22 September 2015

Raheel Sharif: The New Dictator of Pakistan

By RSN Singh
21 Sep , 2015

The latest attack at an Air Base near Peshawar in which more than 30 air force and army personnel have been killed has not dented the honeymoon of the general public with the Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif. Gen Sharif is riding a new wave of popularity in Pakistan. This is nothing new. Such messianic moments are a cyclical feature in Pakistan. Nevertheless, Raheel Sharif has gone beyond the past benchmark in many ways. His extension of tenure is but a foregone conclusion. 

Raheel Sharif is the sixth Army Chief that Nawaz Sharif is dealing with since he first became prime minister in November 1990. Depending on vicissitudes of the geopolitical flux, each army chief presented new set of challenges to Nawaz. Gen Asif Nawaz Janjua was the first adversary that Nawaz Sharif had to deal with.Of many things, what had irked Asif was the appointment of Lt Gen Javed Nasir as the ISI Chief. Nasir was a votary of pan-Islamism and believed in reaching out to Muslims wherever in distress including China. At that time as per reports, the CIA had also infiltrated into Pakistan’s nuclear establishment through a Pakistani scientist. During the same period,for the first time, Pakistan was put on US watch list of terrorists. Several sources reveal that Janjua was about to impose a martial law when he suddenly died under very mysterious circumstances. Such sudden and mysterious deaths are not alien to Pakistan or to say the Indian Subcontinent.

Attack Helicopters: Should India Have Them?

By Gp Capt AG Bewoor
19 Sep , 2015

The Attack Helicopter has value for money in a relatively benign environment for short, swift Special Operations where the opposition has restricted ability to interdict the AH. Other countries have huge air arms for each Service, some of which are now closing down. There is no justification for India to mimic defunct, untried and indeed failed strategies developed for European and Middle East scenarios. This approach may mislead us into a weapons procurement minefield. Thereafter, wasteful expenditure will hamper us from getting what we really need for India’s safety and security.

Attack Helicopters in support of huge mechanised attacking or defending armies have never been tested against any enemy…

It is with much trepidation that one reads about acquisition of Attack Helicopters (AH) for the Armed Forces. Ground Force commanders have always demanded dedicated air borne offensive fire power placed directly under their command as they are convinced these are indispensible for victory. The commander equates airborne firepower with armour, artillery, combat engineers that are under command and integral to the Division or Corps. He believes, incorrectly, that under-command airborne fire, he will win the land battle. He ignores the inherent flexibility of airborne weapons which precludes limiting that firepower within restricted areas. Why squeeze that flexible and swiftly re-locatable capability?

Border Violations: Respond in Language Pak Army understands

By Jai Kumar Verma
19 Sep , 2015

The relations between India and Pakistan are generally tense and both countries do not miss any opportunity to slander the other although several times the accusations and counter accusations are for the consumption of hardliners in their own state. The border violations by India’s hostile neighbor Pakistan has increased manifold since the last few months. Pakistani security forces have violated the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir more than 250 times in 2015 alone, in which several civilians and personnel of security forces lost their lives.

Pakistan, which never misses the opportunity to internationalize the Kashmir issue, constantly writes letters to United Nations to intervene. It alleged that Indian security forces used heavy mortars and machine guns in which several Pakistani civilians were killed. In fact, the Pakistani troops used heavy weapons, and accused India of using the same.

Indo-Pak War 1965: Stalemate?

By DP Ramachandran
21 Sep , 2015

To begin with Pakistan had codenamed it ‘Operation Gibraltar’, after the Arab invasion of Spain which began with the capture of the Rock of Gibraltar. It was an ambitious plan conceived by the military dictatorship of that country under Field Marshal Ayub Khan, for the conquest of Kashmir. The Indian Army’s dismal show against the Chinese in 1962 had emboldened Ayub to make the move; and he was also in a hurry. The expansion and modernization of the Indian Army was going on at a rapid pace, and he would find himself at a disadvantage if he waited anymore.

Essentially the plan propounded to have a 30,000-strong guerilla force to infiltrate through the porous borders of Kashmir, and incite an uprising in the state. But before that he had to go in for a ploy, to cause imbalance in India’s troop deployment along its border with Pakistan. This would also provide his armed forces with the much-needed opportunity to try out the array of latest weaponry they had received from the US (the Sabre Jets, the Star Fighters and the Patton Tanks among them), concurrently assessing their adversary’s capacity to fight back. The venue selected for this initial trial phase was the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.

Pakistan began the game in early 1965 with small scale incursions into this vast and thinly manned segment of Indian border, forcing India to relocate its troops to bolster the defences there.

Civil Power and the Army

By Lt Gen SK Sinha
20 Sep , 2015


Civil Power is the ultimate authority charged with the governance of the State. The execu­tive; the legislature and the judiciary, functioning in their respective spheres and in the prescribed manner, are the various elements that constitute Civil Power. Civil administration and the Army are the two in­struments available to Civil Power to execute in its decisions.

In this scheme of things, the Army must always remain subordinate to Civil Power no matter what the form of Government. The Army is here referred to in its generic sense, meaning the military and stands for the Defence Services as a whole.

Lenin talked of the need for the Party to control the gun and advocated a politically committed Army. This is the pattern obtaining in socialist states, where the Army remains totally aligned with the Party. Senior military officers are important functionaries in the Party. Through political education and with political commissars monitoring the Army’s functioning at all levels, the Party exercises strict control over the Army.

In addition to this, professional control over the Army is exercised by the State at the na­tional level as in other forms of Government. In democracies, the Army is not required to be committed to any party. In fact the em­phasis is on the Army remaining apolitical. At the national level, full control is exer­cised by Civil Power over the Army which is required to function in accordance with its directions.

India's Tea Capital Can Recover From Devastating Floods If The Government Gets Its Act Together

from The Conversation, The Conversation

-- this post authored by Sneha Krishnan, University College London

Heavy flooding has affected more than a million people in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, with 45 dead and more than 200,000 in relief camps. And yet there is still very little coverage of the disaster in the international media - perhaps not surprising when you consider even most Indians aren't paying attention.

But they should - and so should you. The fact a region that is flooded regularly should be so unprepared for the latest downpour is scandalous, as is the shortsighted or uncaring government response.

The floods have also affected local wildlife, with the Kaziranga National Park - home to two thirds of the world's Indian rhinos - reporting the electrocution of elephants fleeing from the water, as well as the death of at least three rhinos.

India and the Syrian Civil War

By Kabir Taneja
September 21, 2015

After four years of neglect, Syria is once again getting mainstream attention in India. Pictures of Aylan Kurdi, the refugee crisis in Europe, and the rise of ISIS have given Syria considerable prominence in Indian public discourse in recent weeks,

India’s stance on the Syrian crisis has been subtle yet expected. New Delhi under the previous government of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) maintained its opposition to external military intervention in Syria, and asked for all parties involved to engage in dialogue for a political solution.

“There can be no military solution to this conflict,” said an Indian Ministry of External Affairs statement in 2013.

India and Syria have historically maintained cordial relations, formed during India’s post-independence outreach to the Arab world and beyond as part of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) that then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru championed along with then Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Are India and North Korea Really Upgrading Ties?

September 19, 2015

An interesting report in The Hindu, with the headline “India reaches out, wants to upgrade ties with North Korea,” caught my eye yesterday. The report noted that India was taking a significant step forward in its relations with Pyongyang by upgrading its bilateral ties.

India’s relations with North Korea aren’t normally in the press. They received some attention earlier this year when North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong visited New Delhi for a series of meeting. Overall, India’s relations with North Korea are cordial but limited—for a range of reasons, including North Korea’s occasional chumminess with Pakistan and South Korea’s reservations. An upgrade in relations would be a significant move in India’s eastward foreign policy. So what’s really going on?

First, the details: The Hindu reports that India’s minister of state for home affairs, Kiren Rijiju, participated “in an event marking the North Korean national Independence Day in New Delhi.” Rijiju was, per the report, “nominated by the Ministry of External Affairs to represent the Indian government in the official event.” The minister told The Hindu that relations between India and North Korea were “going to change.” “North Korea is an independent country and a member of the United Nations and we should have good bilateral trade ties,” he said. The Hindu notes that Rijiju was careful to clarify that the decision to attend wasn’t a made in haste but is a considered diplomatic move:

India's Incredible Shrinking Air Force

September 20, 2015

By my calculation, about 79% of India's combat aircraft squadrons and 96% of its main battle tanks are of Soviet-design, a legacy of New Delhi's close relationship with Moscow in the 1970s and 1980s. A country's defence choices can define the shape of its armed forces for decades to come. This is an important lesson for Indian leaders to heed as they consider the future of the Indian Air Force (IAF), a service that set out a highly ambitious doctrine in 2012, but appears to be shrinking ineluctably year by year. What is especially troubling is that problems are visible across the low, medium, and high end of the IAF combat fleet.

At the high end is the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), part of Russia's PAK-FA program (pictured) whose first prototype flew in 2010 and has been in testing since. India is notionally co-developing the aircraft, with some suggestions it's willing to invest tens of billions of dollars into the project. In practice, India's role has grown increasingly limited to particular areas of the aircraft like tyres and radar coolant.

Recent Events Show Afghan Taliban Still Deeply Divided

September 20, 2015

Afghan Taliban divided as talks between two factions fail

The Afghan Taliban may split into two factions, said a spokesman for one group on Saturday, because they cannot agree who should be leader following the death of their founder.

The split could derail fledgling peace talks between the insurgency and the Afghan government and open the way for the Islamic State group to expand its foothold in one of the world’s most tumultuous regions.

The dispute occurred after Afghan intelligence leaked news last month that the insurgency’s reclusive founder, Mullah Omar, had been dead for more than two years. 

A hastily convened meeting chose Omar’s deputy, Mullah Mansour, as the new leader. But many commanders were angry that Mansour had concealed Omar’s death and objected to his speedy appointment.

The Rise of Asia’s Think Tanks

By Asit K. Biswas and Kris Hartley
September 20, 2015

Asia’s research footprint is growing. China recently pledged support for 100 new think tanks to expand ministerial analytical capacity. India’s think tanks are poised to benefit from a growing base of knowledgeworkers. In April, China and Pakistan announced ajoint think tank focusing on economic growth, and China has also entered into a “think tank alliance” with the EU to support research about Eurasian economic development.

Despite this progress, the quality and influence of think tanks is not something that can be directly imposed; rather, it must grow organically from conditions that enable independent scholarship.

In the new global economy, ambitious countries are striving to exploit any advantage. A variety of rankings measure the vague concept of “competitiveness,” defined by metrics such as regulatory friendliness, infrastructure investment, and innovative culture. However, for research capacity, country-level rankings have struggled to move beyond university reputations and journal publications. The University of Pennsylvania’s (UPenn) 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index is one effort to do so.

U.S. and China Seek Arms Deal for Cyberspace

SEPT. 19, 2015
President Obama and the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, last November. They are hoping to announce an agreement this week. CreditMandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The United States and China are negotiating what could become the first arms control accord for cyberspace, embracing a commitment by each country that it will not be the first to use cyberweapons to cripple the other’s critical infrastructure during peacetime, according to officials involved in the talks.

While such an agreement could address attacks on power stations, banking systems, cellphone networks and hospitals, it would not, at least in its first version, protect against most of the attacks that China has been accused of conducting in the United States, including the widespread poaching of intellectual property and the theft of millions of government employees’ personal data.

Chinese Cyber Attacks on U.S. Targets Slows As Visit by China’s President Nears

September 20, 2015

Chinese Computer Hack Attacks Slow Ahead of Obama Summit: Experts

WASHINGTON — Major intrusions by Chinese hackers of U.S. companies’ computer systems appear to have slowed in recent months, private-sector experts say, ahead of a meeting between China’s president and President Barack Obama with cyber security on the agenda.

Three senior executives at private-sector firms in the field told Reuters they had noticed a downtick in hacking activity.

“The pace of new breaches feels like it’s tempering,” said Kevin Mandia, founder of Mandiant, a prominent company that investigates sophisticated corporate breaches.

A point of friction in U.S.-Chinese relations, cyber security will be a major focus of talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week in Washington, D.C., Obama said earlier this week.

In the same remarks, Obama called for a global framework to prevent the Internet from being “weaponised” as a tool of national aggression, while also holding out the prospect of a forceful U.S. response to China over recent hacking attacks.

What Will the Chinese Military Look Like in Ten Years?

Andrew S. Erickson
September 20, 2015

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army in 2025

This excellent book examining possible PLA futures has only become more important in light of Xi Jinping’s recently-announced military restructuring! It was an honor for me to serve as a discussant at the conference at which this book’s chapters were originally presented as draft papers, and I can attest that this volume is a worthy product of that great PLA watching community event. For anyone who hasn’t yet had a chance to read them, I highly recommend the other conference reports and books in this series as well.

Roy Kamphausen and David Lai, eds., The Chinese People’s Liberation Army in 2025 (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College and National Bureau of Asian Research, 2015).

This volume is of special relevance in light of the profound changes occurring within the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). China’s desire to develop a military commensurate with its diverse interests is both legitimate and understandable. The challenge for U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) is to understand how China will employ this growing military capability in support of its interests. The book addresses the uncertainty surrounding the potential direction of the PLA by examining three distinct focus areas: domestic, external, and technological drivers of PLA modernization; alternative futures for the PLA; and, implications for the region, world, and U.S.-China relations. The analysis provides an insightful perspective into the factors shaping and propelling the PLA’s modernization, its potential future orientation ranging from internally focused to globally focused, and how the PLA’s choices may impact China’s relations with its neighbors and the world.

Xi Jinping and China’s Future: The Bigger Problems Lie Within

September 21, 2015

The apparent rise of China’s assertiveness in Asia has attracted a great deal of interest in the lead up to Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to the United States to meet with President Obama. Such a focus has been driven by Beijing’s ongoing efforts to bolster its territorial claims in the South China Sea. It was underscored on September 3rd by the display of a new array of military hardware during China’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender that ended World War II.

These developments are cause for concern as they raise questions regarding the overall orientation of China’s foreign policy, its relationship with the rest of Asia, and more broadly the United States. As such during Xi’s state visit to the White House we can expect that President Obama will press his Chinese counterpart on these issues.

America's Last 'Pivot' to Asia: The Vietnam War and the China Factor

September 21, 2015

Fifty years ago this year, the United States embarked on another “pivot to Asia,” albeit one that many Americans may wish to forget. A war that took the lives of nearly 60,000 young Americans, maimed and wounded more than 300,000, and also resulted in the deaths of perhaps 2-3 million Vietnamese on both sides of the conflict, should not be relegated to the annals of another “forgotten war.” 1965 was the year when the U.S. commitment of forces to the Vietnam War went from 23,000 advisors to 184,000 combat troops and American casualties also multiplied by a factor of 20.

In fact, America’s “longest war” (before the current Afghan imbroglio at least) remains quite relevant to the current U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. The epic failure in US defense policy that was the Vietnam War offers some stern lessons in military hubris, the perils of threat inflation, not to mention the dangers of being entangled in local identity politics (“nationalisms”) on the other side of the planet. But it also has important insight for one of our nation’s foremost contemporary national security quandaries: What to do about China?

China, South America and Regional Integration

By Bruno Gomes Guimarães and Diogo Ives
September 21, 2015

The trip to Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Chile by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in May this year sought to follow up on the planned cooperation between China and CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) announced in January of the same year. This plan’s main goals are to increase bilateral tradeto $500 billion and the inflow of Chinese direct investments to the region to $250 billion until 2025.

The two objectives are linked, since China expects that the bilateral trade will grow if it invests in Latin American infrastructure. This strategy has also been used to bolster China’s economic relations with countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Railways, roadways, ports, and airports have been built or revamped to enable Beijing to buy raw materials and sell its manufactures around the world more cheaply and easily.

The investments promised by Li Keqing during his trip to South America are largely in line with this strategy. The flagship project is a $10 billion railroad between Brazil and Peru that will connect the Atlantic and Pacific ports. The railroad will make it easier and cheaper to export of soybeans, beef, and ore from the Brazilian hinterlands. Currently, these exports must first reach Brazilian ports in Pará or Maranhão, and then traverse the Panama Canal to reach the Pacific and China.

Will China and Russia’s Partnership in Central Asia Last?

By Tao Wang and Rachel Yampolsky
September 21, 2015

Leaders in Beijing and Moscow have both been making a concerted effort to extend their connections with Central Asia in recent months. In July, Russiahosted the latest BRICS summit as well as a gathering of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Ufa near the border with Kazakhstan. Earlier, in May, on his fifth visit to Russia since becoming president, President Xi Jinping reached an agreement with President Vladimir Putin to coordinate China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in Central Asia. While both countries have clear economic incentives to cooperate in this region in the short term, they will need to overcome a number of hurdles to set their partnership on a path that can be sustained further into the future.

Salvaging Xi’s Visit to the US

September 20, 2015

The year 2010 was a difficult one for U.S.-China relations. In January 2010, the Obama administration approved its first arms sale to Taiwan; Beijing cut off military-to-military relations in retaliation. Also in January 2010, U.S. technological firm Google publicly accused China of hacking its servers, sparking a high-profile recrimination from then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In mid-February 2010, Obama held his first meeting with the Dalai Lama since assuming office, causing more anger in China’s government and media alike. And in July 2010, the United States waded into the South China Sea disputes after Clinton gave a speech outlining Washington’s interests in the region at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi.

In other words, 2010 saw an outbreak of tensions in areas of intense friction between the U.S. and China: the Taiwan and Tibet issues, cyber issues (including internet freedom), and the South China Sea. Yet tensions cooled noticeably in late 2010 and early 2011, and the cause was clear: both sides were making a concerted effort to reboot their relationship in advance of then-Chinese President Hu Jintao’s January 2011 state visit (his first) to the United States.

Assad’s Strategy Is To Create Refugees

Mike GiglioBuzzFeed News World Correspondent
Sept. 18, 2015

ISTANBUL — The 53-year-old father of two was convinced that Bashar al-Assad wanted him to flee Syria.

More than two years after he buried the bodies from a massacre in his village near Damascus by forces loyal to the Syrian president, he sat in an Istanbul park alongside dozens of other refugees, waiting with their life jackets to make the journey to Europe by sea.

“They want to empty the country,” he said, sitting with his wife and two children as he described how government soldiers had bombed the village of Jdeidet al-Fadel and then executed residents in their homes, suspecting them of rebel sympathies. Some, he said, were “beheaded like chickens.” After helping with the burials, he snuck his family into Turkey.

The refugee crisis isn’t just a by-product of the brutal civil war in Syria, according to many of those fleeing, as well as Western officials and analysts tracking the conflict. It’s part of a concerted effort by the Syrian government, which has killed the vast majority of civilians in a war that has left more than 200,000 people dead.

Russian Involvement and a Redirection of Policy on Syria

September 20, 2015

The recently increased Russian involvement in Syria ought to be viewed as an opportunity, more so than as a threat or as something that needs to be countered. Although Moscow's current involvement is only an extension of its longtime relationship with the Syrian regime, it represents just enough of a change to serve as the closest thing we are likely to have to a peg on which to hang some needed rethinking about the Syrian conflict. The need for such rethinking is reflected in the fact that everyone, including the Obama administration, seems to recognize that the current trajectory of this civil war is unpropitious, notwithstanding disagreements over what to do about the situation.

The most important principle in any revision of policy toward the war needs to be that the untoward effects of this war will be ameliorated only insofar as peace is established in Syria, or as close as Syrians and the international community can come to establishing something passing for peace. It is the continuation of the war, much more than any particular outcome of the war or any particular political configuration of Syria, that is the source of most of the trouble that is worth worrying about.

This is true of at least three major types of trouble. One is the possible spread, quite possibly inadvertent, of instability and combat beyond Syria's borders. The war has, for example, increased the chance of a new war between Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah, given Hezbollah's substantial involvement in the Syrian war and Israel's reactions to Hezbollah activity in Syria.

New Report Examines Cross-border Traffic of Russian forces Into Eastern Ukraine

September 21, 2015

Bellingcat Investigation – Russia’s Path(s) to War

The extent of Russia’s role in the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine has yet to be determined. Thus far, Russia denies any direct involvement in the war. However, most Western nations do not share Russia’s position and assume that Russia is directly or at least indirectly involved. This same ambiguity, which continues to affect the conflict in Eastern Ukraine to this day, also characterized the annexation of Crimea last year. At first, Russia denied any direct involvement in the military operations that blocked Ukraine’s armed forces and led to the seizure of key buildings and other locations on the peninsula. Later, however, Moscow acknowledged the active role played by Russian servicemen. (It should be noted that photographic and video evidence had already clearly depicted the involvement of Russia’s armed forces in March 2014.)

The current state of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine is similar to the situation in Crimea in March 2014. Russia claims that its forces are not involved despite a plethora of evidence to the contrary. Reports have been published analyzing the presence of Russian equipment in Ukraine, documenting cross-border artillery attacks, and demonstrating the participation of active Russian servicemen in the conflict. This report examines one aspect of the Russian-Ukrainian war, namely, the alleged cross-border traffic of Russian forces into Eastern Ukraine. If it is possible to link cross-border traffic to Russia’s armed forces, this not only provides additional evidence for Russia’s involvement, it also allows for a better assessment of the extent of Russia’s involvement. This report, which primarily focuses on events in the summer of 2014, is solely based upon open source information; the identification and verification of border crossings was performed relying on publicly available satellite imagery.


SEPTEMBER 21, 2015

By upping the ante, Putin hopes to deter the West from encroaching too far on Russian interests in Syria. But Russia is not eager to fight alongside Assad on the ground. Expect its direct role in the conflict to remain limited.

A large uptick in the influx of Russian weapons and equipment into Syria in recent weeks, along with 200 additional naval infantry, has fueled speculation that Moscow is preparing for an expanded role in the conflict. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, coyly suggested on September 18th that Russia would indeed consider sending more troops if Damascus requests them, but “it is difficult to speak hypothetically.” With Vladimir Putin in New York this month to speak at the UN General Assembly, some may expect just another rant, but more likely, he is not here to simply score political points. The timing is uncanny, and by all appearances Moscow plans to force Washington into a change of course on Syria. This was seemingly unthinkable a few months ago, but Russia has a way lately of turning the unthinkable into the possible.

Those that still doubt whether Putin can use military force decisively to achieve political ends, and make strategic gains, should watch this situation unfold. Just as during August of 2013, when Moscow seized an opportunity to avoid U.S. air strikes on Syria by jointly disposing of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons, this is another flanking maneuver, leveraging military and diplomatic power. What is Russia’s game?

The Syrian mess

Yes, America's Military Supremacy Is Fading (And We Should Not Panic)

September 21, 2015

Last week, Air Force General Frank Gorenc argued that the airpower advantage the United States has enjoyed over Russia and China is shrinking.This warning comes as part of a deluge of commentary on the waning international position of the United States. The U.S. military, it would seem, is at risk of no longer being able to go where it wants, and do what it wants to whomever it wants. Diplomatically, the United States has struggled, as of late, to assemble “coalitions of the willing” interested in following Washington into the maw of every waiting crisis.

Does this mean that U.S. global power in on the wane? If so, should we blame this decline on specific policy decisions made by this administration, or the previous administration? As Dan Drezner has argued with respect to who is “winning” the Ukraine crisis, the answer depends crucially on the starting point.

Pax Americana:

The Ultimate Weapon of War: Nuclear Land Mines?

September 20, 2015

Land mines and nukes are two of the most terrifying weapons of war — for two very different reasons. Nuclear weapons can wipe out entire cities, and land mines wait buried in the earth, ready to harm anyone who wanders too close.

In the 1950s, Britain tried to combine the two into a nuclear mine … with chickens as a heating source. Yes, this was actually proposed. But we’ll get to the chickens in a moment.

The Blue Peacock would have been one of the worst kinds of Cold War weapons — a nuke the enemy doesn’t know you have. The United Kingdom sought to develop and deploy 10 nuclear mines. Once completed, it would ship the nightmare weapons to the British Army of the Rhine — the U.K.’s occupation force in Germany.

The BAOR would then plant the landmines along the East German border in the north and detonate them should the Soviets ever try to cross the Iron Curtain. The project’s primary goal wasn’t to kill Soviet soldiers — though the blasts certainly could — but to irradiate and contaminate the North German Plain so Moscow’s troops couldn’t occupy it.

Welcome to Israeli Nuclear Weapons 101

September 20, 2015

The Iranian nuclear nonproliferation agreement has been the top foreign policy issue throughout Washington for the past two months. Approving or disapproving the deal was the first order of business for the U.S. Congress until the very last day of congressional action under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (September 17). Hours of debate have been conducted on the floors of the House and Senate, both chambers have held roll call votes, and Senate Democrats bonded together to filibuster a motion of disapproval — a resolution that would have prevented President Obama from providing the Iranians sanctions relief.

The Obama administration’s main selling point for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is based on the theory that forcing Tehran to downgrade its nuclear program will make the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East — the world’s most frenetic and violent region even without nuclear weapons— far less urgent. Yet we should remember that there is in fact a state in the region that already possesses nuclear weapons. That state happens to be Washington’s closest ally in the Middle East: Israel.

Nukes, Aircraft Carriers and More: France's 5 Most Lethal Weapons of War

September 19, 2015

The modern French armed forces are in many ways similar in structure to the U.S. military. More so than most European countries, the French military is structured to confront a vast continuum of conflict, ranging from guerrilla to nuclear warfare. Like the United States, France structures its forces for both expeditionary warfare and the homeland defense mission.

The French military maintains a high-end force of tanks, armored vehicles and modern jet fighters for high intensity conflict and a low-end of light infantry, special forces and light armored vehicles for the lower end of the spectrum. Heavy armored forces help France fulfill its European defense mission, while France’s commitments to its present and former colonies in Africa, South America, French Polynesia and the Middle East demand light forces capable of rapid overseas deployment.

France also has nuclear weapons, a legacy of French President CharlesDeGaulle’s desire for a country that was militarily self-reliant. France was the fourth country to attain nuclear weapons capability, and during the Cold War maintained its own triad of land, air, and sea-based nukes.

Here is a sampling of France’s five best weapons systems ranging from fourth-generation fighters to ballistic missile submarines capable of delivering armageddon across an entire continent.

RAW to shut down its covert air wing, assets will go to NTRO and IAF

The plans, backed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, envisage that the ARC’s aircraft and electronics assets will be divided between the National Technical Research Organisation and the Indian Air Force.

Plans have been firmed up to shut down the Aviation Research Centre (ARC), India’s premier imaging-intelligence organisation, highly-placed government sources have told The Indian Express.

The plans, backed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, envisage that the ARC’s aircraft and electronics assets will be divided between the National Technical Research Organisation and the Indian Air Force.

The organisational restructuring is primarily meant to enhance intelligence-gathering on China’s military capacities in the Tibet plateau, by integrating satellite-based data gathered by the NTRO with aircraft-based imaging conducted by the ARC.

NTRO’s imaging capacities, sources said, would be significantly enhanced by the acquisition of ARC electronic suites which are equipped with cloud-penetrating radar, something the satellites it now operates do not possess.

Interview: Malaysia’s Political Turmoil and the Role of the United States

September 21, 2015

Nurul Izzah Anwar, the daughter of recently jailed Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, is vice-president of the People’s Justice Party (PKR) – one of the country’s opposition parties – and a two-term member of parliament. During her recent visit to Washington, D.C, she spoke with The Diplomat’s associate editor Prashanth Parameswaran about Malaysian politics and U.S.-Malaysia relations. An edited version of that interview follows.

On September 16, the day marking the formation of Malaysia, a pro-government rally featuring tens of thousands of Malaysians – mostly Malays – saw protesters denouncing ethnic Chinese, raising worries about racial tensions in multiracial Malaysia. How concerned are you about this, and what it does it say about the state of the country today?

It would be easier to place meaning on a spontaneous gathering rather than one tacitly sponsored by the ruling race-based party.

What a Mess! The State of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Future (if any) of Peace Talks

September 21, 2015

Afghanistan: Fight Or Flight

The Taliban peace talks, suspended since July, are now indefinitely delayed because of a worsening split in the Afghan Taliban. The leaders of the various Taliban factions are deadlocked over who shall be their new supreme leader. While these factions have not declared war on each other yet, many have said that they will not recognize Mullah Akhtar Mansour as the new leader of the Afghan Taliban. There has been some fighting but for the moment most Taliban leaders are seeking a solution that will not tear the organization apart. All this is happening despite the fact that the family of the founder (Mullah Omar) came out in support of Mansour. This mess began in late July when the Afghan Taliban announced the selection of a new leader (Mansour) to replace founder and longtime leader Mullah Omar. Mansour has been the acting head of the Taliban since 2010 because Mullah Omar was said to have health problems. It took weeks after the revelation for the Taliban to admit that Omar had been dead since 2013. The Taliban have not revealed exactly why his death was concealed although Omar’s family confirmed the death was from natural causes. The secrecy about the death was apparently to maintain unity. This became clear after Omar’s death and Mansour’s appointment were announced and several Taliban factions went public complaining of how the selection was made. The Afghan Taliban is known to be sharply divided over the subject of peace talks with the Afghan government and strategy in general. Some of the dissidents accuse Mansour of rigging the election. Some factions also complain openly that Pakistan (in the form of the ISI) actually controls the Taliban leaders living in Baluchistan under the protection of the ISI. 

Malware Called XcodeGhost Penetrates Apple Defenses and Infects Several Apps

Alex Hern
September 21, 2015

Apple removes malicious programs after first major attack on app store 

Apple has had to remove more than 300 malware-infected apps from its app store after a tainted version of its developer tools led to a number of Chinese apps leaking users’ personal information to hackers.

The company confirmed on Sunday night that it was removing the apps after several cybersecurity firms reported finding a malicious program dubbed “XcodeGhost” that was embedded in hundreds of legitimate apps.

It is the first reported case of large numbers of malicious software programs making their way past Apple’s stringent app review process. Prior to this attack, a total of just five malicious apps had ever been found in the app store, according to cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks.

Apple said the hackers embedded the malicious code in these apps by convincing developers of legitimate software to use a tainted, counterfeit version of Apple’s software for creating iOS and Mac apps, which is known as Xcode.

Memories of a Cold War U.S. Navy SIGINTer and His Secret Missions on Ships and Subs

September 20, 2015

‘Spook’ tells tales of time as Naval cryptologist

STONINGTON, Conn. (AP) - It was the winter of 1963 and George Cassidy was in the midst of the Navy’s boot camp in Great Lakes, Michigan, when he was told to go see the psychiatrist.

“This knocked the socks off of me,” Cassidy said recently from his home in Stonington. “I didn’t think I was stupid or crazy or something … you think all sorts of things.”

The psychiatrist asked him personal questions and more broad ones about communications and whether he could keep secrets. He left the meeting with the psychiatrist still unsure of why he’d been ordered there in the first place.

Cassidy joined the Navy in October of 1962 right around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

After the meeting with the psychiatrist, an officer approached Cassidy and told him the Navy wanted him to be a “CT.”

“And I said ‘what’s a CT?,’ and they said ‘we can’t tell you it’s classified.’ So I’m going OK why do I want to be something that nobody is going to let me know what it is,” Cassidy recalled.

Call for Applications: Program Coordinator, Fellowship Program

September 18, 2015

The Center for the National Interest seeks to hire a Program Coordinator to help launch and manage an exciting new fellowship program for young foreign policy leaders.
Key responsibilities will include:

- Creating a database of international relations programs, developing and distributing marketing materials, recruiting candidates, and managing the selection process for five resident and twenty non-resident fellows;

- Planning and organizing a seminar series on foreign policy and international affairs;

- Facilitating fellows’ research projects and coordinating the editing and publication of fellows’ studies/reports;

- Drafting grant reports and proposals, and,

- Other duties as needed.

Australia's Bizarre Politics...And Its New Prime Minister

September 21, 2015

The ghostly appearance of a former king inspired the famous line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “There is something rotten in the state of Denmark.” With five leaders in just five years, something appears decidedly rotten about the state of affairs in Australia, after the reappearance of former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull as the nation’s new prime minister.

Yet with opinion polls published after the bloodless coup quickly turning in the ruling party’s favor, Turnbull’s elevation has sparked optimism of a change in direction for the world’s twelfth-largest economy, which has struggled to adjust to the end of a China-driven mining boom.

On the evening of September 14, sixty-year-old Turnbull overthrew his younger rival, fifty-seven-year-old Tony Abbott, securing the leadership by 54 to 44 votes in a meeting of Liberal Party lawmakers. Under Australia’s Westminster system, the leader of the ruling party can become prime minister even without a national election, a fact noted by Abbott when he said before the vote that the leadership should be “earned by a vote of the Australian people.”