"[Obama] repeatedly expressed concerns that any American acknowledgment that it was using cyberweapons—even under the most careful and limited circumstances—could enable other countries, terrorists or hackers to justify their own attacks. “We discussed the irony, more than once,” one of his aides said."
Welcome to politics. Syria, currently best known for massacring their own citizens, chaired the UN human rights council a few years ago.
International politics is always going to consist of covert actions on one hand coupled with righteous moral statements on the other. See, for example, the USSR talking about protecting the eastern bloc from western imperialist exploitation by, well, dominating and exploiting their countries.
Meanwhile, I'm sure we'll hear from Republicans that this is a case of Obama's flawed moral leadership, in between insisting that we bomb Iran immediately.
At the end of the day, it's about results. The people who released stuxnet presumably think it makes a war less likely by postponing a confrontation with a nuclear Iran. They might be wrong but they were doing what they thought would lead to the best outcome.
any evidence for that? In my understanding the USSR was dominating eastern bloc countries, hindering their democratic economic development by enforcing archaic hierarchical undemocratic regime. Exploiting? I haven't heard about that. Countries were pretty autonomous in all things unrelated to ideology/politics.
I think dominating a country militarily and installing puppet governments and banning their religion and forcing their children to learn your native language is bad enough. If nothing else, the Eastern Bloc was being exploited for the purpose of providing a land buffer zone against military invasion. I.e., the risk of being a front line battlefield was being exported.
If you're looking for a shipping manifest for raw materials from an EB country to the USSR at prices below free market rates I imagine you could find that too. But to me that's not the primary point.
I find it disturbing that so many people are so very willing to ignore or defend the atrocities of communism in the 20th century.
Just after the end of WWII the Soviets adopted a "plunder" policy with regard to occupied Eastern European countries. Forcing them to produce huge quantities of raw materials and industrial goods to be used within the USSR, extracting as much wealth from the beleaguered post-war economies as the US and allies pumped into Western Europe with the Marshall plan. They also set up "state owned" Eastern Block companies such that the USSR maintained majority ownership (up through the mid-1950s).
This pattern continued through the 1950s as the Soviets retained near direct control over Eastern Bloc economies and morphed in the 1960s into COMECON which merely provided political cover for the same sort of plunder policies up until industrial production in Eastern Europe started to become significant in the 1970s.
In October of 1956 the Hungarian people rose up and threw off their violent totalitarian government. One day later Soviet tanks were in the country's capital (in direct violation of the terms of the Warsaw Pact), within the next month 2500 Hungarians were killed and ten times as many were arrested, hundreds of which were deported to gulags in siberia or executed.
In January of 1968 Czechoslovakia elected a reformist government, which instituted many liberalizing reforms. In August Soviet tanks and forces from the USSR and the Warsaw Pact nations invaded, toppled the government, and killed any Czechs or Slovaks who stood in their way (though few were foolhardy enough to throw themselves against an army of 2,000 tanks and 200,000 soldiers).
The formalization of Eastern Bloc countries as effective satellite states of the USSR came about with the codification of the Brezhnev Doctrine in the 1960s, though it only legalized the status quo.
I feel like I harp on this a lot, but a quick reminder: that's not communism. I know there isn't really a better name for the ideology/policies of the USSR (and other "communist" states) but I think it's worth (repeatedly) pointing out the huge and longstanding misnomer, since they have very few and very tenuous and/or butchered connections to any philosophy of Marx.
These are not atrocities of an ideology, however misinterpreted, these are atrocities of people and of a state.
Which country whose ideology was officially Communist is or was least bad for its people?
I'm not a scholar of ex(communist) states but I'm thinking either Cuba or the former Yugoslavia. I am not aware of any attempt to bring communism into practice that could be called a humanitarian success. The other totalitarianism isn't exactly great either but it at least seems less murderous internally.
If I believed all politicians were power hungry amoral bastards then this wouldn't be that strong of evidence against communism but depressingly enough they're mostly sincere. Communism appears to be a wonderful system for social insects. Humans, not so much.
 It would be extremely surprising if they didn't show the same over representation of psychopaths as corporate executives but that still leaves 24 out of 25 politicians as moral creatures.
From your link: "Initially, COMECON served as cover for the Soviet taking of materials and equipment from the rest of the Eastern Bloc, but the balance changed when the Soviets became net subsidizers of the rest of the Bloc by the 1970s via an exchange of low cost raw materials in return for shoddily manufactured finished goods."
So it looks like they used eastern bloc resources to restore Soviet Union devastated after the war. Explainable action under their their (enforced) ideology of socialist countries mutual aid etc
Very explainable, if you replace now common mindset of "well being of people, their liberty to participate in market" with mindset of "world revolution, opposition to capitalist, imperialistic powers". Priority of restoration of SU first, as a power house of world revolution, becomes explainable. There was a Cold War going on, you know. Suppression of democratic reforms too - "if people don't want our brand of hierarchical command communism, then they're mistaken, they're not ready, we know better". Governments always say they know what's better for people. Of course "communism" in some far future is better than living a better life today, in eyes of communist government ideologue.
Considering SU later become net subsidizer of Eastern Bloc, and that these countries were in pretty good shape right after SU dissolution, with all the limitations of "socialist economy", one-sided interpretation of history as exploitation, plunder, and atrocities and nothing more, sounds to me extremely stupid and narrow minded. As stupid as "killing his own people" meme.
I'm disgusted by people who do moral interpretations of history with today's dominating moral standards. "Let's not forget atrocities of Roman Empire, plunder, enslavement, domination, exploitation of neighboring peoples ." Whole world history is one big atrocity.
Also, people who consider Soviet Union, a primitive oriental despotism, as a communist regime, without quotation marks - have no class.
> do moral interpretations of history with today's dominating moral standards
I cannot upvote this enough. I feel sad when people forget that most of the history has been rewritten to suit newer regimes, newer philosophies. And the practice is still very dominant. Howsoever informed we may try to be about past, especially past that we haven't lived through but heard about in books or media or discussions, we are still aware of only part of the story. The part that survived, the part that dominated. And what is worse, we often tend to classify some leaders as well as their supporters who have failed and then replaced by their antitheses, to have this innate evil - while forgetting that they may very well be not 'evil' in their own morality; and hence ignorance not evilness causes their evil actions.
It isn't necessarily hypocrisy. It makes sense for them to be leery of acting without first talking about the limits they believe should be applied to cyberwarfare. A single act may be consistent with many different interpretations, and the United States could easily be blamed if one of their allies committed some heinous act and justified it using a doctrine they extrapolated from Stuxnet and other acts condoned or committed by the United States.
As an analogous example, parents, knowing that many people think in crude categories such as "drugs" and "illegal," would not simply pot in front of their children without explanation. They would not want to discover later that their kids were doing meth or shoplifting and hear, "What are you angry about? You smoked illegal drugs right in front of me. How is this different?" The parents would likely find themselves accused of hypocrisy, by their kids and by others who honestly or disingenuously failed to understand the distinctions the parents drew between smoking pot and doing meth, or smoking pot and shoplifting.
I don't know if the United States has an official stance on the acceptable use of cyberwarfare, but the fact that they chose to leak their involvement in Stuxnet rather than openly admit it and justify it suggests that they have no official policy to cite (though it may also be that they don't want to officially acknowledge responsibility for Stuxnet's collateral damage.) If there is no official articulation of policy, we really are setting unpredictable precedents that are likely to implicate us in future disasters.
Also I am not at all sure that terrorists are going to care whether the US says they have used weapons like this. I would suggest that "we are worried about cybersecurity" is a much larger green light than "we are using cyberweapons."
I am not aware of the last time a terrorist attacked us with an F-15 or a B-2.....
The much larger issue though is that by releasing Stuxnet, the government had to release tools that terrorists could use into the wild. These can then be reverse compiled, hacked, and turned against us. That's bad news. It would be like leaving behind a large number of Predators or something in terrorist hands.
Actually it is worse than that. With actual airplanes, you have maintenance issues and costs, and the fact is that you have limited quantity and little ability to produce more. With Stuxnet, these limits are not there.
Hypocrisy is deliberately lying about your values. This may be that, but it may also just be a compromising of values. An alcoholic saying that alcohol abuse is bad isn't hypocrisy is the alcoholic truly believes it.
At one point special warfare was also considered taboo, now it is the U.S.'s bread and butter. Unfortunately while our nation recognized the need to develop our black ops capabilities early on, we are a bit late to the party when it comes to cyber-warfare.
When it comes to international conflict, right and wrong are often subjective. Of course someone who is hostile towards the west is going to feel justified about his actions. If he didn't feel justified, he wouldn't maintain those beliefs. Unfortunately for him, feeling justified doesn't make you correct. While many countries dislike some of the United States' actions (often rightfully), almost the entire world hates everything about violent extremists.
If the President thinks that a cyber-attack will prevent a war, (that would be far more costly to both sides than the ones we are already in) it would be immoral for him not to take action. I don't like many of the things that Obama does, (or any politician) but he strikes me as a person who really does want to do the right thing and prevent the needless loss of life.
If there's one good example that our military underestimated the importance of cyber-security until recently, it is that the U.S. Army Cyber Command was just established in 2009. Before this happened, there was definitely work being done by the Army in this field, but it wasn't the large-scale, coordinated effort that such an important threat demands.
In the years leading up to the creation of the Cyber Command, there were many field grade officers who expressed the need for such a unit. These officers suggested that the military needed some sort of presence in cyberspace, mostly to ensure the safety of U.S. networks and partly to enable us to effectively respond to cyber-attacks around the world.
This article has a lot of good information about CYBERCOM.
I hope you realize that NSA, perhaps the biggest and most capable information security organizations in the world has always been under the Pentagon. It's absurd to suggest the US attention to data security started with the establishment of "Cyber Command".
My personal view is that it's a dangerous experiment in ineptitude allow the Pentagon to "defend in cyberspace" US networks. Most of the people who are tossing around such terms don't have the slightest clue what they're talking about.
It's one thing to say we're going to let the Pentagon use its procurement bucks to have defense contractors weaponize exploits in case the day arrives. But it's highly debatable whether allowing the military to get involved in US domestic networks is even legal.
Their ability to defend even their own networks for less than 10x the cost of the private sector is still an open question, much less whether or not they can defend anything having a wide diversity of traffic such as today's business and consumer internet.
I didn't say that the creation of CYBERCOM marked the beginning of U.S. involvement in cyberspace. It was created just a few years ago, because our government's leadership felt that we needed to do far more than we have been. The NSA is very good at what they do, but unless they expand dramatically, other organizations are going to have to be formed.
That's fine. I'd just like to disagree with the idea that the US was late to this party. If anything the US has been one of a few countries leading the world into this "cyber arms" race, albeit mostly covertly until recent years.
Taboo? Do you have a reference for that? I was always under the impression that the initial resistance to SO was from traditional generals in the pentagon who came up through the infantry and armored ranks...
You are correct. There was a lot of resistance from generals who were well versed in conventional warfare. Many of them thought that guerrilla warfare was either cowardly or somehow below us.
Richard Marcenko, the founder of the now defunct SEAL Team 6 (got transformed into the Developmental Warfare Group) discusses the attitudes he encountered throughout his navy career in some of his earlier novels. (he does write fiction now, but some of his earlier works were based on his life.) I know that he's an extremely controversial figure and that his writing ability is questionable, but he was both a SEAL and an officer at a time when the military was just starting to realize how significant a role that guerrilla warfare would play in future conflicts.
A lot of it varies from service to service. The Marine Corps was the last to develop special ops teams, under the doctrine that all Marines were capable of special operations. The smallest integrated Marine units, the MEU's, are all certified as "special operations capable", and are indeed capable of covert, small-unit action. One of the missions they're often tasked with is TRAP, "Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel". It was a Marine TRAP team that rescued downed F-16 pilot Scott O'Grady during the Bosnian war, for instance.
Ironically, it was the Marines who actually had some of the earlier predecessors to black ops, in the form of the Raider Battalions in the Second World War. One of the Raider Battalions was commanded by FDR's son, which protected the Raiders from political interference, at least until FDR died.
It's not exactly publicized, but my dad told me that the first Raider Battalion, at least, was even organized as a Maoist guerrilla unit; Samuel B. Griffith, its second commander, had previously served in China and spent a great deal of time with Mao. Among other things, the unit was run democratically.t My dad was acquainted with Griffith for a time, and I don't know how much of this is public information, or even accurate, but it's what he told me.
The reason that the Marines are considered to have developed a spec ops teams last is largely due to the military having a different definition of special operations than the average person.
To an average person like me (and I was a Soldier) when I think of special forces, I consider pretty much anyone who went to one of the military's most elite schools. The SEALS, Force Recon, and the actual U.S. Army Special Forces all seem to have a similar level of ability. Each of these groups has taken the absolute best soldiers that could be found and trained them to an extreme degree.
When the government thinks of special forces, they think of organizations that fall under the Special Operations Command. When the U.S. wanted Force Recon to fall under SOCOM, the commandant said "no." This is part of the reason that the Marine Corps didn't officially have special forces until recently.
The problem with SOCOM, and why Force Recon didn't fit in, is that Force Recon was always meant to perform a specific mission within the context of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), not be used as a black-ops team on a detached mission. Which is incidentally why the Marines still have them, even though the Marines have teams assigned to SOCOM now.
Given your knowledge of Marcinko's reputation I'm surprised you used him as your reference material. When Marcinko formed ST6 he selected the first members from an already existing specwar community. The same thing can be said for Beckwith and the creation of SFOD-D which predated ST6.
I was using him as a reference because he experienced first hand the discrimination that the special operations community faced from many high ranking officers and even politicians.
I wasn't trying to say that the SEALS were the first SF unit, I guess I wasn't very clear. Most of the SF type units were around in some form well before the Vietnam War. Even the SEALS were around in the 40's, they just weren't called SEALS yet.
On the contrary, hypocrisy is all about believing that "when I do it it's not wrong". Decrying something when you are ashamed that you secretly do it yourself is not hypocrisy, because it doesn't involve a double standard.
In a 2009 interview, Obama said, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." That is pretty mild support for American Exceptionalism, as defined by the GOP.
On the contrary--they often go to great lengths to justify it. The German invasions of Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and the Netherlands were deemed protective occupations, in order to prevent the Allies from invading them. The Gulf War was justified by a UN resolution. You can find some attempt, however feeble, to justify any recent military action.
I don't think irony and hypocrisy need to enter into it; really there is just a concern of escalation, or even a sort of "arms race" (although it would differ from a real arms race in many key respects).
Ok, fine, it's hypocritical. There are worse things in the world than hypocrisy. I smoke cigarettes, yet I would advise others not to. I may be a hypocrit, but I'm not wrong. The two are not mutually exclusive.
This isn't nearly as terrifying as the Cold War with the USSR. We're not threatened with nuclear war, nor having the near misses that could trigger it (Cuban missile crisis). No one is building bomb shelters in their backyards, because right now the balance of power is very much in the United States' favor.
Could things get there with another nuclear enabled power like China? Maybe, in time. Iran is not an existential threat to the US, not anywhere close to what the Soviets were. The Israelis see things differently I'm sure, but this is far from the situation in 60s - 80s.
Just like the TSA it's our government that is far more terrifying than any imaginary threat they are supposedly protecting us against.
And don't underestimate the Iranian government, they are not a third-world country like some people imagine out of ignorance - I really feel sorry for the Iranian people getting caught up in this mess.
The physical terrorism threat is negligible. The generalized cheap-attack-with-disproportionate-damage threat I can't in good conscience write off quite so readily. Biological attacks are still scarily possible, and if we start talking computer viruses it becomes scarier again. Recall Stuxnet didn't merely inconvenience people, it destroyed hardware. If someone manages to write a virus that, say, destroys a significant number of power plant turbines, we're talking about a disaster that does in fact start killing people in addition to general inconvenience. Electricity really really is one of the lifebloods of civilization, and while the phrase lifeblood is obvious not literal it's more literal than it may appear on first glance. Cut it off and real people will really be hurt and killed.
Personally I'd rate this class of threat comfortably above asteroid impact or solar flare-type disaster.
That's a canned knee-jerk response, not one that shows you read my message. That's not relevant data to the question of what future bioattacks or computer attacks are possible... and note my continued avoidance of the term "terrorism". Once an attack is launched the source isn't very relevant. Failing to secure our infrastructure because "terrorism isn't something to be afraid of" is still a stupid move because it leaves you open to not-terrorism just as much.
My original response was more thoughtful, but I felt that summed up my point better.
The question is not what's possible, but what's likely and how much it will cost. If the likelihood is low and the cost is small, then you cannot justify extravagant preparation.
An attack against civilian infrastructure is terrorism no matter who does it. It may be a singular event, part of a chain of attacks, or a prelude to a full-scale military offensive. It's still terrorism, because it terrorizes the civilian population.
Irrational fear should not dictate our budget priorities. We can certainly take some precautions, and develop contingency plans. But at the end of the day, if someone is capable and determined enough, it's going to happen, regardless of how many much money and how many contractors and consultants we throw at the problem. The best we can do is take it in stride and rebuild.
You continue to not really be thinking about my point, insisting on framing it in a pre-canned terrorism argument. I am explicitly talking about high-cost events, and at best you can call the probability unknown, for things like a biological attack or a computer attack that perhaps even accidentally ends up taking out some very important part of the infrastructure. We already have good reasons to be concerned that a high-cost biological attack could be launched out of someone's literal garage, and it is not an irrational fear; we have plausible plans on how it could be done. Indeed I'd argue that being unconcerned about it is irrational, and being unconcerned about it because so far "terrorists", a small subset of the group of people I'm concerned about, have only managed to "fly planes into a couple of buildings". It's basically a non-sequitur argument, because a great deal of the point I'm making is that is only a small part of the total interesting threat profile.
Are you arguing that there are eventualities which could be disastrous, and they need not be the product of willful malice? Then of course I agree with you.
Is your point that we can and should take all possible precautions against such eventualities, regardless of cost? That's where I take disagreement. We are, after all, arguing in the context of a larger discussion here.
Our efforts at preparedness must be in proportion to the risk, which is derived from both the potential cost and our best estimate of the likelihood. Bad things happen; it's terrible, it sucks, but it's unavoidable. We can and will bankrupt ourselves trying to swat every fly. It doesn't matter that a disaster could be catastrophic if we create a catastrophe by trying to avert every disaster.
While I agree that terrorism is given disproportionate attention (add car-collision fatalities in September 2001 as 3300 and it becomes even more useful comparison-wise), I also think it misses the point.
The sorts of terrorism we are afraid of tends to hype fear over risk. Take anthrax for example. Anthrax has been floated as a biological weapon because it's unlikely to spread back and contaminate one's own area, but experiments with weaponized anthrax shows an abysmally low rate of contracting the disease (between 0.1% and 1%) and so it's nearly exclusively a weapon of fear. The very things that make it attractive as a biological weapon also make it ineffective (no person-person transmission for example).
Similarly when we look at nerve gas attacks and the problems and sole case in history, it's clear these are relatively ineffective terrorism-wise. VX may be more effective than Sarin given high-tech dispersal systems but it's also very sensitive to things like droplet size and it's not volatile. Sarin, OTOH, is volatile meaning you can expect it to dissolve in the air and spread that way. Despite that, Aum Shinrikyo would have been more successful using plain old high explosives than nerve gas, and only one of their two nerve gas attacks (the one under entirely ideal circumstances) resulted in any fatalities whatsoever.
Nuclear terrorism could be significant but I suspect you'd have to blow up a small nuke in a major city every ten years to have an effect similar to car crashes nationally. I am sorry but I just don't see that happening so as long as I don't worry about getting behind the wheel I don't give that a second thought either.
All the above being said, cyberwar by non-state actors is different. Traditional terrorist attacks seek to cripple a society or socially disrupt it by killing people and making them afraid. I don't know that this necessarily has to be the intermediate goal of what people call cyber-terrorism (which is why I don't call it that). Instead it can disrupt society and hold it hostage by, well, disrupting it directly.
Imagine if power blackouts and communications infrastructure was disrupted repeatedly. Imagine if we suddenly the power grid were taken down repeatedly. What would be disrupted? How well could we recover? What if telecomunications infrastructure was attacked as well?
People would die but that's not really the goal. Just as in conventional terrorism deaths are a means to an end, sufficiently successful attackers could hold a society hostage by holding the infrastructure hostage.
Terrorist victims in 2001: 3,000 ... Cancer deaths in 2001: 550,000
I don't think it's fair to the families of the victims, to the people of NYC, or any peaceful, healthy person who has that threat in the back of their mind when minding their own business in public, to equate a cancer death with a death caused by a crumbling skyscraper, a burning skyscraper, or jumping out of a burning, crumbling skyscraper. I know cancer can be just as ruthless and indiscriminate, but it never has struck in such a concentrated, evil manner.
The only thing that's disproportionate is how we react to terrorism.
Are you implying that we shouldn't react disproportionately?
That's not to say I agree with the current level of disproportionateness or that we shouldn't be spending billions of public dollars combatting a disease that's claiming more and more people because they are now living long enough to acquire it.
Neither is any less dead than the other. The cause matters only to the living. My entire point is that fear of the threat in the back of your mind is entirely irrational. You're much more likely to die of cancer, and even then, you're not very likely to die at all.
The Stalin quote about "a single death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic" comes to mind here. I understand your point that terrorism is the result of direct, willful action by people with malicious intent, whereas cancer is just a force of nature. But you have no real control over either, so why make such a big deal of the former?
But you have no real control over either, so why make such a big deal of the former?
Not true. Even thought they need to be much smarter about it, people with guns, whom our tax dollars fund and who's power and number I fear and would like to limit, can reduce the likelihood of a terrorist ruining my life. Scientists can do the same for cancer, but unfortunately, we have more people who can fight terrorism that who can fight cancer.
We can elect leaders are vote in the marketplace to shift resources one way or the other, or be a better cancer or terrorism fighter if we are in those fields. Our individual control might be negligible, but not society's.
You cannot effect much control over a signal that you cannot distinguish from random noise. There are so many factors that affect the likelihood of terrorism, and yet even in a bad year that likelihood is insignificant.
Our ridiculously outsized counterterrorism efforts are akin to putting a shroud around the Earth to block out cosmic background radiation. It would cost more money than we can fathom, and in the end we probably couldn't even measure the benefit. Meanwhile, the radiation you absorb from living near a nuclear plant or an old testing site is orders of magnitude greater, and yet you probably won't ever suffer a harmful effect from it.
My argument isn't that terrorism isn't real, or it isn't a threat. My argument is that it's such an insignificant threat that it fails to justify our existing efforts, nonetheless ever-more-expensive new efforts.
It's equally hard to measure how much of a threat terrorism actually poses. One could easily make the argument that the reason it's perceived to be so little of a threat today is because we've gotten damn good at stopping terrorist plots. See the recently intercepted ALQ documents which describe how good the West has gotten at tracking their movements and foiling their plans.
Targeted acts of terrorism are different than indiscriminate attacks, and a coordinated series of attacks is different than an isolated incident. If the group of potentially affected people is very small, or the number of attacks very large, then the probabilities are drastically increased and a larger response is justified.
"Are you implying that we shouldn't react disproportionately?"
I would say that even when you factor in malicious intent we still react disproportionally, and that this is an inherent problem.
Any individual involved in any security-related field will have to work with the concept of acceptable risk at some point. The damage that terrorists can cause us is not that high compared to the way we victimize ourselves to try to prevent very modest harm.
Our reaction has become comparable to a cytokine storm in reaction to a flu virus, really. That can't be good.
Edit: As a side note, our reaction is such that it allows for what I call "grey-terrorism" vulnerabilities. If we define terrorism to only include acts which are violent or directly dangerous to human life, then leaving cardboard boxes marked "do not touch" in airport restrooms around the nation is not "terrorism." The act is not dangerous to human life. The act is not violent. The act however may be very disruptive to our airports, and it may be very good at inspiring terror.
That's not entirely true. There were ~3000 terrorism-related deaths, but the point of terrorism is that it victimizes an entire society by creating a culture of fear and uncertainty. That's what differentiates terrorism from (conventional) murder.
To "create a culture of fear and uncertainty" is certainly the aim of terrorism. However, its effectiveness is dictated by the reaction of the affected population, not by the perpetrators or their actions.
Your fear about computer attacks appears to be a bit sensationalized and a typical knee jerk doomsday reaction. You parrot that "Electricity is the lifeblood of civilization" and that people will die when the power goes off but then seem to forget that blackouts already occur in highly populated areas. Are they a major annoyance? Of course! Do they cause mass death larger then asteroid impacts? Where did you get that idea? Many of our critical facilities have backup generators for a reason. If such an event did occur you'd be damn sure that any damage would be repaired ASAP.
I'm thinking that terrorists would have to do enough damage to warrant full replacement of a number (n = ?) of turbines at a number (m = ?) of plants to do significant, lasting damage in an area (you won't necessarily have a 'back-up turbine' lying around).
The threat is absolutely imaginary. Obviously we have real threats, but that is NOT what the security theater is about. The security theater is mostly about purely imaginary threats. And is in fact worse at stopping the few real threats we have. Original security theater idea is from Bruce Schneier, Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Security_theater
I am probably in a minority but I find it more terrifying than the Cold War. At least in the Cold War when the balloon went up everybody died. In this scenario we could be alive and under increasingly onerous affronts on our civil liberties. During the Cold War I might have been called up to attack and kill Soviets, if internal threats were used to install a police state I would be called up to attack and kill my own government. Not a good choice, just ask the folks in the middle east that have been called to do that.
I disagree, any attempt to shutdown a significant part of our power grid is terrifying to me. We are at a point in our society that we cannot survive without electricity for a large amount of time. Our economy would shutdown, people will starve as easily obtainable food would go away, certain medicines that keep people alive would spoil, hospitals would shut down, and more. We are so deeply ingrained in having electricity that being forced back to not having it at all would likely kill millions before we could adapt. Especially if the attack caused a semi-permanent power grid failure, such as with an EMP.
A serious solar storm could damage the power grid more severely than a deliberate attack. If power surges burn out more transformers then it's going to take a long time to bring the grid back in some areas.
As more of the world goes digital and becomes accessible on the public internet, more damage can be done. Attacking power grids, wall street, phone networks etc could very easily cause chaos, whilst it isn't as terrifying as blowing a country to pieces, it's certainly up there.
Your faith in rational human behavior is much stronger than mine. All it takes is one person making an irrational decision (driven by anger, false sense of security, accident or other) to essentially doom everyone. Death-row is filled with people who made similar decisions (do something even though the consequences of that were dire), all it takes is one person making a similar decision on a bigger scale.
MAD doesn't prevent anything, it at best postpones things and at worst forces both sides to escalate to the point where they feel they can completely destroy the other even given significant losses (i.e. building significantly more bombs than they need to destroy the planet).
I think it's more terrifying today. Who would have thought a small place like North Korea kill lots and lots of Americans? It may happen indirectly, via sharing nuke technology with Iran, who is buddy-buddy with Latin American countries, which may, by proxy, end up within striking distance of millions of Americans.
>>somehow the US government is finding it even easier to erode civil liberties now than it ever did during the Cold War.
Iran is probably the worst country on the planet when it comes to supporting terrorism.
Consider that democracies in general seems to go crazy when they have active terrorism problems and throw out human rights and the law book. E.g. Germany, USA, Israel, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, etc. (The only exception afaik is India.)
It is logical because the whole point with terror is to scare civilians -- and politicians wants to be elected again. They have to solve terror problems, no matter what.
You don't have to like this, in fact no one except companies earning money doing security likes it. All choices in the real world also has disadvantages, even democracy.
>>Iran is probably the worst country on the planet when it comes to supporting terrorism.
Really? Sounds like rewriting the history again. Everything I read pointed 911 to pakistin intelligence and Saudis
That link shows what countries are exporting weapons to other countries. This isn't the same as "supporting terrorism," as the parent clearly states. Iran directly supports groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.
You are leaving out a rather glaring example. Neither atomic bomb, dropped by the one and only country ever to use them, were dropped on military targets.
The "Democracies" of the world kill many innocent civilians, an order of magnitude in fact than any terrorist related event if you really want to compare the two. Not because the people running them are cartoonishly evil or anything, it simply reflects the massive imbalance of military power between us and whoever the terrorist are supposed to be. It's cloaked in talk of noble intentions and euphemistically referred to as collateral damage. I doubt it makes a difference to the populations affected whether they were an intentional target, or the gps on the smart bomb that just leveled your house glitched out.
Suppose the phosphorous did get there through some type of negligence on one of the nearby bases (seems plausible, at least).
Are the woman and her family going to be angry? You bet.
Are they going to file a monster lawsuit? Almost certainly.
Are they going to declare war on the United States, or (try to) kill a few Marines? Not a chance in hell.
That, as well as the story linked (which I read carefully), are really bad analogies, for what I think of obvious reasons.
I do think intent can matter at times. Perhaps what I'm more zeroing in on is that idea that I don't find saying you didn't mean to, when you repeatedly kill civilians in very large numbers, such that certain countries have a long history of being on the receiving end of American collateral damage, as an acceptable rational/excuse. (This last part is why I think you're examples are not particularly apt)
Your intent just stops mattering as much when the body count gets to a certain number and you show no signs of changing the behavior.
I wrote: To explicitly target civilians is serious because it breaks the laws of war
Got the answer: "kill many innocent civilians"
Sigh, it is illegal to target. In a war, civilians will die. My point was that some sides do try to avoid civilan casualities. You didn't argue against my point, you made a spin.
Then, someone isn't morally right by being weaker, so different strength have nothing to do with it.
The nuclear bombs over Japan was 1: a long time ago, 2: a complex choice (e.g. military production in cities, different standards in WWII, the target selection process, etc, etc). You condemn without discussing that.
And so on.
I am sorry, but I must say that you write simplified propaganda. Please increase quality, I want a better HN. :-(
> Sigh, it is illegal to target. In a war, civilians will die. My point was that some sides do try to avoid civilan casualities. You didn't argue against my point, you made a spin.
You place a lot of emphasis on intentionality. While it's an aspect worth considering, I don't find it as nearly as persuasive as you seem to. Many military actions are undertaken knowing full well the result with be civilian causalities, often many, and they are done anyway. Like I said earlier, I don't think your distinction means much to the victims whether they were intentional targets or not.
> The nuclear bombs over Japan was 1: a long time ago,
Uh, not really. It's still within living memory for many. And I think highly pertinent when discussing current issues of nuclear weapons/proliferation.
> 2: a complex choice (e.g. military production in cities, different standards in WWII, the target selection process, etc, etc). You condemn without discussing that.
I didn't get into those aspects in the interest of brevity, and because it veers a bit too off topic. I have considered them all at length, and ultimately find them unconvincing from a moral standpoint. Also notice how any actions taken by our society, or those representing it, immediately become complex and a hundred shades of grey. I'm sure those supporting acts of terrorism make similar rationales. No one buys it in that case, and I think we should be highly skeptical when our leaders seek to justify it in ours.
> I am sorry, but I must say that you write simplified propaganda. Please increase quality, I want a better HN. :-(
I'm not sure how to respond to such hyperbole. Everything I've stated is factually true. You can disagree with my interpretation, or the implicit conclusions I've drawn, but labeling it as simplified propaganda is just silly.
One last point worth considering - exactly what is the evidence that it is unintentional? None as far as I can tell other our leaders assert it constantly. And then turn around and do it again, repeatedly. To be clear, I don't think likely almost ever is. There's simply no advantage to it, especially in the modern information age. It's willful disregard in my opinion, which is debatably marginally better, but only marginally.
And the reason I focus on the actions of my society, the US, boils down to partly because it's my home, and there's no where you care more about than your own home. As much as I condemn the actions of Iran, or any other state, there's zero I can do about it. I'm not Iranian. I can, however, affect change here, again in the most powerful state, where it matters most. And the most fundamental principle of any moral framework is that you hold yourself to the same standards you seek to apply to others. More stringent ones, in fact, if you're serious about it.
I'm not American, from my viewpoint you are applying totally different standards to two sides.
A few levels up, I noted that democracies in general tend to go bat-shit crazy at terrorism -- and that it is probably built into the concept of democracy.
It should also be noted that modern democracies don't fight wars with each others, not even the USA. The best solution for making a better world is to work for democracy, especially in places like China which already has started to push a bit against neighbours.
That was a reference to the fact that the election related PR is focused around Obama being tough, having a kill list that he oversees and the successful drone strikes against "militants".
Because the definition of militant explicitly includes civilians in the area surrounding the targets and this was recently highly publicized I tied the two together in a flippant comment.
But I suspect you knew that already and now want to argue about the US use of drones. I'll save you the time, it's terrorism dressed in Orwellian doublespeak and it's pointless to have internet arguments about it.
"This part allowed for the arrest of individuals without a warrant and on reasonable suspicion that they were guilty of an offence under the Act or otherwise "concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism""
Do you still believe in Jewish conspiracies controlling media?
Or that T-shirts of some individuals prove something about a heterogeneous country -- and are as bad as official policies in another state?!
Ah wait, you refused to touch that "logic" of yours in comment after comment...
Breivik was an individual crazy/nazi/xxx. There are hardly realistic threats for more attacks in Norway. I argued about fear of terror, not mourning after one attack.
(Edit: It is really fun that you condemn Israel for working with unpleasant groups where they have common interests -- all countries with physical threats do similar things -- but previously refused to criticise similar groups.)
>> Both of which condemn the US and Israel. Not Iran.
you know, its possible that the US, Israel, AND Iran are all doing bad things. just because Iran is not being condemned by a some media organizations does not mean it has any meaningful high ground.
why are you skeptical that iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons? if they weren't, why would they be developing secret enrichment facilities? why would "The IAEA Board of Governors passed a resolution by a vote of 32–2 that expressed "deep and increasing concern" over the possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program" (from wikipedia)?
and more importantly, israel and the us are clearly concerned about iranian nuclear weapons development. it seems as if private intelligence lines up with public intelligence. why are you so confident that everybody else is wrong and you are right?
> "why are you skeptical that iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons?"
Because the only people saying they are doing so are the same people who've been claiming Iran was six to eighteen months away from having a nuclear weapon since the 1980s.
And everyone whose job it is to collect and analyze intelligence on the matter says they aren't.
And I find it pretty hard to believe the US and Israel can simultaneously have sufficient capability to craft and deliver something like StuxNet to affect actual damage to the Iranian nuclear program (to say nothing of the targeted assassinations) yet somehow insufficient capability to make the best estimate on whether or not there's a weapons program.
How could the people who know which homes/cafes/shops frequented by which scientists, working in which labs, running which operating systems, using which software to drive which hardware have a worse intelligence picture than chronic war agitators and political mouthpieces with a track record of being willfully deceived by charlatans and war profiteers?
It is a stone cold, dead in the ground for a decade, crystalline clear FACT that Iran has no nuclear weapon manufacturing program, and no plausible capacity to engage in one in the near future. Period, full stop, end telegram.
Armed with this certainty, you can now begin to answer the rest of your questions for yourself.
And I heard there's an organization called the IAEA that's unaffiliated with any particular nation-state that's been at the center of this extremely contentious global issue that would agree with exactly what I said, because that's exactly what they're saying, so uh, enjoy your limp sarcasm.
Let me be clear: there is no evidence whatsoever that Iran has nuclear weapons in its possession. There is no evidence whatsoever that Iran has had an organized nuclear weapons development program for the last nine years. There is some evidence that there was a nuclear weapons program prior to 2003.
This is where you start discussing things: with reality and facts. I am insulted that these facts I am offering are being downvoted ten miles deep when hundreds of millions of lives are affected by the outcome of this prove-a-negative "debate".
Iran is enriching uranium. A lot of it. This is not disputed.
Iran rattles their sabre a lot, and has large domestic oil production, both of those are also undisputed.
... So you're saying you believe their story that they're enriching uranium beyond where it needs to be for nuclear power, just so they can have nuclear power? Even though they already have more oil than they can sell (with sanctions in place)? Why would they do that?
If I were in their place, I'd be going for a nuclear weapon. All of the available evidence points towards their going for a nuclear weapon. If this was just about nuclear energy, why wouldn't they play ball with the international community and save a shitload of money? Nobody costs themselves billions in sanctions in order to lose more millions in energy production by using nuclear instead of burning effectively-free oil.
You're not being downvoted because you're offering "facts", you're being downvoted for offering an unsupported opinion that people don't agree with.
This isn't battle-chat, jumping in is called a conversation. :)
I do not dispute anything you've said: enrichment is happening, Iran's government is adept at aggressive rhetoric, and Iran would be far better off militarily as a nuclear power. It would be rational for them to be one.
But nothing I have said is incorrect or an opinion. They do not have a nuke, they don't have remotely enough infrastructure or capability to get there anytime soon, and their enrichment activities are not resulting in weapons quality product. That multiple nations and media interests are claiming otherwise is unacceptable.
Their energy policy is not of any interest to me. I am interested in ending this war for the sake of peace.
5. They do "play ball" with the international community, they don't play ball with the US which has been threatening them for quite a while now even though it's own intelligence agency has said Iran is not pursuing a nuke.
Unless of course "International Community" in your lexicon equals the US.
oh and just a piece of advice; you shouldn't jump in if you're going to parrot unsupported claims
>> why would "The IAEA Board of Governors passed a resolution by a vote of 32–2
Because of pressure from Israeli lobby. I follow this very carefully, and most of it is propaganda to provide impunity to Israel for current and future actions.
The fact is, Iranian still unable to refine oil in industrial scale without outside help. Enriching U like any thing else becomes harder as you reach higher purity. US intelligence confirmed there has been no move to militarizing their nuclear technology.
I just don't think the they have the capability. The country is very nepotistic, so anyone in charge got their position because they knew someone rather than purely on merits. The regime is also rather paranoid, so probably they only promote within their own ranks. Combine all those and you get an ineffective bureaucracy. The best they could hope for is all the hype the western media is giving them. Their ability to grow their enrichment facility has basically halted.
But of course no one in media mentions that, because that goes against the narrative they want to play. That's until we go there and mess everything up, then we'll hear all these data the was there and everyone glossed over. Deja vu Iraq.
So here's the thing with news: it's expensive to run a news operation, and almost impossible to make any money doing it, since there is so much competition. All serious news operations get their funding elsewhere. The BBC is funded by the UK taxpayer (and thus behaves like a branch of the civil service). Reuters is funded by its financial services wing (the point of it is to provide news to traders, who will then trade via Reuters). Al-Jazeera is funded by the local Sheikh. Once you understand this, all the inherent biases become obvious.
Slight correction: The BBC is not funded by taxpayers, but TV license payers, that is to say by people who chose to watch TV. While I won't argue that the BBC doesn't have biases, they aren't as simple as "like a branch of the civil service".
I've always felt that in one way or another, everyone involved is an aggressor. This is the real problem, most won't take a step back to break the cycle.
Any news outlet that openly condemns any nation is biased and is propaganda for whatever agenda. A news agency should be just reporting the news so the viewer can decide their feelings on the nations that the reports are about. Now if Al Jazeera wants to have that stance, then that's fine as long as everyone understands what it is that they are doing.
I have not seen any solid proof that Iran is developing nuclear weapons but I have to assume that they are. It is what nations do, they will build what they feel is necessary to protect their interests. If the nations around them have nuclear weapons then most likely they feel the need to have them as well.
Iranian officials repeatedly denied the right of existence of Israel. As a German who at least tries to learn something from history, these are signals i can not ignore.
Also, from my point of view, the political system of Israel and the way its society works, is something worth fighting for. Whereas the political system of Iran is something worth fighting against. Ask any Iranian, who is not brainwashed and wants to live a life not controlled by religious nutcases.
Comparing Iran to Nazi Germany? That's a blatant strawman in no need of answering, and for being a German it looks like you learned the wrong lesson; it's ok for someone to victimize others because they were once the victims?
Also, what do you mean by "the political system of Israel and the way it's society works, is something worth fighting for"?
A political system & way of life built on the subjugation of a people, stealing their land and turning millions of them into refugees, all justified by a religious belief that their deity gave them that land over 2000 years ago?
Iran's political system has major problems, but at least they didn't emigrate from Europe to kill and drive a people off their own land and claim it as their own cuz the old testament said it was their's..
I think some points of clarification are in order:
I do not compare Iran to Nazi Germany, this would mean to deny the uniqueness of the holocaust in human history.
I meant, as a German I have a moral obligation to support Israel in its fight for existance. If officials of another country talk about wiping Israel from the map, i get suspicious. You don't? I hope not.
To state, that Israels political system is built on the subjugation of a people is really rather shallow and a grave simplification. What you, Wrap, say, sounds like you think that the "palestinian people" (whatever that is or was) are the victims in that case and have done nothing to nobody. That is just wrong and i advise you to read up on the whole story.
Also, from my point of view, the right of existance of Israel is not a topic of discussion anymore. Maybe it was unfortunate to found it where it's been founded after WW2, but that is not something that can be changed now in any sensible way.
And, come on, Wrap, the Jews where "emigrating" from Europe to "kill and drive a people off their own land and claim it as their own"??? That is just ridiculous. Please get an education.
Last point about Irans political system: It does not have "major problems", it is basically run by sad men greedy for power that use religion as means of suppression. The one thing you have to give them, is that Iran/Persia was not a very aggressive country in the past. But that's it. They do oppress their people (~80 million) which you really can not say of Israel. Also they throw threats all around, and I do not think they do this just for funsies.
Al Jazeera has always had an anti-US/Israel bent, and they have always made that pretty clear. So, while they might provide useful coverage of the issue, it seems to me who them condemn and who they do not may not be the final, unbiased say in the matter...
The power companies and grid are just like everybody else with a distributed system these days: they have a lot of monitoring data and the cheapest way to backhaul it is over the commodity internet. They find VPNs useful too.
True that a finely crafted USB stick can be used to bridge an air gap, but the power grid needs to not be connected to the interent. It's a protocol layering violation: the internet depends on the power grid. If the power grid also depends on the internet, what happens when one goes down for any length of time? How long would it take to get such a system turned back on again?
Way to show your ignorance. Maybe your comment would be interesting if you provided a single reason or fact to back up your claims. Since you don't it sounds like "Hurr, America number one, Iran savages".
Iran has one of the most sophisticated intelligence apparatuses in the world(just ask the CIA what they think about them), and incredibly talented people at their fingertips. Individuals within their organizations also have little oversight on their actions, and large amounts of cash to buy what they can't provide themselves.
The centrifuges could have been destroyed, and with loss of human life. The system itself was damaged. I wouldn't call this a "cold" war. It is a very real, very physical war(albeit precisely targeted, for now).
"Cold War doesn't mean no loss of life or destruction, just that there aren't two armies going at it on the battlefield"
If so, then "cold" vs. "hot" would be a distinction without a difference.
I don't think the populace is generally educated to think that a "cold war" means "overt attacks on the enemy producing destruction and death." Rather, I think most people think that "cold war" means heightened political/military tension without overt attacks.
To define a "cold war" as one in which no soldiers are used is fallacious: it's a definition by non-essentials. What is relevant to war is whether there is a systematically planned and ongoing violent attacks, not whether soldiers happen to be the means of attack.
If I had a downvote button, I would exercise it on your steadfast refusal to acknowledge that the Cold War is so-called for the absence of direct military conflict between the armies of the two quarreling states.
Wikipedia does not back your definition, as the Wiki entry leaves room for espionage, sabotage, and other actions that one might consider an "attack" but certainly do not force a declaration of war, mobilization of armies, etc.
Surely you don't expect the WP article to list every act that might be compatible with the idea of a "cold war"... I feel you are trolling a bit. Sabotage is still a plausibly deniable act--contrasted with, say, rolling a tank across one's adversary's border.
Stuxnet is a weapon of sabotage, it is fairly direct, and yet it is not the same as an open declaration of war.
"A cold war or cold warfare is a state of conflict between nations that does not involve direct military action but is pursued primarily through economic and political actions, propaganda, acts of espionage or proxy wars waged by surrogates. The surrogates are typically states that are "satellites" of the conflicting nations, i.e., nations allied to them or under their political influence. Opponents in a cold war will often provide economic or military aid, such as weapons, tactical support or military advisors, to lesser nations involved in conflicts with the opposing country."
I.e., this definition does not include direct planned and executed attacks by the nations involved. Continuing:
"The definition which has now become fixed is of a war waged through indirect conflict."
Indirect means indirect, not directly planting viruses that can destroy your factory.
> Rather, I think most people think that "cold war" means heightened political/military tension without overt attacks.
You underestimate 'the populace'. I think most people suspect the 'Cold War' included everything up to outright war. What do you think all the CIA's Memorial Wall  signifies anyway? I imagine the Kremlin has something similar.