13 June 2015

An India-US Tussle Over Technology Transfer

The U.S. and India need to work out important details on technology transfer before they can fully cooperate on defense. 

The growing defense cooperation between India and the United States is considered to be the brightest spot on the tapestry of bilateral relations. It appears less burdened by complaints and counter-complaints than, say, the trade and economic relationship.

Both sides see each other as partners in need, with basic convergence of views on crucial issues of maritime security, freedom of navigation, and the need to maintain the rule of law in the wilds of the oceans—the Pacific and the Indian—where a new power is rising.

India Proves its Great Power Status by Sending Troops into Myanmar

June 12, 2015

What does India’s recent use of force in Myanmar tell us about its power status? 

It has been said that to be treated like a king, one ought to act like a king. For a country to be treated like a great power, it must act like a great power, and that requires a bit of throwing your weight around—though any wise statesman should know the limitations of their nations’ capacities and not get carried away by hubris. Interventionism for the sake of interventionism—policing the world, exporting governmental ideologies, and building nations halfway around the world—is idealism at its worst. But realism at its best is when great powers take necessary actions to bolster their interests in relevant areas, especially in their own neighborhoods.

The Truth About India’s Militant Strike in Myanmar

June 12, 2015

New Delhi’s operation is much less novel or controversial than some have claimed. 

On Tuesday, the Indian army launched a rare cross-border strike against insurgents just over the border with Myanmar, inflicting significant casualties. Some have been quick to sensationalize the strike into a groundbreaking development in Indo-Myanmar ties and the advent of a new doctrine under Prime Minister Narendra Modi even as the basic details of the incident itself remain murky. In truth, what we know so far suggests that this is in fact much less novel or controversial than some media accounts have claimed.

The most frustrating thing about the operation is how little has been confirmed thus far, down to even the essential facts. At the time of writing, the Myanmar government has denied that the operation even occurred on its side of the border despite India’s insistence that it did. Other basic details, such as the time of the operation, the casualties incurred, and the degree to which there was coordination with Myanmar, are still unclear due to conflicting reports.

Raid on insurgents heralds assertive strategy against trans-border extremism

By Col R Hariharan
12 Jun , 2015

Raid on insurgents heralds assertive strategy against trans-border extremism

The successful raids by Indian army commando on two camps of motley collection of Northeast insurgent groups under the leadership of the Naga Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang group (NSCN-K) across Manipur-Myanmar border was much more than a tactical response of hot pursuit after insurgents ambushed a column of 6Dogra Regiment soldiers killing 18 a few days back in Chandel district of Manipur.

This marks a welcome shift from the government’s reactive strategy of the past in the Northeast accepting the status quo to contain rather than culling out insurgents.

It heralds the Modi government’s strategy of assertive action against insurgent operations carried out from foreign bases. As the Minister of State for Defence RS Rathore explained it means wresting and retaining the initiative at all times rather than allowing the insurgents to gain upper hand and respond reactively.

India to Test First Homegrown Aircraft Carrier

India is set to begin testing its first indigenously built aircraft carrier.

On Wednesday, India undocked its first homegrown aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, after all structural construction of the ship was completed. An unnamed Indian official was quoted by The Hindu as explaining:

“Almost 90 percent of works below the fourth deck, all underwater works, is over. Major equipment have gone in. Cabling, piping, electrical works, heat and ventilation works will take place now. Delivery of systems and components for the aviation complex designed by the Russian Nevoske design bureau is expected anytime now.”

Citing an official from Cochin Shipyards Limited, which manufactured the ship, India’s Economic Times reports that, INS Vikrant “will undergo a series of fitment and trial processes before it is ready for propulsion and inducted into the Navy.”

This is what happens when you send Islamist proxy warriors to fight your battles

By Nisid Hajari

Smoke rises above the Jinnah International Airport, where security forces battled militants June 9, 2014, in Karachi, Pakistan. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil) (AP)

Nisid Hajari is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board and the author of “Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition.”

At the outset of World War II, far from the battlefields of Europe, British colonial officials in India bought themselves a jihad. They secretly spread cash all along the turbulent Afghan frontier, encouraging mullahs in the Islamic tribal region to whip up sentiment against Britain’s enemies: first the godless Soviets and their then-allies the Nazis, later the brutal Japanese and eventually Indian leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, who were refusing to back the war effort. The strategy was low-cost and surprisingly effective. “In some areas,” marveled Sir George Cunningham, governor of the North-West Frontier Province, “religious Talibs [students] were encouraged to go into the Army — a thing which . . . was unknown before.” 

Asia’s Infrastructure Investment Battle

By Nicholas Borroz and Hunter Marston
June 11, 2015

With all the talk about China’s investment clout in Southeast Asia, another player is being overlooked. 

China’s expanding influence in Southeast Asia has been the subject of much fear mongering in U.S. media and policymaking circles. Of particular concern is China’s activity in the South China Sea, where it isbuilding up naval bases and airstrips atop reefs and atolls. Some worry that China will displace the United States as Asia’s principal maritime power in the not too distant future.

American critics are not just fretting over China’s sea projects; they worry about those on land as well. One can only guess how many alarmist articles have been written about China’s New Silk Road policy, Beijing’s grand plan to connect itself to other economies via transport corridors and pipelines.

China’s Maritime Disputes: Trouble to the South, but the East Stays Quiet

By Andi Zhou
June 12, 2015

Tensions are rising in the South China Sea — so why is the East China Sea so calm? 

The East China and South China Seas have long been cast as twin problem spots in the Asia-Pacific security landscape. Ensnared in complex and baggage-laden histories, both disputes have seemed equally intractable and have also been focus points for Beijing to flex its burgeoning military and coercive-diplomacy muscle. All observers expected tensions to keep rising in both disputes as China continues to build up its capabilities and brandish its hardened diplomatic resolve.

But the last year has seen the disputes evolve in dramatically divergent ways. Tensions have dropped perceptibly, if not significantly, over the East China Sea. Unplanned encounters between boats and aircraft have decreased and China’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) has not substantially hampered routine air traffic over the disputed area as many feared when the ADIZ was initially declared. The leaders of China and Japan have even held two terse face-to-face meetings that nonetheless broke a long-time freeze in high-level official interaction between the two sides.

China’s ‘Most Wanted’ Fugitive Nears Deportation From US

June 12, 2015

The U.S. is close to sending ex-Chinese official Yang Xiuzhu back to China to face trial. 

China’s “most wanted” economic fugitive appeared in a U.S. immigration court on Tuesday, bringing her one step closer to repatriation and trial in China.

Yang Xiuzhu, the former vice mayor of Wenzhou city in Zhejiang Province, is accused of accepting 253 million RMB ($41 million) in bribes. She fled China in 2003, soon after authorities began investigating her. In May 2014, Yang was detained in the Netherlands, which was preparing to send her back to China. Yang managed to escape and tried to make her way to the United States. She was detained again, this time by U.S. immigration officers, in June 2014, reportedly while trying to enter the U.S. from Canada using a fake passport. Chinese media reports say Chinese law enforcement tipped off U.S. officers about Yang’s travel plans.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has accused Yang of “violating the terms of the Visa Waiver Program” and asked an immigration court to deport her to China. Yang’s first deportation hearing took place on Tuesday in New York City.

India-China Deficit: Beyond Iron Ore

There’s more to the India-China deficit than iron ore. 

India’s growing trade deficit with China has become a permanent fixture in all bilateral discussions held between the two countries. The gap has been increasing and, according to provisional data for 2014-15 presented to the Rajya Sabha, the gap is now over $48 billion.

This concern was also voiced at the 7th BRICS Academic Forum held recently in Moscow, especially during a break-out session on ‘Trade: Integrity of the Rules-Based Trade Regime and BRICS Role.’

The Chinese scholar on the panel for this session—Zhao Zhongxiu, dean of the School of International Trade at the University of International Business and Economics, Beijing— provided a rationale for the large trade deficit. He said the deficit was due to India’s ban on exports of iron ore.

Diplomacy by Force: China's Quest for Military Partners

June 11, 2015 

China’s search for military partners exposes both Beijing’s ambitions and its constraints.

China’s new defense white paper, issued amid growing concern about Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea, made headlines for its emphasis on projecting naval power well beyond its coastal waters. That’s for good reason—China’s expansive claims, rising assertiveness, and land reclamation have together prompted worries in the region and beyond. Yet the final chapter of the white paper, which addresses Beijing’s efforts to deepen its security cooperation, has attracted decidedly less attention. That’s unfortunate, because in its efforts to boost foreign military ties, China reveals both its ambitions and its constraints.

Is the PLA Trying to Develop Doctrine for Distributed Operations?

June 11, 2015

One of the most interesting topics broached in the “China’s Military Strategy” white paper released last month, at least from my perspective, does not seem to have received any attention in Western coverage or analysis of the document to date. Consider the following; underlined emphasis is mine. 

In Section III: “Active Defense Guidelines”

“To implement the military strategic guideline of active defense in the new situation, China’s armed forces will innovate basic operational doctrines. In response to security threats from different directions and in line with their current capabilities, the armed forces will adhere to the principles of flexibility, mobility and self-dependence so that “you fight your way and I fight my way.” Integrated combat forces will be employed to prevail in system-vs-system operations featuring information dominance, precision strikes and joint operations.”

…and shortly thereafter:

Dan Heer, Influential National Intelligence Officer and China Specialist, Stepping Down

Bill Gertz
June 11, 2015

Ashton Carter’s remarks suggest an Obama policy shift on China

The Obama administration appears to be in the early phase of a policy shift on China. Tougher rhetoric and policies, most recently demonstrated by remarks in Asia from Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, coincide with the departures of two key officials long known for advocating more conciliatory policies toward Beijing.

Paul Heer, who for years held the influential post of national intelligence officer for East Asia, retired recently, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said. From his position as the most senior intelligence official on China, Mr. Heer was known for a steadfast bias that sought to play down the various threats posed by China in favor of more conciliatory views. His influence also is said to have extended to personnel appointments within the CIA’s analytical section, which critics say resulted in “groupthink” on China.

Chinese Conduct 4th Test of WU-14 Hypersonic Nuclear Delivery Vehicle

Bill Gertz
June 11, 2015

China Conducts Fourth Test of Wu-14 Strike Vehicle

China this week carried out the fourth test of an ultra high-speed nuclear delivery vehicle that conducted what intelligence officials say were extreme maneuvers.

The test of the Wu-14 hypersonic strike vehicle was carried out Sunday, launched atop a ballistic missile fired from a test facility in western China.

It was the fourth successful test of the Wu-14 in the past 18 months and the frequency of tests is being viewed by U.S. intelligence analysts as an indicator of the high priority placed on developing the weapon by the Chinese.

Earlier tests took place last year on Jan. 9, Aug. 7, and Dec. 2. The Washington Free Beacon first reported the tests.

Central Asia Has 99 Problems, but Extremism in Tajikistan Isn't the Worst

June 12, 2015

A recent op-ed by Ahmed Rashid flubs both the little details and the bigger picture. 

Central Asia doesn’t make it into the New York Timesvery often and rarely for good reasons. Today was no different with the publishing of an op-ed from Ahmed Rashid dramatically titled “Jihad’s New Frontier: Tajikistan.” Rashid’s op-ed was clearly sparked by the defection of Tajikistan’s special police commander Gulmurod Halimov to ISIS and falls into a popular trope: hyping the jihadist threat in Central Asia. Not all of what Rashid writes is inaccurate, but the alarmist tone threatens to rob reality of complexity. Such simplification, while convenient, serves no useful purpose.

Some of what Rashid gets wrong in the op-ed are basic facts, downright embarrassing for an author who wrote an entire book on militant Islam in Central Asia to whiff.

A Year into the Caliphate, How has IS Managed to Capture so much Territory?

June 10th, 2015 

The self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL and Daesh, took control of Iraq’s second city, Mosul on June 9 2014. It instantly implemented a brutal rule that resulted in hundreds of deaths.

Ancient relics were destroyed, and an IS stronghold established. Using equipment seized through fighting in Syria, the group was able to defeat an increasingly demoralised Iraqi army, many of whom fled when the group was approaching.

The fall of Mosul marked the beginning of a staggering year in which IS tore across the Middle East. The group had emerged from the desert that straddled the Syrian-Iraqi border just four days before taking the city; it soon made huge gains into Iraqi territory, further decimating a state that had struggled to regain a sense of autonomy since the US-led invasion of 2003.

America: Addicted to War, Afraid of Peace

June 11, 2015 

After decades of being at war, the United States has come to the point where it can’t live without it. 
EARLIER THIS year, West Point’s Defense and Strategic Studies Program invited me to participate in a panel discussion on the future of warfare. For historians, and particularly for Vietnam War students like me, such requests seem fraught with peril. Given the contentious debate that continues to surround America’s involvement in Vietnam, now fifty years after Lyndon Johnson’s fateful decision to send ground combat troops to Southeast Asia, commenting on the future of warfare obliges conjecture without much evidence. Yet for uniformed officers considering strategic issues and the use of military force, these questions surely are as sensible as they are unavoidable. How can soldiers prepare for future war without thinking about its latest incarnations?

Obama's Iraq quagmire The president finds himself dragged back into a war he was elected to end.


Iraqi, U.S. and Spanish soldiers participate in a training mission outside Baghdad. 

President Barack Obama was elected on a promise of extricating the U.S. military from Iraq — what he called a “clean break.” More than six years later, he’s found there’s simply no escaping the pressure to send U.S. combat forces back.

How ISIS Almost Caused the Collapse of al Qaeda

Shiv Malik, Ali Younes, Spencer Ackerman and Mustafa Khalili
June 10, 2015

How Isis crippled al-Qaida 

On 5 February, Jordanian officials confirmed that the intellectual godfather of al-Qaida, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, had been released from prison. Though he is little known in the west, Maqdisi’s importance in the canon of radical Islamic thought is unrivalled by anyone alive. The 56-year-old Palestinian rose to prominence in the 1980s, when he became the first significant radical Islamic scholar to declare the Saudi royal family were apostates, and therefore legitimate targets of jihad. At the time, Maqdisi’s writings were so radical that even Osama bin Laden thought they were too extreme.

Intelligence Check: Just How 'Preposterous' Are China's South China Sea Activities?

June 11, 2015

It’s time for the Pentagon to issue a sober and balanced public assessment on the South China Sea territorial disputes. 

On 27 May 2015, Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr, the newly promoted Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said that one of his main challenges, alongside a nuclear armed and erratic North Korea, would be “China’s preposterous claims to and land reclamation activities in the South China Sea.” So now a coral reef with an airfield is as dangerous as a nuclear weapon?

Harris’ statement was widely interpreted as meaning that China was engaged in an unjustified land grab, tantamount to coercion of or even aggression against the country’s southern neighbors. Three days later, a Chinese general repeated to the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore that China has shown “great restraint” in defending its territorial claims against unreasonable derogation by its southern neighbors. China sees its actions as defensive and in no way constituting aggression. There is a highly significant discrepancy between the two assessments. If Harris is wrong about the Chinese motivation, this must represent a significant intelligence failure by the United States. There is nothing more essential to national security intelligence than a correct assessment of a potential adversary’s motivations (intent) in the military sphere.

How the Ukraine Crisis Interrupts Putin’s Naval Dreams

Putin aboard the battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy during the Northern Fleet manoeuvres in the Barents Sea, 2005.

Russia’s surface fleet modernization will face further delays without Ukrainian military hardware. 

Kiev’s decision last year to ban Ukrainian military exports to Russia is causing additional delays in the Russian Navy’s ambitious 2050 shipbuilding plan.

The Russian surface fleet is particularly affected by the sanctions since two of its newest surface ship classes —Admiral Grigorovich-class (Project 11356) and Admiral Gorshkov-class (Project 22350) guided missile frigates — require Ukraine-made gas turbine engines.

Getting the climate story right


TRANSFORMING: “India’s emissions are a third of the global average but this will rapidly grow.” Picture shows traffic in Mumbai.

In the next round of climate talks, India’s stand must be to reinforce its development needs while pledging to bend the emissions curve downwards.

In what has been a marathon year for climate talks, negotiators have been meeting for the last two weeks to prepare a ‘2015 Agreement’ to be signed at the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Paris in December. But, in some ways, the international talks are the sideshow. In this round of negotiations, the focus lies on what each country places on the negotiating table in Paris as its national ‘contribution’ to addressing climate change. India has been correctly arguing that contributions should include measures to adapt to climate change and the provision of finance and technology to developing countries, but what will most closely be watched are efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.

Contribution and justification

Stratfor: Tartus, the Mother of Martyrs

June 11th, 2015 

Tartus is Syria's second largest port city, overshadowed only by Latakia. Located on the country's coastal plain, both sit within the Alawite minority's geographic core. Originally known as the "Nusayris," the Alawites became established along the Mediterranean coast under the Shiite Hamdanid dynasty. With the fall of this dynasty, however, they became an embattled minority, persecuted by Christian crusaders, the Sunni Mamluk Sultanate and the Ottoman Empire in turn.

The French colonial regime favored the Alawites in order to balance power against the majority Sunnis and their Ottoman backers. Following independence, this privileged position made the Alawites a target of reprisals from the new government. By the 1960s, however, the Alawites had regained influence because of their presence in the military and their support for the Baathist movement. In 1971, after a tumultuous period of coups and counter-coups, Defense Minister Hafez al Assadgained control of the government. The Alawite general remained in power until 2000 and was succeeded by his son, Bashar al Assad.

Russia's Next Big Strategic Move (And It Has Nothing to Do with Ukraine)

June 10, 2015 

Vladimir Putin has told the West that it has nothing to fear, yet the conflict in Ukraine is flaring again. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is warning his citizens of a full-scale Russian invasion. Contacts between NATO and Russian forces have increased markedly. Reports of Russian strategic bombers close to the UK, and of a Russian submarine in Finnish territorial waters, have grabbed headlines. Last year, NATO scrambled fighters over 400 times to head off suspected Russian incursions into European airspace.

On this basis it would seem reasonable to conclude that Moscow sees its primary security dilemma lying to its West. Certainly, Putin has been keen to demonstrate that Western sanctions are not denting his vision of Russia as a great power. He has prodded Scandinavian nations into reconsidering joining NATO and alarmed the Baltics with exercises close to their borders.

Exposed: Does North Korea Have Secret Nuclear Sites?

June 10, 2015 

The United States claims that North Korea probably has secret nuclear facilities it is concealing from the world.

Last week, the U.S. State Department released its annual 2015 Report on Adherence to and Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments. Under the section for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) compliance on nuclear issues, Foggy Bottom claims there is a “clear likelihood” that North Korea is hiding some of its nuclear sites.

“The United States believes there is a clear likelihood of additional unidentified nuclear facilities in the DPRK,” the report says. It fails to elaborate. However, the statement is notable in that it did not appear in the same report last year, suggesting that the United States has uncovered new information over the past year that has raised suspicions about a possible secret nuclear facility.

American Hegemony Is Here to Stay

June 11, 2015 

U.S. hegemony is now as firm as or firmer than it has ever been, and will remain so for a long time to come.

IS RETREAT from global hegemony in America’s national interest? No idea has percolated more widely over the past decade—and none is more bogus. The United States is not headed for the skids and there is no reason it should be. The truth is that America can and should seek to remain the world’s top dog.

The idea of American hegemony is as old as Benjamin Franklin, but has its practical roots in World War II. The United States emerged from that war as the dominant economic, political and technological power. The only major combatant to avoid serious damage to its infrastructure, its housing stock or its demographic profile, the United States ended the war with the greatest naval order of battle ever seen in the history of the world. It became the postwar home of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. And, of course, the United States had the bomb. America was, in every sense of the word, a hegemon.

How Congress Should Really Evaluate an Iran Nuclear Deal

June 11, 2015 

Congress should explore fundamental issues and assumptions underlying U.S. policy toward Iran.

Iranian and Western negotiators in Vienna may or may not reach a final accord by June 30, exchanging sanctions relief for limitations on Iran’s nuclear program, and there is talk of another extension. Congress will have one month—two if an accord is reached during the summer recess—to approve or disapprove the deal. While recent statements by Iranian officials including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei have raised doubts about how close the parties are to agreement, negotiations continue; and should an agreement emerge, Congress will face enormous pressures to endorse it.


June 11, 2015

The term innovation has gotten a lot of attention in the Department of Defense (DOD) lately. The Defense Innovation Initiative was announced last fall by the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, recently established Task Force Innovation. In addition, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and the Chief of Naval Research (CNR) called for more innovation at the 2015 Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo. These initiatives and discussions point to the critical role that innovation must play as the defense community grapples with the technological advances of our adversaries under diminishing DOD budgets.

Russian Warships and Aircraft Increasingly Challenging US and NATO Forces in Baltic Sea Area

Andrew Higgins
June 11, 2015

Increasingly Frequent Call on Baltic Sea: ‘The Russian Navy Is Back’

KLAIPEDA, Lithuania — The Emanuel, a 90-foot trawler, has what is supposed to be a humdrum job, plying a 30-mile stretch of the Baltic Sea to make sure vessels do not snag their anchors on a pair of electricity cables recently installed on the seabed.

On the morning of April 30, however, the Emanuel’s captain sent an alarming message to the Dutch operator of the trawler. “The Russian Navy is back,” he reported, adding that Lithuania had also sent a warship to the area, a patch of shallow water off this Lithuanian port city.

The encounter passed without violence, and the cables, being built to connectLithuania to Sweden’s electricity grid, were left undisturbed. But the intrusion, one of four this year by Russian warships into the cable-laying zone, was yet another round in what has become a nerve-rattling test of wills between Russiaand the West over former Soviet lands since the conflict in Ukraine started last year. 

Status Report on the War in Syria

June 11, 2015

Russia and Iran are both reconsidering their support for the Assad government. Despite the mess Russia has got itself into with Ukraine, Russian diplomats still have better contacts in the West and the Middle East and are now trying to negotiate a Russian-Iranian supervised peaceful political settlement of the Syrian civil war. The goal here is to prevent ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) from conquering the country. This is the goal few in the West want to admit is even under negotiation. Russia and Iran are both having financial problems (because of low oil prices and international sanctions) at home and support for the Assads is increasingly unpopular. Russia and Iran now appear willing to take the political hit at home for abandoning the Assads because less cash for the Assads means more money spent on the needs of Russian and Iranian civilians. 

Already Russia has pulled over a hundred technical advisors out of Syria although Iran has brought more people in. However Russia and Iran are not exactly in agreement how to carry out this removal of the Assads. All everyone can agree on is the need to stop ISIL and doing that as soon as possible. The longer ISIL exists in Syria the greater the chance that ISIL plans for terror attacks elsewhere (the West, Russia, Iran and the Middle East in general) are likely to become reality. The basic Russian plan is to make the Assads an offer they can’t refuse (immunity from prosecution and comfortable exile). 

The Israeli Military Strategy for the Next War With Hezbollah: Depopulate Southern Lebanon

Yaakov Lappin and Nicholas Blanford
June 11, 2015

IDF outlines ‘new’ strategy for Hizbullah conflict

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has outlined a new strategy that will depopulate southern Lebanon if war breaks out with the Shia group Hizbullah, but this was likely to happen anyway without much Israeli encouragement.

A senior IDF source said on 3 June that the plan is to precipitate the evacuation of more than one million non-combatants from southern Lebanon if a full-scale conflict breaks out, thereby allowing the Israeli military to bring all its firepower to bear against Hizbullah without risking massive civilian casualties.

He said the evacuation policy would be implemented “if we have no choice” and added that the group has established rocket and missile launch bases in 240 south Lebanese villages and other built-up regions.

Is European Anti-Semitism Really Back?

June 11, 2015 

Anti-Semitic violence in Europe definitely remains a threat. But it is not new and it is not more virulent than in other countries.

A VIRULENT new wave of anti-Semitism is generally believed to be ...sweeping across Europe. European societies have allegedly become poisonously inhospitable to a Jewish presence. Israel, itself a prime target of the new anti-Semitism, is preparing for large-scale immigration of Jews from the Continent. Europe’s old Adam is supposedly reasserting itself.

Or is it? The common belief that anti-Semitism is making a comeback should be treated with caution, not least because efforts to exaggerate its reach and sway, often for self-serving political purposes, make it more difficult to discern when and where it truly poses a threat. A more judicious approach would start by recognizing that the term itself encompasses a multitude of sins that range all the way from off-color banter to mass murder. Should these be considered under the same rubric?

Did the US Overreact to 9/11?

June 10th, 2015 

Louise Richardson, the incoming vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, has attracted controversy for suggesting the US overreacted to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

Richardson is a well-respected expert on terrorism studies and made her comments in the context of a nuanced argument about how nations should best respond to terrorism in the contemporary era.

It is however inevitable, given both Richardson’s new status as the head of a prestigious institution and the politically charged nature of anything to do with 9/11, that her views have attracted some angry responses in the US. But is she right?
The emotional response

Small Drones Are A Big Danger; Think Flying IEDs: CNAS

June 10, 2015 

An Army soldier launches a Raven hand-held drone in Iraq.

WASHINGTON: Sometimes small is beautiful. Sometimes small is lethal. While China andRussia are researching stealthy and armed drones, the drunk intelligence analyst who landed a Chinese-made mini-drone on the White House lawn in last month may be the more worrying sign of things to come.

Afghan and Iraqi guerrillas kludged together murderous roadside bombs with scavenged or homebrewed explosives triggered by cellphones or garage door openers, killing more Americans than any of Saddam’s Scud missiles or main battle tanks. What might similarly ingenious insurgents do with off-the-shelf drones?

“We’re seeing capabilities that were previously the monopoly of major military powers are now accessible…to non-state actors, even individuals,” said Kelley Sayler. She’s an associate fellow at Center for a New American Security and author of a report out this morning, “A World of Proliferated Drones.” (CNAS provided us a copy in advance).

Digital espionage is a lot like online dating: You can pretend to be someone you’re not, though your true self usually comes through.

Danny Yadron 
June 11, 2015 

How Online Spying Is Like Online Dating 

Digital espionage is a lot like online dating: You can pretend to be someone you’re not, though your true self usually comes through. 

Take Israel’s apparent efforts to spy on diplomatic talks over Iran’s nuclear program at three European hotels. According to a report Kaspersky Lab released Wednesday, some of the innards of the spyware used are nearly identical to a famous hacking tool called Duqu. Inside U.S. intelligence agencies, Duqu is viewed as an Israeli spy tool. 

But on a surface level, the authors of this latest state-backed spyware, which Kaspersky calls Duqu 2.0, tried to show themselves in a different light. Think of it as fibbing about your favorite book (not the Hunger Games) or your height (Yep, six-foot even). 

One line of code contains the phrase “ugly.gorilla,” the alleged hacker name of Wang Dong, a Chinese national the U.S. has indicted for infiltrating U.S. companies. Another reference: “romanian.antihacker.” It also used some rare compression algorithms associated with Russian-speaking hackers. 

Virus Hunter Kaspersky Labs Discovers That It Is the Target of a New Cyber Espionage System

Matthias Gebauer and Marcel Rosenbach 
June 10, 2015 

The Worm Turns: Virus Hunter Kaspersky Becomes the Hunted 

For the employees of the Russian firm Kaspersky Lab, tracking down computer viruses, worms and Trojans and rendering them harmless is all in a day’s work. But they recently discovered a particularly sophisticated cyber attack on several of the company’s own networks. The infection had gone undetected for months. 

Company officials believe the attack began when a Kaspersky employee in one of the company’s offices in the Asia-Pacific region was sent a targeted, seemingly innocuous email with malware hidden in the attachment, which then became lodged in the firm’s systems and expanded from there. The malware was apparently only discovered during internal security tests “this spring.” 

Philippine Peace Deal Suffers Another Blow

June 12, 2015

The Senate fails to pass a key bill, leaving the peace process hanging in the balance 

More than a year after a peace agreement was inked between the Philippine government and Muslim rebels, a long-term resolution to one of Asia’s deadliest insurgencies continues to elude the two sides.

This week, the Philippine Senate failed to pass a key enabling law to the peace deal signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) – by the June 11 deadline. The Philippine government, led by President Benigno Aquino, wanted the bill passed by then to ensure that a required referendum can be held before his administration’s term expires following elections in May 2016.


June 11, 2015

The 2nd U.S. Infantry Division recently held a ceremony to activate the first-ever combined division of U.S. and South Korean (ROK) forces. Rather than being a regression away from the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) of ROK forces — which would have separated the alliance command structure — this is a statement of profound operational trust that builds on a long history of combined operations between the various military organizations of these two allies. At a time when the United States faces fiscal pressures at home and China seeks to create fissures in the regional order, the U.S.-ROK alliance is moving closer together.

New military retirement system gets Pentagon OK

By Andrew Tilghman
June 10, 2015 

After months of official silence, the Defense Department on Wednesday sent to Capitol Hill its formal recommendation for transforming military retirement benefits, a move that is likely to clear the way for major changes to become law.

The Pentagon is officially backing a "blended" system that would shrink the size of the current pension by about 20 percent yet supplement that benefit by offering government contributions to individual retirement investment accounts.

The proposed system would provide for the first time a modest retirement benefit for the vast majority of service members who leave the military before reaching 20 years of service to qualify for the traditional pension.

The Defense Department's recommendations are mostly similar to the legislation that is gaining steam on Capitol Hill and comes at a time when lawmakers are hammering out the details of their annual defense policy bill.