Reliable Security Information


Computer Security for the 1 Percent

Memo to American cyberwarriors: You can't rehab your lousy reputation by planting stories on how you saved banksters in big newspapers. Illustrating that global cybersecurity policy and action in the US is purely for the benefit of the 1 percent, Ellen Nakashima of the Washington...

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Behold a Pale Farce: Cyberwar & the propaganda machine of the national security megaplex

Readers of this blog know the topic of cyberwar reasonably well. The national mythology on it has been deadening and invariant for virtually two decades. Festung America has always been threatened with devastation from cyberspace. Clever hackers, then terrorists, then armies of cybersoldiers based in...

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It's the NSA's world, we only live in it

And so it is announced the NSA is into the data stream flowing into Yahoo and Google in the cloud....

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The Next Hurricane Katrina: Energy Executives and Cyber Security

Richard B. Andres Matthew Thomas  At a time when electric companies are witnessing an unprecedented rise in cyber-attacks against their industrial control systems (ICS) and supervisory control and acquisition systems (SCADA) that monitor and regulate power grids, the response of industry executives has ranged from paralysis...

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Smart Grid and the Threat of Malicious Cyber Actors

Richard B. Andres Karl S. Pabst As the energy industry rushes to become "smart," it has paid scant attention to the security implications of this move, particularly in the cyber realm. Touted as the next big thing by policymakers and industry executives alike, smart grid technology is...

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Poverty and the Annual National Security Ogres & Wealth Festival

You're not one of those disingenuous types who still think threats to the security of Americans are external, right?...

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Did the NSA foil the Zazi peroxide bomb plot?

THe NSA's Keith Alexander has pointed to the case of Najibullah Zazi, a foiled improvised bomber (peroxide explosives, specifically) who was seized by the FBI in 2009, as evidence its PRISM surveillance program is critical for the safety of Americans. In the case, Zazi quickly...

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The Edward Snowden affair demolishes US cyberwar hype

The Edward Snowden affair has done many things. One of the most signal is its complete destruction of the US government/national security megaplex's campaign of cyberwar hype, disinformation and outright lying....

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Bean Pounding: Unknown violent gun nut implicated in ricin mail

Three incidents with ricin-tainted mail between April and May constitute new and uncharted territory in the US. And in two of the instances ricin mail targeting the President has been intercepted. The first, from alleged castor bean pounder J. Everett Dutschke in Tupelo, Mississippi. And...

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Cyberwar, cyberespionage and media manipulation

If you've been following along it's no secret the US government and the national security industry have been waging an increasingly concerted campaign to boost cyber-defense spending. The lynchpin of the strategy is the relentless argument that Chinese hackers, under the guidance of its government...

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Calling Paula Broadwell

From All In: "One of Petraeus' favorite quotes comes from Seneca, a first century Roman philosopher: 'Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.' This has been true for Petraeus at many turns ..." And when the day to day of the war on terror...

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Obama Trip Could be Bellwether for U.S.-Asia Relations

On his first trip abroad since winning reelection - and the first ever by a U.S. leader to Burma - President Obama will confront evident opportunities and risks in pushing ahead with his bold approach to expanding U.S. ties with Southeast Asia. Obama will presumably...

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The yen for authoritarians

As far as foreign policy and the debate went, viewers will have noticed how the GOP, using its media, has made global warming a third rail issue in American politics. It simply went missing in all debates, replaced by both candidates squabbling over who would...

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Digital 9/11 Gall

Red alert! Red alert! Leon Panetta warned of a digital 9/11 a "National Security Dinner" for business executives in NYC! The mainstream news blotter on my PC indicated the alarums had been sent far and wide. The infrastructure was vulnerable and menaced by a potential...

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Mitt Romney's Battleships

There are no rays of light for Mitt Romney in the secret video. Everything said at the private Florida toff's club is a liability. On security, Romney also had much to say. Most notably, the following on alleged weakness in the US military:...

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No can haz cyberdefense against greatest transfer of wealth in history this year

Those pursuing expanded funding of cyberdefense, more predatory and invasive technical and legislative protocols in the last two weeks were always adding they wanted to have a debate, to expand public discourse on the matter. This is not what they meant at all. What they...

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Our Cyberdefense Shoeshine Boys

Few things are more odious than the claims issued almost daily from various politicians and our cyberwarrior national security experts on the nature of the threat. The politicians stand for the 1 percent. And the cyberwarriors are part of the Shoeshiner Service, errand fulfillment for...

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The President delivers his cyberscare story

The President delivered his digital Pearl Harbor story, not using the phrase because presumably has been told of its exposure to ridicule, in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. It's worth a dissection....

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The greatest transfer of wealth in history ...

"In my opinion, it's the greatest transfer of wealth in history," said general Keith Alexander, he of the National Security Agency, on cyberattacks launched at our great country. Not quite, and no one has to rely on opinion. The greatest transfer of wealth in history...

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The Best and The Brightest -- not anymore

David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest, his 1972 account of the policy-makers in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and the nature of the Vietnam disaster, is a classic on the delusions of American power. Everything Halberstam described then is present today. Only conditions and...

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The shady and the low of US virus war

You can count there being no end to the hypocrisy of the US national security complex, aka "the self-licking ice cream cone." It looks in the mirror, sees its own menacing face, grins and runs screaming that it's seen someone else preparing to attack....

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Expose the US virus war machine

Putting viruses on the computers of others is a criminal act whether or not those who own the infected computers are popular or unpopular. It has always been this way, always will be. The anti-virus business was built on the hard fact that virus writing...

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The cat's out of the bag on US virus war -- watch out for fleas

In the Nineties I set out in my book Virus Creation Labs to tell some of the story of the anti-virus industry. As part of the job Its programmers were always keen to discover the identity of virus-writers and they became good at it. Now...

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Flame virus makes great press release

Discovery of cyberwar superviruses like Flame is good for generating interest and international publicity for anti-virus firms. Therefore they will compete more vigorously in the doing of it. Which is a back-handed benefit to everyone because it will more quickly spoil cyberwar and international harassment...

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The U.S. Needs to Wake Up to the Threat of Chinese Legal Warfare.

Lawfare, or legal warfare, is an emerging threat to U.S. forces and interests around the world, and one that China is intent on using to bludgeon any nation that opposes it. As Dean Cheng at the Heritage Foundation argues in a new report, this offensive...

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Guns, Not Butter -- Because in your heart, you know it's bad to tend to the poor & sick

Associated Press, on the daily recommendation from the mainstreamed extremists, without blinking: "A key House committee has voted to cut food aid, health care and social services like Meals on Wheels to protect the Pentagon from a crippling wave of budget cuts come January." Although...

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Wanted: Missile Defense Program to Meet Threats the U.S. Faces

Several weeks ago, North Korea launched a missile that, if successful, would have been capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to the continental U.S. In spite of such dangers and despite promises to maintain a vigorous missile defense program, when one looks at budget proposals...

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The bin Laden No-Prize

The US military, through a West Point terrorism training school, released documents seized during the Osama bin Laden raid, a year ago this week. Readers know that despite the formidable achievement, for which the President deserves great credit, there has been no bin Laden dividend....

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AFGHANISTAN ARISING

Afghanistan is about to blossom into a vibrant, modern nation; unfortunately the ongoing turmoil and the relentlessly negative media coverage obscure this underlying dynamic. A new Afghanistan is unfolding unseen before our very eyes. USAID's recent report, Partnership, Progress, Perseverance, provides an overview of the...

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Old pink meat product

The meat industry produces veritable mountains of manure. It contaminates cows, not only on the outside when they stand in it, but also on the inside, when they are fed from grains cultivated in fields fertilized or tainted by runoff from it. This has created...

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Yellow Fever

This week's news cycle has been especially full of natsec experts and government men speaking of the threat of Chinese attacks in cyberspace. Such intelligence wars are unsurprising. It is equally unsurprising that foreign powers have always engaged in extensive operations to obtain military and...

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New Imagery shows North Korean Launch Site Ready

New satellite imagery shows the recently finished launch site where North Korea plans to place a satellite into orbit. The upcoming satellite launch is to mark the 100th anniversary of founder Kim Il Sung's birth, in defiance of a newly signed deal to suspend nuclear...

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An old cyberwar April Fool's joke proves durable, finds new rubes

In the mainstream public discussion about cyberwar, bull---- walks, particularly here. And so it is not greatly surprising when an infamous old April Fool's joke about a computer virus alleged to have been used in Desert Storm shows up almost right on time for the...

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Still flogging the pain ray

Over the last decade, the US military's pain ray -- a clumsy weapon called the Active Denial System that uses millimeter waves to burn the outer skin layer of targets by making the water molecules twitch -- has been a public relations disaster. No one...

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The 'lights out' meme and the joy of believing rubbish

The idea that hackers -- now to mean Anonymous, the Chinese, or any other alleged enemy of the US anywhere, can turn out the lights from the Internet is pervasive. There isn't a week that passes without some media outlet publishing a story or running...

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Defending America Should Take Priority

The President's FY 2013 budget gets its priorities all wrong. A new paper by Baker Spring from the Heritage Foundation shows that by slashing the defense budget, Obama is making a clear statement- defense is our last priority. Baker reveals an unfortunate truth: defense will...

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US officials try to fit up Anonymous

Creating bogeymen is a specialty of the US national security complex. It's business, pure and simple. And what better place to gin up fear-based economy business than in the newspaper of America's business, the Wall Street Journal....

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Afghan Manifesto

Afghanistan is clearly in a crisis. The military drawdown has everyone uncertain of the future and reluctant to invest in it.....

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Monetizing the kooks

Reality television is the perfect place for monetizing kooks. In this case it's National Geographic's Doomsday Preppers series on what I've called End Timers. I caught a commercial and won't be tuning in. (It begins airing tonight.) Topics common to the blog have already shown...

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So many Doomsdays

Inundated with weekly national security news on a variety of approaching Doomsdays I've occasionally asked, "Which is it to be?" All of them? One? Some? None? How can you tell from reading the usual public testimony of our experts? The answers: (1) You can't tell;...

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Uncle Sam versus castor oil

Ever since 9/11 the United States has been in a war with castor plants. It has done this by making people believe castor seeds are a deadly horror and putting in jail everyone stupid enough to pound them. The rest of the world has shrugged....

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The Militarization of South Pasadena

Deserving of a big "Whaaaa?" -- today's proof that even the smallest local shires of the land, places with no significant history of violent crime or threat try to get into the act. The Los Angeles Times informed yesterday that South Pasadena, generally known for...

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Our Nuclear Forces Must Be Modernized to Remain Credible

Although the Republican Presidential candidates might be focused on digging up dirt from each others' past, the U.S. ought to be worried about another relic from the past- its nuclear arsenal. "The U.S. is the only nuclear power without a substantial nuclear modernization program," write...

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Democratic Sclerosis and National Strategy

Democratic sclerosis refers to the tendency of democratic systems to become increasingly encrusted with legacy provisions which inhibit responsiveness to the general welfare and make it increasingly difficult for the government to perform routine tasks. National security is managed at the highest level by the...

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Blinding lasers, pepper spray and electric rays

The recently released Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Reference Book shows the current listing of mostly useless gadgets, some of which can kill or maim people, currently fielded for the US military. Some have bled into US police forces as a result of the weapons...

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Secrets from a country that doesn't exist about stuff that no longer matters

Back when I still had hope, twenty years ago, I once wrote about a very secretive government agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, for a daily newspaper in the heartland. The NRO operated our spy satellites and I'd discovered (I was not the first) that its...

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Drones over paupers: An Empire Merry Christmas

Competing for top ranking in this year's long list of fatuous end-of-year news pieces notable only for their talent at bleak unintentional hilarity: Overstretched U.S. drone pilots face stress risk. In this holiday season of mass unemployment and homeless protesters being shoveled out of the...

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Newt, chieftain of the Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy

Yesterday William Broad of the New York Times put Newt Gingrich's role as one of the chieftains of the Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy onto the front page of that high button newspaper. The piece was mildly critical but such things always give the story...

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Helping Afghans Build Afghanistan

The military drawddown now in progress is both inevitable and necessary. The costs in blood and resources are simply unsustainable, while it is widely recognized that no military solution is plausible....

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Killer robots and bombs trump the meat

Wasn't yesterday's feast great? Have General Atomics, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Dynamics Land Systems been good to you this year? They didn't let you go hungry. Nope, no lining up at the welfare center to present the monthly budget in applying for...

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The Empire's Dog Feces: Non-lethal use against OWS protest

The long-term nature of the non-lethal weapons industry in the US needs to be understood now that one of its newer pieces of kit, the LRAD, has been fielded in New York City for the OWS protests. The purpose of the industry has always been...

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Ricin kooks hit the big time

One of America's weirdest subcultures, the white male ricin kook, is big news today, folks! It's the geriatric Atlanta ricin beans gang, caught by the FBI with one making the absurd claim that he'd just get up on the highway and throw it out of...

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Scary Story: Book teaser reveals leaders as lousy as their press

Today's top news item, a whoopie cushion expose -- a memoir book teaser from Condoleeza Rich -- in which the lousiest national leadership in national history, the GWB administration, believed it was exposed to botulinum toxin. In its own words they looked an unselfconscious and...

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Corporate welfare/entitlement spending in homeland security

A steady stream of press releases from the private sector homeland security industry demonstrates corporate welfare on a daily basis. As example, take one recent announcement on a Department of Homeland Security contract for ricin detection. Like many it shows a company that pretty much...

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Duqu virus: Following the patterns of malware proliferation

Here's the basic truth on computer virus proliferation: Once out, there is no controlling what others might do to your -- or anyone else's -- creation. So, at this point it cannot be known with absolute certainty if Duqu's creators were Stuxnet's....

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Pitchforks media

Could social unrest break out if the US government doesn't pay attention to Occupy Wall Street and visibly start doing something about mass unemployment? Hard to know. OWS is non-violent. But what will the environment be like a year from now if nothing has changed?...

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Drone virus story craps out

Computer viruses/malware on US military networks are not remarkable. Ever since I wrote a book on computer viruses in 1994, so it has been. Some of them rise to newsworthiness. Most don't. But because Wired pushed the news of a virus on a computer network...

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Secure Grid '11 - Electrical Grid Crisis Tabletop Exercise

Secure Grid '11 Overview Secure Grid '11 is the third in an ongoing series of exercises that National Defense University's Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) has conducted in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Northern Command on the vulnerability of the...

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The Future of European Security

The Atlantic Community has launched a new series of essays looking at the future of European security, specifically in resourcing and procurement: In an uncertain economic climate, defense ministries across Europe are slashing spending as budgetary pressures rise. These cuts come just as the United...

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The transatlantic impact of 9/11

Counterterrorism has been a central component of policing in the United Kingdom since Irish republicans carried out their first bomb attacks on British soil in 1881. But the attacks that unfolded an ocean away on September 11, 2001, prompted profound changes in British counterterrorism strategy...

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The bad guys won

Here's my conclusion from ten years of war on terror, one drawn from expert perspective. It's simple: The bad guys won. I don't mean bin Laden or al Qaeda. My view deals with the US mechanism, the security and threat assessment machine that was part...

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Ricin bomb rubbish

The weekend's most odious news came from the New York Times and concerned an alleged plot by al Qaeda in Yemen. And the plot (or ongoing plan) involved -- ricin bombs....

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Defense Cuts vs Military Flexibility

As the debate over the United States' estimated $14.3 trillion debt has come to a head, the question as to whether or not cuts would be made to the Department of Defense (DoD) has evolved to one of how deep those cuts will go. The...

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The Empire's Dog Feces: Electromagnetic pulse weapon mania

The mania over non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons is now close to two decades old. And none that are even remotely interesting have ever been produced. However, this has not seriously impeded widespread belief in them, demonstrated by the fact that now not a week goes...

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Balancing Security and Values

Within the body of President Obama's June 2011 National Strategy for Counterterrorism there exists a tension between traditional values and the need for security. The Strategy states that one of our core values is respect for privacy rights, civil liberties, and civil rights, while later...

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The plutocrats worry about the cyber-paupers coming for their stuff

I get one or two interview requests a week on cybersecurity lately. The conversations always hinge on matters of absolutely no interest to the American middle class. Most popular now: "What would a cyberwar look like?"...

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What's Next for Nuclear Modernization?

A wild fire that threatens Los Alamos National Laboratory is not the only "hot" topic regarding nuclear weapons. A fight is brewing between the president and the Congress over nuclear modernization. When pushing for the New START nuclear agreement, "Obama promised to modernize U.S. nuclear...

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Rally for Afghanistan

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough, we must do. -- Leonardo da Vinci   There are two Afghanistans, and they are intermingled. Old Afghanistan is a backward, tribal society, strongly...

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Keeping America in Asia

Few strategic issues engender more debate than the future of the US presence in the Far East. Topping the list is what to do about the American bases on Okinawa. The US and Japan had ironed out an agreement on how to realign the bases...

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Review -- Wikiwars: The Mission of Julian Assange

Wikiwars: The Mission of Julian Assange aired on CNN this weekend. Narrated by an ex-Navy SEAL named Kaj Larsen who doesn't look the part, it contains no revelations being entirely a rehash of old news. Watch it only if you want to see Nick Davies...

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Glimpse of bin Laden Techniques in Captured Records of al-Qa'ida in Iraq

By Benjamin Bahney, Renny McPherson, and Howard J. Shatz Osama bin Laden's death will not end the operations of terrorist cells linked to him or his affiliates. But every bit of evidence pieced together sheds more light on how terrorist groups operate and helps counter...

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Recent Research on Terrorism and Disaster Response

From the SEAL Team Six raid on bin Laden's compound to tornados ripping through American cities, there have been more than enough reminders that there is a dangerous world out there. Recent research from the Heritage Foundation offers a number of remedies for keeping America safe,...

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How Might Bin Laden's Demise Affect Business?

Given how markets are responding thus far, Osama Bin Laden's death is likely to have a modestly positive and buoyant effect on equity markets. Business abhors uncertainty. With Bin Laden gone, one major source of uncertainty is removed, along, one hopes, with his hallmark of...

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Could Bin Laden's Death Prompt a Cyber Attack?

The death of Osama Bin Laden at the hands of U.S. forces raises the possibility that his followers will try to strike back at the United States. Since attacks such as 9/11 take years to plan, some speculate that they may attempt to launch a...

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Meeting the Millennial Mismatch

The new millennium is bringing an epochal shift in the global strategic situation that is fundamentally altering the challenges facing the nation. Although there is broad awareness of many elements of this shift, the overall mismatch between these challenges and national capabilities is almost totally...

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Russian Nuclear Strike: Asteroid or Hurricane?

An asteroid strike could devastate the nation. But the proverbial one in a million chance is actually pretty close to the mark. We know enough of previous strikes to estimate a major impact every 20 million years or so. And it has been quite a...

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Looking for Cuts in All the Wrong Places

Debate over defense spending has become one of Washington's hottest topics. President Obama added fuel to the fire of speculation when he proposed an additional $400 billion in Pentagon spending cuts to help rein in federal spending.  In a recent research paper from The Heritage...

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The admiral's servant does his shopping

Today's LOL item stems from the continuing tale on the danger of China's military build-up. It's now so tiresome we're going to take this space to imagine what a war with China would entail for both countries. You'll won't see it anywhere else and I...

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Bruce Ivins, first bioterrorist/country recording artist ever?

Bruce Ivins, the best bioterrorist US taxpayer money could buy, was by all descriptions a resourceful man of many talents. Newspaper articles on him told of his fondness for playing keyboards at church and composing little humorous songs for departing colleagues at Fort Detrick/USAMRIID. But...

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How Much is Enough?

A number of long-term defense spending proposals have been circulating in Washington, such as the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. None, however, are based on proven methods of defense planning. In realistic defense planning, national security challenges drive force structure requirements: how many...

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Economic Treason: Loss of manufacturing could be security problem -- Ya think?

In perhaps another indication the intelligence apparatus is still busticated in the US, Steven Aftergood of Secrecy blog informs that a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has been ordered to address what the loss of the country's manufacturing base means. It's looking bad for us, says...

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Bombing Moe: Rebel rabble routed plus General Electric funnies

The word's officially in. Guys waving V signs in pickup trucks as they speed toward Tripoli speed back just as quickly. The inability to handle weapons, or even fight, can't easily be overcome. They're not the Desert Rats. Even a Bernard Law Montgomery could be...

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Creepy Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer -- psychiatrists say

News broke Tuesday of a psychiatric report commissioned to evaluate the mental records and health of Bruce Ivins,' the US scientist named by the Department of Justice as the anthrax mailer. The report confirms Ivins was a creepy, mentally unbalanced man fond of harassing a...

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TIPPING AFGHANISTAN: Shifting Gears in the Current Struggle

Tipping points are those times when a gradual accumulation of small changes results in a sudden major shift in a balance; restoration of the prior equilibrium may be very difficult or even impossible. Such looming shifts are typically not apparent as small changes accumulate and...

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Bomb Moe -- Ten reasons why the Prez decided so

Reason Number One: Bombs for Moe, austerity for the US middle class. Whatever it costs in cash for another war, budget cutting for domestic programs that benefit working Americans. That's because bombing Moe comes out of the special overflowing cash sack for war. It's the...

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Thinking twice about Libyan engagement

The Obama administration is wise to back into a military engagement in Libya rather cautiously. We have learned over the past couple of decades that it is deceptively easy for the world's only superpower to topple objectionable regimes - but a good deal harder to...

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Economic Treason: A look at Wisconsin and arms manufacturing

"We're broke!" is the GOP blandishment used to justify imposing hardship on the middle class as Republicans go about the work of transferring more and more wealth to the already very well off. A few days ago, in the case of Wisconsin I highlighted Scott...

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Cult of EMP Crazy in the Koreas plus a few notes on weapons and China

The western press always inflates stories of electromagnetic pulse rays and bombs. They are the fabulous weapons that are always coming -- almost twenty years now -- but never quite arriving. This is in accordance with the rule of law....

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The best bio of Julian Assange you won't read in the US media

Today I point you toward the best history of Julian Assange yet. And it is published outside the routes of celebrity big media where the kings spit and urinate upon the subject, tell him it's raining, and then proceed to pick the body and skeleton...

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Economic Treason: Middle class whacked, arms manufacturing flourishes (a series)

The Great Recession caused by Wall Street whacked almost all of the middle class in the United States. Newspaper articles and the opinions of economists continue to discuss its impact in terms of mass unemployment and extreme hardship.However, there are a few large industries which...

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A vision of strategic nuclear war from 1958

I am tipped to "The Power of Decision," a 1958 in-house USAF movie on how it might wage all-out strategic nuclear war against the Soviet Union. Released to the web by the National Security Archive, it is described thusly:...

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The Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy: A caucus and a movie

The GOP-controlled House now officially has a Cult of Electromagnetic Pulse Crazy caucus. Started by Trent Franks, the official announcement is here....

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The Continuing Amusement of Chinese Threat Inflation

One of the biggest jokes on my blog is the US media's fascination with the Chinese military. The US spends more than the top ten or thirteen countries in the world -- combined -- on its military. And it has been in active combat for...

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Demilitarizing the Afghan Effort

Despite widespread agreement that a military solution is not possible, the current approach in Afghanistan remains overwhelmingly a military one - well illustrated by the recent surge of 30,000 troops and only 1,000 civilian supporters. Moreover, it is proving difficult to actually get qualified civilians...

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Odious corporate spying firms enjoy epic bad publicity day

Earlier this week, three odious private sector spying firms -- Palantir, HBGary Federal and Berico Technologies -- stepped into a sh--storm when their plan to attack WikiLeaks and Salon journalist Glenn Greenwald was exposed on the web by the Anonymous hacking group....

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WikiLeaks and distortions for the sake of sensation

One problem WikiLeaks has run afoul of in dealing with dribbling cables out through the media is distortion. Some of its partners have things other then pure enlightenment in mind when they write stories on newly released cables. Like fame and fortune....

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Senile al Qaeda Men Threaten Wall St. - No One Cares

Again proving they're not really up on current things in the wastelands of Yemen, news that al Qaeda was threatening Wall Street recently gained no traction. It's next to impossible to frighten the native population when you're alleged targets are already despised throughout the land....

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Afghanistan Economic Strategy

Discussions with a number of Afghan specialists indicate broad agreement on the need to set individual development projects into a larger framework. One area specialist, Fred Starr, for example, in a note on Give Economic Strategy a Chance, laments that during the 2010 policy review,...

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The Exciting Story of Stuxnet and Received Wisdom

By now you have heard of or read the exciting story of Stuxnet as a joint Israeli-US cyberweapon. The first of its kind, setting back Iran's nuclear program for years, Stuxnet ushers in a new and glorious age of cyberwar, the world is forever changed....

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CLASH OF CULTURES

The struggle in Afghanistan has turned into a clash of cultures different from what had generally been expected. Both the NATO effort and the Taliban opposition have changed significantly in the course of the last nine years, resulting in a much changed situation....

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New START Ratified by the Senate

By a vote of 71 to 26, the U.S. Senate has voted to ratify the New START agreement. More importantly, it was a "clean" ratification, without any amendments or reservations to the text of the treaty itself. The treaty could now be taken up by...

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Mitigating Meltdown

It is easy to project a world of discord in the decades ahead. Both China and Russia have numerous internal problems and their leaderships are working hard to suppress any dissent. They are both becoming increasingly authoritarian and justifying this internally by the need to...

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A Future for NATO Beyond Lisbon?

(This is cross-posted from the Atlantic Council's New Atlanticist blog) When NATO leaders gather in Lisbon on November 19 for the alliance's annual summit, what sort of conversations should they be having about the future of the organization? How should the Strategic Concept be translated...

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A Fuzzy Strategy for Afghanistan

Fuzzy math is a recent concept for a discipline which traditionally produced exact calculations. But the impossibility of always providing exact parameters and clear definitions spurred the development of "fuzzy" math - approaches that define problems in gross terms, accepting ambiguities and providing not solutions...

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Defense Budgets Have Been Growing Since 9/11. So, Why is Money Still Tight?

As Washington is pressured to identify ways to cut federal spending and avert a looming crisis, the defense budget is becoming the prime target for many. It is being singled out as a billpayer despite the fact that defense is a smaller portion of the...

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Documenting the Ranks of Neighborhood Heroes

The October 11, 2010 issue of Time "Locked and Loaded: The Secret World of Extreme Militias," took a controversial look at the world of private militias. What the article never mentioned is the not-so-secret world of militias out there called State Defense Forces (SDFs). These SDFs...

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Exporting Security: The Balanced Approach

The debates over the future direction (and budgeting) of the U.S. national security and defense establishments are intensifying. For the last several years, we have had the ongoing arguments as to whether U.S. security is more imperiled by the challenges of weak and failing states--necessitating...

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America's Doctor Germ Dead at 84

William C. Patrick, the father of the original US germ warfare program, has died. As this country's chief biowar scientist during the Cold War, Patrick perfected the applied misuse of rabbit fever and weaponized anthrax. Patrick was 84, as noted by an obituary today in...

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What's Wrong with New START and How to Fix It

By James Jay Carafano "The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has just approved the new U.S.-Russian nuclear arms treaty (New START) and sent it to the Senate floor," Brent Scowcroft and Jake Garn recently wrote in The Washington Times. (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/sep/22/ratify-new-start-now) The veteran national security experts went...

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Cyber Attack: Stuxnet Worm

During the past week there was been much speculation about a cyber attack in the form of the Stuxnet worm. It is remarkable for a number of reasons. It is the first known worm to target exclusively industrial control systems that are used in factories,...

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New Afghan Strategy: From the Ground Up

The current strategy for Afghanistan is not working. It can not. It is too big. While General Petraeus can tick off signs of progress, including expanded American control farther outside of Kandahar, this does not make any difference. Even if such assessments are accurate, they...

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Mission Creep: How not to reclassify civilian activities as potentials for terrorism

What to do if you're in the business of counter-terrorism in, say, a place like Pennsylvania? And there just aren't enough jihadists around to fill a decent report for the state government client. Answer: Reclassify democratic activity as trouble. Problem solved! While perhaps effective for...

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On Foreign Military Sales

The Obama administration is expected to request Congressional approval for the sale of $60 billion of military aircraft to Saudi Arabia. Stephen Kurczy writing in the Christian Science Monitor reports that the largest weapon sale in history is unlikely to invoke much criticism given U.S....

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Welcome to the Future: The Prison System Pain Ray

Raytheon's Active Denial System is a certified excrement magnet. Always has been, always will be. Its slated arrival for Labor Day in a southern California jail has generated quite a bit of bad publicity along with the usual brief corporate news pieces in which a...

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Small Reactors and the Military's Role in Securing America's Nuclear Industry

Richard B. Andres Micah J. Loudermilk Faced with the dual-obstacles of growing worldwide energy demand and a renewed push for clean energy, the stage is set for a vibrant revival of the nuclear power industry in the United States. During his 2008 campaign, President Barack...

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Afghanistan: Descent into Reality

[revised 23 August 2010] The effort in Afghanistan is in danger of losing touch with reality. It is stuck in a deepening rut, rushing towards a receding objective. The effort requires that the United States find an answer to the challenge, and find it NOW,...

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OPSEC and WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks founder Julianne Assange's release of some 76,000 classified reports is clearly a breach of our national security, but underscores a growing problem in balancing information sharing with operations security (OPSEC) since the end of the Cold War. Consider that the U.S. has been involved...

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Homeland Security Looking North and South

Homeland security is a global mission. From securing the border to protecting global supply chains, virtually every aspect of preventing terrorist attacks has an international dimension that requires the United States to work effectively with friends and allies. Only through international cooperation can the United...

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Will Obama Lose Turkey?

Turkey is a key political, economic, and military power standing at the bridge between the West and rest. There troubling reports about the country including claims that the government is thinking about developing nuclear weapons. So far, the White House has done little to address...

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Neither Taliban Nor NATO

The struggle in Afghanistan is generally seen as a struggle between the Taliban and NATO - who will win? But in the long term, neither the Taliban nor NATO will prevail; they are both alien to Afghanistan....

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Debating Lend-Lease for the 21st century

Last week, in a column for World Politics Review, I floated the idea of setting up a 21st century version of Lend-Lease, to cope with the growing cap between the capabilities that countries around the world can field, especially in securing the global commons, and...

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The Russian Espionage Caper

I'm still trying to make sense of the SVR's "illegals" operation that the FBI disrupted with a series of arrests this week. My colleague here at the Naval War College, Tom Nichols, summed up my impressions as well: "Truthfully, I can't figure out what they...

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Denying homegrown terrorists the glory

How should the United States counter homegrown jihadist terrorism? With al Qaeda and its jihadist allies extolling the exploits of Major Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, and even failed attempts like that of would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shehzad, we...

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Triumph for Civil-Military Relations?

Relieving General Stanley McChrystal could not have been an easy decision for President Obama. In this speech, he emphasized McChrystal's patriotism and accomplishments and thanked him for decades of service to the United States. However, he was relieved for poor judgment and not competence....

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Afghan Objectives

The overall situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating. We have already lost support of most of our allies (and certainly their publics) and are now losing support of the American public - there is even an Out of Afghanistan Caucus in Congress....

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Civ-Mil Crisis

As we wait for President Obama's decision on how to deal with General McChrystal's civ-mil gaffe, James Joyner at the Atlantic Council has a good summary caused by the Rolling Stone profile of McChrystal. He concludes: "'Thirteen months ago, when General David McKiernan was fired...

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Collapse in Afghanistan?

The iconic photos of the last helicopter leaving the roof of the Saigon embassy vividly encapsulated the collapse of the US effort in Vietnam. And there has been no end of commentary comparing those earlier, fruitless US efforts in Vietnam with the current, troubled effort...

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Intimidation and Taliban

Kill one, frighten ten thousand. Sun Tzu Intimidation is discouraging people from acting by threats of violence; it is a pervasive, global problem. Autocratic regimes use intimidation to repress citizen demands for government accountability. At the other end of the spectrum, groups opposing legitimate authority...

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Visions for Afghanistan

The Taliban have a vision for Afghanistan, and for the whole world - a vision of a medieval, ascetic society controlled by theocrats. Their vision includes a harsh and inflexible enforcement of religious prescriptions, including a number of prescriptions that are not actually required by...

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Opium: Buy and Burn, or Not

Ever since the US invasion in 2003, opium has been a problem in Afghanistan. It was a traditional crop which had been virtually eliminated by the Taliban in one of the few positive aspects of their repressive, fundamentalist regime. Ironically, its resurgence now fuels the...

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National Security Strategy Released

The White House has released the National Security Strategy. The NSS sketches out a very broad (and one might say bland) picture, setting very general themes and ensuring that there is a "big tent" approach to national security. And certainly no government official today wants...

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Refashioning Afghan Strategy: Nation Growing

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, now ground down by 40 years of warfare with broad areas dominated by brutal Islamic fundamentalists. The traditional power structures are inadequate to meet the challenge, especially with so many killed, including by Taliban assassinations....

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Cult of Cyberwar: The Chieftain flogs his book

Richard Clarke's book publicity campaign for "Cyberwar" bulldozes the media. Note Google ads for Raytheon and Northrop Grumman cybersecurity business operations tied to it. It is not the first time this has happened. Clarke has always had a special talent for saying things the...

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The NPT Test

On May 3 the representatives of 188 nations (give or take a few) will assemble in New York City to debate ways to revise the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The issue could not be more important. As President Obama's new Nuclear Posture Review declares, the greatest...

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Defense, Deterrence & Decline

The emperor has no clothes. The threat of massive nuclear attack which has long covered the rationale for the extensive (and expensive) US nuclear weapons program has been reduced to a small scarf, covering barely anything....

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Deterring Chinese Cyber Militias with Freedom Militias

Richard B. Andres Paul McNiel On February 2nd, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair made cyber security the first item in his Annual Threat Assessment report to the US Senate. Coming on the heels of Chinese cyber attacks on Google, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's...

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Scorecard for the Nuclear Summit

In 2007 I joined with several others who spent many years studying nuclear arms to form a mini consensus of the opinion that the greatest threat to our security, that of our allies, and the world, was the combination of terrorists and nukes. To quote,...

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Do Russia and the U.S. Need Marriage Counseling?

The new START treaty, just signed by President Obama and President Medvedev, is discussed as if the two global powers were engaged in a Tiger Woods marriage counseling session. The treaty is said to build trust, 'reset' the relationships, increase transparency, and send a message...

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Zero Has No Legs

President Obama's strategy to protect us from the danger of nuclear war and nuclear terrorism is about to be tested. The precept that good deeds (and fabulous speeches) beget good deeds will face reality at two major international conferences: Obama's Nuclear Security Summit in mid...

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Hollow Jobs: Defense Undermines Security

The nation is falling apart and we are sending troops worldwide, draining resources from the two vital tasks facing the nation: avoiding global turmoil and revitalizing America. The jobs in the military and the industrial complex behind it are hollow, turning valuable resources into nonproductive,...

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Helping China Prosper

The core challenge for the United States in the XXI Century is the promotion of a stable and prosperous world. The United States is heavily dependent on global stability and could not maintain its prosperity in a world of turmoil. So in a world facing...

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Global Good Governance - Indicators

Promoting Global Good Governance is a key strategic requirement of the XXI Century. There is broad global agreement that governments should promote the growth of their citizens, the functioning of a harmonious, productive and prosperous society. In the words of a National Research Council study...

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Iran's Counter-Strike

Iran's headstrong attempt to join the world's nuclear-weapons club is setting the stage for a military confrontation that nobody wants, but may happen anyway. The Obama administration has decided to ratchet up the rhetoric in its outreach with Gulf State partners. Israel's view on the...

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Planning for the Future? Examining the Pentagon's 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review

The Pentagon's long-awaited Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is out. By law, the major defense strategy must look forward 20 years and delineate how the U.S. will structure its armed forces. The QDR is supposed to outline the Pentagon's threat assessments, military strategy, force structure, and...

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Defending America: Meeting the Threats & Challenges Facing the Nation

The core objective of National Strategy is to insure the survival and prosperity of the nation -- "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" in the words of the Declaration of Independence. For a number of years, Soviet missiles actually threatened our national survival, and...

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Immigration Undermines Security

The problem isn't the border fence, it's the job hole in the United States and corrupt leaders worldwide supported by Western money. Immigration complicates both these challenges and diminishes national well being. Of course, it was not always so. The Statue of Liberty proclaims, "Send...

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Riding the Dragon--How the US should Think about China

US-China relations are back in the headlines after the administration announced it planned to follow though on arms sales to Taiwan and Beijing mad clear it was not happy. The most recent confrontation is reminder that the stability of US-Chinese relations cannot be taken for...

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Where Will the Jobs Come From?

In traditional societies everyone works - they have to, just to provide essentials for survival. As society becomes more complex, fewer people are needed to produce essentials, so the society can support luxury items and services, including cultural services that enrich everyone's lives. But this...

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The Busted Watch of US WMD Threat Assessment

Readers of this blog and my various articles on bioterrorism, chemical terrorism and the London ricin trial over the last few years know the strong scent of intellectual bankruptcy which accompanies statements on the same from the US government. Today we have a slim report...

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Time to Stop Ignoring Chávez

By James Jay Carafano One of the sharpest critics of US disaster relief efforts in Haiti is the President of Venezuela. His problem is not that aid is too slow. His problem is the United States. "The Empire," in other words America, Hugo Chávez declared,...

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Living in the Margin Error--US Policy on Iran

Iran could well wind up being the top foreign policy and national security news story of 2010. Internal opposition has forced the government to strengthen its authoritarian grip and empowered hard liners in the regime to an even greater extent. Meanwhile, the US administration's "engagement"...

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Obama's Nobel Speech and North Korea

At the same time that Ambassador Bosworth was in Pyongyang last month for the first direct talks between the United States and North Korea under the Obama administration, President Obama flew to Oslo to deliver his Nobel price acceptance speech....

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Idealism Is the New Realism

How can it be that the United States emerged from the Cold War as an unrivaled superpower, but finds its moral authority withering? For two centuries it promoted ideals of equality, freedom, democracy and the rule of law as universal strivings of mankind and the...

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The Coming Afghanistan Surge - and the Severely Wounded

With the looming deployment of 30,000 more Soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan, the United States will soon have over 100,000 military personnel there until 2011 - and likely longer. Like insurgents in Iraq, the Taliban make ample use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). These munitions...

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Can the North Korean "Peace Offensive" Drive a Wedge in the U.S.-ROK Alliance?

Following Ambassador Stephen Bosworth's December 8-10 visit to Pyongyang, he declared that the two sides had reached a "common understanding with the DPRK on the need to implement the six party joint statement and to resume the six party process." The North Korean foreign ministry...

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Fix America First

The world faces major challenges in the XXI Century: food, water and population crises and ongoing conflicts, heightened by radical Islamic movements and the still uncertain impacts of global warming raise the potential of a world in turmoil. The United States is the only nation...

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Ends, Ways, and Means--the Debate We Still Need on Afghanistan

When President Obama explained his decision to send 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan to support General Stanley McChrystal's new counterinsurgency campaign, he left a key question unanswered: Will this be enough to achieve U.S. strategic ends in Afghanistan? Most of the discussion about McChrystal's...

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Dispatch from Pyongyang: An Offer You Can't Refuse!

PYONGYANG--Every North Korean seems to have been mobilized for an all-out push to mark their country's arrival as a "strong and powerful nation" in 2012, which marks the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung's birth, Kim Jong Il's seventieth birthday, and the thirtieth birthday of...

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Fix the World

The world is broken and the United States needs to fix it. Well, it's actually not quite broken yet, and there are a lot of other nations involved. But avoiding global turmoil is the major strategic challenge of the XXI Century and the United...

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Time and Taliban

Time in Afghanistan is on the side of the Taliban. They live there and will be there a long time after the the Americans are gone. They only have to be patient and they will get the country. Or so they would like people to...

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Obama Message to Asia: America's Back!

"America is back!" This phrase, used by Hillary Clinton when she choose Asia as her first overseas destination after becoming Secretary of State, provides the underlying theme of President Obama's first trip to the region. "One of my important tasks," Obama said in a pre-trip...

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Not Too Fast With China

with Brad Glosserman BEIJING - With President Barack Obama making his first trip to China, it is vital that the two countries have a clear understanding of what they expect from each other. Failure to reconcile expectations could derail a partnership that is increasingly critical...

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Cult of Cyberattack

The Cult of Cyberattack made a big appearance last Sunday night. Credit 60 Minutes, the show devoting its opening segment to the standard style of be-very-afraid-whoopie-cushion news on gathering black menace. Although it was delivered as something new and serious, I will quote from a...

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Karzai's second term a test for international community

Afghan President Hamid Karzai begins his second term with his country on the brink of chaos. To establish control, two major elements of reform are necessary. First, Karzai needs to rein in the major power brokers and end the large-scale corruption that threatens the country....

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Afghanistan: No Exit

What we need in Afghanistan is not an exit, but a transformation. It has become a key area in the long war - actually not a war, but part of the never ending struggle for human development. Talking of exit is a throwback to the...

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Trends in Terror Prep Net Surfing

If you run a domain or a blog and keep track of your statistics, you know that there are always a couple of files or posts which pick up global currency in Google. They accumulate views, perhaps giving you a picture of the world collected...

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Wen Jiabao Gets the Red Carpet Treatment From Kim Jong Il

Days following the conclusion of the PRC's 60th anniversary celebration of its founding, PRC Premier Wen Jiabao brought a high-powered delegation to Pyongyang to mark the 60th anniversary of Sino-DPRK ties and to facilitate a dialogue on North Korea's nuclear issues with Kim Jong Il....

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Finding a Solution to Iran

The revelation of a secret nuclear facility near the holy city of Qom, and the likely existence of other advanced facilities across Iran, makes more urgent the need for a quick solution to the nuclear impasse. The Obama administration appears to be following a strategy...

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U.S. Fighter Gap: Myth or Reality?

Many senior members of the U.S. military, defense officials, members of Congress, and analysts have long-warned of the growing fighter gap facing the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps and its implications for U.S. national security. A fighter gap is essentially a deficit between...

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Why Afghanistan?

A major US effort in Afghanistan makes no sense in its own right: a faraway country with very limited resources and a history of hostility to invaders. But Afghanistan was intimately involved with the World Trade Center attack - a major psychological blow to the...

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South Korean Leadership in the G-20 and the U.S.-ROK Alliance

As global leaders convene in Pittsburgh to address the global economic crisis for the third time in less than a year, there is cause for both optimism and a heavy sense of responsibility to sustain early signs of a global recovery. Follow-up measures from Pittsburgh...

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Obama Administration's New Missile Defense Plan Is a Losing Proposition

This week, President Obama reneged on a long-standing agreement with America's allies and formally abandoned the "third site" missile defense plan. The U.S. will no longer be deploying 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, a plan formerly regarded as...

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US Strategic Objectives

US national strategy is http://sitrep.globalsecurity.org/articles/090202168-strategic-myopia.htm">myopic - short sighted and fragmented. It rests on overall US strategic objectives that are broad and dated. The most authoritative statement is in President George W. Bush's introductory letter to the last National Security Strategy, published in March 2006. He...

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The F-22 is Not Dead Yet: Congress Should Support the Development of an Allied Variant

The U.S. Senate appropriations committee recently approved its version of the fiscal year (FY) 2010 defense spending bill, and the legislation now awaits floor time in the full Senate. Section 8056 of the bill includes authorization for the U.S. Air Force to use appropriated funds...

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The Challenge of Preparing for Instability in North Korea

In North Korea's totalitarian system, political stability depends on the health of the leader more than on any other factor. For this reason, Kim Jong Il's rumored health problems have drawn careful scrutiny since he failed to appear almost exactly one year ago at public...

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Obama Veto Threat vs. Congress: Why Members Care About Joint Strike Fighter Engine Competition

Congress is back in session and completing work on the fiscal year 2010 defense authorization and appropriations bills. The Senate defense appropriations bill will be marked up this week. While few expect any tough votes if the defense appropriations bill arrives on the Senate floor...

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Afghanistan in Context

Afghanistan is clearly in a very difficult situation. There is a resurgent Taliban (actually a heterogeneous conglomeration of insurgents with varying motivations and loyalties) and a people tired of war and skeptical of the the US effort, a skepticism skillfully exploited by the Taliban. The...

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Clinton to Pyongyang: After Action Assessment

Bill Clinton's dramatic mission to secure the release of two American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee following North Korea's harsh verdict regarding their unauthorized entry into North Korea has succeeded on multiple fronts, based on criteria for success I offered yesterday: 1) the visit...

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Clinton to Pyongyang: Criteria for Success

A former U.S. president visits Pyongyang to break the stalemate at a time of rising tensions over North Korea's nuclear program. This sounds like déjà vu, but the twist is that the mission is a purely "private" one to secure the release of two American...

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McKinnon at Bay: Brit hacker finds Uncle Sam a hard man

Gary McKinnon, a British hacker accused of breaking into US mil computers right after 9/11 will find out tomorrow if he's about to be thrown into the thresher of mean American justice. The US media has had virtually no interest in him. But this is...

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Addressing Global Warming: Water

Over the past decade it has become obvious that the world is warming - Arctic and Antarctic ice is shrinking steadily and glaciers are retreating worldwide. Climate models predict a significant increase in global temperature this century, raising concerns that global climate will reach "tipping...

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Electromagnetic Pulse Theatre: Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Time

"[An electromagnetic pulse attack is] a giant time machine that would move us back in technology a century," opined Congressman Roscoe Bartlett before the House Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology yesterday. It was part of a long meeting convened to discuss...

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The Pathetic War: South Korean and US websites suffer cyberattack

Imagined sigint from the front lines: North Korea: We'll make a handful of your websites load slow! South Korea: Just wait! Once we get our electromagnetic pulse bomb to work at a range of greater than ten yards ... North Korea: Your EMP-bomb building scientists...

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What if North Korea Says No?: Medium-to-Long Term Strategic Options

The premise underlying the question of what do we do if North Korea says no to renewed diplomacy over North Korea's nuclear program is that we are still waiting for an answer. But the North Koreans have already delivered an answer. Particularly following the UNSC...

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What's Driving Pyongyang?

Given North Korea's history of crisis escalation, it should have been apparent that the "Dear Leader"--Kim Jong Il--would not abide the prospect of being ignored by a new American President who has pursued a strategy of continuity, containment, and incrementalism. In fact, North Korean never...

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How Out of Control Entitlement Spending Is Draining the Defense Budget

Unless dramatically reformed, entitlement programs will soon choke out funding for even the most basic and fundamental nation defense capabilities, according a recent report from The Heritage Foundation. The year 1973 saw mandatory government spending (Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare) outpace defense spending for the...

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New Chapter for U.S.-Korea Alliance

by Jack Pritchard, John Tilelli, and Scott Snyder The recent White House summit between Barack Obama and Lee Myung-bak came at a moment when the U.S.-ROK alliance has emerged as a linchpin in the Obama administration's efforts to successfully manage an overcrowded global agenda and...

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Rule Number One: Always Blame China, then Russia

Today, a collection of items having to do with the tradition of blaming China and its mighty but hard-to-see cyberwarriors. As stories on our nation's cybersecurity strategy and the military's plans for a cyberforce unfold, you'll continue to see a lot of this. For example,...

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The U.S. Military is Going Green

Recently the Secretaries of the United States Air Force and Army introduced polices aimed at turning their services green. As these policies are implemented, not only will US military operations and bases develop smaller energy footprints and make better use of renewable energy, the military...

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Iran in Twitter Turmoil

Events in Tehran and Washington are clearly moving faster than White House policy. Iran's Supreme Leader declared the election valid and ordered demonstrations to end. The next day protests continued and violence escalated. Much of the global pushback against the regime appears to be driven...

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United States Global Leadership

Since its inception, the United States has been a special nation, founded on the premise that "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Following...

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Visa Waiver-Vulnerability or Valuable Anti-Terrorist Tool?

One of the hottest topics in Washington these days is the debate over where the next major terrorist strike will come from. One avenue of attack cited on several occasions by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III has concerns regarding the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)....

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Lee-Obama Summit: Solidifying a Joint Approach toward Pyongyang

The upcoming Washington summit meeting between ROK President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barrack Obama provides a golden opportunity for the two allies to send an important message to North Korea, to their other Six-Party Talks interlocutors, and to domestic constituencies in both countries regarding...

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Euna Lee and Laura Ling: Guilty as Charged!

"Guilty as charged!" So said the highest court in the land in the case of Current TV journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling vs. North Korea. The two journalists, who allegedly (and very foolishly or recklessly) wandered across the China-North Korea border on March 17...

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Obama-Lee Myung-bak Summit: New Challenges for the U.S.-ROK Alliance

South Korea's Lee Myung-bak will visit the White House for a summit meeting with Barack Obama on June 16th, only days following the unanimous passage of a UN Security Council resolution condemning North Korea's May 25th nuclear test. Main items on the agenda will include...

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Immigration, Globalization and Sustainability

Immigration remains a significant problem. With some ten million illegal immigrants in the country, it has a major economic impact and troubling security implications. It is difficult to address because there are two basic principles in conflict, well encapsulated by Ruben Navarette's comment of two...

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North Korea's Harsh Verdict

North Korea announced its verdict in the trial of two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, for illegal entry and "hostile acts" on June 8th. The outcome of the trial and the subsequent decisions of the North Korean leadership obviously have weighty implications for...

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Contractors in Combat

Both the president and the Secretary of Defense have argued the Pentagon uses too many contractors--and promised they can save money by cutting down on reliance on the private sector. Recently, Congress passed and the president signed the McCain-Levin Bill which promises to overhaul how...

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North Korea's Test and Six Party Talks

Following its May 25, 2009, nuclear test, has North Korea blown up prospects for diplomacy--especially the six party talks--as a viable diplomatic tool for achieving denuclearization? The Washington Post reports that a tough draft UN Security Council resolution condemning North Korea's nuclear test is being...

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Living with the Outcome: Elections in Lebanon By Aram Nerguizian and Ghassan Schbley

By Aram Nerguizian and Ghassan Schbley Lebanon is scheduled to hold elections Sunday [June 7], and the pro-Western political alliance favored by the United States may lose. If it does, the Obama Administration should not consider the result a triumph for Hezbollah, but a challenge....

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Iran-What Do We Do the Day After?

Iran's nuclear program is back in the news. The BBC reported President Obama's recent statement that, "No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons" and said Iran had the right to peaceful nuclear power." According to the Middle East Media Research...

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FAS Removes Nuke List Doc After News Fit

This morning, Steven Aftergood's Secrecy blog at FAS.ORG removed its copy of a .pdf compiled by the US government, a declaration of nuclear sites to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The action appears to be due to increasing pressure caused by mainstream media coverage of...

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Dealing with North Korea by Ralph A. Cossa

What is North Korea up to? Is it trying to undermine the Six-Party Talks in order to force Washington to deal with Pyongyang directly, as some experts claim? Or, as others maintain with equal certainty, is it sending a signal that it is not interested...

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Reaching Out to Touch North Korea: The Sanctions Debate and China

While the UN Security Council debates the scope and strength of a new resolution condemning North Korea's May 25, 2009 nuclear test, two main questions have come to the fore: what will China do and can sanctions work? The policy debate over the UN Security...

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North Korea' Nuclear Weekend

According to CNN report on May 25, "President Obama castigated the North Korean government Monday for conducting a second nuclear bomb test in defiance of multiple international warnings." Many analysts and experts are not only suprised, they predicted this would be North Korea's next step....

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Second Nuclear Test: North Korea Does What It Says

North Korea did exactly what it said it would do on May 25, 2009, when it conducted a nuclear test as promised in its April 28, 2009, statement in response to UN sanctions imposed on three North Korean firms in accordance with an April 13,...

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North Korean "Never-Never" Land: Prospects for Getting Diplomacy Back on Track

Within hours following a April 13, 2009, UNSC presidential statement condemning North Korea's missile launch, the DPRK foreign ministry responded by stating that "six-party talks have lost the meaning of their existence never to recover" and that the "DPRK will never participate in such six-party...

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Burma: Focus on the Long Term by Ralph A. Cossa

Burma and Aung Sang Suu Kyi are once again in the headlines, for all the wrong reasons. We may never really know why some foolish American, identified as John Yettaw from Missouri, put himself and Daw Suu Kyi in jeopardy by intruding uninvited into the...

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The Long Road to Zero

Canada has no concerns about US nuclear weapons, even though we have a very large arsenal. Japan, against whom we actually used nuclear weapons, also has no concerns about US nuclear weapons, except for the fact that they help to protect Japan against Russia, China,...

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AfPak Issues and Answers

Almost every security and foreign policy analyst in Washington agrees that in order to prevent the increase of extremist threats, there is a need for a comprehensive approach to the Afghanistan-Pakistan region as well as toward the individual countries themselves. The U.S. needs to properly...

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Taiwan's Deteriorating Strategic Position and Cross-Strait Relations

with John Brandon During its first year in office, the Ma Ying-jeou administration has brought greater stability to the cross-strait relationship and has sought to introduce greater predictability to relations between Taipei and Beijing (and by extension to U.S.-Taiwan relations). From April 24 - 26,...

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Global Nuclear Disarmament: Too Much, Too Soon? by Ralph A. Cossa

There is no country on earth more committed to global nuclear disarmament than Japan. Ever since experiencing first hand the horrors of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese government and people have been steadfast in calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons...

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Contradictions in the Obama Administration's Policy-in-Formation Toward North Korea

There are at least four potential contradictions that the Obama administration may face as it attempts to carry out the three themes of reassurance of allies, openness to diplomatic engagement, and the strict punishment of proliferation-related actions that have developed as early characteristics of the...

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North Korea: Is a Containment Policy the Best (Only) Option? by Ralph A. Cossa

Ho-hum! Another United Nations Security Council (UNSC) pronouncement "demanding" that North Korea cease and desist all missile activities and verifiably give up its nuclear weapons program. Another "declaration of war" by the North against anyone who would dare criticize (much less enforce sanctions against) Pyongyang,...

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Responding to Swine Flu; Updates and Implications for Healthcare and Homeland Security

There is no effective border strategy for dealing with this. If someone crossing the border were affected, they could well show up at the border "asymptomatic" or with symptoms virtually indistinguishable from other flus and colds. There is no way to stop this at the...

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Obama and North Korea: First 100 Days

The Obama administration was a political target of North Korea's April 5, 2009, North Korean missile test in addition to the targets of internal political consolidation, exploiting China's DPRK dilemma, and the exploitation of possible divisions within the UN Security Council....

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Is America Smart Enough to Survive?

According to The Alliance for Science & Technology Research in America one of the greatest challenges the United States faces today is creating the qualified work force we will need for tomorrow. As documented by a report by the National Academies that need is nowhere...

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The Hunt for the Unha-2

It's the stuff of Tom Clancy novels, except it is probably really happening. A US submarine is probably searching the Pacific ocean floor for pieces of an ill-fated North Korean missile. The American people will probably never learn about it in our life time. And...

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Needed: An American Vision for East Asia and the U.S.-ROK Alliance

The conventional wisdom among Asia specialists on both sides of the aisle has been that there would be little need for change in a new administration's policy toward Asia. At the same time, there is no question that America's preoccupation with Iraq, Afghanistan, and the...

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STRATEGIC NUCLEAR TARGETS

The United States currently has roughly a thousand strategic launchers with several thousand warheads, a number expected to drop to roughly two thousand under the Moscow Treaty. These strategic nuclear warheads have yields ranging from 100 to 500 kilotons and are the core of the...

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Battling Pirates

After the rescue of the Captain of the Maersk Alabama, the ship's officer told reporters "We would like to implore President Obama to use all of his resources and increase the commitment to ending this Somali pirate scourge," the first officer said Monday at a...

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UN Security Council Response to North Korea's Missile Test: Washington's Policy Debate

North Korea's efforts to exploit divisions among members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in its response to its April 5, 2009, test of a multi-stage rocket has proven to be a slightly harder political target than some in Pyongyang may have anticipated. The...

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Alternatives for Defense Spending

On April 6, 2009 Secretary Robert Gates announced a swath of cuts to defense procurement programs. According to an article in the Financial Times titled Gates takes axe to top weapons projects in US, "Robert Gates, US defence secretary, yesterday unveiled a sweeping overhaul of...

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North Korea's Missile Test: Off-target?

North Korea's launch of a multi-stage rocket has been assessed by international experts as a technical failure, but the test has been at least a partial success in hitting four political targets: North Korea's domestic audience, exploitation of international divisions among members of the six...

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NATO AND THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in terms of conventional military capability, is by far the best resourced and most sophisticated regional or multilateral organization in the world. Its 26 countries - which will become 28 following the Strasbourg-Kehl NATO summit later this week - together...

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What's Next for NATO?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is one of the world's most successful multilateral alliances and a vital component of the global security architecture. On April 3-4, President Obama will attend NATO's 60th anniversary summit in Strasbourg, France, and Kehl, Germany. In a paper titled,...

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Breaking the Stalemate in Afghanistan

After more than seven years of war in Afghanistan, the United States is upping the ante. With an additional seventeen thousand troops slated to begin arriving this spring, President Obama and his military commanders say they will seek to improve security and in turn, clear...

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The Dangers of 'Deglobalization'

From construction laborers to Harvard-educated bankers, foreign workers are being forced to return home as once-booming economies around the world contract. Globally, 24 million to 52 million people could lose their jobs in 2009, according to the International Labor Organization's latest estimates. And populist sentiment...

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Are the US and Russia Playing Nuclear Games

US-Russian disagreements over the proposed deployment of land-based missile defenses in Poland and Czech Republic have renewed the debate over the impact of defenses on arms control. In an article posted on the Centre for Research on Globalization web site, former US intelligence and arms...

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Cybersecurity--Not So Sure

On March 10, a subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on cybersecurity. The report featured testimony from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO identified 12 key areas of improvement identified by a panel of cybersecurity experts (listed in Appendix 1)...

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Homeland Security Grant Dollars Analyzed

Since 9-11, the federal government has distributed tens-of-billions of dollars in homeland security grants to state and local governments. According to the Congressional Research Service, in FY 2009 Congress appropriated $4.36 billions for these grants. According to the Government Accountability Office, the Department of Homeland...

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Catastrophic Threats

Catastrophic threats address events which could kill tens of millions of Americans and destroy the nation. Two hundred people a year are killed by asteroid impacts. Actually, that is only a gross average, and it has not happened yet. But the geological record suggests...

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Tibet's Tense Anniversary

Fifty years after the failed Tibetan revolt against Chinese rule, prospects for resolving the dispute over the Himalayan region remain remote. China treats Tibet as an inalienable part of the country and vilifies the region's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, as a "splittist." The Tibetan...

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A Russian Key

U.S. foreign policy is mired in controversies. Iraq is slowly resolving as chaos spreads to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran and North Korea both pose nuclear challenges but the nation has little leverage and few options. Nuclear nonproliferation is also strained by the India-Pakistan rivalry; by...

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A Costly Exit from Iraq

Measured in blood, the price tag in Iraq is absolute: 4,238 Americans (PDF) have died during America's six-year war. For Iraqis, the toll is far greater. Icasualties.org, which tracks body counts reported by the media, notes nearly 45,000 civilians have been killed since Iraq's Shiite-led...

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After Indictment, Sudan Holds Its Breath

In July 2008, chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the International Criminal Court to indict the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, for abuses committed against the people of the Darfur region. The move set off a firestorm of controversy about whether it would obstruct efforts to...

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The Meaning of Nationalization

For decades now, "nationalization" has been a dirty word in U.S. business circles. The term conjures associations abhorrent to most economists--from dysfunctional resource-rich nations seizing the assets of foreign companies to bloated European government structures suffocating on bureaucracy. A government taking control of private companies,...

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Overhauling Homeland Security

President Barack Obama has been quick to distinguish his wartime policy from that of his predecessor. During his first month in office the new U.S. president ordered troop commitments refocused to Afghanistan; downplayed "war on terror" rhetoric (AP); and sought to reassure Muslims overseas that...

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The Obama Template

After a month of political back-and-forth, President Barack Obama's plans to address the most daunting U.S. economic crisis in 80 years are coming into focus. Speaking to a joint session of Congress on February 24, Obama outlined his strategy to rescue the struggling financial sector while simultaneously...

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Cooperating with China

No one expects the secretary of state to play the leading role in U.S. policy toward the global economic crisis. For Hillary Clinton, on her first extended overseas tour as America's top diplomat, this poses something of a dilemma. The economy ranks second to none...

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Surge At Home

The nation faces a wide variety of external threats. Many of them have the potential to cause some serious damage; some of them even have the potential to destroy the nation. Thankfully, such latter threats as asteroid impacts and comprehensive nuclear strikes have very low...

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NATO in Afghanistan

After seven years of urging coalition countries to beef up troop commitments in Afghanistan, Washington appears to have concluded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) cannot be relied upon to provide the "hard power" needed to counter Taliban gains. As a result, the United States...

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Modified Food's Moment?

More than 40 million people joined the ranks of the undernourished in 2008, increasing the number of very hungry to nearly one billion. Feeding them has become harder in the midst of a global financial crisis, with economic bailouts dominating the agenda of the rich...

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How Green is Thy Stimulus?

The Obama administration hopes money spent to stimulate the economy out of recession can do double duty by advancing its green agenda. Along with congressional Democrats, the administration infused the stimulus bill with initiatives meant to create "green jobs" that President Obama says will include...

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Pakistan's Muddled War

Militancy in Pakistan has been spreading inward from the lawless tribal region along the Afghan border. The Pakistani Taliban has seized large swaths of territory (CSMonitor) in North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Militants have also increasingly mounted attacks in Peshawar, the provincial capital, as well...

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Pakistan's Fickle War

Militancy in Pakistan has been spreading inward from the lawless tribal region along the Afghan border. The Pakistani Taliban has seized large swaths of territory (CSMonitor) in North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Militants have also increasingly mounted attacks in Peshawar, the provincial capital, as well...

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Strategic Myopia

STRATEGY: Planning the optimal application of resources to achieve major objectives [NOTE: comments are welcomed and may be incorporated with reference in future revisions.] The core objective of national strategy is to insure the survival and prosperity of the nation -- "life, liberty and the...

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Europe's Energy Predicament

The Russia-Ukraine energy dispute, which halted natural gas shipments to the rest of Europe in the first weeks of 2009, highlighted multiple dilemmas confronting the European Union as it seeks to carry out ambitious new "green" energy policies. The incident demonstrates the difficulty of coordinating...

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Gloomy Portents for Global Trade

Davos was different this year. Amidst the worst economic crisis in decades, the World Economic Forum's annual mega-summit in the Swiss Alps found itself at a crossroads. The Financial Times' John Gapper says the prototypal "Davos Man"--the international captain of finance whose prominence and significance...

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Searching for an Afghan Strategy

President Barack Obama is expected to send more troops, trainers, and resources to Afghanistan, a mission long overshadowed by the larger, more robust U.S. deployment in Iraq. Yet beyond relatively vague plans to draw down forces in one war and increase them by thirty thousand...

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President Obama and the World

In the view of many analysts, the United States enters 2009 as a power in decline. Its freewheeling financial system, once the envy of the world, is blamed for sparking a global economic crisis rivaled only by the Great Depression. Emerging economies less exposed to...

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A Tale of Two Africas

Within hours of the president of Guinea's death on December 22, the country was taken over by a military junta (AP) and the constitution was abandoned. Ghana held the second round of its presidential polls one week later. Analysts celebrated the lack of electoral violence...

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Climate Policy in the Age of Obama

The global economic decline has tempered hopes of swift international action on climate change, yet many climate advocates do expect the Obama administration to help boost long-stalled international climate talks (PDF). The announcement of the president-elect's energy and environment team (WSJ) last month reinforced this...

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Getting Smart on Intelligence Reform

After eight years of controversy, some Democratic lawmakers and legal scholars seek a thorough investigation of the Bush administration's approach to intelligence gathering. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, tells Newsweek pressure for an inquiry into interrogation practices is...

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Tech-Savvy Terror

Al-Qaeda militants issue press releases and video pleas to online advocates of jihad. In Mumbai, India, attackers affiliated with Lashkar e-Taiba navigated their November 2008 terror spree using GPS-guided boats, BlackBerrys, and Google Earth imagery. And as Israel's soldiers advanced on Gaza in pursuit of...

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The Iranian Veto on Mideast Peace

In the political calculus driving Israel's war with Hamas in Gaza, Iranian ambition has emerged as a critical--if not always clearly defined--variable. In Washington, President Bush has supported Israel's strike as necessary self-defense, though some analysts believe an Israeli defeat by Iran-supported Hamas would embolden...

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Healing U.S. Healthcare

With the onset of the global economic crisis, some experts feared health reform would be knocked off the incoming administration's agenda, but instead interest has intensified. "Many people say the government cannot afford a big investment in health care," writes Jonathan Gruber, an economics professor...

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Beyond Gaza

After two weeks of fighting, the United States has signaled support for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. Though Washington did not vote in favor of a January 8 UN Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire, its abstention from the vote--rather than a veto--allowed...

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Obama's Pakistan Challenge

Pakistan contains everything "that gives you an international migraine," commented former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright at a recent CFR meeting. Albright echoes popular sentiment in Washington: With its nuclear weapons, terrorism, poverty, corruption, faltering economy, weak government, and critical geostrategic location, Pakistan...

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Change Converging on Cuba?

U.S. policy toward Cuba has changed only at the margins during the last ten administrations to occupy the White House, but the Communist Caribbean island continues to command Washington's attention. Now Cuba watchers are contemplating whether President-elect Barack Obama's mantra of "change" might translate to...

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Obama's North Korea Dilemma

Foremost among the foreign policy challenges facing the next U.S. administration will be a nuclear North Korea under a Communist regime with a record of proliferation to states unfriendly to Washington. President-elect Barack Obama's two predecessors in the White House have pursued a multilateral engagement...

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Imagining Obama's Africa Policy

Shortly after Barack Obama's election, South Africa's Mail & Guardian newspaper ran a special issue depicting the president-elect as a superhero (Atlantic). But the newspaper's editorial page took a more measured tone, warning against viewing him as Africa's messiah. "The only lesson we can learn...

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Talking to Tehran

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama made talking to Tehran a feature of his foreign policy. Touting "tough, direct presidential diplomacy" to keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands, Obama vowed during his campaign to engage "without preconditions." But the Iranian response since election day...

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The Rebirth of Industrial Policy

President Bush's decision to offer federal aid to troubled Detroit automakers (FT) has reopened an old debate about the wisdom or even the ability of the government to choose winners and losers in the American economy. Opposition in the U.S. Senate that killed a bill...

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Democracy Troubles in Southeast Asia

Thailand's fledgling democracy was dealt another blow last week when the country's constitutional court ordered the ruling party disbanded (BBC) and ousted Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat for election fraud. The court ruling came in the wake of anti-government protests that paralyzed the capital, Bangkok, and...

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Beginning of Iraq Endgame

When Secretary of Defense Robert Gates accepted President-elect Barack Obama's invitation to stay on as Pentagon chief, the lifelong Republican pointed to a pair of freshly inked security accords with Iraq as influencing his decision. The once-ardent opponent of a firm departure date from Iraq...

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A Pakistan Connection?

With the latest accusations from India that the militants who attacked its financial capital, Mumbai, on November 26 belonged to a Pakistani militant group, tensions between South Asia's nuclear-armed neighbors are mounting yet again. Indian security officials say one of the captured attackers revealed under...

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Mexico's Spreading Drug Violence

Mexico's economy is slowing--remittances from abroad are down, as is U.S. demand for Mexican exports. But one sector is doing a brisk business--the funeral industry near the U.S. border (Reuters). Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon began his offensive against drug cartels and organized criminals in...

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The Road Ahead in Afghanistan

As the war in Iraq appears to wind down, U.S. strategists are zeroing in on the "good war" (Stratfor), as the seven-year struggle for Afghanistan has been called. President-elect Barack Obama campaigned on plans to end the war in Iraq and bring U.S. more resources...

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Relaunching Capitalism

This weekend's gathering in Washington of the G-20 industrial and developing economies, billed by some as the second coming of the historic Bretton Woods conference, seems likely to produce more modest ends. Bretton Woods came after years of preparation and five years of world war;...

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The Oil Investment Dilemma

A drop of over 50 percent in oil prices from their summer high of $147 per barrel seemed like good news to many beleaguered consumers. Instead, experts are signaling alarm. "Prices are falling, but they're falling for the wrong reasons: because of reduced demand and...

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Eastern Congo on the Brink

Six months ago, the Democratic Republic of Congo signed a $9 billion agreement with China to provide Beijing with copper and cobalt in exchange for thousands of miles of roads and railways (BBC). Optimists saw the deal as a sign that the Congolese government--voted to...

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After the Troops

During the long presidential campaign that ended with a victory for Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) on November 4, few issues defined the candidates as much as the war in Iraq. President-elect Obama vowed to end the war and redeploy troops within sixteen months of taking...

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Emerging Markets, Converging Fears

As the current financial storm spread from a U.S. housing market problem to a credit crisis to a full-blown economic hurricane, its impact on emerging markets was initially confined to share prices. Equity indices in the so-called BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), which...

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Issue Guide: U.S. Election and International Issues

The cascading financial crisis dominated the final months of the U.S. presidential campaign but a range of national security and other foreign policy matters are also crowding the inbox of the next president. The challenges range from settling the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to...

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Issue Guide: Financial Policy

The U.S. financial crisis has rocked nearly every facet of the country's financial policy, prompting experts to assess potential short- and long-term consequences. The following is a list of CFR.org's best resources for understanding U.S. and global financial trends and institutions.U.S. Financial Infrastructure:Backgrounder: The U.S....

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Issue Guide: Pakistan and U.S. Policy

Many foreign policy experts place Pakistan at the top of the most serious foreign policy issues facing the next U.S. president. A politically turbulent country with nuclear arms, Pakistan has an increasingly restive tribal region believed to host al-Qaeda's top leaders and Taliban forces that...

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Climate Policy Prospects Follow Markets South

Those who champion policies to limit greenhouse gas emissions are accustomed to fighting an uphill battle, particularly on the associated economic costs. But the global financial crisis steepens the grade. As governments and industry seek ways to cut costs, some worry that the first thing...

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Currency Conundrums

The 2008 financial crisis has prompted many analysts to speculate about the decline of major developed economies like the United States and Japan as hubs for global capital. Currency flows, however, tell a different story. As markets worldwide stumbled, foreign governments have poured money into...

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With Oil Down, Will Iran Follow?

The recent tumble in global economic growth has fed an equally precipitous fall in energy prices, a trend welcomed by consumers across the world but deeply worrying to many energy exporting nations. Analysts predict most members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, particularly...

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Capitalism in Crisis

As this year's financial woes spread beyond Wall Street to engulf much of the world's economy, the contours of debate over the crisis have also broadened. First narrowly defined around loans and bailouts, the debate has morphed into a wholesale reconsideration of the capitalist model...

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