NSA scoops up millions of text messages a day, report says (Update)

Jan 16, 2014
An Indian officegoer checks a text message on his mobile phone in Mumbai on September 27, 2011

The US National Security Agency has collected almost 200 million mobile phone text messages a day from around the world, a report said Thursday, in the latest revelations from the Edward Snowden files.

The Guardian newspaper and Britain's Channel 4 News reported that the NSA used the messages to extract data on the location, contact networks and credit card details of mobile users.

British spies were given access by the NSA to search the collected "metadata"—information about the text messages but not the actual contents—of British citizens, according to the report.

The secret files say the programme, codenamed Dishfire, collects "pretty much everything it can", the Guardian and Channel 4 News reported.

Dishfire works by collecting and analysing automated text messages such as missed call alerts or texts sent to inform users about international roaming charges, the news organisations said.

It was also able to work out phone users' credit card numbers using texts from banks.

They cited an internal NSA presentation from 2011 on the programme and papers from Britain's electronic eavesdropping facility GCHQ.

There was no immediate reaction from the NSA.

GCHQ said it worked within British law.

"All of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with the strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate and that there is rigorous oversight," it said in a statement.

The NSA also said its collection of text messages was carried under strict limits under the law and was not arbitrary.

"DISHFIRE is a system that processes and stores lawfully collected SMS data," the spy agency said in a statement.

"Because some SMS data of US persons may at times be incidentally collected in NSA's lawful foreign intelligence mission, privacy protections for US persons exist across the entire process concerning the use, handling, retention, and dissemination of SMS data in DISHFIRE," it said, adding that any data on innocent foreign nationals was also removed promptly.

The report comes a day before US President Barack Obama is due to give a long-awaited speech proposing curbs on NSA phone and Internet data dragnets exposed by fugitive intelligence contractor Snowden.

Snowden remains in exile in Russia, where he has been granted temporary asylum.

The president discussed the details of Friday's speech during a telephone call with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday, according to Cameron's Downing Street office.

During the discussion, the two leaders "welcomed the unique intelligence sharing relationship between their two countries," according to the statement.

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User comments : 41

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Returners
1 / 5 (5) Jan 16, 2014
Good. WE need to intercept more communications.

I don't necessarily expect the government to crack it though. The terrorists could have a code book, in which case "1" could mean "pipe bomb" and "3" could mean "chicago," and "door bell" could mean "Tuesday Morning." Further, disguise your message as a common conversation, plus a phone number, or list of numerical statistics, (looks a lot like any other spam email message,) you'd never know what you were looking at if you saw such a coded message. Even if you suspected it was a code, you could never break it in a timely manner, if it was from an actual code book.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Jan 16, 2014
"President Barack Obama is not expected to propose any sweeping changes to surveillance data collection when he delivers a much anticipated speech on Friday, months after one of the largest intelligence leaks in U.S. history shook national confidence in the federal government."

-Because, after all, it's not only LEGAL but NECESSARY isn't it?
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Jan 16, 2014
Good. WE need to intercept more communications.

I don't necessarily expect the government to crack it though. The terrorists could have a code book, in which case "1" could mean "pipe bomb" and "3" could mean "chicago," and "door bell" could mean "Tuesday Morning." Further, disguise your message as a common conversation, plus a phone number, or list of numerical statistics, (looks a lot like any other spam email message,) you'd never know what you were looking at if you saw such a coded message. Even if you suspected it was a code, you could never break it in a timely manner, if it was from an actual code book.

Hmmm.... you seem to use a lot of "code"... So what are YOU planning?
Whydening Gyre
4.5 / 5 (2) Jan 16, 2014
"President Barack Obama is not expected to propose any sweeping changes to surveillance data collection when he delivers a much anticipated speech on Friday, months after one of the largest intelligence leaks in U.S. history shook national confidence in the federal government."

-Because, after all, it's not only LEGAL but NECESSARY isn't it?

It's necessary for lawyers to stay in business determining the legality of it...
markheim
5 / 5 (9) Jan 16, 2014
"Those who want security over liberty deserve neither." Benjamin Franklin.
210
not rated yet Jan 16, 2014
Darn, I saw my text messages on the NSA lists, "....GOT TO get home so I can post on phys.org about the NSA snooping on everybody...and get a quart of ice cream..."

word-
kochevnik
4.5 / 5 (2) Jan 16, 2014
FBI Admits It's Not Really About Law Enforcement Any More; Ignores Lots Of Crimes To Focus On Creating Fake Terror Plots https://www.techd...ts.shtml

Since 2000 FBI has fired 75% of it's investigators. Most were sent to Goldman/Sachs to train Wall Street criminals best ways to break the law and not be prosecuted or caught
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Jan 16, 2014
Good. WE need to intercept more communications.

I don't necessarily expect the government to crack it though. The terrorists could have a code book, in which case "1" could mean "pipe bomb" and "3" could mean "chicago," and "door bell" could mean "Tuesday Morning." Further, disguise your message as a common conversation, plus a phone number, or list of numerical statistics, (looks a lot like any other spam email message,) you'd never know what you were looking at if you saw such a coded message. Even if you suspected it was a code, you could never break it in a timely manner, if it was from an actual code book.

Hmmm.... you seem to use a lot of "code"... So what are YOU planning?
Lrrkrrs posts take up significant space on NSA servers.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) Jan 16, 2014
Good. WE need to intercept more communications.

I don't necessarily expect the government to crack it though. The terrorists could have a code book, in which case "1" could mean "pipe bomb" and "3" could mean "chicago," and "door bell" could mean "Tuesday Morning." Further, disguise your message as a common conversation, plus a phone number, or list of numerical statistics, (looks a lot like any other spam email message,) you'd never know what you were looking at if you saw such a coded message. Even if you suspected it was a code, you could never break it in a timely manner, if it was from an actual code book.

Hmmm.... you seem to use a lot of "code"... So what are YOU planning?
Lrrkrrs posts take up significant space on NSA servers.

Good. Keeps 'em busy...
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Jan 17, 2014
GCHQ said it worked within British law.

Now isn't that nice.

At the risk of falling for a Goodwin: That Nazis also worked inside German law of the time.

Being legal and being just are two different things. And even within the military/secret service/bureaucracy there is a DUTY to stand up against unjust actions. Not just illegal ones.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Jan 17, 2014
Being legal and being just are two different things.

Yet you and most other socialist don't mind the legal plunder of wealth.
Eikka
5 / 5 (3) Jan 17, 2014
"Those who want security over liberty deserve neither." Benjamin Franklin.


It's actually "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. "

Funny how a bit of paraphrasing can change the connotations entirely. It's really "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater", instead of "don't bathe the baby".

Yet you and most other socialist don't mind the legal plunder of wealth.


Is that not justice when the wealth is gotten by ill means, by subterfuge and systematic abuse of the people? Or are you saying that it's just that the fool and his money are soon departed?

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Jan 17, 2014
Yet you and most other socialist don't mind the legal plunder of wealth.

Who said I was a socialist?

But generally I don't mind to give part of my wealth to others who are less fortunate. I'm currently in the highest/most unfavorable tax bracket as a percentage of my earnings (which means I pay about 46% in taxes. People who earn even more may pay more as an absolute value but from then on the percentage goes down again).
I don't see this as plunder but as an investment in a stable society which is something I, and everyone else, benefits from.

Those who would want to keep 'all their wealth' are just saying that tehy want that AND a free ride of all the things society provides them with. They are the true 'socialists' in your definition of the word (read: moochers)
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Jan 17, 2014
Is that not justice when the wealth is gotten by ill means, by subterfuge and systematic abuse of the people?


Ill means like rent seeking crony capitalists: Solyndra, GE, Fisker, ....

I don't mind to give part of my wealth to others who are less fortunate.

GIVING is not the same as a govt agent putting gun to your head and taking it, aka legal plunder.
Modernmystic
5 / 5 (5) Jan 17, 2014
"Because some SMS data of US persons may at times be incidentally collected in NSA's lawful foreign intelligence mission, privacy protections for US persons exist across the entire process concerning the use, handling, retention, and dissemination of SMS data in DISHFIRE," it said, adding that any data on innocent foreign nationals was also removed promptly.


BAWHHAAHAHAHAHAHahahahahhahahahahahaahhahahahahahahaa!!!!!!!!!

No seriously.....BAAAAWWWHAHahahahahahahhhahahahahahahahahaahahhah!!!!!!
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Jan 17, 2014
GIVING is not the same as a govt agent putting gun to your head and taking it, aka legal plunder.

It's an agreed system by which we PREVENT moochers and parasites (i.e. those that think that they should keep all their wealth for themselves).

People aren't, currently, aware enough how much is needed to keep society going to have this work without an institutionalized system.
It would be nice if that were different, but wishful thinking doesn't make it so (and you yourself are a perfect example of why taxes are neede - as you would certainly contribute way less than you should, given half a chance)

You may remember that whenever something is left as "at their own discretion" (especially when we're talking about industry fixing something harmful their doing) it never works.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2014
At the risk of falling for a Goodwin: That Nazis also worked inside German law of the time
The SA wore surplus tropical shirts which were brown. The Weimars made brownshirts illegal so the SA began wearing white shirts. This did not last very long however.
Being legal and being just are two different things. And even within the military/secret service/bureaucracy there is a DUTY to stand up against unjust actions. Not just illegal ones
Well of course Al Qaeda believes the same thing. They believe sharia is the only just law and have promised not to rest until everybody (left alive) obeys it. Only idiots would not consider this a dire threat to the world.

Are you an idiot aa? Lots of idiots in Germany didn't see brownshirts as a threat until it was far too late to do anything about it.

Even hitler himself saw them as a threat and so he had the night of the long knives which was extremely illegal but by then who cared?

The caliphate will not be allowed to get that far.
Modernmystic
not rated yet Jan 17, 2014

Are you an idiot aa? Lots of idiots in Germany didn't see brownshirts as a threat until it was far too late to do anything about it.


This, quite possibly, is the most ironic statement I've ever read....
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Jan 17, 2014
Lots of idiots in Germany didn't see brownshirts as a threat until it was far too late to do anything about it.

Exactly. That's why I said that GCHQ excusing themselves with an "it's within British law" means nothing.

But you have to appreciate that at the time there was an extreme polarization between the rich and the poor with a political system that was so divided that it was incapable of making any decisions (remind you of any country at the moment?).

History repeats itself for those who fail to learn from it.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Jan 17, 2014
moochers and parasites (i.e. those that think that they should keep all their wealth for themselves).


How can they be moochers or parasites if they earned their wealth?
Only those who suck up the govt are parasites, enabled by a fascist/socialist state.
History repeats itself for those who fail to learn from it.

Yes, the fascists/socialists are returning.
Let's see how fast NYC returns to the dreary days of decline under the Dinkens.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2014
But you have to appreciate that at the time there was an extreme polarization between the rich and the poor
I can appreciate that germany had an extreme overpopulation problem which was the source of their misery. They fought a world war and only a gen later had enough hapless young hotheads to fight another one. This was true throughout eurasia. This was why Lebensraum was such an easy sell, and why not many questions were asked when jews started being 'relocated'.

Democracy is very fragile. It quickly succumbs to corruption and unrest when pops swell beyond the point of stability. Hitler made a famous comical speech about all the political parties which sprang up during weimar, some 39 of them. This was the indication that weimar had failed.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2014
History repeats itself
Did germany have very real enemies? Of course. Rot Front cells were forming throughout the country and they were taking orders directly from moscow. Had they assumed control, germanys entire middle class would have died. germans could SEE this taking place in the soviet union.

We have to ask ourselves if enemies truly exist today. Of course they do.

"What is no longer debatable is the body of evidence in intelligence channels that groups directly linked to core-al Qaeda in Pakistan have been coordinating operations with each other across North Africa and that the Benghazi attack is Exhibit A, according to ABC News intelligence sources and government reports"

"The [9/11] attacks were conducted by al-Qaeda, acting in accord with the 1998 fatwa issued against the U.S."

"Al qaeda operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad and a strict interpretation of sharia law."
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Jan 17, 2014
What drives our enemies today is the same thing that drove them in germany in the 1920s - the population growth rate. Religion-dominated regions are growing beyond the means to support themselves and they HAVE to consider annexing their neighbors in order to quell unrest. And they DONT want any interference while they are doing this.

Islamist cells are forming throughout europe and they are taking orders directly from islamists in the middle east. HISTORY IS REPEATING ITSELF. The main difference between now and a century ago is that western culture has conquered overpopulation. We are able to help our allies overseas fight this pop-fueled aggression without having to deal with it here at home, at least in the US.

But in order to do this we must relinquish some freedoms. This is always true in time of war. But this is the enemys fault, NOT OURS. Our culture is stable because our pops are stable, and we can regain those freedoms when the enemy is defeated. But ONLY if he is defeated.
LagomorphZero
5 / 5 (2) Jan 17, 2014
Otto: Isn't giving up our freedoms, losing the very thing we're fighting to protect? Voluntarily giving up our freedom isn't an enemies fault, it's ours. When sharia or any other arbitrary will is imposed upon us, then it would be an enemies fault.

And when have freedoms ever been given back to a population who ever gave them up? Are you saying that the NSA will ever say: "Okay, all the bad guys are dead, we won't read your texts and emails anymore?"
kochevnik
1 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2014
Under TPP USA will be leveraged buyout, as in case of Greece now with 50% unemployment. Engaging police state will be manditory under martial law. Assets will be stripped and public assets transferred to banksters. Ownership will no longer be possibility for 99%.

Americans will become even more arrogant under boom phase prior to crash, which will break their kneecaps and they will be forced to prostitute their women and daughters who unfortunately rarely qualify. I envision tens of millions of miserable fat losers shooting each-other for food and petrol: The expansion of South Central Los Angeles to a national scale

NSA will document all this for future historians exploring the causes of WWIII
Scroofinator
not rated yet Jan 17, 2014
Almost every developed country is playing the game, no country is going to give up their advantage(http://rt.com/new...r-516/). Get used to it, at least we know now. Guess what, if you aren't engaging in felonious acts you don't have to worry about it. Just wait till they get some I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E and really try some Team America shit.

And when have freedoms ever been given back to a population who ever gave them up?


Do you got a lot to hide? How has your "freedom" been challenged so far? I do believe there are also other wars that are blatantly ravaging us right now: war on crime, war on drugs(mj should not be included), war on the middle class. Hell, maybe just knowing that someone could be watching you might stop some inhumanity. I think I remember a few beliefs that try to accomplish the same thing...

I say let's lay the cards down and see how it plays out.
Scroofinator
5 / 5 (2) Jan 17, 2014
How can they be moochers or parasites if they earned their wealth?


It's one thing to "earn" wealth, and it's another to hoard it. Consider this: there are 138 people in this world that could give every person on earth 1 million dollars and still have over a billion left for themselves(http://www.forbes...states).

I bet a bunch of them are "good" Christians too
Scroofinator
not rated yet Jan 17, 2014
Wow, forget about my math(ranting should be a sober sport). I think you get the jist.
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 17, 2014
It's one thing to "earn" wealth, and it's another to hoard it.

After earning wealth, why can't it be hoarded, if that is what the individual who earned that wealth wants to do with it?
here are 138 people in this world that could give every person on earth 1 million dollars and still have over a billion left for themselves

What makes you think these people are hoarding their wealth?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2014
Otto: Isn't giving up our freedoms, losing the very thing we're fighting to protect? Voluntarily giving up our freedom isn't an enemies fault, it's ours. When sharia or any other arbitrary will is imposed upon us, then it would be an enemies fault
IOW you're willing to give up your way of life because you are unwilling to defend it. You're willing to bow to a god and embrace his laws which DEMAND that women do nothing but make babies and walk around in bags from head to toe.

You're willing to give up 500 years of increasing freedom from religious domination and surrender the world to another dark age. You ignore it and it will take ALL your freedoms and never give them back.

This is what you want isn't it? At least have the courage to admit it.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2014
And when have freedoms ever been given back to a population who ever gave them up?
You are pretending that you dont know US history. During ww2 people were forced to sacrifice a great deal to support the war effort. Japanese Americans were interned but later freed.

War ALWAYS means restrictions on freedoms and in the west these restrictions are ALWAYS temporary. They only become permanent if the enemy wins.

Ask the Germans what they surrendered to fight the soviets. Ask them what they endured in the east after the war. Ask those in the west how grateful they were for being on THAT side of the iron curtain.

It astounds me that Germans like aa would want to allow that kind of enemy to take their country from them again.

You CANT be free as long as enemies like that exist in the world.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2014
"Okay, all the bad guys are dead, we won't read your texts and emails anymore?"
If COURSE they will. Obama just restricted their use of metadata even though the program itself has been deemed LEGAL and NECESSARY by all 3 branches of govt, liberal and conservative alike. If terrorism went away then there would be no need for it.

Lawmakers love passing laws. It is the only way we can know they're doing their jobs. And at least half of our govt loves pandering to paranoid schizos like yourself who love to hear that the Al Frankens they elected are rooting out big brother.
Scroofinator
not rated yet Jan 18, 2014
You're willing to give up 500 years of increasing freedom from religious domination and surrender the world to another dark age.


I beg to differ that we have truly seen increasing freedoms from religious domination. This country was founded on Christianity, grown on bigotry, and shaped by religious dogma. There are many issues today that religion influences: abortion, LGBT, wars, etc... We were supposed to be a republic with a separation of church and state, but instead we are a republic under the ruse of separation.

What makes you think these people are hoarding their wealth?


I think of hoarding as keeping more than you actually need. Hoarding and saving are vastly different. Saving is what we blue collar folk do to try and better our current situation, or in case of a rainy day. When you have so much money that your family can have anything they want, and still not dent the net worth, than that's what I consider hoarding.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2014
"Okay, all the bad guys are dead, we won't read your texts and emails anymore?"
If COURSE they will. Obama just restricted their use of metadata even though the program itself has been deemed LEGAL and NECESSARY by all 3 branches of govt, liberal and conservative alike. If terrorism went away then there would be no need for it.
Terrorism is the fifth branch of the US government. You are begging the question. The role of your government IS state sponsored terrorism. Abroad they break up nations into separate ethnic, warring pieces every 80 years with casus belli strategies. Domestically the US government supports the security industry by staging false flag attacks. It is no different than Obama breaking the Internet to make Hollywood happy. The FBI changed their mandate from investigating crimes to supporting the USA security state, and discharged 75% of it's investigators since 2000
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2014
The role of your government IS state sponsored terrorism
Dont you think you have something a little more pressing to worry about?

"U.S. counter-terrorism experts are losing confidence in Russian security for the Winter Olympics in Sochi after recent suicide bombings targeted a major transportation hub many are expected to use to attend the Games, officials told ABC News this week.

While the Olympic venues in Sochi, the Black Sea resort town hosting the international competition, are being locked down by a massive Russian military cordon, outlying areas in which Olympians, their families and spectators will be transiting are unlikely to be anywhere near as safe from violent Islamist extremists in the region, experts warn.

"I think the real vulnerability may not be within the Olympic games themselves but possibly outside this perimeter where you're going to have a lot of soft targets," House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) told ABC News on Thursday."

-BOOM.
kochevnik
not rated yet Jan 19, 2014
The role of your government IS state sponsored terrorism
@Ghost Dont you think you have something a little more pressing to worry about?
USA exports terrorism to Russian borders. Although the main player is Saudi Arabia which exports all it's radicals abroad, and provides much of the funding while the USA supports the ideological radicals by giving them a base

Olympics are only one target of hundreds. The true issue is USA support of radicals and war along Russian border. An issue to which you and others seem disturbingly numb yet you support by (in)action. That and NATO encroachment are tantamount to a new cold war
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Jan 19, 2014
The role of your government IS state sponsored terrorism
@Ghost Dont you think you have something a little more pressing to worry about?
USA exports terrorism to Russian borders. Although the main player is Saudi Arabia which exports all it's radicals abroad, and provides much of the funding while the USA supports the ideological radicals by giving them a base

Olympics are only one target of hundreds. The true issue is USA support of radicals and war along Russian border. An issue to which you and others seem disturbingly numb yet you support by (in)action. That and NATO encroachment are tantamount to a new cold war

Friction creates energy. Energy equals money. Get used to it...
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 19, 2014
USA exports terrorism to Russian borders. Although the main player is Saudi Arabia which exports all it's radicals abroad, and provides much of the funding while the USA supports the ideological radicals
Well of course it's our fault. I knew you'd say that. This is why we're called the great satan.

And if we didn't exist, the cultures lining your southern borders would STILL be forcing their women to reproduce until it kills them, and their pops would thus be growing at the maximum rate. Their children would still be starving as a result and their imams would still be telling them that this is all YOUR fault.

And so they would still be blowing up your trains and movie theaters and demanding that you give them what you have.

And you would STILL have a very very big Problem. Yes?

Lucifer is the One who brings Light. The Explainer, the Elucidater. This is why he is the enemy of all religionists, who prefer worshipping their fantasies in darkened churches, mosques, and temples.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (1) Jan 19, 2014
USA exports terrorism to Russian borders. Although the main player is Saudi Arabia which exports all it's radicals abroad, and provides much of the funding while the USA supports the ideological radicals
@Ghost]Well of course it's our fault. I knew you'd say that. This is why we're called the great satan.

And if we didn't exist, the cultures lining your southern borders would STILL be forcing their women to reproduce until it kills them, and their pops would thus be growing at the maximum rate.
Atheism protected us in Soviet times. Now with democracy, stupid cattle are allowed to breed the maximum and spread a tidal wave of their religious stupidity coupled with their population plague. And yes USA is seizing advantage to exploit chaos around Russian borders. If Russia were to train suicide Mexicans to blow themselves up in the USA, wouldn't that be an act of war? Problem is that Russia is historically focused on defense, while USA has been offensive since WWII
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) Jan 19, 2014

Problem is that Russia is historically focused on defense, while USA has been offensive since WWII

Best defense is a good offense...


TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 19, 2014
USA is seizing advantage to exploit chaos around Russian borders.
Youre missing the point. Trouble is INEVITABLE. What makes you think that your country and our country arent being used together to deal with it?

Afghanistan has had traditionally one of the fastest growing populations in the world. Thus it has been embroiled in near-constant conflict and civil war since the brits got there in the 1800s. In 10 years soviets killed 1.5M and drove 1/3 of the pop out of the country, while only losing 15k.

In the present war there have been some 2500 coalition deaths. Indigene figures are impossible to come by but since we are even better at this sort of thing than you guys, I would guess perhaps 1/2M dead and millions more expelled.

And so we can see that inevitability has been dealt with tag-team style. We both participated in korea and vietnam to similar effect. THOSE cultures have been destroyed. Problem solved. Afghanistan needs a little more work. China took centuries.