2013’s 7 Books for Security Wonks to Read

You nominated them; we interviewed the authors.

National Journal
Sara Sorcher
Dec. 24, 2013, midnight

Happy hol­i­days, Wash­ing­ton se­cur­ity wonks! You nom­in­ated some of your fa­vor­ite books from 2013 on na­tion­al se­cur­ity is­sues. We in­ter­viewed the au­thors. Ed­ited ex­cerpts fol­low.

(Doubleday)

 

The Dis­pens­able Na­tion: Amer­ic­an For­eign Policy in Re­treat

By VALI NASR

The takeaway: “U.S. for­eign policy in the past five years has been premised on the no­tion that Amer­ica can and should do less in the world and, in par­tic­u­lar, shrink its en­gage­ment in the Middle East and in­stead fo­cus on Asia. That as­sump­tion has proven false. Dis­en­gage­ment from the Middle East has only ex­acer­bated crises that de­mand Amer­ic­an at­ten­tion, and the per­cep­tion of an Amer­ic­an for­eign policy in re­treat has eroded Amer­ic­an cred­ib­il­ity and shaken con­fid­ence in Amer­ic­an lead­er­ship, not only in the Middle East but also in Asia where Amer­ica is look­ing to in­crease its in­flu­ence. This is not only a fail­ure of ima­gin­a­tion but also de­bil­it­at­ing rival­ries between a White House, at once cent­ral­iz­ing for­eign po­lice de­cision-mak­ing and brush­ing it aside, with the State De­part­ment.”

How do you see the ma­ter­i­al in your book af­fect­ing the cur­rent na­tion­al se­cur­ity dis­course?

Nasr: “The Dis­pens­able Na­tion shows the costs of a min­im­al­ist Amer­ic­an for­eign policy, and the faulty as­sump­tions that have en­sconced such an ap­proach in the heart of Amer­ic­an pub­lic de­bate on the coun­try’s place in the world. As those costs have moun­ted so has the pres­sure to re­set Amer­ic­an for­eign policy, and this book goes to the heart of the de­bate over whith­er Amer­ic­an for­eign policy.”

What’s the most sur­pris­ing or in­ter­est­ing de­tail in your book? 

Nasr: “That the great game of power rivalry between Amer­ica and China will not be played in Asia-Pa­cific alone. At the same time as Amer­ica is pivot­ing away from the Middle East to East Asia to con­tain China, China is pivot­ing west to­ward the Middle East. It would be to Amer­ica’s ad­vant­age to hold its ground in the Middle East if it seeks to man­age a glob­al chal­lenge by a rising China.”

En­emies With­in: In­side the NYPD’s Secret Spy­ing Unit and bin Laden’s Fi­nal Plot Against Amer­ica

By MATT APUZZO and ADAM GOLD­MAN

 

(Cour­tesy of Si­mon and Schuster) The takeaway:  “When it mattered most, when a sui­cide bomber was loose in New York, wide­spread do­mest­ic sur­veil­lance based on re­li­gion and an­ces­try failed to save the day.”

What were some of the chal­lenges while re­port­ing this book?

Apuzzo: “The New York Po­lice De­part­ment has cre­ated a CIA-like cul­ture in which files are routinely kept secret, mak­ing mean­ing­ful over­sight and ag­gress­ive journ­al­ism ex­traordin­ar­ily dif­fi­cult. So we had to rely on the thou­sands of secret doc­u­ments we ob­tained through sources in­side NYPD.”

What’s the most sur­pris­ing de­tail in your book?

Apuzzo: “Even when everything works cor­rectly in the coun­terter­ror­ism world, some­times it comes down to luck.”

The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth  

By MARK MAZZ­ETTI

(Mark Mazz­etti)

The takeaway: “I tried to tell as much of the his­tory of the secret wars since 9/11 as can be told at this point. What has happened in Pakistan and Ye­men and Somalia is as much a his­tory of the post-9/11 peri­od as what has happened in Ir­aq and Afgh­anistan: These wars have cre­ated a new mod­el for how the U.S. goes about wa­ging war, and to an ex­tent, everything is in secret.”

How do you see your book im­pact­ing the cur­rent na­tion­al se­cur­ity dis­course? 

Mazz­etti: “Much of the way war is now waged is done in secret without the pub­lic and, I would ar­gue, even a large part of Con­gress even know­ing what is hap­pen­ing…. Who makes de­cisions about war and peace, and life and death? I ar­gue that one of the phe­nomen­ons of the post-9/11 peri­od is that very crit­ic­al de­cisions are put in hands of small group of people. The smal­ler the group of people, the great­er the chance is for er­ror.

[My book ad­dresses] wheth­er the way these de­cisions were made are really the best way they should be made. A big theme of the book is on how the CIA has trans­formed what was cre­ated to be an es­pi­on­age ser­vice is now today more than ever a para­mil­it­ary and man­hunt­ing or­gan­iz­a­tion—and the ques­tion is, should the CIA be at the fore­front of all these secret wars? And what are the op­por­tun­ity costs?”

Is there an es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing de­tail you wrote about? 

Mazz­etti: “When you go in­to war in coun­tries and you can’t send in the Mar­ines, you of­ten rely on some­times odd char­ac­ters to wage this shad­ow war. One of the sur­pris­ing things was just who the gov­ern­ment re­lied on to carry out in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing mis­sions and para­mil­it­ary mis­sions”¦. A wo­man I write about in Vir­gin­ia was gath­er­ing in­form­a­tion in Somalia; a guy who was in­volved in the Ir­an-Con­tra in­vest­ig­a­tion and was wrapped up in that scan­dal was run­ning a private spy ring in Pakistan.”

(Cour­tesy of Peter Baker)

Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House

By PETER BAKER

The takeaway:  “The thing that we learn a little bit more about is how dif­fer­ent the re­la­tion­ship the part­ner­ship between Bush and Cheney really was. For too long we sort of nursed a car­toon­ish two-di­men­sion­al ver­sion of it. It was great for late-night fod­der, but it didn’t fully un­der­stand more com­plex and dy­nam­ic nature of their eight years to­geth­er. It was nev­er as simplist­ic as people made it out to be, and it changed dra­mat­ic­ally over time.”

What was it like to re­port this book?

Baker: “It was great to go back to all these people that had covered in the mo­ment and get them to sit down and tell you what was really go­ing on when they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, at the time. Once an ad­min­is­tra­tion is done, people are able to be more thought­ful, more can­did, more in­tro­spect­ive, and I think a lot of people un­der­stood this was a chance to re­cord his­tory—at least one draft of it. It took as long as 30 months to get some people to sit down, but in the end 275 folks did, in­clud­ing Cheney and Pow­ell and Rice and Rums­feld and Pet­raeus and oth­ers.

“Pres­id­ent Bush wouldn’t; he was one of the few who said he didn’t want to par­ti­cip­ate. He felt an NYT re­port­er couldn’t be fair to him so he de­cided to take a pass. I tried to con­vince him oth­er­wise. I showed up at one of his events and he said, ‘Baker, are you stalk­ing me?’ I said, ‘Yes sir, just try­ing to get my in­ter­view.’ [But] you can learn a lot about him even without him sit­ting down dir­ectly to talk.”

(Cour­tesy of Max Boot)

In­vis­ible Armies: An Epic His­tory of Guer­rilla War­fare From An­cient Times to the Present 

By MAX BOOT

The takeaway: “The very way we talk about war­fare is all screwed up—we refer to ‘ir­reg­u­lar’ war­fare or ‘un­con­ven­tion­al’ fight­ing as if there is something wrong with this meth­od of com­bat. In fact, guer­rilla war­fare has been the dom­in­ant form of war­fare over the cen­tur­ies; it is ‘con­ven­tion­al’ war­fare pit­ting two uni­formed armies against each oth­er which is the ab­er­ra­tion. Guer­rilla war­fare is the norm.”

What are the im­plic­a­tions of that for today’s war­fare?

Boot: “We may be out of Ir­aq and get­ting out of Afgh­anistan, but we are not go­ing to es­cape the need to pre­pare for coun­ter­insur­gency and coun­terter­ror­ism. These modes of war­fare will be as im­port­ant in the fu­ture as in the past—per­haps even more so giv­en the way con­ven­tion­al war­fare has all be dis­ap­peared from the mod­ern world. We can’t af­ford to go back to con­ven­tion­al sol­dier­ing against mir­ror-im­ages ad­versar­ies, as all of the mil­it­ary ser­vices would prefer: We need to main­tain our abil­ity to fight guer­ril­las and ter­ror­ists. As a res­ult of a dec­ade of war in Ir­aq and Afgh­anistan, the U.S. armed forces have be­come one of the greatest COIN forces in his­tory. The les­son of In­vis­ible Armies is that we can’t af­ford to turn our back on that hard-won ex­pert­ise.”

Was there any­thing that sur­prised you in your re­port­ing?

Boot: “The most in­ter­est­ing and im­port­ant find­ing is the grow­ing im­pact of pub­lic opin­ion on guer­rilla war­fare. This is really what sep­ar­ates an­cient from mod­ern war­fare. The di­vid­ing line between the two, I was sur­prised to find, was our very own Amer­ic­an Re­volu­tion. Con­trary to most ac­counts, the rebels did not win the war with bat­tle­field vic­tor­ies at Saratoga and York­town. Even af­ter­ward the Brit­ish Em­pire still had ample re­sources to con­tin­ue fight­ing. But it chose not to do so be­cause war-weary par­lia­ment­ari­ans turned against the hard­line North min­istry and forced peace talks with the rebels. This was a tem­plate, of us­ing pub­lic opin­ion to best a su­per­power, that would be fol­lowed in our day by many of Amer­ica’s en­emies, from Vi­et­nam to Afgh­anistan.” 

(Cour­tesy of Fred Ka­plan)

The In­sur­gents: Dav­id Pet­raeus and the Plot to Change the Amer­ic­an Way of War

By FRED KA­PLAN 

The takeaway: “Even smart strategies and strategists can go ter­ribly wrong. Coun­ter­insur­gency was a smart strategy in cer­tain dis­tricts in Ir­aq. Dav­id Pet­raeus was a smart strategist who em­ployed his strategy shrewdly. But he turned it in­to an ideo­logy, then al­most a re­li­gion. He thought that he could make it work every­where. And that’s what led to the de­feat in Afgh­anistan and his own down­fall.”

How does your book af­fect today’s na­tion­al se­cur­ity de­bate?

Ka­plan: “I think it’s more rel­ev­ant than ever. First Pres­id­ent Obama, then most seni­or mil­it­ary of­ficers, con­cluded that Ir­aq and Afgh­anistan do not form the face of fu­ture war­fare, for not for us any­way, and that COIN is a tool that fits a small num­ber of con­flicts, not a uni­ver­sal doc­trine. The Army is go­ing through an ex­ist­en­tial crisis, but the res­ol­u­tion be­gins with that real­iz­a­tion.”

What’s an es­pe­cially com­pel­ling de­tail you dis­covered in your re­search?

Ka­plan: “I’m gen­er­ally not a con­spir­acy the­or­ist, but the book’s sub­title—Dav­id Pet­raeus and the Plot to Change the Amer­ic­an Way of War—is no hy­per­bole. The more I delved in­to my re­search, the more I real­ized this was a plot. The surge, the of­fi­cial ad­op­tion of COIN, the ‘An­bar Awaken­ing’ and ‘Sons of Ir­aq’ move­ment that turned a corner in Ir­aq—all of these de­vel­op­ments were the work of a com­plex plot, and very clev­er bur­eau­crat­ic man­euv­er­ing, by Pet­raeus and some of his col­leagues who came out of West Point’s So­cial Sci­ences De­part­ment.”

(Cour­tesy of Peter Sing­er)

Cy­ber­se­cur­ity and Cy­ber­war: What Every­one Needs to Know

By PETER W. SING­ER and AL­LAN FRIED­MAN

The takeaway: “Cy­ber is­sues are no longer just for the ‘IT Crowd.’ They have not only dom­in­ated re­cent head­lines, but have more broadly evolved from a tech­no­logy mat­ter in­to an area that we all need to un­der­stand.  To put it an­oth­er way, cy­ber­se­cur­ity and cy­ber­war has shif­ted from a ‘need to know’ area in­to one we all now need to know more about, wheth­er work­ing in polit­ics, busi­ness, mil­it­ary, law, me­dia, and aca­dem­ics, or even just as a good cit­izen or par­ent.”

What’s your ob­ject­ive in writ­ing this book?

Sing­er: “The goal of the book is to provide an easy-to-read guide to the key ques­tions, lay­ing out how it all works, why it all mat­ters, and what can we do, most im­port­antly in way that takes the his­tri­on­ics out of it all. I hope that it helps shift us from be­ing taken in by our own ig­nor­ance on mul­tiple levels (wheth­er it’s by be­ing in­di­vidu­ally hacked, by mak­ing a bad in­vest­ment for your or­gan­iz­a­tion or busi­ness, or by mak­ing bad policy de­cisions for your agency, your mil­it­ary, or na­tion on something you really don’t un­der­stand), and in­stead start to bet­ter man­age and bet­ter de­bate these im­port­ant is­sues.”

What’s the most sur­pris­ing part?

Sing­er: “That you can make a book about cy­ber is­sues in­ter­est­ing! To un­der­stand what’s hap­pen­ing in cy­ber­space, you have to fo­cus on the people, the or­gan­iz­a­tions they are in, their in­cent­ives, and all that comes with that, for bet­ter or for worse. For­tu­nately, from a writ­ing stand­point that gives you the fun of the book, weav­ing in all the fas­cin­at­ing stor­ies and char­ac­ters, wheth­er it be the time Pakistan held host­age the world’s cute-cat videos (used to ex­plain how the In­ter­net works), to les­sons from oth­ers fields and his­tory, such as the story of the real Pir­ates of the Carib­bean or the zany Air Force plan to nuke the moon in the midst of the Cold War.”

The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat

By VALI NASR

The takeaway: “U.S. for­eign policy in the past five years has been premised on the no­tion that Amer­ica can and should do less in the world and, in par­tic­u­lar, shrink its en­gage­ment in the Middle East and in­stead fo­cus on Asia. That as­sump­tion has proven false. Dis­en­gage­ment from the Middle East has only ex­acer­bated crises that de­mand Amer­ic­an at­ten­tion, and the per­cep­tion of an Amer­ic­an for­eign policy in re­treat has eroded Amer­ic­an cred­ib­il­ity and shaken con­fid­ence in Amer­ic­an lead­er­ship, not only in the Middle East but also in Asia where Amer­ica is look­ing to in­crease its in­flu­ence. This is not only a fail­ure of ima­gin­a­tion but also de­bil­it­at­ing rival­ries between a White House, at once cent­ral­iz­ing for­eign po­lice de­cision-mak­ing and brush­ing it aside, with the State De­part­ment.”

How do you see the ma­ter­i­al in your book af­fect­ing the cur­rent na­tion­al se­cur­ity dis­course?

Nasr: “The Dis­pens­able Na­tion shows the costs of a min­im­al­ist Amer­ic­an for­eign policy, and the faulty as­sump­tions that have en­sconced such an ap­proach in the heart of Amer­ic­an pub­lic de­bate on the coun­try’s place in the world. As those costs have moun­ted so has the pres­sure to re­set Amer­ic­an for­eign policy, and this book goes to the heart of the de­bate over whith­er Amer­ic­an for­eign policy.”

What’s the most sur­pris­ing or in­ter­est­ing de­tail in your book? 

Nasr: “That the great game of power rivalry between Amer­ica and China will not be played in Asia-Pa­cific alone. At the same time as Amer­ica is pivot­ing away from the Middle East to East Asia to con­tain China, China is pivot­ing west to­ward the Middle East. It would be to Amer­ica’s ad­vant­age to hold its ground in the Middle East if it seeks to man­age a glob­al chal­lenge by a rising China.”

Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD's Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden's Final Plot Against America

By MATT APUZZO and ADAM GOLD­MAN

 

(Cour­tesy of Si­mon and Schuster) The takeaway:  “When it mattered most, when a sui­cide bomber was loose in New York, wide­spread do­mest­ic sur­veil­lance based on re­li­gion and an­ces­try failed to save the day.”

What were some of the chal­lenges while re­port­ing this book?

Apuzzo: “The New York Po­lice De­part­ment has cre­ated a CIA-like cul­ture in which files are routinely kept secret, mak­ing mean­ing­ful over­sight and ag­gress­ive journ­al­ism ex­traordin­ar­ily dif­fi­cult. So we had to rely on the thou­sands of secret doc­u­ments we ob­tained through sources in­side NYPD.”

What’s the most sur­pris­ing de­tail in your book?

Apuzzo: “Even when everything works cor­rectly in the coun­terter­ror­ism world, some­times it comes down to luck.”

The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth   <em></em>

By MARK MAZZ­ETTI

(Mark Mazz­etti)

The takeaway: “I tried to tell as much of the his­tory of the secret wars since 9/11 as can be told at this point. What has happened in Pakistan and Ye­men and Somalia is as much a his­tory of the post-9/11 peri­od as what has happened in Ir­aq and Afgh­anistan: These wars have cre­ated a new mod­el for how the U.S. goes about wa­ging war, and to an ex­tent, everything is in secret.”

How do you see your book im­pact­ing the cur­rent na­tion­al se­cur­ity dis­course? 

Mazz­etti: “Much of the way war is now waged is done in secret without the pub­lic and, I would ar­gue, even a large part of Con­gress even know­ing what is hap­pen­ing…. Who makes de­cisions about war and peace, and life and death? I ar­gue that one of the phe­nomen­ons of the post-9/11 peri­od is that very crit­ic­al de­cisions are put in hands of small group of people. The smal­ler the group of people, the great­er the chance is for er­ror.

[My book ad­dresses] wheth­er the way these de­cisions were made are really the best way they should be made. A big theme of the book is on how the CIA has trans­formed what was cre­ated to be an es­pi­on­age ser­vice is now today more than ever a para­mil­it­ary and man­hunt­ing or­gan­iz­a­tion—and the ques­tion is, should the CIA be at the fore­front of all these secret wars? And what are the op­por­tun­ity costs?”

Is there an es­pe­cially in­ter­est­ing de­tail you wrote about? 

Mazz­etti: “When you go in­to war in coun­tries and you can’t send in the Mar­ines, you of­ten rely on some­times odd char­ac­ters to wage this shad­ow war. One of the sur­pris­ing things was just who the gov­ern­ment re­lied on to carry out in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing mis­sions and para­mil­it­ary mis­sions”¦. A wo­man I write about in Vir­gin­ia was gath­er­ing in­form­a­tion in Somalia; a guy who was in­volved in the Ir­an-Con­tra in­vest­ig­a­tion and was wrapped up in that scan­dal was run­ning a private spy ring in Pakistan.”

(Cour­tesy of Peter Baker)

Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House

By PETER BAKER

The takeaway:  “The thing that we learn a little bit more about is how dif­fer­ent the re­la­tion­ship the part­ner­ship between Bush and Cheney really was. For too long we sort of nursed a car­toon­ish two-di­men­sion­al ver­sion of it. It was great for late-night fod­der, but it didn’t fully un­der­stand more com­plex and dy­nam­ic nature of their eight years to­geth­er. It was nev­er as simplist­ic as people made it out to be, and it changed dra­mat­ic­ally over time.”

What was it like to re­port this book?

Baker: “It was great to go back to all these people that had covered in the mo­ment and get them to sit down and tell you what was really go­ing on when they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, at the time. Once an ad­min­is­tra­tion is done, people are able to be more thought­ful, more can­did, more in­tro­spect­ive, and I think a lot of people un­der­stood this was a chance to re­cord his­tory—at least one draft of it. It took as long as 30 months to get some people to sit down, but in the end 275 folks did, in­clud­ing Cheney and Pow­ell and Rice and Rums­feld and Pet­raeus and oth­ers.

“Pres­id­ent Bush wouldn’t; he was one of the few who said he didn’t want to par­ti­cip­ate. He felt an NYT re­port­er couldn’t be fair to him so he de­cided to take a pass. I tried to con­vince him oth­er­wise. I showed up at one of his events and he said, ‘Baker, are you stalk­ing me?’ I said, ‘Yes sir, just try­ing to get my in­ter­view.’ [But] you can learn a lot about him even without him sit­ting down dir­ectly to talk.”

(Cour­tesy of Max Boot)

Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare From Ancient Times to the Present 

By MAX BOOT

The takeaway: “The very way we talk about war­fare is all screwed up—we refer to ‘ir­reg­u­lar’ war­fare or ‘un­con­ven­tion­al’ fight­ing as if there is something wrong with this meth­od of com­bat. In fact, guer­rilla war­fare has been the dom­in­ant form of war­fare over the cen­tur­ies; it is ‘con­ven­tion­al’ war­fare pit­ting two uni­formed armies against each oth­er which is the ab­er­ra­tion. Guer­rilla war­fare is the norm.”

What are the im­plic­a­tions of that for today’s war­fare?

Boot: “We may be out of Ir­aq and get­ting out of Afgh­anistan, but we are not go­ing to es­cape the need to pre­pare for coun­ter­insur­gency and coun­terter­ror­ism. These modes of war­fare will be as im­port­ant in the fu­ture as in the past—per­haps even more so giv­en the way con­ven­tion­al war­fare has all be dis­ap­peared from the mod­ern world. We can’t af­ford to go back to con­ven­tion­al sol­dier­ing against mir­ror-im­ages ad­versar­ies, as all of the mil­it­ary ser­vices would prefer: We need to main­tain our abil­ity to fight guer­ril­las and ter­ror­ists. As a res­ult of a dec­ade of war in Ir­aq and Afgh­anistan, the U.S. armed forces have be­come one of the greatest COIN forces in his­tory. The les­son of In­vis­ible Armies is that we can’t af­ford to turn our back on that hard-won ex­pert­ise.”

Was there any­thing that sur­prised you in your re­port­ing?

Boot: “The most in­ter­est­ing and im­port­ant find­ing is the grow­ing im­pact of pub­lic opin­ion on guer­rilla war­fare. This is really what sep­ar­ates an­cient from mod­ern war­fare. The di­vid­ing line between the two, I was sur­prised to find, was our very own Amer­ic­an Re­volu­tion. Con­trary to most ac­counts, the rebels did not win the war with bat­tle­field vic­tor­ies at Saratoga and York­town. Even af­ter­ward the Brit­ish Em­pire still had ample re­sources to con­tin­ue fight­ing. But it chose not to do so be­cause war-weary par­lia­ment­ari­ans turned against the hard­line North min­istry and forced peace talks with the rebels. This was a tem­plate, of us­ing pub­lic opin­ion to best a su­per­power, that would be fol­lowed in our day by many of Amer­ica’s en­emies, from Vi­et­nam to Afgh­anistan.” 

(Cour­tesy of Fred Ka­plan)

The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War

By FRED KA­PLAN 

The takeaway: “Even smart strategies and strategists can go ter­ribly wrong. Coun­ter­insur­gency was a smart strategy in cer­tain dis­tricts in Ir­aq. Dav­id Pet­raeus was a smart strategist who em­ployed his strategy shrewdly. But he turned it in­to an ideo­logy, then al­most a re­li­gion. He thought that he could make it work every­where. And that’s what led to the de­feat in Afgh­anistan and his own down­fall.”

How does your book af­fect today’s na­tion­al se­cur­ity de­bate?

Ka­plan: “I think it’s more rel­ev­ant than ever. First Pres­id­ent Obama, then most seni­or mil­it­ary of­ficers, con­cluded that Ir­aq and Afgh­anistan do not form the face of fu­ture war­fare, for not for us any­way, and that COIN is a tool that fits a small num­ber of con­flicts, not a uni­ver­sal doc­trine. The Army is go­ing through an ex­ist­en­tial crisis, but the res­ol­u­tion be­gins with that real­iz­a­tion.”

What’s an es­pe­cially com­pel­ling de­tail you dis­covered in your re­search?

Ka­plan: “I’m gen­er­ally not a con­spir­acy the­or­ist, but the book’s sub­title—Dav­id Pet­raeus and the Plot to Change the Amer­ic­an Way of War—is no hy­per­bole. The more I delved in­to my re­search, the more I real­ized this was a plot. The surge, the of­fi­cial ad­op­tion of COIN, the ‘An­bar Awaken­ing’ and ‘Sons of Ir­aq’ move­ment that turned a corner in Ir­aq—all of these de­vel­op­ments were the work of a com­plex plot, and very clev­er bur­eau­crat­ic man­euv­er­ing, by Pet­raeus and some of his col­leagues who came out of West Point’s So­cial Sci­ences De­part­ment.”

(Cour­tesy of Peter Sing­er)

Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know

By PETER W. SING­ER and AL­LAN FRIED­MAN

The takeaway: “Cy­ber is­sues are no longer just for the ‘IT Crowd.’ They have not only dom­in­ated re­cent head­lines, but have more broadly evolved from a tech­no­logy mat­ter in­to an area that we all need to un­der­stand.  To put it an­oth­er way, cy­ber­se­cur­ity and cy­ber­war has shif­ted from a ‘need to know’ area in­to one we all now need to know more about, wheth­er work­ing in polit­ics, busi­ness, mil­it­ary, law, me­dia, and aca­dem­ics, or even just as a good cit­izen or par­ent.”

What’s your ob­ject­ive in writ­ing this book?

Sing­er: “The goal of the book is to provide an easy-to-read guide to the key ques­tions, lay­ing out how it all works, why it all mat­ters, and what can we do, most im­port­antly in way that takes the his­tri­on­ics out of it all. I hope that it helps shift us from be­ing taken in by our own ig­nor­ance on mul­tiple levels (wheth­er it’s by be­ing in­di­vidu­ally hacked, by mak­ing a bad in­vest­ment for your or­gan­iz­a­tion or busi­ness, or by mak­ing bad policy de­cisions for your agency, your mil­it­ary, or na­tion on something you really don’t un­der­stand), and in­stead start to bet­ter man­age and bet­ter de­bate these im­port­ant is­sues.”

What’s the most sur­pris­ing part?

Sing­er: “That you can make a book about cy­ber is­sues in­ter­est­ing! To un­der­stand what’s hap­pen­ing in cy­ber­space, you have to fo­cus on the people, the or­gan­iz­a­tions they are in, their in­cent­ives, and all that comes with that, for bet­ter or for worse. For­tu­nately, from a writ­ing stand­point that gives you the fun of the book, weav­ing in all the fas­cin­at­ing stor­ies and char­ac­ters, wheth­er it be the time Pakistan held host­age the world’s cute-cat videos (used to ex­plain how the In­ter­net works), to les­sons from oth­ers fields and his­tory, such as the story of the real Pir­ates of the Carib­bean or the zany Air Force plan to nuke the moon in the midst of the Cold War.”

What We're Following See More »
‘PULLING A TRUMP’
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
15 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Source:
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
11 hours ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
×