“Stuxnet 0.5 was submitted to a malware scanning service in November 2007 and could have begun operation as early as November 2005,” Symantec notes in a report. It may have been submitted to see whether Symantec’s defences would recognise it as malware – in which case it would have been useless. One key to Stuxnet’s success was that it was not detected by conventional antivirus systems used in corporate and state computer systems.
The success of Stuxnet – in both forms – is reckoned to have averted a planned military strike by Israel against Iran’s reprocessing efforts in 2011. During 2010 it had seemed increasingly likely that Israeli jets might target the heavily-armoured plant to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
But the computer virus, one of the most visible forms of a cyberwar that is increasingly raging between nation states, made that unnecessary, and is reckoned to have put Iran’s plans back by years.
The 1.0 version of Stuxnet is reckoned to have infected Iranian computers after being copied onto USB sticks which were left in locations in India and Iran known to be used by Iranian nuclear scientists and their contacts. It then spread into computer systems and took over the connected Siemens control systems, spinning centrifuges to dangerous speeds in order to damage the systems."
Stephen M. Walt | Foreign Policy »
The debate on Iran and its nuclear program does little credit to the U.S. foreign policy community, because much of it rests on dubious assumptions that do not stand up to even casual scrutiny. Lots of ink, pixels, and air-time has been devoted to discussing whether Iran truly wants a bomb, how close it might be to getting one, how well sanctions are working, whether the mullahs in charge are “rational,” and whether a new diplomatic initiative is advisable. Similarly, journalists, politicians and policy wonks spend endless hours asking if and when Israel might attack and whether the United States should help. But we hardly ever ask ourselves if this issue is being blown wildly out of proportion. >continue<
And, moreover, whether failing critical faculties here may in fact work to drive Iranian thinking towards nuclear armament.
Since having made a similar point two years ago, hardly a week goes by that I don’t become aggravated over the ever ratcheting probability of war with Iran - and a nightmare of both human and geopolitical proportions based off of a concoction myopic conceits and lazy premises. If you figure we need less of this in the world today, please raise a voice.
Introducing Jeremiah Goulka’s “The Dogs of War Are Barking”, a great long read on an increased probability of war with Iran under a Romney administration, Tom Engelhardt remarks:
The Obama administration has engaged in a staggering military build-up in the Persian Gulf and at U.S. and allied bases around Iran (not to speak of in the air over that country and in cyberspace). Massive as it is, however, it hasn’t gotten much coverage lately. Perhaps, after all the alarms and warnings about possible Israeli or U.S. military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities this election season, it’s become so much the norm that it doesn’t even seem like news anymore. Still, two recent stories should jog our memories.
Barely a week ago, the commander of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. John C. Stennis was temporarily replaced and called home to face an investigation into “inappropriate leadership judgment.” What this means is unclear, but it happened while the Stennis and its attending strike group including destroyers, guided missile cruisers, and other ships, were deployed in the Persian Gulf. We forget just what an “aircraft carrier” really is. It’s essentially a floating U.S. airbase and small town with a crew of about 5,000. As it happens, the Stennis was sent back to the Persian Gulf four months early to join the U.S.S. Eisenhower, because Washington wanted two such strike groups in the area. Even if there were no other build-up, this would be impressive enough.
At about the same time, what might be thought of as the creepy story of that week surfaced. Behind the scenes, reported the Guardian, the British government had rejected Obama administration requests for access to some of its bases as part of preparations for a possible war with Iran. (“The Guardian has been told that U.S. diplomats have also lobbied for the use of British bases in Cyprus, and for permission to fly from U.S. bases on Ascension Island in the Atlantic and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, both of which are British territories.”) The rejection — “the government does not think military action is the right course at this point of time” — was not, of course, the creepy part of the story. For some strange reason, British officials don’t feel that war is the optimal approach to Iran and, stranger yet, don’t want to be dragged into a potential regional conflagration. The creepy part of the story was the request itself, given the traffic jam of bases Washington already has access to in the region. >continue<
Watching last night’s debate, I was struck by one thing:
A lot of progressives and libertarians must not understand either presidential elections or American public opinion. I say this based on the reaction I saw on Twitter and Tumblr — but not Facebook, tellingly, which is less of an echo chamber for me — to the candidates’ brief discussion of drone warfare.
There was general outrage at the way in which the moral problem of drones was dismissed, brushed aside based on a quick utilitarian calculation that places virtually no value on the lives of non-Americans, who are simply presumed to be militants.
This is good outrage. Our use of drones — specifically, our willingness to target American citizens abroad and our callousness with regard to innocent people caught up in the carnage — is a major problem.
The mistake is in the thinking that accompanies the outrage, which seems to be that these politicians know drone strikes — or, perhaps, the use of force in general, depending on your persuasion — are immoral and continue to support them because they are themselves immoral monsters. To demonstrate that they are virtuous — and thus deserving of our vote — the candidates ought to have taken a stance against drone strikes or warfare in general.
But I think this is a misunderstanding of how presidential elections work and it’s a misunderstanding of America itself. It would be political suicide to speak out in opposition to drone strikes, or to a military option in general, at this stage in the election … and that presumes that the candidates actually oppose these things (which they do not). Why suicide? In their support for drones, for backing up Israel against Iran, and for acting aggressively on the world stage in general, the candidates are very much an embodiment of the American people themselves. Americans support the use of drones … and by a wide margin. It’s odd to think that the presidential candidates would take this moment to disagree with the electorate.
This misunderstanding reminds me of a very long argument I had with a good friend back in 2000 about the moment in the Bush/Gore debate when the death penalty came up and was quickly dismissed. My friend argued that both Bush and Gore were equally awful with regard to the death penalty; my argument was that they might not be equally awful — since Bush signed 152 death warrants — and that we shouldn’t expect a serious debate about the death penalty from the presidential candidates. When it comes to controversial topics, especially ones that touch on issues of justice and vengeance, we should, instead, expect meaningless platitudes that pander to the majority.
When it comes to drone warfare or saber-rattling about Iran, the majority wants to hear that there will be even more to come. The majority is wrong about this, as they are about many things, but it’s not clear why people are so surprised that the presidential candidates agree with the majority.
If you think the majority is wrong about something that’s very important, it doesn’t make any sense at all to keep expecting politicians to get out in front of the issue and tell people that they’re wrong. Instead, it’s a far better bet for the minority — who are sure they’re right — to employ reasoned arguments or sad, sentimental stories to change Americans’ hearts and minds. In the long run, this is likely to be far more effective than simply complaining that the candidates aren’t spending more time defending or refuting a policy that enjoys broad public support.
A good point. One I had to remind myself of when both candidates echoed the groupthink fixation on Iran. Great leadership dares to puncture dangerous collective fantasies, but almost never at this juncture in an American election.
Juan Cole | Informed Comment »
In spring of 2007, someone in the Bush administration (unindicted co-conspirator Richard Bruce Cheney? Neocons?) sends uber hawk Vice Admiral Kevin J. Cosgriff to [the Persian] Gulf with instructions to provoke a war with Iran. He allegedly toys with challenging Iran’s claim to half of the Shatt al-Arab. He certainly decided abruptly to bring two aircraft carriers to the Gulf, in hopes of provoking Iran into doing something stupid, and without telling the State Department or the White House.
He also pushes analysis alleging that Bahrain Shiites intend anti-American terrorism on behalf of Iran.
Adviser to the Navy Gwenyth Todd (former National Security Council staffer) rightly challenges this stupid conspiracy theory (Bahrain Shiites are mostly Arab Akhbaris who reject ayatollahs, and would not slavishly obey Persian, Usuli Iran!).
…Todd blows the whistle on Cosgriff, letting State know about his intended insubordination. Word gets back to Neocons or whoever was behind the provocation and Cosgriff that Todd was the leak. She is abruptly deprived of her base pass and security clearance, a trumped up case is made against her with the FBI that she received money from a former boyfriend who did illegal consulting with Sudan (she says she returned the small sum he sent her). Todd’s career is ruined, her inquiries and grievances are ignored, she marries an Austrlian naval officer and goes into exile in Perth. FBI harasses her even there.
Todd’s account is corroborated by Navy sources speaking off the record, according to the Washington Post. >continue<
Nicholas Kristof »
…we need a dollop of humility and nuance, for Iran is a complex country where we’ve repeatedly stumbled badly. For starters, consider for a moment which nation assisted Iran the most in the last dozen years. Not Russia, not China, not India. No, it was the United States under President George W. Bush. First, we upended the Taliban in Afghanistan, Iran’s enemy to the east, and then removed the Saddam Hussein government from Iraq, Iran’s even deadlier threat to the west. Look at the Iraq-Iran relationship today, and it seems we fought a wrenching war in Iraq — and Iran won.
Now we may be heading for another war — perhaps triggered by Israeli strikes on Iranian nuclear sites — and this might well help the ayatollahs as well by igniting a nationalist backlash that would bolster their rule. >continue<
America’s Stuxnet? Weakness found in Pentagon systems, power grid
Mark Clayton | CSMonitor »
An amateur cybersecurity researcher who bought industrial computer networking equipment on e-Bay for fun has discovered a critical weakness in equipment that helps run railroads, power grids, and even military installations nationwide.
The vulnerability means that hackers or other nations could potentially take control of elements within crucial American infrastructure – from refineries to power plants to missile systems – sabotaging their ability to operate from within.
Analysts say the problem is likely fixable, but the enthusiast says he has gone public only because the company that manufactures the equipment, RuggedCom of Concord, Ontario, has declined to address the issue since he made it known to them a year ago. >continue<
Rebecca Byerly - Christian Science Monitor »
The creation of Pakistan cut India off from longstanding trade routes to Central Asia and beyond. India sees Iran as a way to reconnect, despite US sanctions.
Prior to partition, the Indian subcontinent enjoyed trade and political links with Central Asia and onward into Russia and Europe. The creation of Pakistan cut India’s access to the region and India has long eyed Iran as a workaround.
India’s government is hosting a 14-nation conference this week to help build a new shipping network, the International North-South Corridor, that will use Iranian ports, highways, and railroads. The project aims to connect India to parts of Europe in half the time required by current trade routes through Egypt’s Suez Canal.
…“The United States is only looking at short-term advantages,” says Gen. Dipankar Banerjee, a senior fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. “We understand the US interest to get Iran to give up nuclear weapons, but we have to look at India’s strategic interests in having security and trade in the region beyond 2014 when US forces withdraw from Afghanistan.” >continue<