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: Drones in Iraq, U.S.-China, and Hackers

by Micah Zenko
July 25, 2014

Zhao Xiaogang, drill director of the Chinese fleet participating in the RIMPAC multi-national military exercise, gives a statement during a news conference kicking off the exercise at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in Honolulu, Hawaii on June 30, 2014. (Gentry/Courtesy Reuters) Zhao Xiaogang, drill director of the Chinese fleet participating in the RIMPAC multi-national military exercise, gives a statement during a news conference kicking off the exercise at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in Honolulu, Hawaii on June 30, 2014. (Gentry/Courtesy Reuters)

David Cenciotti, “Armed U.S. Predator Drone Appears Over Iraq,” Aviationist, July 25, 2014.

Allegedly filmed in the skies over Anbar, south of Mosul, in Iraq, the video below shows what clearly seems to be an MQ-1 Predator. As some analysts noticed the aircraft appears to be armed with Hellfire missiles, even if the first images are a bit too blurry to say it with certainty.

(3PA: Earlier this month, a Pentagon spokesperson claimed that Predators and Reapers were not being flown over Iraq, which was puzzling because an anonymous Pentagon official had confirmed they were just days prior. Unless this was a Title 50 covert drone, the Pentagon should clarify what strike capabilities are orbiting over Iraq.)


Karen DeYoung, “United States could do more to intercept militants, Pakistan says,” Washington Post, July 24, 2014.

“How can you carry out a military operation that is costing the lives of hundreds of soldiers and officers, and costing us hundreds of millions of dollars, and for us to let any one particular group…escape?” [the Pakistani official said]. “Everyone has to be taken out.”

If there are any militants that are found fleeing into Afghanistan, we would love to see them taken out by the U.S., ISAF [the U.S.-led international force] and Afghan forces,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic conversations with the United States.

“The drone strikes should take place on the other side” of the border, he said. “We want to make it very clear. We are never informed as to when they are taking place, where they are taking place, and who is the target for the simple reason that we have made it clear both privately as well as publicly our opposition.”

(3PA: “Everyone has to be taken out.”)


Iraq At A Crossroads: Options for U.S. Policy,” U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, July 24, 2014.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): “[Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy] Miss [Elissa] Slotkin, we learn more from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times than any briefing from you.”


Jeremy Page, “China Pushes Limits to Closer Ties With U.S. Military,” Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2014.

Adm. Greenert said he tried to build on eight proposals for cooperation made by Adm. Wu last September. One was China’s attending the naval drills off Hawaii. Another was implementing a code for unplanned encounters at sea, or CUES, signed by 21 Pacific naval powers in April.

Some Chinese officials have suggested the code didn’t apply in disputed waters around China’s coast, but Adm. Greenert said Adm. Wu had committed last week to observing CUES throughout the South China Sea.

Adm. Greenert said he had seen no reports of harassment or unprofessional behavior in encounters between U.S. and Chinese ships since April. “We’re talking more. They’re speaking English,” he said. “It’s a civil tone—it’s good.”

He also said he met for the first time last week with China’s State Oceanic Administration, which oversees the coast guard, and discussed whether they, too, could observe elements of CUES.

“They were open to the concept and saw the value in pursuing it,” he said of the officials overseeing the coast guard, which has often been used to enforce China’s maritime claims.


Lev Grossman, “World War Zero: How Hackers Fight to Steal Your Secrets,” Time, July 10, 2014.

Given their offensive potential, you’d think the government would want to control the trade in vulnerabilities the way it does, say, the trade in fighter jets and land mines. But regulators are just now catching up with it. The Wassenaar Arrangement, which is the international agreement that governs arms sales among the U.S. and 40 other participating nations, was modified in December to include “intrusion software” in its list of restricted dual-use technologies, but so far that change hasn’t been enforced. “It’s not a market that right now the government has really looked at regulating,” a senior Administration official told TIME. “We’ve been much more in the voluntary best-practices-and-standards space. And I think that you’ll see us continue to focus on that.”

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