1 June 2015

Modi, the moral accountant

Shiv Visvanathan
May 28, 2015

Narendra Modi is a man who continues to fascinate his critics. The more we criticise him, the more he seems to grow. One looked at him first like a seasonal plant, an oddball, but now he seems to be perennial, something we talk about every day, like the weather. So, occasionally, I remove my critical spectacles and try to understand why India feels differently. I try to tune into the language, the metaphors of this great celebration.

I guess India and Indians are desperate for success. At a local level, success is caught in the idea of the exam and dread of the exam haunts our middle class. In fact, the tutorial college and the IAS study circle rose as responses to it. But the tutorial college hero is not quite a hero. We want someone who does it against all the odds. We no longer want a papa’s boy like Rahul Gandhi who sounds more like a fourth time pass. In punter terms, Mr Modi feels like a horse you can back against the world.

Animals being used in Indo-Pak warfare? Manto had predicted it 60 years ago

As India captures a Pakistani pigeon alleged to be involved in spying operations, a short history of zoological warfare in the subcontinent.

Has Pakistan made another insidious attempt to breach India’s borders? In Pathankot, in Punjab, on Wednesday, villagers nabbed a Pakistani intruder: a pigeon.

How did they know it was a Pakistani bird? It had a Pakistani address stamped on its body, saidnews reports; specifically the words “Shakargarh” and “Narowal” along with a phone number. Shakargarh is a town in the Narowal district of Pakistani Punjab. Maybe the bird is a pet from Shakargarh and the number is that of its owner? Perhaps. But since this is now a India-Pakistan matter, no one’s taking any chances.

“We are investigating the matter and have alerted the Intelligence Bureau and the Border Security Force," the Senior Superintendent of Police in Pathankot told the Indian Express.

What's Behind India's Deadly Heat Wave?

May 30, 2015

Why is India so hot? And we don’t mean the economy, the food, or the people, though those are too. India, which is normally blistering in any case, is currently experiencing a deadly heat wave. The current heat wave is the deadliest since 1979 when records began being kept on heat waves. Over 1,800 individuals have perished in the present heat wave.

Temperatures in Delhi are reported to have been at over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) for over a week now, reaching a high of 111.2°F (44°C). Temperatures in the state of Odisha reached 116.6°F (47°C). Allegedly, some roads have melted. The heat wave was especially bad in the south-central Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where the majority of deaths have occurred. The Indian government hasadvised people to avoid going out in the afternoons, but this is impossible for many people who need to work everyday.

Terrorizing Afghanistan in the Name of Islam

Has a shared religion helped Afghanistan in its dealings with the Muslim world? 
Last April, the Aligarh Muslim University in India convened a high-profile international conference on the “Intellectual Crisis of the Muslim Ummah: Rethinking Traditional Solutions.” Of the four thematic questions posed in a bid to provoke thoughtful, open-minded discussion, this author found the question of “Is a United Islam Possible?” relevant to the Afghan security context, which has been shaped by regional and extra-regional players, largely involving Muslim countries or countries with a sizeable Muslim population. Building on the discussion of the above question at the conference, this piece explores whether a common religion can actually unite nation-states.

The Middle East's Future Looks a Lot Like Iraq

May 29, 2015

Today's Middle East is arguably more volatile and more dangerous than it has been for centuries. The rise of Islamic State and the prospect of a nuclear Iran each represent an unprecedented threat to global security. All the while the West appears increasingly at a loss as to what to do about any of this. Britain and America's influence in the region has weakened, and this newly emerging reality looks set to create some strange and previously inconceivable alliances.

Reports have been emerging from Middle Eastern news agencies of a secret meeting recently held in Jordan. What was particularly intriguing about this previously unpublicized gathering was that it reportedly brought together Israeli diplomats with those from Arab countries that officially have no dealings with the Jewish State; we can assume that figures from the Gulf countries were among those in attendance.

In Afghanistan, A Rush To Recruit Before NATO Withdraws

Francesco Semprini (2015-05-29) 

KUNDUZ — The Taliban's annual spring offensive is underway and focused right now around the besieged city of Kunduz. Some German units are on their way to join the fight in support of Afghan forces.
"The order was given last night," says Colonel Wolfgang Köhler, a leader with the NATO Northern Command Mission in Afghanistan.

Köhler and other officers here at Camp Shaheen, where the Afghan National Army operates, are trying to make sense of the offensive. The Taliban's focus on Kunduz is an unpredictable choice, implying perhaps a change of strategy since northern Afghanistan has always been among the districts least affected by Mullah Omar’s guerrillas.

All this is happening just a few months after NATO began "Resolute Support Mission" (RSM), whereby it will swap its "offensive" role for a "train-advise-assist" one. The alliance also plans to drastically cut back its forces, from more than 100,000 to about 12,000.

5 Major Problems In The Pakistani Psyche

Everyone has an opinion in Pakistan, including me. Especially about things way above our pay-grade, and more so when shifting blame is fair game. The following, then, is a concise examination of the Pakistani political thought.

1. The big, bad RAW

Every ill, whether hidden or glaring, can be traced directly back to India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). RAW made Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto reject Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's East-Pakistan mandate, and set the country's partition in motion. RAW also persuaded General Pervez Musharraf to lurch Pakistan into "Operation Enduring Freedom," thereby contributing to our 50,000 dead by once-domesticated militants. After all, there is no better way to unite an out-of-whack federation than a national boogeyman, and RAW fits that role to a tee. Even Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, generally mild-mannered about India, huffed through the Foreign Secretary that RAW was behind acts of terrorism in Pakistan.

2. Secularism solves everything

Is Global Islamic Terror Rearing Its Head In Bangladesh? – Analysis

By Rupak Bhattacharjee*
May 30, 2015

Bangladesh is currently witnessing an alarming rise in extremist violence with radical Islamic groups affiliated to the international terror networks continuing to target secular bloggers. In yet another gruesome incident on May 12, Ananta Bijoy Das, a 33-year-old banker was hacked to death in the northeastern city of Sylhet for criticising religious fanaticism and dogmas.

Progressive writers and online activists have been attacked throughout Bangladesh with disturbing regularity. Das is the third blogger to be brutally murdered this year, in what seems to be a systemic killing spree unleashed by the Islamic militants. The killing of Das took place only 10 days after the Al Qaeda in Indian Sub-continent (AQIS) claimed responsibility for the fatal attack on writer Avijit Roy. In a statement issued on May 2, a leader of AQIS said such “assassinations are part of a series of operations” launched on the orders of its chief.

Chinese Strategic Tradition: A Research Program (II)

Posted by T. Greer

This post is the second in a series. I strongly recommended readers start with the first post, which introduces the purpose and methods of this essay. That post focused on what is published in English on Chinese strategic thought. This post focuses on what has been written about Chinese strategic practice--that is, the military, diplomatic, and political history of China's past.

A map depicting the most famous military campaign in East Asian history, decided at the Battle of Red Cliffs (208 AD) in modern-day Hubei.


In the West, the study of traditional China has been the domain of the Sinologists. For reasons that are entirely natural but also too complex and lengthy to explain here, this has meant that historians studying traditional China have focused their efforts on the history of Chinese philosophy, aesthetics, literature, and religion, as well as the closely related fields of archeology, linguistics, and philology. The much lamented decline of political, diplomatic, and military history across the American educational system had little perceivable effect here, for there was not much political, diplomatic, or military history to begin with. [1]

The Chinese Strategic Tradition: A Research Program (I)

Posted by T. Greer in

Mao Zedong writing On Protracted Warfare (Yan'an, 1938)

Note to Readers: This essay has been divided into two posts, both fairly long. The amount of work it took to put these two posts together accounts for the dearth of posts over the last few weeks. Anticipate a return to a more regular posting schedule once the second post has been published. 


Last fall I wrote a popular series of posts outlining the history of the eight decade war waged between the ChineseHan Dynasty and the Xiongnu (old style: Hsiung-nu) nomadic empire. My posts were a response to a prominent American strategic theorist who misunderstood the history of the Han-Xiongnu relations in his search for enduring patterns in China's military and diplomatic history relevant to China's foreign relations today. Unfortunately, this experience was not a singular event. It seems that every month some new book or article is published pushing a misleading version of Chinese history or a strained interpretation of classical Chinese political thought to shore up a new theory of what makes China tick. I could devote this blog solely to refuting these poorly sourced theories and never run out of things to write about. 

Historically India’s Soft Power Comes a Cropper to Chinese Irredentist Belligerence

28 May , 2015

Chinese Irredentism

Like a debutante in the global arena, China has been particular about its national image. After decades of revolutionary diplomacy that challenged the international system, the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) has worked hard to ease the concerns of countries that used to be targets of its revolutionary activities. It is now consciously projecting a savvy national narrative. It has taken care to reword its “rise” to “peaceful rise” and beyond that to an even more mild term – “peaceful development”. It visualises an important role for itself in creating a “harmonious world” and thereby presenting an image of a cuddly panda rather than a fire snorting dragon.

Chinese official maps are ‘imaginative’ and often ‘fictional’, inscribing territories that are not under state control…

U.S. Says China has Artillery on Artificial Islands

May 29, 2015

SINGAPORE -- Two large artillery vehicles were detected on one of the artificial islands that China is creating in the South China Sea, U.S. officials said Friday, underscoring ongoing concerns that Beijing may try to use the land reclamation projects for military purposes.

The discovery was made at least several weeks ago by the United States, but it's not clear if the weapons are still there or if they have been moved or hidden out of sight, officials said.

The revelation comes as Defense Secretary Ash Carter begins an 11-day trip, including several stops in the Asia Pacific. He is slated to speak Saturday at an international security summit here, and is expected to reassert America's views that China and other nations must stop all land reclamation projects in the region.

Good news: our military sees that we face skillful foes!

— the late John R. Boyd (Colonel, USAF), quoted in Chet Richard’s Certain to Win.

Summary: The Wall Street Journal brings a rare bit of good news about our foreign wars, a story acknowledging our foe’s military skill. We should applaud recognition of reality, however belated, as a step forward. With luck next might come awareness that their skill results in part from our tactics. {2nd of 2 posts today.} 

“People, ideas and hardware, in that order!”

This week the Wall Street Journal published a rare perspective on our jihadist enemies: “How Islamic State’s Win in Ramadi Reveals New Weapons, Tactical Sophistication and Prowess” — “Examination of Ramadi’s downfall reflects complex plans and new weapons.”

The need for old-fashioned spying on the Islamic State

By David Ignatius 
May 28, 2015

The unexpected fall of Ramadi to the Islamic State this month is the latest sign of a basic intelligence problem: The United States doesn’t know enough about its jihadist adversaries to combat them effectively.

This intelligence deficit afflicts the military, the CIA and other agencies. The problem has been several decades in the making, and it won’t be fixed easily. The solutions – recruiting more spies and embedding Special Operations forces – will bring greater risks.
David Ignatius writes a twice-a-week foreign affairs column and contributes to the PostPartisan blog. 

A vivid example of the knowledge gap came in an interview with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that was broadcast this week by PBS’s “Frontline.” Correspondent Martin Smith asked him whether the United States had plans for the loss of Mosul last June.

The View from Tehran

By Alex Vatanka
May 29, 2015

In Tehran, domestic hardliners and moderates are debating the nuclear issue, and the future of Iranian foreign policy. 

Tehran is full of anticipation as the June 30 deadline for a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 approaches. But to say that the two main political factions in the Islamic Republic – the moderates and the hardliners – share the same assessment about the possibility for a final deal and its utility for Iran is to gloss over a more fundamental schism within the Islamic Republic about the future international identity of the country and its relations with the United States in particular.

Hardline Faction

The moderate government of President Hassan Rouhani was quick to hail the April 2 interim agreement reached in Lausanne as a major stride toward Tehran’s return to the global mainstream. That was, after all, Rouhani’s key promise in his 2013 election campaign, most lucidly revealed to the world in his speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos in January 2014.

Hoarding Banned Soviet Art in Uzbekistan

May 30, 2015

And the “discourse of danger” in Tajikistan, recommended reads. 

A few Central Asia must read links to start the weekend:
The extraordinary tale of how art banned in the Soviet Union was hoarded on the (former) banks of the Aral Sea is well worth a read. The Al Jazeera story, by Mansur Mirovalev, chronicles the life’s work of Russian artist Igor Savitsky, who in the 1950s first visited Karakalpakstan, a semi-autonomous region in western Uzbekistan best known now for the desiccation of the Aral Sea.

“He fell in love with Karakalpakstan,” Marinika Babanazarova, the current director of the art museum in Nukus, Karakalpakstan’s capital, that Savitsky founded in the 1960s.

Savitsky’s great endeavor was searching out and bringing to Nukus, artwork that had been banned in the 1930s when Stalin order Soviet art toward realism. “Those who refused to make their art understandable to the proletarian masses were branded ‘formalists.’ Many artists were arrested, jailed, or executed, some were sent to mental institutions, and a few found safety on the fringes of the Soviet Union.”

The Jailed Leader Who Might Hold the Key to Venezuela's Future

May 29, 2015

Leopoldo López, Venezuela’s most prominent opposition leader, resurfaced on May 23 after a year locked away in a military prison. In a four-minute video, he announced that he was going on hunger strike, and called on Venezuelans to renew their peaceful anti-government protests.

In the video, which was apparently recorded with a smuggled mobile phone in his meter-wide cell in Ramo Verde Prison, López appears Christ-like in white, with a crucifix and beard. Tacked to the barred metal door are a snapshot of his family and a small Venezuelan flag.

This Guy From Baltimore is Raising a Christian Army to Fight ISIS… What Couls Go Grong?


In late February, a Baltimore-born, self-proclaimed freedom fighter named Matthew VanDyke beamed into Greta Van Susteren's Fox News show from Erbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region. A few days earlier, he had announced on Facebook that he was in Iraq to "raise and train a Christian army to fight" ISIS and that he had formed a company called Sons of Liberty International (SOLI) to provide "free military consulting and training to local forces fighting terrorists and oppressive regimes." For months, the so-called Islamic State had terrorized Iraq's Assyrian Christians, forcing many to flee their homes and villages and seek safe haven among the Kurds. With ISIS on the march across Iraq and Syria—and making headlines for its brutal beheadings of journalists and aid workers—the story of an American taking an on-the-ground role in the fight sparked a media frenzy. VanDyke, who is 35 and holds a master's degree in security studies from Georgetown, was soon featured by media outlets across the country, including the New York Times,USA Today, the Baltimore Sun, and MSNBC.

ISIS Sets Its Sights on Saudi Arabia, and That’s Bad News for Washington

Nothing the terror group has done so far would be so menacing to U.S. interests.

Two weeks. Two suicide bombings. Both targeting Shiites in a Sunni land. And both claimed by ISIS.
If this were Iraq or Syria, these attacks – sadly – wouldn’t be surprising. But it’s not. It’s Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s most precious sites and the region’s most powerful Sunni rulers — a relatively vast territory, kept remarkably stable by the ruthless application of authoritarian rule while its neighbors teeter under the destabilizing weight of popular revolution and terrorist intervention.

And that’s just the way the U.S. government likes its friend, Saudi Arabia. Because Washington needs stability there more than it needs to feel good about how the House of Saud achieves it.

How Merkel and Hollande Are Helping Cameron

May 29, 2015

BERLIN - While British Prime Minister David Cameron is travelling Europe from The Hague to Paris, from Warsaw to Berlin to kick off negotiations on Britain's relationship with the EU, German and French political leaders are working behind the scenes on how to deepen the euro area. In a recently leaked joint letter addressed to European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel argue for a deepening of the euro area without a change of the EU Treaty. This leaked letter was widely interpreted as a rebuff to Cameron, telling him there will be no treaty change to accommodate British interests to renegotiate the EU - or at least, British membership - ahead of the British referendum planned for 2017. But the Franco-German initiative is actually more about the risk of Grexit (a Greek exit from the euro area) than Brexit (a British one from the EU), and it might even help Cameron, if only indirectly.

Obama’s nuke deal will leave Iran funding even more terror

May 28, 2015

President Barack Obama listens during a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Washington.Photo: Getty Images

Rockets hit southern Israel on Tuesday, reportedly shot by Iran’s closest Gaza proxy.

And while no major escalation immediately followed, it was a fiery reminder that President Obama’s repeated assurances that Iran would use sanctions relief for economic advancement and not terrorism are suspect at best.

Israeli and Palestinian officials say that Palestinian Islamic Jihad members likely tried to one-up their superiors by shooting a midrange Grad rocket at Israel, even though that weapon was reserved for a future all-out war.

Concerned that war would start before its fighters are ready, Gaza’s ruling group, Hamas, quickly sent messages through third parties: This wasn’t us. Just some punks who know not what they’re doing.

Why Won’t Obama and the Palestinians Push on Netanyahu’s Open Door?


Israel’s critics didn’t need much prompting to damn the latest government led by Prime Minister Netanyahu. But his appointment of tough-minded figures from his own party and inner circle to hold key foreign policy posts (as I pointed outhere and here), has led to an increase of lamentations about the Israelis putting a fork in any hope for a two-state solution. But if they were listening closely to the prime minister’s statements in the last week, they would see he’s leaving the door wide open for a new round of peace. Earlier this week, Netanyahu stated his willingness to enter into talks about defining settlement blocs that would be kept by Israel and leaving open the possibility of settlement freezes elsewhere and with it the possibility of territorial compromise. Today, he doubled down on that by saying the “general idea” behind the 2002 Arab peace initiative was “a good idea.” But we didn’t have to wait long to learn that the Palestinians want no part of any new negotiations with the Israelis. The reason for that tells us more about their intentions than whether or not Netanyahu is being sincere.

What’s Happening With Boko Haram?

May 28, 2015

An armoured tank is seen abandoned along a road in Bazza town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters) 

Nigeria inaugurates its new president, Muhammadu Buhari, on May 29. It is the first time a Nigerian head of state has defeated an incumbent at the ballot box. Buhari’s successful campaign was largely based on the need to restore security and to counter corruption. Now, as he takes office, the radical Islamist insurrection labeled Boko Haram is the country’s most immediate security threat. 

According to the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), during the week of May 16 Boko Haram was likely responsible for killings in Damaturu in Yobe state, Madagali and Gombi in Adamawa state, and Chibok in Borno (the town where the “Chibok School Girls” were kidnapped). The death toll due to Boko Haram attacks that week was sixty, though almost certainly understated. Boko Haram also kidnapped six women. Meanwhile, the Nigerian army claims it destroyed ten Boko Haram camps in the Sambisa Forest, killing an estimated twenty insurgents. 

These Are the 5 Reasons Why the U.S. Remains the World’s Only Superpower

May 28, 2015

Matt McClain—The Washington Post/Getty ImagesTyler Whitsett, a First Lieutenant cadet with the Civil Air Patrol United States Air Force Auxiliary helps to hold up a large American flag prior to the start of the National Memorial Day Parade on May 25, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Why Washington can still claim global primacy in the 21st century 

A ‘superpower’ is a country that wields enough military, political and economic might to convince nations in all parts of the world to do things they otherwise wouldn’t. Pundits have rushed to label China the next superpower—and so have many ordinary Americans—but the rumors of America’s decline have been greatly exaggerated. In the key categories of power, the U.S. will remain dominant for the foreseeable future. These facts show why America is still the world’s only superpower, and why that won’t change anytime soon. 

1. Economics 

Information Warfare: NATO Is Lost In Cyberspace

May 30, 2015: Tiny Estonia (population 1.3 million) has formed a Cyber War militia because Russia keeps threatening another major Cyber War offensive. Despite its small size Estonia is the most technically advanced (on a per-capita basis) nation in East Europe and was able to recruit several hundred skilled volunteers who are hard at work pooling their knowledge and skills to better handle more Cyber War aggression from Russia.

Estonia borders Russia and is a member of NATO. That last bit makes Russia reluctant to come in with tanks to take over like they did twice in the 1940s. Russia made a major effort to crush Estonia via major Internet based attacks in 2007. Estonia survived that “invasion” but admitted that this sort of Russian aggression caused great financial harm to Estonia. In the wake of these Russian Cyber War attacks Estonia demanded that the UN and NATO declare this sort of thing terrorism and dealt with accordingly. NATO tried to be helpful, but that wasn’t enough. The UN was even less helpful as the UN has a hard time getting anything done when Russia is involved because Russia is one of the handful of founding members that has a veto.

Why the West loses so many wars, and how we can learn to win.

Martin van Creveld, among our time’s top historians and military theorists, asked for a submission to his website. I provided this essay about modern war, a summary of themes often discussed here during the past 8 years. It’s probably the most important contribution to readers of the FM website. The West’s failure to learn this simple lesson is among the greatest of our weaknesses, so large as to offset the power of even the greatest of nations. 

The local fighter is therefore often an accidental guerrilla — fighting us because we are in his space, not because he wishes to invade ours. He follows folk-ways of tribal warfare that are mediated by traditional cultural norms, values, and perceptual lenses; he is engaged (from his point of view) in “resistance” rather than “insurgency” and fights principally to be left alone.

— David Kilcullen in The Accidental Guerrilla (2011).

Most of the West’s wars since WWII have been fight insurgencies in foreign lands. Although an ancient form of conflict, the odds shifted when Mao brought non-trinitarian (aka 4th generation) warfare to maturity. Not until the late 1950’s did many realize that war had evolved again.

China and the East Asian Internet

By Sarah Cook
May 29, 2015

Internet freedom is coming under increasing pressure across East Asia, but China’s influence has its limits. 

Internet freedom in East Asia is exemplified by a key paradox – even as access expands exponentially and social-media tools open new avenues for information sharing, freedom of expression and user privacy online are declining. Governments in the region are taking increasing measures to regulate not only the spread of internationally recognized harmful content, but also citizen communications on topics of vital social, political, religious, and security relevance. Leading the region’s most robust such campaign is the ruling Communist Party of China.

Why Did a US Cyber Attack on North Korea Fail?

May 30, 2015

North Korea’s near-complete isolation may have had something to do with the 2010 failure of a Stuxnet-related attack. 
Reuters investigative reporter Joseph Menn reported Friday that in 2010, the United States tried to attack North Korea’s nuclear weapons program using a version of the Stuxnet virus it deployed in the same time frame against the Iranian nuclear program.

Menn reports that according to at least one U.S. intelligence source, the developers of Stuxnet made a related computer virus “that would be activated when it encountered Korean-language settings on an infected machine.” But the virus and the attack, which originated with the National Security Agency, was ultimately unsuccessful because it could not gain access to North Korean networks.

How Toyota Drives Kentucky's Economy

This is the first of a five part series on the relationship of the Commonwealth of Kentucky with the Asia-Pacific. The first installment focuses on TMMK, the largest Toyota production plant in North America. Future installments will profile Kentucky’s two senators, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, examine the explosion in bourbon demand across East Asia, and study other ways in which a single, landlocked American state has affected, and been affected by, America’s ties to the Asia-Pacific.

When people in Kentucky think “American made cars,” they think of the Corvette facility in Bowling Green, or of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (TMMK) in Georgetown. Opened in 1988, TMMK is the largest Toyotaproduction facility in North America. The facility employs 7,000 people, and produces most of the Camrys available in the North American market.

Why would Toyota build a factory in Georgetown, Kentucky? Mostly, because of the Voluntary Export Restraint (VER) Japan agreed to in 1981 with respect to automobile sales. When Japan accepted a strict limit on the number of cars it could send to the United States, Japanese companies took an alternative route to engaging the American market. Japanese cars produced in the United States don’t count against the VER; thus, TMMK and its counterparts allowed Toyota full access to American car-buyers.

This is the fundamental difference that makes Google more important than Apple

MAY 29, 2015

Google announced a bunch of new products yesterday at "Google I/O," and tech blogger Ben Thompson has written a long and interesting story about how Google and Apple are fundamentally different from each other.

I would add that that makes Google a much more interesting and - in the very long run - more important company than Apple.

Apple sells expensive products that make a great experience. But Google is pulling billions of people online and giving the broad swathe of humanity its first access to the internet and smart connected devices. In other words, Apple may merely be the Ferrari to Google's Ford. Sure, Ferraris are nicer than Fords. But Ford was the company that made the car something almost everyone could afford. Historically, Ford changed history. Ferrari is merely an interesting brand in that history.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak explains the biggest difference between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates

MAY 29, 2015

While Hollywood has tried to get the story of the rivalry between Apple visionary Steve Jobs and Microsoft trailblazer Bill Gates right, Steve Wozniak had a front row seat as it went down in real time.

Wozniak was the co-founder and technical genius behind Apple. In that role, he was the man that brought Jobs' visions to life. Over the years, he would get to know both Jobs and Gates very well as Apple and Microsoft weaved in and out of being competitors and partners.

During a press call on Wednesday for National Geographic Channel's"American Genius," Wozniak explained the main difference between Jobs and Gates.

"Steve Jobs [has] a very futuristic forward vision, almost a bit of the science fiction, 'Here's what life could be,' but Bill Gates had more of an execution ability to build the things that are needed now, to build a company now, make the profits now, in the short-term," Wozniak explained. "I think that was the biggest difference between them."

The US Military Wants Its Troops To Be Able To See Through Walls

MAY 29, 2015
DARPA is looking for ways to extract more information from light than cameras typically do, which could help troops spot hidden enemies.

The Pentagon’s emerging technology arm is looking into systems that could reconstruct a 3-D image of a scene from a single vantage point, including objects not visible in the line-of-sight. 

Mohana Ravindranath covers civilian agency technology and IT policy for Nextgov. She previously covered IT for the Washington Post, and her work has also appeared in Business Insider and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. Full Bio

This technology, according to a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announcement, might eventually help troops prepare for hidden threats — assailants hidden behind barriers, for instance.

Pentagon Will Relaunch $475 Million Cyber Effort This Fall

Shortly after cancelling its search for bids on a five-year outsourcing contract, U.S. Cyber Command said a retooled version will be out by October.

After abandoning last week a $475 million job posting for cyberattack and network defense experts, the Pentagon now says a retooled solicitation that takes into account private sector questions will be out by Oct. 1.

Aliya Sternstein reports on cybersecurity and homeland security systems. She’s covered technology for more than a decade at such publications as National Journal's Technology Daily, Federal Computer Week and Forbes. Before joining Government Executive, Sternstein covered agriculture and derivatives ... Full Bio

The US Tried to Stuxnet North Korea’s Nuclear Program

A PRECISION DIGITAL weapon reportedly created by the US and Israel to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program had a fraternal twin that was designed to attack North Korea’s nuclear program as well, according to a new report.

The second weapon was crafted at the same time Stuxnet was created and was designed to activate once it encountered Korean-language settings on machines with the right configuration, according to Reuters. But the operation ultimately failed because the attackers were unable to get the weapon onto machines that were running Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

WIRED reported back in 2010 that such an operation against North Korea would be possible in light of the fact that some of the equipment used by the North Koreans to control their centrifuges—the devices used to turn uranium hexafluoride gas into nuclear-bomb-ready fuel—appeared to have come from the same firms that outfitted the Iranian nuclear program.

The Air Force Can Use an Electromagnetic Pulse to Kill Enemy Computers

Kate Knibbs

One of the US Air Force’s most high-tech weapons is a tool that can’t hurt people — but it kills electronic devices.

The CHAMP (Counter-Electronics High-Powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project) is a computer-frying device that emits a strong blast of targeted microwave energy that can take down enemy data centers and infrastructure without blowing anyone up.

The Air Force recently confirmed that CHAMP is an operational system, although it’s not yet able to be deployed in a remote-controlled missile. Congress recently pressured the Air Force to prepare the tech for battle, though it may blow its 2016 deadline.

Did Thailand Just Approve a New US Aircraft Basing Request?

May 29, 2015

The answer is more complex than it appears. 
As I reported earlier this week, the United States had asked its ally Thailand for permission to use its airports as a temporary base for surveillance planes to assist in Southeast Asia’s ongoing migrant crisis (See: “Thailand Mulls New U.S. Aircraft Basing Request”).

As I noted in that piece, Thai foreign minister Tanasak Patimapragorn indicated that Thailand would be willing to consider the request provided some of its security and sovereignty concerns were addressed. In particular, Tanasak had mentioned that the Thai government would need some additional details – including the flight routes of U.S. aircraft – as well as an assurance that any U.S. mission would come under the supervision of Thai authorities.

On Friday, The Nation reported that Thailand has granted permission for Washington to fly over its sea territory – in the company of Thai planes – during search and rescue operations. Tanasak told reporters on the sidelines of a multinational meeting in Bangkok on the migrant crisis that Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan had already granted verbal permission and the message has been conveyed to the U.S. embassy.

Who Will Be Xi’s Number 2 on China’s Central Military Commission?

May 29, 2015

Gen. Fan Changlong is due to retire at the 19th Party Congress. Who will replace him as China’s top military official? 
General Fan Chonglong, who since November 2012 has served as the first vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, is very likely to retire in two years. Born in May 1947, he will turn 70 in May 2017 and, according to custom, will exit the CMC at the 19th National Party Congress in the fall of that year. The question is, who will be his successor?

The first and most obvious candidate is General Xu Qiliang, the second vice chairman of the CMC. Though three years younger than Fan, Xu in fact has even more substantial political and military credentials. Xu joined the People’s Liberation Army in 1966, three years earlier than Fan; became a CCP member in 1967, two years earlier than Fan; and was admitted to the Central Committee of the CCP in 1992, a whole decade earlier than Fan.