Weekly Briefing, April 19 – 25, 2014

By Rachel Ehrenfeld
Saturday, April 26th, 2014 @ 12:00PM

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Will Korea Be the Next Ukraine? –   Washington’s eyes may be on the latest developments in the Keystone pipeline dispute and the Crimean Peninsula crisis, but a bigger story is unfolding, involving an entirely different pipeline and an entirely different peninsula. In a swift move to conquer another square on its geopolitical chess board Russia has just…more…

U.S. Fears Israeli TouristRachel Ehrenfeld — Someone in the United States government is afraid of Israelis. That has to be the best explanation why Israelis’ ongoing attempts to enter the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are encountering stubborn resistance, despite the fact that 38 countries, some not as closely allied with the U.S., are part of the program…Incredibly, Pakistanis are not required to disclose their background when applying for a tourist visa to the U.S…more…

Russia: The Geopolitics of Natural Gas J. Millard Burr Russia’s economic weakness lies in its dependency on natural gas, which represents nearly 60 percent of its exports. This dependency, which led Senator John McCain to describe Russia as “a gas station masquerading as a country,” should make economic sanctions an effective way for the West to stall or reverse Russian aggression in Crimea/Ukraine.  But since Russia presently commands some 38.7 percent of Europe’s natural gas market, no one expects the Europeans to enforce biting sanctions…more…

The Complete Guide to Online Threats: Part I – Natalie Novitski @ iHLS — A glimpse behind the scenes of virus creation, in a must-read article that could help you prevent digital mishaps and disasters. We won’t give any hacking tips, but we’ll hopefully help you understand the threats lurking in the dark corners of cyberspace…more…

“Czechoslovakia” or “Finland” Sol Sanders — All historical analogies are odious, some dead white man – probably a Frenchman – has said. Obviously, he meant that times change, the cast changes, the nuances change, the world moves on, and no geopolitical situation really replicates an earlier one. Some historiographers go even further; they say that for all these reasons there are not, indeed, any “lessons” from history, George Santayana notwithstanding. Still …more…

News and Commentary:
Ukraine crisis proves cyber conflict is a reality of modern warfare – Jarno Limnéll — A hundred years ago, World War I moved warfare into the skies. Today no nation regards its security as complete without an air force, and no serious future conflict will lack a cyber aspect, either. Russia and Ukraine apparently traded cyber attacks during the referendum on Crimea. Media reports indicate NATO and Ukrainian media websites suffered DDoS (denial of service) assaults during the vote, and that servers in Moscow took apparently retaliatory – and bigger – strikes afterward…more…

The Red Line and the Rat Line – Seymour M. Hersh, London Review of Books — In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons…more…

Power grid shockingly vulnerable to cyberterrorism – The News Tribune — Adam Crain, owner of a small tech firm in North Carolina, says he had little trouble tapping into the computer networks used by power companies. After he notified utility security officials, alerts were sent to power operations advising them to upgrade their security software…more…

US financial showdown with Russia is more dangerous than it looks, for both sides  – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard —  The greatest risk is surely an “asymmetric” riposte by the Kremlin. Russia’s cyber-warfare experts are among the best, and they had their own trial run on Estonia in 2007. A cyber shutdown of an Illinois water system was tracked to Russian sources in 2011. We don’t know whether US Homeland Security can counter a full-blown “denial-of-service” attack on electricity grids, water systems, air traffic control, or indeed the New York Stock Exchange, and nor does Washington…more…

Capitol Hill News:

Corker: Russian Interference in Ukraine and Moldova is “A Wake-Up Call,” April 22, 2014

Chairman Menendez Statement on Latest Developments in Ukraine, April 18, 2014

Since 2001, the American Center for Democracy has exposed and monitored threats to our right to speak freely and our political and economic freedoms. The ACD does more than identify individual, isolated threats; it also analyzes their synergistic effects on the economic security of the nation. The ACD’s projects and publications focus on early warning systems that alert the public and policy makers to prevent and mitigate threats.


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