Happy New Year, and Welcome to 2017!
Three things I'm reading this week:
Science Fiction as a Window into International Military Strategy: Let’s start this week with a look at science fiction –a short story written by one of Putin’s close advisors that recently surfaced on the Internet. It is a remarkable tale that fantasizes about a distant future and the nature of Russian “non-linear” war. Most interestingly, it ends with a twist – a morality-less conflict that drives certain survivors to a world of irresistible morality.
It would be an interesting read even if we didn’t know who the author was, but with so much hanging on Russian intent and strategy, it would be foolish to pass up this window on the thinking of a top Russian advisor.
I’m reading: “Without Sky.”
Wherefore Art Thou, Russia? The U.S. Intelligence Community has released its unclassified report on Russia’s targeting of the U.S. 2016 elections. The report concludes in great detail that not only was Russia behind the operation, but that Vladimir Putin ordered it. But the report contains little in the way of new information, and critics are already complaining that more information wasn’t declassified and disclosed.
On one particularly critical question – what impact, if any, did the Russian influence operation have on the election – the report provides no answers. Our inability to address this question, or even to find a non-political voice willing to try to create a non-partisan answer to it, is proof of the power behind the broader Russian effort. The answer to this question is so tied up in politics as to be radioactive, and in the absence of data, we are left fighting with each other instead of dealing with the real threat.
Between the work of the private sector and the intelligence community, there is little doubt that Russia was behind these hacks, but going forward, we’re likely to see more suspicion and contradictory claims – not less.
I’m reading: “The Most Urgent Questions About the Russia Hacks.”
- Election Infrastructure is Critical Infrastructure: After months of back-and-forth about hacking and influence operations targeting the election, the Department of Homeland Security is taking action to designate election systems as critical infrastructure. This will enhance the tools available to state and federal governments to secure these systems, and is an important marker of the importance we should all be placing on securing the tools we use to express democratic will in this country.
But at the same time, it’s important to remember that this this new designation doesn’t include any of the systems targeted by the Russians in the course of their influence operation. It doesn’t include political institutions, it doesn’t include media organizations, and it doesn’t include high profile individuals.
This doesn’t mean we should further broaden the definition of critical infrastructure – it means that what we’re talking about here isn’t just the targeting of critical infrastructure. It’s the targeting of elections in a much broader sense.
It’s good that DHS is issuing this designation, but let’s not lose sight of the breadth of the threats that we’re facing here. There’s plenty still to do.
I'm reading: "Homeland Security: Fact Sheet: D esignati on of Election Infrastructure as Critical Infrastructure."