Reading Today’s Stories…9/5→

Why Turkey is bombing the PKK – Opinion – Al Jazeera English 

As I’ve posted about a few times in the last few weeks, the Turkish military has once again begun air raids into Northern Iraq. This piece from Mustafa Akyol sets these latest actions in their historical context. If you are not aware of the broad narrative of this conflict this is a good starting point. Read the whole story here.

Religion A Hot Issue In 2012 GOP Race |

A summary piece on how religion has become one of the early points of distinction among 2012 presidential candidates. One of the interesting trends that seems to be emerging is that faith is becoming more and more related to actions. It is not enough to merely say something but voters want to know in what way that will affect your policy decisions. Yet in another article (via @Slate)the argument is raised that thus far economic issues have completely overshadowed social issues. Read the whole story here.

Report: Iran links nuclear power plant to national grid – The Washington Post

A headline that sounds more significant than it may actually be. Iran reported that they have connected their first nuclear power plant in a test run to begin contributing to the countries energy needs.  As to what this will mean to the fears about a weapons program will unfold in the coming weeks and months. Read the whole story here.




Cracking Stuxnet↑

So I know this story is now a few months old but I had some free time today while I was putting together IKEA furniture (surprisingly simple) so I listened to another TED talk. This one was given by Ralph Langner, one of the German forensic IT guys who went about dissecting the Stuxnet virus and eventually identifying its target and how it works. Watch the video – it really is a cool story. It also raises some interesting ideas.

What should this story teach us? The fear of a new kind of warfare is nothing new. Hollywood has been warning us for years (Bruce Willis, John Travolta, and even Sandra Bullock way back in the 1990s) about dangers of this new computer-based world. What this story reminds us though is that it really is not just in hollywood. It also is not only identity theft and online banking accounts that can be targets. There is a whole new realm of international espionage going on and it is computer based.

Okay, but why does that matter? In the case of Stuxnet it seems to have been a joint effort of US and Israeli organizations working together to help delay Iran from developing nuclear technology that may be refined and weaponized. Besides the questionable logic of if that really was the most effective tool to be used in countering Iran’s nuclear program, it also raises the question of “what next?” This is one of the points that Mr. Langer brings out. Okay, so the US used a virus-type program on an Iranian nuclear plant, but how many more targets are there? Globally, the vast majority of the targets for this new kind of weaponry are in the West. Is the US prepared for the tables to be turned?

This may be advancing the conversation too far but consider the historical parallel of the nuclear age. Again, the US was on the forefront of the technology. They were the first to develop it, they were the first to use it. Then came the Cold War, kept cold simply because of the MAD principle. Neither side would use the weapon because their was Mutually Assured Destruction. That is not the case here. There is no reason to think a sort of MAD principle will be developed. While the US currently is at the forefront of these new cyber technologies, this video caused me to consider the future. The consequences could be staggering.

Iran’s Nuclear Program→

This past week had the opportunity to attend a lecture on some of the issues going on in the Middle East. Among the most mentioned topics was Iran’s nuclear program. This is always an interesting question and there is plenty of literature available out there. Here is a recent Op-Ed and a few links from the Council on Foreign Relations to get you started.

The March Toward a Nuclear Iran by Ray Takeyh

While I appreciated Ray’s overall perspective on the issue I felt like his piece did not really give any solid suggestions for resolution or even next steps for countries to take in their engagement with Iran. However, it was still an interesting read.

Here is his conclusion here:

Exact estimates vary, but in the next few years Iran will be in position to detonate a nuclear device. An aggressive theocracy armed with the bomb will cast a dangerous shadow over the region’s political transition, but the consequences will not be limited to the Middle East. An Iranian bomb is likely to unleash the most divisive partisan discord in this country since the 1949 debate about who lost China. In the end, neither the turbulent order of the Middle East nor the partisan politics of Washington can afford an Islamic Republic armed with nuclear weapons.

Here are a few more links:

Would a Nuclear Armed Iran Really Be So Dangerous?

Nuclear Concerns in Unstable Mideast