Last week’s announcement by Pentagon officials that cyberattacks could be classified as acts of war caused concern among those who worry that the United States might act outside international law if it retaliates to such attacks with military force. Others assert the move amounts to little more than a money grab by budget-savvy advocates looking to foment fear and exploit public ignorance. But many cybersecurity experts say the policy statement is merely the latest step in a strategy that President Barack Obama began developing two years ago. And, they say, it might act as a deterrent to would-be U.S. enemies. […]

Defense budget advocacy can be a dry business. While debating the technical aspects of some weapon or another is boring enough to a lay audience, arguing the finer points of industrial policy can put all but the most dedicated bureaucrats — and lobbyists — to sleep. Accordingly, defense policy advocates often rely on scare stories designed to shock and awe, winning an audience’s attention and credulity with dramatic claims of horrific outcomes should the wrong path be taken. If the story succeeds in creating the desired effect, no one realizes until too late that it was all a sham. Perhaps […]

According to a coordinated series of leaks to the media last week, the Pentagon is in the process of finalizing its first formal cybersecurity strategy. Several unnamed Defense Department officials have confirmed that the 30-page classified document will be completed later this month, with the Pentagon expected to release a declassified 12-page version as well. The leaking, which was deliberate, may be a trial balloon to gauge domestic and international response to the strategy’s tenets. That way the text could subsequently be revised, especially when it undergoes further White House review to ensure it harmonizes with the administration’s overall cybersecurity […]

Dempsey Must Bridge Pentagon Divisions Over Budget Cuts

The appointment of U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff inspired some debate this week over why President Barack Obama passed over U.S. Marine Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright — a previous front-runner for the post. But David Johnson, executive director of the Center for Advanced Defense Studies in Washington, says the decision to go with Dempsey was something of a no-brainer, since Dempsey stands a significantly better chance of reconciling different factions within the Pentagon over the issue of looming budget cuts. “He fits in very well both with the need to harmonize […]

LIMA, Peru — As Peruvians return to the polls this Sunday for a second round of voting in an extremely tight presidential race, the outcome will likely be determined by voters’ fear and mistrust of the losing candidate rather than by enthusiasm for the winner and his or her platform. The latest polls show a technical tie between conservative Congresswoman Keiko Fujimori, 36, and leftist retired military officer Ollanta Humala, 48, with Fujimori ahead by less than the margin of error in most recent polls. Both candidates have striven to appeal to moderate voters while making populist campaign promises, but […]

When Brazil tried to join the ranks of the world’s diplomatic heavyweights, it did so loudly. In an attempt last year to convince the U.N. Security Council not to impose a third round of sanctions on Iran for refusing to freeze its uranium enrichment program, Brazil teamed up with Turkey to negotiate a nuclear fuel swap deal with Tehran. The maneuver failed: The council, under pressure from the U.S., U.K. and France, disregarded the agreement and went ahead with sanctions. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that when Dilma Rousseff took over as president of Brazil in January, she distanced […]

In March, the Stimson Center released a report (.pdf) by Gordon Adams and Rebecca Williams reviewing U.S. security assistance programs. Titled “A New Way Forward,” the report argued that the United States should restructure its security assistance programs away from “security,” as defined in Cold War terms, and toward “governance,” which more accurately reflects U.S. interests in the post-War on Terror world. The difference is hardly trivial. “Security” assistance focuses on improving the tactical and operational capabilities of fielded armed forces, whether against domestic or international foes, while “governance” assistance aims to “strengthen state capacity in failing, fragile, collapsing and […]

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