Russia-Georgia CyberWar Assessment by Aaron Mannes and James Hendler

The first modern cyberwar?

The Russian-Georgian conflict is being described as the first time cyber-attacks have accompanied an actual war. Last year, the Russian-Estonian spat was described as the first modern cyber-war. These descriptions over dramatise events and are a distraction from the more prosaic, but more serious, danger these illicit cyber-actions represent. The technology used in these cyber-conflicts has only limited strategic impact, but represents a major threat to one of the most successful engines of human freedom and opportunity – the World Wide Web itself.

The strikes against Georgian government websites, along with last April’s attacks against Estonian websites, were distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) where many computers simultaneously send messages to a website, preventing legitimate traffic from reaching the site. These attacks are relatively easy to launch, but taking a website down does not affect real world infrastructure and competent IT professionals can counter or at least mitigate DDoS attacks. The increasing volume and sophistication of these attacks is a subject much discussed among IT professionals, but its impact is to create an inconvenience.

Theoretically taking down Georgian government sites could have prevented Georgia from publicising its side of the conflict. However, some Georgian sites were migrated to new locations. More importantly, the Georgian government’s message was getting out to the world. The problem was that the United States and Nato had limited options for supporting Georgia. In short, the cyber component had no significant known impact.

Advanced economies and militaries rely on sophisticated information networks. Damaging or infiltrating these networks will probably be an important component of future wars. The ability to listen in on or disable an enemy’s military communications net could be the difference between victory and defeat. It is also conceivable that information inside these networks could be influenced, or that the networks running critical infrastructure – military or civilian – could be infiltrated and used to cause real-world damage. However the skills and technologies needed for these attacks will be highly specialised, and not akin to the DDoS attacks which a relative amateur can launch.

Russia, home to a sophisticated core of cyber-criminals, undoubtedly possesses some of these capabilities. But, considering Russia’s massive military advantage over tiny Georgia, it is unlikely that Russia would have turned to advanced cyber war to guarantee victory, particularly when deploying it would provide potential future adversaries with valuable intelligence about Russia’s cyber war strategies and tactics. In addition, much of Georgia’s infrastructure is old and consequently not online and therefore invulnerable to a cyber strike. (The Georgians claim that Russia has targeted their phone system, and while that is possible, it is more likely that Georgian phone systems were overwhelmed in the general crisis accompanying the Russian attacks.)

The Russian government may have instigated the DDoS attacks, although the evidence is unclear, and it is difficult to identify the origins of a DDoS attack. It appears that the DDoS attacks were in fact a mass action by regular Russian citizens. For the future of the Web, this is even more worrisome.

DDoS attacks typically use botnets, networks of thousands of compromised computers that, unbeknownst to their owners, are used to disseminate spam. Five years ago DDoS attacks and botnets were the domain of highly skilled cyber-criminals. Now, botnets can be rented online, and rentals come with tech support. The massive DDoS attacks on Georgia included botnets, but ordinary citizens joined in, using simple tools distributed online to join in the attacks. The tools of cybercrime are becoming progressively easier to use.

The Web was established as an open environment, with minimal governance, that puts a premium on individual liberty and initiative. This openness has been essential to the Web’s success as a tremendous engine of creativity, opportunity, and liberty. DDoS attacks that take down websites are bad manners and one threat to the open spirit that underpins the Web. But the technology behind these attacks represents even greater threats.

The primary use of botnets is not DDoS attacks, but to perpetrate an ever expanding repertoire of online frauds and distribute malicious software. These activities undermine the physical and moral integrity of the Web. Some estimates are that more than 75% of the emails sent worldwide are spam. With botnets becoming easier and easier to create and manage, the rate of spam is increasing faster than new internet capacity. Spam also represents a moral threat to the Web, as online fraud undermines trust in e-commerce and online communications in general.

Governments can better prepare for specific events, such as international cyberspats. There are a number of improvements that could be made in coordination and in developing early warning systems. But the systemic issues also need to be addressed. Software designs need to be improved to reduce the vulnerabilities that cyber-criminals exploit and the public needs to be better educated about safer online behaviour. Major Web users such as governments, ISPs, universities, and corporations need incentives to better secure their networks, and educate their users. Finally, serious efforts must be made to develop international laws that can prevent increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks and to prosecute cyber-criminals. All of these steps are costly, but without them more draconian efforts that impinge on individual privacy may be needed to keep the Web viable.

The cyber-component of the Russian-Georgian conflict was only a sideshow, but it highlighted the threats facing one of history’s great promoters of freedom and innovation – the World Wide Web.

Transnational Jihad, Supremacism, and Cold War Tactics by Jeffrey Imm

In facing new threats, a fundamental focus must be on defining the identity of such threats and an associated awareness of the need to change our governmental and policy strategies accordingly. If the threats are not clearly identified and defined, the consequences are a series of desperate, fractured tactical efforts to address aspects of the threats as perceived by diverse governmental organizations, without a coordinated strategy. Such a tactical-centric approach to new threats would predictably draw upon old paradigms and processes used in addressing older, previous threats.

This remains the primary challenge to America in dealing with Jihad. Without defining Jihad’s ideological basis, desperate governmental leaders and policy analysts revert to using outdated tactical measures that are focused on regional threats and Cold War statist measures. Without a strategy defining the ideological threat, government and policy leaders are confused, misguided, and frightened, and offer half-measure tactics. In today’s America, this combination of factors has resulted in the current ambiguous “war on extremism.”

To effectively deal with the war of ideas that Jihad represents, American government and policy leaders must honestly and clearly define the enemy ideology, and reject regional and statist tactics that are designed for a different enemy than we are fighting today.

The Regional Conflict Perspective to Jihad

On August 18, 2008 in the southern Philippines, new Jihadist atrocities were committed against the Philippine people, leaving 39 dead. News reports stated that “[s]ome of the civilians were hacked to death by machetes and there were reports that some were used as human shields during the violent rampage.” This is the latest in a Jihadist struggle that has reportedly claimed 120,000 lives in the past 30 years in the southern Philippines – equivalent to forty 9/11 attacks. Yet this Jihadist atrocity does not get major mainstream news coverage, because of a counterterror position that is prevalent throughout much of America’s intelligence agencies and analysts, which views Jihad in the Philippines as an isolated, regional conflict that has no links to Jihadist terrorism elsewhere in the world.

Analysts have remained focused on the geographical and ethnic issues in the Philippine Jihad struggle on the southern most Philippine island of Mindanao, which is 63 percent Christian, but where Islamic supremacists seek to have a segregated, separate territory. In fact, to try to achieve peace by accommodating segregationist goals of such separatists, the Philippine government created an Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which has its own separate government (that the other Philippine citizens have to support 98 percent of its economy). The latest violence is the result of a Philippine Supreme Court decision that defies the Islamic ARMM territory from having the “right” to assimilate new cities and provinces to expand its separatist territory. The Philippine’s Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) jihad attacks have been defended by terrorist leader Abdurahman Macapaar who threatens total war on the Philippine citizens and states that “in the eyes of Allah we are not terrorists,” calling for “Islamic justice in Mindanao.” The horror of the Jihadist atrocities in the Philippines is lost on the U.S. Ambassador to Philippines Kristie Kenney who urges the Philippine government to negotiate with this same MILF organization, and dismisses the latest attacks as merely “a few bad days.”

The “regional conflict” perspective is so embedded among many policy analysts that there is no linkage between the Islamic supremacist ideology inspiring the Philippines Jihad resulting in 120,000 dead, the ongoing terror attacks (Jihad and Communist) in India with an estimated 60,000+ dead (TOI report, BJP report), the ongoing Jihad attacks in Thailand since 2004 with 2,700 dead, the thousands dead from Jihad in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the steady stream of Jihadist terror plots and Islamic supremacist abuses in the United Kingdom and Europe. The standard argument remains that a solution to this global threat must analyze the needs of the local communities in each area to find ways to discourage “extremism.” Moreover, since the victims are not in Iraq, they get minimal to no American mainstream media news coverage, except for wire news reports. Jihadist terror that has resulted in hundreds of thousands dead in other regions of the world is just not “news” to many American media outlets.

Why American Government Leadership Doesn’t Confront Jihad’s Supremacist Ideology

On July 13, 2008, the Washington Post published a column by former CIA member Glenn Carle who stated “[w]e do not face a global jihadist ‘movement’ but a series of disparate ethnic and religious conflicts involving Muslim populations, each of which remains fundamentally regional in nature and almost all of which long predate the existence of al-Qaeda.” This denial of anything “global” about Jihad and Islamic supremacism is the mantra of the mainstream media, intelligence agencies, government leaders, and too many in the counterterrorism community.

The idea that the Islamic supremacist ideology that is at the root of the women murdered by the Taliban in Pakistan on August 20, 2008 (crushing one of their faces) — is the same Islamic supremacist ideology that drove MILF Jihadists to dismember innocent Philippine citizens on August 18, 2008 — does not make sense to a policy world that view threats by regions, not by ideologies. Moreover, both U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson and U.S. Ambassador to Philippines Kristie Kenney have given credibility to proponents of this supremacist ideology in these countries. Ambassador Patterson has met with pro-Taliban, pro-Sharia leaders such as JUI-F’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman to promote “free and fair elections.” Ambassador Kenney has called for negotiations with MILF a day after MILF’s jihadists were burning down buildings and dismembering Philippine citizens. This is who is representing America in the eyes of Islamic supremacists in these nations, which is another reason for the increasingly brazen acts by Jihadists in both countries.

To further prevent any confrontation of such an ideology, not only are threats specific to region, they are also considered to be nothing more than “extremism,” as stated in the 2008 National Defense Strategy Report authorized by Secretary Gates. The ambiguous term “extremism” provides politically correct coverage that a “threat” has been acknowledged while allowing agencies to still deny the nature or identity of the threat. A threat that cannot defined, however, is certainly not a strategy.

Yet in facing other supremacist threats, America’s counterterror analysts and governmental leaders did not take this tactic of creating barriers to ideological confrontation by creating regional categories and blurring the identity of the supremacist groups. This phenomenon is unique to the denial and fear of confrontation only when it comes to Islamic supremacism.

Why Denial is Not Part of American Historical Success against Supremacist Terror

Imagine the howls of outrage and disbelief from the majority of the American public and the mainstream media if 20th century counterterror analysts argued that white supremacist terrorism in Alabama was based on isolated incidents and local issues that were separate and different from white supremacist terrorism in Mississippi, in Michigan, on the West Coast, etc. Imagine how incredulous the public would be if analysts claimed if you had not spoken with whites in each of those community areas that you had no ability to recommend actions against white supremacism. Imagine the confusion if our government leaders had recommended that we not use the term “white supremacism” for fear that the very term would incite other whites to violence. Imagine the protests if analysts supported groups who praised scholars that supported segregationist policies or justified actions by white supremacist groups.

Yet these are precisely the failing tactics that American governmental and policy leaders are using and recommending regarding “extremism” (aka Islamic supremacism).

If 20th century counterterrorist and government leaders had used such tactics, we would have lost the war on white supremacism, and America would not have shown the courage of its convictions in defending the natural law that “all men are created equal.” In fact, America’s leadership was able to confront white supremacist ideology on a holistic, strategic basis, as a crushing, national effort against white supremacism throughout America in the 1960s through the 1980s. While that war continues today, the strength of national 20th century white supremacist ideology was smashed by a national relentless confrontation to every aspect of it that continues in cities, homes, offices, and public places today. As a result, the majority of the American public and mass media has zero tolerance for such white supremacism.

The question must be asked why American government leaders and policy analysts are now using tactics that fail to acknowledge our successes in fighting supremacism in the past.

Cold War Tactics to Fight Statists When Faced With Supremacists

In planning tactics against Jihad, an incorrect analogy gaining popularity in counterterrorism communities is the comparison of Islamic supremacism to the gradual Cold War efforts against Communism where some were encouraged to move from Communism to “Socialism” to merely being left-wing, as the nature of far-left statists evolved over decades. But looking at the evolution of a statist ideology in the same way as looking at an identity-based supremacist ideology (based on race, religion, etc.), is simply erroneous from both an ideological and a historical perspective.

I have previously pointed out that while there are some similarities in the activist nature of both the ideologies of Communism and Islamic supremacism, the latter has a true transnational activist appeal in that Islamic supremacism is not targeted merely at the transformation of states, but is targeted at the transformation and assimilation of individuals on a global basis.

All supremacist ideologies seek the transformation of individuals and their behavior, but the activist nature of Islamic supremacism is more dangerous in that it seeks assimilation as well as transformation of individuals. White supremacist Americans sought to impact the behavior of black Americans based on their supremacist ideology, but they never sought to convert them into white supremacists. Aryan supremacists sought to impact the behavior of Jews, but also did not seek to convert them into Aryan supremacists either. This is a boundary inherent in race-based supremacism.

But Islamic supremacism has no such boundaries either of state or of individual converts. Islamic supremacism has no limitations on assimilating others under its ideology. Islamic supremacism has the singular goal of total assimilation or submission of those not assimilated.

Therefore, not only are Cold War statist-based tactics not applicable to such a supremacist challenge, but also the regional categorization of threats is not applicable to such a supremacist challenge. In short, America’s predominant policies and tactics for fighting the Jihadist enemy are designed to fight a completely different enemy altogether. This inability by government leaders to recognize such shortcomings leaves America totally exposed in the war of ideas against Islamic supremacists. While the Islamic supremacist ideology behind Jihad is activist like Communism, the strategic lessons that need to be learned from history must be drawn from wars on identity-based supremacist ideologies.

Those who would seek to argue for cold war tactics against Al-Qaeda believe that the same Cold War approach to fighting Communism in shades of grey to “de-radicalize” individuals will work for supremacist ideologies as well. The challenge is that such tactical arguments fail to recognize that there are no “grey areas” in a supremacist ideology; it is a truly binary challenge.

Andrew Cochran’s July 23, 2008 posting of a commentary by Professor Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker, Chairman of “Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East,” states:

“We need to understand the mentality of our fanatic fundamentalist enemies. Life is totally black or white for them — there are no shades of grey. Surviving a battle with the superior forces of their enemy is seen as a victory by them — proof that we in the West are too soft to defeat them ultimately.”

Yet those who would pursue Cold War tactics make the argument that by persuading individuals to take steps away from Islamic supremacist violence that we are winning a war of ideas. This argument believes that such “de-radicalization” successes can be demonstrated: (1) if an individual goes from actively supporting Al-Qaeda to “merely” supporting “defensive jihad” in Afghanistan and elsewhere, (2) if an individual goes from Jihad to political Islamism, (3) if an individual goes from terrorism to Wahhabism, Salafism, Khumeinism, or (4) if an individual still supports Islamic supremacism but is more a polite public “citizen” about their views. The “de-radicalization” theorists claim that such changes demonstrate western values winning a gradual war of ideas. In fact, this is only a change of tactics by supremacists, not a change in support for supremacist ideology at all.

A number in the counterterrorism community are comfortable with this incorrect argument that ignores the binary nature of supremacism, as such tactics suggest that persuasion (as opposed to confrontation) can be used to avoid inciting individuals to Jihadist terrorism and preventing them from “radicalization.” Today’s counterterrorism community is particularly vulnerable to this self-deception, due to its inherent focus on preventing terrorist violence, rather than a primary focus being the homeland security of our values of equality and liberty that defines America’s identity.

The Cold War Thinking That Equality and Liberty is Someone Else’s Fight

In addition to the failed government and policy perspectives focused on fighting an enemy different from Islamic supremacism, the actual change in the American sense of responsibility in our national defense is impacted by the Cold War history.

Of all the pernicious wrong-headed approaches that continue to be carried over from the Cold War, the worst of the Cold War ideas that are still alive in America is that our national security is someone else’s fight. The approach during the Cold War in dealing with a communist, statist enemy with clearly defined military, troops, and weapons, such as the USSR, was to maintain a centralized, paternalistic military command.

The logical idea was that such centralized national security gave America the technology and the intelligence to fight a statist enemy with nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles. While this tactical strategy was focused on the long term war with that specific enemy, the unintentional impact was that Americans became dependent on a centralized military and intelligence infrastructure to take on the majority of the burden of such a fight. After the elimination of the military conscription in 1973 (with a brief return in 1980), the call for the citizens to make a personal, significant sacrifice was blurred to only seeking tax dollars for volunteer military personnel and contracted equipment.

But with the 9/11 jihadist attack on America’s homeland, many of us hoped that these attitudes had changed. To some extent, attitudes have changed among some Americans. Individuals around the nation have risen to the ideological challenge in researching Jihad and debating the war of ideas.

However, the majority of the American public has yet to fully realize that the battle in dealing with Islamic supremacism is truly their war and their personal responsibility, requiring their personal sacrifice and commitment. To a society used to being “led” by analysts, politicians, experts, mainstream media, this American public still has not yet grasped that it has to do its own research, reach its own conclusions, and tell its government representatives (in detail) what it seeks to have done to win this war. Some in a baby-boomer post-Cold War society find this terribly unfair. After all, isn’t this the government’s job? The simple answer is yes, if we want to lose the war against Islamic supremacism. Because what such government leaders and analysts have clearly demonstrated is that they are taking the wrong path, and academia, the media, and many analysts are keeping us on that wrong path.

In a representative democracy, fighting against supremacism and defending our values of equality and liberty is everyone’s fight. The Cold War is over. It is time for America’s baby-boomers to grow up. This is our generation’s challenge and defining moment.

Why Confrontation is Essential in Fighting Supremacism

Confrontation is unpleasant. Engagement is an easy sell to a confused, misinformed, frightened, uninspired, poorly led public. To American government leaders trying to develop tactics around “extremism,” the rat hole of engagement with an undefined ideology or enemy actually sounds better at government meetings and political discussions than the dreaded idea of “confrontation.” In our political world, Americans constantly seek “engagement,” because we believe that we can somehow persuade others of our viewpoints. We fail to understand that this perspective is unique to pluralistic democracies that value equality of opinion and ideas, and that value liberty of freedom of speech and press.

Moreover, American history is not a popular subject with collegians or with political analysts, especially in considering world issues. America’s pluralistic outlook to the world drives us to seek answers based on other experiences in the world and balance our views based on other ideologies. This willingness to be relativist on other cultures and values is usually laudable in an open-minded, creative nation.

However, when it come to dealing with Islamic supremacism, American leaders fail to recognize America’s own successes in dealing with supremacist ideologies and fail to recognize that there are supremacist cultures that are fundamentally inimical to natural laws of equality and liberty. Supremacism is not a negotiating, relativist culture. There are no half-measures with supremacism. Fighting supremacism is a life or death matter for America’s culture and for the defense of equality and liberty.

History shows that in fighting supremacist ideologies, only confrontation works. White supremacists were not persuaded to change their views on segregation and equality – they were confronted by force and by law. Aryan supremacists were not persuaded to change their views on Jewish individuals, homosexuals, and others – they were confronted by military force. Change in those who supported supremacist ideologies was not the result merely of arguments and fine words in literature and the press; changed happened due to direct confrontation. History shows that supremacists are not readily argued away, bought away, or persuaded away from their ideology in a process of “de-radicalization”; supremacists can change their tactics from time to time to allow non-supremacist authorities to let down their guard, to allow for rebuilding and infiltration, and to develop other less obvious tactics of recruitment. A supremacist’s change in tactics is not the same as a change in ideology – a war of ideas that merely seeks to change supremacist tactics, not fight in defense of equality, is not a “war of ideas” at all — and is merely a plea to be “left alone.”

American counterterrorism analysts need only to consult their own national history for lessons on fighting supremacism. The 1869 federal grand jury declaration that the Ku Klux Klan was a terrorist group did not end white supremacist activism in America. The 1929 arrest of Ku Klux Klan leaders by the FBI did not end white supremacist activism in America. The 1960s arrest of Ku Klux Klan leaders by the FBI did not end white supremacist activism in America. Arrests of Ku Klux Klan terrorists, arguments to persuade white supremacists to change, none of these alone were sufficient to break the back of the white supremacist ideology. Consistent, total, and unwavering confrontation was required. What American history demonstrated was that there were no shades of grey in fighting white supremacism. Tolerating some supremacist activities merely allowed for the re-growth of other more violent supremacist activities to rise up again. It took America 100 years to learn this vital lesson that there are no “half-way” measures in defending equality and there are no “half-way” measures in fighting supremacism. Why is this costly, painful lesson ignored by those leaders who are responsible for fighting Islamic supremacism today? Because we are allowing them to ignore these lessons. Our government is representative of its people; it is past time that American citizens concerned about Islamic supremacism speak out on the imperative need to use lessons from our history in confronting today’s challenges on Islamic supremacism.

A Solution in Defying Supremacism with Equality

Equality is the one thing that supremacists can not and will not tolerate. The natural law that “all men are created equal” is America’s strongest weapon against supremacists of every kind.

A proof of this is found in previous efforts of supremacist organizations to attempt to infiltrate and influence the American people. White supremacists could not and would not tolerate equality. When they were losing the war, they offered the segregationist compromise of “separate-but-equal” schools, public facilities, etc. Aryan supremacists also could not tolerate equality. The Nazi German American Bund that sought to infiltrate America did their best to pretend to be patriotic, complete with a birthday celebration to George Washington, and calls for “liberty.” But the Nazi Aryan supremacists could not address the idea of equality, it choked in their throats.

In Europe, the continuing publicity by courageous women against Islamic supremacism has led to similar fractioning of Islamic supremacists. Even now, in the UK, Islamic supremacists are offering similar “separate-but-equal” new “rights” for women using a new charter under Sharia law (when British women already have equal rights under British law). The vast and obvious inequalities between men and women in Islamic supremacism are recognized as a fault line in the supremacists’ global campaign. Of all the strategies that Americans should be concentrating on, the vital need to publicize the failure of Islamic supremacism when it comes to women’s rights is the most promising near-term topic in the war of ideas.

Equality has been a threat to Islamic supremacists around the world and in international organizations. It is their greatest fear and is America’s strongest weapon. But in promoting equality as a measure against Islamic supremacism, it must be understood that such confrontation will require a more aggressive war of ideas. Our respect for equality in a diverse nation is something that Islamic supremacists must attack. In fact, a nation dedicated to equality is indeed Islamic supremacists’ greatest threat.

Those who seek to solely avoid additional violence will discourage this confrontation. Those who seek to demonstrate the courage of their convictions on equality and liberty will demand it.

Why Equality Will Defeat Supremacism

A supremacist society is dependent on its rigidity, conformance, and limited perspective in defining WHAT IS based on reinforcing the supremacist perspective. A supremacist society is dependent on its lie of a singular superiority of identity to control its populace. Without defending its lie of superiority, a supremacist society will crumble. When challenged by others who don’t accept its supremacist ideology, a supremacist society will either crush those who don’t conform, or if it is weak, it will call for so-called “separate-but-equal” segregation until it can gain more strength.

A nation dedicated to ensuring equality creates a transformational society. An egalitarian society utilizes its infinite diversity, creativity, and unlimited vision to define what COULD BE based on it acceptance of equality as a fundamental value. An egalitarian society can weather any storm and can transform its skills, talents, and focus to meet the needs of overall population. Its basis in the natural law of equality gives it transformational advantages over any other society. The concept of “separate-but-equal” segregation of the population is illogical in an egalitarian society which draws its strength from its diversity and unlimited ability to use its population in endlessly diverse combinations and permutations to promote human liberty and progress.

As a transformational, egalitarian society, Americans can seek to reinvent the American experience in ways that allow continuing new opportunities and liberties for fellow citizens to grow and contribute to their communities, their families, and themselves. Our societal development is based on the fundamental natural laws of individual equality and liberty. Our egalitarian ability to transform is multi-dimensional – it occurs on an individual, family, community, and national basis.

This is why supremacism will ultimately lose to America. No matter what weapons are used against Americans, no matter what attacks are made on America, its foundation in equality makes it a transformational society that allows infinite ways to defend itself, respond to attacks, rebuild and restore itself, and continue an endless war against its supremacist adversaries.

But every battle, like every journey, requires a first step. That first step for America in this war is in recognizing that it is neither “extremism” nor “terrorism” that it is fighting — it is fighting the very idea of Islamic supremacism.

Our courage today creates the future that we leave our children tomorrow.

Resilient Community: Malcom’s Platform by John Robb

Resilient communities aren’t built through one-off projects/efforts, good will, and lifestyle changes. Instead, they are a vibrant ecosystems of activity, that are innovative, robust, and efficient. The key to growing ecosystems that exhibit these qualities is to build platforms that span everything from electricity to food to security. Here’s a short story about Malcom McLean to get your head around the idea of what a platform is (this is for my upcoming book on Resilient Communities) and why they are so powerful:

Malcom’s Platform

In 1937, during a commercial delivery trip carrying North Carolina cotton bales to the port in Hoboken, New Jersey, Malcom McLean became frustrated at the wait he experienced to unload his cargo at the port facility. He later remarked, “I had to wait most of the day to deliver the bales, sitting there in my truck, watching stevedores load other cargo. It struck me that I was looking at a lot of wasted time and money. I watched them take each crate off the truck and slip it into a sling, which would then lift the crate into the hold of the ship.” This thought was carried forward seventeen years, when at the helm of a company with 1,776 trucks and 37 transport terminals (on the Eastern Seaboard) he gravitated to the idea that long haul routes would be better accomplished through sea transport.

However, to accomplish this, he needed to remake the shipping industry from the ground up. In other words, he needed to build a shipping platform for the shipping industry. What is a platform? At a high level, a platform takes related activities that are complex, unique, and variable and turns them into activities that are simple, universal, and standard. Here’s how Malcom built his (and now our) shipping platform:

* First, he created a shipping container that could be detached from a truck and stacked on a ship without unbundling the contents.
* He followed this with new wheel systems to quickly attach containers to trucks.

* Finally, he developed container ships that allowed easy roll-on/roll-off and container stacking.

The new containerized system he developed simplified shipping by pushing the complexity of packing and unpacking cargo to the edges of the shipping network. Second, it made interconnection with the network easy, since containers were inexpensive and of a standard set of sizes. Finally, it lowered/standardized costs, reduced theft, and limited damage.

The debut of his new system was with the maiden voyage of the Ideal X, a converted oil tanker that loaded fifty-eight containers at Port Hoboken, New Jersey and unloaded them in Houston, Texas to his waiting trucks for delivery. The success of this innovation led him to radically expand his business into a powerhouse called SeaLand Industries that had twenty seven thousand containers and thirty-seven container ships by the end of the 1960s.

Obviously, it didn’t end there. The advantages in speed, cost, and flexibility were so compelling that the entire shipping industry was transformed as companies, ports, and governments adopted his containerization process. By 2000, nearly 90% of the world’s shipping was accomplished using containers in support of a vast global ecosystem of manufacturers and retailers made possible by Malcom’s shipping platform.

A Reflection: U.S. Army + Roy Mitsuoka + Apple (About 1 Year)

Spending on military research and development has increased to levels not seen since the Reagan Administration and not seen since to a certain extent World War II. At the same time, military research and development has run into cost overruns and long delays never experienced before.

The culprit, in my view, to military research and development stagnation or lack of innovation by military research and development is management related. Note, what I mean by stagnation or by innovation, is the lack of or ability to create and/or refine and/or package ideas into reality that increase intelligence and situational awareness that enhances force projection, force protection, and force survivability with greater lethality and accuracy. Even so, management is not required to operate in a framework that requires a high degree of efficient and effective interactions and actions. At the same time, individuals with geek credit will be put off by, have been put off by, and loose the innovative and creative spirit by the multi-layer management associated with defense research and development. The increasing nature of military research and development becoming more and more protracted is also a professional death sentence for individuals with geek credit and merit that want to be in sync with the latest technological advances.

Even worse, military research and development has been and is being transferred to contractors for oversight responsibility that often lack sufficient geek credit. As such, military research and development management has become a conventional business that lacks “authentic business” and spends around 80% on marketing and stagnation and around 20% on human resources and innovation. In other words, instead of military research and development resulting in ideas becoming reality based upon what the forces down range need (similar to business model of Apple,) military research and development is telling the forces down range what they need (similar to business model of Microsoft.)

Military research and development must become innovative. They must leverage existing resources (public sector, private sector, and open source sector) based upon efficient and effective interactions. At the same time, create and/or refine and/or package ideas into reality that increase intelligence and situational awareness that enhances force projection, force protection, and force survivability with greater lethality and accuracy based upon down range needs and goals. Military research and development, in the end, must be an enabler that allows the forces down range to increase intelligence and situational awareness that enhances force projection, force protection, and force survivability with greater lethality.

We have to get back to what made this military research and development great that won World War II and sent a man to the moon, and that is to have the geek credit, merit, courage, curiosity, and commitment, to do things that have not been done before.

An Army of Ones and Zeroes: How I became a soldier in the Georgia-Russia cyberwar by Evgeny Morozov

As Russian and Georgian troops fight on the ground, there’s a parallel war happening in cyberspace. In recent weeks, Georgia’s government Web sites have been besieged by denial-of-service attacks and acts of vandalism. Just like in traditional warfare, there’s a lot of confusion about what’s going on in this technological battle—nobody seems to know whether this is a centralized Russian attack, the work of a loose band of hackers, or something else. Having read so many contradicting accounts, I knew that the only reliable way to find out what was really happening was to enlist in the Russian digital army myself.

Don’t get me wrong: My geopolitical sympathies, if anything, lie with Moscow’s counterparts. Nor do I see myself as an Internet-savvy Rambo character. I had a much simpler research objective: to test how much damage someone like me, who is quite aloof from the Kremlin physically and politically, could inflict upon Georgia’s Web infrastructure, acting entirely on my own and using only a laptop and an Internet connection. If I succeeded, that would somewhat contradict the widely shared assumption—at least in most of the Western media—that the Kremlin is managing this cyberwarfare in a centralized fashion. My mission, if successful, would show that the field is open to anyone with a grudge against Georgia, regardless of their exact relationship with state authorities.

Not knowing exactly how to sign up for a cyberwar, I started with an extensive survey of the Russian blogosphere. My first anonymous mentor, as I learned from this blog post, became frustrated with the complexity of other cyberwarfare techniques used in this campaign and developed a simpler and lighter “for dummies” alternative. All I needed to do was to save a copy of a certain Web page to my hard drive and then open it in my browser. I was warned that the page wouldn’t work with Internet Explorer but did well with Firefox and Opera. (Get with the program, Microsoft!) Once accessed, the page would load thumbnailed versions of a dozen key Georgian Web sites in a single window. All I had to do was set the page to automatically update every three to five seconds. Voilà: My browser was now sending thousands of queries to the most important Georgian sites, helping to overload them, and it had taken me only two to three minutes to set up.

But now I knew that there must be other more sophisticated options out there. After some more investigation, I unearthed two alternatives, one creative and one emotional.

The creative option was to write my own simple program. Although my experience with software development is nonexistent, the instructions looked manageable. All I had to do was create a blank text file, copy and paste the URLs of any Web sites that I wanted to attack, specify how many times these sites should be pinged, and copy and paste a few lines of code from the original instructions. The last bit was to rename it with a .BAT extension, instantly converting it into a file that Windows recognizes as an executable program.

My e-Molotov cocktail was ready to go. I just had to double-click the file, and all those sites that I listed would be inundated with requests. The original blog post also encouraged me to run my program at certain times of the day to coincide with attacks launched by others, thus multiplying their effectiveness.

So far, it looked as if my experiment was succeeding. In less than half an hour, I already had two options that could potentially cause some damage, if I hadn’t stopped after the first few seconds of testing. What I found missing in my first two trials, though, was a sense of priorities. If I were truly interested in destabilizing the Georgian sites, how would I know whether to focus on the Ministry of Transportation or the Supreme Court? What if other volunteers like me were attacking one but not the other? Were my resources more vital on other e-fronts?

Faced with these dilemmas, I turned to the site StopGeorgia for help. This was the emotional option. Branding itself as a site by and for the “Russian hack underground,” StopGeorgia declared that it wouldn’t tolerate “aggression against Russia in cyberspace.” In addition to this militaristic rhetoric, the site offered a very convenient list of targets—Web sites that either belonged to Georgian government agencies or to potential friends of the country (including those of the U.K. and U.S. embassies in Tbilisi). This list included plus and minus signs to indicate whether the sites were still accessible from Russia and, for some reason, Lithuania. The sites with the plus signs were, logically, the primary target; there was no point in attacking the sites that were already down.

The administrators of StopGeorgia did not stop there; they also offered visitors a virtual present. The treat was a software utility called DoSHTTP, which the site encouraged all readers to download. DoSHTTP’s creators bill it as a program to “test” the so-called “denial-of-service attacks” that have become synonymous with modern cyberwarfare. But if you believe the rhetoric on StopGeorgia, its capabilities extend far beyond mere testing—the site encouraged all visitors to use the program to launch attacks, not test them.

After making sure that I wasn’t downloading a virus, I installed DoSHTTP and started playing around with it. Along with offering customizable options to advanced users, there was also a nice option for beginners like me. After entering a URL, I could initiate an attack by clicking something that said “Start Flood.” A flood did follow—war at the touch of a button.

In less than an hour, I had become an Internet soldier. I didn’t receive any calls from Kremlin operatives; nor did I have to buy a Web server or modify my computer in any significant way. If what I was doing was cyberwarfare, I have some concerns about the number of child soldiers who may just find it too fun and accessible to resist.

My experiment also might shed some light on why the recent cyberwar has been so hard to pin down and why no group in particular has claimed responsibility. Paranoid that the Kremlin’s hand is everywhere, we risk underestimating the great patriotic rage of many ordinary Russians, who, having been fed too much government propaganda in the last few days, are convinced that they need to crash Georgian Web sites. Many Russians undoubtedly went online to learn how to make mischief, as I did. Within an hour, they, too, could become cyberwarriors.

Making Capitalism More Creative by Bill Gates

Capitalism has improved the lives of billions of people — something that’s easy to forget at a time of great economic uncertainty. But it has left out billions more. They have great needs, but they can’t express those needs in ways that matter to markets. So they are stuck in poverty, suffer from preventable diseases and never have a chance to make the most of their lives. Governments and nonprofit groups have an irreplaceable role in helping them, but it will take too long if they try to do it alone. It is mainly corporations that have the skills to make technological innovations work for the poor. To make the most of those skills, we need a more creative capitalism: an attempt to stretch the reach of market forces so that more companies can benefit from doing work that makes more people better off. We need new ways to bring far more people into the system — capitalism — that has done so much good in the world.

There’s much still to be done, but the good news is that creative capitalism is already with us. Some corporations have identified brand-new markets among the poor for life-changing technologies like cell phones. Others — sometimes with a nudge from activists — have seen how they can do good and do well at the same time. To take a real-world example, a few years ago I was sitting in a bar with Bono, and frankly, I thought he was a little nuts. It was late, we’d had a few drinks, and Bono was all fired up over a scheme to get companies to help tackle global poverty and disease. He kept dialing the private numbers of top executives and thrusting his cell phone at me to hear their sleepy yet enthusiastic replies. As crazy as it seemed that night, Bono’s persistence soon gave birth to the (RED) campaign. Today companies like Gap, Hallmark and Dell sell (RED)-branded products and donate a portion of their profits to fight AIDS. (Microsoft recently signed up too.) It’s a great thing: the companies make a difference while adding to their bottom line, consumers get to show their support for a good cause, and — most important — lives are saved. In the past year and a half, (RED) has generated $100 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, helping put nearly 80,000 people in poor countries on lifesaving drugs and helping more than 1.6 million get tested for HIV. That’s creative capitalism at work.

Creative capitalism isn’t some big new economic theory. And it isn’t a knock on capitalism itself. It is a way to answer a vital question: How can we most effectively spread the benefits of capitalism and the huge improvements in quality of life it can provide to people who have been left out?

The World Is Getting Better

It might seem strange to talk about creative capitalism when we’re paying more than $4 for a gallon of gas and people are having trouble paying their mortgages. There’s no doubt that today’s economic troubles are real; people feel them deeply, and they deserve immediate attention. Creative capitalism isn’t an answer to the relatively short-term ups and downs of the economic cycle. It’s a response to the longer-term fact that too many people are missing out on a historic, century-long improvement in the quality of life. In many nations, life expectancy has grown dramatically in the past 100 years. More people vote in elections, express their views and enjoy economic freedom than ever before. Even with all the problems we face today, we are at a high point of human well-being. The world is getting a lot better.

The problem is, it’s not getting better fast enough, and it’s not getting better for everyone. One billion people live on less than a dollar a day. They don’t have enough nutritious food, clean water or electricity. The amazing innovations that have made many lives so much better — like vaccines and microchips — have largely passed them by. This is where governments and nonprofits come in. As I see it, there are two great forces of human nature: self-interest and caring for others. Capitalism harnesses self-interest in a helpful and sustainable way but only on behalf of those who can pay. Government aid and philanthropy channel our caring for those who can’t pay. And the world will make lasting progress on the big inequities that remain — problems like AIDS, poverty and education — only if governments and nonprofits do their part by giving more aid and more effective aid. But the improvements will happen faster and last longer if we can channel market forces, including innovation that’s tailored to the needs of the poorest, to complement what governments and nonprofits do. We need a system that draws in innovators and businesses in a far better way than we do today.

Naturally, if companies are going to get more involved, they need to earn some kind of return. This is the heart of creative capitalism. It’s not just about doing more corporate philanthropy or asking companies to be more virtuous. It’s about giving them a real incentive to apply their expertise in new ways, making it possible to earn a return while serving the people who have been left out. This can happen in two ways: companies can find these opportunities on their own, or governments and nonprofits can help create such opportunities where they presently don’t exist.

What’s Been Missed

As C.K. Prahalad shows in his book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, there are markets all over the world that businesses have missed. One study found that the poorest two-thirds of the world’s population has some $5 trillion in purchasing power. A key reason market forces are slow to make an impact in developing countries is that we don’t spend enough time studying the needs of those markets. I should know: I saw it happen at Microsoft. For many years, Microsoft has used corporate philanthropy to bring technology to people who can’t get it otherwise, donating more than $3 billion in cash and software to try to bridge the digital divide. But our real expertise is in writing software that solves problems, and recently we’ve realized that we weren’t bringing enough of that expertise to problems in the developing world. So now we’re looking at inequity as a business problem as well as something to be addressed through philanthropy. We’re working on projects like a visual interface that will enable illiterate or semiliterate people to use a PC instantly, with minimal training. Another project of ours lets an entire classroom full of students use a single computer; we’ve developed software that lets each student use her own mouse to control a specially colored cursor so that as many as 50 kids can use one computer at the same time. This is a big advance for schools where there aren’t enough computers to go around, and it serves a market we hadn’t examined before.

Cell phones are another example. They’re now a booming market in the developing world, but historically, companies vastly underestimated their potential. In 2000, when Vodafone bought a large stake in a Kenyan cell-phone company, it figured that the market in Kenya would max out at 400,000 users. Today that company, Safaricom, has more than 10 million. The company has done it by finding creative ways to serve low-income Kenyans. Its customers are charged by the second rather than by the minute, for example, which keeps down the cost. Safaricom is making a profit, and it’s making a difference. Farmers use their cell phones to find the best prices in nearby markets. A number of innovative uses for cell phones are emerging. Already many Kenyans use them to store cash (via a kind of electronic money) and transfer funds. If you have to carry money over long distances — say, from the market back to your home — this kind of innovation makes a huge difference. You’re less tempting to rob if you’re not holding any cash.

This is how people can benefit when businesses find opportunities that have been missed. But since I started talking about creative capitalism earlier this year, I’ve heard from some skeptics who doubt that there are any new markets. They say, “If these opportunities really existed, someone would have found them by now.” I disagree. Their argument assumes that businesses have already studied every possible market for their products. Their attitude reminds me of the old joke about an economist who’s walking down the street with a friend. The economist steps over a $10 bill that’s lying on the ground. His friend asks him why he didn’t take the money. “It couldn’t possibly be there,” he explains. “If it were, somebody would’ve picked it up!” Some companies make the same mistake. They think all the $10 bills have already been picked up. It would be a shame if we missed such opportunities, and it would make a huge difference if, instead, researchers and strategists at corporations met regularly with experts on the needs of the poor and talked about new applications for their best ideas.

Beyond finding new markets and developing new products, companies sometimes can benefit by providing the poor with heavily discounted access to products. Industries like software and pharmaceuticals, for example, have very low production costs, so you can come out ahead by selling your product for a bigger profit in rich markets and for a smaller profit, or at cost, in poor ones. Businesses in other industries can’t do this tiered pricing, but they can benefit from the public recognition and enhanced reputation that come from serving those who can’t pay. The companies involved in the (RED) campaign draw in new customers who want to be associated with a good cause. That might be the tipping point that leads people to pick one product over another.

There’s another crucial benefit that accrues to businesses that do good work. They will find it easier to recruit and retain great employees. Young people today — all over the world — want to work for organizations that they can feel good about. Show them that a company is applying its expertise to help the poorest, and they will repay that commitment with their own dedication.

Creating New Incentives

Even so, no matter how hard businesses look or how creatively they think, there are some problems in the world that aren’t amenable to solution by existing market incentives. Malaria is a great example: the people who most need new drugs or a vaccine are the least able to pay, so the drugs and vaccines never get made. In these cases, governments and nonprofits can create the incentives. This is the second way in which creative capitalism can take wing. Incentives can be as straightforward as giving public praise to the companies that are doing work that serves the poor. This summer, a Dutch nonprofit called the Access to Medicine Foundation started publishing a report card that shows which pharmaceutical companies are doing the most to make sure that medicines are made for — and reach — people in developing countries. When I talk to executives from pharmaceutical companies, they tell me that they want to do more for neglected diseases — but they at least need to get credit for it. This report card does exactly that.

Publicity is very valuable, but sometimes it’s still not enough to persuade companies to get involved. Even the best p.r. may not pay the bill for 10 years of research into a new drug. That’s why it’s so important for governments to create more financial incentives. Under a U.S. law enacted last year, for example, any drug company that develops a new treatment for a neglected disease like malaria can get a priority review from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for another product it has made. If you develop a new drug for malaria, your profitable cholesterol drug could go on the market as much as a year earlier. Such a priority review could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s a fantastic way for governments to go beyond the aid they already give and channel market forces so they improve even more lives.

Of course, governments in developing countries have to do a lot to foster capitalism themselves. They must pass laws and make regulations that let markets flourish, bringing the benefits of economic growth to more people. In fact, that’s another argument I’ve heard against creative capitalism: “We don’t need to make capitalism more creative. We just need governments to stop interfering with it.” There is something to this. Many countries could spark more business investment — both within their borders and from the outside — if they did more to guarantee property rights, cut red tape and so on. But these changes come slowly. In the meantime, we can’t wait. As a businessman, I’ve seen that companies can tap new markets right now, even if conditions aren’t ideal. And as a philanthropist, I’ve found that our caring for others compels us to help people right now. The longer we wait, the more people suffer needlessly.

The Next Step

In june, I moved out of my day-to-day role at Microsoft to spend more time on the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I’ll be talking with political leaders about how their governments can increase aid for the poor, make it more effective and bring in new partners through creative capitalism. I’ll also talk with CEOs about what their companies can do. One idea is to dedicate a percentage of their top innovators’ time to issues that affect the people who have been left behind. This kind of contribution takes the brainpower that makes life better for the richest and dedicates some of it to improving the lives of everyone else. Some pharmaceutical companies, like Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, are already doing this. The Japanese company Sumitomo Chemical shared some of its technology with a Tanzanian textile company, helping it produce millions of bed nets, which are crucial tools in the fight to eradicate malaria. Other companies are doing the same in food, cell phones and banking.

In other words, creative capitalism is already under way. But we can do much more. Governments can create more incentives like the FDA voucher. We can expand the report-card idea beyond the pharmaceutical industry and make sure the rankings get publicity so companies get credit for doing good work. Consumers can reward companies that do their part by buying their products. Employees can ask how their employers are contributing. If more companies follow the lead of the most creative organizations in their industry, they will make a huge impact on some of the world’s worst problems.

More than 30 years ago, Paul Allen and I started Microsoft because we wanted to be part of a movement to put a computer on every desk and in every home. Ten years ago, Melinda and I started our foundation because we want to be part of a different movement — this time, to help create a world where no one has to live on a dollar a day or die from a disease we know how to prevent. Creative capitalism can help make it happen. I hope more people will join the cause.

Resilient Community: Technological Acceleration by Jon Robb

The pace of technological change is accelerating exponentially. Fact, not much real debate on that. Most important to our analysis is how this change superempowers small groups, allowing them to accomplish activities normally reserved for large corporations or governments. The keys to this supermepowerment are:

* Better tools. Moore’s law, Carlson curves, and personal fabrication (DIY everything, the start of an exponential rate of improvement for matter/products). Shift from centralized production to ‘grow’ your own computer/chemicals etc. Local energy.

* Rapidly expanding network resources. How to’s on everything. Basic education via open courseware (from the best Universities in the world). Sensor networks. Spimes.

* New social connectivity. Expert networks. Tinkering via open source development. Telecommuting. Wisdom of crowds and crowd-sourcing.

Unfortunately, this supempowerment makes it possible for small groups to do incredible damage to global society. Fortunately, it also making it possible for resilient communities to efficiently and productively emulate global production/services locally. As a result, the resilient community isn’t a step backwards to 19th Century approaches (survivalism, scarcity, and low productivity), but rather a move in a direction that makes it possible to generate rapid and sustained (as opposed to the relative stasis and irregular progress of the current system) improvements how we live.