Archive for December, 2018

Somalian Businesses Face Militant Taxation

In Somalia, militants have begun taxing local businesses to raise funds. It is not just one group doing this, almost all terrorist groups have begun taxing businesses. Businesses that fail to pay these fees are often destroyed or the owners killed. Militants are making the fees so high that the businesses effected are no longer profitable.

There is honestly little to be done about this practice unless Somalia is willing to give up this territory and sponsor people moving from the regions currently occupied by militant groups. It is unlikely a program like this would have many people utilize it due to people’s liability to move or fear of terrorist retribution. Another potential solution would be to simply retake the affected region, but with African Union troops being removed instead of increased, it seems all but impossible to accomplish this task.

Privacy Please

A coalition of Democratic senators are calling for tougher privacy laws and steep fines and penalties for companies that fail to protect their customers’ data from data breaches in the wake of Marriott’s admission that hackers gained access to personal information of nearly 500 million customers. These senators have said the penalties should apply to companies both large and small, and that Congress must set limits on how much customer data U.S. companies are allowed to store for a period of time. One senator went so far as to proclaim that senior executives who blatantly ignore customer data privacy should face jail time.

This call for greater consumer privacy is reminiscent of German data laws, which are very strict and all for the protection of the consumer. Indeed if such a law is passed in the U.S., it would set a strong precedent for future situations like this.  If such stiff penalties and jail time existed, it would certainly encourage the greater protection of consumer privacy and data by companies and corporations. This is, after all, one of the bigger threats of our time.




Ten years after Mumbai terror attacks, US offers $5M rewards for info leading to attackers

On Sunday, the U.S. offered up to a $5 million reward for information about the attackers who unleashed terror in one of India’s largest cities nearly 10 years ago. The attack killed one-hundred-sixty-six people, including six Americans. Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, announced the reward in a statement, calling for justice for the families of the victims. The reward, which was offered by the State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program, is extended to those with information leading to the arrest or conviction of anyone involved in the 2008 attacks. In 2008, India blamed the attack on the Pakistani militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba. This created tension between the two countries. Today, Pompeo has stated that the United States stands with the friends and family of those who were lost in the attacks back in 2008. This rewards could lead to terrorist potentially being caught, and out of the international system. This would eliminate them as a threat to the entire international community, and bring justice to those who lost loved ones in the attack.



GOP Senators Against Trump’s Plans to Cut Foreign Aid

Over the past few months, President Trump has threatened to drastically reduce foreign aid funding and spending because he believes there are certain countries the U.S. does not need to be involved with, or that the relationships with some countries are not mutually beneficial. A lot of the senators believe that Trump’s plans to defund the State Department’s budget for foreign aid will divide the U.S. government and create an even more sour relationship between the White House and the Senate. In addition to this, many senators fear that the president’s plan to defund the foreign aid budget is a stepping stone, or a “gateway” into him reducing funding for other departments such as defense or healthcare.

As I have discussed in other posts on this blog, Trump’s plan to reduce funding will strain relations with several countries and international organizations, which will make it harder for the U.S. to interact and negotiate with these nations in the future. However, now his plans to cut the foreign aid budget are creating difficulties within our own government, which makes passing any bills or negotiating even more difficult, especially if Trump does intend to move forward with this plan.

You Can’t Stop Progress-Mackenzie

It is inevitable that the United States government will attempt to regulate artificial intelligence, in terms of national security issues the problem stems from their perspective that technology such as that may be used for military means by foreign governments.  The trump administration’s main goal is to prevent states such as China from acquiring this sort of technology. However, the attempt to regulate artificial intelligence may infringe upon the rights of businesses and therefore I believe that any sort of strict regulation attempts will fail.  The United States needs the tech community to work in conjunction with it so that it may better develop its own uses of the artificial technology, however, imposing strict regulations will hinder that.

Taliban attack in Kabul killed 6, including British national

A Taliban attack that targeted Kabul offices of a British security company killed five of its staffers, including a British national, the company says. Afghan authorities also say that Thursdays attack killed a sixth person. Charlie Burbridge, the managing director of G4S Risk Management Group, said that thirty-two other employees of the company were also wounded in the attack. The attack started with a suicide bomber who rammed his explosive-packed truck into the gate of the company’s compound on Wednesday morning, followed by an hours-long gun battle with armed insurgents who stormed the compound. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, and claimed that it was in retaliation for a U.S. airstrike in the southern Helmand province that had taken place hours earlier that killed thirty people, many of whom were civilians. This could cause problems for the U.S. These recent attacks on our allies could result in increased attacks on other allies of the U.S. and an increase in fighting throughout Afghanistan.




NATO looks to not escalate crisis

In an interesting turn of events, NATO refused to pledge more support to Ukraine despite the recent events dealing with the Ukrainian ships and sailors being seized by Russia.  This seems to be due to the fact that the alliance seems to be extremely hesitant to escalate the situation. Ukraine was hoping for NATO to deploy ships into the Sea of Avov in order to protect Ukrainian rights to navigate but this will not be happening.

This may cause some issues in the case of alliances between Ukraine and NATO but considering that Ukraine is extremely reliant on NATO for its security at the moment, that should be fine. However this does not take any real action against Russia and considering Russia’s history, they could take it as incentive to take further action. On the other hand, not escalating the conflict into a full blown war is always a positive thing and it should be recognized.

Iran Testing Ballistic Missiles. Is This a Big Deal?

Given the current political, foreign relations, and security environments, testing missiles at this juncture is not the way to ensure your states survival. Despite the testing not being in violation of the JCPOA, Iran is in the middle of negotiations with the other members of the JCPOA and all parties that are still involved are trying to keep the deal alive. This testing should have been put on hold for the time being in order to prevent the other members from getting nervous about the deals longevity, sincerity, and effectiveness. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immediately called the testing “a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolution that is attached to the JCPOA.” Officials in the Goi and Iranian military have all but dismissed the validity of these accusations claiming that the United States violated the agreement first by pulling out of the deal and renewing the sanctions the JCPOA eliminated.

Time will tell if this disagreement will end with a new deal, continuing sanctions, or actions less optimal than the latter.


Pay Back For Beheaded Ranger Turned Aid Worker and Child Soldier Terrorist Attacks In Russia – ISIS Abroad

This weeks update on ISIS, comes with two major stories.

The US recently launched a drone strike that killed a Senior ISIS member who took responsibility for killing a prior US Army Ranger. The rangers name was Peter Kassig, he was a retired soldier who went to work for US-AID. He was captured in 2013 and a propoganda video was released of his beheading in 2014. This shows that the US and the international coalition against ISIS will continue to hunt down those who they know to be members of the organization. The only issue is the rate at which ISIS is recruiting is unknown. As history has shown, toppling leaders of these organizations doesn’t really do much good, instead it tends to continually destabilize the region in which they are located.

The second news segment is a report on a video showing a Russian child soldier claiming his love and devotion to ISIS. This video was linked to a terrorist attack that involved this child and his 17 year old brother. The most interesting part of this attack and video are that they originate from Russia. ISIS has soldiers in every single country by now. No country is safe from the infectious mindset they preach. This complicates the war to another degree. How do we fight a belief?


The Arctic Heats up (some more)

Russia has released plans to restrict the passage of foreign warships in the Arctic Ocean next year. Russia has worked hurriedly to reassert its military presence in the Arctic frontier and secure access to a strategic northern shipping corridor — the Northern Sea Route — between Asia and Europe. The corridor takes about two weeks less to traverse than the Suez Canal. On November 28, Defense Ministry spokesman Mikhail Mizintsev said that Russia’s ministries were working on amending legislation that would require foreign warships to notify Russia before being able to pass through the Arctic.

Russian legislation that requires Russian permission to pass through the Arctic should be viewed as a direct threat to US security and national interests. Due to rapid climate change, passages through the Arctic that would decrease travel time have opened up. In response, Russia is fortifying the Arctic, pouring in money and missiles, building a new generation of nuclear icebreakers and opening new bases in the biggest Arctic military push since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Considering my paper is on US-Russian Militarization in the Arctic, I think this leads to an interesting reevaluation of US goals in the region. If Russia continues to assert its dominance in the region, the US cannot peacefully sit back and watch.


-Christiana Meyers

Return top