This Academic Incubator column is part of an academic partnership with the Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presenting regular expert commentary on global security-related issues by faculty, fellows, and students. Military Aid and its Unintended Consequences The author is Rana Shabb, PhD Candidate, Sam ...

Thomas Donahue is a Cipher Brief expert and former Senior Director for Cyber Operations on the U.S. National Security Council Staff.  His article was originally published by National Defense University Press PRISM.  In case you missed it, you can read The Worst Possible Day: US Telecommunication and Huawei – Pt. 1 here  ...

Thomas Donahue is a Cipher Brief expert and former Senior Director for Cyber Operations on the U.S. National Security Council Staff.  His article was originally published by National Defense University Press PRISM. As a global power, the United States must be able to sustain military forces and project power anywhere ...

John McLaughlin served as the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2000-2004 and served as Acting Director of the CIA in 2004.  He currently serves as a distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.   The current situation between the United States ...

BOOK REVIEW: Shadow Strike: Inside Israel’s Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power By Yaakov Katz Reviewed by Marc Polymeropoulos Marc Polymeropoulos served 26 years in the CIA before retiring from the Senior Intelligence Service in June 2019.  His positions included field and headquarters operational assignments covering the Middle East, ...

OPINION -- When are members of Congress going to wake up and play their Constitutional role as an equal branch of government? Neither the Democratic leadership in the House, nor the Republican leaders in the Senate are these days carrying out oversight on key national security issues involving the Executive ...

Rob Dannenberg is a 24-year veteran of the CIA, where he served in several senior leadership positions, including chief of operations for the Counterterrorism Center, chief of the Central Eurasia Division and chief of the CIA’s Information Operations Center.  Dannenberg is now an independent consultant and speaker on geopolitical and ...

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the ruler of Oman and the Middle East’s longest serving ruler, died on January 10 after nearly 50 years in power.  Oman, under Qaboos rule, transformed from an undeveloped country in the 1970’s, to a country known as ‘the Switzerland of the Middle East’ at the ...

CONVERSATION STARTER -- Few would argue that the January 3 drone strike that killed Iranian General and Quds Force Commander General Qassem Soleimani was a bold move.  The overt nature by which the strike was carried out seemed to offer a clear sign that the US is ready to openly ...

Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program Office. Nakhleh is currently a Research Professor and Director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico. Since retiring from the government in ...

OPINION -- As 2019 drew to a close, while foreign adversary leaders such as President Putin, President Xi, and Chairman Kim often attracted the largest amount of media attention, the killing of Iran’s IRGC-Quds Force leader Major-General Qassem Soleimani is worthy of careful attention.  His recent tactical and strategic actions ...

In an interview with FOX News after the drone strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “Frankly, the Europeans haven’t been as helpful as I wish that they could be,” adding, “The Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that ...

The U.S. targeting and killing of Iranian Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani by a drone strike in Baghdad on Friday has prompted a series of swift statements and actions throughout the Middle East as experts work to anticipate what will follow. The Cipher Brief has spoken with a number of ...

OPINION -- The Trump administration’s new attempt to open strategic nuclear talks with China “ASAP,” as mentioned in a State Department tweet last Friday, focuses on the wrong subject. Any talks about strategic deterrence among nations should be dealing first with the future of cyber warfare and weaponry rather than ...

Patrick Duddy served as the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela from 2007 to 2010.  He is now teaches at Duke University where he is also the director of Duke’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Affairs. As 2019 comes to a close, it is clear the U.S needs to up its ...

Cipher Brief expert Robert Dannenberg is a 24-year veteran of the CIA, where he served in several senior leadership positions, including chief of operations for the Counterterrorism Center, chief of the Central Eurasia Division and chief of the CIA’s Information Operations Center.  Post CIA, he worked as Chief of Global ...

OPINION -- “The function of truth is to bring to light the hidden facts, to set them into relation with each other, and make a picture of reality on which men can act.” Walter Lippmann wrote in his 1925 book, Public Opinion. In the Trump era, officials and legislators are ...

The Gray Zone is that place between war and peace where actors use a range of elements at their disposal to effect outcome.  We see it in everyday operations like disinformation and election interference or in using economic means to coerce an outcome.  China and Russia have been big fans ...

OPINION -- As 2019 draws to a close, it is worth re-examining not only which leaders attracted media attention, but also looking ahead with respect to strategic trends and which world leaders merit the most attention by President Trump and his national security team.  In this context, while the words ...

EXPERT OPINION -- Kim Jong-un is a desperate man. He has long believed that Donald Trump’s unpredictability and their quirky friendship offers him the best, and possibly only, chance of a deal with the United States whereby he could keep some of his nuclear capability and gain a substantial measure ...

OPINION -- It has been several years since I thought deeply about Syria. And that is a shame, given my long time affection for the Syrian people, whom I grew to know and love after several decades working on Near Eastern issues at CIA. Syria came crashing back for me ...

Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joseph R. DeTrani was the former Special Envoy for Negotiations with North Korea. OPINION -- North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, is getting bad advice from his senior advisers. Rather than pursuing closer relations with the United States, North Korea is in the process of unraveling a close ...

A date for Washington-Moscow nuclear arms control discussions could emerge from today’s Washington meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov -- first with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and, if all goes well, later with President Trump. From Trump’s point of view, raising the long-awaited possibility of extending the current ...

In a declaration issued at the conclusion of last week’s NATO meeting in London, leaders agreed on continuing support for the alliance and they laid out a range of actions that NATO must undertake to address future threats.  “We are addressing the breadth and scale of new technologies to maintain ...

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established in April 1949 with the goal of deterring Soviet expansionism and to move European nations closer to the United States in a collective defense posture that would prevent another World War.  12 nations initially signed on. As you can imagine, all of ...

This Academic Incubator column is part of an academic partnership with the Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presenting regular expert commentary on global security-related issues by faculty, fellows, and students. Disruptive Technologies in Operational Energy usage: Programmatic and Technological Path-dependence The author is Ms. ...

There is little argument that the 70-year-old NATO Alliance today finds itself in one of the most complicated security environments it has ever seen. China and Russia continue to pose significant challenges, the fast-paced development of new technology is adding borderless perimeters that must be defended and the organization is ...

As NATO members meet in London this week, The Cipher Brief tapped former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Philip Breedlove (Ret.) to help cut through some of the rhetoric and understand the Alliance’s strategic importance today to both the U.S. and its allies. The Cipher Brief:  What needs ...

As NATO members meet in London this week, The Cipher Brief tapped former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) to help cut through some of the rhetoric and understand the Alliance’s strategic importance today to both the U.S. and its allies. The Cipher Brief:  What's your ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Hunting the Caliphate: America's War on ISIS and the Dawn of the Strike Cell By Dana J.H. Pittard and Wes J. Bryant Reviewed by Brian Raymond Brian Raymond served as National Security Council Director for Iraq from 2014-2015. He participated in numerous meetings with President Obama in the ...

The Commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, General Kenneth F. McKenzie, recently warned that the presence of an additional 14,000 U.S. troops sent to the Persian Gulf region over the past several months likely has not deterred Iranian efforts to launch future attacks there. General McKenzie highlighted the ...

OPINION -- Many in the United States and China believe that we’re in a cold war and that conflict is inevitable. If true, that would be tragic not only for the United States and China, but for the world. More must be done now to ensure that this does not happen; that U.S.-China ...

OPINION – It was supposed to be Senate confirmation hearing for Stephen E. Biegun to be confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State, but really, it was President Trump’s Foreign Policy that was on trial in Washington last week. “This administration’s actions have undermined our ability to promote American foreign policy ...

Nine American women and children were killed by suspected drug cartel members in an attack in northern Mexico earlier this month, refocusing attention on the country’s long-standing drug and corruption issues. While hundreds of Mexicans die each year as the result of drug violence, this particular attack gained enormous attention ...

Mike Vigil is the former Chief of International Operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration. He is one of the most highly decorated agents within the agency. He is the author of DEAL and Metal Coffins: The Blood Alliance Cartel and Narco Queen. The Cipher Brief:  What should we be paying attention to given the current ...

It is no secret that Hermione revealed that the basilisk traveled via the pipes in the second installment of the Harry Potter series. When I began my consulting career with the National Communications System (NCS) and cybersecurity became the sexy cousin, the communications muggles liked to remind the cyber wizards ...

OPINION -- American foreign policy has faded into a confusing and dangerous blur as a result of mismanagement, flip-flopping objectives, political turmoil in Washington and an understaffed and demoralized State Department. On issue after issue, it is impossible to discern a coherent strategy or an achievable goal. This is not just ...

As street protests continue unabated in Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, and other Middle Eastern countries, regimes have used the social media platforms and traditional media to track, control, and repress their citizens. Iran has shut down the Internet and other digital platforms. Since traditional media and journalism outlets, especially newspapers ...

OPINION -- Donald Trump as president displays weakness toward those he envies as strong foreign leaders, while he acts like a bully toward leaders he considers less powerful than himself.  Those contrasting natures were on full display last Wednesday. At the same time Trump was offering unwarranted concessions to Turkish ...

OPINION -- Events in Washington last week were gut-wrenching for many, not least for America’s Foreign Service and the two million other public servants of the United States. They were also inspiring and cause for much pride. At present, the House of Representatives impeachment hearings are largely driven not by ...

TV SERIES REVIEW: The SPY A Netflix Miniseries Reviewed by Paul Kolbe Paul Kolbe is Director of The Intelligence Project at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  Kolbe also led BP’s global Intelligence and Analysis team supporting threat warning, risk mitigation, and crisis response.  Prior to that, ...

OPINION -- It is common for the leadership of the Intelligence Community to send notes to the workforce. The leaderships’ thoughts on all sorts of issues – from intelligence successes and failures to key personnel assignments and critical budget decisions and, yes, sometimes when the IC appears in the media ...

Tom Bossert spends a lot of time thinking about hacking.  The former Homeland Security Advisor to President Trump who also served as the country’s Chief Risk Officer and Senior Advisor on cyber, left his White House position in 2018. It happened just after Bossert spoke at The Cipher Brief’s Annual ...

Undercover readers might remember that we introduced you this past spring to Bill Rapp, a former CIA analyst turned author.  He’s an interesting character in his own right, with the look and charm of Sam Elliott.  In his new book, The Budapest Escape, Rapp brings back old characters and descriptions ...

This Academic Incubator column is part of an academic partnership with the Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presenting regular expert commentary on global security-related issues by faculty, fellows, and students. Emerging innovations within today’s most cutting-edge science and technology (S&T) areas are cited as ...

The Cipher Brief’s Expert Take column highlights the thinking of our experts based on their areas of expertise.  Emile Nakhleh is a former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service. Lebanon’s largely peaceful “Arab Spring” is a model in civic activism for the greater Middle East. Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s ...

BOOK REVIEW: Agent Running in the Field by John le Carre Reviewed by Nick Fishwick Nick Fishwick CMG retired in 2012 after nearly thirty years in the British Foreign Service. He did postings in Lagos, Istanbul and Kabul. His responsibilities in London included director of security and, after returning from ...

OPINION -- More than 231 years ago, Alexander Hamilton foresaw the controversy around today’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump when he published Federalist Paper 65 on March 7, 1788.  In it, Hamilton wrote that the Constitutionally established, House of Representatives investigative role in the impeachment process “will seldom fail to agitate ...

Protesters came out in support of Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Sunday but they were followed by anti-government protesters who have been calling for a change in the ruling class.   Prime Minister Saad Hariri stepped down last week under pressure from protesters. Meanwhile, there is growing unrest in Baghdad as ...

The killings of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his possible deputy by U.S. special operations forces are major losses for the extremists, ones that are likely to usher in a period of chaos and improvisation among ISIS fighters. But it would be a fatal mistake to assume that the deaths have destroyed ...