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Archive for December 2018

The Decision to Withdraw Troops from Syria Was Not Abrupt or Capricious


Most of Trump's critics have reacted to his decision to end the American intervention in the war in Syria by assuming that it was another of Trump's whimsical, spur-of-the-moment notions that just occurred to him while he was tweeting. I don't think so. My guess is that the true story is something more like this:

“Trump Scores, Breaks Generals' 50-Year War Record”
Gareth Porter, The American Conservative, December 29, 2018

In early April 2018, Trump's impatience with his advisors on Syria boiled over into a major confrontation at a National Security Council meeting, where he ordered them unequivocally to accept a fundamentally different Syria deployment policy.

Trump opened the meeting with his public stance that the United States must end its intervention in Syria and the Middle East more broadly. He argued repeatedly that the U.S. had gotten “nothing” for its efforts, according to an account published by the Associated Press based on interviews with administration officials who had been briefed on the meeting. When Dunford asked him to state exactly what he wanted, Trump answered that he favored an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces and an end to the “stabilization” program in Syria.

Mattis responded that an immediate withdrawal from Syria was impossible to carry out responsibly, would risk the return of the Islamic State, and would play into the hands of Russia, Iran, and Turkey, whose interests ran counter to those of the United States.

Trump reportedly then relented and said they could have five or six months to destroy the Islamic State. But he also made it clear that he did not want them to come back to him in October and say that they had been unable to defeat ISIS and had to remain in Syria. When his advisors reiterated that they didn't think America could withdraw responsibly, Trump told them to “just get it done.” …

Trump is now well aware that it is virtually impossible to carry out the foreign policy that he wants without advisors who are committed to the same objective. That means he must find people who have remained outside the system during the permanent war years while being highly critical of its whole ideology and culture. If he can fill key positions with truly dissident figures, the last two years of his term in office could decisively clip the wings of the bureaucrats and generals who have created the permanent war state we find ourselves in today.

#war #Donald-Trump

Merry Christmas / War Is Over


The Global War on Terror, under that name, began in August, 1998, with an American attack, using cruise missiles, on a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. We destroyed the main source of therapeutic drugs for more than half the country, resulting in the deaths of thousands of men, women, and children who were not terrorists.

Perhaps we're seeing the beginning of the end of this decades-long, self-destructive exercise in futility.

“Mattis Marks End of Global War on Terror”
Peter Van Buren, The American Conservative, December 24, 2018

Since 2001, the United States has spent some $6 trillion on its wars, and killed multiple 9/11s worth of American trooops and foreign civilians. The U.S. has tortured, still maintains its gulag at Guantanamo, and … has lost on every front. Afghanistan after 17 years of war festers. Nothing was accomplished with Iraq. Libya is a failed state. Syria is the source of a refugee crisis whose long-term effects on Europe are still being played out.

Global War On Terror war

Externalizing the Costs of Data Breaches


“Massive Data Leaks Keep Happening Because Big Companies Can Afford to Lose Your Data”
Erik Sherman, Motherboard, November 15, 2018

Large corporations spend about 0.1% of the money they take in on computer and network security and another small fraction on insurance against data breaches. They won't spend more, because data breaches (a) don't occur that often and (b) aren't very expensive.

Executives focus on things that make a big difference to the company. Breach and protection costs are so small that they get little attention. Insurance is likely to be on the same scale or less. When management doesn't see something as an important financial priority, it doesn't get done.

What interests me most is observation (b). Data breaches aren't expensive to corporations because most of the consequent costs are borne by the corporation's customers and by innocent bystanders. I think that it should be possible to sue corporations when data breaches reveal that have been irresponsible data custodians.

#data-breaches #corporate-malfeasance #cost-benefit-analysis

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created June 1, 2014 · last revised December 30, 2018