The U.N Security Council-Outdated (Mackenzie)

Throughout the article I read it discussed how outdated the United Nations Security Council is.  There is no adjustment for current technologies in terms of unmanned drones (which have the possibility to hit targets not intended, or become hacked, and do not have the human judgement to not hit something like a school full of elementary school children just to get at a specific target).  What are the penalties for this technology misused?  What is the standard?  I do however critique this article and not providing more insight into how technology is becoming more and more of an unchecked security threat.  The United States needs to update its own ability to combat cyber-terrorism and the United Nations needs to set a precedent.

Ex – Al Shabaab leader denied public office

In Somalia, an ex leader of the terrorist militant group Al-Shabaab announced his bid for the Somalian presidency. The man is Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur was a deputy commander of Al-Shabaab in the southern region of Somalia. The bid was rejected by the Somalian minister of the Interior. When he surrendered to the Somalian government Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur had many restrictions still placed upon him by several international bodies and the government of Somalia limiting his finances and freedoms.

The Somalian government made the correct decision in rejecting the presidential bid. It would be poor policy both domestically and internationally if the country allowed former terrorists to run for public office. Allowing such a thing to occur could have consequences such as countries limiting their aid to the country as well as withdrawing military assistance from the region. Limitations should still be placed upon former terrorists even when granting amnesty.


ISIS “Eliminated” in Syria…

As I mentioned in my presentation, the Islamic State has been nearly defeated in Syria. These are the remnants of the ISIS holdings in northern Iraq and western Syria. The group has been fighting the international coalition on several fronts, with several countries doing their part. Russia has been backing Assad’s battle against ISIS to regain his territory and power. The United States has led what is known as Operation Inherent Resolve as the leader in the global coalition to eliminate ISIS.

This should mark what I predict to be the first step in truly eliminating ISIS. While the land will be returned to the rightful owners and the rebuilding can start, there will still be fighters in hiding or who have fled. This large victory which has marked one of the first international movements to “eliminate” a terrorist organization is actually a small stepping stone in the path of true victory. ISIS’s mindset and ability to spread throughout the world will make this a global conflict. The fleeing fighters will continue to press for their belief and this will cause the development of smaller organizations around the world. We have already seen this with the Philippine example in Marawi. This defeating of ISIS marks the end of their land holdings in the middle east but the beginning of their global expansion.


Infiltration- Mackenzie

This article I read briefly discusses how the United States needs to invest more into Artificial intelligence development to combat security threats and economical slowdowns.  The current Artificial Intelligence available or utilized by the United States is lacking the author argues in the article.  The main issue is privacy and bias concerns associated with Artificial Intelligence which the author says need to be addressed and not feared.  My review of this article is that while I am in agreement, the article fails to really go into depth about security issues associated with artificial intelligence.  The Chinese military is currently attempting to find ways to use the technology as a means to infiltrate other country’s digital infrastructure.  That is a dangerous game to play when attempting to protect our country’s own out of date digital infrastructure.  While ethics are important, the United States needs to keep in mind that not all nations are not concerned with that and particularly our adversaries are less focused if at all on ethics and more about getting the job done.  While we need to explore the ethics we also need to be prepared.

Heavy Arms Removal or Heavy-Handed Intervention?

The National Liberation Front, one of the rebel factions in Syria, has stated that it will begin removing heavy weapons from the DMZ as arranged by Russia and Turkey. According to the deal, all rebel heavy arms must be withdrawn by Wednesday, October 10, and all radical fighters must be out by October 15.

Part of the concern with this arrangement is that it has not included the Assad regime nor the rebel factions. Turkey is determined to stay in Syria until general elections are held. So far, there has been no real talk of an election nor movement to reconcile the two sides. Rather, Russia and Turkey have taken the role of negotiators and peace enforcers. Anything that has been accomplished politically, has been because of Russia and Turkey’s direct intervention. A sudden withdrawal of either of these parties could lead to the collapse of the DMZ and possibly the future negotiation of a peace process.

Who determines “heavy arms” and “radical fighters” will also play a part in whether a the NLF and other rebel groups are abiding by the agreement or not. Bad communication or unclear standards risk the breakdown of this negotiation and re-engagement in military conflict.


Anna K.


Settling the Valley: China’s Investment in American Tech Startups

In the past few years Chinese businesses (many with ties to the government) have begun investing tremendous amounts of capital into Silicon Valley startups, especially those working on projects focused around artificial intelligence. This has worried some, as that sort of technology can be adapted to advance weapon systems as it could be used for civilian use. In the past, the US Department of Defense has invested in these startups, and still does, but the process has become increasingly slow and cumbersome which has allowed Chinese firms to swoop in well before the DoD has even had a chance to make proper evaluations.

It is understandable why Chinese firms are investing in the industry, but the US is right to be concerned. Beyond just the implications of China having access to AI technology before the US, China has also been known to steal technology and other patented property to give themselves an edge economically or militarily. Though hampering Chinese firms ability to invest in the US would certainly be an escalation, in the current trade war between the two countries this might be the time to do it.


-Henry Tucker

Energy Transition Fast or Slow?

In the article “Must the Energy Transition Be Slow? Not Necessarily” by Nikos Tsafos he argues that given the need to cut CO2 production worldwide due to climate change that countries will have to start changing the forms of energy they consume, and that change doesn’t need to be slow. He provides multiple examples of various nations changing their primary sources of energy from coal and oil into things like nuclear and hydro and doing so in a period of only a few years. Furthermore, he states that this done without causing harm to the living conditions to the countries that attempt the change.

Tsafos’ argument is compelling but a but flawed. He seems to be rather vague in many of his descriptions and doesn’t acknowledge certain variables that would help is an argument. He states that these energy transitions do not change living conditions in the countries that do it, but what are these living conditions, and by whose standard are they being judged? If the United States were to partake in energy transition would its living conditions be more susceptible to change than smaller countries in Europe or Africa? Also, even though many countries have started to use more alternative forms of energy, most of them still rely rather heavily on fossil fuels primarily because they offer more or equal amounts of energy for cheaper. Could the push towards energy transition be more harmful in the long run for the countries that try it, and does the structural makeup and size of the country in question matter?

If Tsafos is correct in his observations then the result of the shift in energy could drastically affect international relations between states around the world. The United States imports 33% of its oil from OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) countries not in North America. Without the need for oil US relations with nations like Saudi Arabia could diminish and change the makeup of the world stage especially in the middle east.

Read more:

–John Reinboldt, 10/8/2018

Fleeing persecution, war, violence… and climate change

Climate change is inciting environmental disasters around the globe and uprooting millions of people a year. Increasingly extreme weather patterns have destroyed food and water supplies, left communities destitute, strained national and international aid resources, and fomented political instability in fragile societies in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America.

The Trump administration has drastically cut the number of vetted refugees fleeing wars and persecution that it will accept into the U.S. Last week, it moved to cap the total next year at 30,000, the lowest since the refugee program was created in 1980. The plight of those forced from their homes by the changing environment has been overshadowed by the estimated 65 million refugees now surging around the globe, the most in decades. Unlike them, people displaced by environmental changes are not recognized as refugees under international law.

Increasing refugee flows from a result of climate change is increasingly becoming a security concern. An influx in refugees can being social and political instability or chaos to an area that isn’t able to house such refugees. In the developing world, so-called climate refugees are often swept into the ranks of economic migrants by unwelcoming, overtaxed governments. While the U.S. may not be experiencing a climate refugee crisis, the United States still has experience in dealing with misplaced citizens as a result of natural disasters. Even in the United States, where families displaced by disasters are not considered refugees, thousands of people have lost homes to wildfires on the West Coast and flooding on the East Coast, all apparently exacerbated by climate change. For these reasons, the Trump Administration would do well to pay attention to refugees as a result of climate change.

-Christiana Meyers

No Bad Passwords Here

Starting in 2020, passwords such as “admin” and “password” will be illegal for electronics firms to use in California. The law regarding this change, The Information Privacy: Connected Devices bill, demands that electronic devices be given a unique password when made. The new law also allows customers who suffer harm to sue for damages when companies ignore the law. While praised for being a “step forward”, the law has additionally been criticized as a “massive missed opportunity” regarding devices that cannot be updated, considered to be a larger problem than poor passwords.

This is a good step forwards for cybersecurity, as poor passwords have allowed for massive cyberattacks to take place in the past, and even at this very moment. A current attack by a piece of malware known as VPNFilter is targeting home routers and is likely to have infected more than 500,000 devices.



Does International Pressure on Tehran Help Minority Groups in Iran?

The Iranian government is targeting minority groups inside the boarders of Iraq. The minority groups that have been targeted most frequently are the Kurdish separatists (PDKI) in the northwest region of Iran and into the borders of Iraq with missiles. Tehran gave the Iraqi government a strict ultimatum by saying it would not stand for the boarder being used for terrorist activity. This all comes to pass as Iran is seeing a growing number of demonstrations because of economic issues, partly to do with tightening sanctions led by the U.S., The Trump Administration’s recent pullout of the Iran Nuclear Deal, and their stern position on the current Iranian regime. This is welcomed by the PDKI and other opposition groups. These opposition groups see the growing number of enemies that the Iranian government has acquired by its antagonistic behavior both in Syria and in other neighboring countries as an opportunity to further their cause. Tehran is also nervous that the United States and other allied countries will attempt to create a further divide with the roughly 30 percent of Iranians that make up the ethnic minorities in order to undermine the Iranian regime.

Brenden Villarreal

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