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Adam Elkus
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Blog Entries by Adam Elkus

Deception in Small Groups

2 Comments | Posted November 2, 2011 | 12:02:01 (EST)

Anthropologist Robin Dunbar famously observed that most people can only maintain relationships at one time with 150 people. The average on Facebook is 120-230. And of that, only a fraction really matter to us. Penetrating a small circle is usually very difficult, especially if they are members of...

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Bin Laden and the Clausewitzian Trinity

Posted May 2, 2011 | 22:02:48 (EST)

The "direct action" killing of Osama bin Laden by Navy SEALs triggered a powerful emotional catharsis among Americans of all ages and political creeds. Some critics deride these reactions as abhorrent and instead advocate sober contemplation. While a deficit of thoughtful and realistic analysis is indeed one facet...

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The Flexibility of Conventional Warfare

Posted April 8, 2011 | 16:51:48 (EST)

There are basically two "ideal" types of military operations -- irregular warfare fought by guerrillas and terrorists on the small-unit level and regular force-on-force engagement drawing on the employment of combined arms. Because these are ideal types, most wars are a mixture of the two. Mao, for example, famously utilized...

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Beyond Twitter Revolutions and False Choices

Posted November 1, 2010 | 13:12:35 (EST)

Malcolm Gladwell's recent New Yorker essay on social media and political power introduced an insular debate among technologists to the general public. It also inadvertently demonstrated the social media debate's analytical vacuity. Gladwell argues that digital spectacle cannot replace old-fashioned analog methods of transmuting public sentiment into political...

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Facebook and the Database Society

Posted September 28, 2010 | 16:28:00 (EST)

According to reviewers, the upcoming movie The Social Network describes how Mark Zuckerberg used Facebook to turn his life -- and ours -- into a series of ones and zeroes. In other words, Facebook and other similar services herald the rise of a true database society. Civil libertarians are alarmed....

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WikiLeaks and Information Strategy

Posted July 29, 2010 | 13:31:30 (EST)

While WikiLeaks' release of the Afghanistan "War Logs" may be controversial, its significance in information strategy isn't difficult to understand. Advocacy groups like WikiLeaks and intelligence organizations need secret information to pursue their goals. Any piece of information is accessible if the seeker has resources, talent, luck, and risk tolerance....

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Reflecting on Iran, Social Media, and Change

Posted November 12, 2009 | 12:26:52 (EST)

Viewed through Western eyes, the information-enabled 2009 Iran protest movements were an irresistible force pitted against a brittle and hapless regime. Such a view overemphasized the role of technology in what was fundamentally an old-school social uprising. Still, some authors see the failure of the Iranian protest movement...

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Fort Hood and Social Media: Between Two Extremes

Posted November 12, 2009 | 02:12:40 (EST)

It's official: the crowdsourcing backlash has begun. Influential technology blog TechCrunch's Paul Carr vociferously condemned Fort Hood soldier Tearah Moore's paparazzi-like tweetings, describing her tasteless and often incorrect information as "entertainment and tragi-porn."

Carr went on to declare, "for all the sound and fury, citizen journalism once...

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Iran: It's Not About Us

Posted July 13, 2009 | 19:13:39 (EST)

It's become banal to argue we substantially overestimate our ability to influence the Middle East. But media commentary about the Iranian protests takes the usual unreality to a whole new level of insanity. Watching commentators fuss about whether Michael Jackson's death has "killed" the protest movement, pen dripping odes to...

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The Gates Revolution

Posted April 22, 2009 | 16:19:00 (EST)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates' military reforms are commonly portrayed in the media as a series of technocratic budget decisions. But Gates is doing something far more radical than just canceling big-ticket weapons programs: he's finally fusing theory and policy. The sad truth is that many of our soldiers and civilians...

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What If a State Failed and Nobody Cared?

Posted January 29, 2009 | 11:49:35 (EST)

When most Americans think of Mexico, they probably think of mariachi bands or Tijuana. If they're in a bad mood, they think about illegal immigration or drug gangs. But no one puts Mexico in the same category as a violent, unstable state like Pakistan. No one, that is, except the...

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Debate Some Doctrine

Posted December 2, 2008 | 15:56:54 (EST)

If Barack Obama wants to truly improve American national security, he should encourage a wide-ranging -- and public -- debate over military doctrine and strategy. The outcomes of obscure debates waged by military theorists and think-tankers have far-reaching effects on national security and foreign policy. We ignore these intellectual battles...

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Fixing Iraq: Cops for COIN

Posted June 20, 2008 | 18:01:53 (EST)

Written with Lt. John P. Sullivan

Washington is overflowing with foreign policy proposals for the next administration. Think-tankers of all political stripes are looking for a big idea to revolutionize American foreign policy. Missing from the equation, however, are new solutions for America's problems with counterinsurgency (COIN) and stabilization operations....

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No More Negotiations

Posted June 18, 2008 | 12:11:41 (EST)

While world attention remains riveted on the ongoing slaughter in Darfur, another African bloodbath continues unabated. Unlike Darfur, Uganda hasn't attracted the attention of any celebrities, but there are plenty of abducted children, terrified refugees and limb-severing killers to go around. On June 5, elements of the Ugandan rebel group...

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Terrorism's Two Front War

Posted June 4, 2008 | 19:43:06 (EST)

On May 29th, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) head General Michael Hayden declared that al-Qaeda has suffered "significant setbacks globally" including "strategic defeat" in Iraq and "near-strategic defeat" in Saudi Arabia -- an upbeat assessment that instantly spurred controversy among intelligence and counter-terrorism experts. The fracas over Hayden's remarks mirrors...

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Resilience and American Security

Posted November 13, 2007 | 18:16:50 (EST)

With the quagmire in Iraq and the regeneration of Al Qaeda in the Pakistani tribal regions, it is easy to feel gloomy about national security. However, there has recently been an important document released -- unnoticed by most -- that points the way to a safer, more secure future....

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Algiers, Grozny, Baghdad, and Washington

Posted October 17, 2007 | 18:58:00 (EST)

The question of how to measure progress in counterinsurgency, once the sole concern of a tiny group of military theorists and academics, has now taken center stage in the increasingly acrimonious Iraq war debate. The Bush administration and its defenders claim that Iraqi security is improving. However, continuing instability...

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Maoist Insurgency: A Blast From The Past

Posted March 26, 2007 | 15:19:21 (EST)

Since the end of the Cold War, non-state threats have predominately consisted of terrorists, ethnic separatists, holy warriors, and transnational criminals. The leftist insurgencies and terror campaigns that once haunted the developing world have largely vanished due to the discrediting of Marxism and the collapse of the most prominent...

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Maybe Iran Supports Terrorists--And Your Point Is?

Posted March 15, 2007 | 22:23:33 (EST)

President George W. Bush has alleged numerous times that the Iranian government has directly aided and supplied anti-American terrorists working in Iraq. Many have argued that this is part of an attempt to lay the ground for war with Iran and justify his policy of ordering United States soldiers...

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The Fall of Kurdistan

Posted February 19, 2007 | 14:02:14 (EST)

One of the most chilling parts of the recently released National Intelligence Estimate is its section on the oil-rich Iraqi city of Kirkuk. It noted that the Kurds are moving to cement their hold on the city, annexing it into the Kurdistan Regional Province against increasingly virulent opposition...

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