29 November 2015

The India-Nepal Crisis

After two devastating earthquakes, a blockade on its border presents Nepal with another humanitarian crisis.
By Hemant Ojha, November 27, 2015

Months after two devastating earthquakes that killed 9000 people, Nepal is now confronted with another humanitarian crisis, this time due to a blockade at a crucial crossing on the border with India, which has halted oil and other essential supplies landlocked Nepal obtains from its giant neighbor. The blockade, which Nepal’s government blames on India (New Delhi denies involvement) immediately followed the passage of a new constitution by Nepal on September 19.

The Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed its displeasure at Nepal’s constitution, a position made clear in a series of statements issued by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in new Delhi. Citing MEA sources, Indian Express even circulated a seven-point demand for amendments to the constitution, within days of its promulgation. With the election of nationalistic leader K P Oli as prime minister in Nepal, the rift between Delhi and Kathmandu has widened, and could potentially lead to a massive humanitarian crisis, as shortages of fuel, medicines, and essential supplies become acute across Nepal, with no sign of a reconciliation in sight.

But why should India be so unhappy at Nepal’s historic moment?

During the decade of the Maoist War (1996-2006), Nepal was mired in crisis. India’s help as a neighbor was crucial in striking a peace deal in 2004, creating the foundation for a comprehensive peace deal between the Nepalese government and the Maoists. Since then, Nepal has been moving through a process of peaceful transition, making impressive strides in a number of areas: ending monarchy, adopting secularism, promoting social inclusion, and achieving development. On the whole, the agenda of political reform has been, and is being, well handled. There is a sense of readiness for the remaining challenges ahead, and a degree of political contention and civil society watchdogging continues to pressure national leaders to keep the reform process going.

China’s rush to dam rivers flowing to other nations

Brahma Chellaney, Hindustan Times, November 28, 2015

As if to underscore the contrast between an autocracy and a democracy, China’s recent announcement that all six power-generating units at the world’s highest-elevation dam in Zangmu, Tibet, are now fully operational coincided with protesters stalling movement of trucks to Lower Subansiri, India’s sole large dam project currently under construction. After finishing the $1.6 billion Zangmu project on the Brahmaputra ahead of schedule, China is racing to complete a series of additional dams on the river. These dams, collectively, are set to affect the quality and quantity of downstream flows.

The water situation in India is far worse than in China, including in terms of per capita availability. China’s population is just marginally larger than India’s but its internally renewable water resources (2,813 billion cubic meters per year) are almost twice as large as India’s. In aggregate water availability, including external inflows (which are sizeable in India’s case), China boasts virtually 50% larger resources than India.

Yet, even as China’s dam builders target rivers flowing to India, including the Brahmaputra, Indus, Sutlej and Arun (Kosi), New Delhi has failed to evolve a strategic, long-term approach to the country’s pressing water challenges. The flash floods that ravaged Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh between 2000 and 2005 were linked to the unannounced releases from rain-swollen Chinese dams and barrages.

China’s centralized, megaprojects-driven approach to water resources, reflected in its emergence long ago as the world’s most dam-dotted country, is the antithesis of the policy line in India, where water is a state (not federal) subject under the Constitution and where anti-dam NGOs are powerful. The Narmada Dam remains incomplete after decades of work. The largest dam India has built since independence — the 2,000-megawatt Tehri Dam on the Bhagirathi — pales in comparison to China’s giant projects, such as the 22,500-megawatt Three Gorges Dam and the new Mekong mega-dams like Xiaowan, which dwarfs Paris’s Eiffel Tower in height, and Nuozhadu, which boasts a 190-square-km reservoir.

India’s surface-water storage capacity — an important measure of any nation’s ability to deal with drought or seasonal imbalances in water availability — is one of the world’s lowest, in per capita terms. Amounting to 200 cubic meters yearly, it is more than 11 times lower than China’s. The 2030 Water Resources Group has warned that India is likely to face a 50% deficit between water demand and supply by 2030.

In 1960, India generously reserved more than 80% of the Indus basin waters for its adversary Pakistan under a treaty of indefinite duration. This pact remains the world’s most generous water-sharing arrangement. (The volume of waters earmarked for Pakistan — by way of comparison — is over 90 times greater than the 1.85 billion cubic meters the U.S. is required to release to Mexico under a bilateral treaty.)

India’s 1996 Ganges water-sharing treaty with Bangladesh guarantees specific cross-border flows in the critical dry season — a new principle in international water relations. This provision means that even if the river’s flows were to diminish due to reasons beyond India’s control — such as climate change or the planned Chinese damming of a key Ganges tributary, the Arun (Kosi) that contributes significantly to downstream Ganges water levels — India would still be obligated to supply Bangladesh with 34,060 cubic feet of water per second of time (cusecs) on average in the dry season, as stipulated by the treaty. Bangladesh’s share of current downstream flows is about 50%.

But China is not India: With its frenzied dam building, Beijing refuses to enter into a water-sharing arrangement with any co-riparian nation, even though its control over the Tibetan Plateau (the starting place of major international rivers) and Xinjiang (the source of the transnational Irtysh and Ili rivers) has armed it with unparalleled hydro-hegemony. There is deep concern among its riparian neighbours that, by building extensive hydro-engineering infrastructure on upstream basins, it is seeking to turn water into a potential political weapon. China pays little heed to the interests of even friendly countries, as its heavy upstream damming of the Mekong and Salween illustrate.

New Delhi has to brace for China moving its dam building from the upper and middle reaches to the lower, border-hugging sections of the rivers flowing to India. The Brahmaputra is particularly a magnet for China’s dam builders because this river’s cross-border annual discharge of 165.4 billion cubic meters into India is greater than thecombined trans-boundary flows of the key rivers running from Chinese territory to Southeast Asia. As China gradually moves its dam building to the Brahmaputra’s water-rich Great Bend — the area where the river takes a horseshoe bend to enter India, forming the world’s longest and steepest canyon in the process — it is expected to embark on Mekong-style mega-dams.

Only five rivers in the world carry more water than the Brahmaputra and only one — mainland China’s Yellow River — carries more silt. The Brahmaputra is the world’s highest-altitude river. It represents a unique fluvial ecosystem largely due to the heavy load of high-quality nutrient-rich silt it carries from forbidding Himalayan heights. The Brahmaputra annual flooding cycle helps re-fertilize overworked soils in the Assam plains and large parts of Bangladesh, where the river is the biggest source of water supply. The likely silt-movement blockage from China’s upstream damming constitutes a bigger threat than even diminution of cross-border flows.

India must get its act together, both by treating water as a highly strategic resource and by shining an international spotlight on China’s unilateralist course. Just as China — through a creeping, covert war — is working to change the territorial and maritime status quo in Asia, its dam frenzy is designed to appropriate internationally shared water resources. No country faces a bigger challenge than India from China’s throttlehold over the headwaters of Asia’s major transnational rivers and its growing capacity to serve as the upstream controller by reengineering trans-boundary flows through dams.

Brahma Chellaney is a geostrategist and the author, most recently, of “Water, Peace, and War.”

The Economic Risks of India’s Wealth Inequality


“There is a line beyond which inequality is too high, and India is close to – if not already beyond – that line.”
The Economic Risks of India’s Wealth InequalityBy Asit K. Biswas and Kris Hartley, November 28, 2015

Economic inequality has been a popular topic for analysis, commentary, and political debate over the last several years, lately even garnering attention from the Pope. Recent data have elicited yet more concern. The top 1 percent of wealthy individuals in the world now own more than the next 99 percent combined; the top 0.1 percent own more than the bottom 90 percent. When examining inequality on the country level, the GINIindex reveals that those countries with high income inequality are not only advanced economies but also resource-dependent laggards. For India, growing wealth inequality limits efforts to overcome poverty and reach full development. This challenge necessitates the type of fundamental structural change that can only originate politically from the ground-up.

The latest World Bank GINI data for India is from 2009. Figure 1 compares India’s score (higher = more unequal) with that of several major world economies, using 2008-2010 data. In this group, India is not an outlier. For the exception of China, however, the comparator countries are much wealthier, and in a highly developed capitalist context some inequality can be expected. As a developing country, India is not in good company. Furthermore, other measures indicate that India’s income inequality (measured by consumption) hasrisen since the 1990s.

Figure 2 compares India to its economic peers, specifically countries with similar GDP per capita (between US$1,000 and US$3,000). Once again, India appears to be in the middle of the pack. However, when adjusting for transfer payments (subsidies, taxes, and welfare), India’s GINI coefficient is much higher (i.e. unequal) than many peer countries. As such, considering the GINI score alone conceals more serious problems.

A work in progress - Travelling through a green and partly pleasant land


Politics and Play - Ramachandra Guha

Some twenty years ago, my wife and I called on Nirad Chaudhuri at his home in Oxford. The great little writer was happy to see us, but less pleased with my wife's apparel. "That [chooridar kurta] is an Islamic dress", he barked, "in Bengal we [Hindu men] would never allow our women to wear it."

I was reminded of that remark when, earlier this month, I made my first visit to Bangladesh. For the Muslim women I saw or spoke to mostly wore saris, whether writers and scholars in Dhaka, or peasants in the countryside. To be sure, school-and-college-going girls wore the salwar kameez, and a few adult women sported (if that is the word) the burqa.

Bangladesh has a massive Muslim majority, and its Constitution defines it as an Islamic Republic. Yet language and culture are far more important to the nation's identity than religion. I spent long, drink-filled, evenings with two distinguished professors of literature: one, named Fakrul Alam, has translated the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore and Jibanananda Das; the other, named Kaiser Haq, has recently completed a book on the cult of the snake goddess in rural Bengal. These choices were natural, not self-conscious. These were not 'Muslim' scholars studying 'Hindu' subjects, but Bengalis seeking to bring to a wider audience the literary and folkloric heritage of their homeland.

Bangladesh is much less Islamicized than Pakistan. Fatima Jinnah, the sister and confidante of that Pakistan's founder, always wore a sari. So did many other middle-class Muslim women at the time. But, over the decades, the sari has come to be seen as a Hindu mode of dress; except for parts of rural Sindh, it has more or less disappeared from public view. Meanwhile, the burqa has become more widespread. These differences are also manifest when we consider or compare the males of these two countries. Beards and skull caps are more common on the streets of Lahore than in Dhaka.

To be sure, Islamic fundamentalism is by no means absent in Bangladesh. Bangladeshis who went to work in the Gulf countries brought back the austere, unforgiving, ideology of Wahhabism, preaching its doctrines to village audiences. In the towns, free-thinking or atheistic writers have been murdered, or (as in the case of Taslima Nasreen) forced into exile.

Indian direct investment


The paradox is striking: While India has been trying to attract FDI, Indian companies are investing abroad.

A recent study by Land Matrix, a global land monitoring initiative that tracks land dealings worldwide, placed India eighth from the top in a list of countries by the amount of land acquired abroad.

Two of the government’s most talked about programmes, “Make in India” and “Skill India”, imply massive investments in industry and the education system. There is a lot at stake, because the promise of the creation of new jobs clearly contributed hugely to the mandate that the BJP received in 2014. While these schemes are very much part of the economic diplomacy practised by Narendra Modi on his many trips abroad, one may wonder why India is not relying more on its own forces.

There is a certain paradox in the fact that India, since the 1991 reforms, has been trying to attract foreign direct investment for its development when the outward flow of FDI by Indian corporate houses is rising. According to the OECD, between 2006 and 2012, FDI outflow was about $103.30 billion, while inflow was merely double that number ($212.70 billion). This is an ongoing trend. Last year, while the GDP grew by about 5 per cent, the overseas FDI (OFDI) from India increased by 8 per cent. Most of this OFDI is in the form of mergers and acquisitions. The outbound acquisitions made by India Inc in the decade since 2003 was found to be worth $126 billion, according to Dealogic. In the manufacturing sector, $21 billion has been invested by Indian companies abroad between 2007-14. Recently, it has become easier for Indian companies to invest abroad; the ceiling to raise funds by pledging shares and domestic as well as overseas assets has been relaxed. The annual investment ceiling for Indians investing abroad to establish joint ventures and subsidiaries has now been raised from $75,000 to $1,25,000.

Now’s the Time for NATO to Rally Around Turkey

In the wake of the shoot-down of a Russian jet, Turkey’s alliance with the West needs to be reinforced, now more than ever.


The downing of a Russian jet by Turkish Air Force F-16 fighters illuminates the significant turbulence Ankara faces in its increasingly shattered neighborhood. The Iraqi and Syrian civil wars, the rise of the Islamic State, the continuing instability in Lebanon, historic and ongoing antipathy with Armenia, and an uneasy relationship with NATO ally Greece are all significant challenges. Both Russian and Turkish heads of state are publicly outraged, no apologies seem forthcoming, and sophisticated new anti-air missiles will be placed in Syria by Russia. It is a tactical and operational crisis, with high-stakes considerations.
But the chaotic region hasn’t always been the central organizing fact set driving Turkish foreign policy. Indeed, a decade ago, the Turks sought regional harmony under then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who articulated a foreign policy of “zero problems with neighbors.” This is a pretty good approach — until all your neighbors start to have problems, of course, which is the situation in which Turkey finds itself today.

What therefore faces Turkey and the West is a geopolitical choice of extraordinary importance: whether Ankara will continue to pursue membership in the European Union and maintain itself as a strong transatlantic-oriented nation; or to turn away in frustration from its failure to gain membership in the EU — abetted by a sense that NATO and the United States do not take their concerns (refugees, the dangers of the Assad regime, regional instability) seriously.

We here in the United States should do all in our power to encourage Turkey to be part of the European and transatlantic communities.We here in the United States should do all in our power to encourage Turkey to be part of the European and transatlantic communities. Letting them drift away would be a profound geopolitical mistake for the West. Turkey has a population of nearly 80 million, positive demographic trends, a diversified and growing economy that is easily in the global top 20, excellent infrastructure and industrial capability, the second largest military in NATO, and a deep sense of national pride. Despite a current economic slowdown, a huge Syrian refugee population (approaching 2 million), significant political challenges presented by the Kurdish minority, and an active insurgency, the nation has maintained a democratic and secular tradition, albeit under some internal pressure to move in a more Islamic direction.

But the Russian shoot-down is merely a symptom of what has been building in the region. Leading up to the downing yesterday, Ankara and Moscow have had an uneasy relationship for several years given the Turkish antipathy to the Assad regime and the staunch Russian support for it. Yet the nations have managed to cooperate across a variety of issues, including a major gas pipeline, tourism from sun-seeking Russians, significant counternarcotics cooperation, a high level of trade, and diplomatic engagement with Iran.

An Online University Of Terrorism

posted on 27 November 2015

from STRATFOR  -- this post authored by Scott Stewart

As many Stratfor Security Weekly readers know, for the past several years I have focused pretty heavily on the threat grassroots jihadists practicing the leaderless resistance model of terrorism pose to the West. One of the things that I've attempted to do in my writing is to place the threat into the proper perspective: It is the most likely type of terrorism that will occur, but grassroots operatives are often quite limited in their terrorist tradecraft, and it is a rare individual who is capable of pulling off a spectacular terrorist attack alone.

Because of this difficulty, jihadist ideologues have been urging grassroots operatives living in the West to focus on conducting simple attacks within their capabilitiesrather than more complex attacks. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has instructed grassroots jihadists to "build a bomb in the kitchen of your mom," and the Islamic State urges grassroots jihadists to conduct attacks with rocks, knives, cars, their hands or poison.

As I noted a few months ago, individuals' tradecraft limitations will lead to the rise of more grassroots cells, which can leverage the skills of more than one person in planning and executing an attack. But even then, most grassroots cells still lack the type of sophisticated terrorist tradecraft that would enable them to conduct a truly spectacular attack.

Yet, jihadists have long been early adopters of technology, and I believe that they will turn to technology to address the problem of training and equipping grassroots cells and lone assailants.
Limitations of Security and Distance

As anyone who has ever taken a correspondence course can testify, reading material is not really a good substitute for personal interaction with a professor or instructor as a way to learn. This is especially true where the subject matter is fairly technical and requires some finesse or involves physical skills. For example, I would not want to have surgery performed on me by a surgeon who had only read books before picking up the scalpel. The same principle applies to the elements of terrorist tradecraft. It is next to impossible to master a sophisticated tradecraft skill such as surveillance from reading a book. One does not master a martial art by reading a book or watching Bruce Lee movies. It is far easier to learn such skills from physical instruction and practice.

Dealing with Pakistan’s Nuclear Breakout


What is the best way to bring Pakistan into the non-proliferation fold?
By Julian Schofield
November 27, 2015
The 2003 conquest of Iraq, disintegration of Syria, and recent nuclear deal with Iran has seemingly pushed the nuclear non-proliferation frontier to Pakistan. There is concern that at current rates of production, within ten years Pakistan will have the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal, from a count of approximately 70 boosted-fission warheads in 2008, to more than 500, and with sufficient range to reach Israel and Turkey. There is a temptation, as part of the next step to roll back nuclear proliferation, for the West to isolate Pakistan as it did with Iraq, Iran and North Korea in the 1990s.

Pakistan’s current weapons grade fissile material production is four times India’s, and Pakistan is more determined to concentrate these resources into warhead production. It possesses four operational production reactors at Khushab collectively able to manufacture 25 to 50 kg of plutonium every twelve months, which, combined with Pakistan’s ongoing highly enriched uranium (HEU) production with 20,000 centrifuges at Kahuta, gives it the capacity to produce between 14 to 27 warheads annually. Refinements at the Khushab site may double this total. India by contrast can manufacture between two and five nuclear weapons in the same period. This pace has continued unabated since 1998, and has received further stimulus from recent Indian-U.S. nuclear material agreements.

Turning international attention and pressure on Pakistan to compel it join the non-proliferation regime will not succeed. The 1968 Non-Proliferation treaty (NPT) is often advertised as a collective security framework to limit the spread of nuclear weapons. In fact, it was a bargain between two great powers, the U.S. and the USSR, to jointly promise not to permit the proliferation of nuclear weapons to their allies. In particular, Moscow was concerned that West Germany would acquire an independent nuclear arsenal. Moscow and Washington conceded their failures to reign-in China, France or Israel, and the USSR accepted the NATO framework for the sharing of U.S. nuclear weapons, including with West Germany. Huge arsenals maintained general deterrence against new nuclear weapons programs, as well as extended deterrence to insecure allies, and the deal proved a great success in arresting proliferation. With the end of the Cold War, the U.S. extended the principles of the NPT in order to neutralize former Soviet client-states.

The outlines of a second grand bargain took place between China and the U.S. in the 1990s, with China imposing firm export controls on dual-use technology to the developing world. China agreed to cut-off Iran, but was determined to maintain its relationship with Pakistan, on which it depends to draw-off Indian security efforts. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program has, since 1974, received important assistance from China, including warhead designs, HEU, scientific testing and training, and missiles technology and production capacity. Although China has reduced its support to Pakistan, primarily because the latter has attained an adequate level of strategic self-sufficiency to deter India, this could be reversed promptly if India were to obtain some technological breakout capacity.

The Threat Is Already Inside And nine other truths about terrorism that nobody wants to hear.


By now, the script is familiar: Terrorists attack a Western target, and politicians compete to offer stunned and condemnatory adjectives. British, Chinese, and Japanese leaders thus proclaimed themselves “shocked” by the Paris attacks, which were described variously as “outrageous” and “horrific” by U.S. President Barack Obama; “terrible” and “cowardly” by French President François Hollande; “barbaric” by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi; “despicable” by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; and “heinous, evil, vile” by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who possesses a superior thesaurus.

The Paris attacks were all these things. One thing they were not, however, was surprising.
Occasional terrorist attacks in the West are virtually inevitable, and odds are, we’ll see more attacks in the coming decades, not fewer. If we want to reduce the long-term risk of terrorism — and reduce its ability to twist Western societies into unrecognizable caricatures of themselves — we need to stop viewing terrorism as shocking and aberrational, and instead recognize it as an ongoing problem to be managed, rather than “defeated.”

Politicians don’t like to say any of this. But we’re not politicians, so let’s look at 10 painful truths.
No. 1: We can’t keep the bad guys out. 

Borders are permeable. The United States has more than 95,000 miles of shoreline. Greece has 6,000 islands and some 10,000 miles of coastline. You can walk from Iraq and Syria into Turkey and from Turkey into Bulgaria. Eight-hundred million people fly into U.S. airports each year, and 1.7 billion people fly into Europe’s airports. No wall can be long enough or high enough to keep out the truly desperate or determined, and there aren’t enough guards in the world to monitor every inch of coastline or border.

No. 2: Besides, the threat is already inside.
The 2005 terrorist attacks in London were carried out by British citizens, the Boston Marathon attack was perpetrated by a U.S. citizen and a U.S. permanent resident, and the Paris attacks appear to have been carried out mainly by French citizens. Every country on earth has its angry young men, and the Internet offers a dozen convenient ideologies to justify every kind of resentment. Adding more border guards — or keeping out refugees fleeing war and misery, as too many members of Congress seem eager to do — won’t help when the threat is already inside.

What Is China's Plan for Fighting Global Terrorism?


After the Paris attacks, China pledged to support the international fight against terrorism. But how?
By Shannon Tiezzi, November 27, 2015

On November 13, gunmen and bombers affiliated with Islamic State (ISIS) attacked Batalcan Theater, cafes, restaurants, and the Stade de France in Paris, killing 129. A week later, armed gunmen took 170 hostages in the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako. In between, ISIS announced that it had executed two hostages, a Norwegian and a Chinese citizen.

Each of these events impacted China directly. One Chinese citizen was shot but survived the Paris attacks; three Chinese were killed in the Mali hotel attack; and hostage Fan Jinghui’s murder was confirmed by China’s Foreign Ministry.
After the events of the past two weeks, China has being facing more pressure – both domestically and internationally – to clarify its contributions to the fight against terrorism. Government officials, from ministry spokespeople to Xi Jinping himself, have been clear cut about China’s revulsion toward terrorism. The question is how China plans to fight it.

One thing is clear: an American-style “war on terror,” with military operations overseas designed to attack and overrun terrorist strongholds, is not in the cards for Beijing. China’s non-interventionist foreign policy wouldn’t necessarily prevent China from sending its military to help fight terrorist groups like ISIS, if (and only if) the host country requests it. But even countries that have openly asked for China’s aid, such as Iraq, have received only promises of personnel training and other support. China simply isn’t interested in placing boots on the ground (or missile in the air, for that matter) to fight international groups like ISIS. And given how little effect military strikes against ISIS have had so far (and the mixed results of the long-standing U.S. operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan), it’s easy to understand how Beijing reached that decision.

But the question remains: if China doesn’t subscribe to a literal war on terror, how does it propose to contribute to the global effort to eradicate terrorism, which Chinese leaders vocally supported over the past two weeks?

New York Times Catches Up: Djibouti And China


By COLIN CLARKon November 27, 2015 

Once in a while we feel the need to remind the world that we’ve done something fabulousand are glad to see the competition catch up. Today is one of those days. The New York Times, in a story we are sure will garner close attention on Capitol Hill, at the Pentagon and at NATO and Five Eye headquarters around the world, notes that China is moving into Djibouti.

We helpfully provide the coverage we did of this issue in May. Read on. The (deeply content) Editor.
WASHINGTON: China is pushing hard for either special port access or basing rights in the former French colony of Djibouti, a key center where US and French special operations forces operate from against terrorism in both Africa and the Middle East.

I confirmed with a senior allied official today that China is seriously pursuing a favored position in Djibouti, which also dominates the western side of the Bab al Mendeb — the Gates of Grief. The government of the allied official with whom I spoke would not allow him to be identified by position or by country, making clear just how sensitive this issue is right now.

The news broke when Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh told Agence France-Presse that talks were underway with the Chinese for what the article described as “a new military base.”

“France’s presence is old, and the Americans found that the position of Djibouti could help in the fight against terrorism in the region,” Guelleh told AFP. “The Japanese want to protect themselves from piracy, and now the Chinese also want to protect their interests, and they are welcome.”


Saturday, 28 November 2015 | Hiranmay Karlekar

Destroying the IS in Syria and Iraq will require military action on the ground and from air; the US, Russia, Britain, France, Germany will have to play major roles. This will require an agreement on means and goals 

The November 13 terror attacks in Paris have been followed by unprecedented counter-terrorism measures in France and a continuing level 4 (the highest possible) alert in Brussels level 3 for the rest of Belgium at the time of writing. Involving the closure of the subway system, shops and much else, Belgium’s response has been the result of what the country’s Prime Minister, Mr Charles Michel, described as a “serious and imminent” terror threat. “We fear an attack similar to the one in Paris”, he told a news conference on November 22, adding, “A number of individuals could launch an attack on several locations in Brussels simultaneously.”

Mr Michel’s statement came in the midst of a massive security sweep, involving the deployment of heavily-armed soldiers and the launching of 19 raids in Brussels and three in the southern Belgian city of Charleroi, leading to 16 arrests, and the sealing off of at least two areas of central Brussels including the Grand Place, the medieval square which is a major tourist attraction. Salah Abdeslam, suspected to be a gunman in the November 13 attacks, however, remained at large. 

This and the arrest of Abraimi Lazez, 39, a Belgian of Moroccan descent, who has been charged with helping Abdeslam after his return to Belgium following the November 13 attacks, must have heightened apprehensions about terrorists being at large. But a deeper cause must have been the emergence of several well-connected and effective terror networks in Belgium, with Sint-Jans-Molenbeek (commonly called Molenbeek), a heavily immigrant-dominated working class district in Brussels, becoming notorious as a prolific spawning ground of terrorists. Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon’s recent remark, that the government had no control over Molenbeek, eloquently summed up the situation there.

Indian Home Minister in China: What is the Takeaway?

Paper No. 6040 Dated 27-Nov-2015

By Bhaskar Roy

Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to China (November 18 to 23) can be seen as a testing step to see China’s real commitment to earnestly combat terrorism in its entirety. Till now, Beijing’s track record on this issue has been patchy, narrowly focussed and politically manoeuvred.

The Chinese side was correct on protocol and the right amount of warmth. Singh called on Premier Li Keqiang, met security Czar Meng Jianghu, and had working discussion with this counterpart Guo Shengkun, State Councilor and Minister of Public Security.
The preamble to the seven-point joint statement says that the two sides reiterated their strong condemnation of and resolute opposition to “terrorism in all forms, its forms and manifestations and committed themselves to cooperate on counter terrorism”.
This is the central phrase in the joint statement that will be tested in due course on counter terrorism and will eventually have to expand and define terrorism as a whole. Will support to so-called liberation armed struggle by groups in other countries be included in the definition of terrorism?

The joint statement gives glimpses into the intentions of the two countries. It is a negotiated document between the two sides and views of the two sides are accommodated, unless there are major differences. The recent rise of the Islamic state (IS) threatening all and the devastating attack on Paris has forced even reluctant participants to come out against terrorism.
The joint statement agrees to hold meetings and contacts between the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MSP) periodically. But holding meetings between two Ministers every two years in Beijing and New Delhi suggests somewhat dilution of the spirit of the intention. Nevertheless, an agreement on mechanism has been established officially and openly for the first time.

The War on ISIS: 6 Issues to Ponder Before Escalating the Fight


Shai Feldman, November 25, 2015

The recent attacks in Paris have spurred a flood of demands to escalate the fight against ISIS. Now that the initial shock is over, it is time to explore in greater detail what such efforts should look like if their results are not to prove worse than the threat that ISIS currently poses. The following is an attempt to sketch a number of questions that should be pondered before a decision to further escalate the war is taken.

First, do the western potential partners to a “coalition of the willing” to defeat ISIS have the stomach for this fight? An effective war on ISIS requires capabilities and determination. Capabilities include both material resources and creativity in using them: high quality tactical and operational intelligence and planning as well as strategic thinking and the capacity to execute effectively the conclusions of such thinking. The defense communities of western countries are not lacking such capabilities. But do leaders and publics in the west have the determination to sustain the human and material costs of such a war?

When fighting is confined to the use ofairpower to bomb targets from high altitudes in order to reduce the risk that an airman will be captured by ISIS – no matter that the likelihood of killing innocent civilians is far greater when bombs are dropped from such heights – what does this tell us about the will to take on ISIS?

President Barack Obama’s conspicuous reluctance to deploy a significant number of servicemen and servicewomen on the ground resulted not from an under-estimation of the threat that ISIS poses but rather from the president’s judgmentabout America: his assessment that the American people will not accept the casualties and expenditures of another massive and sustained effort in the Middle East. Yet if Obama’s premise is correct, the promise to “degrade and destroy” ISIS will continue to ring hollow and it is U.S. deterrence – not ISIS – that will be degraded.

Moreover, the post-Paris inclination to increase the efforts to fight ISIS will be self-defeating if these fall short of the deployments needed to achieve the latter’s destruction. Indeed, without crushing ISIS such an increase will merely confirm ISIS’s narrative – its version of the “clash of civilizations” that pits the western “crusaders” against their Arab and other Muslim victims. Thus the west will pay all the costs associated with larger deployments and the Middle East will experience even greater destruction associated with the use of American, British, French and Russian airpower without meaningful gains.

Second, do the potential Middle Eastern partners have the will for a significantly enhanced against ISIS? So far, these states have shown very limited determination to sustain such a fight.


Because ISIS comprises the # 2 priority of many of the region’s states but with the possible exception of Iran, it is the # 1 priority of none. Saudi Arabia and some of the GCC states perceive Iran to be their main threat. For Turkey the greater fear seems to be the perceived threat of Kurdish separatism. For the Egyptian government it is the Muslim Brotherhood and local ISIS affiliates such as Beit al-Makdis. For most Sunni Iraqis it is the Shi’a dominated Iran-influenced government in Baghdad. And for Israel it is the Lebanese’ Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Unless these countries become persuaded that their number one threat is ISIS, it will remain impossible to create a regional contingency of an effective “coalition of the willing” to defeat and destroy it. 

Welcome to Islamic State 101: What Makes ISIS Tick


The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has become akin in the western imagination to the sociopathic murderers that you would typically see inHomeland—those who would think nothing of rounding up other human beings, torturing them over days or weeks for the masochistic pleasure of inflicting pain and then killing them in front of a video camera. The organization that swept into Fallujah in January 2014 and into Mosul in June 2014—that has been running its own personal fiefdom across vast sections of western Iraq and eastern Syria for over a year—represents the type of indiscriminate and wholesale slaughter that would make Abu Musab al-Zarqawi proud.

The Islamic State, however, is unique from any other Islamist terrorist group on the planet. It has demonstrated an unparalleled capacity to hold and administer territory despite the constant danger of U.S. airstrikes, as well as an ability to create and maintain an extensive system of taxation, extortion and oil production to finance its operations and compensate its fighters. It has demonstrated talent in the social media space, where battlefield successes are broadcasted to young, disillusioned recruits all over the world. ISIL’s massacre on the streets of Paris, as shocking as the attacks were, is just the latest escalation in violence that the group has exhibited every day in Syria and Iraq.

ISIL’s Money Making Machine

The Islamic State’s capture of crude oil fields in Deir ez-Zor and its ability to produce and transport the oil to middlemen and smugglers along the Syria-Turkey border is the most graphic illustration of how the organization makes its money. Before the United States increased the pace and scope of its air campaign, the U.S. Treasury Department estimated that the Islamic State made roughly $1 million per day in profit from oil sales (that estimate now stands at $500 million per year, according to the Treasury Department)—a cash flow that any terrorist organization could only dream of. Operation Tidal Wave II, launched by the counter-ISIL coalition in late October, is designed to degrade that revenue stream significantly; as of November 24, 2015, U.S. and French aircraft have destroyed or damaged hundreds of trucks that ISIL has come to rely upon to transport its oil to the border.

ISIS, the Clash of Civilizations and the Problem of Apologetics


We live in bad times. American politics has become so toxic and disturbing that one reaches back to the 19th century and early 20th century for a real precedent for the structural demonization of Muslims currently ongoing. As a Jew I cannot help but recoil in abject fear and disgust when I hear Donald Trump talk about a “database” and special IDs for Muslims. We have come to the point where such rhetoric has been effectively mainstreamed, and Trump and others can effectively argue for an American equivalent of a judenrat and a yellow badge with virtually no consequences. The more that the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) continues to wreak havoc on the world, the more it seems that Trump and others will continue to rise in power and prominence and continue to proffer hatred and bigotry.

How did this happen? How did we go from generalized agreement during the Bush administration that the enemy is only the terrorists themselves to calls for a Muslim database? Marc Lynch has a piece up at Monkey Cage in which he talks about the eternal recurrence of “clash of civilizations” narratives and the increasingly disturbing rise of anti-Islam rhetoric among US politicians and the media. Lynch supplies a lot of of valid reasons for why this is the case, who is responsible, and how such filth has been legitimized. However, one important reason is missing — the way in which analysts have structurally obsfucated many of the important issues at play regarding the connection between religion and ISIS (and others’ political violence). In attempting to prevent bigots from validating a “clash of civilizations” narrative, analysts have paradoxically helped bring it about.

As a prelude, let’s begin with the phrase “clash of civilizations.” It’s oftenaxiomatic among researchers that Samuel Huntington, the man who coined the term, is guilty of “profound racism.” But very few have ever read the book or the original articles in detail. Huntington had argued publically that civilizations as categories ought to be respected, and that a lack of attention and respect to their civilizational perogatives and differences would lead to unnecessary strife. Huntington argued that the only way coexistence was possible would be if the West could understand the rest despite grave differences. Huntington’s cultural relativism is not exactly novel; it appears in social psychology and has been a constant in anthropology and sociology to some degree since the founding of those disciplines. It has also found some parallel in area studies and regional international relations.

The Real Danger of the Downed Russian Jet


It may not start a new war. But it will make it much harder to stop an old one.

A radar image released by Turkey shows the path of the Russian warplane shot down along the Turkish-Syrian border.Turkish Interior Ministry / Reuters


For clues to how the Syrian Civil War might finally end—or devolve into an even more nightmarish conflict—look to the congested skies over Syria.
There, the air forces of countries such as the United States, Russia, Turkey, and Syria are all regularly conducting strikes, often at cross-purposes. And there, on Tuesday, Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane for allegedly violating Turkey’s airspace. As my colleague Marina Koren notes, the episode marks the first time a NATO country has downed a Russian plane in 63 years.
It’s the kind of incident that has haunted military planners: a tussle between major powers involved in Syria’s kaleidoscopic conflict, with the potential to draw allies into a much bigger war.
But the more pressing problem is arguably the impact the clash could have within Syria itself. After all, NATO countries have been reluctant to invoke Article 5 of their treaty, which commits members to collective defense (the principle was not applied, for example, when Syria brought down a Turkish jet in 2012). And while American officials have publicly defended Turkey’s right to police its airspace, they’ve less publicly been frustrated for months now with Turkey as a partner in fighting ISIS and resolving the Syrian Civil War. Plus, as New York University’s Mark Galeotti observed on Tuesday, “Russia cannot fight hot diplomatic wars on too many fronts, and Europe clearly wants Moscow to be part of the solution in Syria and maybe Ukraine, too.”


 The Confused Person’s Guide to the Syrian Civil WarInstead, Tuesday’s skirmish threatens to derail international negotiations over Syria just when they seemed to be making (very tentative) progress toward a diplomatic solution to the civil war, and thereby a response to its many symptoms, including the ascendancy of ISIS.
Turkey and Russia have long been on opposite sides of the Syrian Civil War, with Russia supporting President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey backing an array of rebel groups. But these tensions have intensified since Turkeyjoined the U.S.-led air campaign against ISIS over the summer (while simultaneously bombing U.S.-supported Kurdish militants in the region) and Russia began air strikes in Syria against ISIS and other anti-Assad groups in September.
Many of Russia’s strikes have occurred near the southern tip of Turkey where the Russian plane was hit this week, as the map below indicates.
Recent Russian and U.S.-Led Air Strikes in Syria
Institute for the Study of War / U.S. Central Command / Reuters Russian aircraft repeatedly veered into Turkish airspace in October, prompting Turkey’s president to threaten a reduction in the country’s considerable and growing commercial relations with Russia, and NATO’s secretary-general to float the idea of deploying troops to defend Turkey. More recently, Turkish officials have been incensed by Russia’s bombing of Syrian Turkmen, a minority ethnic group of Turkish descent, in northern Syria. (In fact, it was Turkmen rebels—who, with Turkish support, are fighting Assad’s forces—who claimed to have killed the Russian pilot who died while parachuting into Syria on Tuesday, after the Turkish military struck his plane.)

Bangladesh: 1971 War Crimes coming full Circle


Paper No. 6041 Dated 27-Nov-2015
Bhaskar Roy
The wheels of justice grind slowly, but they grind extremely small. On November 22, Ali Ahsan Mohammed Mujahid and Saluddin Quader Choudhary, two of the worst perpetrators of atrocities against freedom loving Bengalees, were hanged to death. After 44 long years the sufferers got some justice. More importantly, the ghosts of 1971 haunting the nation, are beginning to be exorcised.

Mujahid, till now, the Secretary General of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI), was the President of Islamic Chaatra Sangh, the student’s wing of the JEI. The same year, the Sangh was converted to Al Badr in collusion with the Pakistani occupying army. Al Badr’s murderous and rapist activities are well recorded including by Pakistani army officers who served in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) in 1971.
Mujahid’s worst calculated crime was, perhaps the rounding up and killing of Bengalee intellectuals only a few days before the Pakistani army surrendered to the Indian army. His diabolical aim was to exterminate as many as possible from among the cream of leaders who would build the newly born nation of Bangladesh.

Salauddin Quader Choudhry harboured a special hatred for Hindus. His father Fazlul Qadar Choudury, then the President of the Pro-Pakistan and anti-liberation convention Muslim League, blamed the Hindus of Rowzan, Chittagong, for his defeat in the 1970 elections. Salauddin was charged with killing 111 Hindus. He converted his hill top house into a torture chamber and murder palace for pro-liberation Bengalees.

Turkey-Russia Tensions Put Caspian States in a Bind


Russia’s intervention in the Syrian Civil War is leaving the former Soviet republics on the Caspian Sea littoral in an uncomfortable place. Caught between their historic relationships with Moscow and concerns for their own security, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan are clearly in an unenviable political position. Moreover, unprecedented Russian military action risks destabilizing otherwise steady diplomatic ties.

A November 4 security agreement concluded by Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan is one indication that something is amiss in the Caspian Sea. The plan notably provides for joint Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan naval exercises on the inland sea.

Emerging Kazakhstan-Azerbaijan defense cooperation is likely derived, at least in part, from anxiety over Moscow’s use of the Caspian Sea in its Middle East operations. Russia’s Caspian Sea Flotilla fired cruise missiles at targets in Syria in October and November. While Astana has tempered its own statements on Russian military activity in the Caspian, Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov spoke for his northern neighbors during a November 23 meeting with President Vladimir Putin. There, Berdimuhamedov indicated to his Russian counterpart that, “Our Kazakh colleagues are allegedly worried over what is going on over the Caspian Sea, which is linked with military issues.”

While Berdimuhamedov claimed to convey Kazakh fears, Turkmenistan may also be troubled by Russian operations on the Caspian. Turkmenistan maintains a distinctly neutral foreign policy platform. Still, the Turkmen government has lent rhetorical support to Ukraine in Kiev’s conflict with Russia. Turkmenistan expressed its apprehension over Moscow’s 2008 invasion of Georgia by conducting military drills in the Caspian—not unlike Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan’s planned exercises.

November 26, 2015

As religious conflicts continue to escalate in the world, one cannot help but concede that mankind really has not improved at all since Mark Twain called for religious indifference. But this would be a one-sided perspective, for that century-old call was really made to Westerners, most of whom were largely ignorant of Eastern cultures. That situation has since changed because of globalization. Nowadays, Westerners at large can seriously look to the East for religious guidance.

When it comes to violence, a stark contrast has always existed between Eastern and Western religious cultures. This contrast revolves around people’s conception (or misconception) of God. The Western mind is obsessed with the question of “Whose God is the true God?” and has been chasing its tail for millennia searching for an answer, often resulting in bloodshed. Its Eastern counterpart, on the other hand, finds this question irrelevant.

According to Huston Smith, a professor of religion, our world has seven major religions: two from China (Confucianism and Daoism), two from India (Hinduism and Buddhism), and three from the Middle East (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). For discussion purposes, we shall generalize and refer to those from China and India as Eastern, since their domains of cultural influence are mainly confined to East Asia and South Asia, areas traditionally referred to as the East or Orient. Likewise, we shall consider those from the Middle East as Western, since their respective domains are primarily outside of the ‘East’ and encompass traditional notions of the Western world.

Bhutan and its Hydro Power: Update No. 113


Note No. 753 Dated 24-Nov-2015
By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

Bhutan’s fast flowing rivers, deep gradients, huge gorges and sparse population make the country ideal for harnessing hydro power potential at a very low cost with minimum displacement of human settlements and related rehabilitation issues. 
It has been pointed out that these very advantages have been major barriers for development of other sectors in Bhutan’s economy. There is also the feeling from prudent economists that there is too much reliance carrying “high risk” associated with a single project and a single buyer.

But to me, going by the current relationship between Bhutan and India and the excellent guidance given both by Gyalpo 4 and the present King, there is no risk at all and as someone had said, the need of the hour for Bhutan is to nurture a sustained national commitment to achieving . . . a national goal of developing hydro power resources as soon as they can, as much as they can and as harmlessly as they can.
It is very interesting to see the ongoing debate in Bhutan on hydro power development and some of the bold and fearless opinions on the question of hydro power development, environmental impact and the overweening dependence of hydro power in the country’s economy.

But there is a lesson for India too. In planning, funding or executing a project, India should take care to see that Bhutan is involved at every stage from the project report to final execution of the project and the mistakes made in Nepal should not be repeated in Bhutan again.

The Chamkerchu Project:

The Chamkerchu project is a run of the river scheme located in upper Kheng in Zhemgang and has been in the pipe line for the last ten years. Surprisingly the project is yet to begin.
It was in this connection that one environmentalist Yeshe Dorji started a campaign against the project on the ground that at least one of the river systems in Bhutan should be left un dammed. This created a public debate on the project’s economic and environmental impact and Yeshey Dorji had already collected over 480 signatures in his petition opposing the dam.

History: The Overlooked Military Discipline


There are several governing metrics for unit commanders in the Army: physical fitness, marksmanship, and military education. Each Soldier is required to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test, qualify on their assigned weapon, and be trained and proficient in their military occupational specialty. These are the basic indicators by which commanders judge a Soldier’s abilities and potential. Unit training plans are driven by these metrics. Time is carved out of the training schedule to ensure that the appropriate training is allocated to maintain and improve these metrics.

Physical fitness dominates all of these, as Soldiers have to be physically fit to accomplish their tasks. Army PT (physical training) is conducted daily, and most Soldiers are motivated enough to augment it on their own. While physical fitness is important, there is rarely anything regularly scheduled on the training calendar for mental fitness. In particular, to teach our Soldiers our history. History is perhaps the most useful tool for developing mentally agile Soldiers. As General George S. Patton Jr said, “To be a successful soldier, you must know history.”

Patton was himself a keen student of history, which, combined with a keen sense of the benefits of technology, made him a lethal commander.

At this point, a legion of sergeants major will start telling me to shut up, as there is no possible way that history is more important than PT. I stick to my guns. Just as PT strengthens and builds muscle, the study of history builds confidence in our Army’s abilities, draws parallels between the present day and the past, demonstrates how to adapt and improvise, and builds esprit de corps. The Army has always known this, establishing the U.S. Army Center of Military History and the Center for Army Lessons Learned.
Therefore, I issue a challenge to all Army leaders: incorporate military history into your training schedule.

Insider threats: Taking the fight to the document level

Steve Gottwals, Technical Director of Security Solutions, Adobe November 25, 2015 

The threat to Department of Defense documents is persistent, eminent and evolving. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s Data Breach Report, there have been 51 breaches this year in the government — including the military — that exposed more than 33 million documents to security vulnerabilities. This drastic uptick from last year is evidence that data breaches are growing in effectiveness. Although the response to this increased risk has been to boost high-level encryption, this is not the comprehensive silver bullet solution that some may believe it to be. High-level encryption alone still leaves multiple avenues of attack open to cyber criminals, and the most dangerous among them is the insider threat.

Agencies need to be more proactive in securing and monitoring their sensitive documents. The best way to do this is to adopt a defense-in-depth approach, applying encryption and other security solutions all the way down to the document level. With document management technology and monitoring analytics, agencies can more effectively protect their content through its entire lifecycle. User-based encryption, specifically Digital Rights Management (DRM), is a perfect example of a solution that extends cyber protections to the document level. Because DRM-based encryption is focused on the specific user and grants access only to the person that needs it, DRM continually protects sensitive information no matter where it goes or how it is stored. By encrypting the entire file, any user that seeks to obtain access must first go through an authentication process, even if trying to access the document outside of an agency system. Even failed authentication attempts at viewing the information will be detected. In an absolutely worst-case scenario, the document can be revoked entirely, which effectively acts like a remote shredder.

Why 'Cryptophobia' Is Unjustified


5 Factors Demonstrate Why Encryption Backdoors Are Wrong ApproachMathew J. Schwartz (euroinfosec) • November 25, 2015 

In the wake of the Paris attacks, many politicians have been creating visions of jihadists storming our streets, using untraceable encrypted communication to enable their deadly assaults (see Paris Attacks Reignite Encryption Debate). 

"Terrorism isn't about means, but about ends. It's not about the technology but about the anger, the ignorance that holds a firm grip over the actor's mind." 
So in a classic political move, their response has been to suggest that strong crypto be banned unless software and hardware vendors add in backdoor access for government agencies. 

This "cryptophobia" stance conveniently overlooks - or else demonstrates an inability to grasp - the fact that we rely on strong cryptography, with no backdoors, to protect everything from our online banking transactions to our children's privacy. 

Here are five essential crypto factors to consider: 
1. Bans Don't Work 

It's impossible to prevent people from using strong encryption that's free from backdoors. The same is true of so-called crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin, which can be difficult - albeit not impossible - for law enforcement agencies to trace. "If you outlaw it, the only people that will use it will be outlaws," University of Surrey information security professor Alan Woodwardtells BBC World Service. And law enforcement agencies would be none the wiser. "It's not like you can see these things going over the network," he says. "You simply couldn't [effectively] ban it." 
2. Not Clear That Paris Attackers Used Crypto 

Supersoldiers and Autonomous Weapons

Friday, 20 November 2015

Here's some thinking on how warfare will change over the next twenty years. 

Fast forward 20 years (about the age of the WWW). An aging, schlerotic EU has become the destination for over a hundred million refugees and migrants fleeing the densely populated killing fields of Africa and SW Asia. 

The rapidity of influx has led the EU to take extreme measures. Tens of millions of these migrants/refugees are roughly housed in relocation camps all across Europe. 

Violence within these camps has risen steadily, leading to an EU-wide Islamic insurgency.

The soldiers sent to counter this insurgency are outfitted with autonomous weapons. These weapons combine deep learning (making them very smart) and cloud robotics (allowing the military to rapidly share advances in training and technique) to provide these soldiers with capabilities far beyond what we've seen in previous wars. 

Here's an idealized example so you can get the idea. A human/robot team advances down a street in an urban environment. 
Big Data: The autonomous weapons used by the team continuously scans the street in all directions. These weapons can visually ID everyone on the street from a database of 3.5 billion people in under a second. It also continuously analyzes the people, windows, etc. down the street looking for the visual signatures of concealed weapons and IEDs. i.e. A car at the end of the street is resting a bit too heavily on its springs, indicating there may be explosives in it. These weapons learned to do this based on billions of hours of combat and police training images/footage (aka Big Data). 

Customized Training: The human members of the team have trained the weapons to alert the team when it sees any electric vehicles demonstrating even the slightest bit of irregular behavior -- the rapid acceleration possible with autonomously driven electric vehicles can make them dangerous kinetic threats in three seconds.

Cloud training: The autonomous weapons with the soldiers with connections to military's cloud. Fortunately, this connection to the cloud gave these weapons access to the certified methodologies for identifying and neutralizing a new DIED (drone IED) used by Islamic insurgents only yesterday. This paid off. The new DIED entered the street behind the team, and the systems new how to ID it, engage it, and neutralize its countermeasures flawlessly. During the engagement, the human team member noticed a slight change in the behavior of the DIED -- it released its homemade cluster bomblets earlier than anticipated. The data/footage of the engagement is tagged with a note to this effect and it is uploaded to the cloud in order to add to the approved methods for countering it. 

Of course, much of this capability might become open source and available to anyone smart enough to employ it.

John Robb

Building A Smarter Grid. Can Smart Grid Technology Change The Way We Use Electricity?

posted on 27 November 2015
from the Richmond Fed  -- this post authored by Eamon O'Keefe

On the hottest days of summer, when many Americans turn down their thermostats and crank up their air conditioners, electric utilities have to boost production to meet high demand. The power plants they bring online often are more expensive to operate, yet electricity prices rarely change. Economists envision an electricity marketplace in which prices reflect the true cost of producing electricity so that consumers and producers are constantly adapting to real-world conditions.
When demand increases, prices would rise and demand would decrease accordingly. New "smart grid" technologies could make that vision a reality.

"The 'smart grid' encompasses a lot of different things," says Paul Joskow, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and professor emeritus of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But in general, it covers a variety of technologies that include computerized metering, control, and sensors. When implemented in homes, power lines, electrical substations, and transformers, these technologies could facilitate better monitoring and management of electricity consumption and distribution throughout the grid. The goal is to build a grid that allows for two-way communication between electricity consumers and producers. In addition to time-varying rates that could lead to more efficient energy use, potential benefits of a smart grid include improving the grid's resilience and better accommodating renewable energy sources.

Utilities have begun rolling out components of the smart grid, and pilot programs for dynamic pricing have begun to pop up around the country. A host of companies are building new technologies for grid modernization; in the Fifth District, North Carolina's Research Triangle has become a hub for such innovation. Home to more than 50 smart grid companies and a number of supporting research institutions, Wake County, N.C., has dubbed itself the "smart grid capital of the world."