USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

 

United States Institute of Peace

 

Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, February 28 - March 6, 2013

Table of Contents

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Climate Change: The Secret Inflamer of the Arab Spring
In October 2010, just months before a Tunisian street vendor self-immolated and sparked what would become the Arab Spring, a prolonged drought was turning Syria's verdant farmland into dust. International security experts are now looking at the connection between recent droughts in the Middle East and the protests, revolutions, and deaths that followed, and building a body of evidence to suggest that climate change played a key role in Syria's violence and the Arab Spring generally.
See the full article (Atlantic, Tim McDonnell, 3/6/13)
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Slow Kenyan Count Puts Technology on Trial for African Polls
Kenya resorted to choppers to fly officials carrying results from this week's presidential poll to the capital, let down by new technology aimed at avoiding the violent disputes that led to 1,200 deaths after the vote five years ago. The snail-paced release of results has deepened voter anxiety and may undermine prospects for such systems in other African votes.
See the full article (Reuters, Richard Lough, 3/6/13)
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Pentagon Cyberdefenses Weak, Report Warns
A new report for the Pentagon concludes that the nation's military is unprepared for a full-scale cyber-conflict with a top-tier adversary and must ramp up its offensive prowess. The unclassified version of the study by the Defense Science Board also urges the intelligence community to boost its collection on leading nations' cyber-capabilities and maintain the threat of a nuclear strike as a deterrent to a major cyberattack.
See the full article (Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, 3/5/13)
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As Hacking Against U.S. Rises, Experts Try to Pin Down Motive
When Telvent discovered last September that the Chinese had hacked into its computer systems, company officials and American intelligence agencies then grappled with a fundamental question: Why had the Chinese done it? Was the People's Liberation Army trying to plant bugs into the system so they could cut off energy supplies and shut down the power grid if the United States and China ever confronted each other in the Pacific?
See the full article (New York Times, Nicole Perlroth, David E. Sanger, Michael S. Schmidt, 3/3/13) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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We Need New Rules for Cyberwar
Although every country is free to determine what it considers an act of war, such determinations must be made within the laws of armed conflict. The laws of armed conflict are intended to prevent unnecessary suffering and destruction in war. Cyberwarfare does not fit neatly within this framework. It is imperative that nations come together to develop rules of engagement for cyberwar.
See the full article (New York Times, Jody R. Westby, 3/1/13) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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