20 July 2015

Thinking Beyond Pakistan

Many friends and colleagues have wondered why I have not commented on the recent parleys between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at Ufa in Russia last week, particularly when the joint-statement issued after their talks were disowned by Pakistani officials within 24 hours. Apparently, the joint statement said that the two countries would revive bilateral talks on all the issues bedeviling the bilateral ties in general and terrorism in particular.

The hard reality is that Nawaz Sharif and his ministers and advisers are simply helpless in pursuing any meaningful negotiations with India.

For the first time, there was no mention of the “K” word (meaning Kashmir) in an Indo-Pak joint statement. And for the first time, it was decided upgrade the official level talks between the two countries from the level of Foreign Secretaries to that of the National Security Advisors (enjoying ministerial ranks and working directly under the Prime Ministers). But all this seems to have come to a naught, with Pakistani officials now having altogether different interpretations of the joint statement and making it pretty clear that there will be no movement unless the “core” Kashmir issue is negotiated.

The Doval doctrine — in high definition

Harish Khare
Jul 17 2015

IF there is not much talk of a “Doval doctrine” it is perhaps because it has had a kind of a soft launch. It can be reasonably suggested that the doctrine was first articulated by the newly appointed National Security Adviser during his Beijing visit in September 2014. In a chat with the China-based Indian media, Ajit Doval saw the possibility of the Sino-India relationship undergoing “an orbital jump” because both President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi are “two powerful and very popular, very decisive leaders.” By way of elaboration he added that both were “serious” leaders and both had “the mandate in the party and parliament, besides sufficient time ahead of them.” 

Though Doval was careful to suggest that the relationship was not necessarily “only dependent on [a] single factor”, he did betray the new collective thinking in New Delhi. In the new in-house working wisdom it is understood that India’s strategic autonomy and options stand maximised overnight just because we have a maximum leader. Many of the diplomatic tantrums of the past one year can be easily traced to this new internal operational maxim. 

At the Mercy of the Water Mafia Pumping wells in the dark of night, criminal bosses rule the liquid economy in one of the world's busiest cities. Can anyone stop them?

Down by the sandy banks of the Yamuna River, the men must work quickly. At a little past 12 a.m. one humid night in May, they pull back the black plastic tarp covering three boreholes sunk deep in the ground along the waterway that traces Delhi’s eastern edge. From a shack a few feet away, they then drag thick hoses toward a queue of 20-odd tanker trucks idling quietly with their headlights turned off. The men work in a team: While one man fits a hose’s mouth over a borehole, another clambers atop a truck at the front of the line and shoves the tube’s opposite end into the empty steel cistern attached to the vehicle’s creaky frame.

“On kar!” someone shouts in Hinglish into the darkness; almost instantly, his orders to “switch it on” are obeyed. Diesel generators, housed in nearby sheds, begin to thrum. Submersible pumps, installed in the borehole’s shafts, drone as they disgorge thousands of gallons of groundwater from deep in the earth. The liquid gushes through the hoses and into the trucks’ tanks.

Within 15 minutes, the 2,642-gallon (10,000-liter) containers on the first three rigs are full. The pumps are switched off briefly as drivers move their now-heavy trucks forward and another trio takes their place. The routine is repeated again and again through the night until every tanker is brimming with water.

Explore Buddhist diplomacy

AMG Parthasarathy
Jul 16 2015 

Tourist facilities for Buddhist pilgrims in India are ‘notoriously poor’.
FACING growing isolation and hostility from the US and its western allies, Myanmar’s military rulers turned to China for economic and military assistance. With reports emerging of Chinese military bases and monitoring facilities across Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, concern grew in India. I raised our concerns with a senior Myanmar minister. He replied: “You have nothing to worry about. I may go to China for weapons and support, but I have to go for salvation to Bodh Gaya.” Not surprisingly, even when isolated, Myanmar provided no naval bases to China and widened its diplomatic options by joining ASEAN. 

Can we leverage our Buddhist heritage to promote our strategic interests across our eastern neighbourhood? Do we have the facilities to welcome visitors from our eastern neighbourhood to our Buddhist heritage sites? Can we become a tourist destination that caters not just to Americans and Europeans, but also our growingly cash-rich eastern neighbours? Describing the tourist facilities for Buddhist pilgrims in India, particularly in Bodh Gaya, the US-based Bhutanese scholar, Dzungsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, remarked: “Whatever the historical antecedents, today’s sad reality is that the government and people of Nepal, India and Bihar are notoriously poor hosts to hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who come here every year to pay homage and respect to the life and teachings of Gautama Buddha.”

Why peace with Pakistan is difficult, if not impossible

July 16, 2015 

'For a long time Pakistan dreamt that India would break up and that it would be the predominant power in the region,' says Colonel Anil A Athale (retd).

The Indian and Pakistani prime ministers met at Ufa in Russia on the sidelines of an international summit and decided to resume dialogue. Indians have seen this drama of talks alternated by tensions or a terrorist attack in India so many times that it is difficult to be optimistic this time.

Why is it so difficult for the two neighbours to have normal relations?

Here is an attempt to clearly outline some underlying factors and realities that are the cause of a troubled relationship.

Six of the seven nations in this region are territorial status quo powers, minor border disputes notwithstanding. Pakistan is a revisionist State that seeks to alter the territorial status quo in Kashmir through force (overt or covert) and openly backs separatists there.

Pakistan, the Saudis’ Indispensable Nuclear Partner

APRIL 21, 2015 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistani Parliament, even while stating its commitment to protect the territory of Saudi Arabia, recently adopted a resolution not to join the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen. Many Pakistanis are worn out by the Taliban insurgency at home and oppose intervention abroad, especially to fight an enemy whose name they are hearing for the first time and risk worsening relations with its backer, Iran.

The foreign affairs minister of the United Arab Emirates, Anwar Gargash, blasted the decision as “contradictory and dangerous and unexpected,” accusing Pakistan of advancing Iran’s interests rather than those of its own Persian Gulf allies. Pakistan was choosing neutrality in an “existential confrontation,” he said, and it would pay the price.

Who Cares if Iran Gets A Nuke? (Lessons from Pakistan)

July 17, 2015

Iran and world powers finally clenched a long awaited nuclear deal earlier this week. As The Diplomat‘s Ankit Panda points out, the deal is written quite well, enough to ensure Iranian compliance because sanctions can easily be reimposed if Iran cheats. In any case, it is highly unlikely that Iran will cheat, or cheat too explicitly. Why would Iran do so anyhow? Iran’s leaders agreed to negotiations because they are rational actors–contrary to what some American politicians believe–who value the survival of their governmental system and the national’s welfare enough to negotiate.

Therefore, it is highly unlikely that Iran will take actions that explicitly violate the terms of the nuclear deal. The deal fits broadly with Iran’s goals of expanding its influence in the Middle East because it helps Iran’s economy and ends its political isolation, which would speed up its reintegration into the global system, giving it both the power and respect that Iran has always craved. Moreover, other Asian powers like Russia, India, and China are all happy with the deal; this could in fact mark the moment, along with recent developments with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that a new Asian multilateral order emerged in a quadrangle formation with four major civilizational hubs (Russia, China, India, and Iran).

The Taliban in Afghanistan

The Taliban is a predominantly Pashtun, Islamic fundamentalist group that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when a U.S.-led invasion toppled the regime for providing refuge to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. The Taliban regrouped across the border in Pakistan, where its central leadership, headed by Mullah Mohammed Omar, leads an insurgency against the Western-backed government in Kabul. Both the United States and Afghanistan have pursued a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, but talks have little momentum as international forces prepare to conclude combat operations in December 2014 and withdraw by the end of 2016.

Rise of the Taliban

Interview: Robert Kaplan Journalist and geopolitical analyst Robert Kaplan on the South China Sea, China and Asia’s future.

By Rafał Tomański
July 16, 2015

Robert D. Kaplan is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a contributing editor atThe Atlantic. He is also the former chief geopolitical analyst at Stratfor and was a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board. He is the author of many books, including Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific and the forthcoming In Europe’s Shadow.

Following a speech on Asia at the Polish parliament on July 9, he spoke with Rafał Tomański. A shortened version of that interview follows.

Do you think that the age of the Asia is coming?

I don’t believe that’s that simple. Asia can go through a big shock. If the Chinese economy was to implode – which I don’t believe, but it might happen – Asia would suddenly matter less. Such an implosion of the Chinese economy would affect Asian countries much more than it affects Europe and the United States. You have to remember that power is relative. One can be declining as a power but still have a lot of influence. It’s not going to be really an Asian century. Asian languages may also become more prevalent not as a main ones but as a secondary languages.

Excluding the implosion of Chinese economy, what do you think could surprise Beijing most? They seem to expect everything.

An HA/DR Solution to South China Sea Tensions

By Takashi Kawamoto and Yizhe Daniel Xie
July 18, 2015

Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief could offer innovative approach to territorial conflict. 
China’s extensive land reclamation in the South China Sea poses a challenge to the security environment of the Asia-Pacific. Territorial conflicts are difficult to resolve given complex and deeply rooted sovereignty and historical interpretation issues. However, the essence of the issue is not the Chinese land reclamation itself (many other countries in the region have engaged in land reclamation), but rather the legal and political consequences that could escalate into a security issue, which in turn could destabilize a region that has the potential to drive the world economic growth.

No matter how much international criticism it receives, or how much organized opposition it faces in Southeast Asia, China is likely to continue to expand its physical presence in the region. Given the change in the strategic environment exemplified by the economic development of ASEAN nations, China’s growing clout, and the ambiguity of the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, regional stakeholders like the U.S., China, Japan, and South Korea must pursue a new and innovative approach to regional peace and stability.

The Great Tibetan Stand-off between China, Dalai Lama

By Jayadeva Ranade
14th July 2015

The year 2015 is a significant one for Tibet and China. The Dalai Lama celebrated his 80th birthday on July 6, 2015. It also marks the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) by the Chinese communist regime. Though the Dalai Lama continues to be in exile, his birthday was celebrated in several places across Tibet and abroad. In India, two central government ministers for the first time attended the function in Dharamsala in their official capacity. In Delhi, three former foreign secretaries spoke at a well-attended symposium on July 4, while the reception on July 6 evening was also attended by two central ministers. Both functions were organised by the Dalai Lama’s Delhi Bureau. In China too, the issues of Tibet and the Dalai Lama have received perceptibly increased attention over the past couple of years. Recent reports filtering out of Beijing suggest that the Tibet Work Forum, usually held every four years, is likely to be convened in August or September this year in Beijing. The Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s (CCP CC) United Front Work Department (UFWD) convenes such work forums separately for Tibet and Xinjiang almost every four years. The work forums are the highest-level body where the CCP CC’s Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) deliberates and decides on policies, budgets and plans for the Autonomous Regions.

Preparatory work for the Tibet Work Forum appears to have begun with the Central Work Conference on Ethnic Affairs held in Beijing on September 28-29, 2014 and attended by all members of the PBSC except Zhang Gaoli, and leaders of every province and the People’s Armed Police. Later on April 14, 2015, China’s State Council Information Office issued a white paper titled: ‘Tibet’s Path of Development Is Driven by an Irresistible Historical Tide’.

This is the thirteenth white paper on Tibet issued so far since the 1990s, and highlights the importance of the Tibet issue for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership. In contrast, only one white paper has been issued for the Nei Mongol Autonomous Region and only two for the restive and troubled Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Region. 

The great fall of China


The crash in Beijing's stocks and prospects of a prolonged slowdown have worrying consequences for the region.

On the eve of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS summits in Russia, on July 8, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin stood side by side, hailing the rise of new forces in the world and calling for “a more democratised” – read less American-dominated – world order. The Chinese President listed the new, ambitious economic projects backed by his government, from the $50 billion BRICS New Development Bank and the $100 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to his pet “Silk Road” initiative – a push to connect China with Central and Southeast Asia.

If Xi commanded the world’s stage in Russia, things at home were looking a lot less rosy. That same day, China’s economic planners – in the absence of the experienced central banker Zhou Xiaochuan, who was accompanying Xi in Russia – were in crisis mode. The previous day, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index had plunged eight per cent. From a high of 5,166 on June 12, the market had fallen by as much as 32 percent, wiping out in three weeks close to $3.5 trillion – double the value of India’s entire stock market - and leaving uncertain the fate of 90 million Chinese investors.

China's military strategy 2015: The nuclear dimension

By: Debalina Ghoshal
15 July 2015

No first use and nuclear counter-attack the focus of Beijing's latest white paper
In May this year, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense released its latest defense white paper, titled “Chinese Military Strategy.” The document underlines Beijing’s nuclear ambitions and strategy in the overall context of the preparation for military struggle (PMS), the basic military practice safeguarding peace, containing crises, and winning wars.

Nuclear force plays an integral part in Beijing’s military strategy and hence, the white paper did not miss out on an opportunity to highlight China’s nuclear force as a strategic cornerstone for safeguarding national sovereignty and security. The document stresses how the People’s Liberation Army Second Artillery Force (PLASAF) is placing emphasis on both conventional and nuclear missiles, even for precision long-range strikes.

The Chinese government maintains that it is developing capabilities to maintain strategic deterrence and carry out a nuclear counter-attack. With a ‘no-first use’ doctrine, the white paper identifies this retaliatory capability as ‘counter-attack’ rather than ‘second strike’ capability. This leaves less confusion in the minds of adversaries on China’s adherence to its ‘no-first use’ doctrine.

The revolution comes to the Middle East: about the past & future of ISIS

By Professor Hugh Roberts
16 July 2015

Summary: This article by Professor Roberts is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand current events in the Middle East today. He starts with the origin in the distant past, shows the forces that gave them life, and describes the trends that will determine their future. He points to the possibility of a pleasant outcome, describes how we can help make it happen, and notes its implausibility. {2nd of 2 posts today.}

“It isn’t that such regimes are entirely unreformable. But qualitative political reform can only come about if they are put under sustained pressure by effective movements from below – movements that articulate demands which can be defended as strengthening the state by enhancing its legitimacy. ”

— Hugh Roberts’ comment about Syria, but applies as well to America.

Damascus was the seat of the Umayyad dynasty, established by a clan of the Prophet’s tribe to rule the first Islamic empire. Syria is where, in 1516, the absorption of the Arab world into the Ottoman Empire began, with the Ottoman victory in the battle of Marj Dabiq; where thenahda, the cultural renaissance of the Arab world, blossomed in the 19th century; where the unified Arab kingdom that the British promised the Hashemites, who led the 1916-18 Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire, was to have its capital. It is where, in the aftermath of the Second World War, the most politically developed and socially radical version of the dream of Arab unity was conceived by the founders of the Arab Socialist Baath (‘resurrection’) Party. Syria is also the terminus of the Arab Spring.

Isis or al-Qa’eda? The Arab states have chosen the devil they know

18 July 2015

Fear of Isis is leading the Arab states to lend support to the lesser of two evils

After plunging Syria into five years of a bloody civil war that has killed 300,000 and displaced 10 million, Bashar al-Assad is preparing for the endgame. He has been digging a bunker for himself, creating an enclave in the mountains around the coastal city of Latakia where his community, the Alawites, are in a majority. The Iranians are helping him set up this new retreat, but his hope of hanging on to Syria is dying. The question being asked in the region is not whether he’ll survive, but who will run Damascus once he falls — and what will happen should the country be split along ethnic and sectarian lines.

When considering the future, Syrian moderate rebel groups don’t feature much in the equation. They have little standing in the pecking order because the US and the Arabs have failed to support them. Ash Carter, the US defence secretary, stunned the Senate last week when he admitted that the Pentagon had trained just 60 moderate Syrians to fight Isis — a far cry from the planned 5,400 announced last year. Meanwhile, in Iraq, the contingent of 3,500 American soldiers dispatched to train the Iraqi army have ended up training only 2,600 Iraqi soldiers. This is clearly no way to win a war — either against Isis, or the Assad regime.

The Time of theKurds

A CFR InfoGuide Presentation

The Kurds are one of the world's largest peoples without a state, making up sizable minorities in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Their history is marked by marginalization and persecution. Yet some Kurds may be on the verge of achieving their century-old quest for independence in a Middle East undergoing the convulsions of Syria's civil war, Iraq's destabilization, and conflict with the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

Who are the Kurds?

The Kurds are one of the indigenous peoples of the Middle East and the region's fourth-largest ethnic group. They speak Kurdish, an Indo-European language, and are predominantly Sunni Muslims. Kurds have a distinct culture, traditional dress, and holidays, including Nowruz, the springtime New Year festival that is also celebrated by Iranians and others who use the Persian calendar. Kurdish nationalism emerged during the twentieth century following the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and the formation of new nation-states across the Middle East.

The end of capitalism has begun

17 July 2015

Welcome to an age of sharing. Illustration by Joe Magee

The red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above. For much of the 20th century this was how the left conceived the first stage of an economy beyond capitalism. The force would be applied by the working class, either at the ballot box or on the barricades. The lever would be the state. The opportunity would come through frequent episodes of economic collapse.

Instead over the past 25 years it has been the left’s project that has collapsed. The market destroyed the plan; individualism replaced collectivism and solidarity; the hugely expanded workforce of the world looks like a “proletariat”, but no longer thinks or behaves as it once did.

Does Europe Have a Future?

JULY 16, 2015

Here’s what I told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. It’s not encouraging.

Does Europe Have a Future?

It took a historic deal with Iran to drive news from the European Union off the top of the past few days’ news feeds. In any other week, the continued saga of the eurozone and the latest deal with Greece would have received even more attention than it did. The news from Vienna was dramatic, but what happens in Europe over the next few years will be a lot more important than the ultimate outcome of the nuclear deal with Iran, as significant as that achievement is.

Remember: Iran is a country of some 80 million people, but the EU is a supranational community with a population of more than half a billion. As an economic unit, the EU has a combined GNP larger than that of the United States, considerable wealth, advanced industries, and significant military potential. The United States is formally allied with most of its members and has long benefited from cooperation with its fellow democracies there. Europe’s future course is therefore of considerable interest to the United States.

Retired General: Drones Create More Terrorists Than They Kill, Iraq War Helped Create ISIS

July 16 2015

Retired Army Gen. Mike Flynn, a top intelligence official in the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, says in a forthcoming interview on Al Jazeera English that the drone war is creating more terrorists than it is killing. He also asserts that the U.S. invasion of Iraq helped create the Islamic State and that U.S. soldiers involved in torturing detainees need to be held legally accountable for their actions.

Flynn, who in 2014 was forced out as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, has in recent months become an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s Middle East strategy, calling for a more hawkish approach to the Islamic State and Iran.

But his enthusiasm for the application of force doesn’t extend to the use of drones. In the interview with Al Jazeera presenter Mehdi Hasan, set to air July 31, the former three star general says: “When you drop a bomb from a drone … you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good.” Pressed by Hasan as to whether drone strikes are creating more terrorists than they kill, Flynn says, “I don’t disagree with that.” He describes the present approach of drone warfare as “a failed strategy.”

How Israel Might Destroy Iran’s Nuclear Program

by Daniel Pipes
July 18, 2015

How Israel Might Destroy Iran’s Nuclear Program :: Pipes in National Review Online

Israeli alternatives in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat 

Why 'Cyberwar' Is So Hard To Define

Cyberwar is currently a hot topic of discussion and debate, much of which is potentially damaging. The term “cyberwar” is too frequently casually bandied about for dramatic effect, to instill fear, or exaggerate or obfuscate grim realities.

The book There Will Be Cyberwar is a moderating and significant contribution to current cyberwar discourse. Richard Stiennon, the book’s author and renowned cybersecurity industry analyst, declares that there will be cyberwar, but first adeptly anticipates and defeats possible accusations of hyperbolic use of the term by explaining how the term “war” has been used colloquially in many contexts, including “trade war,” “currency war” and even “war of words.”

Stiennon then, unlike too many cyberwar commentators, adopts a constrained definition of the term and leads the reader on a measured, persuasive explanation of how the move to network-centric war fighting has set the stage for cyberwar. In contrast to Stiennon’s carefully considered approach that provides a definition and methodology, much public commentary is merely banter about cyberwar,” without definition of the term and with distortions in its application, up to and including the fantastic and fictionalized.

To the detriment of informed public debate, “cyberwar” is not a defined term of art in law or legal convention. Rather, traditional law of war concepts are applied to cyber “issues” or more precisely, cyber operations. While the lack of normative guidance on the conduct of “cyberwar” may be self-evident to scholars in the field, it is not to the public. It is important for the public to begin to grapple with the intricacies of the law of war as applied to cyber operations.

Meet the Future Warriors of World War III

By Jeremy Hsu 
July 13, 2015

Not everyone fighting in the next world war will look like a soldier wearing an official military uniform. Some will work from computer consoles to infiltrate military networks. Others will become insurgents who strike swiftly at vulnerable targets and then vanish within the civilian population. Still more will carry military weapons and fight like trained warriors, but won’t wear the national flag of any particular country. And a few may take advantage of the chaos of war to kill for their own purposes.

The Evolution of Cybersecurity Requirements for the U.S. Financial Industry

By Denise E. Zheng, William A. Carter 
JUL 17, 2015 

The U.S. financial sector is a major target for global cybercriminals. Cybercrime is a growing industry around the world imposing significant costs on firms that fail to implement adequate safeguards. Regulators are taking notice of the increased risk of cyber threats. While statutes and regulations in the financial sector have not directly addressed cybersecurity, many impose implicit requirements on firms to secure their information technology (IT) systems in the name of operational assurance, data protection, and accurate reporting. To demonstrate compliance with this complex web of requirements, firms have turned to standards frameworks that outline effective cybersecurity systems and best practices. This report discusses the rules and frameworks that have shaped the cybersecurity standards employed by major financial institutions in the United States. 

Germany Risks Its Reputation With Idea of Greece Exiting Eurozone

JULY 17, 2015

LONDON — For decades, Germany saw its role as the financier and beneficiary of European unity, a combination of penance for the past and self-interest. The rest of the Continent came to rely on it as the country that could be trusted to keep its great experiment moving forward.

But with its handling of Greece’s bailout package, Germany is at risk of losing that trust, some European analysts say. By taking what sounded to many as an aggressive, punishing, contemptuous tone toward Greece, the German leadership may have undercut its moral authority, they say. And by floating the notion that Greece might be better off leaving the common currency, Germany displayed its national interest more nakedly than in the past and made it clear there are limits to its willingness to put European unity first.

The German Parliament assented on Friday, with a bit of grumbling, to negotiations on another large bailout for Greece. But ChancellorAngela Merkel and her finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, have appeared as unenthusiastic about the deal as the Greeks.
17 July 2015 

A vote in the Greek parliament means little to Germany’s finance minister,Wolfgang Schäuble. The self-appointed guardian of the EU’s financial rulebook says Athens can vote as many times as it likes in favour of a deal that promises, even in the vaguest terms, to write off some of its colossal debts, but that doesn’t mean the rules allow it.

In fact, as Schäuble delights in pointing out, any attempt at striking out Greek debt is, according to his advice, illegal. Yet Schäuble knows Greece’s debts are unsustainable unless some of them are written off – he has said as much on several occasions. So faced with its internal contradictions, he posits that the deal must fail and the poorly led Greeks exit the euro.

As a compromise, he repeated his suggestion on Tuesday that Greece leave the euro temporarily. Those who care more for maintaining the current euro currency bloc as a 19-member entity immediately spotted this manoeuvre as a one-way ticket with no way back for Greece. The Austrian chancellor, Werner Faymann, a centre-left social democrat, said Schäuble was “totally wrong” to create the impression that “it may be useful for us if Greece falls out of the currency union, that maybe we pay less that way”.

Faymann, who has consistently taken a sympathetic line on Greece, showed his growing irritation at the German minister’s stance: “It’s morally not right, that would be the beginning of a process of decay ... Germany has taken on a leading role here in Europe and in this case not a positive one.”

Israel in 2025


HAIFA — Political imagining of the future is often a thinly disguised exercise in reflection upon the present. What else can it be? But before I share my ideas of the sort of Israel, or rather the sorts of Israel, that might emerge from today’s intricate matrix, let me dwell on the future’s most obvious quality: unimaginability. As a writer and a historian, I know that storylines do not develop the way we expect, neither in life nor in fiction. There are too many unforeseen factors, overlooked seeds, unintended consequences. There is too much serendipity.

A decade from now we may be living in a bee-less, honey-less, nutrient-impoverished world. Or in a world helplessly watching its adolescents become monkish addicts to online gaming. Or in a world where the rich will buy technology enabling them and their genetically upgraded children to outlive the poor of their own country by four whole decades. Wars could be fought about on-screen icons or stolen intellectual property.

What China Can Do With The Data It Stole From 21.5 Million Americans

JUL 11, 2015 

Heads have started to roll after the director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) resigned Friday, but the aftermath of the agency’s massive data breach are far from over.

The breach was one of two OPM experienced since 2014 — one involved the loss of over 4 million Social Security Numbers, and the other exposed 21.5 million government background check records used for security clearances. Both breaches have been linked to the Chinese government.

China has held onto the seized employee data for a year, and there is no evidence the stolen data has been used. Information from typical breaches involving private companies, such as social media or retail sites, are used for phishing scams or financial gain. However, the agency’s breach points more toward political leverage than identity theft for profit.

“This is the mother lode of social network analysis,” said Paul Rosenzweig, cybersecurity legal consultant for Red Branch Law and Consulting in Washington, D.C. “The key is figuring out who influences whom. If you know somebody who knows (Senate Minority Leader) Harry Reid (D-NV), and you’re two degrees of separation from him: That’s what you need. This is a map of that.”

Japan’s Expanding Military Role Could Be Good News for the Pentagon and Its Contractors

JULY 16, 2015

Japan, a country that swore off offensive warfare after World War II, took its first step down a very different path Thursday by passing legislation giving its military the power to engage in combat overseas. That’s something the Pentagon has wanted for years, and it could be very good news for U.S. defense contractors.

In January, the government of conservative Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe endorsed a defense budget of nearly 5 trillion yen, or $42 billion, continuing a three-year growth trend after nearly a decade of decline. The sum still represents a small portion of Japan’s GDP — it accounts for just one percent of it, according to the World Bank — but because offensive military action is prohibited by Japan’s constitution, even a modest increase is controversial. Protesters rallied against the shift outside parliament Wednesday, the night before 11 controversial security-related bills were pushed through that will give Japan’s military the power to engage in more than just defensive actions.

DRDO's new assault rifle will be a disaster for the army

Rahul Bedi
July 18, 2015 

The Indian Army rejected the DRDO's INSAS assault rifle in 2010 due to its all-round inefficiency.
Now the army is being forced to accept DRDO's Excalibur rifle, which is basically an ungraded variant of the INSAS rifle, to make up for a severe shortage of small arms.

The Indian Army's recent decision to induct an indigenously developed assault rifle follows yet another instance of its failure to import one, after formulating unrealistic Qualitative Requirements for a weapon system that is simply non-existent.

On June 15, the army scrapped its December 2011 tender to procure 66,000 multi-calibre assault rifles, opting instead for the Excalibur assault rifle, designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

The Excalibur is unlikely to emerge by 2017-2018 as an enchanted weapon system. For, once developed, it will merely be an upgraded variant of the DRDO's 5.56 x 45 mm Indian Small Arms System assault rifle, which the army has rejected.

US Official Calls for Permanent Expansion of Malabar Exercises With India

July 17, 2015

The move would be a ‘tangible demonstration’ of regional maritime security cooperation. 

The United States and India should consider permanently expanding their annual naval exercise to include other like-minded partners as part of their joint cooperation in the Asia-Pacific, a U.S. defense official said earlier this week.

Exercise MALABAR, which initially began as a bilateral naval exercise between the United States and India back in 1992, has at times been expanded to include other partners as well. The 2007 iteration included Japan, Australia, and Singapore, while Tokyo also participated in 2009 and 2014. This year, Japan has been included but Australia has reportedly been left out.

But Robert Scher, the assistant secretary of defense for the Office of Strategy, Plans and Capabilities, told an audience at a Washington, D.C.-based think tank on July 13 that the United States and India should consider permanently expanding the exercise to include these partners instead of doing so on an ad hoc basis. Scher said that expanding the exercise would be one tangible demonstration of Washington and New Delhi working together on maritime security in the Indian Ocean.


July 16, 2015

These military leaders knew that sometimes you have to break protocol to be successful.

The military lives on rules and regulations. Salute officers. Don’t walk on the grass. Wear reflector belts.

But there’s a time and place to break the rules. Here are five examples of military leaders who broke the rules, got away with it, and most importantly, made the world a better place.

1. Jim Gavin de-segregates the 82nd Airborne Division.

Photo via National Archives and Records Administration

Members of the 555th (Triple Nickel) Parachute Infantry Battalion are briefed before takeoff from Fort Dix in New Jersey in 1947.When the 82nd Airborne Division returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, after the Second World War, they met up with the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion. The 555th, or “Triple Nickel,” was comprised entirely of African-American paratroopers who had spent much of the war on the homefront battling forest fires.

The 82nd Airborne’s legendary commander, James “Jumpin’ Jim” Gavin, thought the men of the Triple Nickel were in tip-top shape. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for their living conditions: tar-paper shacks and wooden dormitories over a mile from the division area.

6 Ways The Military Can Overcome Its Fear Of Failure

July 15, 2015

If you fear spiders, your reaction to a spider in your house may not be proportionate to the threat. While you may be tempted to burn the house down to kill a spider, the majority of spiders are not venomous to humans. Fear can paralyze your ability to react appropriately.

If there is one thing we fear most in the military: it is failure. Failure in war is unacceptable, for good reason. Failure in battle means that people died and the purpose for their sacrifice was not accomplished. An organization that fears failure is limited by what it believes it can accomplish, constrained by an unwillingness to confront challenges, and inhibited in its ability to adapt to complex dilemmas.

Luckily, the U.S. military has never failed …

Okay, you’re thinking, “Except in Vietnam, Iraq, and probably Afghanistan next,” or you’re thinking, “We never lost a battle; Vietnam and Iraq were lost because [fill in the blank].” These two viewpoints represent competing narratives on 50 years of U.S. military performance. As an organization, we tend to prefer the latter, because it rationalizes away failure by placing blame at the political level. But, if we deflect the blame, we fail to learn from our own mistakes.

2 Major Obstacles Are Limiting Future Officers Who Attend Army’s Cadet Leadership Course

July 15, 2015

An Army captain shares his insights after observing the U.S. Army Cadet Command’s summer training course for ROTC cadets.

Tactical competence is not the primary desired outcome of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. However, tactics are used as a vehicle to exercise critical thinking and problem solving, to develop adaptability and initiative, to practice teamwork and collaboration, and to build all of the other 21st century soldier competencies that do comprise our primary desired outcomes. Therefore, we must have a recognized baseline level of tactical competence before cadets reach the most important developmental milestone in their cadet careers, the Cadet Leadership Course — a 29-day course completed in the summer prior to a cadet’s final year of ROTC.

There are issues with training creative and innovative thinkers before they have a foundational understanding and demonstrated application of their most basic tasks. Maj. Gen. Peggy Combs, the commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command, has explained, in briefings to cadre emphasizing the importance of officers who can demonstrate flexible and adaptable thinking, that one cannot think outside the box if one does not know what is in the box; this is absolutely true. Unfortunately, Cadet Command has the daunting task of standardizing education across more than 270 host programs around the country, all staffed with cadre who have varying degrees of expertise themselves, as well as, sadly, varying degrees of motivation to enforce standards and truly train and inspire the leaders of tomorrow.

Writing Changed My Career After The Military — What’s Your Vehicle For Success?

By Ed Hinman 
July 14, 2015

I spent hours mastering writing when I left the Marine Corps. It was a vehicle for career success in amazing ways.

Like many veterans exiting the military, I went back to school. Unlike most of my military peers who earned law or business degrees, I earned a history degree.

“History?” people would ask, “What will you do with that in the real world?”

My answer: “You mean with the diploma? Nothing. The research, writing, and presentation skills I learn? Everything.”

Though I love reading history, just learning about the past was never enough; I also wanted to learn a marketable skill. I wanted to learn how to write with velocity and punch. I wanted to explore radical ideas and then record my own ideas on paper, and if possible, do it with style.

There was one glaring problem, however, and my former commanding officer said it like only a Marine major can: “Capt. Hinman,” he barked, “You suck at writing.”

Want More Military Leaders Reading? Use The Pabst Blue Ribbon Strategy

By Joe Byerly 
July 8, 2015

From your uncle’s cabin to the guy wearing skinny jeans, PBR’s brand strategy shows us how quickly ideas can spread.

Most military professionals agree that reading plays a critical role in professional development, however, the practice isn’t as widespread as it should be throughout the services. Unfortunately, self-development is about as popular as Pabst Blue Ribbon in the early 1990s.

Back then, the only place you could probably find a can of PBR was in your uncle’s refrigerator who lived in a cabin 100 miles away from civilization. But by 2015, Fast Company named them one of the biggest business comebacks in the last 20 years. PBR is now the official beverage of hipsters everywhere, and suddenly it is fashionable to wear a PBR shirt or hat. How did this brand escape your weird uncle’s cabin and become mainstream again? Through conversation.

According to PBR’s senior brand manager Neal Stewart, instead of spending millions of dollars on national ad campaigns in the early 2000s, PBR’s marketing team started at the bottom and reached out to people in obscure bars in places like Portland, Oregon. They sent reps into these places with the sole purpose of striking up a conversation about Pabst. From there, they began sponsoring cultural events, and the rest is history. Today, you can find a can of PBR in the cooler or on draft at restaurants, and bars across the country.