CPOL 510: Power and Money: Topics in Global Political Economy
June 3 – Cybersecurity and Energy
This week we go lighter on the new material so that you can also spend important time with beginning to develop your paper.
If you like, you might choose to focus on the cybersecurity material or the energy material, or you might choose to give equal amounts of attention to each. The cyber stuff is more detailed while the energy readings are more long-term. But I suspect that some of your comments in one of the areas will have certain resonance with comments from your classmates who focused on the other material.
In some ways, everything now is about privacy and data security
Whether we are protecting military codes, patent applications, health records, the integrity of ballot counts, credit card numbers, or what we browse online – how can we enjoy all the benefits of cyber life but avoid the many seen and unseen pitfalls?
There are many reading opportunities here but they are short or easy to read or skim-able.
We start with an outline from Peter W. Singer, author of Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know (2014). If you want to know what’s going on all around you, this book is a great place to start. For now, we’ll just do this mini-intro: the seven deadly sins of cyber security
It’s worth looking at some of this from a “landscape” perspective. Look at this (you;ll need a big screen, not your phone), beginning on the right – what are the big categories of targets? And then on the left, what are the threats?
It’s not only your Instagram photos that are vulnerable – in 2018 the GAO pointed out that despite working on this problem for 21 years, weapons systems are still vulnerable to hacking (click at least the one-page Highlights)
You probably know this name. Just in case, it’s worth considering the stories that came out about US Government surveillance and cooperation with US tech firms.
We start with the two articles from the Washington Post that got this all underway in 2013 – the Guardian was doing this at the same time. Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras id PRISM and other NSA cooperation with all the big tech companies – Facebook, Google,Microsoft, and more. Start with the graphics: the NSA slides that the Washington Post published (also here: snowden – wapo – slides ), Next, read the story and watch the interview (6:09) of Gellman at the top of the story. Two days later we learn about the mysterious source, Edward Snowden: read the storyand watch the Guardian’s interview (12:34) of him.
Intel agencies have said that some of the reporting is not entirely accurate; you can find their Congressional testimony if you are interested
How vulnerable are American elections to anonymous outside influence? This can mean different things. It can mean tampering with voter rolls, or the counting process, or the reporting of the count. These are not what we’ve been talking about with Russia and the 2016 elections.
If Putin says, Vote for Trump, that’s one thing. If a Russian government agency – or teenagers in Macedonia – post ads on facebook pretending to be almost anyone else, how much should the US worry? (Obviously, if a U.S. candidate cooperates with foreign governments or any foreign support, laws and other issues come into play.)
The Washington Post highlighted a Journal of Democracy article on the pros and cons of social media for democracy; it’s followed up by a How Stupid Are We analysis. A little, sure; but maybe our willingness to be duped is a symptom of our political divisions, more than being duped is a cause of our divisions?
You’ve seen the Mueller indictment (skim this) and the Mueller Report (pdf, read pages 4-10, or if you love this, pages 14-65). These Russian journalists claim that much of that information was published by them (skim this preview to the indictment), months earlier.
We begin with two articles on energy. Instead of the latest data on US oil production in mbd or WTI prices (for which you should probably do a quick Google News search) we take larger-perspective approaches.
The first is about World War IV – you know WWI and WWII, and you might guess that WWIII is a poor colloquialism for the Cold War. But WWIV? Andrew Bacevich is a career soldier who retired and the pursued academia. He opposed the 2003+ war in Iraq – and then his son lost his life in combat there.
Bacevich describes a combination of distorted American values and weak American leadership over decades leading since the Carter administration to a global (but esp. Middle Eastern) war for cheap, reliable oil. You can read The Real World War IV online in the Wilson Quarterly‘s archive.
We take a very different approach with Vaclav Smil, an energy philosopher, if there is such a thing: energy historian, at least. He describes how society moves in very large ways from one way of organizing its energy reliance to another. You can read about Smil and his ideas here in Science magazine.
If you want to get a little taste of the hyperenergy of Smil and his disdain of our scientific ignorance, try this for at least five minutes (the first minute is black screen, yes)
Optional: If you just can’t get enough of energy transitions, try this for two hours
Ok, your turn…Part 1
In our last two weeks we really focused on Keynes vs Hayek and attention to specific fiscal and financial considerations. This week we shift to larger government vs market questions. We see how “domestic” vs “foreign” policy are more related that we sometimes recognize.
I know you might spend more time with one or the other of these sets of material this week, but at least look at the other material too. We usually think of trade or tariffs or oil when we think of global political economy. In what ways can we think about global political economy from these materials?
By Thursday night you want to share your reflections here in about 500 words, and respond to your classmates by Sunday night.
Ok, your turn…Part 2
It’s time to focus on your paper topic. You should by now have done some thinking about it – probably you and I have Skyped or at least emailed about it. You want to put your paper topic in the form of a question. You can find more detailed instructions here – PAPER instructions and guidance-summer2018 – it includes notes specifically for summer-online classes like ours.
By Thursday night you want email me about your paper topic – send me a question you’d like to answer, and tell me how you will start to approach it.
Ok, everyone – semester going fast! – let’s have fun