23 April 2015

Maritime Silk Route and New Silk Road

Amb. TCA Rangachari and myself had two hectic days in Shanghai where we had meetings with prominent scholars like Drs. Sun Yang, Ma Jiali, Chen Kaiyan, Wang Duha and Guo Shuyong among others. We also addressed gatherings at the Academy of World Watch, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and Shanghai International Studies University. 

We mostly spoke about how irrelevant the Maritime Silk Route and New Silk Road (see map 2) were to India as both effectively bypassed India. We instead proposed a Southern Trans Asia Railway (STAR) proposal (see map 1) to link the Chinese and Indian rail network by joining Kunming and Calcutta - effectively giving life to the long discussed Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) link. This would integrate the Chinese, ASEAN and Indian markets where soon over 60% of the world's economic activity will be concentrated. There was a good deal of interest in this and I got the feeling that our diplomacy somehow misses the woods for the trees. 

A couple of years ago I had made a presentation on this at Beijing at the China Academy of Social Sciences where it was well received. But Indian diplomacy is still driven by suspicions and we generally fear a greater engagement with the world around us. We keep raising questions about Chinese intentions with regard to things like Gwadar and Hambantota, sale of submarines to Bangladesh. Both Gwadar and Hambantota are economic disasters in the making, but China has the money to blow up, and both Sri Lanka and Pakistan will in the end left with picking up the tab at 8%. Militarily both ports are hardly a challenge to India in times of conflict and if the PLAN builds bases there, they can be destroyed in a matter of hours. The problem is that we are more often than not consumed by our irrational fears, partly felt here and mostly assiduously promoted by western thinktanks and media. 

Sponsoring terrorism abroad No change in Pakistani policies

G Parthasarathy 
Apr 23 2015 

Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi is a household name in India. The 46-year-old Lakhvi has been the operation commander and a member of the decision-making general council of Lashkar e Taiba for nearly a decade. He rose rapidly in LeT after the Kargil conflict and has organised Lashkar terrorist operations not only against India, but also in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Bosnia. He is known to have been the mastermind not just of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack, but also the 2006 Mumbai train bombing in which around 200 people perished. 

According to the testimony during the trials of Syed Yousuf Gilani, aka David Coleman Headley, and his Canadian buddy, Tahawur Rana, in Chicago, Headley revealed how he was tasked by Lakhvi to identify and photograph targets for the 26/11 attack. Lakhvi's pernicious role has been exposed in testimony in India by an Indian national from Maharashtra, Syed Zabiuddin Ansari, aka Abu Jundal. Ansari was a member of the ISI-backed Indian Mujahideen and became an active Lashkar member after finding his way to Karachi. He was tasked by Lakhvi to teach the ten terrorists to speak Hindi. Ansari was extradited from Saudi Arabia to India in 2012 on the basis of information provided by India and the US. He has confirmed that he was in the operations room near Karachi, where Lakhvi was giving minute-to-minute operational instructions to the ten terrorists in Mumbai. Voice samples of VOIP communications by Lakhvi with the terrorists have been provided to Pakistan. They have not been used as evidence in Pakistan. Kasab, who referred to Lakhvi as “chacha” (uncle), also gave a sworn testimony on Lakhvi’s role. 

In jail memoir, Headley recalls 26/11, LeT training, polygamy

April 23, 2015 

Headley also writes in detail about his decision to join Lashkar “full time” following the 9/11 attacks, and says that by 2002, the group asked him to take “the Daura Aamma, the basic military training course offered by LeT”. 

Pakistani-American LeT terrorist David Headley, serving 35 years in jail for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, has written a memoir in prison detailing how Lashkar’s “dedication” to the cause of “liberation of Kashmir” inspired him to join the terror group. American public affairs TV programme Frontline was given access to a draft of the memoir Headley, 54, wrote in jail. Excerpts from the draft offer a window into Headley’s move towards extremism, his training with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and his preparations for the attack on the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten. 

Recalling the Mumbai terror attack, he writes, “The plan was to capture an Indianfishing vessel, which constantly strayed into Pakistani waters, and commandeer it allthe way to Mumbai. The hope was that the Indian Coast Guard would not notice anIndian vessel. The boys would carry a GPS device which would guide them directly to the landing site I had selected earlier,” he writes.In one of the passages in the memoir, Headley writes about his first encounter with LeT militants. “On one of my trips, October 2000, I made my first contact with LeT, quite by accident. I attended their annual convention… I was very impressed with their dedication to the cause of the liberation of Kashmir from Indian occupation,” Headley writes. Headley also writes in detail about his decision to join Lashkar “full time” following the 9/11 attacks, and says that by 2002, the group asked him to take “the Daura Aamma, the basic military training course offered by LeT”. 

Ministry refuses to relax norms for 35 border projects

April 23, 2015 
The decision affects at least 35 projects, it involves more than 20,000 acres of forest land. 

Days after the environment ministry relaxed rules to help create strategic defenceinfrastructure, the tribal affairs ministry refused to exempt these projects in the border states of north and north-east India from the purview of the Forest Rights Act (FRA). 

The decision, conveyed to the defence ministry on February 24, affects at least 35projects — it involves more than 20,000 acres of forest land — in eight states under the eastern, northern and central commands. 

Pointing out that most rights over forests in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura are vested with the local communities and forests in states like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and hill areas of Manipur are owned by communities through village councils, the tribal affairs ministry told the defence ministry that the FRA “has no provision to exempt in part or full from the process laid down therein”. Of the 35 defence projects that involve forest land, 11 are in Arunachal Pradesh, six in Sikkim, five in West Bengal, four each in Assam and Himachal Pradesh, three inUttarakhand and one each in Mizoram and Tripura (see box). 


23 April 2015

One wonders why the White Paper on Tibet attacks the Dalai Lama when he is China’s best bet. But a perusal of the lengthy document makes it clear that, for the communist regime, there is no ‘Tibetan issue’; all is fine. The State Council Information Office (China’s Cabinet) recently released a White Paper, ‘on the development path of Tibet’. It is not the first WP published by the Chinese Government on Tibet; in fact, it is the 13th since 1992, when the State Council, tried to justify its position about ‘ownership and human rights’. The characteristic of the latest avatar is best described by the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala: “[it] tries to belittle His Holiness the Dalai Lama by questioning his sincerity in dealing with China. His Holiness admired around the world and revered by the Tibetan people, does not need any certificate on his motivation from the Chinese Government.” 

One wonders: Why such a violent attack on the Tibetan leader, when many in China realise that he is undoubtedly the best bet if Beijing wants to find a solution to the Tibetan issue. But reading through the longish paper, it is clear that for the communist regime, there is no ‘Tibetan issue’; everything is fine and wonderful on the roof of the world. Beijing, however, warns: “The wheels of history roll forward and the tides of the times are irresistible. …Any person or force that attempts to resist the tide will simply be cast aside by history and by the people.” One can only agree with Beijing, except for the fact that they mistakenly judge the tides’ direction. Democracy, freedom of thought and speech are accepted concepts everywhere on the planet, except in a Middle Kingdom which seems to have passed into a reverse gear. The WP asks the Dalai Lama to ‘put aside his illusions’ about talks on Tibet’s future status. For Beijing, the Dalai Lama has little understanding of modern Tibet, but keeps ‘a sentimental attachment to the old theocratic feudal serfdom’. 

Are Both Kiev and Moscow Fighting the Wrong Wars?

With Russia and Ukraine deadlocked in the Donbass region, could it be that each is actually fighting the wrong war? 

This Wikistrat report, written by New York University Professor Mark Galeotti, argues that Russia ought to be working a lot harder to maintain the unity of Ukraine while Kiev would actually be better served by cutting away so-called “Novorossiya”. The freezing of the conflict would be a devastating blow to the identity of the “new” Ukraine, but it offers perverse advantages. 

Click here or on the cover image to download the full PDF report.

Will Iran Use Cyber to Attack Saudi Arabia’s Oil and Gas Industry?

April 19, 2015

This month, Wikistrat ran a 48-hour simulation with the goal of mapping out the various retaliatory options available to Iran should it choose to respond to the Saudi-led Arab military intervention in Yemen. 

One of the scenarios explored the possibility of an Iranian cyberattack against Saudi Arabia’s national oil and gas infrastructure and the national firm, Aramco. In essence, it would be a repetition of the Aramco incident from 2012, but on a larger scale. 

The scenario was presented to two of our top cyber experts: Dr. Bruce Wald, former Director for all NRL C4I and military space technology and systems in the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, and Ali-Reza Anghaie, Principal and co-founder of Carbon Dynamics and an expert on cyber activism and cyber warfare. Here is what they had to say: 

Web of deception

By: Sudhir Sitapati
April 23, 2015

If an ISP blocks a major website, slows down another or arbitrarily prices some content higher, you can be sure of a major competitor attack, a consumer exodus and long-term brand erosion.

Words are funny things. In Yes, Prime Minister, Humphrey Appleby asks a foreign ministry official whether East Yemen is a democracy. “Its full name is the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of East Yemen,” replies the official. “Ah I see,” says Sir Humphrey, “so it is a communist dictatorship.”

Net neutrality has to be the most deceptive neologism of our times. The phrase itself kills debate; after all, who would not want to be “neutral”? But what exactly does the phrase mean?

Look back in friendship - The closeness between India and Malaysia is due for a revival

K.P. Nayar
April 23 , 2015

Countries unfailingly revel in celebrating anniversaries. India and Malaysia, however, are now doing their best to bury an anniversary that they share.

New Delhi and Kuala Lumpur, for all practical purposes, stopped engaging each other in 2010 after a period when the potential of their friendship appeared to be on the threshold of full bloom. Five years ago, Malaysia's prime minister, Mohammad Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, came to New Delhi and, only nine months later, his then Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, visited Kuala Lumpur.

If it appeared then that this was a model Asian friendship worthy of emulation, those who made such predictions could not be faulted. The highlight of Singh's discussions in Kuala Lumpur was an ambitious "Framework for Strategic Partnership", which envisaged a multi-faceted relationship in free flow.

India's Nuclear-Weapons Program: 5 Things You Need to Know

India is one of the world’s greatest emerging powers today. Its economy is growing rapidly and its military is one of the largest in the world, with over amillion soldiers.

India sees its nuclear weapons capacity to be an integral part of its vision as a great power, and its nuclear program is important for both its prestige and security doctrine.

Yet, India’s nuclear weapons program has not been free of controversy and criticism. India is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), and is not one of the five nuclear weapons powers the treaty recognizes. India’s nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998 led to criticism and even sanctions.

No tunnel under the Everest ...but a road to Xinjiang?

22 Apr , 2015

A railway line through the Aksai Chin?

When one watches China, it is gratifying to be right once in a while.

It does not happen every day.

Last week, I wrote on http://claudearpi.blogspot.in/ that I doubted if China would dig a tunnel under the Everest, when it had easy access to Nepal via Kyirong and Zhangmu.

Xinhua has now issued a clarification: “Will China really dig a tunnel through Himalayas?”

I quote from the ‘clarification’:  Recently a news story titled “China intends to build a railway through the Himalayas to link to its border with Nepal” has been abuzz on western media.

Glancing at publications from AFP to Reuters and from the UK’s ‘The Guardian’ to ‘The Independent’, one sees the headline: “Qinghai-Tibet Railway on the roof of the world is already a marvel of human engineering, but could it be that China Railway will now ‘defy heaven’”? Will they really dig a turnnel through the Himalayas?

US embassy cables: India 'unlikely' to deploy Cold Start against Pakistan

1. (S/NF) Summary: The Indian Army's "Cold Start Doctrine" is a mixture of myth and reality. It has never been and may never be put to use on a battlefield because of substantial and serious resource constraints, but it is a developed operational attack plan announced in 2004 and intended to be taken off the shelf and implemented within a 72-hour period during a crisis. Cold Start is not a plan for a comprehensive invasion and occupation of Pakistan. Instead, it calls for a rapid, time- and distance-limited penetration into Pakistani territory with the goal of quickly punishing Pakistan, possibly in response to a Pakistan-linked terrorist attack in India, without threatening the survival of the Pakistani state or provoking a nuclear response. It was announced by the BJP-led government in 2004, but the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has not publicly embraced Cold Start and GOI uncertainty over Pakistani nuclear restraint may inhibit future implementation by any government. If the GOI were to implement Cold Start given present Indian military capabilities, it is the collective judgment of the Mission that India would encounter mixed results. The GOI failed to implement Cold Start in the wake of the audacious November 2008 Pakistan-linked terror attack in Mumbai, which calls into question the willingness of the GOI to implement Cold Start in any form and thus roll the nuclear dice. At the same time, the existence of the plan reassures the Indian public and may provide some limited deterrent effect on Pakistan. Taken together, these factors underline that the value of the doctrine to the GOI may lie more in the plan's existence than in any real world application. 

Myanmar says 126 soldiers have been killed in fight with Kokang army

YANGON, April 19 (Xinhua) -- The Myanmar government said on Sunday that 126 soldiers have been killed and 359 injured so far since a fighting with the Kokang ethnic army erupted on Feb. 9. 

During the 253 engagements with Kokang's Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) as of April 15, the government troops seized 74 bodies of the MNDAA, arrested 22 and confiscated 226 arms, ammunition and narcotic drugs, the military-run Myawaddy said. 

The government forces have cleared plenty of explosive mines and barricades on communication routes in northeastern Kokang region, which were planted and erected by the Kokang ethnic army. 

The roads in San Ta Aik Shan area cleared by the government forces over the last three days included those between Parsinkyaw and BP-137, one linking Laukkai and Chin Shwe Haw, and an inter- connected road between villages on Lonehtan and San Ta Aik Shan highland. 

During its latest offensive, the government forces seized four more strategic hilltops and villages. 

Stratfor: The 'Grexit' Issue and the Problem of Free Trade

by George Friedman
April 21st, 2015 

The Greek crisis is moving toward a climax. The issue is actually quite simple. The Greek government owes a great deal of money to European institutions and the International Monetary Fund. It has accumulated this debt over time, but it has become increasingly difficult for Greece to meet its payments. If Greece doesn't meet these payments, the IMF and European institutions have said they will not extend any more loans to Greece. Greece must make a calculation. If it pays the loans on time and receives additional funding, will it be better off than not paying the loans and being cut off from more?

Obviously, the question is more complex. It is not clear that if the Greeks refuse to pay, they will be cut off from further loans. First, the other side might be bluffing, as it has in the past. Second, if they do pay the next round, and they do get the next tranche of funding, is this simply kicking the can down the road? Does it solveGreece's underlying problem, which is that its debt structure is unsustainable? In a world that contains Argentina and American Airlines, we have learned that bankruptcy and lack of access to credit markets do not necessarily go hand in hand.

Australian Iron Ore Exports to China Are Slowing – But Can India Save The Day?

by Michael Grogan
April 20th, 2015 

With an economic slowdown in China and a fall in commodity prices, Australian iron ore exports have been hit hard. With the commodity being Australia's largest export and accounting for over 74 billion AUD in the years 2013-14, Chinese iron ore import prices (in $ per tonne) have fallen from approximately $120 during this period to just under a current price of $60.

While iron ore has traditionally been in high demand by China as the construction industry continued to boom during the first half of this decade, demand has faltered as construction activity has slowly been declining in China. In this context, even falling prices across the Australian iron ore industry do not seem to be enough to boost demand. While China is officially the largest producer of iron ore worldwide, over two-thirds of China's iron ore supplies have traditionally been imported from more developed markets such as Australia owing to concerns of poorer domestic quality.

China to spend 2.5 trillion yuan on transport infrastructure in 2015

17 APR

China's Ministry of Transport says the country will spend more than 2.5 trillion yuan on building transport infrastructure this year, including investing at least 800 billion yuan on railway construction.

During the first quarter of 2015, the Chinese government had already spent 320bn yuan on transport infrastructure, up 15.2 per cent from the same period last year. 

The spending on railway infrastructure and goods, including new purchases of carriages, surged 15.8 per cent.

The spending on road and waterways increased 14.5 per cent and 14.8 per cent respectively.

The ministry spokesperson said the government will focus its attention on two areas: railway and road construction in the central and western parts of China, and new projects associated with major national economic projects such as the so-called 'one road and one belt' initiative.

ISIS Revealed: Spies, Intelligence and Blackmail

April 21, 2015

Since ISIS came to the attention of the West in early 2014, several books and a number of investigative journalism pieces have illuminated the group's origins, structure and motivation. But this new report by Der Spiegel is particularly interesting because the paper has published pieces of the group's original organizational plans and material.

The collection of documents — outlines of the organization’s hierarchy, campaign plans and strategic communiques — were written by Samir Abd Muhammad 'Haji Bakr' al-Khlifawi, a former military intelligence officer in the air force of Saddam Hussein. It appears that the nationalist Haji Bakr, who was killed in early 2014, was the author of much of the Islamic State's current structure and operations.

Video Shows ISIS Is Still a Potent Military Force

Mitchell Prothero
April 20, 2015

IRBIL, Iraq — The video opens with high-definition footage shot from a drone flying over an oil refinery in central Iraq, but this video isn’t from a multi-million-dollar American drone. It’s from a drone operated by the Islamic State that likely cost a few thousand dollars. And the refinery – Iraq’s largest – is held by government forces, who have been besieged by the militants for the better part of a year.

The video, called “Defiant Attack on the Apostates at the Refinery,” began appearing on jihadist-linked websites and Twitter accounts last week. It heralded an Islamic State assault on the oil refinery at Baiji, where Iraqi government soldiers have held out since last summer against surrounding Islamic State troops. In the end, the government kept hold of the refinery, the country’s largest, with the help of 47 airstrikes by the United States and a massive influx of Iraqi reinforcements.

But beyond the outcome of the refinery battle, military analysts who’ve viewed the video find it alarming because it shows that the Islamic State retains a surprisingly high level of military skill despite months of daily airstrikes by U.S. aircraft and their coalition allies.

Saudi Arabia is 'biggest funder of terrorists'

Saudi Arabia is the single biggest contributor to the funding of Islamic extremism and is unwilling to cut off the money supply, according to a leaked note from Hillary Clinton. 

The US Secretary of State says in a secret memorandum that donors in the kingdom still "constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide" and that "it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority".

In a separate diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks last night, the militant group which carried out the Mumbai bombings in 2008, Lashkar-e-Toiba, is reported to have secured money in Saudi Arabia via one of its charity offshoots which raises money for schools.

What the West Owes Ukraine

APR 17, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – Ukraine may not be grabbing as many headlines now as it did a year ago, but the crisis there is far from over. The latest ceasefire agreement, concluded in Minsk in February, has contained, but not stopped, Russian military aggression. And, though the stabilization program that Ukraine agreed with the International Monetary Fund last month is superior to last year’s deal – this one includes both more financing from the IMF and a more credible economic-reform plan from the government – it will be insufficient to repair the country’s economy. What Ukraine really needs is to escape the old Soviet order – and, for that, it needs the West’s help.

Ukraine never managed to recast its state after the Soviet Union’s collapse. Instead, the old Soviet elites held onto power – and most of the country’s wealth – through corrupt practices that became entrenched in the country’s economy and political system. Reforming both will be a major challenge – one that Ukraine’s leaders have lately committed themselves to meeting.

How the EU inflamed the Ukraine conflict

21 April 2015 

When Greece's Alex Tsipras met Russia's Vladimir Putin in Moscow earlier this month, it was grist to the mill for those who see Russia's hand in the war in eastern Ukraine as a Kremlin plot to break up the EU.

They include Yale historian Timothy Snyder, author of the acclaimed Bloodlands, who repeated recently on ABC radio his long-held view that, in Ukraine,'The chief fight isn't between Russia and the United States or even between Russia and Ukraine. It's between Russia and the EU.' 

This appeals to a view of the EU as a harmless giant, spreading the fruits of democracy and Europe's kinder version of capitalism across the continent in an act of far-sighted selflessness. But what if Europe's most serious security crisis in a generation were a result of Brussels' own flawed policies? To put it another way, does the war in Ukrainerepresent the limits of Western diplomacy or the tragedy of some of its premises?

Countdown to War: The Coming U.S.-Russia Conflict

April 22, 2015

The United States and Russia may be unwittingly stumbling down a path to deeper confrontation and even war, cautioned two prominent American national-security experts at a panel in Washington, D.C. Tuesday. Graham Allison, director of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Dimitri K. Simes, president of the Center for the National Interest and publisher of this magazine, suggested that while leaders in both countries may not intend to escalate their disagreements on matters like the Ukraine crisis, poorly structured decision processes, opposing goals and divergent narratives can still produce conflict. “Even as they state that they don’t want a confrontation—with full conviction,” said Simes, “they are seeking a victory without war...Both sides show little inclination to compromise on what they consider to be fundamental and what they believe they are entitled to.”

North Korea's Unstoppable Nuclear-Weapons Program

April 22, 2015

In the past month, a disagreement has broken out into the open between the United States and its ally, the Republic of Korea, over the seriousness of the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program. This dispute, centering on whether Pyongyang can mount nuclear weapons on ballistic missiles—the United States says yes, and South Korea says no—reflects first and foremost the two sides jockeying for position over whether Seoul should introduce an advanced U.S. missile-defense system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). While THAAD is intended to deal with the threat from Pyongyang, Beijing opposes its deployment, given concerns that the system is really aimed at its own missile forces. But the dispute also reflects a bigger problem—namely, South Korea’s unwillingness to come to grips with the reality that the nuclear-weapons threat from the North is poised for significant expansion.

Unleashed: The GOP vs. The World

April 22, 2015

IN FEBUARY 2013, Senator Rand Paul delivered a speech at the Heritage Foundation. It was called “Restoring the Founders’ Vision of Foreign Policy.” In it Paul sought to outline a fresh foreign-policy path for the Republican Party, which was tepidly beginning to debate the limits of intervention abroad. At the outset Paul declared, “I see the world as it is. I am a realist, not aneoconservative, nor an isolationist.” He argued that radical Islam posed a threat to the United States but that the best way to defang it wasn’t to engage in permanent wars in the Middle East. Instead, he invoked the shade of George F. Kennan, asserting that a containment policy toward Iran and other countries would be the most effective way of deterring America’s foes:

I think all of us have the duty to ask where are the Kennans of our generation? When foreign policy has become so monolithic, so lacking in debate that Republicans and Democrats routinely pass foreign policy statements without debate and without votes, where are the calls for moderation, the calls for restraint?

Russia's Massive Military Buildup in Asia

April 21, 2015

Russia has doubled the number of S-400 air defense system it deploys in its far east region as part of a larger military buildup in the region.

Reports in Russian state-media, citing the Russian Defense Ministry, say that Moscow has deployed yet another S-400 missile defense system to the Kamchatka Peninsula; according to the Russian defense ministry. The reports said that Russia ultimately intends to deploy five S-400 systems to protect Kamchatka’s skies.

The S-400 is one of the most advanced air defense systems in the world, and can be equipped with missiles with ranges between 120 km to 400 km (long-range). The system can shoot down anything from small aircraft to ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads.

German Sympathy for Russia

April 21, 2015

BERLIN - The deployment of Pershing II missiles in the early 1980s by NATO to counter Soviet SS-20s led to widespread fears in Germany that the Cold War would escalate. Hundreds of thousands marched in protests, demanding that NATO refrain from deploying the missiles. Many members of the German public were ready to trust Moscow's assurances more than those of NATO.

Thirty years later, it seems that history is repeating itself. In the current crisis over Ukraine, large parts of the German public are giving Russia's leadership the benefit of the doubt. They may not trust Vladimir Putin personally, but they are readily buying the Russian argument that Moscow feels encircled and endangered by the West. In a recent survey, the German public was evenly split between those who were sympathetic to Russia's position and those opposing Moscow's actions.

Grow fast or die slow: Pivoting beyond the core

By Rishi Kant, Eric Kutcher, Mitra Mahdavian, and Kara Sprague
April 2015

Turbocharged initial growth is essential to surviving in the software industry. But what comes next? Here are four lessons so leaders can write their organizations’ second act.

Software companies must constantly evolve and capture new growth opportunities or risk slowly declining into irrelevance. Only 3 percent of start-ups grow into companies boasting annual revenue of at least $1 billion.1 Yet that achievement is only the end of the beginning. Act II involves developing into a multibillion-dollar company, and the odds are slim: our latest research shows that of the 3,197 public software companies launched between 1980 and 2013, just 19 have reached $4 billion in annual revenue (Exhibit 1).

The reality of growth in the software industry

April 2015

The leaders of Anaplan, Jive Software, and Synopsys discuss their experiences growing their companies while managing the challenges that accompany rapid expansion.

In an age of regular technological disruption, for software companies, growing fast has become essential to survival. In these interviews, Anaplan CEO Frederic Laluyaux, Jive Software executive chairman Tony Zingale, and Synopsys cofounder, chairman, and co-CEO Aart de Geus discuss how important it is for software and online-services companies not only to zero in on their main priorities but also to be prepared to reevaluate products and processes as they grow. They also explain why growth alone isn’t enough and why software companies must target becoming profitable rapidly and efficiently. The interviews were conducted by McKinsey director Eric Kutcher, and edited transcripts of their remarks follow.
It’s ‘grow fast or die fast’: Anaplan’s Frederic Laluyaux

Well, there are many challenges. The first one is to build the momentum, right? So you hired your first few people, you built the vision, and you have to start hiring the talent and hiring the right people who are a good cultural fit for your growth and your speed. Realizing that is a first element.


April 22, 2015
For some reason, the idea hit me on a chilly afternoon in northern Virginia while I was heading out to a DC United match with my oldest son. The boy loves his sports, for sure, and I started thinking about how much awareness he had already acquired on the topic. For months, when he got his precious iPad time, he would immediately go to my sports app, theScore, and start memorizing. He probably still knows the score of last year’s Tennessee-Vanderbilt football game as I type this. (Note: I just checked, he does.)

My five year-old’s ability to find sports scores on an iPad contrasts rather sharply with my inability to rapidly sift through mountains of intelligence data from my desk in the Pentagon. This leads to an intriguing question: How might the sports information model be applied to intelligence dissemination? I recognize there are all sorts of hurdles that would need to be overcome, but suspend disbelief and bear with me.

Russia’s Information Warfare Targets Washington and NATO

April 21, 2015

On April 16–17, the fourth Moscow International Security Conference was held amidst continued disagreement between Russia and the United States and its allies over Ukraine. As usual, the conference was addressed by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as well as Army-General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff, and other members of the Russian political-military leadership. In addition, in the context of the United States and European Union’s ongoing sanctions regime against Russia, the only foreign government to send a senior representative to the Moscow conference was Greece. The theme of this year’s event, shortly before the celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of end of the Great Patriotic War (World War II), was to link the defeat of Nazism with Moscow’s recent efforts to confront modern security challenges. The underlying message was for Washington and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): the Kremlin understands that the current confrontation will persist and has no intention of backing down (Lenta.ru, April 18).

A Clash in Cyberspace: Google and the European Union Go to War

April 21, 2015 

The European Commission’s accusations that Google has violated EU competition law by abusing its dominant position in the Internet search market generated significant attention. This case is important, but not just for the EU and Google. This case involves many economic, political, and tech layers, including three different, but overlapping, disputes about competition, political power, and sovereignty.

The first dispute is the European Commission’s case against Google under EU competition law (what Americans call antitrust law). Most systems of competition law prohibit companies from abusing dominant market positions, so the EU is not applying concepts alien to the United States. The EU and Google will go head-to-head on the law, but behind this lawyering is something important—the significance of competition law to the European project of an “ever closer union of peoples.”

Iranian Cyberspace: Domestic Suppression and International Aggression

By Taylor Butch
April 21, 2015

“Iran’s intelligence operations against the United States, including cyber capabilities, have dramatically increased in recent years in depth and complexity.”

These words of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper spoken at a Feb. 2012 congressional hearing should raise concern for the international community, but also the citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In recent years, Iran has become even more isolated from the international community, driven in large part by an uptick in sanctions. Facing mounting socio-economic domestic turmoil and increasing international pressure against its alleged nuclear weapon ambitions – a charge that Tehran denies – Iran has actively engaged in a campaign against domestic and foreign adversaries alike to consolidate power by any means it deems necessary. 

Homeland Security to Open Office in Silicon Valley

SAN FRANCISCO — The Department of Homeland Security is finalizing plans to open a "satellite office" in Silicon Valley that will work with tech companies to improve cyber security and recruit people to work for the government, Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Tuesday. 

"We want to strengthen critical relationships in Silicon Valley and ensure that the government and the private sector benefit from each other’s research and development," Johnson said in a keynote speech to the RSA Conference, a major annual gathering in San Francisco of cyber security companies, hackers, journalists, and government officials. "And we want to convince some of the talented workforce here in Silicon Valley to come to Washington." 

Countering ISIS online

20 April 2015

When you look at the global response to the threat of ISIS, a glaring gap is the cyber domain.

The internet has been critical to the terrorist group's success. It allows it to communicate unfiltered to the rest of the world, for onward mass dissemination by the media. It helps the group radicalise and recruit fighters and financiers. It also allows recruits to organise and network in the field and maintain ties when they return to their countries of origin.

For these and other reasons, ISIS's command of cyberspace needs to be aggressively contested, as I argued in this recent paper.

Yet some counter-propaganda efforts have been shown to have questionable impact, and others risk making things worse. There are, however, multiple ways to combat ISIS online, including: 

Navy Rolls Out CYBERSAFE: ‘Our Operational Network Is Under Fire’

April 20, 2015

A high-level cybersecurity task force will present its plan to the Chief of Naval Operations sometime tomorrow. Called CYBERSAFE (one word, all caps), the initiative is intended to overhaul information technology in the comprehensive way the SUBSAFE instruction overhauled all submarine safety after the USS Thresher disaster. Fixing up IT procurement, though, is just one step towards a larger cultural revolution: treating military networks not as tech support but as weapons.

We are now paying the price of “decisions made over the last 10 or 20 years in which the network was taken for granted,” said Adm. Michael Rogers, the Navy four-star who heads US Cyber Command and the National Security Agency.