Dan Smith Commentary: “CyberSecurity: The New Frontier”

About four years ago, I was checking my e-mail while on vacation. As often happens, I was rapidly moving through the dozens of e-mails lodged in my inbox, when I hit on an important message from Hotmail. It said that my e-mail account was in danger of being compromised because of my weak password. The advice – change my password immediately. After requesting specific information, there was a seemingly innocuous question: “Current password?” Foolishly, I filled in my current password – and, then, it hit me! My e-mail had indeed been compromised – my internet identity stolen. I felt personally violated. All of my credit cards had to be cancelled and re-issued. Every one of my contacts received an e-mail within minutes requesting that each send $3,500 to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as I was ostensibly stranded in the airport where my wallet and passport had been stolen and I had no way of returning to Montana without an infusion of cash from my friends. How profoundly embarrassing!

Perhaps you or one of your friends or family members have experienced something similar – identity theft in cyberspace. Through simple inattention, you have bypassed the security software and firewalls intended to protect your identity.

Now project that insecurity on a world-wide screen that could affect the identity – life and livelihood of more than seven billion people, indeed the welfare of the planet through manipulation of cyberspace. Cyberspace is the domain of global digital electronic communications. It is far broader than the internet. It includes the entire spectrum of networked information and communications systems world-wide. Cyberspace permeates all aspects of human society, virtually every aspect of political, economic, cultural and social life is premised on the flow of information through cyberspace.

Ronald Deibert, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto and Director of the OpenNet Initiative, has written extensively on cybersecurity. In a
recent article on “Cybersecurity: the New Frontier” in the foreign policy journal, Great Decisions, he outlines key issues we need to consider. According to Deibert “Cyberspace is entering a period of intense contestation and potential chaos, as a multitude of different actors (states, civil society, businesses, militant and organized criminal groups ) struggle to shape the domain to their strategic interests. Many governments are now grappling with a wide range of new threats that have emerged including cybercrime, espionage and warfare.” Indeed “The transformation of the domain of cyberspace into a matter of national security is perhaps the most important force shaping global communications today.” Today’s news sources are replete with instances of critical disruptions of global transportation, finance, defense, telecommunications and social media systems that affect the lives of multi-millions of people.

At its core is the global challenge to find a way out of the chaos of cyber insecurity. Deibert raises the following suggestions: “ In the formulation of cyberspace policy two major issues collide: the practical necessity of securing cyberspace to preserve public confidence ( which extends to policing, commercial viability, and national security), and the preservation of openness as a global public good that is in line with the norms of liberal democratic societies. How should these competing challenges be balanced?

Further, “Who should govern cyberspace? Should international efforts be conducted by governments in a centralized, multilateral body – possible under the auspices of the UN? What are the barriers to international cooperation on efforts to combat cybercrime and to regulate other activity in cyberspace?”

Beyond the immediate concern for the security of our own identity in cyberspace, we need to stay tuned to the unfolding answers to these questions which might affect the common future of the human race.

Meghann Curtis Discusses the Importance of Exchange Programs

Meghann Curtis

A U-S State Department official was in Missoula this week evaluating an exchange program operated by the Maureen and Mike  Mansfield Center at the University of Montana.
Meghann Curtis’s official title is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs at the U.S Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Bureau administers and allocates funds for over 10-thousand student and scholar exchanges. It’s mission isn’t limited to academia, as it also administers cultural and professional exchanges.
In this evening’s feature interview with reporter Edward O’Brien, Curtis explains why she feels international exchanges of all types are invaluable. She says her perspective on the issue was crafted by a variety of factors, including her own experiences overseas as a teenager as well as the attacks on 9-11.

Deena Mansour Commentary: “Public Diplomacy in the Context of a New Egypt”

As we in Montana and across the U.S. watch political developments in Egypt, I follow the daily news with greater interest than most. The uncertainties of Arab Spring are quite personal to me: my parents immigrated to the U.S. from Egypt more than 45 years ago. While born an American in the heartland of Iowa, I am Deena Fathi Abdel-Aziz Ali Mansour, named in the tradition after my father, my grandfather, and my great-grandfather.
You could call my family an American success story. My father was the oldest of seven children raised in a two-bedroom apartment in Ibrahimaya, one of the poorest districts in Alexandria. During the turmoil of the Arab-Israeli conflict, my parents moved to the U.S. to further their educations. Making their way to Wyoming, my father became a university professor, my mother a librarian. Growing up, I lived in Egypt for three short years, though that cultural immersion was tempered by my enrollment in the protected enclave of an American high school.
My experiences as a first-generation American shaped my desire to serve our country. Upon graduating from college with a degree in international relations, I passed the foreign service exam and specialized in public diplomacy. This branch of diplomacy promotes our national interest by informing foreign publics and broadening dialogue between Americans and people across the world. I loved the work, but after eight years in the service, including four years in southeast Asia, it was time to come home. I was fortunate to receive the opportunity to implement similar programs at The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at The University of Montana. The Mansfield Center has as its dual mission a commitment to ethics in public policy as well as fostering mutual understanding between the U.S. and Asia. We have many private and public partners in these efforts, including the Departments of State, Defense, and Education.
My husband and I always planned to take our two children to Egypt to introduce them to that heritage. The importance of such a trip grew as a boy in my 9-year-old son’s class announced one day that all Egyptians were terrorists. In the wake of 9/11, we decided that we all needed this opportunity to learn about a culture so distant from our own.
When we initially conceived of the trip, Egypt had been firmly under Mubarak’s rule for nearly 30 years. We celebrated Arab Spring and watched as the military has shifted from its initial role of protector of the Tahrir Square demonstrators to its increasingly authoritarian rule, and as the Islamic Brotherhood has risen from the banned to the legally victorious. It was a unique window for our family to learn more than we had initially expected — to see democracy being born.
We spent three weeks in Egypt last month, staying just long enough to witness the first phase of the presidential elections. We met people throughout the country, from the cities of Cairo and Alexandria to smaller communities in the south and in the Sinai. We felt the economic desperation in a country where Arab Spring was driven as much by unemployment as a desire for political freedom. Our awe at the ancient Wonders of the World was tempered by the vendors crowding around us with pleas to help them feed their families.
More than anything, however, we felt hope for the future. My children played with their young cousins, sharing Arabic and English phrases with one another. We celebrated with my six aunts and their families as supporters of various political candidates distributed literature along the Mediterranean Sea on the Corniche, in the shadow of the great Library of Alexandria. While my aunts all wear the hegab to cover their heads, they shared their differing opinions on who they supported – some the military, some the liberals, some the Muslim Brotherhood. We rejoiced in this bounty of choice for the first time in their lives. We met people like Hamdy the Taxi Driver, who had earned a philosophy degree 40 years ago yet spent his life as a Japanese chef. Understandably, he was more philosophical than most, explaining that good times would come, but that there would first be a hard 10 years ahead. Our final photo of that trip shows a friend with an inked finger held high, proof of his vote, and of his hopes for an emerging democracy.
My children returned home having seen firsthand that people across the world – of a Muslim faith, speaking a strange language, and living in completely different circumstances – have the same hopes and aspirations as we do here in Missoula: happiness, health, and stability for our children and for our community. And knowing with certainty that all Egyptians are certainly not terrorists.
We at the Mansfield Center look forward to soon announcing new opportunities for high school students and professionals across Montana to have the same learning opportunity, but in Asia. For more information about our programs, see us on the web at http://www.umt.edu/mansfield.
Deena Mansour writes on behalf of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center.

Terry Weidner Commentary: “Bureaucrat in a Strange Land”

This will be my final commentary as Director of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at UM, as I am stepping down after nine years to assume a position as a full-time faculty member. Working at the Mansfield Center has probably been the best personal and professional experience of my life, but, in candor, I am past ready to move on. First, teaching is what I always liked to do best, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do that full time. But as important, who in their right mind likes being a bureaucrat? I’ve always thought that, just as people who want to be president shouldn’t be allowed to run –having failed a fundamental sanity test—those who enjoy being bureaucrats should be objects of deep suspicion.
Given this attitude, I doubt I would have survived at UM –much less really come to love the job at some essential level– without some things that are special about the university and the Mansfield Center itself. Above all, I believe in what we do at the Center. I once told a friend that I would direct the Charles Manson Center if it was fully endowed –but I was just kidding. Not enough of us get to do work we believe in. And the fact is that I’m not only committed to international education but have admired Mike Mansfield since I was in high school—even then, I sensed his dignity, admired the causes he took on, and appreciated the fact he could fight with colleagues over key legislation all day and then go have a beer with them in the evening. To have had the opportunity to serve a Center that represents the Mansfield name and ideals has thus been incredibly satisfying.
Another reason I’ve found UM special: It may sound strange, given the stereotype of bureaucrats as people who push paper and obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, but I got into administration because I wanted to change things. And I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to do that through the Center at UM.
UM’s system has its own issues, of course, but it is far more receptive to the pursuit of “big ideas” than any other institutions with which I’ve been involved. To give an example: A number of years ago, when I left government, I was employed as associate director of International programs at a good Midwest university. I threw myself into the job, grant money poured in, and we created some really innovative language and area studies programs. Then one day, I was called into the Provost’s office and told, in essence, to try doing less: Seems we were getting so many grants it was creating undue matching burdens on the school. Long story short, I became increasingly disillusioned with the slow-down regime and eventually left. I was replaced by a half time person. So much for my idea I was Mr. Indispensable.
Next job, another large state university in the mid-west, this time as the founding director of an East Asia Center. The perfect follow-up, I thought: a new Center–no furniture, even– a clean slate, an apparent mandate to get things going. But not so fast my friend. I actually wanted classes on Asian languages and culture, my bosses asked? Couldn’t we just have some nice faculty exchanges? Not surprisingly, I got the same response on anything resembling a big idea, including that of creating a branch campus in China. I didn’t expect them to rush to the barricades in support, of course—this was complicated stuff. But neither did I expect an immediate shake of the head and a dismissive “No, Terry, I don’t think so. . .”
Flash forward to my early days at UM under then-President George Dennison, when the idea of a potential China campus came up again. A very different response this time. I was immediately dispatched to meet with key players in the U.S. and China—and when the money looked firm and the benefit to UM was apparent, we launched into a full-blown, year-long due diligence process. Ultimately, it didn’t work out, but we gave the idea the serious consideration it deserved. I already knew I liked UM much better than those other places.
Shortly thereafter, I went to the President with another idea: creating a national defense language Center. No shaking of the head on this, either. The President gave it thirty seconds of silent thought and then said, “Hell, go for it. What do you need?” Toto, we really weren’t in Kansas anymore. Five years later, The Defense Critical Language and Culture Program, run by the Mansfield Center, has been funded for $7-8m dollars and become one of the best university-based centers in the country.
And so it has gone: after always being dissuaded from pushing the envelope at other institutions, I have consistent been encouraged to do so at UM –no money mind you, never any money– but a hunting license, the freedom to see if an idea we liked was also good enough for others to fund. And realistically, you can’t ask for much more than that.
The freedom to have a vision –and of course, some absolutely incredible colleagues who share that vision—has allowed us to restore the Mansfield Center to what was intended when it was founded. In the last nine years:
• Fueled by the Defense program, the Center’s funding has increased almost 20 fold, to $3m/year
• Our staff has expanded from me and secretary to 22 full-time employees
• We have built a presence in China, including via a Confucius Institute, which has allowed us to offer Chinese language in Montana’s public schools for the first time
• We have a new and burgeoning academic and training partnerships in Vietnam and elsewhere in the Mekong Delta
• Last but not least, we have moved the UM Center for Ethics to the Mansfield Center to create the Mansfield Ethics and Public Affairs program, thus restoring a key part of the Mansfield Center’s founding legacy.
As some of you know, we have had to extend our search for a new Mansfield Center director, but with a great staff, we’ll do fine until we do identify someone who has the right stuff to bring the Center to the next level. Hopefully, that person will find, as I did, that UM is a place where even a bureaucracy-averse bureaucrat can build things and create change.

Terry Weidner is the out-going director of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at the University of Montana.