Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

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You Might Have Missed: U.S. Elections, Drones, and Cyber Threats

by Micah Zenko
November 9, 2012

U.S. president Barack Obama celebrates on stage as confetti falls after his victory speech during his election rally in Chicago, November 6, 2012 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. president Barack Obama celebrates on stage as confetti falls after his victory speech during his election rally in Chicago, November 6, 2012 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

David Axe, “Predator Drones Once Shot Back at Jets… But Sucked At It,” Wired, November 9, 2012.

The U.S. military’s drones are defenseless against enemy fighters — as an incident this month over the Persian Gulf shows. But that wasn’t always the case. In 2002 the Air Force fitted some of its early-model Predator drones with short-range Stinger air-to-air missiles. But even with the right weaponry the robots were likely a poor match for enemy fighters, and the Air Force ultimately stripped them of the missiles.

That decision had ramifications a decade later on Nov. 1, when a pair of Iranian Su-25 attack jet pilots tried their damnedest to shoot down an unarmed Predator conducting what Pentagon spokesman George Little dubbed “routine surveillance” over the Persian Gulf 16 miles off the Iranian coast.

The Predator fled for safer airspace, but not before the Iranians made two passes firing 30-millimeter cannons.


Tali Mendelberg and Christopher F. Karpowitz, “More Women, But Not Nearly Enough,” New York Times, November 8, 2012.

On average, women make up about 20 percent of lawmakers in the United States and abroad. We found that when women constituted 20 percent of a decision-making body that operates by majority rule, the average woman took up only about 60 percent of the floor time used by the average man. Women were perceived — by themselves and their peers — as more quiescent and less effective. They were more likely to be rudely interrupted; they were less likely to strongly advocate their policy preferences; and they seldom mentioned the vulnerable. These gender dynamics held even when adjusting for political ideology (beliefs about liberalism and egalitarianism) and income.

In contrast, the men in our experiment did not speak up less or appear to lose influence when they were in the minority.

In our experiment, groups with few women set a minimum income of about $21,600 per year for a family of four — which is close to the federal poverty level for a family of four. But once women made up 60 to 80 percent or more of a group, they spoke as much as men, raised the needs of the vulnerable and argued for redistribution (and influenced the rhetoric of their male counterparts). They also encountered fewer hostile interruptions.

Significantly, they elevated the safety net to as much as $31,000. The most talkative participants in these majority-female groups advocated for even more government generosity: $36,000, enough to catapult many poor families into the ranks of the lower middle class.


Cassell Bryan-Low and Charles Levinson, “Obama Victory Met With Global Kudos, Demands,” Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2012.


Ahmed al-Haj, “Yemen Security Offical Assassinated in Capital,” Associated Press, November 7, 2012.

A Yemeni intelligence officer was assassinated in a drive-by shooting by unidentified gunmen Wednesday in the capital, Sanaa, in the latest attack against security forces in the country, officials said.

Officials say at least 55 military, intelligence and police officers have been killed in Yemen since mid-2011. Most of the assassinations focused on individuals working in counterterrorism operations.


Tony Capaccio, “China Most Threatening Cyberspace Force, U.S. Panel Says,” Bloomberg, November 5, 2012.

According to statistics supplied to the commission by San Francisco-based service provider CloudFlare Inc., attacks account for about 15 percent of global Internet traffic on any given day.

That “plummeted to about 6.5 percent” around Oct. 1, 2011, China’s National Day, “when many workers take leave,” according to the draft report.


Rod Nordland and Sangar Rahimi, “As NATO Nears Exit, Construction Dries Up,” New York Times, November 4, 2012.

Total American spending in Afghanistan was budgeted at $159.4 billion in 2011, and the estimate for 2012 is $126.5 billion, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget. By 2013, that will have dropped to $96.7 billion.


Greg Jaffe, “The World Is Safer. But No One in Washington Can Talk About It,” Washington Post, November 2, 2012.


Jeremy M. Sharp, “Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations,” Congressional Research Service, November 1, 2012.

Post a Comment 3 Comments

  • Posted by Peter Duveen

    Richard Haass has outlined a program for which he coined the term “restoration.” If followed, “restoration” could very possibly revitalize America. What is the likelihood that this program will be implemented? Even Haass has jumped on the anti-Assad/anti-Ahmadinejad bandwagon in a reversal of his position on Libya. Is his program dead in the water as a result? After all, “restoration” was a basically noninterventionist program.

  • Posted by Kir Komrik

    Thanks for the updates,

    I’m still worried about that whole automated warfare concept.

    “That decision had ramifications a decade later on Nov. 1, when a pair of Iranian Su-25 attack jet pilots tried their damnedest to shoot down an unarmed Predator conducting what Pentagon spokesman George Little dubbed “routine surveillance” over the Persian Gulf 16 miles off the Iranian coast.”

    Sounds like things are getting … better. But what happens when they get too good? What happens when U.S. lawmakers can damage property, kill and maim … with little chance of the same happening to U.S. interests, including our military? Listen to me now, hear me later. It’s not going to be pretty.

    I have little confidence in the virtue of U.S. political leaders to comprehend the meaning of the statement that the greatest power exercised is the power foregone.

    - kk

  • Posted by Don Bacon

    ” the Air Force ultimately stripped them of the missiles.”

    They did this because while it is certainly technically feasible to design unmanned fighter jets that could outperform manned ones, by pulling more g’s, this would destroy the Top Gun driven US Air Force mystique.

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