8 April 2015

Creating lesser citizens

Navdeep Singh
April 7, 2015 
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Away from the mainstream gaze and tumult over Section 66A, on March 11, defencepersonnel, military veterans and their families were declared lesser citizens — lesser than what they already were. On that day, based on an appeal filed by the last government but prosecuted by the current one, the Supreme Court declared that highcourts would not entertain challenges to the orders of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), thereby effectively making the said tribunal the first and last court for litigants, since, according to provisions of the AFT Act, an appeal anyway does not lie even with the SC as a matter of right, unless there is the exceptional involvement of a “point of law of general public importance”.

The SC, based on self-deprecating arguments put forth by the army and the defenceministry, also adverted to Article 33 of the Constitution, which states that fundamental rights of defence personnel can be restricted or abrogated. Needless to state, from the celebrated Kesavananda Bharati case onwards, it is well appreciated that restrictions are limited to maintenance of discipline while performing duties, and extend to other uniformed forces too.

C’est la vie

Apr 08, 2015

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Paris later this week, reciprocating French President Francois Hollande’s visit to India in February 2014. Despite the frequent high-level interactions there has been little traction on substantive issues.

There are several long-pending deals such as six new nuclear power plants by Areva and Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), a government-owned entity, and the order for the Dassault Aviations Rafale fighter, that have long-term implications for India and France. In both these deals pricing has become a major bone of contention and it seems unlikely that these agreements will be formalised any time soon, apart from a reiteration of determination to iron out differences.

The Rafale fighter deal is stalled not only due to the high costs involved, but also due to disagreement on how the local component of fighters to be produced in India will be aggregated. Dassault has taken the position that it cannot guarantee the quality of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) built 108 Rafale fighters after the first 18 are imported. But many experts here say that this is merely a fig leaf to cover Dassault’s financial inadequacy. According to them, Dassault wants another local partner, like the private-sector giant Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), to complete the deal. RIL, with its $10 billion cash hoard, has already set up a defence sector business unit, Reliance Aerospace Technologies Pvt Ltd (RATPL), in anticipation of this.

Let’s get down to business

Apr 06, 2015

What India needs is a coherent and systematic approach. While the urgency shown by the new government to bring about necessary reforms to help businesses is promising, it needs to be followed equally ardently with action on the ground.

Deepak Parekh, the non-executive chairman of the board of HDFC, has rightly lashed out at the government that there has been little improvement in the “ease of doing business” in India by the government in the last nine months. Hectic efforts are on by the Centre, but much of the action lies elsewhere.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has recently announced several initiatives that would help in this endeavour — a new law to replace the need for multiple prior permissions with pre-existing regulatory mechanisms, bankruptcy law reforms, simplification of tax procedures, exclusive commercial divisions in various courts, and a new law to resolve disputes in public contracts. However, what India needs is a coherent and systematic approach, undertaking impact assessments of legislations and regulations. While the urgency shown by the new government to bring about necessary reforms to help businesses is promising, this needs to be followed equally ardently with action on the ground. For example, if the government can launch a new slogan: “India out of Red Tape” like “Incredible India” or “Make in India”, it might galvanise our system to attack unnecessary bureaucratic delays.


07 April 2015 

Net Neutrality argues that every online site or app should be accessible to the consumer without telecom companies charging extra fees for priority access. But India's biggest telecom company, along with one of the country’s top e-retailers, has already violated this principle

Telecom operators have been arguing that Internet services are eating their lunch and it is their ‘right’ to charge this ‘rent’. They have also argued that by charging this ‘rent’ — and let us not make any bones about the term, it is an illegal ‘rent’, no less than a form of extortion that telecom service providers are charging — they are trying to stay afloat. An example that is often cited is that of WhatsApp. This popular online-based messaging service has completely decimated the personal text messaging market. Service providers, who used to rub their hands with glee when they ripped-off customers on festive occasions by charging usurious rates for messaging, have been left high and dry with the advent of WhatsApp and other similar online mobile services.

Wasted goodwill - Saudi Arabia would love to be treated normally by India

K.P. Nayar
April 8 , 2015 

When the new king of Saudi Arabia was talking to Narendra Modi on Monday, last week, at the elbow of Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud was a bright young thirty-year-old man. The young prince, Mohammed bin Salman al Saud, is to the oil-rich kingdom what Modi was to the people of India last year when they gave him a decisive mandate to govern from New Delhi. Both the prime minister and the thirty-year-old prince represent generational change in the public lives of their respective countries. Just as India's aspirational youth readily entrusted their destiny to Modi, Prince Mohammed, who has metamorphosed in a short time from an inexperienced lawyer into one of the most powerful men in Riyadh, embodies the hopes of the Saudi people at a time when they face an existential crisis without precedent.

Iran deal: A geopolitical game changer

Ramesh Thakur
Apr 8 2015 

Iran’s framework nuclear agreement could well become a defining foreign policy legacy of the Obama presidency

SCORE one for Presidents Barack Obama and Hassan Rouhani for negotiating a nuclear deal that could be a regional and global geopolitical game changer. Given the unravelling of US relations with Russia over crises in Europe, the stalled pivot to Asia to counter China’s rising regional profile and the failed effort to abort the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the successful Iran deal could well become the defining foreign policy legacy of the Obama presidency. Conversely, should an obstructionist US Congress derail the deal, international support necessary for maintaining an effective sanctions regime on Iran will wither away.

Defence : dangerous drift!

07 Apr , 2015

In another two months time the Modi led BJP govt. will complete one year in office. One has waited in vain for the much needed correction on some fundamental defence issues like the country’s nuclear posture. The election manifesto of BJP had promised a review but from all indicators available in public domain there seems to have been no movement. It appears the new (by now 10 months old) govt. has succumbed to international pressure and/or the status quo lobby of Delhi that sees virtue only in its own voice and is immune to cold and hard logic of nuclear game. The issue concerns all citizens, our children and grandchildren. Nuclear weapons are unique and essentially weapons to ‘deter’ an enemy.

23 Countries Want India's Help in Yemen Evacuation Operations

April 07, 2015

As the Saudi Arabia-led military campaign–Operation Decisive Storm–continues against the Houthi rebels who have overrun large swathes of Yemen, several countries are evacuating their citizens from the country. For India, the evacuation effort represents a mammoth undertaking. Over the weekend, New Delhi carried out the largest aerial evacuation of any country in Yemen since hostilities began: it evacuated 670 Indian citizens on three Air India flights. Additionally, India’s Navy was sent to retrieve over a thousand Indian citizens. Overall, New Delhi has successfully rescued 2,300 of its own citizens so far.

India, Thailand Seek Expanded Defense Ties

April 07, 2015

Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, seen here with then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

New Delhi and Bangkok are looking to enhance the defense realm of their relationship. 

Last week, Ajit Doval, the Indian national security adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, paid a visit to Thailand and held meetings with several top officials. The trip was the latest sign that New Delhi and Bangkok are looking to deepen their defense ties.

On his trip, Doval reportedly met with several officials, including Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn, and Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Prawith Wongsuwan. A wide range of issues were discussed, including defense production, sea lane safety, piracy, counterterrorism, and human trafficking.

How an Iran Nuclear Deal Would Benefit India

April 06, 2015

The framework agreement reached between Iran and the United States, along with other world powers could have far-ranging implications on Middle Eastern and South Asian geopolitics. Under the deal, Iran has agreed to limit uranium enrichment to only one facility (Natanz), while agreeing to compromises on two other facilities; it consented to redesign the plutonium heavy-water reactor in Arak in a manner that would prevent it from producing weapons-grade usable fuel, and agreed to convert the Fordo uranium enrichment site into a facility for advanced nuclear research and the production of medical isotopes.

Why India Won't Follow in China's Environmental Footsteps

April 06, 2015

India has replaced China as the country with the largest number of cities in the world’s top 20 most polluted (in terms of air quality). That announcementhas prompted a number of articles comparing the two countries and suggesting that India should learn from China — from both its past mistakes and its path forward. Certainly, there are some obvious similarities. An article in the Khaleej Times notes a litany of Indian environmental challenges that could easily have been lifted from an article on China: tap water that is not potable, massive mounds of plastic in landfills, and a devastating problem with e-waste. India’s water scarcity challenge also has begun to sound like that of China: More than half of India’s population faces “high to extremely high” water stress. Moreover, corruption plagues the environmental protection system in both countries. And the two countries, along with the United States, rank as the top contributors to global climate change.

Darkness and Hope in Load Poems Like Guns

April 07, 2015

A common saying about Herat, Afghanistan is that you cannot stretch out a leg there without “poking a poet in the ass.” In her 2002 book The Sewing Circles of Herat, British journalist Christina Lamb attributes the quote to Ali-Shir Nava’i, a leading patron of the arts in fifteenth century Afghanistan. Khaled Hosseini borrows the line in the first chapter of A Thousand Splendid Suns. Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire, thought the quip clever enough to recount in his memoirs, the Baburnama.

Farzana Marie, who first traveled to Afghanistan as a volunteer teacher and then as a member of the U.S. Air Force, repeats Nava’i’s line in the introduction to her recently released collection of poetry. Compiled, translated, and edited by Marie, Load Poems Like Guns: Women’s Poetry from Herat, Afghanistan brings together a selection of works from eight Afghan women who have preserved, and are reviving, Herat’s cultural heritage.


By Dr Subhash Kapila

On the eve of PM Modi’s visit to China it needs to be highlighted that the so-called China-India Strategic Partnership is neither ‘Strategic’ nor a ‘Partnership’.

“Strategic” implies existence of wide-ranging strategic convergences on overall security and stability and “Partnership” implies that both China and India by joint and shared endeavours would work effectively towards the foregoing objective. Sadly and regrettably that does not exist currently in China- India relations, leave aside what to say about the so-called China-India Strategic Partnership.

Crouching Dragon, Stubborn Samurai: A Dual for South China Sea

07 Apr , 2015

For hundreds of years, if not thousand, Japan has played a vital role in geopolitics. Located just off the coast of mainland East Asia, Japan has been subtly affected by their neighbors and their affairs. A nation with a longstanding history of military dominance and conquest, especially under the Japanese Empire, brings the longstanding tensions of the region into limelight. It will not be wrong to say, the rehabilitation of Japan after the defeat of Japanese empire in World War II changed Japan completely. The dissolution of communism in the Soviet Union, emergence of communist China, the Korean War, the Vietnam conflict, along with the formation of ASEAN severely changed the geopolitical layout of East and Southeast Asia. Furthermore, the disintegration of the massive Japanese empire which later fell into the hands of the victors left many unsolved questions which later turned into territorial disputes , one such example if the Senkaku Islands, which is currently being claimed by Japan and China.

China Makes Its Case For a Global Military

April 07, 2015

As The Diplomat previously reported, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy spearheaded the evacuation of both Chinese citizens and foreign nationals from Yemen over the past week. On March 29 and 30, the Weifang, a PLAN frigate, and theWeishanhu supply vessel evacuated 571 Chinese citizens from Yemen; on April 2, another frigate, the Linyi,carried 225 foreign nationals from ten different countries (mostly Pakistan) from Yemen’s Aden pot to Djibouti.

As I wrote earlier, it’s rare for China to use its military to assist in evacuation operations halfway around the world. It’s even rarer for China’s military to assist foreign citizens in the same way. In a press conference last week, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying noted that the operation was “a special action” wherein China “evacuate[d] foreign nationals stuck in dangerous zones for the first time.” According to Hua, the evacuation embodied the principles of “internationalism and humanitarianism held by the Chinese government.”

Will Xi's Anti-Corruption Campaign Become an Outright Purge?

April 07, 2015

Accompanying the news that Zhou Yongkang is finally to be formally tried for a raft of crimes broadly classified as corrupt practices, there were less clear-cut hints suggesting that the vice president himself, Li Yuanchao, is also starting to be engulfed by investigators from the dreaded Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CDIC).

On the surface, the two cases are very different. Zhou, however powerful he once was, is a retired politician. Li is active. While not on the Politburo Standing Committee, as vice president he has a certain status – this, after all, was the position previously occupied by Hu Jintao and then Xi Jinping. And while no one is claiming that Li is in line for succession as head of the Sixth Generation leaders (at 65, he is too old for that), vice president is a prominent position to try to remove someone from — and one from which the target can make a lot of noise.

How Threatening Are China's Missiles?

April 07, 2015

Last week, Evan Braden Montgomery, a researcher at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, a breeding ground of Andy Marshall acolytes (see: “Is the Pentagon’s Andrew Marshall the Leo Strauss of Military Analysis”), testified in front of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on what they dubbed “managing China’s missile threat.”

Montgomery provided an insightful answer to the question of why China is pouring resources into the development of on ground-launched offensive missile forces to support its alleged “counter-intervention” – anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) – strategy in Asia, which somewhat corresponds with my thoughts on the subject (see: “What Can the Middle Ages Teach us About US Naval Strategy”). In detail, he argues that ground launched offensive missiles are:

China-India Strategic Partnership in 2015 neither Strategic nor a Partnership

By Dr Subhash Kapila

On the eve of PM Modi’s visit to China it needs to be highlighted that the so-called China-India Strategic Partnership is neither ‘Strategic’ nor a ‘Partnership’.

“Strategic” implies existence of wide-ranging strategic convergences on overall security and stability and “Partnership” implies that both China and India by joint and shared endeavours would work effectively towards the foregoing objective. Sadly and regrettably that does not exist currently in China- India relations, leave aside what to say about the so-called China-India Strategic Partnership.

What hovers ominously as an overhang over China-India relations is whatever you want to call it: “Cold Peace” or “Cold War”

China's 'New' Carrier Killer Subs

April 06, 2015

The Chinese Navy in in the process of commissioning three new nuclear-powered attack submarines, according to China Daily. The report, quoted on the website Defense Tech, furthermore notes that the new vessels will be equipped with a new vertical launching system capable of firing supersonic anti-ship missiles.

The “new” SSNs are in fact, upgraded versions of the Type-093 Shang-class second-generation nuclear-powered attack submarines, two of which are currently in service in the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The upgrades are designated Type-093G.

“The Type-093G is reported to be an upgraded version of Type-093… With a teardrop hull, the submarine is longer than its predecessor and has a vertical launching system,” China Daily said.

Why Kissinger’s South China Sea Approach Won’t Work

April 07, 2015

Late last month, media outlets reported that Henry Kissinger, America’s prominent former secretary of state, had said that the U.S. and China should look to the example of Deng Xiaoping when it comes to defusing China’s disputes with other claimants in the South China Sea.

“Deng Xiaoping dealt with some of his problems by saying not every problem needs to be solved in the existing generation,” Kissinger said in Singapore, where he attended Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral. “Let’s perhaps wait for another generation but let’s not make it worse.”

Applied to the South China Sea, that might mean shelving knotty issues surrounding territorial and maritime claims for now and perhaps even focusing on joint development.

Tibetan Leader: Chinese Government Can’t Choose Next Dalai Lama

March 30, 2015

Since 1959, when the current Dalai Lama escaped from Tibet, his tireless efforts for freedom for Tibetans and peace in the world have irked and outraged the Chinese Communist Party. Its leaders have called the 14th Dalai Lama a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” “a devil with a human face,” and a “devil with horns.” They ban the Dalai Lama’s portrait and severely punish anyone in Tibet found carrying or displaying his image. 

How incredible, then, that China now claims the right to locate the next reincarnation of the spiritual leader whom they call “the devil.” How incredible, too, that the Communist leaders whose ideology regards religion as the opium of the people, and whose founding figure, Mao Zedong, famously told His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Beijing that “religion is poison,” now orders the Dalai Lama to reincarnate on the Chinese government’s terms. 

The Revealing Naïveté of One ISIS Recruit in Libya

LONDON—Last week, a document entitled “Interview with a Prisoner From al Baghdadi’s Group: Part I” was circulated by a Twitter user who goes by the name al Mundhir al Ḥussaini and describes himself as a “Da’esh [ISIS] dissident” in Misrata, Libya. 

As the title suggests, the document is an Arabic language report on what is alleged to be a conversation between a captive ISIS supporter in Sirte and those guarding him, who remain anonymous. 

While it is impossible to verify the authenticity of the interrogation, it nevertheless makes an intriguing read, and if it is indeed a valid document it provides important insights into the way the so-called Islamic State and the organizations that have pledged fealty to it go about indoctrinating their recruits. Rarely do we hear the firsthand account of an ISIS supporter’s path to the caliphate, a process about which man assumptions are made but deeper understanding is severely lacking.

Why Arab Countries Fear the Iran Deal

April 7, 2015 

As the White House claims a well-deserved victory over the nuclear deal with Iran, Washington must also realize that Arab states and societies view the agreement as a reflection of a fundamental shift in the power dynamics of the Middle East.

The reaction to the deal among Arab leaders has been relatively muted so far. Saudi Arabia, one of the most determined opponents of the nuclear negotiations, was tame in its response so as not to embarrass its American ally. But hardened opposition remains.

Iran and the Obama Doctrine

APRIL 5, 2015 

In September 1996, I visited Iran. One of my most enduring memories of that trip was that in my hotel lobby there was a sign above the doorproclaiming “Down With USA.” But it wasn’t a banner or graffiti. It was tiled and plastered into the wall. I thought to myself: “Wow — that’s tiled in there! That won’t come out easily.” Nearly 20 years later, in the wake of a draft deal between the Obama administration and Iran, we have what may be the best chance to begin to pry that sign loose, to ease the U.S.-Iran cold/hot war that has roiled the region for 36 years. But it is a chance fraught with real risks to America, Israel and our Sunni Arab allies: that Iran could eventually become a nuclear-armed state.

Make No Mistake — the United States Is at War in Yemen

MARCH 30, 2015

The Obama administration revealed that the United States was participating in yet another Middle East military intervention via a press release from the spokesperson of the National Security Council (NSC). This time, it’s Yemen. Late Wednesday evening, March 25, the White House posted a statement declaring: “President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council]-led military operations.”

There was no prime-time address by the president or secretary of defense — the only two people in the national command authority who can lawfully direct the U.S. military to engage in hostilities. There was no statement from the Department of Defense, the federal agency responsible for those armed forces providing the support to the GCC, or comment from U.S. Central Command, the combatant command whose geographic area of responsibility includes the GCC members and Yemen itself. Rather, the NSC spokesperson simply let us know.

US, Philippines set to hold expanded war games

By Staff Writers
April 6, 2015

The United States and the Philippines will double the size of their annual war games this month, with some exercises to be staged close to a South China Sea flashpoint, the Filipino military said Monday.

The 10-day exercises between the long-time allies will be held as fears grow in the Philippines that China is seeking to take control of the strategically vital and resource-rich sea.

Nearly 12,000 soldiers will be involved in this year's edition in several locations in the Philippines, including a naval station directly facing the disputed waters, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc said.

Reality Check: America Needs Iran

Since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was announced last week, the Obama administration—echoing previous pledges that nuclear talks with Tehran do not presage a U.S.-Iranian “grand bargain”—has assiduouslyreaffirmed that progress on the nuclear issue does not signal a wider diplomatic opening. 

Such a posture ignores an overwhelming strategic reality: America’s position in the Middle East is in free fall, and the only way out is to realign U.S. relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Washington must do this as purposefully as it realigned relations with the People’s Republic of China in the 1970s, when it struggled to extricate America from the self-inflicted debacle of the Vietnam War and to renew its diplomatic options, for the Cold War’s last phase and beyond. By not using nuclear diplomacy as a catalyst for broader, “Nixon to China” rapprochement with Iran, Obama and his team ensure further erosion of America’s standing as a great power, in the Middle East and globally.

The Fed's Big Role in the Oil-Price Game

April 7, 2015

Most analysts are on the supply side of the oil-price equation. But there is something else at work—demand. Demand growth has been taken for granted for the better part of the twenty-first century: China built infrastructure and its economy grew, which created more demand for crude oil, and the cycle repeated. Now, demand growth is more tenuous, and far more price sensitive than it was in previous cycles. The familiar refrain “oil cannot stay low forever” may be true. But it can stay low for a prolonged period of time.

Oil is a dollarized commodity. And this means the U.S. dollar has a direct effect on the price of oil—specifically in non-dollar terms. This implies that the dollar’s strength matters for oil’s price recovery, because it can dramatically affect the price that non-U.S. buyers must pay without the dollar price of oil moving.

Could This Be America's Best Kept Economic Secret?

April 6, 2015

The U.S. economic recovery and current strength reflect in large part advanced industries. As other sectors faltered, both employment and output in these businesses grew. In 2013, they employed 12.3 million workers (9 percent of the U.S. workforce), who made on average $90,000 (compared to the U.S. mean of $51,500). These industries generated $2.7 trillion in output (17 percent of U.S. GDP), and indirectly supported an additional 14.3 million jobs.

Central to this classification, as developed in a recent Brookings report, is innovation. Participants stand out on two criteria—over 20 percent of their workers are science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) professionals and all spend $450 or more in R&D per worker. The authors classify some fifty different industries—from aerospace to semiconductors, satellite telecommunications to software publishers—across manufacturing, energy, and services as advanced sectors.

Enough Is Enough: Abolish the IRS

April 7, 2015 

Among the more enjoyable spectacles of Washington in recent years has been watching Grover Norquist eluding once again a contingent of media foxhounds in full bray, yelping and jumping at the bottom of a tree in which, they are convinced, they have finally trapped the prominent anti-tax guru. One such episode took place in November 2012, shortly after President Obama’s reelection—and at a time when official Washington faced a choice between a grand fiscal compromise and the austere budget cuts that would kick in automatically under what was known as “sequestration.”

Congress would never allow sequestration to take effect, according to the media wisdom of the day, and hence Republicans would have to accept tax increases as part of the alternative fiscal bargain. That would mean the GOP would have to repudiate the famous Tax Pledge devised by Norquist and signed by nearly every congressional Republican. That, in turn, would destroy the force and power of that nettlesome Tax Pledge—and dislodge Norquist from his prominent place as Horatio at the bridge of tax policy.

New Openings for India in the US-Iran Thaw

April 07, 2015

As the United States and Iran head toward a broader rapprochement, what does India stand to gain? 

Last week, P5+1 and Iranian diplomats in Lausanne, Switzerland, announced that they had reached a framework for a nuclear deal. The negotiations will now continue to work on technical issues as diplomats work toward a deadline for a comprehensive agreement at the end of June. The announced framework would permit Iran a limited nuclear enrichment capacity, but would subject its civil nuclear program to a strict and intrusive inspection regime. Iran, in exchange, would receive gradual relief from nuclear sanctions as it demonstrates compliance. Though the operationalization of the framework would not be easy, as a first cut the framework is fairly comprehensive with most important parameters duly accounted for.

Pro-Palestinian Hackers Hit Israeli Websites

April 7, 2015

JERUSALEM — Pro-Palestinian hackers disrupted Israeli websites on Tuesday, following threats from the Anonymous hacking collective that it would carry out an “electronic Holocaust,” though Israeli cyber experts said the coordinated attacks caused little damage.

The hacking campaign, which has taken place every April 7 since 2013, is meant to be in protest of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. In 2013, the hackers first waged the coordinated campaign, dubbed OpIsrael, on the eve of Israel’s annual Holocaust remembrance day.

Israel’s Computer Emergency Response Team, a civilian cyber security group, said Anonymous attacked a few dozen websites belonging to Israeli musicians and non-profit organizations on Tuesday. Anonymous had vowed it would topple Israeli government websites, banks and public institutions, though no major disruptions were reported.


By Caitrίona Helena Heinl and Stephen Honiss

Cyber is a game changer since it now affects most law enforcement operations including those that traditionally had no technological aspect. INTERPOL’s IGCI therefore held its first workshop in March involving law enforcement, industry, academia, and research bodies to more fully identify its research agenda for the near term.

In light of this workshop, there are at least three noteworthy challenges facing the international community. They are the need to proactively expect new trends and threats; the necessity for stronger international collaboration; and the requirement to more responsibly tackle privacy concerns over law enforcement’s access to data.

Is the U.S.-Iran Cyber War Over?


Washington and Tehran have come to an understanding on nuclear weapons. The cyber arsenals? Not so much. 

The international agreement reached last week on Iran’s nuclear program may stall the country’s aspirations to build The Bomb. But U.S. officials and cyber security experts aren’t betting that Iran will give up its pursuit of another strategic arsenal: cyber weapons, which the country has been rapidly acquiring and using against U.S. targets. 

And the American cyber espionage campaign against Iran? The experts and officials expect that to continue, as well. 

Will This Plane Let China Control the South China Sea?

April 07, 2015

A new aircraft would be capable of quickly shuttling Chinese cargo and personnel to the contested Spratly Islands. 

China is building the world’s largest seaplane, theJiaolong (Water Dragon) AG600. Capable of landing and taking off on water (and land), the Chinese-built aircraft could make it easier for Beijing to press its claims in the South China Sea, according to experts quoted in a Defense News article.

“Amphibious planes like the AG600 would be perfect for resupplying the new artificial islands that the Chinese are building in the SCS [South China Sea]. At the same time, these islands would be excellent bases of operations for the AG600 to engage in maritime patrols of claimed territories,” notes Richard Bitzinger, coordinator of the Military Transformations Program at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.