Strategic Miscommunication

There is a long term International Relations concept called the security dilemma, or as I like to think of it, the insecurity spiral. The security dilemma is a Realist concept that arises from the lack of an international sovereign. Basically because there is no overarching international controlling power, the actions of one or more states, usually in regard to military preparations, can/are misinterpreted leading to other states undertaking responses that in turn lead the original actor or actors to respond, leading to more counter responses. All of which causes a crisis of security, an insecurity spiral, which increases the possibility of conflict.

To avoid a security dilemma states, intergovernmental organizations, and a lot of non state actors, try to utilize strategic communication. Joint Publication 5-0 defines strategic communication as:

… efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of … interests, policies, and objectives through the use of coordinated programs, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of all instruments of national power. Also called SC.

President-elect Trump’s recent, unsecured communications with many foreign heads of state have many concerned that these conversations are creating a type of security dilemma whereby the President-elect unintentionally or intentionally changes decades of American policy and strategic posture. And does so without the benefit of a State Department Protocol Officer, State Department pre-briefing to prepare for these calls, and secured comms to ensure that his conversations cannot be intercepted and used against the US (and our allies and partners) in the future. These communications have heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. And we now have an escalation in regard to the People’s Republic of China, which actually places the ongoing security of Taiwan at risk.

While some of this is a unique combination of the age of social media, 24/7 news media, and the Internet and a President-elect who seems addicted to social media and has a unique talent for capturing 24/7 news media, it is not unknown. To a certain extent the events that led up to World War I were the result of a classic security dilemma leading to a catastrophic insecurity spiral and the outbreak of actual war.

More recently, in the early 1980s, the aggressive attempts by President Reagan to pressure the Soviet Union led to a breakdown that almost led to war over the NATO war game known as Able Archer.

Able Archer was a 1983 NATO war game that was misinterpreted by the Soviet Union. The signals intercepts being made by Soviet Intelligence led them to mistakenly believe that NATO, led by the US and Britain, was preparing a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. This almost kicked off a classic security dilemma as the Soviets mobilized in response to the war game. This was initially misinterpreted by NATO as the Soviets conducting their own, counter, war game. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. After Able Archer’s conclusion, British Intelligence provided a complete report on the security dilemma that resulted from the strategic miscommunication to Downing Street, which then communicated to the Reagan Administration in order to prevent something like this from ever happening again. The documentary below details Able Archer, the Soviet Response, and just how closely everyone, on every side, escaped a war caused by misinterpretation from unintended miscommunication.



Late Night Nightmare Reads: The San Bernadino Shootings, A Year Later

The Washington Post, doing journalism:

… “The brutality of the attack’s perpetrators could not have been in starker contrast to the selflessness and generosity that characterized those taken from us,” the White House said in a statement marking the anniversary Friday and honoring the victims of the attack. Using another acronym for the Islamic State, the message continued: “In the year since this tragedy, we have mourned those we lost, just as we have continued to confront the violent ideology behind this attack as well as the terrorist groups, including ISIL, that propagate it.”

In a new interview broadcast this week, the police chief in San Bernardino said authorities believe that the specifics of the attack — targeting that particular gathering at that time — may have been motivated by the holiday party set to take place in the same room after the training ended. The chief, Jarrod Burguan, cited comments made by the female attacker before the shooting.

Malik had said online “that she didn’t think that a Muslim should have to participate in a non-Muslim holiday or event,” Burguan told ABC News.

The room where the training occurred — the same room where the health department had held active-shooter training earlier that year — was filled at the time with Christmas decorations, including a large Christmas tree, ornaments and items on the walls….

If it weren’t for all the dead people, jokes would be made about the virulence with which many of us regard enforced holiday ‘jollilities’ at our workspaces. Or discussing the weight of microagressions.

But this is the real heartbreaker — again, from the WaPo:

Maybe the child would be hers one day, so Saira Khan began preparing the house for her niece’s next visit. She sanitized the baby toys and double-checked the child safety locks. She cleaned the nursery where the girl had never been allowed to spend a night and tidied the crib that had been recovered and moved from a crime scene. It had belonged to the baby’s parents, and it was in the apartment where they had left her one morning last December before driving to an office party in San Bernardino, armed with pipe bombs, handguns and AR-15s.
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Open Thread: Intelligence — Trump’s Not A Fan

A team of intelligence analysts has been prepared to deliver daily briefings on global developments and security threats to Trump in the two weeks since he won. Vice President-elect Mike Pence, by contrast, has set aside time for intelligence briefings almost every day since the election, officials said…

Trump has yet to meet with Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. or other top intelligence officials — aside from an unofficial meeting with embattled Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, who is rumored to be a top candidate to replace Clapper. Trump has greeted a parade of other officials auditioning for Cabinet positions, but also met with Indian business partners, television news anchors and figures in the entertainment industry.

President-Elect Smallgloves is busy with the latest installment of his (un) reality show, while the man known to his Repub colleagues as ‘Mike Dense’ tries to bone up on the difference between all those ferrn places and their leaders. As Betty would remind us: Not Normal.

Of course, if Trump’s suffering from the familial Alzheimers that took his father, it’s probably just as well he’s avoiding (his kids are steering him away from) any information he might inadvertently repeat at the wrong time. Which makes me feel so much better, if you know what I mean.



Monday Evening Open Thread

That’s Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, devout suppressor of non-Republican voters’ rights. They’re not even halfway competent authoritarians…

I don’t know whether that’s good news or bad, at this point.
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Apart from facepalming, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

ETA: Via commentor Dog Dawg Damn, details from the Topeka Capital Journal:

A written plan for the Department of Homeland Security brought by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach into his meeting with President-elect Donald Trump spells out a desire to question “high-risk” immigrants over support for Sharia law and the U.S. Constitution…

The document calls for updating and reintroducing the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System. The program was implemented in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but largely suspended in 2011….

The document contains obscured references to the arrest and removal of illegal aliens, “386 miles of existing actual wall,” the post-Sept. 11 PATRIOT Act, and voter rolls. “Draft amendments to National Voter —” can also be seen, perhaps a reference to the National Voter Registration Act…

So maybe it wasn’t accidental — just another early warning.



Open Thread: The Trump Team’s Latest “Security” Lie?

Via Dan Pfeiffer’s twitter feed. In the blizzard of Bad Trump News, I managed to miss this particular poisoned snowflake. Anybody want to explain it for us amateurs?

ETA: Guess citing history didn’t test well in beta…



Open Thread: Bill Weld, the Last Responsible Republican


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Weld was, for those too young to remember, essentially chased out of the Republican Party by Jesse Helms during the first Clinton administration. Ol’ Jesse felt that neither Bill C nor Bill W would sufficiently kowtow to the ‘essential traditions of the Senate’, aka the naked bigotry of the hardcore defenders of the Confederacy, unlike that upstanding gentleman Ronnie Reagan. Let the records show that, even twenty years ago, the GOP was the party of out-and-proud racists who’d kneecap each other rather than give up one iota of their ancient tribal prejudices…
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Late Night Open Thread: James Comey, Victim (of His Fellow Repubs)

Before she became an excellent reporter, Ioffe was a Russian refugee. Thus, her understanding of the malign power of bullying within bureaucracies…

Joy Reid, at the Daily Beast, “Republicans Weaponize James Comey’s FBI To Kneecap Hillary Clinton“:

Something got lost in the sturm und drang over the FBI’s “October surprise” that dropped Friday afternoon, when director James Comey inexplicably dropped the bomblet that his agency had obtained “new” emails (or maybe duplicate ones; apparently no one’s read them yet) from a laptop shared by Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her creeper husband, former congressman Anthony Weiner.

Behind Comey’s defiance of both precedent and the guidance of his boss, the attorney general, was the subtext of intense pressure being put on the FBI and the Justice Department by Republicans, some of whom rushed Comey’s vague letter to members of the press…

Congress, and some of the same committees pursuing email investigations, hold the purse strings over Comey’s agency. And one can only imagine the pressure being placed on the agency by Capitol Hill. The double standard of Comey’s talk about Clinton with his silence regarding whether or not his agency is probing the ties between current and former Trump aides and Russia suggests that whatever pressure the FBI is feeling, it’s coming from just one partisan direction…

“Keep an eye on that Chaffetz kid, he’s a comer… “
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