Foreign Policy Thin-Sliced (10/17)

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Not Enough Stock Dividends From a Peace Dividend

In 2001, military spending, as a function of the over-all American economy, was, at six per cent, the lowest it had been since the Second World War. … In much the same way that the peace dividend expected with the Allied victory never came because of the Cold War … a peace dividend expected after the end of the Warsaw Pact, in 1991, came but didn’t last. Instead, after 9/11 the United States declared a “global war on terror.”

The Force: How much military is enough?, Jill Lepore, the New Yorker

Then How Come Israel Isn’t Being Forced to Submit Its Nuclear Weapons International Control?

 Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile results from a never-acknowledged gentleman’s agreement in the Middle East that as long as Israel had nuclear weapons, Syria’s pursuit of chemical weapons would not attract much public acknowledgement or criticism.

History lesson: When the United States looked the other way on chemical weapons, Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post

No Depths to Which NSA Won’t Sink

“For the past decade, N.S.A. has led an aggressive, multipronged effort to break widely used Internet encryption technologies,” said a 2010 memo describing a briefing about N.S.A. accomplishments for employees of its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. … When the British analysts, who often work side by side with N.S.A. officers, were first told about the program, another memo said, “those not already briefed were gobsmacked!”

Revealed: The NSA’s Secret Campaign to Crack, Undermine Internet Security, Jeff Larson, Pro Publica

Spirit of Disarmament Just as Important as the Number of Nuclear Weapons Eliminated

U.S. officials have suggested that nuclear arms reductions demonstrate U.S. compliance with Article 6. Nonnuclear weapon states, however, do not focus on absolute numbers of weapons. They instead look for policy decisions that demonstrate a willingness to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons. Efforts to complete implementation of the thirteen “practical steps” agreed to at the 2000 NPT Review Conference would signal that nuclear weapon states are serious about their Article 6 obligations. U.S. Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) would be an especially strong signal of U.S. interest in creating the conditions needed for a nuclear weapon–free world. [Emphasis added.]

Bolstering Nonproliferation through Disarmament Progress, Jeffrey W. Knopf, Belfer Center Policy Brief

Robots to Humans: “Don’t worry your pretty little heads about war”

At the same time, calls for autonomous weapons have been rising both outside and from some inside the military. In 2001, retired Army lieutenant colonel T. K. Adams argued that humans were becoming the most vulnerable, burdensome, and performance-limiting components of manned systems. Communications links for remote operation would be vulnerable to disruption, and full autonomy would be needed as a fallback. Furthermore, warfare would become too fast and too complex for humans to direct. Realistic or not, such thinking, together with budget pressures and the perception that robots are cheaper than people, has supported a steady growth of autonomy research and development in military and contractor-supported labs.

US killer robot policy: Full speed ahead, Mark Gubrud, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

U.S. Gun Violence Grounds for Humanitarian Intervention

That’s America, we say, as news of the latest massacre breaks – last week it was the slaughter of 12 people by Aaron Alexis at Washington DC’s navy yard – and move on. But what if we no longer thought of this as just a problem for America and, instead, viewed it as an international humanitarian crisis – a quasi civil war, if you like, that calls for outside intervention? As citizens of the world, perhaps we should demand an end to the unimaginable suffering of victims and their families – the maiming and killing of children – just as America does in every new civil conflict around the globe.

Over 360,000 Gun Deaths Since 9/11, Henry Porter, the Guardian