February 26, 2010
Mike McConnell, former NSA Director and Director of National Intelligence, believes we are losing the Cyber-war on Terrorism, according to an article that will appear in the Washington Post this Sunda (Feb 28). "The United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing. It's that simple. As the most wired nation on Earth, we offer the most targets of significance, yet our cyber-defenses are woefully lacking," McConnell Says in his article.
"The problem is not one of resources; even in our current fiscal straits, we can afford to upgrade our defenses. The problem is that we lack a cohesive strategy to meet this challenge," he continues.
"The stakes are enormous. To the extent that the sprawling U.S. economy inhabits a common physical space, it is in our communications networks. If an enemy disrupted our financial and accounting transactions, our equities and bond markets or our retail commerce -- or created confusion about the legitimacy of those transactions -- chaos would result. Our power grids, air and ground transportation, telecommunications, and water-filtration systems are in jeopardy as well. " Read the entire story here.
This story is a must read for those of you who really want to understand the various facets of the overall problem.
Yemen comes to the forefront
Another pressing concern of the world powers is the growing ascendency of the al-Qaeda insurgency in Yemen, reported the LA Times earlier this month. Their headline said, "The group, Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, is the 'foremost concern' of U.S. intelligence officials, who cite the attempted Christmas Day jetliner bombing and the attack at Ft. Hood." It is this group that seems to have the newest group of tentacles that are menacing several countries without apparent restraint. The Yemeni Government is doing just enough to harass them to keep the US and others off their back, but not enough to really slow down or eliminate the threat.
"Al Qaeda's offshoot in Yemen has emerged as the "foremost concern" for U.S. spy agencies since the group was tied to two attacks in the United States last year, according to a sweeping assessment of the global terrorism threat issued Tuesday by the nation's top intelligence officer.
Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair told a Senate panel that American spy agencies have intensified surveillance of the Al Qaeda affiliate's operations amid concern that the group -- once considered a regional menace -- is focused on the "recruitment of Westerners or other individuals with access to the U.S. homeland."
Read the entire story here.
Several perspectiuves are emerging from current operations in Afghanistan--aside from the military actions.
An Australian view was provided by Julie Bishop, Deputy Opposition Leader of the Australian Parliament in the Sydney Daily herald on February 24th, in which she said, " The recent collapse of the Dutch Government over its commitment to the NATO-led forces in Afghanistan is an example of the inevitable tension that arises in Western democracies between a government’s long-term commitment to a military deployment, public opinion and the electoral cycle.
Public pressure inevitably increases if there are ongoing casualties and a perceived slow rate of progress in not only winning a war but in the requisite reconstruction efforts and nation-building during and after a conflict. The Dutch Prime Minister’s decision to extend the deployment of Dutch troops in Afghanistan beyond the planned withdrawal date in September, causing the Labor Party to pull out of the ruling coalition and sending the nation to the polls in three months, is the latest illustration of this tension."
She continued, "This will impact on Australia as our troops are stationed in Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan, where the Dutch have played a lead role since 2006, and have established a positive presence and image with the Afghani people.
At a time when the United States is increasing its offensive in Afghanistan and urging other nations to follow, the challenge for NATO is to ensure the situation in the Netherlands does not have a ripple effect among other Western nations contributing to the international deployment." Read the entire story here.
In an interview with the international Analyst Network, Dr. Athanasio Drougos discusses the financial and other impacts of global terrorism and says, "The security of the western interests is directly challenged by the deep and strident anti-western policies and tactics of certain countries. For instance, Iran-Syria-Cuba-Sudan, and I would add Burma-North Korea, and Venezuela. They are state-sponsors of terrorism. They are rogue regimes, involved in a wide variety of terrorist and other criminal activities. "
He continues, " The state-sponsorship means that fully and ruthlessly supports terrorist groups as proxies to advance their anti-western interests. They support transnational networks to wage asymmetric-hybrid operations against states."
"On the other hand, those trends require a broader and joint counterterrorism strategy and response, including preemptive/preventive measures against the state sponsors of political violence. The western world should upgrade even more the level of intelligence-sharing and studying in depth the “asymmetrical behavior” of the current enemies." Read the interview here.
The so-called "War on Terrorism" is not a simple prospect for resolution. Rather, there are many tentacles, each of which when cut simply grows anew somewhere else. Our challenge is to kill the body in such a way that it does not survive. That may not be accomplished completely through military means as seems to be the case today.