Tag Archives: israel

“Countdown To Zero Day” describes the new era of war, preparing you for the next attack.

Summary:  Five years after Stuxnet first appeared we have a detailed analysis of its origin (at least, what’s known to the public) in Kim Zetter’s Countdown To Zero Day.  Here C. Thomas reviews it, explaining Stuxnet’s importance.

Stuxnet is another American triumph (with Israel’s help). We’re now the first to use both of the revolutionary tools of modern war: nukes and cyberweapons. Also, we’ve copied the fascist powers of WWII by not bothering with a declaration of war against Iran. American exceptionalism! How long until the next such cyberattack? Will we be the aggressor, or the victim?  {2nd of 2 posts today.}
Countdown to Zero

 

“Countdown to Zero Day” is a must-read!

By C. Thomas

This article originally appeared on the Tenable Blog. Reposted here with their generous permission.

Recently there have been several great books that illustrate the importance of information security in today’s world, including Kevin Mitnick’s “Ghost in the Wires,” Andy Greenberg’s “This Machine Kills Secrets” and Brian Krebs’ “Spam Nation.” Joining the list at the top is Kim Zetter’s “Countdown to Zero Day.” The book tells the story (which you probably thought you already knew) of Stuxnet and the geopolitical maneuverings that brought it into existence.

The book is engaging to read and meticulously researched. Zetter not only examines the intricacies of this nation-state sponsored espionage tool but also delves deeply into the finer workings of uranium enrichment centrifuges and their industrial control systems. Along with these technical details, she adds the personal stories of the people who discovered Stuxnet and devoted countless hours in deciphering not just Stuxnet but also its relatives Duqu, Flame, and Gauss. Despite the highly technical subject matter, Zetter weaves an engaging narrative that succeeds in explaining complex systems in ways that can be easily understood without being condescending.

This book is an absolute must read for anyone even remotely involved in the information security industry because it looks at an adversary that is seldom seen: the nation-state. Unlike cyber criminals, “hacktivists” or bored teenagers whose online activities are somewhat easy to discover and decipher, the online operations and capabilities of nation-states have been shrouded in rumor, myth and superstition. It is amazing that Zetter was able to obtain this much detail about what was most likely a top secret government operation and that is arguably less than 5 years old. Thanks to Zetter and “Countdown to Zero Day,” we now have a baseline from which to forecast potential nation-state capabilities today and into the future.

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Israel learned from its patron the art of righteous theft and killing

Summary:  Just as the West’s endemic antisemitism has infected other nations in the Middle East (or exacerbated it), Israel acts out the West’s standard imperialist scripts on the Palestinians. Take the natives’ land, oppress them, and their violent reaction justifies repeating the cycle. In Israel today, as in the many previous times in Western history, it’s done with righteousness. and indiscriminate violence.

The trade of Bible for Land

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The Most Dangerous Moment in Gaza“, Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, 1 August 2014 — “What happens if this conflict comes off the rails?” Excerpt:

There is near-unanimity in Israel already that Hamas represents an unbearable threat. Add in the perfidy of a raid conducted after a ceasefire went into effect and near-unanimity becomes total unanimity. The most interesting article I’ve read in the past 24 hours is an interview with the Israeli novelist Amos Oz, the father of his country’s peace-and-compromise movement, who opened the interview with Deutsche Welle in this manner:

Amoz Oz: I would like to begin the interview in a very unusual way: by presenting one or two questions to your readers and listeners. May I do that?

Deutsche Welle: Go ahead!

Question 1: What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery?

Question 2: What would you do if your neighbor across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family?

With these two questions I pass the interview to you.

The point is, if Amos Oz, a severe critic of his country’s policies toward the Palestinians, sounds no different on the subject of the Hamas threat than the right-most ministers in Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing cabinet, then there will be a national consensus that it is not enough to manage the Hamas rocket-and-tunnel threat, but that it must be eliminated if at all possible.

This is the typical madness of imperialism. Let’s look at from different perspectives.

First, consider Oz’s question. If I shoot my neighbor it is simple self-defense. But that’s not an analogy with Gaza, which require that I use heavy weapons to destroy his entire apartment building — or the entire city block. By Oz’s analogy, I’d be guilty of mass murder. How odd that neither Oz or Goldberg see this.

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The Fate of Israel

Summary: As Israel has another round of conflict with one of its neighbors, we should neither overlook the toll of causalities nor focus excessively on these details. More important is the long trend. History shows the difficulty of distinguishing strong from weak players in 4GW, and that choosing the wrong grand strategy can be terminal for a state.  It could easily prove fatal for Israel. Events today show how a nation might look strong while on a path leading to bad outcomes. This is a revision of a 2006 post, chapter two in a series of articles about grand strategy when 4GW has become the dominate form of war.

“It is not possible to found a lasting power upon injustice, perjury, and treachery.”
— Demosthenes (Athenian leader, 384 – 322 BC)

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"THE TEN COMMANDMENTS" 1956

Allstar/Cinetext/PARAMOUNT

Contents

  1. Is Israel is stronger than the Palestine?
  2. Winning requires strategy, not just power
  3. Israel abandons the high ground
  4. Comparing the Strategies of Israel & Palestine
  5. Strengths of the Palestinian people
  6. How ight the Palestinian people defeat Israel?
  7. Other predictions of doom for Israel
  8. For more information

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(1) Everyone knows Israel is stronger than the Palestinians. That might be wrong.

To plan a successful grand strategy the strategist must know if he has a weak or strong position. Failure almost certainly results from getting this fundamental wrong. Unfortunately, history shows the difficulty of correctly determining weak from strong during times of rapid change.

“So confident of victory were the French that many sat up late drinking, gambling and boasting about who would kill or capture whom. Some knights even painted a cart in which Henry V would be paraded through the streets of Paris!”

Description of the French camp on 24 October 1415, the night before Agincourt – the last of the 3 great English victories over the French during the Hundred Years War.

“You are now my prisoners. Let this be a lesson to you that Americans are weak. You must realize that Japan will rule the world. You are stupid for letting your leaders take you to war.”

Speech by Tetsunosuke Ariizumi, Commander of His Imperial Majesty’s submarine I-8, addressing captured Americans from the SS Jean Nicolet on 2 July 1944.

“No Viet-Minh cannon will be able to fire three rounds before being destroyed by my artillery.”

— Colonel Charles Piroth, French artillery commander at Dien Bien Phu, quoted in Hell in a Very Small Place, Bernard Fall (1966), p. 102.

Measuring strength between peoples has become even more difficult in our age — when 4GW is the dominant form of war. Hence the endless stream of surprises from the anti-colonial wars after WW2 to our defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So which looks stronger: a stateless people with no modern government, economy, or army – or a developed state with its vast superiority in ideas and hardware? An occupied people or the nations that rules them?

(a)  Israel, a western industrial nation, has rationally educated elites in a modern bureaucratic government. Israel’s army and intelligence service (the Mossad) are superior to their Palestinian counterparts in every way.

(b)  Israel has wielded these advantages to win many tactical victories over the Palestinians. For example, Thomas X. Hammes (Colonel, USMC, retited) describes how Israel won the second Intifadah in chapter 9 of his book, The Sling And The Stone.

(c)  The Palestinian people have none of Israel’s advantages: stateless, politically mobilized in only a primitive manner, with severe internal fractures, and a history of weak and self-interested leadership. Each year their enclaves on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank sink further into poverty and chaos.

Who has the best odds of long-term survival, Israel or the Palestinians?

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Why Israel didn’t win in Gaza

Summary:  Yet another in the long series of wars between Israel and its neighbors.  The trend is not their friend.  Power is not enough, especially when outnumbered and surrounded. Our support for Israel might be enabling them to act boldly but suicidally. Here is a guest post by Adam Shatz explaining what happened in Gaza.

20121206-Israeli-Bombing

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Excerpt to “Why Israel Didn’t Win
By Adam Shatz in the London Review of Books
24 November 2012
Reprinted for a limited time with their generous permission.
Go to the LRB website to read the full article.

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The ceasefire agreed by Israel and Hamas in Cairo after 8 days of fighting is merely a pause in the Israel-Palestine conflict. It promises to ease movement at all border crossings with the Gaza Strip, but will not lift the blockade. It requires Israel to end its assault on the Strip, and Palestinian militants to stop firing rockets at southern Israel, but it leaves Gaza as miserable as ever: according to a recent UN report, the Strip will be ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020.

And this is to speak only of Gaza. How easily one is made to forget that Gaza is only a part – a very brutalised part – of the ‘future Palestinian state’ that once seemed inevitable, and which now seems to exist mainly in the lullabies of Western peace processors. None of the core issues of the Israel-Palestine conflict – the Occupation, borders, water rights, repatriation and compensation of refugees – is addressed by this agreement.

The fighting will erupt again, because Hamas will come under continued pressure from its members and from other militant factions, and because Israel has never needed much pretext to go to war.

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Israel becomes its enemy

Summary: Israel fights for its very existence against an enemy who has no regard for life.  From a cosmic sense, Israel can lose in two ways. Violent defeat in some fashion (causing economic collapse or out-migration). Or spiritual defeat, becoming inflected by the evil Israel has fought for so long: antisemitism in Christendom, NAZI genocide, and now Islamic racial hatred. The former seems increasingly likely, eventually.  The latter might be happening now.

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
— Aphorism 146 in Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (1886).

“A spoiled saint, a Pharisee, or an inquisitor makes better sport in Hell than a mere common tyrant or debauchee.”
Letter 23 from Uncle Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood

Contents

  1. Prelude to slaughter: Threatening a Gaza holocaust
  2. Fast Forward to today: the situation heats up
  3. Portents of the future, echos of the past
  4. For More Information

(1)  Prelude to slaughter: Threatening a holocaust in Gaza

During similar conditions in 2008, from Haaretz on 29 February 2008:

“The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves,” {Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai} told Army Radio on Friday.

… “shoah is “the Hebrew word for holocaust or disaster. The word is generally used to refer to the Nazi Holocaust, but a spokesman for Vilnai said the deputy defense minister used the word in the sense of “disaster,” saying “he did not mean to make any allusion to the genocide.”

Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said of Vilnai’s comments: “We are facing new Nazis who want to kill and burn the Palestinian people.”

The Jerusalem Post whitewashed this more adroitly. Als0 see The Telegraph’s terse analysis.

(2)  Fast Forward to today: the situation heats up

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Where did the great post-war dream for a new world go sour?

Summary:  Tom Hayden’s post The Syrian dominos sparked some fascinating threads in the comments. One discussed what might be a formative moment in world history, one of events which set 21st century history on a very different track than that dreamed by the victors of WWII.  A path that means that their generation’s great sacrifice and hopes were in vain.

The Kindly Ones

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The NAZI plan to conquer Eastern Europe for re-settlement by Aryans was the last large instance of a dynamic that dominated history.  One of the great goals of the Allies — led by America — after the war was to make this illegitimate and impossible. And so it was for a generation.

The world experienced wars in first and second world, but of political expansion. Regimes which to forcibly reunite their people under a single political system — Korea, Vietnam.  Countless internal wars, revolutions and civil wars. But no major attempts to displace peoples, then re-settle on their land. Until Israel began to expand into the East West Bank.  IMO this was a key moment after WWII.  {per a comment, I’ve tweaked this for clarity}

The outcome of the Cold War was, probably, inevitable.  The communist experiments in the Soviet Union and China were doomed.  People’s rational drive for self-preservation prevented atomic war (although USAF generals were gung ho for the a nuclear holocaust).  The real challenge would be from within, our ability to discipline ourselves, and avoid the temptations of power.  We did so after WWII.  Instead of reparations, we gave aid. Instead of puppet governments, we created democracies — and got allies.  We showed wisdom with few or no historical precedents.

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Assassination of an important Saudi Prince! By Syria. Or Iran. Or both. Or it might be a fake story.

Summary:  This news story might be important. Or fake. Either way, it illustrates hidden dynamics in the Middle East and provides a useful lesson — how the Internet can help us sift through the morass of information to find the useful gems of information.

“When I was sixteen, I went to work for a newspaper in Hong Kong. It was a rag, but the editor taught me one important lesson. The key to a great story is not who, or what, or when, but why.”
— Elliot Carver, in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Contents

See the updates to this mystery in the comments!

  1. Setting the stage
  2. The timeline of stories
  3. Tentative conclusions
  4. Updates to the story (also posted in comments)
  5. Tips for reading the news for information
  6. For more information

(1)  Setting the stage

(a)  Useful backgrounder on Prince Bandar: “The Prince and the Revolution“, Simon Henderson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy), Foreign Policy, 24 July 2012 — “Saudi Arabia is bringing back its most talented operator to manage the Arab Spring. But can Bandar stem the rot in Riyadh?” Note Bandar’s biographer is William Simpson, not “Sampson”.

(b)  What might have been a key overlooked note: “Saudi Prince Bandar: a flamboyant, hawkish spy chief“, Reuters, 20 July 2012:

“He’s just the right person for the right time in Saudi. They have a more hawkish foreign policy and he’s the leading hawk of the House of Saud,” said David Ottaway, Bandar’s biographer and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. The United States’ closest Arab ally is a firm supporter of the Syrian rebels now battling in Damascus to oust President Bashar al-Assad and is mending fences with Washington after a disagreement over last year’s Arab uprisings.

“Bandar is quite aggressive, not at all like a typical cautious Saudi diplomat. If the aim is to bring Bashar down quick and fast, he will have a free hand to do what he thinks necessary. He likes to receive an order and implement it as he sees fit,” said Jamal Khashoggi, an influential Saudi commentator.

(c)  Blast rocks Saudi Arabia intelligence headquarters“, Kurdpress News, 22 July 2012 — Iranian news media also reported this (Press TV, Fars News).

“Riyadh- Reports from Saudi Arabia said that a Sunday explosion rattled the country’s intelligence headquarters in Riyadh.Reporting from Saudi Arabia, the Yemeni al-Fajr news website said the deputy head of the Saudi’s intelligence service has been killed in the blast.The website side Mashaal al-Qarni, deputy of Bandar bin Sultan, the head of the secret service, has been killed in the blast.

(2)  The timeline of stories

None of these are reliable sources, except the Times of Israel (their story is straight reporting).  But they tell interesting stories, and sometimes they’re right.

(a) Syria reportedly eliminated Bandar bin Sultan in retaliation for Damascus bombing“, Voltaire Network, 29 July 2012 —

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