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Negotiating With Rebellious Rogues – Part 3

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A continuation from:

Key issues/questions:
- Believe that the current US administration may be too conservative with their approach. As I've previously indicated here, concepts like 'measured response' and 'deterrence' only work if your opponent is sane, believes that you will back down, or that you are utlimately unwilling to escalate further/quickly. Must be willing to 'ratchet up' just as quickly as down...
- Propose a 'measured response' initially but dramatically escalating when/if required (similar to past 'deterrence' policy with regards to nuclear arms during the 'Cold War'). This will ensure that they know if they attack we will respond.
- I've said that we should be more pro-active with regards to handling of 'rogue states' and I'll say it again. We need to be swifter, harder, creative, and more pro-active no matter what actions we may take as they've already hardened their economies against sanctions and other measures we are likely to take. They need to know/understand that for every provocation that they make their will be a reaction, one that is likely to destablise them as much as us. Moreover, OSINT indicates that while the regime may have about 9/10 figures in assets if they are hit hard/quickly enough they will likely collapse.
- I've always believed that diplomacy, intelligence, and defense should work in unison to help reduce the chances of longer term conflict. Number one reason is that it means that if one doesn't work you're not hamstrung in should one one of these fails. Have been thinking about this further in the context in North Korea. If we are more pro-active (and push back) we'll be better able to ascertain just how far we can push. This also means we can begin to formulate a strategy which means that we can make moves which will utlimately force them to make moves. Not enough pressure on them and they'll just stall and/or continue on their merry way. If not enough progress still push but less. Work to a timeline, don't let discussions dangle.
- The reason for the emphasis in speed is that it also gives them less time to adapt. Moreover, it's clear that 'operational security' on the 'Allied side' is often lacking. In fact, fairly recently plans for pre-emptive attacks/responses to North Korean provocations were compromised during a cyberattack (cause was basically down to procedural error). Moreover, the less time something needs to be maintained as a secret the less likely and more effective the plans are going to be.
- Number of different interpretations of answer/s that have been provided in response to calls for possible peace talks. Response indicates that earlier desire for peace was a deception, that they are willing to give up short term stability for longer term gain. May indicate that may be looking for further concessions? a desire to suss out their opponent more? unsure of how to respond? want more time to respond? Also indicates that within their framework they are limited with regards to how to respond. Remember that while the way they deliver their message may have changed ('sliced salami diplomacy' versus 'jackpot diplomacy' was probably the best/enjoyable way of describing Kim Jong Il versus Kim Jong Un) their basic intentions have not. Would like to probe further and see how they respond to actions outside of their normal realm of understanding/framework... (also known as 'Black Box' or 'Fuzz' testing in the Software Engineering world). If want to engage will have to get them to become more succint, concise, push this along...
Think that there should be more room with regards to pre/conditions for talks but need to be more focused with regards to ultimate goals though. We've been meandering around this problem for far too long.
- Pre-emptive strikes can not be ruled out but should also be taken under advisement. You'd rather an opponent with less complete/inferior weapons than one that has stretched for more time with more advanced capabilities/responses. 
- North Korea and other states handling the issue of self defense badly (from external perspective but probably sures up support internally). Missile launches, nuclear tests, tearing up armistice agreements, declaring a state of war, and other rhetoric (such as threatening to 'wipe neighbours off the map', or bathing them in 'seas of fire') can only described as confrontational in most parts of the world rather than simply, 'standing up for their rights'.
Need to emphasise that every single move that Allied forces have made has mostly been defensive in nature. Drills in the past have proven to be as much of a problem? they've almost always been the provocateurs in past encounters (attacks on South Korean islands, US servicemen, etc...) Moreover, some of the measures that have been taken can only be described as prudent. Why wouldn't you deploy a missile defense shield battery (a system which is purely defensive in nature if you're aware of how many of them work) if your citizens are risk and you have the ability/resources to do so? Aegis class ships are only there as a support mechanism for the missile defense system, etc...
- 'Allied' nations have clearly made steps to reduce the tension. Believe that it's time for North Korea to return the favour and to return to peace and stability on the Korea peninsula.
- Looked further at Kim Jong Un. Some reasons for selection are obvious. Younger age, supposedly stronger character, outgoing nature which will help him to work at both the national and international level and so on...
What's also clear is that for most of his life he's always had whatever he wants? Curious to see how he reacts to provocations and other moves against him? What I'd also like to know curious about is just exactly how much of the rhetoric is actually his and how much of his messages are 'composites answers'. Hard to know without better HUMINT. Curious to know whether he is someone who can be crafted, molded, convinced (believe that most of his character is fairly set now though. However, if all these moves are actually about stablising his status believe that there may be a chance of influencing him at some point down the line)? At the moment it just seems like he does whatever he wants regardless of the consequences?
- If he's trying to solidify his grip on power then wondering whether or not this is the perfect time/opportunity to destablise his leadership? Likely response will be brutality as in the past... What happens if you can't extract concessions/consolidate power? What if our responses undermine his and ultimately North Korea's position? Is this information actually true or is it just mis-information?
- Assumption by many 'rogue states' is interesting. All seem to be making the assumption that if they are able to acquire nuclear weapons and other WMD they are able to hold others to ransom once they have acquired them. Doesn't entirely fit in with their idea that their desire for WMD is to reduce the chances/possibilities of invasion. Interesting how the implications of the North Korea standoff will have on other parts of the world.
- Obvious offramp for North Korea at the moment would be to simply end the rhetoric, reform, and work with China/Russia. Allows them to help build a better North Korea without many of the risks associated with working with traditional enemies.

Written by Binh Nguyen

April 15th, 2013 at 11:55 am

Negotiating With Rebellious Rogues – Part 2

without comments

A continuation from,

Has been interesting watching some of the messages being sent out and the way they've been interpreted.

Key problems/issues:
- is it that Kim Jong Un doesn't know how to ratchet down (Offer them a set of choices? Make signal too indirect and they may not understand it? Too direct and they may just ratchet it up again.)? or is he being influenced not to go down? Based on what I've read about him this doesn't seem like his 'natural personality' or his wording/phrasing (if feels like they've learnt from or were taught by the Iranians). Need further information though. Likely need a combination of greater background work by intelligence analysts (keep in mind the notion of 'projection' when doing analysis) and analysis by defectors.
- this is as much about us as about them. For a long while now, North Korea has used provocations and other techniques as a means of gaining concessions. They've been pushing back members of the international community and we've been responding to threats. Shutting down all communications is simply another means of controlling the situation from there side. Become proactive whether it has to do with offers of peace, aid, war, etc...
Basically, engage rather than respond to them. We need to break the cycle provocations/response at some point. Possibly link a stop of threats to a growth in aid over time? a reduction of sanctions? Then link any increase in provocations to the opposite as well?
- present all a wide range of options at next meeting. Figure out whether they are just looking for attention/aid? whether they simply aren't going to except anything? and are simply going to be a nuisance for a short while... if it is the latter would be looking carefully elsewhere.
- if it is the case that we aren't really dealing purely with Kim Jong Un then we should be thinking about those people are all 'pulling the strings'? if my reading of the background of some of the people who may be 'pulling the strings' is correct then we may need to factor in other issues as well. Personal experience indicates that that people who have been under intense stress, wars, famine, etc... often have an extremely tarnished view of the world. Factor this in as well...
- are they ratcheting things up because they are trying to solidify or is this going to be the tone of things to be come? support a possible uprising? chances of success (note difference between Mail and Iraq/Syria. Support was clear in Mali and we intervened early. Highly unlikely this is going to be a 'clean operation')?
- if the regime is at breaking point? does he simply need a way out of this for himself and other members of the regime?
- if Iran/North Korea are co-operating/distracting international community efforts for arms control then it's likely that messages are going to be 'massaged' as well. Factor this in. Use what we have learnt in past confrontations. Don't just give up, poke, prod, learn, feel...
- if you honestly believe that he is going trying to solidify things (with a chance of piece down the line) suggest you make the offer big and credible but not enough to make us look 'weak'. That will only encourage further provocations.
- look at trying to increase the size of the buffer zone if at all possible. That way we can reduce the chances of misunderstandings/accidents in future. You can't shoot/provoke someone if they aren't within range.
- if you want to ratchet it down, consider ratcheting down a lot... A simple re-schedule is unlikely to be enough. Something that can be seen to be a genuine concession. If they are to de-nuclearize the concessions are probably going to be high/almost unpalatable. This is more than just a regional problem. China, Japan, South Korea, United States, and other neighbours are all vital to the world's interests from both political, military, economic, and other interests. Hope that the if peace can be negotiated the burden of re-building North Korea is going to shared by all.
- reading further and clear that re-unification is unlikely going to be smooth/easy and if it is going to happen it's going to be in the distant future. It will take time. Don't try to do too much at once but don't give up an short/medium term stability. Many barriers are going to have to be broken down. Consider 'PSYOPS' type operations. Broadcast international media into North Korea, drop leaflets, etc... Try to ensure that it's not just propoganda. Try to make sure that there is no threat of invasion unless provoked. If we are to give aid make sure that it's the type of aid which can not be re-used for dual purposes. Make sure that it is the type of aid that can only be used to help the citizens of North Korea and ensure that they know where exactly it's coming from. Be more aware of the implcations of some of sanctions that have been imposed. Try to make it targeted towards the regime rather than the people. Done incorrectly it will just harden their resolve and case against us. Be aware that like Iran they have 'hardened' their economy against sanctions and it's likely that anytime you do ratchet it up their likely to simply take it away from the people. Keep in mind that the UN and international laws have not caught up or are applicable to our circumstances. In this case, we have to consider alternative options...
- if there is an issue of pride/face at stake consider sending aid via China. History seems to play a more important role in Asia then in some of the cultures that I have most often been exposed to.
- believe that more work needs to be done into exactly why Kim Jong Un was chosen to be North Korea's new leader. Don't think that this is as simple as it first appears.
- history indicates that no countries that possess nuclear weapons have been invaded. Need to see how they view the rest of the world. Work back from there...
- delivery of message is poor in some cases. If someone like me is analysing your responses it can be guaranteed that there will be an army of staff on their side analysing the way you deliver your messages. Nuance/inflections points are important in guaging the mood of someone and their conviction behind the message being conveyed.
- if considering change of regime think about Libya/Syria. Not going to be smooth. Believe that the following quotes are relevant, "it was once said of Prussia that it wasn't a country that had an army, but an army that had a country. And North Korea is a garrison state, a society organized for war", and "the conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose."
- China and other countries need to understand that while territory does play an important role in defense it is pointless unless you have some relative control over it. It is in China's best interests that they bring North Korea under control during peacetime than during war. Moreover, with some of the weapons in circulation and under development now, North Korea could be (depends on the level of risk you're willing to take) rendered fairly useless in the early part of any campaign. The strength, survival, growth, and stability of North Korea is important for both itself as well as that of it's neighbours so don't look at this whole situation like it's not your problem. Allies (or even 'attack dogs') who can not be brought to heal are just as dangerous for their owners as well as strangers/enemies. Moreover, while China plays an important cog in the world economy they should realise that they aren't indispensable. Others can and are likely willing to take their place. Continued military provocations can only serve to hinder relations and future trade between them and the rest of the world. Peace is in everyones best interests.,0,1321213.story

Written by Binh Nguyen

April 11th, 2013 at 5:41 am

Negotiating With Rebellious Rogues

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I don't think that anyone would disagree that the situation between North Korea and it's neighbours is undesireable. It's been decades and it seems as though little if no progress has been made towards a genuine, long lasting peace. Recent events indicate that things may have changed for the worse though...

Part of the problem is that even in recent past history indicates several so called 'rogue states' (including North Korea) have:
- shared information, research, and (they've even flown scientists around the world to participate in joint research) expertise regarding weapons (WMD in particular) technology with one another
- probably not recognised the difference between standing up for their interests and crossing the line into belligerance (cultural differences do not help)
- have often ignored communications with other states (particular with respect with nuclear dis-armament)
- possibly co-operated with regards to timing in during senstive times to possible  distract others from other 'illicit activity'
- have agreed to measures towards nuclear disarmament and increasing stability only to go back on their promises. Do some basic research/background and you'll see that the line between criminal and state activity sometimes blurs to become indistinguishable
- not (perhaps they have?) recognised have sent all sorts of strange and sometimes conflicting signals
So what are the options?
- wait, watch, and see. Basically, what has been done so far. Be aware of the situation, increase surveillance, do drills, take measures to guard yourselves against any possible manouvres. Problem is you're always reacting to what they do
- be proactive. Tighten restrictions/sanctions/aid even further. Shutdown EVERYTHING (including co-operation at Kaesong). Do not rule out pre-emptive attacks/covert action especially if there are imminent signs of a launch/attack
- ignore. Not a good option particularly in light of past 'incidents'
- he may simply be trying to tighten control/hold on power. In which case, we should just play along and hope that one day North Korea and it's neighbours can come to a peaceful arrangement. Obviously, this is a dangerous option and if we don't judge things correctly we may be worse off in future than we are currently
- this may simply be probing/poking us to see what the response will be in case of a real conflict. Likely that responses gathered from this particular situation will be used in subsequent situations. Wide range of responses possible here... job of defense, foreigns affairs, and intelligence analysts/strategists
- if they refuse to give up nuclear weapons technology offer their neighbours nuclear and/or ofther arms (offensive as well as defensive) technology. Possibly even if it is under foreign/allied control. Make them realise that it is in neither sides interests to pursue this tack. Obvious problem is how other countries would react to such an offer and the precedent it would set worldwide. There's also the issue of operational security. In the past, Japanese rocketry research was successfully penetrated, research into American nuclear weapons was breached, and it's been clear that South Korean cyber security needs some work
- offer a peace agreement (are they genuinely interested in peace though?). However, make it known that if we do go down this route North Korea has to know that it's neighbours have to be able to ensure their safety as well. Concessions will likely have to be made on both North Korea's part as well as that of it's neighbours. Recommend gradual, phased standing down of military forces, expansion of buffer zone, and inspections from both sides that they are they are complying with the terms of the deal. Similar in nature to nuclear weapons inspections but these will occur primarily between neighbours. International intervention a choice if desired- go to war. Choice up/down scale between 'measured response', 'escalation', and 'all out attack'. Long range bombardment to hit all known launch sites and sites of danger. They may back down at this point or act even more irrationally (based on conventional wisdom). Obvious risk is that not all dangerous assets are hit and they have may nuclear assets still in possession. Moreover, not sure how others in the region are likely to react. China may seem them as a strategic nuisance/buffer zone (reminds me of Iranian policy with regards to Syria actually) but it's also clear that North Korea is becoming more difficult for both allies and enemies alike. Would China join in (pictures of border indicate build up of Chinese forces)? A proxy war ensues similar to Syria? Another major issue is if the regime falls who takes over (UN forces until transition takes place or would someone else?)?  How could it get worse though? Major humanitarian, economic, stability, and other problems at stake...
- mount a phony war? Exfiltrate regime, bomb regime headquarters/all relevant sites, and then basically start from scratch? Practicality (suspect that even basic things like secure communications would be problematic)?
- Chinese strategic concept of buffer zone needs to factor in ability to control situation though. Perhaps they need to tighten grip on North Korea? Stop thinking about North Korean regime disappearing but make the Chinese realise that they will be the ones who have to support North Korea from now on. No more international support...
- pursue nuclear research in parallel (as opposed to nuclear arms inspections) if it really is their intention to pursue nuclear power rather than nuclear weapons?

Key questions:
- perhaps the regime actually is in trouble (based on what I've seen they've always been able to manage in spite of sanctions)? Is this is just a means of solidifying power? Is this just a campaign of mis-information?
- is this just internal stuff that we're unlikely to understand unless we are North Korean? Defectors to help interpret some of these messages? I remember reading reports/accounts from defectors in the past and a lot of what they said just seemed bizarre when viewed from a Western perspective (as an aside, I once remember taking a personality test of how I perceive myself and how I thought others perceived me. Not only were they unusual but there was somewhat of a disconnect between what I thought and what others thought as well. Suspect this may be happening (limited impact though) here) 
- obvious question but one that should be asked. Are they reacting to us or are we reacting to them? If we do 'play along' do we keep our message muted or go out of our way to praise their state?
- should we negotiate with the knowledge that they will almost definitely go back on their word?
- would temporarily stopping excercises/scaling back help?

Either way, I believe that we need to be more clear/firm in our communications. Clear that there is some room for interpretation at the moment. Many people can talk but there must only be one or a limited number of responses and it must be firm with no room for mis-interpretation.

Keep in mind standard tenets of nuclear warfare/strategy. Richard A. Clarke's Cyber War is slight alarmist but actually does  a good job of outlining some of the strategies that have been used to avoid nuclear catastrophe in the past.,0,7030734.story

Written by Binh Nguyen

April 6th, 2013 at 7:39 am

Open Core Security and More Security Analysis, Routing Problems, and More Bugs

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I once recall a conversation with a engineer from one particular security firm/vendor. They said that they were prohibited/dissuaded (by their country) from using solutions (even though one solution was considered world class) from another particular country because of philosophical/national security concerns. This is ridiculous. In a large number of cases, firms are having to open up their source code for analysis by national intelligence agencies and third party auditors. If the solution being provided is minimalistic, there is a common open source framework and Application Programming Interface (API) that the solution can plug into (and that can fit into popular devices) I don't see any reason (apart from commercial/political/philosophical) why we shouldn't be able to use the best possible solution/s even they may come from possibly questionable sources (I'll expand on this concept in 'Cloud and Internet Security' report. Currently, 820+ pages/214K+ words).

Tom Clancy's book, 'Threat Vector' actually provides a decent (though fictitious) example of how to carry out an integrated cyberwarfare/conventional warfare attack.

Richard J. Aldrich's, 'GCHQ' actually provides a good explanation of some of the activities of modern intelligence agencies. Certain decisions make sense but seem incredibly cynical.

In the past I've tried using open proxies and fiddling with MTU and other setting to get around certain networking problems. Sucess has been limited. The most elegant/useable solution that I've come across/found has been 'Tor'.

Interesting to see what the rest of the world is downloading via BitTorrent.

I remember developing and running small programs/games for the TI-83 platform. Amazing how far some graphic calculators have come...

Cool robot called 'iCub'.

Timestamping audio using power hum.

After my recent wireless experiments with EM/RF permeation of various materials (and the surprise at how even the thinnest/least dense materials have impacted significantly upon reflection/absorption) I'm curious to see how the NetGear AC6200 (USB wireless 802.11ac dongle) performs with a shell integrated adjustable antenna. Reviews so far have been mixed (though most problems feel like they are related to the frequency band in question as well as driver support under Windows 8)...

Bugs of the Week

Google Images
Not really a bug but a problem nonetheless. Certain websites can't be previewed in Google Images since they can not be opened in a frame and must be opened in a seperate window.

Microsoft's Windows Media Player 12
After ripping a few CD's recently at max bit rate of 320KB using MP3 format I've noticed a bug. When you go into the 'Library' you'll notice that the size is incorrectly listed as 'O KB'. Solution is to remove and re-add files to music library. Not sure if this is limited to my particular setup though. Bug doesn't seem to appear at other bit rates.

Sega's/Sports Interactive's Football Manager Series (most of these apply to 2009 but some apply to only earlier versions)
- clubs still silly enough to bid on a player even though he is approaching end of contract
- even if you give a company in a lower division a significant cash boost it doesn't seem to provide them with that much of a performance boost. The burn rate for clubs in lower divisions when given cash boost doesn't seem to make any sense as well. If a club can make it on a net worth of only a few million dollars how can it burn through millions of dollars over the space of a year and not make any significant performance jump?
- accept all offers option for players not honoured sometimes even when you have taken over another team
- transfers in next window option often doesn't work even though transfer fee to break clause has been met (unless there is something about my understanding of this is incorrect)

General Observation of eBook Readers
Often sub-par performance (performance and usability such as having a decent font size/zoom level) using PDF files on inexpensive eBook readers. Try to use native formats (MOBI, ePUB, etc...) where possible. Makes a big difference...

Written by Binh Nguyen

January 4th, 2013 at 5:15 am

More Automated Research/Analysis

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I've been examining the 'Automated Research/Analysis' concept further (especially in the context of real time analysis) so that I can design/build a prototype. One of the problems that was faced is the actual filtering of the actual content an underlying file format itself. As I've seen myself on a number of occassions depending on the format recovering the original data can be difficult if not impossible depending on how the developers created it (possibly compressed, packed, encrypted, has a proprietary format, or something else strange was done with it...) Moreover, depending on the nature of the programs data corruption or just mis-alignment (better word may be inconsistency)(through inadequate collection of data, incompetence, inadequte survey design, etc...) of data is possible. In the context of both quantitative and qualititive analysis 'outliers' are always a possibility but as the field of statistics is reasonably well explored (and predictive analysis)(although I admit it's still very much evolving) so I don't see too much of a problem in most circumstances (Still fleshing this out... My thoughts may change after seeing more data.).

Data collection can be any means. I've been playing around with speech recognition technology for a long while and it has come a long way (look at what they've done with Echelon), video surveillance technology has made significant strides (there are a group of researchers in Adelaide who are working on technology that allows you to scan and track a target in real time across multiple cameras though there are still some criticisms of facial recognition technology), and oscillators and data acquisition cards can be had for less than four/three figures from any number of sources and electronic stores.

After that it's a question of extracting useable/maleable data from the digital representation of the physical phenomena. One part of this may involve an intermediate data format. For instance, in the context of search engines data is often converted to a text format or otherwise a performance optimised, resilient, binary format that allows you to determine whether language in two text strings have similar taxonomy/meaning/context (whether across languages or inside a single language). In the context of facial recognition and images, you may use particular landmarks, shapes, and ratios to determine whether you may have something of interest...

From the quantitative (even the qualititive side as well if we factor in taxonomy and semantic variations) analysis side a lot of the concepts that we require are already here. Determing relationships between sets of data is something that is done manually at high school level via algebra with more complex analysis of curves via calculus done at later high school and University level (complex graphing calculators were often used which could automatically define limited relationships between sets of data).

Even if it isn't possible to determine a theory which works for the entire range of data it may still be possible to put together theories in series which include boundaries on which the data doesn't 'quite correlate'. For example, in Physics there is something known as the, 'Grand Unified Theory' which is a theory which attempts to model supposedly independent interactions, symmetries, and coupling constants into a single theory.

From this base it should be clear that we can lift the base and use it to work on all sorts of automated forms of analysis and research.

If we look at law enforcement/surveillance we have a history of real time facial recognition systems (which have had their fair share of criticism). But if we think about this further we don't need necessarily require real time analysis nor perfect facial recognition (I'm thinking about automated crime reporting rather than tracking people). If we are able to capture particular movements (literally and figuratively) then we can have a general idea of where a suspect is and what crime they have committed. For instance, if we look at the human body and examine a punching movement we have an arm (which is generally about 1/2 to 1/3 the length of the body from the tip of the hand to the top of the shoulder, has a hand that will generally be flesh coloured) which is moving at certain critical velocities with reference to the body (a punching movement will generally go up or across. Clothes are generally of a single colour and of very similar shapes which allow you to distinguish the body while the head is generally uncovered which will allow you to correctly identify most people (unless they are nude though there are laws against that (or they are wearing flesh covered clothing)) and in reference to the target body. Then it's simply a matter of periodically watching for specific relationships to show up particular data sets. For instance, if the punching movement was determined the by equation y = jx^2 + b + a^5cbz^3 and we found this particular relationship showing up in multiple points in our data set then we can be fairly sure that this particular event occurred. Obviously, we can extend the concept further to allow for unique equations that can represent other actions as well. As Quantum and High Performance Computing technology progresses the possiblity of real time analysis and a machine which roughly replicates 'The Machine' from 'Person of Interest' quickly becomes a reality. All you have to do is integrate surveillance, GPS, and time based information and you would be away. Time to think some more and flesh out other details....

Written by Binh Nguyen

October 30th, 2012 at 8:48 am