26 November 2015

Exclusive! Manohar Parrikar on his plans for India's defence


November 25, 2015 

'The armed forces have been given clear indication that they have to give priority to Make in India and indigenisation and dependence on foreign source should be reduced.'
'Almost Rs 90,000 crores contracts have been signed during my tenure. Another almost Rs 70,000 crores are in the pipeline.'

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, in his most detailed interview since becoming Raksha Mantri a year ago, speaks to Nitin A Gokhale.
In what is perhaps the most detailed interview since he took office in November 2014, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar speaks to well-known defence analyst Nitin A Gokhale for his new portal BharatShakti.in and lays out a clear roadmap for the defence sector.

Nitin Gokhale: So what are your thoughts after a year in office?

Manohar Parrikar: Reflection of the past one year gives me the satisfaction that I could change a lot of issues and handle a lot of priorities in defence.

Policy Issues

How are we progressing in terms of policy frameworks to guide equipment induction?

There are some issues which are on the way to completion. For example, Defence Procurement Procedures; its review has been completed. It is in its last stages of being finalised. Meanwhile, the urgent issues have been addressed.
For example Offset Policy, Policy on Complaints which was derailing the acquisitions earlier, have been clearly spelt out.

For complaints, how have you changed the earlier method? Trivial complaints and anonymous complaints; how will these be handled?

If there is some component in an anonymous complaint which has substance, on verification found correct, action will be initiated. However, complaint will not derail the process of procurement until proven prima facie. So a complaint will be processed along with the procurement; the process is not derailed.

Secondly, if the complaint comes from the participant, one of the tendering parties, if it is found frivolous, he can be penalised.

Charm, criticise, compromise On Indian peacekeeping abroad, Samantha Power shows some deft diplomacy.


Written by Richard Gowan | Published:November 24, 2015 

If India really does not believe in what the UN is doing in places like South Sudan, it has an opportunity to get its troops out.

Good diplomats know how to deliver tough messages to important counterparts without creating havoc. It’s a three-part process. First, you need to butter up your target with compliments. Second, you have to express your concerns firmly, but not hysterically. Third, you must hint at a compromise that will let everyone save face. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power showed off this “charm, criticise and compromise” approach in New Delhi last week. The topic was UN peacekeeping. The goal was to resolve growing tensions over the performance of Indian troops in troublespots like South Sudan and the Congo.

US diplomats, and even UN staff members, argue that Indian units are too cautious in reacting to threats. This has been brought into sharp focus in South Sudan, where Indian peacekeepers have guarded thousands of vulnerable civilians on their bases but refused to take more robust action against marauding militias. Such incidents are hurting India’s longstanding reputation as a pillar of UN operations.

Outgoing ambassador to the UN, Asoke Mukerji, has sternly and cogently picked apart criticism of Indian troops’ performance. The Security Council, as he points out, has often pushed missions away from peacekeeping towards peace enforcement or outright war-fighting in the face of mounting violence. The P5 still risk relatively few of their personnel on UN missions, although China has recently promised to send up to 8,000 extra troops. Meanwhile, Delhi appears to be pulling back from UN missions. India has not sent troops to the UN’s two newest operations in Mali and the Central African Republic.

Why India Is Key to a Climate Change Agreement in Paris

By Raymond E. Vickery Jr.
November 22, 2015

When the nations of the world meet in Paris later this month, the focus will be on climate change as well as terrorism. Of the two, climate change has the long-run potential to be more deadly and disruptive than the terrorism that recently reared its ugly head in Paris.

What India finally offers in Paris and how the United States and the developed world respond to that offer may well determine the success or failure of the effort to stave off environmental disaster by holding the world’s temperature increase to 2° Centigrade over pre-industrial temperatures at the end of this century.

India has made a climate change offer in the form of its “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution” (“INDC”), and its final position will be built on its INDC. However, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry already has singled out India for criticism as “more cautious” and “more restrained” than others. India is the third largest greenhouse gas emitter and a primary leader of the “G-77” group of developing nations. Many members of this now 134-country strong group will be strongly influenced by what India does. Thus, the reality is that no satisfactory deal is likely to be reached without India.

India Warms Up to Climate Action


Authors: Varun Sivaram, Douglas Dillon Fellow, and Annushka Shivnani

November 19, 2015

In October 2015, India unveiled a comprehensive strategy to curb its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reduce its vulnerability to a changing climate. Climate advocacy groups hailed the document—which in the parlance of international climate negotiations is known as India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)—because it signaled a historic shift in India’s stance on climate action. Altogether, 185 countries have now submitted INDCs, accounting for nearly 90 percent of global GHG emissions and raising hopes for a successful accord at the UN climate talks being held in Paris at the end of 2015. 

But some analysts caution that such optimism is unfounded. The pessimist’s take is that India, the world’s third-largest GHG emitter behind China and the United States, has committed to little more than business as usual. Despite ambitious commitments, for example to rapidly deploy renewable energy sources, India’s emissions are set to more than double by 2030 as the country burns more coal to fuel a growing economy. Left unchecked, India’s annual GHG emissions could be the highest in the world by 2050. 

Workers carry a photovoltaic panel at a solar power plant in the Indian state of Gujarat in July 2015. (Photo: Amit Dave/Reuters) 

It is still too early to tell which story—the optimist’s or the pessimist’s—is right. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, now in his second year in office, has clearly signaled a break from India’s prior hardline stance against taking responsibility for mitigating climate change, recognizing that India itself could suffer acutely from its effects. But he has also stressed that India’s ability to act on climate is constrained by its needs as a developing country seeking to industrialize and expand affordable energy access. 



No longer in the realm of science fiction, space could be the battle field for the future world war III. It is well-known that both the US and Russia have space weapon programs developed over the 1970s and 1980s. These capabilities of cold-war adversaries were directed mutually at each other and India certainly would not have been a target. There was some vertical proliferation but no horizontal proliferation till 2005. More recently, China has been developing a wide array of space-based weapons. Flush with $3.5 to 4 trillion foreign exchange reserves, China has evolved into a 21st century space super-power. Proliferation of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons was on the fringes of academic discussions in 1990s and 2000s till China started to develop its ASAT weapons program.

ASAT weapons, broadly speaking belong to three categories. The direct ascent ASAT is carried by a missile launched from ground, sea or air and reaches its target directly without reaching the orbit. The co-orbital ASAT is carried to orbit by a space launch vehicle and then reaches its target after one or two orbital evolutions. The third category include directed energy ASATs that can be deployed on ground or in space and involve projection of powerful energy beams that can kill the target. The most proven of the anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons are the ground based, long-range missiles that could shoot down satellites from afar.
After China conducted its successful test of an ASAT weapon on Jan 11 2007, even the US perceived it as a new strategic threat. Since then, the Pentagon has been discussing ways to deter and counter China's ASAT weapons, which can threaten US C5ISR (Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Combat systems, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) network. US military and national security officials acknowledged the Chinese ASAT test was part of China's asymmetric warfare capabilities and represented a new strategic weapon that could cripple the US military in a future conflict by giving Beijing the capability to shoot down most low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites. The US officials indicated that US missile defenses can be used to counter China's strategic anti-satellite weapons. Consequently, after a lull of two decades, a secondary race for both vertical and horizontal proliferation of ASAT weapons has ensued since China’s ASAT test in 2007. Currently, three superpowers have demonstrated ASAT weapon capabilities. These countries are testing an array of ASAT weapons to take out the benefits and access to space to the adversary. Brian Weeden of the Secure World foundation has written a detailed review of Chinese, American and Russian ASAT testing in 2014.

China’s ‘New Normal’ Economy and Social Stability

November 24, 2015

China’s efforts to rebalance its economy to a consumption-driven, service-oriented model are set to get a big boost next year, when the 13th Five Year Plan (FYP) will be officially ratified. The FYP will set China’s official economic and social targets through 2020, and the proposal that was adopted after the Chinese Communist Party’s fifth plenum suggests it will be heavy on the sort of reforms that were first floated in 2013: boosting innovation, increasing consumption, and opening up China’s financial markets and service sector.

Some of parts of China’s economic transition, however, are easier than others. For example, Beijing is actively boosting China’s service industries as part of its overall plan to increase consumption. The State Council said this weekend that it would encourage financial institutions to make it easier for “lifestyle-related businesses” (including the travel, sports, education, and cultural sectors) to get loans. And on Monday, Beijing announced new measures designed to boost consumption, including increasing imports and encouraging foreigners to spend more money inside China.

China Promotes Trade, Maritime Silk Road in Malaysia

November 24, 2015

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang paid his first official visit to Malaysia this weekend. While in town for the various ASEAN-related summits in Kuala Lumpur, Li expanded his trip to include bilateral meetings and a tour of the port of Malacca.

Overall, trade and economic relations were the major focus of Li’s visit, although there were some strategic and military components (my colleague Prashanth Parameswaran will have more on the agreement to allow China to use Malaysia’s port of Kota Kinabalu). Following up on similar themes during President Xi Jinping’s trips to Vietnam, Singapore, and the Philippines, Li used his time in Malaysia to emphasize the benefits China’s rise will have for the region – and downplay concerns about China’s “assertiveness.” As I wrote earlier, China is trying to use economic incentives to smooth over worries in Kuala Lumpur that the “special relationship” between China and Malaysia has hit a snag.

In keeping with his emphasis on trade, Li made a symbolic visit to Malacca, a side trip Chinese media described as “an explicit gesture of China’s commitment to peaceful development and common prosperity in East Asia.” Malacca has served as an important international port for centuries – including playing host to the fleet of Chinese explorer Zheng He in the 15th century. Li visited the Zheng He Museum in Malacca, which is dedicated to the explorer China hails as the originator of the Maritime Silk Road.

Military Facilities Aren't Militarization in the South China Sea: Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister

November 23, 2015

Speaking at the 10th East Asia Summit in Malaysia on Sunday, China’s deputy foreign minister, Liu Zhenmin, clarified China’s position on the militarization of the South China Sea. Since 2014, China’s activities in the South China Sea have come under close scrutiny after Beijing began a spate of artificial island-building and construction activities on several features in the Spratly Islands at a historically unprecedented pace. Satellite imagery analysis has long shown that China is undertaking construction to facilitate military activities, including setting up new radar facilities, helipads, and airstrips.

In Kuala Lumpur, Liu reiterated China’s long-standing position that the purpose of these islands is to “provide public service” in the region. He noted the value of these facilities for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions. “One should never link the military facilities with efforts to militarize the South China Sea,” Liu added. “This is a false argument. It is a consistent Chinese position to firmly oppose the militarization of the South China Sea.” Liu’s language echoed assurances made by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his September visit to the United States. During a press conference with U.S. President Barack Obama, Xi said that China would never militarize the South China Sea.

Why Did China's Navy Gain Use of a Malaysia Port Near the South China Sea?

November 24, 2015

Over the past few days, some alarmist reports have surfaced about Chinese navy receiving access to a Malaysian port near the South China Sea. As is the case with much sensationalist reporting, caution is warranted and perspective is needed.

The brouhaha can be traced back to an agreement reached on November 10 between Admiral Wu Shengli, the commander of the People’s Liberation Army – Navy (PLAN), and Admiral Abdul Aziz Jaafar who until last week was the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) chief. Wu was leading a goodwill visit by a 12-member Chinese military delegation to Malaysia as part of a broader three-nation visit which also included Indonesia and the Maldives. The trip itself was significant: as Abdul Aziz noted, it was the first ever-visit by a PLAN commander to Malaysia.

Few specifics have been made publicly available about the pact itself. But Malaysian media reports indicate that an agreement was made by the two sides to give China stopover access to the port of Kota Kinabalu to strengthen defense ties between both countries.

Is the Islamic State going global?

Author Metin Gurcan
November 20, 2015
Source Link

An Islamic State fighter, waving a flag, cheers as he takes part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa, Syria, June 30, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Stringer)

For the past 15 days, the only Islamic State-related news the world was interested in was details of prospective anti-IS military operations in Iraq and Syria, especially how to field a ground force. Then the coordinated attacks in Paris on the night of Nov. 13 bitterly reminded the world that it had overlooked the question of how IS was going to defend itself.
Summary⎙ Print The Islamic State is now in a position to decide to go global or stay regional, following the attacks in Paris.

In the Al-Monitor article of Oct. 26 titled "Is Russian intervention in Syria pushing 'moderate jihadis' toward Islamic State?" I looked for an answer to this crucial question. In that article, which cited experts and journalists who closely monitor the events, my basic conclusion was that two different schools of thought have emerged within IS: the "localist approach" that advocates consolidating domination of Syria and Iraq, and the "globalist approach" that favors expanding the war to the Middle East and the rest of the world to avoid being easily overrun by the enemy. The localist approach, which is generally adopted by the former Baathists and Arab nationalists of IS, emphasizes the historic and symbolic significance and geostrategic position of Raqqa and Mosul and the call for the coming war to be fought in and around these two towns. The globalist approach, generally popular with foreign militants called the “muhajiroun” who have joined IS in Iraq and Syria, calls attention to the unwarranted focus on an insignificant piece of land at Kobani in 2011 and the loss of some 2,200 fighters to capture that piece of land. Globalists demand that the same mistake will not be repeated.

After Paris, ISIL will now have to fight its own radicals

Faisal Al Yafai
November 23, 2015 

Analysts of terror groups like ISIL often make one of two framing errors. They either perceive the group as inherently irrational, lashing out without thought or planning. Or they assume extensive strategic thinking on the part of the group, imagining them to be cunning and far-sighted, able to intuit how governments will react to their provocations and planning accordingly.

But terror groups are at root political groups and the dynamics of power, planning and policy remain constant. As with political groups, there are disagreements that lead to miscalculations, decisions that turn out to be erroneous or counterproductive.

It is in that light that the Paris attacks should be seen. For ISIL may have miscalculated the impact of the attack – not in France or in the West, but within the militant group itself.

Want to Beat the Islamic State? Help Tunisia.

NOVEMBER 21, 2015

Within the past three weeks, the Islamic State has bombed a Russian airliner out of the sky, killing all 224 people on board; stagedsuicide bombings in Beirut that killed 43; and launched a series of attacks in Paris that left 129 dead. If anyone had any doubts on the matter before, it should now be clear: military force must be part of the West’s response to the Islamic State.

Yet trying to bomb it into submission runs the risk of creating more terrorists than we kill. The Islamic State’s own ideologues are aiming to goad their enemies into an overreaction that will create new recruits for the nascent caliphate and erode the freedoms that we in the West take for granted. And besides, military force isn’t enough. The West won’t be able to destroy the Islamic State without a political strategy that addresses the problems that fueled its rise in the first place.

How The Iraq War Led To The Paris Attacks

WASHINGTON -- One Middle East catastrophe apparently wasn't enough for some supporters of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. So they've continued to try to shape policy relating to the region, offering punditry in the wake of each fresh crisis.

It wasn't a surprise, then, that they seized on last week's tragic attacks in Paris to argue that the Islamic State group could only be eliminated by their preferred mode of U.S. intervention: large-scale troop deployment.

"If it takes 50,000 troops going in there and cleaning out Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State, do it," Bill Kristol said on ABC two days after the attack.

We've heard this before. Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, told the Senate in 2002that he endorsed U.S. military action against Saddam Hussein -- despite the absence of credible links between Hussein and the Sept. 11 attacks that launched the Bush administration's War on Terror.

Middle East Chaos, Violence Won't End With ISIS Defeat

November 23, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chaos and violence gripping the Middle East are not likely to evaporate even if the forces arrayed against the Islamic State group manage to crush the brutal army and its drive to establish an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria and beyond. 


The national structures and boundaries created by European colonial powers after the Ottoman Empire was dismantled at the end of World War I are collapsing or already have disintegrated. That has unleashed powerful centrifugal forces that are melting the glue that was holding together increasingly antagonistic religious and ethnic populations.

The mix of Muslims — Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites — Christians and the big ethnic Kurdish populations in the north of both Syria and Iraq are a stew of ancient discontent, sectarian frustration and flagrant injustice. 

Those social explosives were detonated by the upheaval unleashed by the U.S. war in Iraq and the civil war in Syria. 

"The level of damage that has been done by the United States in Iraq and the civil war in Syria is probably irreparable," said Wayne Merry, senior associate at the American Foreign Policy Council. 

How US and Russian arms fell into ISIS' hands

23 Nov 2015

Old military campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and other troubled Middle Eastern countries have come back to haunt the U.S., Russia and Europe as the ordnance left behind has fallen into the hands of a powerful enemy: The terrorist group known as Islamic State.

All types of military vehicles – from Soviet-era tanks and modern U.S. Humvees to Black Hawk helicopters, AK-47s and fighter jets – have been identified as being captured by the jihadist group ISIS in their campaigns across swathes of Syria and Iraq.

The weapons can date back anything from a few years or decades and originate from foreign campaigns in the Middle East, according to analysts. From Russia's ill-fated war in Afghanistan in the 1980s to the similarly troubled times for U.S. forces in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, large amounts of weapons were left behind or handed over to U.S.-trained forces.

Problematically, however, when those Iraqi forces or Syrian rebels have been defeated by ISIS in recent battles for control over territory in Iraq or Syria, the group has commandeered their weapons too, strengthening their arsenal further and leaving the West little option but to fight an enemy using its own weapons against it.

Australia’s Mono-Cultural Provocateurs and Terrorism

November 24, 2015

“Europe is burning” and multi-culturalism is our enemy. This is the collective message of several pieces in The Australian newspaper print edition this past weekend that allude sympathetically in one way or another to the pitfalls of accepting Muslim immigrants.

The lead news story on page one was headlined “Church fear over Syrian refugees.” Written by Dennis Shanahan, the “comment posing as news” says that the “Turnbull government’s plan to take a majority of the 12,000 extra refugees from persecuted Christian groups is in danger of being derailed.” As if this were the policy. Perhaps Shanahan hopes it is. Of note, the online edition of the newspaper amended the lead sentence to include a reference to “other religious minorities” but still left the emphasis on Christians as in the original.

It was not Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who led on the decision; his predecessor, Tony Abbott, was in charge on September 9 when the cabinet apparently made a decision on a preference for persecuted minorities. Abbott commented publicly at the time that there would be no religious test: “There are persecuted minorities that are Muslim, there are persecuted minorities that are non-Muslim and our focus is on the persecuted minorities who have been displaced and are very unlikely ever to be able to go back to their original homes.” This view, that there would be no purely religious test, was backed by a senior Immigration Department officialon November 18.

Will Kazakhstan Be a Game-Changer in Afghanistan?

November 24, 2015

Economics and security headlined during Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s two-day visit to Kazakhstan over the weekend, underscoring mutual concerns and painful realities in both Astana and Kabul. Ghani also made what has rapidly become a standard stop by high-level visitors to Astana: delivering a speech at Nazarbayev University. The trip was Ghani’s first official visit to Kazakhstan.

Among the deals settled between the two countries was a contract for 600,000 tons of Kazakh wheat. According to TOLOnews, an Afghan news site, Ghani commented that “Kazakhstan is one of the biggest wheat producers in the region and we need imported wheat in next five years.” He also noted that Kazakhstan is a steel producer and Afghanistan’s infrastructure development plans necessitate a solid supply.

The Islamic State's Worst Nightmare: Russia and France Joining Forces

November 23, 2015

Russia is claiming that its forces are cooperating with the French military as it ramps up its operations against the Daesh terrorist entity in Syria.

“In accordance with the orders of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, organization of cooperation with the French Armed Forces is started,” reads a Nov. 20 statement from the Russian ministry of defense.

However, France has not confirmed that the two nations’ militaries are coordinating their efforts against the terrorist group, which launched a deadly terrorist attack on Paris on Nov. 13 that killed over 130 people. But Russian president Vladimir Putin is set to host French president Francois Hollande in Moscow on Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 26. Military coordination between the two powers is not outside the realm of possibility.

An Example of “All Is Well Reporting” From CENTCOM About the Wars in Iraq and Syria

Terri Moon Cronk 
November 22, 2015

Combined Factors Create Momentum Against ISIL, Centcom Spokesman Says

WASHINGTON, November 21, 2015 — While U.S.-led coalition airstrikes enable local ground forces to push back Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant extremists in Iraq and Syria, a combination of factors has recently become been critical in the campaign, U.S. Central Command spokesman Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder said yesterday.

In a teleconference call with reporters here, Ryder outlined the counter-ISIL efforts in both countries from operational and strategic perspectives.

“Our [coalition] support to enable the indigenous ground forces – by providing precision airstrikes, intelligence and advise-and assist support – remains the right approach,” to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria, he said.

Ryder emphasized military power is just one critical component to the anti-ISIL strategy and, despite recent progress, work remains in what he called a whole-of-government and coalition effort.

Hollande’s Post-Paris Power Grab

NOVEMBER 20, 2015

Far greater authority to carry out searches without warrants. Expansive power to place suspects under house arrest. Access to computers found in raids.

Following last week’s Paris attacks — and embracing a similar civil liberties crackdown in the United States after 9/11 — French lawmakers signed off Friday on a three-month extension to a national state of emergency. But lawmakers didn’t just approve an extension to the suspension of civil liberties and the expansion of police power. They also overhauled the 1955 law governing states of emergency, handing the French government extraordinary authority to fight back domestically against extremist threats like the Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the rampage that killed 130.

Putin's Emergency Politics

NOV. 23, 2015

Much has changed for Vladimir Putin since the terror attacks in Paris. The trope that aggressions in Crimea and Ukraine show that he is more of a threat to the West than ISIS was useful to President Obama’s critics, but that’s now older than yesterday’s news. Given the joint French-Russian airstrikes against ISIS in Syria last week, Russia is now a de facto Western ally. Putin the pariah has a shot at redemption, or so it might seem.

Just weeks ago, François Hollande declared that the Russian leader was “not our ally in Syria,” and warned — albeit obliquely — that Mr. Putin should refrain from propping up President Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime. In August, France canceled the delivery of two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia, selling them to Egypt instead. But the tables have turned. This week, the French president plans trips to Moscow and Washington to foster Russian-American cooperation in stamping out the Islamic State.

Mr. Putin is a proven master at manipulating emergencies — real or imagined — to get what he wants. Witness how he consolidated his hold on power by skillfully distorting the nature of his domestic critics and has used the threat of extremism to re-centralize Russia’s political system. In essence, he applies his own brand of emergency politics to keeping the country in a near-constant state of alarm; security takes precedence over political, legal and marketplace freedoms.

America's Greatest Intelligence Failure?

November 23, 2015

The US government has just released one of the most worrying reports about the risk of nuclear war in the Cold War and the dangers of miscalculating Soviet intentions. The top-secret document was released in October 2015. It’s a damning report made by the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) in February 1990 about the US intelligence community’s poor knowledge and lack of understanding of the USSR during the 1983 nuclear war scare. 

Strategist readers will recall that in October 2013 I authored an ASPI Special Report The nuclear war scare of 1983: how serious was it? I had access to 57 US intelligence documents—many of them National Intelligence Estimates on the USSR formerly highly classified—that had been obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) by the National Security Archive. Using those sources I painted a frightening picture of events in 1983 when the world stood on the edge of the nuclear abyss without our US ally even realising it. But there was one piece of critical evidence missing—the 1990 PFIAB report, which has only recently been released. 

Political Correctness Goes To War on American History

November 24, 2015

George Orwell once remarked that Stalin’s Soviet Union was a place yesterday’s weather could be changed by decree. America, it seems, is not wholly immune to this totalitarian impulse either. It increasingly manifests itself in political correctness, a phenomenon that is flourishing at elite American universities. Make no mistake: the authoritarian implications of this movement, as Jonathan Chait points out in New York magazine, should not be pooh-poohed. Quite the contrary. The tribunes of political correctness, Chait notes, “ are carrying out the ideals of a movement that regards the delegitimization of dissent as a first-order goal.”

The New York Times is thus featuring a story on a plot against Woodrow Wilson—or, to put it more precisely, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. A student group called the Black Justice League is demanding that Princeton University, which Wilson molded in his image first as professor, then as the school’s president, acknowledge “the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson” and move to strip his name from both the public policy school and the residential college. For good measure, these student radicals want Princeton to institute courses on “the history of marginalized peoples” as well as “cultural competency training.”

American Nativism and the Newest Surge in Xenophobia

November 23, 2015

A couple of days ago President Obama made an appropriate refinement to how he describes the discriminatory and xenophobic tendencies that have become all too obvious in debate and posturing in the United States on issues related to Syria, ISIS, the Paris attacks, and refugees. A week earlier at a press conference in Turkey, in expressing dismay at how “those who have taken on leadership” in the party of George W. Bush ignore how Mr. Bush had made clear that counterterrorism was not a war on Islam, Mr. Obama said, “That's not who we are.” This past weekend, in remarks in Malaysia, the president said that some of the excuses being made for Americans to reject Syrian refugees are “not representative of the best of who we are.” Inclusion of the qualifier the best is important. Although American history has featured the concept of the melting pot and the idea of a new people being created and enriched by the inclusion of diverse other peoples without regard to ethnicity or religion, the United States also has had an ignoble strain of bias and nativism.

This Is How America and the Soviet Union Almost Started a Nuclear War

November 23, 2015

The U.S. government has just released one of the most worrying reports about the risk of nuclear war in the Cold War and the dangers of miscalculating Soviet intentions.

The top-secret document was released in October 2015. It’s a damning report made by the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) in February 1990 about the U.S. intelligence community’s poor knowledge and lack of understanding of the USSR during the 1983 nuclear war scare.

Strategist readers will recall that in October 2013 I authored an ASPI Special Report The nuclear war scare of 1983: how serious was it? I had access to 57 U.S. intelligence documents—many of them National Intelligence Estimates on the USSR formerly highly classified—that had been obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) by the National Security Archive. Using those sources I painted a frightening picture of events in 1983 when the world stood on the edge of the nuclear abyss without America even realizing it. But there was one piece of critical evidence missing—the 1990 PFIAB report, which has only recently been released.

Time to Act on Ukraine

November 24, 2015

The Ukraine crisis, though temporarily out of the headlines, is at a critical stage. There is no better opportunity than now through the next several months to forge a deal with Russia advantageous to American interests. The Europeans may very well not extend sanctions after the first half of 2016, even as Russia is now in a near-disastrous economic position. The confluence of the two trends calls for dramatic diplomatic action. This is not a deal for a deal's sake, but a way to get Russia effectively out of eastern Ukraine.

The constraining factor for the United States in Ukraine has always been Europe. Europe, principally (though not entirely) because of its appetite for Russian energy, has throughout the Ukraine crisis demonstrated less appetite than the United States for a harsh policy toward Moscow. This is especially true of the Germans, who historically have looked both east and west. And now that Europe is reeling under a massive refugee deluge, coupled with its own economic crisis that after half-a-decade shows few pivotal signs of improvement, the influential European business community craves the lifting of sanctions with Russia as a means to spur commerce. EU-Russian trade was down nearly 30 per cent in the first half of this year, compared to the same period in 2014, and the European Commission has estimated that Russia sanctions shaved off a third of a point of the EU’s tepid GDP last year and this year. Consequently, some Europeans rationalize that the current ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine and the cancellation of Russian-backed separatist elections there justifies a discontinuation of the sanctions.

What the Shakeup in Buenos Aires Means for Latin America

November 24, 2015

Just a month ago, in a land where all politicians cloak themselves in the comfortable smock of peronismo, it seemed improbable.

Yet Mauricio Macri—the son of an Italian entrepreneur, himself a businessman before entering the world of Argentine politics, a one-time owner of the Boca Juniors soccer team and, of course, the accomplished outgoing two-term mayor of Buenos Aires, the cosmopolitan capital of the country he is now set to lead—made his peace with peronismo en route to the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace that he’ll now call home for at least the next four years.

It’s Official: There Will Be No Iranian ICBM in 2015

November 24, 2015

For many years, U.S. intelligence officials have publicly assessed that Iran could possibly flight-test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by 2015. Among other consequences, this now outdated projection, and misinterpretations of it, prompted policymakers to schedule the deployment of ever more advanced missile defense systems into Europe, and led Congress to propose building a major strategic interceptor base on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

GOP presidential candidates have also made hyperbolic claims based on the 2015 date. For example, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) warned in January that Iran would soon be able to launch nuclear strikes against “New York or Los Angeles.”

United With Putin Against Terror?

NOV 18, 2015 12

NEW YORK – Russian President Vladimir Putin has just vowed to “find and punish” those responsible for using a homemade bomb to bring down a Russian airliner over Egypt in October, killing 224 people. The timing of his announcement, just days after terrorists used suicide bombs and Kalashnikovs to kill 129 people in Paris, is no coincidence. Putin sees an opening to the West, and he wants to take advantage of it. The West should not shut him out.

For weeks, the Russian government seemed to be dithering over the proper response to the plane crash, as if it were worried that the loss of life would be blamed on its decision to intervene in Syria’s civil war. The bloodshed in France, however, has changed the calculus completely, pointing toward the possibility of a rapprochement between Russia and the West. By striking Paris, the Islamic State has turned the Syrian war into a global conflict. And, as Putin’s performance at the G-20 summit in Turkey showed, Russia is firmly in the middle of the fight.

It must be noted that an adversarial relationship with the West was not part of Putin’s original plan. “Russia is part of European culture,” Putin told the BBC in 2000, shortly before his election as President. “I cannot imagine my own country in isolation from Europe and what we often call the civilized world. It is hard for me to visualize NATO as an enemy.”

US Cyber Command’s Veiled Threat: China ‘Vulnerable’ in Cyberspace

November 24, 2015

Speaking at this year’s Halifax Security Forum, the head of U.S. Cyber Command, who also is the director of the National Security Agency (NSA), Admiral Michael Rogers, issued a vicious warning to China should it not change its behavior in cyberspace.

The U.S. admiral pointed out that China is as vulnerable to cyberattacks as any other nation, according toDefense News. “To my Chinese counterparts, I would remind them, increasingly you are as vulnerable as any other major industrialized nation state. The idea that you can somehow exist outside the broader global cyber challenges I don’t think is workable,” he said.

By openly pointing to Chinese vulnerabilities, the admiral issued a veiled threat cautioning that China itself may be target of cyber intrusions in the future should Beijing not change its behavior in cyberspace, although Rogers cautioned: “None of us wants behavior on either side that ends up accelerating or precipitating a crisis. That’s in no one’s interests.”

US Navy’s Prototype Robot Ship Gets New Sonar

November 24, 2015

The prototype of a U.S. Navy robot ship was recently equipped with a new hull-mounted sonar system, IHS Defense Weekly reports.

The Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV), received Raytheon’s Modular Scalable Sonar System (MS 3), which “will be integrated as the ACTUV’s primary search-and-detection sonar,” according to the article. The sonar system will produce an “acoustic image” of targets in order to identify and classify vessels in close proximity to the robot ship.

“Designed to autonomously conduct active and passive searches, detect torpedoes, filter passive threats, localize and track submarines, and avoid small objects, the MS 3 is Raytheon’s first fifth-generation medium-frequency hull-mounted sonar system,” IHS Defense Weekly explains.


NOVEMBER 23, 2015

It is 2030. Russian leaders still use nationalism and threats of external conflict to distract their citizens from corruption at home. Despite a dysfunctional economy, the Russian government still fields a large conventional ground force that conducts snap exercises and threatens multiple NATO member states as part of a “New Generation warfare” campaign to secure Moscow’s near abroad. If conflict erupts, Russian ground forces will rely on massive salvos of precision rocket and artillery fire targeted by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) combined with cyber and electronic warfare capabilities designed to blind and confuse NATO forces. A sophisticated anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) system limits NATO power projection in the sea and air through integrated air defenses, theater ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles. The Russians retain a nuclear triad and conduct readiness exercises, including long-range air patrols, simulated submarine launches from the Arctic, and dispersion of mobile missile launchers. Agents provocateurs and clandestine operatives are active in Russia’s near abroad, forming an infrastructure for unconventional warfare.