senior advisors have stressed the need to focus on radical Islam and criticized President Obama for avoiding that specific label. “I think Islam hates us,” warned Trump on the campaign trail. When pressed about who, specifically, was the enemy, he contended that a narrow label risked missing part of the danger: "It's very hard to define. It's very hard to separate. Because you don't know who's who." 

Michael Flynn, Trump’s incoming National Security Advisor, similarly warned, “We're in a world war against a messianic mass movement of evil people, most of them inspired by a totalitarian ideology: Radical Islam." Steve Bannon, one of the President-elect’s principle advisors, compared the situation today to when Christendom held the forces of Islam at bay in the battles of Vienna and Tours. Perhaps even worse than the threat of terrorism, some Trump advisors warn that Muslims are secretly planning to implement Islamic religious law in the United States and the West in general.

Such a perspective is a dramatic switch from the policies of Presidents Obama and Bush. In an excellent article in The Atlantic, Uri Friedman contrasts the Trump team’s views with that of preceding administrations. Fighting terrorism, for the new regime, is about fighting a broad ideology, not a particular set of violent individuals who join the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, or another group.

In 1956, Russia Almost Launched a Nuclear War against Britain, France and Israel

Michael Peck

The war began with an imperialist invasion to seize the Suez Canal. It ended with the Soviet Union threatening to nuke Britain, France and Israel.

The 1956 British and French attack on Suez, and the parallel 1956 Israel-Egypt War, have to be among the strangest conflicts in history. The cast of characters includes two fading empires reluctant to admit their decline, a charismatic Arab dictator, a paranoid Jewish state, a semi-fake war and a superpower with nuclear weapons.

The crisis began over who just owned the Suez Canal, gateway between Europe and Asia. In July 1956, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser announced he would nationalize the canal, which was controlled still by European shareholders even after Egypt achieved independence from Britain (the same situation would later apply to the United States and the Panama Canal). Nasser’s decision was prompted by the cutoff of American funding for the massive Aswan Dam, after Nasser had signed a huge arms deal with the Soviet bloc.

Nasser’s response was simple: if the Americans and British wouldn’t subsidize the Aswan Dam, then Egypt would nationalize the Suez Canal and use the toll revenues to build the dam itself. Unfortunately, he forgot a basic rule of history: there is nothing more dangerous than a declining empire.

How We Fool Ourselves on Russia


In the quarter-century since the end of the Cold War, profound grievances, misperceptions and disappointments have often defined the relationship between the United States and Russia. I lived through this turbulence during my years as a diplomat in Moscow, navigating the curious mix of hope and humiliation that I remember so vividly in the Russia of Boris N. Yeltsin, and the pugnacity and raw ambition of Vladimir V. Putin’s Kremlin. And I lived through it in Washington, serving both Republican and Democratic administrations.

There have been more than enough illusions on both sides. The United States has oscillated between visions of an enduring partnership with Moscow and dismissing it as a sulking regional power in terminal decline. Russia has moved between notions of a strategic partnership with the United States and a later, deeper desire to upend the current international order, where a dominant United States consigns Russia to a subordinate role.

The reality is that our relationship with Russia will remain competitive, and often adversarial, for the foreseeable future. At its core is a fundamental disconnect in outlook and about each other’s role in the world.

New OSCE chief visits war-torn Donbas; Kyiv cites massive Russian cyber attacks

By Mark Raczkiewycz

KYIV – The new chairperson-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe chose war-torn Ukraine for his first foreign visit as the leader of the 57-state organization. 

Having announced that part of his mission would be to “defuse conflicts” during his year-long chairmanship, Austria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sebastian Kurz visited the frontline village of Shyrokyne in Donetsk Oblast along the Azov Sea coast on January 4. 

Mr. Kurz noted that the OSCE, whose 693 monitors have a mandate to monitor ceasefire efforts in the Donbas war, isn’t satisfied with the current “status quo” in eastern Ukraine. 

“This visit is supposed to signify in the first place that we aren’t happy with the status quo and we want to put forth effort so that changes lead to improvement,” he said at a news conference in Mariupol, some 30 kilometers west of Shyrokyne. 

Despite never taking hold since the truce was brokered in Minsk in February 2015, Mr. Kurz reiterated that the agreement is the only option for implementing peace and the measures that Ukraine and Russia agreed to fulfill. 

Noam Chomsky: You can’t educate yourself by looking things up online


Fake news has been around long before Facebook, but it was the tech company’s goal to appear like a newspaper that eventually misled its users far more than ever before.

“Technology is basically neutral,” author Noam Chomsky explained. “It’s kinda like a hammer . . . the hammer doesn’t care whether you use it to build a house or a torturer uses it to crush somebody’s skull . . . same with modern technology [like] the internet. The internet is extremely valuable if you know what you’re looking for.”

Unfortunately, that’s almost the antithesis of Facebook. And while Paper, the ad-free Facebook news feed app ultimately failed, the social media network had by then successfully developed tools like Smart Publishing. The latter tool for publishers aimed to boost stories on Facebook that were popular with the user’s own network, amplifying the performance of fake news in a scandal-obsessed hyperpartisan era. But until five weeks after the election, there was little distinction on the platform between “news” published by conspiracy theorists and actual trusted news sources.

“If you don’t have [an idea what you’re looking for], exploring the internet is just picking out random factoids that don’t mean anything,” Chomsky stated. Without a specific strategy, he believes the internet is far more likely to be harmful than helpful.

Oops! US Gave Obsolete Drones to the Ukraine

The United States committed an embarrassing and costly (to Ukrainian troops) when indications that Russian troops could hack older UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), still sent some of these older models to the Ukraine. Initially the Ukrainian troops were grateful to receive 72 older RQ-11 Raven UAVs. Everyone in eastern Ukraine (Donbas) knew of Raven by reputation and soldiers fighting the Russian backed rebels there were eager to get this form of air support. But the Russians also knew of Raven and were happy to discover that the Americans had sent some of older analog Ravens that were easy to hack and jam. That’s what the Russians proceeded to do and the Ukrainian troops soon found the Ravens to be useless. The U.S. is now under pressure to sending digital Ravens to Ukraine. This was not done originally because many older Ravens are still analog and cheaper to send as military aid. Another reason was the belief that if the Russian hackers and EW (Electronic Warfare) experts in Donbas go to have at the latest Raven in a combat zone, they would quickly come up with a way to hack or jam it.

The more jam/hacker resistant digital Ravens have been around since 2010. It was in 2008 that the U.S. Army decided to equip Raven with a new communications system that transmitted video using a digital, rather than an analog, signal. This will enable higher resolution pictures to be transmitted, as well as allowing more Ravens (as many as 16) to operate in the same area rather than the current limit of four for analog Ravens. There was another, less publicized, reason for going digital. Some Islamic terrorists had figured out how to hack the analog signal and look at what a local Raven could see. Then the Islamic terrorists figured out how to jam the analog signal, forcing the Raven to either crash or switch to the automatic “return home” mode (built in for situations when the control link is lost). American electronic warfare experts in Iraq quickly concluded that this could lead to hackers not only jamming a Raven control signal but also taking control of one. These hacks were eventually tracked to Iranian military advisors working with Shia militia in Iran. This led to the decision to upgrade future Raven’s to digital. At that point the U.S. Army had only bought a few thousand Raven’s and it took a while to design, build, test and install the digital control system.

7 Ways to Fail as a Staff Officer

by Captain Nate Stratton 

“Iwant to claw my way up to brigade staff!” No little kid ever grew up wanting to be the best at briefing slides, brewing coffee, or writing operations orders. There’s a reason war movies don’t portray the struggles of warriors whose meritorious planning performance led to the creation of the perfect brief. Slideology 101 isn’t a required course at West Point.

Time spent on staff, where officers spend the majority of their career, is thankless, laborious work that is too often viewed as a block check between command positions. Much of the Army’s educational emphasis is on success as the man in front of the formation, but the officer’s plight is that he will spend much more time rowing the ship than steering it.

With good reason, TRADOC focuses on preparing its students for the key leadership positions they will occupy upon course graduation. I am a product of that focus, having left Fort Benning to assume leadership of a platoon in Kandahar only two months later. Captains get some staff training in the latter half of MCCC, but iterations of the Battalion-level orders production is scant preparation for a young officer assigned as the Battalion planner upon arriving at his new unit.

Vietnam: The War That Killed Trust

Karl Marlantes

In the early spring of 1967, I was in the middle of a heated 2 a.m. hallway discussion with fellow students at Yale about the Vietnam War. I was from a small town in Oregon, and I had already joined the Marine Corps Reserve. My friends were mostly from East Coast prep schools. One said that Lyndon B. Johnson was lying to us about the war. I blurted out, “But … but an American president wouldn’t lie to Americans!” They all burst out laughing.

When I told that story to my children, they all burst out laughing, too. Of course presidents lie. All politicians lie. God, Dad, what planet are you from?

Before the Vietnam War, most Americans were like me. After the Vietnam War, most Americans are like my children.

America didn’t just lose the war, and the lives of 58,000 young men and women; Vietnam changed us as a country. In many ways, for the worse: It made us cynical and distrustful of our institutions, especially of government. For many people, it eroded the notion, once nearly universal, that part of being an American was serving your country.

The Future Of Oil And Gas? Look To The Past

Chris Ross
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) (C) talks with Energy Information Administration Administrator Adam Sieminski (R) before a hearing about the outlook for energy and commodity markets in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill January 19, 2016 in Washington, DC. Many of those who testified before the committee predicted a highly uncertain outlook for producers of traditional fossil fuels like oil and gas while investment in renewable energy sources continues to increase. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In the early days of 2017, it behooves oil and gas companies to reflect on the past, while making plans robust to an uncertain future outlook. There are several questions that should be asked: 

Where are we in the oil and gas price cycles? 

How will politics and policies affect the business outlook? 

What are the appropriate strategies? 



As the Obama administration comes to an end, so does the innovation-focused tenure of Ashton Carter as secretary of defense. Under his leadership and the guiding precepts of the third offset, the Department of Defense initiated a series of Silicon Valley-inspired innovations. From chief innovation officers to the Strategic Capabilities Office and Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, Carter’s Pentagon has focused on institutionalizing innovation. Unfortunately and as many other commentators have noted, this focus on top-down innovation may have unwittingly created innovation architectures that bypass the warfighter. As a result, critics question whether warfighter-led innovation can thrive in the third offset.

Nowhere is this critique more relevant or more concerning than in cyberspace, a domain characterized by prolific users, rapid evolution of capabilities, and persistent confrontation. The Department of Defense has launched a whirlwind of initiatives in response to these challenges: the vast majority of which have focused on top-down processes that resolve inter-organizational competition for budget, manning, and policy authorities. This emphasis on centralized top-down innovation within cyberspace has largely overlooked cyber warrior led innovation, while a general stovepiping of cyber capabilities away from traditional warfighting units means that without careful consideration, the link between the warfighter and the Pentagon or Fort Meade may be increasingly innovated away. As we transition from a Carter-led Department of Defense, how can we enable warfighter-led innovation in cyberspace?

McCain: Russia Hack Should Spark National Cyber Policy

By: Joe Gould

WASHINGTON — The US Senate Armed Services Committee will focus on beefing up the nation’s cyber security after alleged Russian meddling in US elections, which chairman John McCain at a committee hearing Thursday called “an unprecedented attack on our democracy.”

The hearing, Congress’ first on the allegations, came amid GOP divisions over how tough to get with Russian President Vladimir Putin and as President-elect Donald Trump has harshly downplayed the US intelligence community's assessment — which netted criticism from Democrats and outgoing Director of National Intelligence James Clapper at the hearing.

“Every American should be alarmed by Russia’s attacks on our nation,” said McCain, R-Ariz. “There is no national security interest more vital to the United States of America than the ability to hold free and fair elections without foreign interference. That is why Congress must set partisanship aside, follow the facts, and work together to devise comprehensive solutions to deter, defend against, and, when necessary, respond to foreign cyberattacks."

While Russia was the elephant in the room, McCain signaled the bipartisan committee will more broadly target the nation's policy gap on cyber warfare. The policy, he said, must answer basic questions, such as what constitutes an act of war or aggression in cyberspace, what would merit a military response, what the nation’s theory of cyber deterrence is and whether the executive and legislative branches need to be reorganized to better manage cyber.

Zero Days review: how the Pandora's box of hacking broke open

American documentarist Alex Gibney - director of films about WikiLeaks, US government torture policy and Catholic church sex abuse, as well as the gripping Scientology exposé Going Clear - is no stranger to difficult, headline-grabbing subjects.

His latest, Zero Days, is hardly short on headline potential either, being an investigation into the cyber-warfare America and Israel have conducted in secret to impede Iran’s nuclear weapons programme. The keyword is “Stuxnet” – the name of a harmful computer virus, first identified in June 2010, which both countries have consistently denied was anything to do with them.

This piece of malicious software, or “malware”, is acknowledged to be the cornerstone of one of the most sophisticated cyber-attacks ever launched against a country’s military-industrial complex – specifically Iran’s primary fuel-enrichment plant at Natanz. 

And who will go on the record about how it got there? No one. Gibney begins by trying out the Stuxnet question on all of his senior sources in American and Israeli intelligence services. He gets a variation on “no comment”, or “that’s classified”, from every one of them. Off-the-record scuttlebutt from NSA insiders – presented as composite testimony, with an actress, digitised and ghostly, reading out their lines – compares the very use of the word Stuxnet to Voldemort in Harry Potter: that which much not be named.

The encryption policy will be back soon, here’s what you need to know

Sandesh Anand

Some called it India’s war on encryption. In September 2015, under the pretext of promoting online security, the Indian government proposed to debase the premise of encryption-based secure communications.

Among other points made in the draft encryption policy last year was the laughable clause that users must store plain text versions of their communications for 90 days to help law enforcement agencies. It also wanted services that provide encryption to register with the government and provide working copies of their software.

The internet called out the foolishness of the government and rightly so. The policy was withdrawn. However, it is only a matter time before the government tries to bring it back on the table — a lot more cautiously this time. As internet users, we must be careful as well. This isn’t some esoteric debate for wonks. Let me explain how it affects all of us.

With or without our knowledge, we use encryption in our daily computing lives. Does the link of the site you browse start with ‘https’ instead of ‘http’? WhatsApp much? You are already using encryption

A Warning About Tallinn 2.0 … Whatever It Says

By Michael J. Adams

The Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare is the most comprehensive and thoughtful work to date on the applicability of existing international law to cyber warfare. It is routinely referenced and relied upon by civilian and military practitioners across the globe and—if it has not already done so—it may very well achieve the authors’ objective of joining the ranks of the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea and the Manual on International Law Applicable to Air and Missile Warfare as one of the authoritative (albeit non-binding) manuals detailing the manner in which international law applies to particular forms of warfare.

No doubt the soon-to-be-released Tallinn 2.0 will prove to be equally well received.

And that is precisely the problem.

Despite the benefits of the Tallinn Manual—a proffer of increased certainty for States that international law does apply to cyber activities; a framework that adopts and applies international legal norms; the general utility of a ready reference for government officials, operators, and legal advisers; and the recording of a group of experts’ opinions that can be scrutinized by others in ways that might help to develop long-term legal consensus—the Tallinn Manual presents two dangers that we should hope Tallinn 2.0 avoids.