Since Israel’s last incursion into Gaza in December 2008, Hamas and its fellow “resistance organizations” in Gaza have been taking advantage of weak Egyptian control over the Sinai Peninsula to hasten the smuggling of medium and short-range rockets. Hamas’s strategy is to attempt to deter Israel from launching attacks against the organization by amassing a rocket arsenal that will allow it to strike deep into Israel. It is highly unlikely that this latest round of fighting will fundamentally change a reality in which Hamas continues to rule in Gaza and Israel lacks any realistic alternatives to changing the equation.
U.S. government agencies often seek more power. They generally do that by asking Congress for a new law conferring additional authority or by simply asserting the power based on old law. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, has made a recent bold play that follows the second path. CFIUS now has asserted that it is a full-scale regulator, with the power to issue orders on its own.
Since news of the shooting of a fourteen year old Pakistani girl by a Taliban gunman, a ninth grader named Malal Yousafzai broke, I’ve wrestled with feelings of heartbreak and sheer anger. This young woman could be my own daughter, another happy ninth grader, and what happened to her is nothing short of despicable. Much of the world finds the Taliban abhorrent, but what I find just as disturbing is the deafening silence coming from the streets of Pakistan, Afghanistan and other places in this region. People seem to be willing to riot over a stupid YouTube video, but when the blood of child is spilled, where is the outrage?
An interesting thing happened this weekend – two diverse voices came in violent agreement on the threats America faces today. First, CBS reporter Laura Logan, a renowned Middle East war correspondent; then, Governor Mitt Romney, in a foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute this past weekend. They separately emphasized that only by showing strength to foreign radical groups will we ever hope to have a degree of safety.
The White House’s 2009 Cyber Review estimated the loss of intellectual property from companies as a result of cyber-based hacking in 2008 alone exceeded $1 trillion in value. FBI Director Mueller said in 2009 that his Bureau was aware of 3200 Chinese front companies operating in the United States. Kudos to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers for telling the American public about the significant efforts of countries like China to utilize every means available to spy on American companies – something the National Economic Security Grid has designated as the “Advanced Persistent Asymmetrical Threat.”
It helps those of us who might be considered “experts” in Washington, DC to get out once in a while. there is a need to see the real world and talk to real people. I was able to interact with both “non-Beltway” Americans in a recent trek through the Pacific Northwest. Despite the difficulties in the world, we have much to be grateful for, and friendly partner to the north (Canada) is one the United States should never take for granted.
Information travels through America’s cyber networks at the speed of light. The legislation that will be used to govern some aspects of network security is traveling at the speed of bureaucracy. The Senate has been debating two cybersecurity bills that will impact U.S. cybersecurity standards, but whatever Congress eventually decides, the onus is on U.S. citizens and businesses to step up their individual security efforts.
One issue that receives too little public attention is the blatant use of hackers by China to steal U.S. intellectual property, defense technology, and other data critical to national security and competitiveness. China is one of America’s biggest competitors, and they (hackers, Chinese corporations and the Chinese government) clearly have no problem penetrating U.S. public and private sector networks to leapfrog over the years of hard work and innovation. Are we not outraged?
When looking at the developments of the last year and a half in the Middle East, it seems quite clear that the media was too quick to coin the term “Arab Spring” to describe the popular unrest and overthrow of regimes in significant parts of the Arab World. It would be more appropriate to refer to what is happening in the region as the “Islamist Spring” because it is creating unprecedented opportunities for Islamist political movements to finally grasp the reins of power, such as with the elections in Egypt. All of this, of course, has implications for the region and the United States.
A recent Twitter exchange between the Taliban and the U.S. military shows how social media is evolving and how its current stage of development involves the use of Twitter to wage war on an ideological level. Over the past several years, social networking sites have become a catalyst for users to achieve political objectives. The U.S. Government and its security forces need to be constantly aware of how the enemy’s use of social media is evolving and proactively plan for ways to win the social networking battle.