3 August 2015

Revamping India’s scientific ecosystem

August 3, 2015 

There is a massive wave of entrepreneurial energy coursing through India’s arteries. The need is to connect this enthusiasm with excellence in basic and applied research in our higher educational institutions.

A newspaper headline, “The Lament and the Lash”, made waves recently. Interestingly, it was a report on how Chairman Emeritus, Infosys Ltd., N.R. Narayana Murthy had lamented, while delivering the convocation address at the Indian Institute of Science, on July 15, 2015, that India has not produced a single invention that became a global household name. “… let us pause and ask what the contributions of Indian institutions of higher learning particularly IISc and IITs [Indian Institutes of Technology], have been over the last 60-plus years to make our society and the world a better place. Is there one invention from India that has become a household name in the globe? Is there one technology that has transformed the productivity of global corporations? Is there one idea that has led to an earth-shaking invention to delight global citizens? Folks, the reality is that there is no such contribution from India in the last 60 years….,” were his words.

Mr. Murthy then went on to contrast local achievements with some by MIT (the one in Massachusetts, and not Madras or Manipal), recalled the contributions made by Indian scientists in the 1950s and 1960s and then challenged IISc’s finest to revisit that passion. This is a bit of an unfair comparison since most global universities, the West included, would fare poorly in comparison with MIT. According to the Kauffman Foundation report in 2009, MIT alumni founded companies that generated over $2 trillion in revenue a year (the 11th largest economy, when viewed as the GDP of a nation) and provided gainful employment to over 3.3 million people.

India: The Pharmacy of the World Where 'Crazy Drug Combinations' Go Unregulated

August 1st, 2015 

India has been called the pharmacy of the world. Many generic drugs are made there and much of its drug production is exported internationally. Thousands of fixed dose combination (FDC) drugs – where two or more drugs are combined in a set ratio in a single dose form, usually a tablet or capsule – are formulated, made and sold within India.

Many FDCs are safe and effective. They are used in situations where both the drug combination and the doses needed are standardised and stable, for example, in the treatment of HIV, for Parkinson’s disease and in contraceptive pills.

However, in a study investigating these drugs in India, we found thousands of FDCs on the market made up of formulations never approved for marketing by the national regulator, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, and that were likely to be more harmful than beneficial to patients.

As two pharmacologists in India, writing in response to our study put it:

Aid Management and Institutional Capacity in Nepal

With initial recovery stages complete or underway, sufficient time has passed since the Nepal earthquake to reflect on deeper structural causes and institutional failures. The continuing crisis has attracted global attention and placed developed world organizations face-to-face with Nepal’s own weakened governance capacity. While aid management is an immediate concern, institutional reforms are needed to build longer-term resilience.

Aid Management

Discussions about recovery and reconstruction have increasingly focused on aid and its effective use, by both the government and international agencies. Misuse of recovery funds after the 2010 Haiti earthquake was recently publicized. Comparisons to Nepal quickly followed, particularly on social media. The default assumption is that aid effectiveness is already an unattainable goal.

Pakistani Intelligence Was Secretly Treating Taliban Leaders and Fighters at Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi

Greg Miller
July 31, 2015

Taliban leader Omar’s tale reflects clashing agendas 

In early 2011, then-CIA Director Leon Panetta confronted the president of Pakistan with a disturbing piece of intelligence. The spy agency had learned that Mohammad Omar, the Taliban leader who had become one of the world’s most wanted fugitives after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was being treated at a hospital in southern Pakistan.

The American spy chief even identified the facility — the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi — and said the CIA had “some raw intelligence on this” that would soon be shared with its Pakistani counterpart, according to diplomatic files that summarize the exchange.

U.S. intelligence officials now think that Omar probably died two years later, in 2013, and Afghan officials said this week that he succumbed while being treated for a serious illness in a Karachi hospital, just as those earlier intelligence reports had indicated.

The belated disclosure this week of Omar’s death has added to the legend of the ghostlike Taliban chief, a figure so elusive that it appears to have taken U.S. spy agencies two years to determine that one of their top targets after 9/11 was no longer alive.

Mullah Omar’s Death Reveals That the Taliban Leadership Is Deeply Divided

Joseph Goldstein and Taimoor Shah
July 31, 2015

Death of Mullah Omar Exposes Divisions Within Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan — With word of Mullah Muhammad Omar’s deathnow getting out, most likely two years after the event, the world is catching up with a Talibanleadership crisis already in progress.

The questions the Taliban are wrestling with include not just who stands to succeed Mullah Omar as leader, but whether anyone has enough support to keep the insurgency from splintering irrevocably, especially over the issue of peace talks, according to Afghan and Western officials.

For the moment, the Taliban’s deputy leader over the past five years, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, is the de facto leader of the group’s governing body in exile, the Quetta Shura. He has had years to influence who rose among the Taliban’s ranks, has the tacit acceptance of the group’s Pakistani military monitors, and he has been the leader in a year when the Taliban have made their biggest military gains on the Afghan battlefield.

It Took 18 Months for Afghan Intel Service to Determine that Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Had Died in a Hospital in Karachi

July 31, 2015

Mullah Muhammad Omar’s Life Ends With Little Clarity

WASHINGTON — In the winter of 2014, an Afghan with links to top Talibanleaders approached Afghanistan’s intelligence service with a startling tip: Mullah Muhammad Omar, the secretive leader of the Taliban, had died in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan.

The tip left the intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, with a mystery that would take 18 months to begin unraveling. But even with the Taliban confirming on Thursdaythat the man they called Emir al-Momineen, or Commander of the Faithful, was dead, American and Afghan officials said they were just starting to piece together the story of Mullah Omar’s final years and of his demise.

In interviews, Afghan, American and European officials offered insight into why it took so long to determine that Mullah Omar was dead: He may have been one of the world’s most wanted men — he carried a $10 million American bounty on his head — but by 2014 few people outside Afghanistan seemed to want him enough to put much effort into finding out whether he was dead or alive.

Mullah Omar’s Death Could Be a Nightmare for Afghanistan and NATO

JULY 30, 2015
Source Link
Who is left among the Taliban leadership to conduct peace talks?

Reports on Wednesday that reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar had died will be rightly hailed by some as the demise of an American nemesis. But the death of the one-eyed Afghan commander may also scuttle the most promising peace talks in Afghanistan in a decade.

David Rohde is an investigative reporter for Reuters, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and a former reporter for The New York Times. His latest book, Beyond War: Reimagining American Influence in a New Middle East, was published in April. More He is the author, with Kristen Mulvihill, of A ... Full Bio

Omar’s direct role in day-to-day Taliban operations had been declining for years, according to Western diplomats in Afghanistan. Even if he is alive, the former leader of Afghanistan is believed to be severely ill.

Taliban leader Omar’s tale reflects clashing agendas

By Greg Miller 
July 30
Source Link

An Afghan store clerk shows a calendar with pictures of Afghan leaders including Mohammad Omar. 
In early 2011, then-CIA Director Leon Panetta confronted the president of Pakistan with a disturbing piece of intelligence. The spy agency had learned that ­Mohammad Omar, the Taliban leader who had become one of the world’s most wanted fugitives after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was being treated at a hospital in southern Pakistan.

The American spy chief even identified the facility — the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi — and said the CIA had “some raw intelligence on this” that would soon be shared with its Pakistani counterpart, according to diplomatic files that summarize the exchange.

U.S. intelligence officials now think that Omar probably died two years later, in 2013, and Afghan officials said this week that he succumbed while being treated for a serious illness in a Karachi hospital, just as those earlier intelligence reports had indicated.

Will China Have a Mini US Navy By 2020?

July 30, 2015

Much has been written about China’s ongoing efforts to become what President Xi Jinping called a “great maritime power” and how the United States should respond. In light of this, it is useful to think about the future trajectory of the of the increasingly modern and powerful People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), which has been charged with both defending China’s sovereignty in ‘near seas’ (eg. Taiwan) and protecting Chinese interests in the ‘far seas’.

Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, now a senior fellow at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), has attempted to do exactly that. In a recent paper delivered at a two-day CNA conference on Chinese maritime power, seen byThe Diplomat, McDevitt projects what China’s ‘far seas’ navy will look like in 2020 and how it would rank alongside the United States and other players – Britain, France, Japan, India and Russia. Getting a sense of the PLAN’s ‘far seas’ capabilities is important since it tells us the extent to which it might be able to project power further from China’s shores.

What China Means by a 'Correct View' on WW2 History

As the August 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II draws near, Chinese President Xi Jinping is determined that China’s role in the war not go unrecognized. On July 30, at a study session of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo focusing on what China calls the “Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression,” Xi called for stepped-up efforts to preserve and study the history of both Japan’s invasion of China and China’s resistance, saying the country needs a national-level plan to coordinate efforts.

Xi’s vision includes more academic research, more collection and organization of historical records, and more publicity (or propaganda) efforts to shape public discourse. In other words, except to see yet more books and TV shows about the war with Japan.

The New Silk Road - A Chinese Style New Deal

by LEAP/Europe 2020

Historians will remember that the Chinese President Xi Jinping officially launched the new "Silk Road" with a 30 minute speech at the Boao Economic Conference on Hainan Island the 28 March 2015, in front of 16 heads of State or government and 100 or so ministers from the 65 countries which are on the path, land or sea, of this new trade route[1]. For us, involved in political anticipation, what a challenge we have been given! China is suggesting that we imagine the future by stepping back several centuries, even two millennia.

Such a move isn't absurd, as a fact ! The strength of nations such as Russia, Iran, India or China comes from their ability to think far into the future. Europe also has an historical depth - the two world wars encouraged it to rediscover the age before nations, that of Charlemagne or even the Roman Empire. This way of thinking is probably most alien to the US undoubtedly and which will look at the Chinese project with the greatest suspicion. However it will have to live with reality: the appetite for this "resurrection of the past" from their European allies, but also a country like Israel[2], all countries which have just decided to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank created by China for the occasion, confirms that this project which is based on an ancient past has a future.

China's Super Weapons: Beware the J-20 and J-31 Stealth Fighters

Ryan Henseler 
August 1, 2015

Throughout its history, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has lagged behind the aerial programs of other world powers such as the United States. Now, the PRC has set its sights on producing indigenously designed “fifth generation” fighter jets comparable to the US F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II. Many U.S. officials and pilots suspect that the Chinese have been using hacked U.S. technology to aid their indigenous development programs. The PRC is also leveraging additive manufacturing technology (better known as 3D-printing) in order to increase speed and efficiency in manufacturing aircrafts and compete with the U.S. The J-20 Black Eagle could be fully operational by 2018, and a second model, the J-31 Gyrfalcon, by 2020. If true, China’s new generation of fighters could have a substantial impact on its ability to either defend what it considers to be sovereign airspace, or to mount an aerial offensive in a wartime scenario, particularly against Taiwan (ROC).

Russia Races to Outflank China in Middle East Nuclear Technology Market

By Micha'el Tanchum
July 31, 2015
As China enters the market for nuclear power plant construction in post-sanctions Iran, Moscow is racing across the Middle East to develop new export markets for Russian nuclear technology. On July 22, the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) announced that Beijing and Tehran have agreed to China’s construction of two nuclear power plants on Iran’s southern coast. However the loss to Beijing of some of its market share in nuclear technology exports to Iran has not caught Moscow flatfooted. While world attention was focused on the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 nations during the first half of 2015, one of those P5 nations – Russia – was scrambling across the Middle East to sign nuclear plant construction contracts with Iran’s Sunni rivals. In addition to seizing upon a good business opportunity among Iran’s regional rivals, Russia was also attempting to outflank another P5 nation, China, before Beijing emerges as Moscow’s rival in the Middle East market for civil nuclear technology.

For the ASEAN-China South China Sea Code of Conduct, Ninth Time Isn't the Charm

By Ankit Panda
August 01, 2015
Senior officials from China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met in Tianjin, China to discuss the implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and to advance progress toward a more binding Code of Conduct for the South China Sea. The meeting comes as tensions between ASEAN claimants, including the Philippines and Vietnam, and China remain high in the South China Sea, where China has spent the last 18 months carrying out an unprecedented level of artificial island-building and construction on features it occupies in the Spratly Islands. China agreed to begin discussing the Code of Conduct with ASEAN in 2013.

What China Means by a 'Correct View' on WW2 History

By Shannon Tiezzi
August 01, 2015

As the August 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II draws near, Chinese President Xi Jinping is determined that China’s role in the war not go unrecognized. On July 30, at a study session of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo focusing on what China calls the “Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression,” Xi called for stepped-up efforts to preserve and study the history of both Japan’s invasion of China and China’s resistance, saying the country needs a national-level plan to coordinate efforts.

Xi’s vision includes more academic research, more collection and organization of historical records, and more publicity (or propaganda) efforts to shape public discourse. In other words, except to see yet more books and TV shows about the war with Japan.

The end goal, as Xi put it, is both to “let history talk” and “use historical facts to speak.” But in Xi’s formulation, which emphasizes a “correct view of history,” it’s clear that the second function – using historical facts to spread Beijing’s message – is the more important one. That’s why Xi singles out three “important topics” for historical focus: The “great significance” of the War of Resistance; the “important status” of China’s War of Resistance in the World Anti-Fascist War (the Chinese government’s preferred name for World War II); and how the central role of the Chinese Communist Party was “the key to victory” in the War of Resistance.

The Other Claimants: Vietnam and Philippines in the South China Sea

 For decades what happened in the Spratly Islands was easy to keep secret. Unless one of the countries occupying the coral specks – or the United States – decided to go public, everything was kept safely “over the horizon.” Commercial satellite imagery has changed all that. These days you can’t move a cement mixer in the Spratlys without someone noticing.

But the claimants don’t need satellites to see what their rivals are up to. Some of the occupied reefs and islands are so close that a pair of binoculars will suffice. China’s garrison on Johnson Reef is just 6 km (3.7 miles) from Vietnamese forces on Collins Reef and Beijing’s base on Subi Reef is only 26 km (16.1 miles) from the Philippine forces on Thitu Island. The Vietnamese and Philippine governments must therefore have been aware of China’s massive island-building operations within days of them starting. Asia’s largest dredging vessel, the German-designed Tian Jing Hao, began operations at Cuarteron Reef on September 9, 2013. Vietnam has a base on East London Reef just 30 km (18.6 miles) away, yet it was not until May 2014 that either Hanoi or Manila made any public reaction. What explains the silence?

New Satellite Imagery of All the Chinese Man-Made Islands in the South China Sea

Derek Watkins
July 31, 2015

What China Has Been Building in the South China Sea 

China has been feverishly piling sand onto reefs in the South China Sea for the past year, creating seven new islets in the region. It is straining geopolitical tensions that were already taut.点击查看本文中文版

The speed and scale of China’s island-building spree have alarmed other countries with interests in the region. Chinaannounced in June that the creation of islands — moving sediment from the seafloor to a reef — would soon be completed. “The announcement marks a change in diplomatic tone, and indicates that China has reached its scheduled completion on several land reclamation projects and is now moving into the construction phase,” said Mira Rapp-Hooper, director of theAsia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington research group.So far China has built port facilities, military buildings and an airstrip on the islands. The installations bolster China’s foothold in the Spratly Islands, a disputed scattering of reefs and islands in the South China Sea more than 500 miles from the Chinese mainland.

White House Reportedly Decides to Retaliate Against China for Hacking, But Obama Team Does Not Know What to Do

David E. Sanger
August 1, 2015

U.S. Decides to Retaliate Against China’s Hacking
The Obama administration has determined that it must retaliate against China for the theft of the personal information of more than 20 million Americans from the databases of the Office of Personnel Management, but it is still struggling to decide what it can do without prompting an escalating cyberconflict.

The decision came after the administration concluded that the hacking attack was so vast in scope and ambition that the usual practices for dealing with traditional espionage cases did not apply.

But in a series of classified meetings, officials have struggled to choose among options that range from largely symbolic responses — for example, diplomatic protests or the ouster of known Chinese agents in the United States — to more significant actions that some officials fear could lead to an escalation of the hacking conflict between the two countries.

What history says about the prospects for Islamic democracy

By John M. Owen, IV 
June 3

Scholars, pundits and journalists often look to Western history for analogies to help us understand ongoing dynamics in the Middle East: Jihadi terrorists are like European anarchists a century ago; the Arab Spring was like theEuropean Revolutions of 1848; the spread of the Islamic State and the deepening Saudi-Iranian rivalry means that the region is entering its own version of the miserable Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648); and so on. As Yuen Foong Khong has written, analogies can be misleading, sometimes tragically so. However, when used judiciously they can be helpful, and my recently published book, “Confronting Political Islam,” is built around several such analogies. One particularly telling comparison concerns the prospects for Islamic democracy in the Middle East. 

Opinion polls routinely show that a majority of the region’s inhabitants want democracy. The popular demonstrations and movements of 2011, the Arab Spring, suggest that they mean it. Yet in most Middle Eastern countries, majorities also say Islam plays a strong role in politics. Islamic democracy seems, on its face, inherently contradictory. How can people govern themselves and also live under Islamic law? Surely Arabs (and Persians and Turks and Pashtuns and others) must choose one or the other. 

The Saudis’ Unconscionable War in Yemen

Matt Purple 
August 2, 2015

Saudi Arabia is tearing a nation apart and empowering Al Qaeda. So why is America onboard?
A nation with imperial ambitions is sowing chaos in the Middle East. Its tendrils have extended to another country’s civil war where, thanks to its terrorist-allied proxies on the ground, it could very well consume another regional capital. Its bombs seem to target civilians indiscriminately and have created a humanitarian crisis that the world community is struggling to alleviate.

ISIS May be the Big Winner From Mullah Omar’s Death

July 31, 2015

Mullah Omar’s death: Taliban’s loss, Islamic State’s gain

Mullah Omar’s death poses an existential crisis for the Afghan Taliban, analysts say, potentially presaging a splintering of the movement as the Islamic State group gains a toehold among insurgents enthralled by its battlefield prowess.

The group has suffered a string of recent defections to IS, with some insurgents voicing disaffection with the “ghost leader”, who hasn’t been seen in public since the 2001 US-led invasion toppled the Afghan Taliban from power.

The Taliban’s confirmation Thursday of Omar’s death will inevitably deepen divisions, observers say, triggering a power struggle within the already fractious movement at a time when IS is making gradual inroads into Afghanistan.

“This will be the Afghan Taliban’s biggest test yet,” said Michael Kugelman, an Afghanistan expert at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“Mullah Omar, or the idea of Mullah Omar, was a unifying force for a deeply fractured organisation. This confirmation of his death will spark a messy, drawn-out, and likely violent leadership crisis,” Kugelman told AFP.

U.S. Intelligence Finds That Despite a Year of U.S. Bombing, ISIS Is still Just As Strong As Its Was a Year Ago

July 31, 2015

Despite bombing, Islamic State is no weaker than a year ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — After billions of dollars spent and more than 10,000 extremist fighters killed, the Islamic State group is fundamentally no weaker than it was when the U.S.-led bombing campaign began a year ago, American intelligence agencies have concluded.

The military campaign has prevented Iraq’s collapse and put the Islamic State under increasing pressure in northern Syria, particularly squeezing its self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa. But intelligence analysts see the overall situation as a strategic stalemate: The Islamic State remains a well-funded extremist army able to replenish its ranks with foreign jihadis as quickly as the U.S. can eliminate them. Meanwhile, the group has expanded to other countries, including Libya, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Afghanistan.

The assessments by the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and others appear to contradict the optimistic line taken by the Obama administration’s special envoy, retired Gen. John Allen, who told a forum in Aspen, Colorado, last week that “ISIS is losing” in Iraq and Syria. The intelligence was described by officials who would not be named because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

“We’ve seen no meaningful degradation in their numbers,” a defense official said, citing intelligence estimates that put the group’s total strength at between 20,000 and 30,000, the same estimate as last August when the airstrikes began.

Three reasons why Russia should not be called the greatest threat to the USA

\July 28, 2015 

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

When General Joseph Dunford, Barack Obama’s nominee for the position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described Russia as “the greatest threat to our national security” during his confirmation hearing in the Senate, the White House rushed to distance itself from his words. However, General Dunford’s statement was far from isolated. Only several weeks earlier, the US Air Force secretary, Deborah James, expressed a similar view of Russia in an interview with Reuters.

This seems a somewhat ironic u-turn in the Obama administration’s approach to its relationship with Moscow. Indeed, only three years earlier when the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney referred to Russia as America’s “biggest geopolitical foe” during the 2012 presidential campaign, Obama ridiculed his opinion.

Iran Nuclear Deal And Future Prospects – OpEd

July 30th, 2015

The historic deal between Iran and the P5+1 (US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany has finally signed. The deal is a multilateral accord and giving Tehran sanctions’ relief in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. The US-Iran nuclear deal is the most significant breakthrough in their bilateral relationship; certainly it is the positive development between both countries since the 1979 Iranian revolution that shattered their relations.

However the assumption on expected better relations between both states is arguable in view of the few statements. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, recently told Iranians, “Our policy regarding the arrogant US government will not change.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry had earlier assured allies: “Nothing in the Iran deal is based on trust.”

Nuclear Deal And US Rebalancing: Not A Strategy For Peace – Analysis

By Roberto Iannuzzi
Thursday, July 30th, 2015
While a historic and highly controversial nuclear deal awaits final approval by the U.S. Congress, a debate on its regional and international fallout is raging across the globe. The agreement is indeed a huge gamble. Will it hold? Will it ease Middle East tensions, or will it further destabilize the region?

Inevitably, this is as much a debate on US foreign policy under President Barack Obama.
The foundations of Obama’s foreign policy crystallized mainly during his first term, when he had to contend with his predecessor’s calamitous legacy. Two catastrophic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the 2008 financial collapse (the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression), were a terrible burden on the US economy and military capabilities.

Even today, the United States is “at a point where our national aspirations are at risk of exceeding our available resources,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently said at a Senate subcommittee hearing.

New Intel Era: Tweet Alerts DIA To SCUD Launch, Not Spy Sats

July 31, 2015

But you don’t really think of social media as a useful tool for detecting weapons and their use. After all, we’ve got spy satellites (DSP and SBIRS) that watch for missile launches, and radar satellites that look for a wide array of weapons, and aircraft like AWACS and JSTARS that watch the skies and the ground for us.

But the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency told an audience of several hundred intelligence contractors last night that the first time we learned of Yemen’s Houthi rebels’ June launch of a SCUD missile against Saudi Arabia, the intelligence did not come from the oft-praised Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) or the aging but reliable DSP satellites built to watch for and detect missile launches around the world.

“First warning of that event? Hashtag SCUDlaunch,” he said. While the tweet didn’t exactly tell us where the missile was launched from, Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart made clear it probably helped us retarget our satellites, drones and other assets to find it: “That’s how we started the search for that act.”

Cybersecurity: We Need a Chinese Snowden

By Alexander Bowe
July 31, 2015

Without Chinese revelations about Chinese hacking and espionage, a cyber-détente is unlikely. 
Two issues have dominated the discussion of American-Chinese relations in recent months: the escalating war of words in the South China Sea and cybersecurity. Recently, clandestine hacking conflicts between the United States and China have increased in prominence. A bombshell report by internet security firm Mandiant in February 2013 claimed that a secretive Chinese military unit based out of Shanghai was responsible for a series of hacks on United States-based corporations. Another report a couple of months later showed that China was by far the largest source of international hacking attacks, with 41 percent of the world total (of course, the United States was number two on that list, but more on that in a bit); furthermore, the number of attacks originating in China was found to have drastically increased since the first quarter of that year.

Digital India – Great Ambitions, Hurdles Galore

22 Jul, 2015

Aashish Chandorkar is a Management Consultant based in Pune and working in Mumbai. He holds diverse interests across politics, economics, sports and Bollywood. He tweets at @c_aashish.

‘Digital India’ is arguably the most ambitious initiative of the Modi government. There are hurdles on the way, but there are also opportunities. How exactly will ‘Digital India’ roll out? Read here in the first part of an explanatory piece. 

On July 1st, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Digital India program in Delhi with much fanfare, supplemented by big investment announcements by the leading industry houses in the country. The program aims to ramp up the traditional 256 kbps broadband services to 2 Mbps compatible infrastructure, connect more than 250,000 gram panchayats (GPs) via the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN), targeting 600 million broadband connections nationwide and aims to deliver a host of government services on this telecom backbone. The infrastructure investment is being made not just to improve the way citizens interact with the government at various levels of governance aggregation, but also to jump-start new businesses which require connectivity for remote service delivery.

Robert Strausz-Hupe and the Balance of Tomorrow

By Francis P. Sempa
August 01, 2015

In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, Robert Strausz-Hupe, then a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote a book entitled The Balance of Tomorrow, in which he envisioned not just the postwar struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States, but also the geopolitical rise of the Asian powers of China and India.

Strausz-Hupe was born in Vienna in 1903, in the decaying Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1923, he emigrated to the United States and worked as an investment advisor to several American financial institutions. In the late 1930s, he began lecturing audiences on the coming war, and as a result of one such lecture in Philadelphia he was invited to teach at the University of Pennsylvania.

During the Second World War, Strausz-Hupe wrote a timely and informative book, Geopolitics: The Struggle for Space and Power, which analyzed the writings of Karl Haushofer and others associated with the German school of Geopolitik and their influence on German foreign policy.

Evolution of the US-ROK Alliance: North Korea Threat Profile

By Leon Whyte
August 01, 2015

This is the fifth article in a series on the U.S. alliance with South Korea. Previous articles can be found in The Diplomat’s Koreas section.

Although the alliance has changed substantially since its Cold War origins, it is still grounded in protecting the ROK from DPRK attacks or invasion. While most U.S. Cold War adversaries have abandoned communism, or in the case of the PRC an ideological commitment to conflict with imperial powers, North Korea has not changed its ideology or hostile stance to the outside world. Even while North Korean citizens suffer from hunger and privation, the Kim regime spends an estimated 22.9 percent of its GDP on defense, the highest percentage in the world. In addition, despite North Korea’s relatively small size, it has one of the largest military forces in the world, with an estimated 1,190,000 troops in 2012, as compared to the 639,000 ROK troops. While it is true that many North Korean troops are less well nourished, trained, or equipped than their ROK or U.S. counterparts, North Korea maintains a 100,000+ large detachment of Special Operations forces trained to infiltrate into South Korea, attack strategic infrastructure, carry out assassinations, and potentially act as a delivery mechanism for a biological or chemical attack against the ROK. Making the DPRK threat more acute, the DPRK has positioned most of its forces and artillery south of Pyongyang and in close proximity to the DMZ, meaning that a DPRK attack could occur with little warning.

The Future of Democracy and Human Rights in Myanmar

By Prashanth Parameswaran
August 01, 2015
Delphine Schrank is a contributing editor to the Virginia Quarterly Review and a co-founder of DECA Stories, a pioneering writers’ cooperative for deeply reported, global journalism. She was The Washington Post’s correspondent in Myanmar and is the recent author of The Rebel of Rangoon: A Tale of Defiance and Deliverance (Nation Books, 2015), a narrative, nonfiction account about dissidents in Myanmar and their multi-generational fight for democracy.

She recently spoke with The Diplomat’s associate editor Prashanth Parameswaran about the future of democracy and human rights in Myanmar ahead of upcoming historic elections expected this November. An edited version of that interview follows.

How central is Australia to the Asian regional order?

By Andrew Davies and Benjamin Schreer
August 01, 2015
We read the recent SDSC–CSIS report The ANZUS alliance in an ascending Asia (PDF) with interest. We agree with much of their analysis of alliance strengths and possible points of divergence in the face of growing Chinese military and economic power. But ultimately we don’t see ANZUS becoming “a central hub for Asian regional order and architecture,” however defined. Australia may have a role to play, but the crux of the policy challenges lies far to our north.

There are two ways ANZUS might be relevant—through physical geography as a platform for hard power and as a geopolitical player. Let’s start with the former. ANU/CSIS says:

Australia’s geographic location is more important to the United States today than it has been at any time since the Second World War. Australia serves both as a link between the Indian and Pacific Oceans and as a sanctuary from China’s anti-access/area denial capabilities.

APA Board Plans to Recommend That American Shrinks Stay Away From Interrogation Work for CIA

James Risen
July 31, 2015

U.S. Psychologists Urged to Curb Questioning Terror Suspects

WASHINGTON — The board of the American Psychological Association plans to recommend a tough ethics policy that would prohibit psychologists from involvement in all national security interrogations, potentially creating a new obstacle to the Obama administration’s efforts to detain and interrogate terrorism suspects outside of the traditional criminal justice system.

The board of the of the A.P.A., the nation’s largest professional organization for psychologists, is expected to recommend that members approve the ban at its annual meeting in Toronto next week, according to two members, Nadine Kaslow and Susan H. McDaniel, the group’s president-elect. The board’s proposal would make it a violation of the association’s ethical policies for psychologists to play a role in national security interrogations involving any military or intelligence personnel, even the noncoercive interrogations now conducted by the Obama administration. The board’s proposal must be voted on and approved by the members’ council to become a policy.

Growing Number of Civilian Contractors Help Find Targets for American Drone Strikes

July 31, 2015

‘When you mess up, people die’: civilians who are drone pilots’ extra eyes

Abigail Fielding-Smith and Crofton Black of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism 

Sitting in his curtained cubicle at Hurlburt Field airbase in Florida, an image analyst was watching footage transmitted from a battlefield drone. If he thought the images showed someone holding a weapon or doing anything suspicious, he had to type it in to a chat channel seen by the pilots controlling the drone’s missiles.

Once an observation had been fed in to the chat, he later explained, it was hard to revise it – it influenced the mindset of those with their hands on the triggers.

“As a screener [the person who decides whether to type an observation in to the chat channel] anything you say is going to be interpreted in the most hostile way,” said the analyst, who asked to be referred to as John.

John and other analysts at the base worked gruelling 12-hour shifts: even to take a bathroom break they had to persuade a colleague to watch the computer screen for them. They couldn’t let their concentration or judgment lapse for a second. If a spade was misidentified as a weapon, an innocent man could get killed.

Documents From 5 U.S. Intelligence Agencies Found in Hillary’s Unclassified Email Server

Marisa Taylor, Greg Gordon, and Anita Kumar
July 31, 2015

Data in Clinton’s ‘secret’ emails came from 5 intelligence agencies

The classified emails stored on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private server contained information from five U.S. intelligence agencies and included material related to the fatal 2012 Benghazi attacks, McClatchy has learned.

Of the five classified emails, the one known to be connected to Benghazi was among 296 emails made public in May by the State Department. Intelligence community officials have determined it was improperly released.

Revelations about the emails have put Clinton in the crosshairs of a broadening inquiry into whether she or her aides mishandled classified information when she used a private server set up at her New York home to conduct official State Department business.

While campaigning for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton has repeatedly denied she ever sent or received classified information. Two inspectors general have indicated that five emails they have reviewed were not marked classified at the time they were stored on her private server but that the contents were in fact “secret.”

Rajeev Chandrasekhar: The DoT panel says it wants net neutrality but can't tell us what that is

Rajeev Chandrasekhar  
Jul 27, 2015
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The first indication of the government’s opinion has left those following this debate confused and wary.

The Department of Telecommunications released its report on Net Neutrality last fortnight. I spent the weekend reading the 115 page document and have drawn a few conclusions. The first of which is that I could’ve used my weekend for some better reading.

Hacking Critical Infrastructure: A How-To Guide

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Cyber-aided physical attacks on power plants and the like are a growing concern. A pair of experts is set to reveal how to pull them off — and how to defend against them.

How easy would it be to pull off a catastrophic cyber attack on, say, a nuclear power plant? At next week’s Black Hat and Def Con cybersecurity conferences, two security consultants will describe how bits might be used to disrupt physical infrastructure.

Dr. Strangelove Lives! Pentagon Wants to Develop New Generation of Cyber ‘Nuclear’ Weapons to Deter Foreign Nations From Attacking Us

W.J. Hennigan and Brian BennettJuly 31, 2015 
Pentagon seeks cyber-weapons strong enough to deter attacks

Los AngelesTimes

The folks who brought the world the mushroom cloud are hard at work at a new project – coming up with cyber-weapons so strong that their very existence would deter foreign governments from attacking U.S. databases and critical computer systems.

The idea is to try to adapt a military concept that helped keep the world safe from nuclear bombings during the Cold War to the digital battlefield of the 21st century.

For four decades, the U.S. and the Soviet Union built up massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons but never used them. Part of the reason was the belief on both sides that any attack would be met with an equally devastating counterstrike. Military planners called the idea mutually assured destruction.

Today, plans for “cyber deterrence” aim to develop something analogous for the digital era.

National security officials have recently stepped up their public warnings about the need to build such a deterrent.

TNI Is HIRING: Defense and National Security Writer and Editor

Harry J. Kazianis 
July 31, 2015

The National Interest, a print and online magazine focusing on international affairs, foreign policy, national security, domestic politics and more is searching for an individual to join our online editorial team. This position is based in Washington, D.C.

This specific position entails writing and editing articles concentrating on defense, military hardware and national security issues as well as other duties as needed.

Lingering Ghosts: World War II and the Shaping of Modern Asia

How the war’s end brought the end of colonialism, the arrival of communism, and the rise of political dynasties.

August 15, 1945 – the day Japan initially announced its surrender to the allies; the day that signaled the final end of World War Two. For the 400 million people of the Chinese Republic, that day also marked the end of eight years of all-out war, beginning with the Japanese attack on northern China in July 1937. Within six months most of China, including the capital Nanjing, had been conquered. By early 1942, following Pearl Harbor, the vast majority of East and Southeast Asia (excepting a few neutral outposts, such as Macao) had come under Japanese control. Tokyo’s hegemonistic vision of a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere stretched from the Pacific Islands to Burma. Japanese forces were poised to invade British-controlled India to the west, Soviet-controlled Siberia to the north, and launch bombing raids against Australia’s Northern Territories.

Desert Storm, the Last Classic War

July 31, 2015


Twenty-five years after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the lessons of the Gulf War remain urgent, even in today’s chaotic Middle East

A U.S. soldier near Kuwait’s border with Iraq watches a plume of smoke on the horizon, Kuwait, January 1991. He was part of the U.S.-led coalition that drove Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait. PHOTO: PETER TURNLEY/CORBIS