5 June 2015

The War We Forget

Heavy metal Indian troops walk past the war dead and tanks abandoned by retreating Pakistani troops

Posterity might have neglected the Indo-Pak war of 1965. But it was significant, and must be understood in the backdrop of 1962.

The war of 1965 against Pakistan occupies a penumbral position in Indian history as well as memory. Sandwiched between the wars with China in 1962 and Pakistan in 1971, the 1965 conflict evokes neither the humiliation of defeat nor the frisson of decisive victory. From scholars and historians it has elicited little more than a collective professional yawn. Indeed, there is hardly any new writing on the war that is comparable to what is now available for the other two conflicts that bookended the decade. Yet, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the war, it is important to recall its magnitude for India. In the full-scale conventional war lasting 22 days, India captured some 1,920 sq km of Pakistani territory—at the cost of nearly 11,500 casualties and the loss of almost 550 sq km of its own territory. These are not trivial numbers. The neglect of posterity is not a good measure of the significance of this war.

US, India Look to 'Open up' Defense Relationship

June 04, 2015

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is welcomed to India's Ministry of Defense by India's Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar in New Delhi, India, June 3, 2015.

The U.S. Defense Secretary is visiting India hoping to forge closer strategic ties between New Delhi and Washington. 

Today, while on a two-day visit to India, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that New Delhi and Washington agreed on two small technology co-development projects at a total cost of $1 million, to be split evenly by the two countries over a two year period.

The two projects, led by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization and the Pentagon research labs, will focus on the joint development of a next generation solar generator and a new protective chemical-bio suit, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why India Insists On Keeping Gilgit Baltistan Firmly In Kashmir Equation

By Manoj Joshi*

New Delhi’s move to raise objections to Pakistan’s plan of holding an election in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s Gilgit-Baltistan region may appear to be an afterthought, but it is, in fact, the belated assertion of a simple principle: In a dispute, express your maximal position, rather than the one you will compromise on. For long years, indeed, beginning in 1947 itself, India had tended to play down, if not ignore, its own legal claim over what Pakistan used to term as the Northern Areas and now calls Gilgit Baltistan. As a result, the world assumed the ‘Kashmir problem’ only pertained to the Kashmir Valley which was in India’s possession. Thus, when it came to compromises, it put the onus on New Delhi.

It is this principle that informs Beijing’s tough stand on the Sino-Indian border. In 1960 and 1980 they were agreeable to swapping claims and broached the idea with New Delhi. However, India rejected the proposal, and since it was holding on to Arunachal Pradesh, the area it claimed in the east, it hoped that it could persuade China to part with some 3000 or so sq kms in the Aksai Chin area. However, beginning 1985, China turned tables on the stunned Indian negotiators by insisting that the bigger dispute lay in the east and has since been demanding concessions from India in that sector. It has said it is willing to concede India’s claim to most of Arunachal if India is willing to part with the Tawang tract.

How America Should Wage 'Lawfare' in the South China Sea

June 4, 2015
Source Link

"The United States has not employed international law as effectively as it could to stop China’s scramble for mastery over the South China Sea."

In the last several months, China has set an expansionist and escalatory strategy into motion in the South China Sea. The embattled region has long played host to a fierce territorial dispute between six nations—China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam—powered by nationalism, energy, and great power politics. But in the last year, Beijing has inflamed an already tense dispute through an unprecedented policy of land reclamation. This latest tactic comes on the heels of a number of other aggressive moves by Beijing.

This is Japan's Newest Aircraft for Securing the Ryukyus

The Japanese Air Self-Defense Forces will soon be flying some of the most modern early warning radar aircraft. 
On June 1, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced that the U.S. State Department has approved a possible $ 1.7 billion sale of four tactical airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft and supporting equipment to Japan. According to the DSCA press release:

The Government of Japan has requested a possible sale of four (4) E-2D Advanced Hawkeye (AHE) Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft, ten (10) T56-A-427A engines (8 installed and 2 spares), eight (8) Multifunction Information Distribution System Low Volume Terminals (MIDS-LVT), four (4) APY-9 Radars, modifications, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, ferry services, aerial refueling support, U.S. Government and contractor logistics, engineering, and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

Unequal Partners: China and Russia in Eurasia

By Anita Inder Singh
June 03, 2015

China and Russia are stepping up their collaboration, even as they compete for regional primacy. 

Recent strategic shifts by China and Russia simultaneously – and paradoxically – mark closer ties, challenges to the U.S., an unequal partnership, and rivalry between them in Eurasia.

The shifts were confirmed last month. On May 8, Chinese President Xi Jinping was the guest of honor at Moscow’s Victory Parade; a few days later, on May 11, China and Russia began their first joint naval drill in the Mediterranean Sea. The ten-day exercise displayed their power and cooperation in the American-dominated Mediterranean, around which neither Russia nor China has any coastline. They were contesting America’s primacy in international waters, which connect Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Beijing signaled that China could flex its naval muscles in distant European waters, indeed in “NATO’s lake,” just as the U.S. does in the Asia-Pacific.

China's Counterterrorism Campaign Goes Global

By Moritz Rudolf, Marc Julienne, & Johannes Buckow
June 03, 2015

How China seeks international cooperation in its fight against terrorism. 

The nature of terrorism in China is changing, as is the Chinese government’s response to the threat. Despite the importance of the issue for China and the world, there is little understanding in the West about the facts concerning terrorism in China. This is the final article in a four-part series dealing with the threat of terrorism in China – its origins and changing nature – as well as the central government’s response. See part one (“The Terrorist Threat in China”), part two (“Beyond Doubt: The Changing Face of Terrorism in China”), and part three (“How the Chinese Government Fights Terrorism”).

Who Will Be Indonesia’s Next Military Chief?

Jakarta will appoint a successor to lead its military in the next few months. 

As Indonesia’s outspoken military (TNI) chief General Moeldoko nears his mandatory retirement age next month, the conversation has moved on to who will be replacing him 

Selecting a candidate is normally a fairly straightforward process. Candidates for the top TNI post should be flag officers who have held the position of chief of staff in one of the TNI’s three forces – the Army, the Navy or the Air Force. The current officers would be Army chief of staff Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo, Navy chief of staff Adm. Ade Supandi and Air Force chief of staff Air Chief Marshal Agus Supriatna.

Furthermore, since the end of the Suharto era, the post has been rotated in an Army-Navy-Army-Air Force pattern which has held until today. For instance, Moeldoko, who had been army chief of staff, took over in 2013 from Adm. Agus Suhartono, who has been chief of staff of the Indonesian navy. Following this pattern, since Moeldoko was from the Army, the next TNI chief should be from the Air Force, which would suggest that Air Force chief of staff Air Chief Marshal Agus Supriatna should be Indonesia’s next military chief.

US Must Hold Firm in South China Sea Dispute

By Joseph A. Bosco

Backing away now will be seen in Beijing and elsewhere as a further erosion of U.S. credibility. 

No sane Chinese or American official wants a major war between the two countries. Nor would anyone in a responsible position on the U.S. side welcome even a limited military conflict with China, for fear of miscalculation, escalation, and unintended consequences, including the significant endangerment of economic relations. American restraint is demonstrable in the South China Sea (SCS) but it has also characterized the U.S. response to China-initiated situations in the East China Sea and across the Taiwan Strait.

That prudent approach, however, is not sufficiently shared by Chinese government and military leaders. Some seem willing to push the envelope to see just how much aggressive behavior Washington will tolerate in the region. They appear prepared to risk a direct clash at sea or in the air and expect the U.S. to make the necessary efforts to avoid it – for instance, to back away from exercising full navigational and overflight rights.

Chinese Accused OceanLotus Hacking Group of Launching Cyber Attack on Chinese Networks

June 2, 2015

China responds to report on cyber attack 

BEIJING, June 2 (Xinhua) – If overseas hacking organization OceanLotus is proven guilty for stealing government information, it will further evidence that China falls victim to hacker attacks, a Chinese spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying’s comment came after a report released Friday by Chinese Internet company Qihoo 360’s SkyEye Labs accused OceanLotus of launching “elaborately organized” online attacks on China’s marine agencies, scientific research institutions and shipping companies since April 2012.

Chinese Spy Planes and Intelligence Ship Monitored Taiwan Missile Test Last Month

June 2, 2015

Chinese spying activities during missile test monitored: MND

Taipei, June 2 (CNA) Taiwan’s military kept tabs on the movements of a Chinese vessel and reconnaissance plane that were apparently spying on a missile test last month, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Tuesday.

The MND said in a press release that the military conducted missile tests in waters and in the air southeast of Taiwan last month as part of a routine annual training operation.

The military detected a suspected Chinese vessel and aircraft that entered the sea and air near Taiwan to collect information, and adopted stringent countermeasures to ensure security, the MND said.

The ministry was responding to a report by the Liberty Times, a local newspaper, that said the presence of the Chinese ship and plane disrupted Patriot PAC-2 missile tests near Jioupeng Military Base in Pingtung County on May 28 and 29.


May/June 2015

Cartophilia: this map claims that a Chinese Muslim beat Columbus to it. But is it real? Rosie Blau investigates
In 1405 a Chinese Muslim eunuch, Zheng He, launched the first of seven voyages west from China across the Indian Ocean. Over the next 30 years, in command of the world’s largest fleet and funded by the Ming emperor, he sailed to the east coast of Africa and deep into the Persian Gulf. That much, we know, is true.

But some people believe he went much farther—and this map is one reason. Entitled “General chart of the integrated world”, it is apparently an 18th-century copy of a 1418 map which claims to show the world that Zheng He discovered. If it is real, it rewrites history, for it shows that he circumnavigated the globe and—most provocatively—that he discovered America more than 70 years before Columbus.

Much Ado About Iran's Low-Enriched Uranium

June 04, 2015

A cascade of gas centrifuges at a U.S. enrichment plant.

Relax, Iran’s complying with the terms of the November 2013 interim deal—at least for a few more weeks. 

As the diplomatic heat turns up ahead of a June 30 deadline for a final deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of powers, news emerged, courtesy of the New York Times‘ David Sanger, that Iran’s “stockpile of nuclear fuel increased about 20 percent over the last 18 months of negotiations.” The article goes on to outline this development as a major setback for the Obama administration, which staked its credibility on its ability to regulate Iran’s nuclear fuel stockpile. Sanger notes that the 20 percent increase in nuclear fuel—specifically, low-enriched uranium (LEU)—undercuts “the Obama administration’s contention that the Iranian program had been ‘frozen’ during that period.” Sanger crescendos to the claim that this development ”poses a major political and diplomatic challenge” for the conclusion of a comprehensive agreement.

What Does Rule of Law Look Like in Central Asia?

Heavy focus on order and security, perhaps more aptly called rule by law. 

In the 2015 World Justice Project Rule of Law Index, the three Central Asian states included all landed in the bottom half of the rankings. Kazakhstan led, in 65th, with Kyrgyzstan not far behind, at 74th.Uzbekistan was ranked at 81st.

The annual perception-based ranking is based on data from a survey of 1,000 people from the three largest cities in each of the 102 countries included plus input from local experts. WJP’s survey breaks rule of law into eight factors: constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice. The organization says that “these factors are intended to reflect how people experience rule of law in everyday life.”

Syrian Rebels Beg for U.S. Airstrikes as ISIS Forces Approach the Syrian City of Aleppo

Anne Barnard
June 2, 2015

New Battles Rage Near Aleppo Between Syrian Insurgents and ISIS

ISTANBUL, Turkey — Syrian insurgents rushed reinforcements into combat on Tuesday against rival Islamic State militants who have seized crucial territory near the northern city of Aleppo in recent days, building on the momentum the group has achieved in other battlefield successes in Syria and Iraq.

Amid increased fears that Aleppo could be the next big prize to fall to the Islamic State in the latest twist to the four-year-old Syrian civil war, Syrian opposition leaders accused the government of essentially collaborating with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, by bombing other rival insurgent groups, even though the government and Islamic State say they are enemies.

Investigation Launched Into Who Ordered Iraqi Army to Flee Ramadi Despite Vastly Outnumbering ISIS Forces

June 2, 2015

A prominent Sunni politician and member of parliament is leading the effort to find out exactly who ordered the army to pull out of Ramadi on May 17 th and allow a much smaller force of ISIL fighters to enter and, after receiving reinforcements, take control of most of the city. Right after Ramadi fell the commander of the 25,000 troops guarding the city said he had been ordered to withdraw. Most of the troops in Ramadi belonged to the 7 th Infantry Division, which is based there. That unit had been reinforced by several thousand police and army commandos and special operations troops by early May. There were also a few thousand pro-government Sunni tribal militia. All these troops are still in Anbar, most of them just west of Ramadi. 

Since May 17th the government has reinforced the army units outside Ramadi with Shia militia. Together these forces have retaken many military posts (fortified checkpoints and police stations) abandoned during the departure of the security forces from Ramadi in May. The unannounced withdrawal of army forces caused a panic among the thousands of police and militia fighters in the city and these forces tended to panic and depart quickly when they found out about the army retreat. 


June 3, 2015

The seizure of Ramadi on May 17 by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was a tactical defeat for the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi government, and — by extension — the U.S.-led coalition. ISIL had a good day; Iraq and its allies had a bad day. Losing Ramadi makes the task ahead more difficult. There is no sugarcoating this fact, and therefore the latest round of self-examination is appropriate, if often misinformed.

There are three policy goals that the United States has — or should have — in Iraq. First, it needs to help facilitate the defeat, if not destruction, of ISIL in Iraq (as a first step to its wider defeat in the region). Second, it needs to keep Iraq unified so that the gains of ISIL’s destruction can be held. Finally, it needs to ensure that this unified Iraq is as Western-oriented as possible. While the first of these goals is the most immediate, it is the last two that are most important, and to which too little attention is being paid.

Defeating ISIL

How to defeat the Islamic State, according to Republican presidential candidates

Former Florida Governor and potential Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks to supporters during a fundraising event at the Jorge Mas Canosa Youth Center on March 18, 2015 in Sweetwater, Florida.
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Rest easy, world. The Republicans have a plan to defeat the Islamic State. And yes, it involves more bombs.

As the 2016 presidential election draws closer, a growing number of potential candidates have begun to distill their time-tested criticism of the Democratic Party’s foreign policy into something resembling a platform.

While there are slight differences among the potential Republican presidential candidates, it is fair to say that the majority believe that the US needs to take a more active role in Iraq and, to a lesser degree, Syria.

Ground war: What is it good for?

Pentagon and Intelligence Community Want to Buy More Russian Rockets

Steven Lee Myers
June 4, 2015

Pentagon Seeks Easing of Ban on Russian Rockets for U.S. Space Missions

WASHINGTON — After Russia annexed Crimea last year, Congress passed legislation that forced the Pentagon to stop buying Russian rocket engines that have been used since 2000 to help launch American military and intelligence satellites into space.

Now, that simple act of punishment is proving difficult to keep in place.

Only five months after the ban became law, the Pentagon is pressing Congress to ease it.

The Pentagon says that additional Russian engines will be needed for at least a few more years to ensure access to space for the country’s most delicate defense and intelligence technology.

Ukrainian Rebels Try to Capture Town in the Eastern Ukraine

June 3, 2015 

Ukraine Forces, Separatists Fight First Serious Battles in Months 

KIEV — Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists on Wednesday fought their first serious battles in months and Ukraine’s defence minister said an attempt by rebels to take the eastern town of Maryinka had been thwarted. 

The Ukrainian military said the Russian-backed rebels had tried to advance using tanks and up to 1,000 fighters west of the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk, in the most significant escalation of the conflict in about three months and in defiance of a ceasefire deal. 

Estimates of casualties varied. 

The separatists, who denied their forces had launched an assault, said 15 people had been killed when government troops fired artillery into rebel-held territory near the city. 

Is Russia's Lethal PAK-FA Fighter Superior to America's F-22 and F-35?

Russia’s new fifth-generation fighter jet will be superior to its American counterparts in every way, a senior Russian military official has said.

According to Russian state media outlets, Viktor Bondarev, Russian Air Force Commander-in-Chief, said that the PAK FA will be able to outduel America’s F-22 and F-35 fifth generation fighter jets.

Speaking of the PAK FA to reporters last week, Bondarev said that “It will be in no way worse than similar American planes such as F-22 and F-35. Rather, it will outperform them in almost all parameters.”

He went on to explain that "the features given to it by its designers allow it to outperform all similar planes that already exist or will soon appear abroad."

The U.S. Navy's Big Challenge: UCAS-D versus UCLASS?

June 3, 2015
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus really likes drones. He now has a whole deputy assistant secretariat for them. In contrast to the U.S. Air Force, his people aren’t yet burned out from operating them around the clock for over a decade. This April Fool’s Day even brought the annual joke about another aerial demonstration team—this time the Blue Angels—going unmanned. Except that if Cirque de Soleil can do it already, maybe the idea just isn’t that far-fetched. For those X-47B UCAS-Ds—Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrators—bought from Northrop Grumman have been taking off from carriers, landing on carriers, and refueling from 707s. That bodes well for the forthcoming UCLASS—Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike—competition. But for all that the secretary likes those drones from Northrop, further tests and evaluations of the airplane will proceed judiciously, so as not to give “the people that made UCAS a huge advantage over what the next iteration is.” And that may be a mistake.

Asia's Balance of Power Nightmare Unfolds

The balance of power is one of those concepts that gets the most attention when it’s shifting. Or wobbling. When people are talking about it, it’s time to be worried. And everybody is worried.

As Grandma observed, family arguments are getting too loud when the whole village is gossiping about whether the marriage will survive.

Balance of power was top of mind and top of text when Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, launched the Shangri-La dialogue.

Lee’s central proposition was a simple one with huge implications: “The strategic balance in Asia is shifting.” Mark this is a Big Fact, not a mere opinion.

Russia's Ukraine Game: Will Putin Go All In?

"Ukraine may be out of the headlines for now—but it is still very much in play."

Predicting what the Putin government will do when it comes to the crisis in Ukraine is fraught with peril. I myself did not anticipate the rapid annexation of Crimea last year. At the time, I believed that there was no real danger to the Russian strategic position on the peninsula and that Moscow's long-term interests weren’t served by amputating the most reliably pro-Russian part of the country from Ukraine.

With that caveat in mind, however, let us assess some of the factors currently in play.

– The European Union has signaled that current sanctions imposed on Russia will remain in place until the end of the year. Those countries that were agitating for sanctions relief have accepted the extension with the proviso that there will be a serious conversation about the future of those measures in December.

Ukraine's Next Big Battleground

June 4, 2015
"Ukraine cannot succeed unless its economy succeeds."

The Economist in its May 23 edition has reminded us of a tremendous advantage that we have in Ukraine: the strength of free-market economics. Clearly, the argument the magazine makes in its Leaders article "Ukraine: The Other Battleground," points out a significant fact—i.e., for Ukraine to succeed its economy must also succeed.

The magazine also compares western assistance to Ukraine to western assistance to Poland beginning in 1989. The Economist argues that the West has been miserly with regard to Ukraine. As someone who was involved in the Western response to Poland, I think it is important to look deeper into this comparison.

In US, Okinawa Governor Pleads Case Against Base Relocation

June 04, 2015
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, a vocal opponent of the Futenma relocation plan, has his work cut out for him. 

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga won election last December promising to oppose the relocation of a U.S. Marine Corps base within Okinawa, but he’s had little luck getting the government in Tokyo to reconsider the project. So this week Onaga is in the United States, hoping to present his case to U.S. officials directly.

As The Diplomat has reported previously, Onaga has tried to halt construction work on the new Marine air base in the Henoko district. He threatened to revoke prefectural approval for the construction project, citing environmental concerns, even saying he would take the central government to court if necessary. Onaga argues that the burden of hosting U.S. troops should be more evenly distributed throughout Japan, rather than centered on Okinawa.

Kazakhstan Banks on Nuclear Power

Nuclear non-proliferation has become Astana’s international calling card. 

Kazakhstan could begin accumulating low-enriched uranium (LEU) at a recently approved International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) bank as early as 2017. According to Tengrinews, Kazakhstan is working out the logistics of transporting nuclear material through Russia to the planned international LEU bank, which will be operated under the auspices of the IAEA.

A scheduled meeting with the IAEA Board of Governors in Vienna on June 8 “will consider two draft agreements. One with Kazakhstan on the institution of the bank, and the other one with the Government of the Russian Federation on transit through its territory,” said Timur Zhantikin, the deputy chairman of the Committee on Atomic and Energy Supervision of the Ministry of Energy of Kazakhstan.

Tempo of Boko Haram Attacks in Northeast Nigeria Rising Once Again

Adam Nossiter
June 2, 2015

Boko Haram Steps Up Attacks in Northeast Nigeria, Killing Scores

DAKAR, Senegal — Less than a week after Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general, took over as Nigeria’s new president and vowed to crush Boko Haram, the group has intensified its attacks in the country’s northeast, killing scores in a series of assaults and suicide bombings.

Between 20 and 50 people were killed in the latest attack on Tuesday. A man disguised as a salesman blew himself up in a slaughterhouse in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State and the biggest city in the region, officials said.

Early Tuesday morning, residents at the city’s southern edge also awoke to the sound of exploding rocket-propelled grenades and automatic gunfire from the militants, and a similar attack took place late Saturday night near the airport, killing at least eight people.

NSA and FBI Must Now Go to Phone Companies to Access Our Phone Records

June 3, 2015 

U.S. Surveillance in Place Since 9/11 Is Sharply Limited 

WASHINGTON — In a significant scaling back of national security policy formed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Senate on Tuesday approved legislation curtailing the federal government’s sweeping surveillance of American phone records, and President Obama signed the measure hours later. 

The passage of the bill — achieved over the fierce opposition of the Senate majority leader — will allow the government to restart surveillance operations, but with new restrictions. 

The legislation signaled a cultural turning point for the nation, almost 14 years after the Sept. 11 attacks heralded the construction of a powerful national security apparatus. The shift against the security state began with the revelation by Edward J. Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, about the bulk collection of phone records. The backlash was aided by the growth of interconnected communication networks run by companies that have felt manhandled by government prying. The storage of those records now shifts to the phone companies, and the government must petition a special federal court for permission to search them.

An Assessment of North Korea’s Recent Ballistic Missile Test

Michael Elleman
June 3, 2015

From Under the Sea: North Korea’s Latest Missile Test

On May 9, 2015, North Korea’s state-run media, KCNA, aired a series of still images of a ballistic missile bursting through the ocean’s surface and igniting its main engine, all under the attentive eyes of Kim Jong Un. The authenticity of the images initially released by KCNA is unknown, as is the date of the test. The precise nature of the test is still unclear, as is the type of missile used. What is clear, however, is that a video summarizing the test produced and posted on North Korea’s propaganda website, Uriminzokkiri, included inauthentic footage of a missile launched from underwater in an attempt to exaggerate Pyongyang’s progress in developing a sea-based capability. The footage shows a solid-propellant missile being ejected from a submarine-launch tube, breaking through the sea surface and accelerating upward. The “missile” captured in the still photos of the North Korean test clearly depict a liquid-propellant engine. Photo analysis by Dave Schmerler highlights the sloppy editing job by the North Koreas, and the similarities to a known US underwater launch, most likely of a dated Trident missile launch.

Is North Korea Ready to Put Another Satellite Into Orbit?

Jeffrey Lewis
June 3, 2015

Is North Korea Gearing Up for Another Space Launch?

On May 8, KCNA carried a typically vituperative essay by North Korea’s national space authority stating that “No matter who dares grumble and no matter how all hostile forces challenge the launch, satellites of Juche Korea will soar into the space one after another at the time and place designated and decided by the supreme leadership of the Korean revolution.”

The new statement follows extensive coverage in recent months of North Korea’s space ambitions. On May 4, North Korean state media showed Kim Jong Un visiting “the newly-built General Satellite Control Centre of the National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA).” The new center looks like something out of the Jetson’s but with a monumental oil painting of Kim Jong Il contemplating a rocket dominating the entrance to remind you this is still North Korea.

Israel Strengthening Its Cyber Defenses

Damian Paletta
June 3, 2015

Israeli Cybersecurity Chief Focused on Future Threats

WASHINGTON—Israel’s top cybersecurity official said the country has launched a comprehensive strategy to prevent increasingly sophisticated computer attacks, warning that Iran and terrorist networks could greatly expand their capabilities in the next three to five years.

Eviatar Matania, the head of the Israeli National Cyber Bureau, said the Israeli government was working with universities, businesses, and government agencies to both attract cybersecurity investment and improve safeguards against attacks.

Obama Signs USA Freedom Act Ending (???) NSA Bulk Surveillance Programs

June 3, 2015

Obama signs bill to end NSA phone data collection

WASHINGTON, June 2 (UPI) – President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed the USA Freedom Act, comprising reforms to the National Security Agency’s spying program, including limitations on data collection.

“It’s historical,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, one of the leading architects of the reform efforts. “It’s the first major overhaul of government surveillance in decades.”

After clearing the House last month with a vote of 338-88, the bill passed in the Senate by a vote of 67-32. Obama signed it into law Tuesday evening, ending the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone data and instead requiring the agency to access databases kept by phone companies.

The Right Way to Bring Peace to the Middle East

The peace process needs to be incremental instead of setting the bar too high.

Since George W. Bush first dared to use “Palestine” as a proper noun in 2002, the mantra in Washington has been that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is known: two states, living securely and peacefully side by side, with all thorny issues of refugees, borders, settlements, and Jerusalem negotiated.

That is clearly no longer the case. It is time now to guide the parties to thinking about alternatives—and to do so without hurting each other. Outsiders—most of all the United States—have neither the imagination nor the will to do this themselves. But they can help point dynamics in a healthier direction by shelving the idea of an immediate solution for now and concentrating on the lives of people who have been ignored (such as those in Gaza) and arenas that have been devalued (international organizations and legal mechanisms).

Hong Kong's Democratic Dilemma

The "Lennon Wall" during pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong last fall.

Supporters of the Beijing-backed package claim to have public backing on their side. The truth is more complicated. 

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) is heading toward a crucial vote on legislature that would reform how the Special Administrative Region elects its chief executive. The Hong Kong government plans to submit its reform package to LegCo for a vote on June 17, which means legislators could be casting their votes by the 19th. Pan-democrat legislators have promised to veto the reform package, while the Hong Kong government is trying hard to sway a few of their number to get the bill through.

Cyprus Believes It Foiled Major Hezbollah Bomb Attack

June 2, 2015

Cyprus May Have Foiled Major Attack After Ammonia Find: Source

NICOSIA — Cyprus believes it may have foiled a major explosives attack, a security source said, in seizing nearly five tonnes of chemical fertilizer for a planned action Israel says bears the hallmarks of the Hezbollah guerrilla group.

Authorities detained a Lebanese-Canadian in late May after finding ammonium nitrate, a potential explosive, in his basement. Initially cited as two tonnes, security sources told Reuters on Tuesday the amount was in fact closer to five tonnes.

“With those kind of quantities something bad could have happened, and it was foiled,” a security source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.


June 2, 2015
If you grew up during the Cold War, as we both did, you probably remember all sorts of ways that we prepared for the possibility of a nuclear attack. Bert the Turtle taught us how to “duck and cover,” and we practiced hiding under our desks at school. Thousands of American families built fallout shelters in their backyards and stockpiled foodstuffs to last for months. Practice exercises ensured that members of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the president could be evacuated to elaborate underground sites to ensure continuity of government.

The Problem with Lithuania’s Crying Hipster Soldiers: There Aren’t Enough of Them

A new conscription law doesn't go far enough.

Life in Lithuania isn’t bad. Citizens of the small Baltic nation enjoy high life expectancies, near-universal literacy, relatively low corruption, a decent economy and a wide range of political freedoms. If those freedoms are violated, Article 30 of their constitution guarantees the right to appeal to a court. If they don’t like their government, Article 34 of their constitution guarantees their right to participate in elections and to throw their government out.

All those benefits and all those rights come with one caveat, one that is not written down in their constitution or anywhere else: they may be revoked, and on only a few hours’ notice, at Moscow’s whim. Lithuania is tiny. Russia is not. An invasion force could come in from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on Lithuania’s southwestern border, through Russia’s sometime-friend Belarus, or directly from Russia (via a short Schlieffen-style detour through Latvia). Lithuania’s military, with fewer than fifteen thousand personnel, would be no match for the enormous Russian military, which boasts at least a quarter of a million men in its Western Military District alone. (Indeed, if the Russians felt like it, they could send in one tank for each and every Lithuanian soldier, and they’d have hundreds of tanks to spare; the Lithuanians, in turn, have no tanks at all.)


June 2, 2015

When the U.S. Department of Defense announced it wasconsidering more aggressive proposals to test freedom of navigation around China’s island reclamation projects, aflurry of articles asked what Beijing would do in response. Part of the answer surely has to do with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Some answers are to be found in China’s new defense white paper, China’s Military Strategy, but the English translations of PLA jargon often confuse foreign readership about how Beijing is likely to use the military instrument.

Report Says Canada Not Prepared for Major Terrorist Attack

June 3, 2015

Report: Canada Ill-Prepared to Prevent Terror Attacks

TORONTO — A shooting rampage by a lone gunman at Parliament last October proved to be a “grim reminder that Canada is ill-prepared” to stop terrorist attacks in the capital, a new police report released Wednesday has found.

The Ontario Provincial Police report said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police provided “highly inadequate” security on Parliament Hill in Ottawa when Michael Zehaf-Bibeau entered the grounds on Oct. 22, 2014. RCMP assistant commissioner Gilles Michaud said there were missed opportunities to stop Zehaf-Bibeau from entering the building.

Zehaf-Bibeau shot to death Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was assigned to the honor guard at Canada’s national war memorial. He then stormed Parliament where he was eventually gunned down.

America's Most Lethal Enemy: Itself?

June 3, 2015
Recently on “Face the Nation,” CIA Director John Brennan made an unnoticed but significant acknowledgement about the conduct and consequences of U.S. foreign policy and the ongoing war on terrorism. Asked whether President Obama “seems to be just trying to buy time here, that he’s not ready to make a full commitment here in this war on terrorism and basically is just trying to keep things together well enough that he can leave it to the next president to resolve it. Do you see that?” Brennan responded:

“I don’t see anything like that. I’ve been involved in this administration in different capacities for the last six and a half years and there has been a full court effort to try to keep this country safe. Dealing with some of these problems in the Middle East, whether you’re talking about Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, others, these are some of the most complex and complicated issues that I’ve seen in my thirty-five years, working on national security issues. So there are no easy solutions.


June 3, 2015

For two decades a wide variety of plans, guidelines and roadmaps have been published and issued on European defense matters. The adoption of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), the creation of the European Union Military Committee and European Union Military Staff, the development of theEuropean Defence Agency, the inception of the European Union Battlegroups, and the implementation of several military crisis management operations from Kosovo to Somalia and Iraq to Guinea-Bissau, are all examples of the process by which European states are trying to facilitate the creation of a new post-Cold War era military dimension to European politics. In other words, these above-mentioned projects have been attempts to form a European-wide approach to security and defense policy.