16 February 2017

*** The Grim Fantasia of a Civilizational War

By Paul Musgrave

Emma Ashford lays out Samuel Huntington’s work, its flaws, and its relevance to the current moment. But a puzzle remains. Ashford shows that, despite having been repeatedly debunked, fact-checked, and picked apart, the clash of civilizations and cognate ideas remain more influential than ever. Put another way, “Clash” is the thesis that just won’t die. Given that Clash is bad history and worse social science, why are we still talking about it?

The longevity of Huntington’s thesis becomes more explicable when we treat it not as scholarship aimed at skeptics but as a sermon preached to the faithful. The creed that Huntington and his audience share holds that civilizations exist as unchanging cultural organisms, that the rise of other regions threatens Western civilization, and that a successful Western response requires purity at home and separation from the rest. These are not factual assertions—they are unfalsifiable axioms. Trying to “fact-check” Huntington’s more specific claims is useful but shouldn’t lead us to miss the larger point of his project.

Despite a passing panegyric to “multiculturality” (pp. 318-21), Clash of Civilizations is a cry to preserve an exclusive vision of “Western civilization,” not to explain world politics.[i] Whereas Ashford finds Huntington’s myriad bigotries to be “distasteful,” they are not deviations from a generally sound approach—rather, they sit at the heart of the book’s appeal. Huntington’s civilizational paradigm complements his nativism, his hostility to social change, and his profound disinterest in economics and politics. As long as a constituency that subscribes to its axioms can be found, Clash-style logic will survive, no matter how costly or dangerous its prescriptions may be.

*** The Dangers of Pakistan's Tactical Nuclear Weapons

By Sajid Farid Shapoo

Why Pakistan’s tactical nukes are inherently a threat to the country’s nuclear security.

Nuclear weapons today are a part of Pakistan’s belief system, having been built up over the years because they seem to have provided a credible deterrent against Indian aggression. Pakistan is convinced, maybe rightly so, that its nuclear capability has been able to deter India from escalating hostilities in the last three decades. Pakistan is now on a journey to strengthen its deterrent.

Pakistan today has the world’s fastest growing nuclear stockpile, according to a report published in 2015. Given the rate of its plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) production, it may be able to produce another 200 nuclear warheads in next five to 10 years, taking its arsenal to close to 350 warheads. The production of such a staggering stockpile has been associated with an extremely worrisome trend: a majority of nuclear warheads produced by Pakistan in the last decade are thought to be low-yield tactical weapons. The rapid tacticalization of a strategic asset in a region considered to be a nuclear flashpoint has raised plethora of security and strategic questions.

Pakistan is at the epicenter of global jihadi terrorism. The country has faced some devastating attacks on its defense apparatus by jihadists in the past decade or so; there have been repeated instances, for example, where some of these attacks were mounted with the help of insiders within the Pakistani military establishment. This internal chaos, coupled with perpetual tensions with its eastern neighbor, India, makes Pakistan a bit of nuclear nightmare. Its willingness to use tactical nuclear weapons even against a limited conventional incursion by India further complicates this situation.

*** Orde Wingate and Combat Leadership

Major General Orde Wingate was the most controversial British commander of the Second World War, and can split opinion seventy years after his death, not least every time something new is published about him. This is unsurprising: a man who ate six raw onions per day, ordered all his officers to eat at least one and who conducted press conferences in the nude while scrubbing himself with a wire brush is bound to leave an impression. However, much of the controversy runs deeper than this, stemming from his performance as military commander and leader, specifically during three episodes occurring late in a military career beginning with passing out from the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, in 1923 and ending in death in an air crash in Burma in 1944.

First came the Palestine Arab uprising of 1936-1939, when Wingate, a captain on the Staff of General Headquarters in Haifa, was authorised by two British General Officers Commanding (GOC) Palestine, General Sir Archibald Wavell and General Sir Robert Haining, to train Jewish policemen, in British organised counterterrorist units known as the Special Night Squads. Wingate, a passionate Zionist, politicized this mission, turning it into the backbone of a personal campaign for a Jewish state, deploying his Night Squads in politically explosive pre-emptive and reprisal attacks on Arab villages believed to be hiding insurgents and using ‘robust’ methods to extract intelligence from prisoners.

*** Rajan Menon, The China Missile Crisis of 2018?

by Rajan Menon 

Consider it an irony or simply a reality of our moment, but these days Donald (“America First”) Trump is looking ever less like an old-fashioned, pre-World War II isolationist. In a mere three-plus weeks in office, he’s managed to mix it up royally with much of the rest of the planet. He threatened to send American troops into Mexico (hey, it was a joke, just lighthearted banter!); he insulted the Prime Minister of Australia by shouting at and hanging up on him (“fatigue was setting in” and anyway maybe he thought it was Austria!); he threatened Iran with everything but the kitchen sink (which he evidently couldn’t find in the new, under-inhabited White House); he insulted Iraq by banning its citizens from visiting the land that had invaded and occupied them and essentially dynamited their country; he insulted German Prime Minister Angela Merkel for her handling of the refugee crisis and may still be playing with the idea of appointing an ambassador to the European Union who would like to see it go the way of the old Soviet Union. He put in place the Muslim ban that wasn’t a ban on immigrants and visitors from seven largely Muslim lands -- before an obviously Islam-loving so-called judge in San Francisco (natch!) temporarily banned it. After being played like a fiddle by military officials who told him that President Obama would never have had the guts to order such a raid -- great presidential button-pushing, guys! -- he green-lighted a disastrous Special Operations mission in Yemen in which the raiders didn’t get their guy (but did get a long available terror video), while one American and up to 30 civilians, including children, died. (The Yemeni government, possibly also angered by being put on Trump’s list of banned countries, has now banned such raids in its country, or not.) And to give Trump total credit, he staunchly defended the honor of the American people, as he had always promised he would. When Bill O’Reilly, in a pre-Super Bowl interview, called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “killer” without offering a single kind, offsetting word of praise for the United States, the president promptly insisted that the Russians had no monopoly on killers in high places, not on an America First planet. He shot back: "There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?" Exactly, Donald. We kill with the best of them!

** Stratfor looks at the next phase of terrorism: ISIS drones

By Scott Stewart at Stratfor

Summary: Stratfor looks at the videos of ISIS using drones and discusses their potential applications of this new weapon. Will we see ISIS drones in the skies of America? 

The Islamic State is taking to the skies as the fight for Mosul wears on. Over the past several weeks, the extremist group has been flaunting its use of unmanned aerial vehicles against Iraqi army and Kurdish forces in and around the city. Propaganda videos feature dramatic aerial footage of the precision attacks, and they have produced their intended effect, receiving heavy coverage in mainstream media outlets. So far, the Islamic State has deployed this technique only in Iraq and Syria. That’s likely soon to change, though, considering the attention the group’s drone attacks have been getting and the prevalence of drones in the West. Drone attacks are coming. But they do not necessarily portend death from above.

The Islamic State’s use of drones is nothing new. Since 2014, the group has been using the technology to conduct reconnaissance on enemy defensive positions and to capture aerial footage of attacks for use in propaganda videos. It has also used drone video feeds to adjust fire from mortars, artillery guns and rockets against static targets. And though the group still employs drones for these purposes, over the past year, it has started using them offensively as well, either as guided airborne bombs or as vehicles to carry and drop ordnance on enemy targets. This new development has caused a stir in the media and stoked fears that Islamic State operatives could use the tactic in terrorist attacks outside the group’s core territory.

India’s Expatriate Evacuation Operations: Bringing the Diaspora Home

India has extensive experience conducting evacuation operations, but given the rising economic contributions and political influence of Indian citizens abroad and the increasing complexity of these operations, the incentives to ensure the success of future ones are nowEVEN greater. As India’s diaspora continues to grow, so will the challenges New Delhi faces in protecting this diverse and geographically dispersed population. To overcome these issues, the Indian government will have to institutionalize best practices, bolster its diplomatic and military capabilities, and improve coordination.

Rising Challenges in Protecting a Growing Diaspora 

India has conducted more than thirty evacuation operations across Africa, Asia, and Europe, including its largest-ever civilian airlift of 110,000 people from the Persian Gulf in 1990. 

However, given the lack of any formal doctrine or emergency plan, the success of India’s missions has mostly been due to the individual sacrifices of officials from its diplomatic corps, flagship carrier, and armed forces. 

As more than 11 million Indians now reside abroad, and more than 20 million travel overseas each year, the government will no longer be able to rely on heroic, ad hoc efforts and quick-fix solutions. 

Lingering and emerging challenges, including a lack of standard operating procedures and inadequate coordination, will only intensify as evacuation operations become larger in scope and public scrutiny increases. 

Time to call China’s bluff on Masood Azhar

Anil Padmanabhan

Last week a US-sponsored resolution in the United Nations to designate Pakistan-based militant group chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist was vetoed by the Chinese. In the process it has left itself vulnerable to the charge of being selectively amnesic on globally wanted terrorists.

Most galling is the fact that the Chinese have done this thrice earlier and on all occasions claimed it was because of a lack of evidence. And this after the fact that Azhar founded the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) which was blacklisted by the UN Security Council in 2002 for promoting terrorism—even Pakistan, under pressure from the administration of President Bush following the attacks of 9/11, outlawed JeM.

Azhar, considered one of the best ideologues, has long established terror associations and is identified by India as the mastermind behind several attacks. He was traded for the safety of the passengers of a hijacked airline and has since then openly moved around in Pakistan, rabble rousing.

Clearly, it is time for India to call the Chinese bluff. Ostensibly, the Chinese action is a strategy to stand by its ally Pakistan but actually it is much more. Pakistan’s strategy of delivering a thousand cuts on India—through state-sponsored terrorism—is an unnecessary distraction for a country desperate to break into the global super league of economies, something China (to be sure it has never said so officially) will not welcome in its immediate neighbourhood. And the longer our neighbour can play at this, the tougher the odds for India; so why not indulge Pakistan—a case of killing two birds with one stone, very akin to low-level office politics.

India-Israel Ties Finally Out Of The Closet – Analysis

By Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty

India and Israel were born as independent nations within nine months of each other in 1947 and 1948. Partition was a common feature of their creation, as modern nation states. On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel and joined the United Nations. Then American President Harry S. Truman recognised the new nation on the same day.

The USA had supported the British initiative of 1917, which called for the establishment of a Jewish national home in, an initiative which became known as the Balfour Declaration (Arthur Balfour was then the British Foreign Secretary). Britain, responsible for the mandate of Palestine, until May 1948, later went on to oppose both the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state in Palestine. Arab and Muslim countries never reconciled to the Jewish state in the heart of Arab lands and had to struggle for recognition by the international community.

Arguing for a composite State, wherein Palestinian Arabs and the Jewish people would live side by side in a secular State, India had voted against the United Nations’ partition plan for Palestine. India’s vote was overruled by a majority vote approving the creation of Israel and Palestine as two independent States. (The Partition Plan got a two-thirds majority: the vote was 33 for and 13 against, with 10 states – including the UK – abstaining.)

Afghanistan: Sanctions on Hekmatyar Lifted; Eyes on Russia

by Alexander Murray

On 4 February, the UN Security Council (UNSC) agreed to remove Hezb-e-Islami-e-Gulbuddin (HIG) power-broker and former Afghan Prime Minister, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, from its international sanctions list. Having negotiated a truce with HIG and settled on the peaceful terms of Hekmatyar’s reintegration into Afghan civil society, the government of President Ashraf Ghani is sure to welcome the news.

This action by the UNSC is precisely what they had requested nearly two months ago. This sudden development, as I have previously warned, should be met with great skepticism not only for the regional actors involved, but also concerning the ever changing role of Russia.

The current situation regarding Russia and Hekmatyar is an abrupt change to what was, until now, long standing distrust and animosity. Russia has clearly given up on these sentiments in order to combat what it sees as a growing threat by Daesh in Central Asia, forge stronger regional ties with Pakistan and consequently China, and expand its sphere of influence in what may be a waning space of former American influence. All of this ensures Russian security, a manageable amount of regional instability, and the maintenance of Russian energy companies’ regional pre-eminence.

Hekmatyar’s Russian Role

Russian foreign policy circles do not hold Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in high regard. He has consistently been regarded as a man who was understood to be actively hostile toward Russia, Pakistani supported, and American legitimated. The current change in Russian sentiments pertaining to Hekmatyar should not be seen as a shift to embrace, but rather a prioritization of dealing with the threat of Daesh. Almost none of the changes pertaining to Hekmatyar and HIG have been covered by major Russian news outlets. Such news would not sit well with the Russian population, as they are most likely unaware of how Hekmatyar no longer fills two of the three criteria aforementioned.

The undumpable Hafiz Saeed

by Khaled Ahmed

In the early 2000s, Saeed was asked to temporarily stay at home by the-then ruling General Pervez Musharraf, a request Saeed didn’t like; today, Musharraf is in exile, running away from a treason trial in Pakistan.

It was not long ago when he funded and organised a cleric-dominated Defence of Pakistan Council “long march” of cars from Lahore to Islamabad to protest the government’s getting lazy on Kashmir, fortified by the presence of ex-ISI chief General (retd) Hamid Gul riding in one of the Prados. On January 31, Hafiz Saeed of Jamaat-ud-Dawa was “house-arrested” under Section 11-EEE(1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1977, and asked to live in his well-appointed Al Qadisiya headquarters before being shifted to the even more comfortable environs of Johar Town in Lahore.

Did Pakistan get scared of President Donald Trump, who may put Pakistan on the blacklist of countries in the International Cooperative Review Group (ICRG) and impose trade sanctions? No, an army spokesman said, the decision was taken in “national interest”, not under UN Resolution 1267 which lists Hafiz Saeed as a terrorist. Maverick TV host Shahid Masood appeared on the anti-government BOL TV channel to opine that Hafiz Saeed was, in fact, respectfully asked to accept security against planned attacks, coming, according to intercepted messages, from Afghanistan — read Taliban, funded by India — to get rid him. Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson Center wrote in Dawn (February 1) that it was really China that wanted Saeed in the jug, fearing his mindless vituperation against India might jeopardise the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

5 ways the US can recover lost ground in Afghanistan


With Washington completely engaged by tweets, leaks and partisan bickering, few took notice of the recent sobering testimony from Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr. about the war in Afghanistan.

Nicholson, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, assessed the coalition's 15-year war as a "stalemate." In terms of forces, he said that the coalition had adequate forces for counterterrorism, but was short several thousand coalition troops to bolster the advisory and assistance mission "below the corps level," where hard-pressed Afghan brigades and police units are fighting hard and taking record casualties.

Nicholson also noted a number of positive developments: 

Last year, U.S. forces killed five major terrorist leaders in or around Afghanistan. 

Afghan forces successfully blocked the Taliban from its key objective of seizing provincial capitals. 

Afghan special forces and the fledgling Afghan Air Force consistently punched above their weight class. 

The Afghan Army and police — hard-pressed and shrinking — remained excellent fighters and loyal to the central government, which has proven itself to be a reliable ally. 

The Disappeared, Pakistan

Mohammed Hanif 

KARACHI, Pakistan — Every few weeks I get a phone call or text message informing me that yet another journalist, political activist or someone hyperactive on social media has gone missing. From past experience I know that they have most likely been picked up by one of the secret agencies. I also know that when they return they’ll be changed people.

When they disappear, they are opinionated and noisy; they believe their 800-word op-ed or their Facebook post or the poem that went viral will change the world. When they return, they have become the sort of people who will say, it was nice knowing you, why don’t you shut up and go away?

It’s as if they weren’t abducted by the state and kept in a dungeon or a safe house, probably interrogated, in some cases tortured, and always threatened. It’s like they went to some rehab program from which they have come back fully reformed and compliant.

In the past year, hundreds of political activists in Karachi have been picked up, and some renounced their loyalties upon their return. They leave the country if they can; otherwise, they try to become unquestioning citizens. Maybe they are right. What good has ever come of talking about state abduction and torture and solitary confinement?



As Beijing promotes its brain power on the global stage, it must reassess how much it should control institutions that are supposed to come to their own conclusions

The term “think tank” may be new in China, but since ancient times the country’s rulers and aristocracy have had a tradition of valuing counsel from scholars and people with diverse backgrounds.

One such ruler was Lord Mengchang during the Warring States period more than 2,000 years ago. He supported up to 3,000 people as retainers in his home. He was known to take copious notes during many discussions while wining and dining his entourage and his family almost every night.

Now the Chinese leadership wants to emulate Mengchang by grooming think tanks with global influence to match its expanding economic clout in the international arena.

But while making great progress, China faces some internal challenges when it comes to fitting modern ideas about think tanks into its political culture, especially when the institutions express thoughts that are in conflict with the government.

Adapting to the New Globalization


BERKELEY – Around the world, countries are rethinking the terms of engagement in global trade. This is not all bad; in fact, acknowledgement of globalization’s disruptive effects on millions of advanced-economy workers is long overdue. But new trade policies must be based on a clear-eyed understanding of how globalization is evolving, not on a backward-looking vision based on the last 30 years.

Globalization has done the world a lot of good. Research from the McKinsey Global Institute shows that, thanks to global flows of goods, services, finance, data, and people, world GDP is more than 10% higher – some $7.8 trillion in 2014 alone – than it would have been had economies remained closed.

More interconnected countries capture the largest share of this added value. For example, the United States, which ranks third among 195 countries on MGI’s Connectedness Index, has done rather well. Emerging-market economies have also reaped major gains, using export-oriented industrialization as a springboard for rapid growth.

Yet, even as globalization has narrowed inequality among countries, it has aggravated income inequality within them. From 1998 to 2008, the middle class in advanced economies experienced no income growth, while incomes soared by nearly 70% for those at the top of the global income distribution. Top earners in the US, accounting for half of the global top 1%, reaped a significant share of globalization’s benefits.

The Technical Support Working Group: A Powerful Counterterrorism Tool

By Justin Siberell

A cropped image from the front cover of the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office 2016 Review Book. 

The terrorism challenges we face continue to evolve at an exceptionally rapid pace, fueled by the tenacity and malicious creativity of our terrorist adversaries. While we cannot predict exactly what the terrorism landscape will look like one decade or even a year from now, we can be confident that harnessing science and technology will continue to be essential to delivering novel solutions for the global terrorism challenges that lie ahead.

I recently had the privilege of speaking to members of the Technical Support Working Group at their annual Threat Day in Washington, DC, to underscore the importance of science and technology tools in our counterterrorism efforts. This interagency event is held each year to provide participants an opportunity to better understand the common global threat picture, including the rise of violent extremism, the enemy's use of information technology and cyberspace, and the challenges we face from terrorism here in our homeland.

While the group’s name might sound complicated, its mission is critical to identify, prioritize, and coordinate interagency and international research as well as development requirements for technical solutions to combating terrorism. Through the Department of Defense’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office and with additional funding provided by the State Department (and other agencies), the Working Group rapidly develops technologies and equipment to meet the needs of the counterterrorism operational community. The Working Group also addresses joint international operational requirements through cooperative research and development agreements with major allies.

“Remote Controlled” Terrorism and its Implications for Counter-Terrorism Efforts

by Michael Tierney

In 2009, Miles Kahler published Networked Politics: Agency, Power, and Governance. His work proved highly impactful in the fields of political science and international relations, as he defined the ways in which various non-state actors interact in the global political system to exercise influence and power. Of utmost interest for security scholars was his chapter on illicit networks, such as terrorist and organized crime groups, because it illustrated the ways in which these groups shift their structure and operations to elude law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and the state.

As an example, Kahler introduced the case of al-Qaeda, which was a tightly controlled, hierarchical organization prior to 2001. While the al-Qaeda brand consisted of several terrorist groups located across Asia and Africa, they mostly deferred to Osama bin Laden and what came to be known as al-Qaeda Central, or AQC, until the international community intervened in Afghanistan in an effort to destroy bin Laden’s command and control infrastructure in 2001.

Over time, the group’s structure became increasingly ‘flat,’ with regional groups operating under local commanders taking general guidance from the remnants of AQC, but prioritizing regional goals and activities over broad, international objectives. Eventually, bin Laden was killed in the now famous Abbottabad raid, which further impacted the hierarchy of the al-Qaeda brand. In many instances, “homegrown” violent extremists were called upon to hit the ‘far enemy’ (e.g., the United States, Canada, and Europe), while affiliates, such as Boko Haram, continued more organized local efforts against the ‘near enemy’ (e.g., so-called ‘un-Islamic’ regimes centred in Asia and Africa).

Belgium: The Next Missile Defense Superpower?

Michael Peck

Little Belgium is known for producing excellent chocolates and machine guns, not rockets that shoot down ICBMs.

Yet Belgium has quietly made the decision to build frigates equipped with exoatmospheric interceptors that sound a lot like the U.S. Navy’s Aegis system. This would make Belgium—a country the size of Maryland—the first European nation to have the capability to destroy ballistic missiles in space.

“Our frigates will, if desired, be deployable in a ballistic missile defense system, as they will be able to launch missiles capable of engaging ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere,” said Belgian government spokeswoman Laurence Mortier in an e-mail to the National Interest.

The new frigates are being jointly developed by Belgium and the Netherlands, according to Dutch maritime site Marineschepen.nl. At this point, only Belgium intends to install interceptors on its ships, which would replace Belgium’s existing M-class frigates, according to the website.

What Belgium is proposing sounds very much like America’s exoatmospheric defense network: the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system of forty-four land-based rockets emplaced in silos in Alaska and California, and most especially the U.S. Navy’s thirty-three Aegis cruisers and destroyers equipped with missile detection radars and SM-3 interceptors. These weapons are designed to smash warheads by essentially slamming them with big rocket-propelled darts. Interception occurs during midcourse, the middle phase of a ballistic missile’s journey when it cruises through space for perhaps twenty minutes before the warhead plunges into the atmosphere.

Deconstructing Society: Clausewitz vs. Machiavelli

by D. Stiegman

In their attempt to understand conflict, soldiers and law enforcement typically grasp the minimalist understanding of “Bad Guys do Bad Things.” As many warfighters have learned over the last couple decades, the old “line-on-line warfare” of the past hasn’t exactly evolved into something completely new; it’s the greater quantity of the “small action” conflict we should burden our minds with. There have been many conversations about insurgencies and the way that asymmetrical and hybrid warfare have a role in it; but where the construct of these types of conflict stemmed from is a much older problem set: Understanding society and how it relates to war and instability.

Author Note: I wrote this article 4 years ago, but I didn’t want to be misunderstood in my intent. This is for those in the profession of security, to learn more about the socio-political aspect of conflict; not for divisive political types. Please do not believe this is siding with the current situation in American politics, although … observation is encouraged.

The transformation of a society is reliant on many factors, but the greatest contributor comes from some form of distrust with the current system; either within or from an outside actor. This change can have good or bad intentions, but the method in which it comes tells a lot about the stability of the society in which it occurs.

Is NATO Really Ready for a War?

Elisabeth Braw

Today’s NATO commanders have incomplete information about the infrastructure they’d use to move their troops.

When Jürgen Bornemann was a junior army officer in West Germany’s Bundeswehr, he spent many months of every year practicing getting his unit from its base to likely conflict zones near West Germany’s border with East Germany. His unit was not alone. “Entire divisions were moved within West Germany,” Bornemann, who went on to become a lieutenant general and director general of NATO’s international staff, told me. (A division consists of some fifteen thousand soldiers.)

Practicing movements involving tens of thousands of troops towards potential hot spots was, in fact, a main component of NATO’s Cold War defense planning. “NATO was constantly practicing, fine-tuning deploying fifty thousand troops across the Atlantic and moving them across Europe,” said Ian Brzezinski, an assistant secretary of defense under George W. Bush. “It was a demonstration, but it was also a way of making sure the wheels were always greased.”

France Had a Tank That Could Have Crushed Hitler's Best (But Was Wasted by Bad Generals)

Robert Beckhusen

The fall of France in 1940, one of the 20th century’s most consequential disasters, wasn’t supposed to have happened. The French military was larger — on paper — and technologically superior to its German enemy.

Testifying to the French advantage is the Somua S35, a plump, cute tank which was one of the best tanks in the world in 1940. Hundreds went into action in May 1940, but to little avail.

The S35 and the heavier Char B1 were heavier armed — and armored — than equivalent German tanks, most of them light Panzer Is and IIs and augmented by a smaller number of medium Panzer III and IVs.

Saint-Ouen-based truck manufacturer Somua began developing the S35 in 1934. While the tank had its flaws, it made up for them with strength and firepower. The S35 had 47 millimeters of frontal hull armor and 40-42 millimeters of armor in its turret and sides.

A 47-millimeter cannon was its main armament. That was formidable in 1940.

Observers might also notice a slight outward resemblance to the U.S. Sherman, which in its early versions shared with the S35 a hard — but not brittle — cast hull. However, this hull design made the S35 more expensive and time-consuming to produce than welded hull tanks such as the T-34.

The web of vulnerabilities The ecosystem of spies, criminals, and companies that compete to find and exploit software defects.

Software on smartphones, computers, and commercial equipment is riddled with defects. While tech companies regularly update products to fix known vulnerabilities, these flaws give attackers new ways of infiltrating emails, corporate networks, or critical infrastructure.

It’s not just malicious hackers who use vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity firms, tech companies, law enforcement agencies, defense contractors, and governments worldwide take advantage of them, too. Security flaws may give federal agents ways to infiltrate terrorists’ digital communications or track criminals’ smartphones, but they can also be deployed to spy on journalists, activists, and dissidents. And because bugs are so valuable, the hunt for them is driving a multimillion dollar industry.

In a joint project between The Christian Science Monitor’s Passcode team and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, we explore the growing arms race to discover software vulnerabilities – and what it means for national security and everyone’s digital privacy and safety.

The best defense: How to improve your digital security

Want to control your own digital security? There’s a wide array of options for secure messaging apps, email services and browsers that help you do-it-yourself. - Anna Waters & Jack Detsch


By: Benjamin Weingarten

As the Trump administration reorients America’s national security and foreign policy towards the global jihadist threat, it is imperative that it take the fight to the enemy in every dimension: Land, air, sea, space, economic/financial and cyber.

In the last area, President Trump is reportedly pursuing an executive order to review our nation’s cybersecurity measures.

A disturbing investigative report published by the Associated Press (AP) on the Pentagon’s “WebOps” program suggests that our offensive cyber programs are in need of review as well.

The purported purpose of the Obama administration-initiated WebOps program was to stop prospective jihadis from joining the Islamic State through online counterpropaganda.

In practice, the program looks like a boondoggle.

According to the AP’s investigation, WebOps is plagued by among other things: 
Gross incompetence in the form of operators engaging with would-be jihadis who have limited fluency in Arabic language, relevant cultural and historical knowledge, or expertise in jihadist groups, let alone Islamic theology; 

Inability and unwillingness to honestly measure success as operators are scored based upon whether the subjects with whom they engage subsequently reflect “militant views or a more tolerant outlook,” which is of course inherently subjective. Scoring teams were reportedly encouraged “to indicate progress against radicalism in their scoring reports even if they were not making any”; 

What Tallinn Manual 2.0 Teaches Us About The New Cyber Order

Kalev Leetaru

Front cover of the Tallinn Manual 2.0 (Image provided by and used with the permission of Cambridge University Press)

Yesterday marked the inaugural launch event for the release of the second version of the famous Tallinn Manual on the legal landscape of cyberwarfare. Appropriately named “Tallinn Manual 2.0: International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations,” the new book offers a fascinating look at how far the cyber threat landscape has evolved in the less than half decade since the first version’s release in 2013, shifting the focus from conventional state-authorized and operated cyber warfare to the small-bore deniable cyber activities that form the majority of day-to-day cyber attacks today.

It is notable that in just four years the book’s title has changed from referring to “cyber warfare” to “cyber operations,” reflecting that in today’s world cyber attacks most commonly fall beneath the threshold at which international law would typically declare them to be a formal act of war.

As the book’s authors put it “the focus of the original Manual was on the most severe cyber operations, those that violate the prohibition of the use of force in international relations, entitle states to exercise the right of self-defence, and/or occur during armed conflict,” while the new version “adds a legal analysis of the more common cyber incidents that states encounter on a day-to-day basis and that fall below the thresholds of the use of force or armed conflict.”

Cyber Prep 2.0: Motivating Organizational Cyber Strategies in Terms of Threat Preparedness

Deborah J. Bodeau, Richard D. Graubart

As cyber threats evolve, organizations increasingly need to define their strategies for cyber security, defense, and resilience. Cyber Prep 2.0 is a threat-oriented approach that allows an organization to define and articulate its threat assumptions, and to develop organization-appropriate, tailored strategic elements. While Cyber Prep 2.0 focuses on advanced threats and corresponding elements of organizational strategy, it includes material related to conventional cyber threats. Cyber Prep 2.0 can be used in standalone fashion, or it can be used to complement and extend the use of other, more detailed frameworks (e.g., the NIST Cybersecurity Framework) and threat models. 

Hamas upgrades cyber espionage capability — report

Sue Surkes

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in the Knesset in Jerusalem, September 20, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)An American cyber security company founded by an Israeli has identified a new cyber espionage campaign originating in the Gaza Strip and aimed at government ministries in Israel, Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority.

Experts say that the infrastructure behind the attacks and the way that different servers have been used to hide their source reveals that the suspected organization — known as the Gaza Cybergang Group — has upgraded its capability to a level “which would not embarrass countries with reasonable cyber capabilities,” The Marker, a daily business newspaper, reported Wednesday.

The Gaza Cybergang Group is thought to be backed by the Hamas terror group which controls the Strip

Gangs of hackers sent emails to their targets from a source which looked legitimate, such as a work colleague. The emails contained fake news headlines aimed at encouraging the reader to click on an attached link or file.

Opening of the file triggered installation of a program which sent the computer user’s identifying details to a control center manned by the hackers. If the details were sufficiently interesting, spyware was installed onto the unwitting user’s computer — spyware that could eavesdrop on conversations, read correspondence and operate the camera.