5 May 2015

Let’s not be in a hurry to resolve border dispute with China: Arun Shourie

'I certainly cannot say how he sees China. But the fact is that, while Pakistan is the immediate problem, China is the principal challenge in the long run.'

China sees India as a potential nuisance, let’s not be in a hurry to resolve the border dispute when the distance is as vast as it is now, Arun Shourie tells National Editor (News Operations) Rakesh Sinha in an interview days before Narendra Modi leaves for China.

How do you view the Prime Minister’s forthcoming visit to China?

Arguably the principal achievement of Mr Narendra Modi has thus far been the energy and the clear focus he has brought to foreign policy. A distinguished academic was pointing out the other day that the backdrop of each of the PM’s visits abroad has been China: those to Japan, to Fiji, to Australia, to the two Pacific Powers — US and Canada; the fact that our President was in Vietnam on the eve of President Xi’s visit to India; the Prime Minister’s visits to countries in the Indian Ocean. The GCF — the Greatest Common Factor — in these has been one: China. Hence, a clear focus.

Does this suggest that he sees China as the main problem for India?

I certainly cannot say how he sees China. But the fact is that, while Pakistan is the immediate problem, China is the principal challenge in the long run — and in part Pakistan is a problem because of China. China’s great skill has been the manipulation of power and the symbols of power. It has a definite view of its place in the world: that it must be the dominant power in Asia now, and the principal power in the world tomorrow.

Obama Picks Top Marine as Next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs

MAY 4, 2015

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford will be nominated as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the White House on Tuesday morning, putting a wartime commander into the nation’s top military post for the first time since the start of the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As President Barack Obama’s second nominee to the chairmanship, Dunford will enter a world vastly different than the one his predecessor, U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, saw when he assumed the role as the president’s top military advisor in October 2011. If confirmed by the Senate — which seems virtually certain — Dunford will leave his post as the commandant only months after taking the job late last year.

Dunford’s ascension has significant ramifications inside and outside the Defense Department. Within the Pentagon, Dunford’s appointment means that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter now has his top uniformed counterpart in place and that the White House has completed the leadership team that will run the Pentagon until Obama leaves office.
More broadly, Dunford — will spent a year commanding all U.S. forces in Afghanistan — begins his tenure at a time of deep uncertainty for the nation’s armed forces and will need to help the president maneuver through a welter of difficult policy decisions.

The flagging fight against the Islamic State is at that top of that list. Obama pulled all American troops out of Iraq in 2011, but has since sent 3,000 back to the country to train a hybrid force of Iraqi troops and Sunni tribal fighters to help beat back the militants. The Iraqis recently reclaimed the key Sunni city of Tikrit, but the Islamic State has been steadily tightening his grip on Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province.

Cracks in the polity - How do the land bill, Yemen and Nepal test the Indian spirit?

Brijesh D. Jayal
To an apolitical observer of the national scene who is also the proverbial middle-classadmi and military veteran, the month of April was an opportunity to watch our democracy and governance from the sidelines. An exercise that has left one feeling, at times, deeply ashamed of being an Indian and at others equally proud.

On the menu of events that have put the nation-state to test recently have been three widely disparate happenings. The land acquisition bill has been the testing ground not just for our politics and parliamentarians, but also of the very morals and ethics by which we preach and practice democracy. The war in Yemen, on the other hand, was a man-made international security challenge that involved evacuation of our nationals in the midst of a shooting ground and air war. Finally, the devastating earthquake, with its epicentre in Nepal, that overwhelmed a brotherly neighbour, together with some of our border states, and towards which international efforts at relief are still continuing.

Since the majority of our people depend on agriculture for livelihood, any laws or issues relating to land have a direct bearing on their lives. Not surprisingly, the land acquisition bill has become a battleground for the government on the one hand and those opposing it on the other. But one does expect a caring democracy to treat a topic of such significance to a majority of its people with due sensitivity, and for political parties and parliamentarians to view it through the prism of ethics and morality rather than political partisanship.

Another brick in the wall…

May 5, 2015

Education has been reduced to the level of ‘teaching for testing’. The individual is completely lost. All that is visible are aggregates of a tiny part of the human capability, measured through tools of suspicious reliability

A few weeks ago, the media captured the stark and shocking image of people — family members and friends — climbing and getting on to the ledges of the high-rise Vidya Niketan school in Mahnar village, 60 kilometres from Patna, Bihar, to pass on answer chits to students appearing for their school exams on March 18, 2015. Headlines such as “Scaling new heights to deliver cheat sheets” and scenes on TV made it clear that this could never have happened without the connivance of teachers and examination personnel, thus laying bare the deep flaws in the Indian education system. The incident caused the State Education Minister P.K. Shahi to admit that stopping malpractices in Board examinations was a huge task.

“If we try to stop unfair means at a centre, friends and family members of the examinees gang up to intimidate us,” said a schoolteacher. The incident at Mahar was not an isolated one. Reports also came in of people scaling compound walls of schools to help examinees at centres in Sharsha and Khagaria districts.

Just a few weeks after this, on April 15, BBC News published a story titled, “Jail for cheating Atlanta teachers”.

Who feels envy to India’s relief work in Nepal?

04 May , 2015

India has acted swiftly in Nepal as the country was hit by a deadly earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter’s scale. The decision at the political and diplomatic levels to extend a humanitarian help was quick and responded well by the armed forces. The first transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force brought many stressed-out Indians back to their homeland in no time. IAF launched a mammoth humanitarian assistance operation pressing C-17 Globe Master, C-130J Super Hercules, IL-76, Mi-17 choppers and Advanced Light Helicopters into service.

The Indians reacted to the tragedy as if it had struck in their own country and left no stone unturned to ensure speedy aid to thousands of stranded Nepalese.

The Indian Army has established mobile hospitals, sent engineer task forces and special teams with sophisticated equipment to bring normalcy to the ravaged country. The Army was quick and reached far flung areas providing much needed succor to thousands of grieving victims in the aftermath of the calamity. In fact, the Indian Army was the first relief agency to have reached the epicenter of the earthquake- Barpak.

The Indians reacted to the tragedy as if it had struck in their own country and left no stone unturned to ensure speedy aid to thousands of stranded Nepalese. The Indian response and relief work was recognized, noticed and discussed internationally.

An Opportunity for India in Central Asia

By Bipul Chatterjee and Surendar Singh
May 04, 2015

The International North-South Transport Corridor is a chance for India to build links with Central Asia and Eurasia. 

The Foreign Trade Policy of India, 2015-20, has highlighted the importance of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) in expanding India’s trade and investment links with Central Asia. The INSTC is a multi-modal trade transport network that includes rail, road, and water transport from Mumbai in India via Bandar Abbas in Iran to Moscow in Russia. It could be used to explore further options for developing connectivity with other countries such as Turkey and in Eastern Europe.

For India, the INSTC looks to be a trade corridor of tremendous promise that could help the country develop its economic and strategic importance in Eurasia and Central Asia. It could facilitate India’s economic integration with Eurasian economies and other countries in surrounding regions.

The INSTC has particular economic and strategic relevance to India given the increasing regional ambitions of China through its One Belt, One Road Initiative. The proposed INSTC trade corridor could help India secure its interests in Central Asia and beyond.

India's Next Warships and Submarines Will Have to be Built at Home

By Ankit Panda
May 03, 2015

India’s next warships and submarines will have to be built at Indian shipyards, per a new directive. 

India’s Defense Ministry has decided that its orders for future ships, including submarines, will be exclusively available for domestic shipyards, according to a Defense News report. The Indian Navy could potentially have in excess of $50 billion in contracts over the next 10 years for new ships and submarines.

India’s navy is embarking on a major indigenous modernization effort. As The Diplomat reported recently, the Indian government cleared plans for an $8 billion indigenous development program for important naval assets. This included six nuclear-powered submarines and seven stealth frigates.

In fall 2014, India’s Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) approved a $12 billion project for six conventional submarines. According to the Defense News report, this project will still allow the participation of foreign vendors “in the design phase.” The submarines will have to be built in Indian shipyards.

Under the new directive, private shipyards in India will likely be the greatest beneficiaries. India’s state-run shipyards are already occupied with ongoing projects. Mazagon Dock Limited is building India’s six Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarines.

Connecting animals to the cloud could help predict earthquakes

Yijun Yu,

The recent earthquake in Nepal demonstrated yet again how difficult it is to reliably predict natural disasters. While we have a good knowledge of the various earthquakes zones on the planet, we have no way of knowing exactly when a big quake like the 7.8-magnitude event in Nepal will happen.

But we know that many animals seem able to sense the onset of such events. We could use powerful computers to monitor herds of animals and make use of their natural instincts to provide forewarning of natural disasters.

Immediately before an earthquake, herds of animals often start to behave strangely – for example suddenly leaving their homes to seek shelter. This could be because they detect small, fast-travelling waves or because they sense chemical changes in ground water from an impending earthquake.

Although there are possibilities here, we certainly need more studies – because it’s difficult to find statistically significant links between unusual animal behaviour and impending disasters. This is because natural disasters occur relatively rarely and it’s hard to reliably interpret animal behaviour after the fact. In fact, this uncertainty was quoted by the Chinese government after reports that zoo animals behaved strangely before the Wenchuan earthquake a few years ago.

Media lessons for Nepal from Haiti: Don’t let outsiders seize control of the narrative

Mark Schuller

Expressions like ‘fragile state’ and ‘among the poorest nations’ were used by foreign powers to take control of the disaster response in Haiti in 2010. Nepal shouldn’t allow the same mistake.

The earthquake that ravaged Nepal on April 25 was devastating, killing thousands and causing economic losses worth billions. Reading about the widespread destruction brought back painful memories for me and, as someone who works in and on Haiti, I have been sought out for advice. What lessons does the 2010 Haiti earthquake offer today? My answer unvaryingly is that each disaster has its own context, its survivors and citizens as first responders their own cultural understandings and priorities. Local people need to be in charge of the response.

At 4.53 pm on January 12, 2010, an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude struck outside Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The damage was unimaginable: an estimated 230,000 people died and equal numbers were injured. Over half the housing in the capital was seriously damaged; 105,000 houses were completely destroyed and 188,383 houses badly damaged, requiring repair. An estimated 1.5 million people lost their homes and stayed in makeshift Internally Displaced Persons camps. Though some of these numbers were subsequently contested, the Haiti earthquake became a transnational event because of foreign media coverage. For weeks it dominated the airwaves and cyberspace.

How China Assesses Civil Disobedience in Cyberspace

By Greg Austin
May 04, 2015

Many Chinese scholars equate civil disobedience with the color revolutions much feared by the Chinese leadership. 

On April 13, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and State Council issued new guidelines on strengthening internal security in the wake of unprecedented terrorist attacks inside the country, rising public order concerns, and increasing online dissent. The guidelines called out the use of new high-technology and cyber-based assets, including data mining, closed circuit TV, and satellites, to help restore central government control. This is the fourth in a series of five brief items (see: “Part III: How China’s Plans to Become a World Class Cyber Power”) by Greg Austin, based on his 2014 book, Cyber Policy in China, providing some political context on how the country is using its cyber power in the service of internal security. 

Part IV: China’s Assessment of its Online Civil Disobedience

It is commonplace to credit the Chinese government with considerable power in its application of cyber assets to contain online dissent. Studies of the takedown rates by the country’s army of censors of internet posts considered offensive or subversive reveal both high capability and tenacity by government agencies and their co-opted partners in civil society and private sector businesses. Indicative works include studies by the China Media Project at Hong Kong University and a 2013 study by a group of five scholars on the “velocity of censorship”. On April 10 2015, The New York Times reported on China’s highly effective use of a new internet censorship tool dubbed by foreign researchers with the nick name “the great cannon”.

The Tragedy of Small Power Politics

Richard Javad Heydarian,Truong-Minh Vu
May 4, 2015 

With China tightening its grip on much of the South China Sea, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is struggling to adopt an appropriate and unified response. Ironically, this year is supposed to be the “Year of China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation”. Since Cambodia’s disastrous chairmanship of the regional body, which led to tremendous divisions within the ASEAN andacrimonious exchanges between Cambodia and the Philippines, there have been concerted efforts, especially by Indonesia (the informal regional leader), to ensure China doesn’t use its regional pawns to block discussions over the ongoing disputes. The product, however, is a new orthodoxy, whereby ASEAN expresses “serious concerns” vis-à-vis the South China Sea disputes, but repeatedly falls short of offering any tangible response.

“We share the serious concerns expressed by some leaders on the land reclamation being undertaken in the South China Sea, which has eroded trust and confidence and may undermine [authors’ emphasis] peace, security and stability in the South China Sea,” read the ASEAN chairman’s statement. ASEAN also "reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation in and over-flight over the South China Sea." Beyond those passive-aggressive statements, however, there was no breakthrough in terms of adopting a common strategy to ensure China stands honest to its years-long promise of negotiating a legally-binding Code of Conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea. Nor was there any discussion on the recent proposal for a joint ASEAN peacekeeping patrol in the area.

China’s Efforts to Boost Consumption: Are They Enough?

May 03, 2015

As a nation of more than one billion potential customers, China represents a dream market for many retailers. This is especially the case since the leadership has declared its commitment to boosting consumption. To this end, the State Council has recently committed to lowering import tariffs on high-demand goods, and will set up more duty-free shops at ports. Moves to increase housing consumption in the wake of a real estate slowdown have also been in play for the past year. However, dreams of tapping China’s expansive market may be checked by the reality that efforts to strengthen consumption fail to pack a punch.

Certainly, demand for consumer goods is present. Chinese consumers are increasingly sophisticated. Many own automobiles, cell phones, computers, and wear foreign-brand clothing. Increasingly, shoppers purchase goods online for delivery straight to their homes. The rock-star popularity of Alibaba and JD speaks to the lure of the time-saving, brand conscious good life.

At the same time, Chinese shoppers are not as ubiquitous as they appear. China’s level of consumption, at 36 percent of GDP, is much lower than the world average, which measures in at 60 percent of GDP. This is in part because Chinese consumers hold larger precautionary savings to guard against illness and loss of income during old age. High savings may be changeable over time; improvements in health and pension coverage are expected to continue to lower the necessary savings ratio and boost consumption. Planned expansion of urbanization should also improve consumption, and China’s cities expand and its middle class grows.

Why the Russian Far East Is So Important to China

VLADIVOSTOK -- Russia is seldom thought of as an Asia-Pacific country. Yet it is one -- thanks to its Far East. The Russian Far East is a huge area of northeastern Eurasia stretching from Lake Baikal to the Pacific Ocean. Allowing Russia direct access to the Asia-Pacific region, the RFE makes it a truly transcontinental nation, the only other such a country being the U.S.

The RFE contains all kinds of natural treasures -- oil and natural gas, iron ore and copper, diamonds and gold, pristine fresh water (Lake Baikal alone has 20 percent of the world's unfrozen surface freshwater), timber and fish stocks (for example, the Sea of Okhotsk is one of the most biologically productive areas of the world ocean).

The entire vastness of the RFE contains just over 6 million residents. Being remote from, and having tenuous transportation links to, the country's European core, suffering from underdevelopment and the lack of infrastructure, the RFE is a source of constant concern for Moscow. Ever since Russia acquired these territories, there have been recurring worries that they are at the risk of being lost due to external aggression, foreign encroachment, internal separatism -- or a combination of the three.
China's Looming Shadow

What Is China's Navy Doing in Mediterranean?

MAY 1, 2015 

Why is China announcing joint naval exercises with Russia in the Mediterranean, so far from home? There’s a global answer connected to the new cool war and China’s interest in responding to U.S. initiatives in the Pacific. But there’s also a more revealing local answer arriving from the nature of China’s growing involvement in the Middle East and North Africa.

The global geopolitical explanation for the exercises, expected this month, is certainly interesting and distinctive. China’s military and security aims are primarily focused on the Pacific, and it can’t reasonably hope to compete with the U.S. or European powers in their own backyards. Yet China gains symbolic value from presenting itself as an increasingly global power. A naval exercise in the Mediterranean -- even one on a very small scale -- is the kind of thing great powers do. The announcement is therefore useful to communicate China’s seriousness and commitment to this rise. It may be even more valuable within China, where President Xi Jinping is nurturing an increasingly nationalist strain of pride under the slogan of the “Chinese dream.”

Seen in this light, the Chinese-Russian exercises also look like a symbolic response to U.S. efforts to strengthen security relationships with China’s Asian neighbors. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to Washington is a case in point. Abe has begun a genuine discussion within Japan about whether to amend the pacifist constitution, transforming the country’s self-defense force into something more like a standard military.

This Is Scary — Islamic State’s Tactics Are Really Similar to Nazi Germany’s


In January, Kurdish troops launched a major offensive that broke Islamic State’s lines in northern Iraq. In response, the jihadist group sent 14 giant tanker trucks loaded with explosives and bolted-on armor to launch a counter-attack.

Kurdish fighters have faced terrifying attacks like that before — though not on this scale. Fortunately, before any of the trucks made it to the Kurdish positions, the soldiers on the ground — and U.S. and coalition warplanes — destroyed them from a distance.

It was a mad, desperate — and yes — suicidal tactic. But it’s also a revealing example of the group’s combat tactics and strategy during the past year.

The jihadist group is now on the defensive, but it’s still deadly on the battlefield and its fighters are willing to die in brief counter-attacks. The main feature — even if the group is losing the war — is to practice a “cult of the offensive” with a heavy cost in human life.

Why and how is the interesting part, and it’s the subject of a sweeping new essay by Alexendre Mello and Michael Knights in CTC Sentinel, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point’s newsletter.

Mello and Knights know what they’re talking about — they’ve studied the battlefield up close.

Islamic State’s emphasis on offensive operations — despite largely being on the defense — isn’t new.

Obama's Nightmare in Yemen

Amir Handjani
May 4, 2015 

A hallmark of President Barack Obama’s presidency has been his exercise of restraint in dealing with America’s adversaries. Unlike his predecessor, the use of force has been eschewed for painstaking diplomacy. While the United States keeps all options on the table, including diplomacy backed by the credible threat of force, the U.S. response to events in Yemen is out of character. The Obama administration is neither pursuing diplomacy, nor a security solution. US policy lies somewhere in the slippery center. A clear vision of the end-goal in Yemen should guide Obama’s approach

Yemen has descended into civil war. On one side are Houthi rebels who have the support of Yemen’s Shia tribes and forces loyal to its ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh. They are accused of being Iranian proxies. However, while Iran is sympathetic to all Shia movements, Western intelligence agencies are not convinced that the Houthis are receiving marching orders from Tehran.

On the other side is the government ofAbu Rabbuh Mansur Hadi who is backed by Saudi Arabia and a portion of Yemen’s Sunni tribes, militias and security services. He has since fled Yemen as Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have waged an air campaign to re-install his government. The United States is assisting the Saudi campaign by providing arms, logistical support, and intelligence. The United States has chosen sides in Yemen’s civil war, and with a coalition that aggressively sought a military solution. The American role in this conflict contradicts President Obama’s stated policy of getting out of regional turf wars in the Middle East unless vital U.S. interests are at stake.

Containment: The Gulf States' Game Plan for Yemen

Patrick Megahan,Oren Adaki
May 4, 2015 

The Saudi-led international coalition operating in Yemen announced last Tuesday it had ended the first phase of its nearly month-long campaign in the country. Though the coalition fell short of its stated goal of returning Yemen’s internationally recognized government to power, it insists that in removing the threat of spillover to Yemen’s neighbors, it has met its primary objectives.

The “mission accomplished” rhetoric may appear to be an example of moving the goalposts to claim success, but a close look at the initial campaign reveals that its ambitions were always limited to containing the conflict within Yemen’s borders.

When President Abed Mansour Hadi was forced to flee the strategic port city of Aden in March, it was clear that the forces loyal to him would be unable to stop the rebel offensive sweeping across the country. The Houthis, allied with forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, had seized thecapital Sana’a in September and were rapidly consolidating control over much of Yemen’s heartland. As the government in Sana’a deteriorated, Saleh loyalists in Yemen’s notoriously divided military turned on Hadi, handing the rebels control of several key assets.

In taking Sana’a, the rebels seized several military installations in and around the capital, which held the military’s stockpile of Scud-B and SS-21 Scarabballistic missiles. Correctly positioned, both of these systems could reach deep into Saudi territory or across the strait to the joint U.S.-French base in Djibouti. A spokesman for the coalition has also suggested that Saleh’s loyalists possess chemical weapons, which could be fitted to ballistic missiles, thoughevidence of such arms is scant.

Isis on the run? The US portrayal is very far from the truth


The map issued by the Pentagon to prove that Isis had lost territory shows how false optimism dominates the actions of the outside powers towards the Middle East 

A graphic illustration of Western wishful thinking about the decline of Islamic State (IS) is a well-publicised map issued by the Pentagon to prove that the self-declared caliphate has lost 25 per cent of its territory since its big advances last year. 

Unfortunately for the Pentagon, sharp-eyed American journalists soon noticed something strange about its map identifying areas of IS strength. While it shows towns and villages where IS fighters have lost control around Baghdad, it simply omits western Syria where they have been advancing in and around Damascus.

The Pentagon displayed some embarrassment about its dodgy map, but it largely succeeded in its purpose of convincing people that IS is in retreat. Many news outlets across the world republished the map as evidence of the success of air strikes by the United States and its allies in support of the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria. The capture of Tikrit after a month-long siege is cited as a further sign that a re-energised Iraqi state is winning and one day in the not too distant future will be able to recapture Mosul in the north and Anbar province in the west.


MAY 1, 2015 

Three recent articles in The New York Times, when read in succession, tersely summarize the murder of Western, Christian civilization.

The first, in the Sunday, April 19 New York Times Magazine, “Why Do They Go?” by Mary Anne Weaver, points directly to the essence of Fourth Generation war, the transfer of primary loyalties away from the state. After noting that foreigners make up half of ISIS’s forces, it reports that:

“An estimated 4,000 are from Western nations, some 600 to 700 from Britain alone. More British Muslim men have joined ISIS and the Nusra Front than are serving in the British armed forces.”

The second article, on the front page of the Saturday, April 18 Times, is titled “Tide of Refugees, but the West Isn’t Welcoming.” This is the cultural Marxists’ prescription for dealing with the Fourth Generation threat Islamic immigrants pose to Western nations: bring in more Islamics. If your goal is to destroy Western, Christian civilization, that makes perfect sense.

But the cultural Marxists face a growing problem: native Westerners are beginning to resist flooding their countries with people who want to wage holy war, jihad, against them. What are the cultural Marxists to do? Outlaw any discussion of the danger. The same April 19 Times printed on page A10 a piece titled, “France Announces Plan to Fight Racism.” It quotes French Prime Minister Manuel Valls as saying,

Comparing Al Qaeda and ISIS: Different goals, different targets

April 29, 2015

Prepared testimony before the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Chairman King, Ranking Member Higgins, distinguished members of the subcommittee, and subcommittee staff, thank you for the opportunity to testify today.

The Islamic State’s influence and model are spreading. Even in many Muslim countries where the Islamic State does not have a strong presence, its rise is radicalizing their populations, fomenting sectarianism, and making a troubled region worse.1 The Islamic State’s successes in Syria and Iraq alarmed many observers in Washington and prompted the Obama administration to overcome its longstanding hesitation to become more militarily involved in Iraq and Syria. But there is one person for whom the Islamic State’s rise is even more frightening: Ayman al-Zawahiri. Although the Al Qaeda leader might be expected to rejoice at the emergence of a strong jihadist group that delights in beheading Americans (among other horrors), in reality the Islamic State’s rise risks Al Qaeda’s demise. When Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi rejected Al Qaeda’s authority and later declared a caliphate, he split the always-fractious jihadist movement. The two are now competing for more than the leadership of the jihadist movement: they are competing for its soul.

Who will emerge triumphant is not clear. However, the implications of one side’s victory or of continuing division are profound for the Muslim world and for the United States, shaping the likely targets of the jihadist movement, its ability to achieve its goals, and the overall stability of the Middle East. The United States can exploit this split, both to decrease the threat and to weaken the movement as a whole.

We Went on the Front Lines of Ukraine’s War


The first thing I saw when I entered Shyrokyne was a car, shot up and smashed. A dead dog lay next to the wreckage.

It was indicative of at least one thing — the war never ended here.

In February, Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists signed a piece of paper called a “ceasefire agreement.” But that hasn’t stopped the daily fighting for control of Shyrokyne, a small town in the country’s east.

Street fighting and artillery bombardment decimated the city. During a recent visit with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, I heard the sharp crack of nearby machine gun fire throughout the day.

Artillery shelling happens at night — after the observers leave.

There’s no running water or electricity. Medical care is limited. Obtaining basic supplies is dangerous. I saw rocket-propelled grenade launchers inside an abandoned playroom for kids. The room is now a forward operating base on the front lines of the conflict.

Most people have fled. About 30 Ukrainians remain in this hotly contested area, located only a brief drive away from the Ukrainian-held port city of Mariupol.

North Korea: Evil, But Not a Terrorist State

May 4, 2015 

President Barack Obama plans to remove Cuba’s official designation as a terrorist state. Congressional hawks are grumbling, but they can’t stop him. The move is long overdue—and is a good argument against those who want to put North Korea back on the list.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) remains a most troublesome country. Delisted in 2008 by George W. Bush in an attempt to reach an agreement over nonproliferation, the DPRK has continued its policy of brinkmanship highlighted by occasional missile and nuclear tests. Ruled by the grandson of the North’s founder, North Korea has become the world’s first Communist monarchy. The country is also a human-rights horror.

President Barack Obama never believed there was much chance of changing Pyongyang’s behavior. The administration attempted to ignore first Kim Jong-il and now Kim Jong-un. The North made that difficult, staging missile and nuclear tests, sinking a South Korean naval vessel and bombarding a South Korean island, and arresting American visitors for various alleged crimes. Even then, Washington made little effort to pursue serious negotiations, especially after Kim fils shot off a rocket shortly after agreeing to freeze missile and nuclear development in the so-called Leap Day deal of 2012. The North is not alone at fault in the dreary history of U.S.-North Korean relations, but the administration’s pessimism is well justified.

Russia Wages All-Out Cyberwar Against Ukraine

Russia has hacked the White House, gained access to President Barack Obama’s emails, and even infiltrated into Pentagon’s network. So, it’s little surprise that Moscow has been waging an all-out cyberwar against Ukrainian law enforcement agencies and military. According to a new report from security firm Lookingglass, the Russian gang of hackers is extracting classified documents that can help them (and probably Moscow-backed separatists) in on-the-ground combat.

Russian hackers are using ‘lure documents’

Lookingglass CEO Chris Coleman told NPR that the attacks were persistent, but not sophisticated. The Arlington, Virginia-based cyber security firm said that it tracked malware that was in emails. Russian hackers are getting the Ukrainian military, local police, counterintelligence, and border patrol to open these malicious emails that look legit.

They use “lure documents” to entice the recipient to open the email. Lookingglass lead researcher Jason Lewis cited an MS-Word file dated January 15, 2015. The file had “not for distribution” written on it in Ukrainian. It gives an overview of the situation on the Ukraine-Russia border. Lewis says hackers stole the document from Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service, inserted the malware, and sent it to another Ukrainian security agency.
Russia started collecting combat intel in April 2014

Iran Claims That Israel Has a Nuclear Stockpile of 400 Bombs

Washington Post
May 1, 2015

“It’s laughable that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has become everybody’s nonproliferation guru. He is sitting on 400 nuclear warheads, nuclear warheads that have been acquired in violation of the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty].”

_ Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, speaking in New York, April 29, 2015

In the debate over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the unacknowledged nuclear stockpile of Israel often comes up.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Israel secretly acquired the technology and material to build nuclear weapons, frequently misleading the U.S. government about its intentions. (France was Israel’s partner in the building of the Dimona reactor in the Negev desert, while South Africa is believed by some to have assisted Israel in conducting at least one nuclear test in the 1970s.)

Zarif quickly noted that Israel (unlike Iran) is not a member of the NPT, but added: “Those who provided them with the technology were members of the NPT and violated the NPT to provide them with the technology, and we know who they were. And now they are the proponents of nonproliferation.” (Actually, France’s cooperation with Israel ended in 1966, before the NPT went into effect in 1970.)

What We Can Learn from Confederate Foreign Policy

Kevin A. Lees
May 4, 2015 

One hundred and fifty years ago this month, the American Civil War ended, dashing the plans of southern U.S. elites for an independent Confederate States of America.

Though Union forces compelled the surrender of the Confederate army in April 1865, the Confederacy forfeited, by mistake and misfortune, the one potential asset that could have turned the tide much sooner: international recognition from an initially sympathetic Europe. In that regard, the Confederacy lost the war in London and Paris as much as it lost it in Gettysburg and Appomattox. Americans today of all backgrounds should be delighted that the United States didn’t cleave into two countries, and the Union’s victory cleared the way for constitutional revisions that brought the United States closer to closing the gap between the idealism of its founding premise and the ugly realities of slavery and racial inequality. While there are many lessons from the wrenching five-year war, the Confederacy’s failures amount to a parable about the importance of diplomacy for young and emerging nations. When leaders of independence movements develop strong regional and international links, it can make the difference between success and failure.

Even before the halfway point of the war, Confederate leaders had lost the opportunity, through errors largely of their own making, to achieve recognition from Great Britain, France and other countries in Europe and even Latin America. That, in turn, could have paved the way for vital financing and material support that could have ended the war sooner—and in the Confederacy’s favor. Southern leaders failed in at least three aspects.

Europe's Migration Crisis Author: Jeanne Park, Deputy Director Updated: April 23, 2015

The growing numbers of migrants and asylum seekers fleeing turmoil in Africa and the Middle East poses complex challenges for European policymakers still grappling with weak economic growth and fractured national politics. Europe, according to a 2014report from the International Organization for Migration, is currently the most dangerous destination for irregular migration in the world, and the Mediterranean Sea the world’s most dangerous border crossing. To date, the European Union's collective response to its growing migrant crisis has been ad hoc and, critics charge, more focused on securing the bloc's borders than on protecting the rights of migrants and refugees. With nationalist parties ascendant in many member states and concerns about Islamic terrorism looming large across the continent, it remains unclear if political headwinds will facilitate a new climate of immigration reform.

Where do these migrants and refugees come from?

Political upheaval in the Middle East and across Africa is reshaping migration trends in Europe. The number of illegal border-crossing detections in the EU surged in 2011, as thousands of Tunisians started to arrive at the Italian island of Lampedusa, seventy miles from Tunisia, following the onset of the Arab Spring. Sub-Saharan Africans who had previously migrated to Libya followed in 2011–2012, fleeing unrest in the post-Qaddafi era. The most recent surge in detections along the EU's maritime borders has been attributed to the growing numbers of Syrian and Eritrean refugees.

Europe’s Largest Airline Falls Prey to $5 Million Cyber-Theft

- Europe’s largest airline says $5 million (€4.5m) taken from bank accounts
- Ryanair confirms hackers stole via Chinese bank- Cash siphoned from one of its bank accounts- Allegation that robbed in Chinese banking scam- Hackers transfer $5 million from a Ryanair dollar account to Chinese bank- Highlights growing risks of cyber-crime and lack of protection- Cyberattacks as the “New Cold War” and risk to all our wealth- Cash no longer king – deposits more risky due to cyber-crime

Europe’s largest airliner in terms of passengers, Ryanair, has had $5 million siphoned from one of its bank accounts. It is alleged that Ryanair were hacked by cyber-criminals and had the cash illegally transferred to a bank account in China.

Cyber thieves managed to initiate a single fraudulent transaction using a Chinese bank when stealing the money from the airline according to reports. The hacked account held dollars which the Irish company uses for fuel purchases.

In a statement Ryanair said the following:

“The airline has been working with its banks and the relevant authorities and understands that the funds – less than $5 million – have now been frozen.”

“The airline expects these funds to be repaid shortly, and has taken steps to ensure that this type of transfer cannot recur.”

A Public Relations Exercise without Meaningful Transparency

MAY 1, 2015 

The First Quarterly Report of the New Lead Inspector General for Overseas Contingency Operations on Operation Inherent Resolve 

The United States has faced a major crisis in Syria since 2011, and has been contending with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq since the summer of 2014. It has been conducting operations in Iraq since March 2014, and formally announced a coalition and bombing campaign against ISIL in August of 2014. During that time, the United States has done little to explain its strategy or the impact of its activities except to issue data on the size and targets of its sorties, summaries of U.S. aid spending and activity in Syria, some highly questionable maps of areas where ISIL is said to have retreated, but which sharply exaggerate the level of retreat by basing the areas shown on the maximum level of forward ISIL activity.

On March 31, the United States publically announced the creation of a new Lead Inspector General for Overseas Contingency Operations, and issued its first quarterly reporton Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).

The report deserves careful attention from anyone concerned with both U.S. operations in Iraq and Syria, and the broader U.S. campaign against terrorism, extremism, and instability in the Middle East. To put it bluntly, it seems to be far more of a public relations exercise than a serious attempt at reporting on nature and success of Operation Inherent Resolve.

American Strategy and Critical Changes in the U.S. “Energy Import Dependence"

Changes in energy technology and in the way oil and gas reserves are estimated, have led to major changes in estimates of future of U.S. dependence on energy imports, how this affects U.S. strategy, and the nature of the U.S. strategic partnership with the Arab Gulf states. The Energy Information Agency (EIA) of the U.S. department of Energy has made major reductions in its part estimates of U.S. direct dependence on crude oil imports.

The Burke Chair has prepared a revised and greatly expanded study of these new estimates, supported by additional material provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and various oil companies. This report is available on the CSIS web site here. It presents a wide range of supporting graphs, tables, and maps to explain the shifts that have taken place in recent years and projections for the period between 2015 and 2040.

U.S. Direct Dependence on Petroleum Imports

The 2015 EIA projections of U.S. imports reflect the possibility of a far lower dependence on imports, a greater possibility of a possible U.S. shift to crude exports, and a far wider range of uncertainty in every aspect of the future U.S. strategic dependence on direct imports of crude oil and liquid fuels.

Foreign Lives Matter

APRIL 30, 2015 

American racism at home and abroad only highlights the hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy. And the rest of the world isn't buying America's message anymore. 

Race is back in the news in the United States, and sadly not just for commemorative events, such as the 50th anniversary of the Selma March. If people thought they had seen the worst after the incidents in Ferguson and New York City, April brought more horrifying examples of the institutionalized racism and violence that permeates the United States. Theshooting of yet another unarmed black man in South Carolina beggars belief, and is a stark reminder of just how entrenched racism is in U.S. society and its institutions. And in late April, racism fueled the burning of the city of Baltimore, compelling U.S. President Barack Obama to call it a “slow-rolling crisis.”

But many around the world understand it to be more than that. Why? A recent report states that in March 2014 alone, police encounters in the United States resulted in 111 killings, twice as many as were killed by British police in the entire 20th century. U.S. police disproportionately and excessively target minorities at traffic stops, and U.S. courts disproportionately and excessivelyconvict minorities of crimes. “African American and Hispanics comprised 58 percent of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population,”according to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) — and the percentages of minorities in American prisons appear to be growing.

Judy Asks: Will Hybrid Warfare Defeat Europe?


Every week, a selection of leading experts answer a new question from Judy Dempsey on the foreign and security policy challenges shaping Europe’s role in the world.

Jo CoelmontSenior associate fellow at Egmont—The Royal Institute for International Relations

My short answer is: no. Hybrid warfare is a very particular mode of acting—comprehensively, and against everything the EU stands for. So I would like to turn this question around and reply: comprehensiveness will save Europe.

The comprehensive approach is the #EU's mantra.

The comprehensive approach is the mantra of the union. And there are promising signs it will be transformed from philosophy into practice, ensuring unity of effort, in particular in the area of security and defense. At the upcoming JuneEuropean Council meeting, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, will be tasked develop a new European Security Strategy. She is said to favor a broad approach, looking beyond the union’sCommon Security and Defense Policy to all foreign policy instruments, including humanitarian assistance, development, cybersecurity, migration, energy and climate, and trade.

A strategy may sound like an academic luxury, but it is first and foremost an organizing principle. For the union, such a strategy is indispensable to do away with turf battles within and among the European Commission, the European External Action Service, the European Defense Agency, and, indeed, member states.