Perhaps the best starting point for those looking to “borrow” a deterrent strategy for cyberspace from other fields is not the example of nuclear deterrence but instead the example of United States-Mexican border security. The nuclear deterrent analogy is not the best fit for understanding cyber-deterrence—due to the ways in which rewards and payoffs for would-be attackers in cyberspace are different from those in the nuclear analogy—among other factors. The emphasis here is not on deterrent effects provided by specific weapons but rather on the ways in which human actors understand deterrence and risk in making an attempt to violate a border, and the ways in which security architects can manipulate how would-be aggressors think about these border incursions. This Letort Paper thus borrows from the criminology literature rather than the military-security literature in laying out how individuals may be deterred from committing crimes in real space and in cyberspace through manipulating rewards and punishments. Lessons from attempts at deterring illegal immigration along America’s borders are then presented, with lessons derived from those situations, which are helpful in understanding how to deter incursions in cyberspace.
The impact of social media on the media environment has been widely recognized; as has the ability of extremist and adversarial organizations to exploit social media to publicize their cause, spread their propaganda, and recruit vulnerable individuals. Supporting the growth of social media has been the phenomenal global increase in mobile telephone usage, and much of this increase is in areas where there are existing conflicts or conflicts are highly likely. These combined revolutions will increasingly have a direct impact on virtually all aspects of military operations in the 21st century. In doing so, social media will force significant changes to policy, doctrine, and force structures. This Letort Paper explores the implications of social media for the U.S. Army.
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has embarked on a campaign to destroy or sell priceless world heritage relics throughout the area under its control. While images of the outrageous destruction of priceless artifacts have been seen throughout the world, the strategic and military implications of comprehensive antiquities looting and ISIS propaganda about antiquities are of vital importance and correspondingly are considered throughout this Letort Paper. In particular, ISIS funding from the illicit sales of antiquities (and high quality fakes) is a serious problem and may help ISIS remain functional even after other sources of revenue are increasingly disrupted or eliminated. Should ISIS experience additional defeats and further loss of territory in Iraq and Syria, an ongoing stream of revenue could fund a nucleus of the organization while it searches for opportunities to rebuild itself and prove its continued relevance through spectacular acts of terrorism. Antiquities, if hidden and trafficked later, along with reproductions marketed as original masterpieces, could give the organization the financial lifeline it needs to stay operational and relevant, even if it is forced to transform itself from a “caliphate” controlling territory to a more simplified type of terrorist organization operating out of portions of the areas it once ruled.
China has been elaborating its position on the Arctic at the same time as the United States has been refining its own Arctic strategy as Chairman of the Arctic Council through April 2017. This Letort Paper examines the geopolitical implications of China’s growing involvement in the Arctic for U.S. interests. First, the evolution of U.S. Arctic strategy is discussed, including its political and military components. Next, China’s interests and goals in the Arctic are addressed. A third section examines the Arctic in China’s relations with Canada, Russia, and the Nordic states. This Letort Paper then evaluates the consequences of China’s expanding Arctic presence for U.S. security interests and concludes with policy recommendations.
The application of international law and legal principles in cyberspace is a topic that has caused confusion, doubt, and interminable discussions between lawyers since the earliest days of the internationalization of the Internet. The still unresolved debate over whether cyberspace constitutes a fundamentally new domain that requires fundamentally new laws to govern it reveals basic ideological divides. On the one hand, the Euro-Atlantic community led by the United States believes, in broad terms, that activities in cyberspace require no new legislation, and existing legal obligations are sufficient. On the other, a large number of other states led by Russia and China believe that new international legal instruments are essential in order to govern information security overall, including those expressed through the evolving domain of cyberspace. Russia in particular argues that the challenges presented by cyberspace are too urgent to wait for customary law to develop as it has done in other domains; instead, urgent action is needed. This Letort Paper will provide an overview of moves toward establishing norms and the rule of law in cyberspace, and the potential for establishing further international norms of behavior.
For the last 4 decades, Israel has been challenged by the rise of ballistic arsenals in the Middle East. If, at first, the country kept relying on its traditional offensive doctrines, it eventually developed missile defense programs in the early-1980s through U.S.-Israel cooperation and then in the 2000s with the building of its iconic Iron Dome. This Israeli experience in missile defense reveals crucial lessons on the military adaptation to both new threats and new remedies that have direct implications for the United States and its allies.
China and Russia have engaged in an increasing number of joint exercises in recent years. These drills aim to help them deter and, if necessary, defeat potential threats, such as Islamist terrorists trying to destabilize a Central Asian government, while at the same time reassuring their allies that Russia and China would protect them from such challenges. Furthermore, the exercises and other joint Russia-China military activities have a mutual reassurance function, informing Moscow and Beijing about the other’s military potential and building mutual confidence about their friendly intentions toward one another. Finally, the joint exercises try to communicate to third parties, especially the United States, that Russia and China have a genuine security partnership and that it extends to cover Central Asia, a region of high priority concern for Moscow and Beijing, and possibly other areas, such as northeast Asia. Although the Sino-Russian partnership is limited in key respects, the United States should continue to monitor their defense relationship since it has the potential to become a more significant international security development.
This monograph, completed ahead of the November 2014 deadline, examines some of the underlying factors which will be constant in dealing with a nuclear capable Iran under President Hassan Rouhani, and which will help determine the success or failure of talks in 2015. It analyzes Rouhani's eventful first year in office in order to provide pointers to what may be possible—and to some key limiting factors—for Iran under his leadership. During that time, Rouhani has been forced to balance his own progressive instincts with the instinctual caution of more conservative elements of the Iranian ruling elite. As a result, foreign hopes for his influence on Iran’s place in the world have moved from initial optimism to a more sober assessment of the options available to him. This monograph provides an essential backdrop to the forthcoming renewed negotiations with Iran by providing an introduction to the complex interplay of issues and interests which constrain the Iranian leadership.
This Letort Paper describes effective Counter Threat Finance strategies as a specific area where the capability of U.S. and allied militaries can be augmented for the purpose of targeted action against adversaries. With appropriate analysis and exploitation, financial data can be used to reveal patterns of enemy behavior, motivations, and possible intentions as well as lifestyles and networks, all of which will impact directly upon military operations within a counterinsurgency environment. The targeting of the financial, and perhaps more importantly, the economic base of an organization, will not only impact the operational capability of that organization, but can ultimately lead to its destruction. To date, these strategies have been used predominantly for the purpose of disruption. However, the potential application of such strategies goes far beyond—they have the potential to be a multifaceted weapon, capable not only of disruption of the enemy, but of detecting impending instability. Specific recommendations are proposed for making best use of the potential for financial intelligence as part of an integrated strategy for both forecasting and countering contemporary security threats.
This Letort Paper proposes that actions, policies, and deeds—those of the U.S. Government and al-Qaeda—be leveraged as a means of delegitimizing al-Qaeda terrorist propaganda. Two chief fronts—changing deeds and challenging deeds—is proposed. Changing deeds requires that the United States carefully and systematically examine its own foreign and military policies and their specific consequences for the Arab and Muslim world. Challenging deeds comprises systematically countering with evidence and fact al-Qaeda’s two greatest propagandistic fabrications: that the United States is a crusader at war with Islam, and that al-Qaeda is the vanguard defender of a besieged and oppressed Muslim Umma. Provocative at times, and even controversial in its willingness to reconsider long-standing U.S. Government policies, this Letort Paper is adamant that it is not spin, empty platitudes, and “lipstick on pigs,” but actual deeds, that are our surest bet for defeating this ignoble adversary.