Sunday, July 7. 2013
The United States has built huge internet surveillance infrastructures, but failed to implement its own 9/11 law about maritime cargo security.
The risks of an attack at a US port or the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction (or their components) in shipping containers are big. Compared to the importance of scanning more cargo containers, the benefits of scanning emails appear quite small. What is needed is a serious debate about the right priorities for counter-terrorism and cost/benefit analysis of current policies.
While US and other Western governments claim that internet surveillance has prevented several terrorist attacks, it could also be argued that internet surveillance catches only some of the stupid terrorists, who can only pull off relatively minor attacks. (But not all of them, e.g. not the Boston bombers.)
Smart terrorists like Osama bin Laden, who have the brains and resources to kill tens of thousands of people, do not communicate over the internet. (Or they use very serious encryption, which the NSA computers won’t break in time.) They might plan sophisticated operations for American, French, Dutch or German harbors.
Continue reading "Scanning Cargo Containers is More Important than Scanning Emails"
Saturday, December 29. 2012
Posted by Joerg Wolf in European Issues on Saturday, December 29. 2012
Not just countries, but big companies or even a very rich individual could get a nuclear weapon in the next few years. NATO's Michael Rühle writes in IP Journal about the nuclear smuggling network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb:
Scary eh? Yes, the Non-Proliferation Treaty is so 20th century. We probably need a Bond movie or new TV show by the creators of 24/Homeland to raise some awareness and reform intelligence services. Many European countries still don't have intelligence services with operational divisions.
Continue reading "Scary Scenario, but Good for TV: Privatization of Nuclear Proliferation"
Thursday, March 8. 2012
Posted by Joerg Wolf in Transatlantic Relations on Thursday, March 8. 2012
The removal of US nukes from German soil is an official German government goal. Westerwelle is also keen on changing NATO's nuclear policy. Both goals met resistance from our allies, but the government made decisions that support such a development anyway.
Brookings on the future of the US nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey:
Continue reading "US Nukes in Europe"
Tuesday, January 11. 2011
Posted by Joerg Wolf in US Foreign Policy on Tuesday, January 11. 2011
Secretary Clinton said on Monday that Iran's ability to produce a nuclear weapon has been delayed by sanctions.
The timing of this statement is a bit awkward and insensitive considering the plane crash in Iran the day before, which resulted in the death of at least 77 people. After all, "Aircraft accidents are not uncommon in Iran, where international sanctions have prevented the country from buying new aircraft parts from the West" (FP).
Anyway, this is good news from Israel via the NY Times:
Thursday, November 13. 2008
Posted by Kyle Atwell in US Foreign Policy on Thursday, November 13. 2008
A week after declaring his intentions to position Iskander tactical missiles in Kaliningrad region in response to US missile defense plans for Europe, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev lays out his terms (Reuters):
But we are ready to abandon this decision to deploy the missiles in Kaliningrad if the new American administration, after analyzing the real usefulness of a system to respond to 'rogue states', decides to abandon its anti-missile system.Obama can expect pull in the other direction by the US Missile Defense Agency, whose outgoing Director Lt. Gen. Trey Obering argues missile defense technology may be farther along than the President-Elect believes (CNNPolitics.com):
Our testing has shown not only can we hit a bullet with a bullet, we can hit a spot on the bullet with a bullet. The technology has caught up. What we have discovered is, a lot of those folks that have not been in this administration seem to be dated in terms of the program. They are kind of calibrated back in the 2000 timeframe.Jeff Lindemyer links to two articles that offer a view of what Obama’s stance on missile defense was during the campaign at Nukes of Hazard.
See also from Atlantic Review:
* Is Russia a Superpower? Cold War II?
* United States and Poland Agree on Missile Defense Deal
* Georgia Conflict Gives Boost to European Missile Defense Talks
Friday, August 15. 2008
From the New York Times:
The United States and Poland reached a long-stalled deal on Thursday to place an American missile defense base on Polish territory, in the strongest reaction so far to Russia’s military operation in Georgia.I wonder how far Russia-West relations will spiral? We may continue to see a tit-for-tat exchange that has real consequences on the institutions and defense postures that govern these delicate relations. From EU Observer:
The US missile deal had an instant impact on already fragile Polish-Russian relations, with Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, cancelling a scheduled trip to Warsaw in September as soon as media reported the initialling ceremony would take place.See also from Atlantic Review:
* Georgia Conflict Gives Boost to European Missile Defense Talks
* Euro-Missile Talks Are Back, Leaving "New Europe" Behind
Tuesday, June 24. 2008
Posted by Editors in Transatlantic Relations on Tuesday, June 24. 2008
"Most European military sites equipped with US nuclear weapons fail to meet Pentagon security requirements, according to a US Air Force study." reports Reuters:
Though, rather than calling for such security upgrades of military sites, many German politicians call for the removal of US nuclear weapons from German soil. Our reader Zyme writes this guest post:
Continue reading "US Nukes not Secure in Europe"
Saturday, March 8. 2008
Posted by Joerg Wolf in Transatlantic Relations on Saturday, March 8. 2008
Wikipedia tries to document the surviving veterans from all World War I combatant nations.
The surviving veterans remind us that the era of wars between the world's major powers is not ancient history. I wonder what these veterans think when they hear how today's politicians talk about the risks of terrorism. Do they think that this is just scare-mongering to win votes and that we shall consider ourselves to be lucky to live in such peaceful times? That Al Qaeda is just a nuissance compared to the Wehrmacht or the Red Army?
The human and financial costs of WWI were huge. America's current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are also expensive: $3.5 billion per week, according to William Hartung. German Joys quotes some comparisons from his article: The "whole international community spends less than $400 million per year on the International Atomic Energy Agency, the primary institution for monitoring and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons; that's less than one day's worth of war costs." And the US government's yearly budget for combating global warming is as big as two weeks of expenses in Iraq and Afghanistan.
More efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and combating global warming are at least as important as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Julianne Smith and Alexander Lennon of the Center for Strategic and International Studies contend that climate change will further disrupt the stability of already volatile regions, which has the potential of producing multitudes of discontented individuals prone to radicalization...
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