1 December 2015

Military Leaders: Climate Change, Energy, National Security Are Inextricably Linked

27 November 2015 , By Schuyler Null

This article was originally published by New Security Beat on 9 November, 2015.

In the midst of a minefield on day two of Desert Storm Task Force Ripper, Marine Corps Operations Officer Richard Zilmer stepped out of his armored personnel carrier, squinted up at the sky, and saw nothing but black from horizon to horizon. Iraqi forces, trying desperately to blunt the attack of coalition armies, had set fire to hundreds of Kuwaiti oil wells and oil-filled trenches.

“The sun was a little white ball about the size of a ping-pong ball that you could look up at directly,” Zilmer, now a retired lieutenant general, said at the Wilson Center on October 21. “This was surreal to about the third power…truly for me a moment that I’ll never forget.”

He wondered, does anyone know we’re here? Or know why we’re here? The puzzle pieces linking energy and national security started to shift into place.
Zilmer is one of more than two dozen retired generals and admirals who have served on the Military Advisory Board for CNA, a research organization based in Washington, DC. Since 2006, the Military Advisory Board has investigated the connections between national security and U.S. climate and energy policies in several high-impact reports, concluding that they represent a linked national security risk.

The Military Advisory Board drew on not only their own experience but also experts in the climate community, insurance industry, and energy sector. “We got to ask the hard questions of a wide variety of people,” said retired U.S. Air Force General Ronald Keys, “and we were convinced.”

For Poor Countries, Well-Worn Path to Development Turns Rocky

Wealth-producing factories face headwinds as global trade slows and consumers ageBy Raymond Zhong

RAJKOT, India—For nearly half a century, Laljibhai Gajjar ran factories making diesel engines and parts in and around this sleepy industrial city. But after Chinese products began swallowing up the market, he found another calling. He laid off 100 workers and started selling Hyundais. 
Behind his bustling car showroom stands all that remains of his manufacturing operations: a crumbling workshop in which two dozen employees now assemble metal-stamping machines. Orders are dwindling. One of these days, Mr. Gajjar said, he’ll shut that down, too. 
Mr. Gajjar’s downsizing is part of a phenomenon in India and other poor countries, where the world’s population is growing most quickly, that is alarming many economists. 

Laljibhai Gajjar at his workshop in Rajkot, India, which makes metal-stamping machines, all that is left of his manufacturing operations. 
The U.S. and Europe—and East Asia more recently—first got rich because of their factories. Over time, as incomes rose and their economies became more sophisticated, they shifted into modern services like health care and finance. 

But today, parts of South Asia, Africa and Latin America are failing to create thriving manufacturing sectors even though their wages remain low. Manufacturing employment and output are peaking and declining at vastly lower levels of income and development than they did in the West. 
Economists’ worry is that the factory-led model of advancement—which, for more than a century, has offered the quickest route out of poverty—is simply no longer available to today’s poorest nations. 

Fighting terrorism with the big boys


FAISAL DEVJI, November 30, 2015 
India isn’t a serious target for al-Qaeda and now ISIS despite appearing on their imaginary maps. But instead of being thankful for this situation, a number of Indian journalists and policymakers seem anxious that the country be recognised as a victim of globalised terrorism, and so an ally of the Europeans and Americans fighting against it.

Indian columnists and television anchors have vied with each other to draw a connection between the recent Paris attacks and those in Mumbai seven years previously. They have, of course, been right to do so since the earlier attacks served as precedent for a novel form of militancy — one in which a whole city could be paralysed by the coordinated, yet random, killing of people held captive in places of entertainment and public passage. Even the blasts of 1993 had made Mumbai an experimental site of militancy, for they were the first serial bombings of a city and targeted not specific places or people but the metropolis as a whole. Featured as it is in Hollywood films as well as best-selling novels, Mumbai is India’s only globally iconic city and so provides an appropriate setting for terrorism. In fact, such attacks even contribute to the city’s glamour by adding the Leopold Café to every tourist’s list of must-see places in Mumbai.

Mumbai is not Paris

Despite its role as an easily accessible and internationally recognised site for terrorist innovation, however, Mumbai doesn’t belong in the same group as Paris, London, Madrid or New York as targets of al-Qaeda and now Islamic State (ISIS) terrorism. India isn’t a serious target for these groups despite appearing on their imaginary maps like so many other places. But instead of being thankful for this situation, a number of Indian journalists and policymakers seem anxious that the country be recognised as a victim of globalised terrorism, and so an ally of the Europeans and Americans fighting against it. This longing to join the all-white club of terrorism’s leading enemies can even be seen as a perversion of the older desire that India take her place among the great powers. Indeed, the British Prime Minister’s recent speech introducing his Indian counterpart to a largely Gujarati audience at Wembley Stadium made precisely this link.

Shared threat of terror

Shifting uncomfortably between craven supplication and post-colonial paternalism, David Cameronpromised Britain’s help in making India a permanent member of the UN Security Council. But he also claimed that in addition to possessing virtues like democracy in common, the two countries also shared terrorism as a threat to their existence. This is of course false, as apart from murdering British or Indian citizens, such attacks can at most threaten only the electoral prospects of governments unable to prevent them. By mentioning the shared threat of terrorism, Mr. Cameron was in effect appealing to what he may have imagined was an anti-Muslim audience of Hindus, though they seemed rather taken aback by his insinuation. Narendra Modi, too, ignored his host’s dog whistle politics and explicitly included Muslims in his description of India’s dynamism.

ISIS Reports Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium Inventories, 2015

November 16, 2015

This collection of studies, funded largely by a generous grant from the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), contains comprehensive national estimates of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) stocks as of the end of 2014. The estimates are presented in several chapters, including an overview presentation. The first two chapters are devoted to national civil stocks of highly enriched uranium and plutonium. The third chapter analyzes the military inventories of plutonium and HEU in the five acknowledged nuclear weapon states, Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States. The final chapters estimate the plutonium and HEU inventories in several proliferant states, including India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel. Finally, the last chapter is dedicated to South Africa’s civil HEU stocks, which were originally produced as part of a nuclear weapons program and remain large. 

If stocks are not officially declared, the chapters discuss the methodology used to derive the estimates as well as the uncertainties. Uncertainties are a key part of these estimates. In summary tables or figures, these uncertainties are omitted, but they remain an integral part of the estimate. Uncertainties, which in some cases are large, reflect the limited state of knowledge of some stocks. ISIS is continuing to refine its estimates.

These estimates update earlier ISIS assessments of national inventories of nuclear explosive materials. The most detailed description of nuclear explosive material inventories remains Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium 1996: World Inventories, Capabilities, and Policies by David Albright, Frans Berkhout and William Walker, (Oxford: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute [SIPRI] and Oxford University Press, 1997) and Global Stocks of Nuclear Explosive Material – End 2003 (Updated 2005), located on the ISIS web site here. This update builds on that earlier work.

National Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium Inventories, status as the end of 2014
Summary Tables and Charts

Europe’s Jihadists What The Paris Attacks Tell Us About Islamic State Strategy


The biographies of those behind the Paris attacks offer deep insight into the structures and organization of Islamic State in Europe. And they confirm what experts have long warned about: The new jihadists have our cities in their sights. By SPIEGEL Staff

On the horrific evening in Paris that only ended after 130 people had been slaughtered in jihadist attacks, something strange happened at 10:28 p.m., a development that only came to the attention of investigators much later. On the upper end of Boulevard Voltaire, where the Bataclan concert hall is located, three terrorists were in the process of gunning down people with their Kalashnikovs and exchanging salvos with the police, who were closing in on them. At the lower end of the street, another man exited from the Metro — Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected leader behind the attacks.

He had just been a part of the group that had killed 39 people at La Belle Équipe, Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge. For a while afterwards, he had driven around aimlessly in a black SEAT through the neighborhood’s streets, before parking it in the Montreuil suburb. He was then caught on CCTV cameras at 10:14 p.m. inside the Croix de Chavaux Metro station, as he jumped the turnstile to avoid paying and traveled back to the scene of the crime.

Over the next two hours, Abaaoud apparently went for a walk through the 10th and 11th arrondissements, the area where he had just unleashed a bloodbath. Investigators later used the geolocation data from his mobile phone to trace his movements that evening. At 12:28 a.m., as anti-terror units were entering the concert hall, the phone was just next to Bataclan. It’s as if Abaaoud wanted to convince himself of his own success and view firsthand the inferno he had helped unleash. It wasn’t much later that French President François Hollande arrived at the scene.

Why India must up the stakes in Paris India at COP21 - Know more about India's Stance on Climate Change


Reuters"India has to make sure that the global community takes serious action against climate change.” Picture shows protesters at a rally in Berlin, Germany, the day before the start of the Paris Climate Change Conference.

While India should not hesitate to defend its interests at the climate negotiations, it should be careful to not paint itself into a corner.

The Paris climate negotiations are a pivotal moment for global climate policy and carry huge implications for India’s developmental future. The Paris outcome could affect the extent to which India faces dangerous impacts from climate change, which will magnify its development challenges. But it could also impact whether India faces undue global pressure to prematurely cap its emissions or limit its use of fossil fuels for development. Put differently, India faces the challenge of ensuring dual and seemingly contradictory objectives coming out of Paris. It has to make sure that the global community takes serious action against climate change. But it also has to make sure that the mechanisms built at Paris to do so are consistent with principles of equity, allow India to contribute in a manner consistent with its development needs, and do not burden the country prematurely.

There is a second, more political, objective to be met at Paris. Too often in past negotiations, India has been blamed for climate negotiation deadlocks and painted as a naysayer. While it should not hesitate to defend its interests, it should be careful to not paint itself into a corner. As a highly vulnerable country, with relatively high energy efficiency, low per capita carbon emissions, and a respectable track record of domestic initiatives, India has a good hand. But it has to play it well.

How Prashant Bhushan blew AAP's cover on Lokpal

The emperor stands exposed. Now watch the fun.

The latest expose by Prashant Bhushan on Sunday has finally nailed the lies and deceits on Lokpal Bill of Delhi. On Saturday, he had shown that the Delhi Lokpal Bill 2015 had gone back on all the main promises of the Jan Lokpal movement. These were the demands made by the movement:

1. The appointment of the Lokpal was to be done in an open manner by involving the public in the search process.

2. The final selection of the Lokpal was to be done by a committee where independent, non-political and non-governmental appointees had majority.

3. A special investigative agency was to be created by or controlled by the Lokpal.

4. The jurisdiction of the Lokpal was to be extended to all the functionaries of the relevant government.

Prashantji showed conclusively that the 2015 Bill did not meet the basic demands made in the Jan Lokpal movement in points one to three. As far as point four is concerned, this Bill contains a strange clause that includes all corruption within the territory of the national capital territory (NCT). This would exclude corruption by Delhi officials done outside territorial limits and include all corruption by central government officials. Prashantji rightly concluded that this was a ploy to invite rejection of the Bill by the Central government and use this for ongoing confrontation.

He also showed that the 2015 Bill was worse than the Act drafted by Jan Lokpal activists that was passed by the Uttarakhand Assembly.

Why India no longer trusts anti-Modi media Some TV networks are so viscerally opposed to the PM that they no longer attempt to hide their bias.



Four pillars are needed to hold up a structure. Take one away and the structure tilts.

In a democracy, the four pillars are the executive (government), the legislature (Parliament and state assemblies), the judiciary and the media. Each of these pillars has had its moments of turbulence: the executive and the judiciary during the Emergency; and the legislature through the decades when state assemblies were routinely dissolved and President's rule imposed.

The media, before and after independence, faced several challenges. Under colonial rule, newspapers like The Times of India often toed the British Viceroy's line. Many others though were nationalist and suffered colonial interference. After independence, the Emergency marked a new low point. Most newspapers lost their nerve and bent their spine.

The late 1970s and 1980s were the golden period of Indian media. The Emergency was gone. New publications were launched. Specialised Sunday papers made their appearance. So did specialised magazines.

In the 1990s, television was nascent but neutral. News had not yet fallen hostage to vested political and business interests. When did media's fall begin? The seeds were sown in the late 1990s when the first BJP-led government took office. It was around this time that Sonia Gandhi displaced Sitaram Kesri as Congress president.

In 1984, the BJP had two MPs. In 1999, it had 182. In 1984, the Congress had 414 MPs. In 1999, it had 114.

It is within these numbers that lie clues to the schisms that would develop over the next 16 years. The media was drawn into this political vortex. Senior editors in the 1980s and 1990s were (relatively) politically neutral. The concept of paid news was notably absent. I launched my first media company, Sterling Newspapers Pvt Ltd, in the 1980s. Our journalists researched, interviewed, wrote and edited without fear or favour. Very few editors had fallen prey to external influences: political parties, business houses, foreign intelligence agencies and power brokers.

The real change came in the 2000s. By then the Indian Express group had acquired Sterling Newspapers with our cache of nearly 100 editors, writers, designers and marketers. I set up a new media firm soon after that and began hiring a new generation of young editors and correspondents.

But things had changed. By 2004, when the Congress-led UPA government returned to office, more and more journalists had begun to cosy up to politicians and business houses. Between 1998 and 2004, when the NDA was in office and LK Advani home minister and then (from 2000) deputy prime minister, it did not even occur to me to seek an appointment with him though he had been a regular columnist in one of our publications for over 10 years. That was the arm's length approach to politicians we had always maintained.

As I once wrote: "The first principle of journalism is to keep politicians at arm's length. Do not socialise with them. Do not curry favour with them. Do not treat them as friends. In a democracy, journalists and politicians have to be natural adversaries."In short, keep the relationship professional.

When the Congress-led UPA government took office in May 2004, we found ourselves receiving invitations to interview UPA ministers. Soon after he assumed charge as finance minister, P Chidambaram conveyed to our Delhi bureau chief that he would be happy to accede to our request for an exclusive interview.

We did the interview in Chidambaram's North Block office. This was followed in the next few months and years by exclusive interviews with (then) Industry and commerce minister Kamal Nath, (then) petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who hosted us to a sumptuous Kashmiri lunch at his residence along with daughter Mehbooba. Not once did we attempt a further meeting with any of them beyond the strictly professional.

But on every trip to Delhi - and Srinagar - from 2005 onwards, I noticed a distinct change in the interaction between journalists and politicians. It is around this time that the scourge of paid news became an epidemic. Many journalists became PR intermediaries for political leaders. It was inevitable that PR would overwhelm journalism. The Radia tapes were recorded in 2008-09. Unofficial versions were circulated in early-2010 and finally published by two weekly magazines in November 2010. They revealed the nexus between politicians and journalists.

The nexus has only grown stronger. It has also - since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in May 2014 - become more brazen. The masks have slipped. Pretence has been dropped. Shame at violating the principles of ethical journalism has evaporated. Paid news and private treaties are not the issues any more: they are far too common. The real cancer is the politicisation of journalism.

According to an article in Mint published on January 8, 2013, "In the aftermath of the 2009 general elections, a news report by Rediff.comcited Congress MP Kapil Sibal as saying that over 150 media publications were owned by individuals affiliated with the Congress party. The report said that with the impressive win under its belt, the Congress party would activate this machinery to 'carve a legend out of Rahul within a decade.' "

An existential threat

Sonia Gandhi was among the first in the Congress to spot Narendra Modi's potential as a threat to the Congress' political hegemony. Hermaut ka saudagar invective in 2007 sparked a chain of abuse that lowered standards of political discourse which have today become mainstream.

A campaign of vilification was launched against Modi by the Congress in 2013 which saw him as an existential threat - a fear that would be borne out in May 2014 when the Congress plunged from 206 Lok Sabha seats to 44.

It was now that the mainstream media lost the plot. A large section had been co-opted by the Congress and by 2013 was fully embedded into its ecosystem. Some columnists were so obsessively - and often viciously - anti-Modi that they achieved three unintended objectives: one, they eroded their own credibility; two, they generated unexpected support for Modi among readers who felt he was being unfairly maligned; and three, they caused widespread revulsion in the public for mainstream media.

Television fell victim as well. Anchors took sides, again violating professionalism and journalistic integrity. Foreign media took the cue from biased, politically affiliated Indian journalists. The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post and The Economistcarried stories that failed the test of neutral journalism. Facts were mangled and interpretations distorted. The victim: the newspapers' own reputation.

Some Indian television networks are so viscerally anti-Modi today that they no longer attempt to hide their bias beneath a veneer of journalistic professionalism. The charge of being an in-house channel of the Congress does not bother them anymore.

The Modi government's abysmal media management has further emboldened sections of the media grown fat on old largesse. No longer do they fear a backlash to even serious charges of being fronts for politicians' money laundering. They know they have defenders of the faith within the highest echelons of the NDA government. Protection is assured - at least till the prime minister wields the axe.

Fortunately, there are still many honourable and upright journalists across media - print, online and television. Alas, there are many more who are not.

Does India Have Lessons for China and the South China Sea?

Beijing can learn a thing or two from how New Delhi has managed maritime disputes with its neighbors. 

By Mercedes Page, November 29, 2015

It’s been a big few weeks in the South China Sea. After months of internal debate, the US finally conducted a Freedom of Navigation Operation on 27 October, sailing within 12 nautical miles of the disputed Subi and Mischief Reefs. A couple of days after the patrols the Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) delivered its long awaited first verdict in The Republic of Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China, which found that the court has jurisdiction to hear the case; proceedings can now move forward to assessing the claims put forward by The Philippines. As we wait to see how things play out in the South China Sea, it’s worth taking a moment to look westward to see how India (another great and rising power in the region) has approached its maritime disputes with its smaller neighbours—and the lessons China can draw from India’s resolution tactics.

In July 2014, The Hague’s Arbitration Tribunal on the India–Bangladesh Maritime Delimitation delivered its final verdict on a 40-year-old maritime dispute between India and Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal. The delimitation dispute began in the early 1970s when an island, named New Moore in India and South Talpatti in Bangladesh, first emerged in the mouth of the Hariabhanga River separating India and Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal. Both India and Bangladesh laid claim to the island, leading to ongoing tensions over the maritime boundary between the two countries and the rights to the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf. After eight rounds of failed bilateral negotiations between 1974 and 2009, on 8 October 2009 Bangladesh started arbitration proceedings against India under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The two countries’ claims were based on different interpretations of international maritime law. India’s claim to the island, which disappeared in 2011 due to rising sea levels, was based on the UNCLOS principle of equidistance, which is generally obligatorily applied in the absence of an agreement, historical titles or special circumstances. For example, Article 15 UNCLOS 1982 declares the principle valid;

Will China change the world’s financial institutions?

By Erik Berglof, Nov 24 2015


This article is published in collaboration with Project Syndicate
The board of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development recently approved China’s application to join – an application a decade in the making – and sent it on to member governments for final approval. But EBRD membership is only one expression of China’s rapidly growing role in the world’s international financial institutions. The question now is whether China will spur change within them, or vice versa.

The global financial crisis shook up the international financial architecture, catching many institutions off guard. The International Monetary Fund, for example, had actually pursued sharp downsizing in the preceding years. But it also allowed them to prove their mettle. Many of them – not least the IMF, but also the EBRD and the European Investment Bank – eventually showed that they could respond flexibly and, as a result, have gained expanded mandates and more capital.

The crisis also undermined the legitimacy of the G-7 – the countries at the root of the problem – while invigorating the G-20. Amid these transformations, China gained an opening to boost its global influence – one that it is determined to exploit, despite resistance from some corners. It plans to use its presidency of the G-20 in 2016, for example, to advance an ambitious agenda.
In fact, Chinese international engagement is now occurring on a scale and at a rate never seen before. China is a member of many multilateral institutions – including several regional players like the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) – with which it is deepening its relationships, especially through co-investment in projects around the world. For example, China significantly ratcheted up its commitment to the AfDB last year through the $2 billionAfrica Growing Together Fund.

China’s Turn Toward Regional Restructuring, Counter-Intervention: A Review of Authoritative Sources


Publication: China Brief Volume: 15 Issue: 22, November 16, 2015 
Senior Colonel Chen Zhou has highlighted the need for China to “expand its scope” and "break through the limits of China's coastline."

Note: This piece is based on a longer article published in The Washington Quarterly (Fall 2015, available here).

Beginning after the global financial crisis in 2008, and transforming further with Xi Jinping’s ascent to power in 2012, Chinese security policy has undergone a remarkable shift in direction. China’s leaders have directed efforts to strengthen control of disputed maritime regions in the East and South China seas. Chinese maritime law enforcement forces wrested control of Scarborough Reef from the Philippines and scaled up their presence in the East China Sea in 2012. During the past year, China has also augmented features it occupies, adding port facilities capable of harboring small naval combatants, and building three military-grade airfields. Meanwhile, China’s leaders have proposed security mechanisms, based on Chinese-led organizations such as the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building (CICA) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), as alternatives to the current security order dominated by U.S. alliances. At the operational level, Chinese forces continue to invest heavily in military capabilities that serve anti-access/area denial (A2/AD), or counter-intervention, purposes; such as the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM), DF-26 intermediate range ballistic missile (which has an ASBM variant), YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM), HQ-9 surface-to-air missile (SAM), and J-20 stealth fighter—some of which China displayed prominently during its September parade commemorating the country’s victory over Japan in World War II. [1]

While observers continue to debate the reasons for and drivers of the shift, discussion of authoritative sources remains scarce. Among the most important publicly available sources, however, are the 2015 Defense White Paper (DWP), entitled China’s Military Strategy, and the 2013 version of the Science of Military Strategy (SMS), a periodically reissued strategy textbook. The DWP offers an authoritative view of China’s security policy and military strategy, while the SMS, published by the military’s center for strategy analysis, the Academy of Military Science (AMS), serves as an important representation of the PLA’s thinking on these topics.

Both sources suggest that despite a nominal adherence to a purely defensive posture, China has in fact revised that policy to support a peacetime expansion of national power. Like its predecessors, China’s Military Strategy upheld China’s “defensive” security policy. However, it also acknowledged that China’s evolving situation set “new requirements” for the military to help build a “favorable strategic posture” and “guarantee the country’s peaceful development.” It highlighted in particular the need to better protect the country’s “growing strategic interests.” This, the white paper explained, required the military to “actively expand military and security cooperation” and “promote the establishment of a regional framework for security and cooperation.” Hinting at the expanding focus of military activity, the DWP noted that the military intended to conduct preparations, planning, and activities in “all directions and in all domains” and to “effectively secure China’s overseas interests” (State Council Information Office, May 26).

Nepal’s New Challenge

The adoption of the new constitution is not the end of the struggle for equality, fairness and tolerance. 
By Maximillian Mørch, November 28, 2015

The recent chaos and political turmoil in Nepal, which followed the promulgation of that country’s new constitution in September, shows what can happen when post-conflict societies attempt to move too fast following conflict. By not investigating war crimes and wartime abuses of power, Nepal risks disrupting its long term future as an equal post-conflict state.

The much heralded new constitution in August was naturally a moment of celebration, welcomed by political leaders as the dawn of a new Nepal. However, ever since the constitution was adopted, Nepal has been in the grip of protests, fuel blockades, and continuing insecurity. With protests in the Terai highlighting the unequal constitution, it is time for Nepal to address underlying ethnic and political tensions so that the country can move forward. While for many the passing of the new constitution was a time of celebration, for others it was a signal to take to the streets. The blockades in the Terai have been highly damaging to Nepal’s economy, and suggest that the promulgation of the new constitution is not the end of the struggle for equality, fairness and tolerance, but rather just the beginning.

Certainly the new constitution, notwithstanding all the criticism and the controversy surrounding it, is a step in the right direction. Major political parties have managed to overcome huge differences and form a consensus. However, as far as peace building and post-conflict reconstruction goes it is only one facet, even if a vital one, in meeting the demands and agreements in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2006. The CPA also called for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was created to investigate grave violations of human rights and to hold accountable those responsible. The idea that those responsible for rape, murder, and gross mutilation, both from the Army and Maoists, are walking around with impunity is not conducive to long term peace and stability, which after all, was a fundamental reason for the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

American and Russian militaries don’t agree about much in Syria


By Karen DeYoung November 25 

During a two-day period early this week, the United States reported that coalition aircraft had conducted 23 strikes in Syria, destroying about three dozen Islamic State vehicles, buildings and tactical units.

During the same two days, Russia said its aircraft had hit 472 “terrorist objectives” in Syria, including an Islamic State oil depot, an “oil production plant” and 80 tanker trucks.

The numbers were fairly typical of descriptions separately released nearly every day by the U.S.-led coalition and the Russian Defense Ministry. In the eight weeks since Russia began air operations in Syria, its military claims to have flown many more missions than the United States, and destroyed thousands of targets.
Russia’s efforts, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said in Moscow Wednesday, have been “100 times greater than what is being done by the United States of America and their allies against terrorism.”

Beneath public presidential statements and diplomatic exchanges, the U.S. and Russian militaries have lobbed a steady stream of verbal brickbats at each other since Russian operations in Syria began on Sept. 30. They have repeatedly criticized each other’s tactics, munitions and goals.
More important, charges of outright lying about what each side is doing illustrate the difficulties of Russia and the United States ever cooperating in operations against the Islamic State. That objective seems even further away this week after the shootdown of a Russian aircraft by coalition-member Turkey.


National Defense University Press
Washington, D.C. 2015
How will China use its increasing military capabilities in the future? China faces a complicated security environment with a wide range of internal and external threats. Rapidly expanding international interests are creating demands for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to conduct new missions ranging from protecting Chinese shipping from Somali pirates to evacuating citizens from Libya. The most recent Chinese defense white paper states that the armed forces must “make serious preparations to cope with the most complex and difficult scenarios . . . so as to ensure proper responses . . . at any time and under any circumstances.”

Based on a conference co-sponsored by Taiwan’s Council of Advanced Policy Studies, RAND, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and National Defense University, The People’s Liberation Army and Contingency Planning in China brings together leading experts from the United States and Taiwan to examine how the PLA prepares for a range of domestic, border, and maritime contingencies. The book includes chapters on how the PLA, domestic security forces, and the civilian government conduct contingency planning and how
military commanders can draw upon national level military assets and mobilize civilian resources to execute their plans. Substantive chapters assess PLA planning for potential domestic contingencies such as suppressing internal unrest, border contingencies involving India, Myanmar, North Korea, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, and
maritime contingencies in both the near and the far seas. Authors also examine PLA preparations and performance in disaster relief, counterpiracy, and noncombatant evacuation operations.

Improving PLA capabilities are giving Chinese leaders new options to respond to domestic and international crises, but the PLA still has significant limitations in projecting and sustaining power, especially in contested environments.

ISIS may be on a downhill path

(A Drizzle than a Storm These…)

By Ajai Sahni

The Islamic State or Daesh is a monster that has evolved in a vast crucible of chaos constructed out of centuries of sectarian hatred, the legacy of fractious colonial cartography, sustained mis-governance and, most recently, the arrogant, ignorant and irresponsible interventions of Western powers. Its abrupt ascendancy across Iraq-Syria and in the global imaginations has been the result of an extraordinarily sophisticated use of contemporary instruments of communication, slick propaganda tools to project theatrical acts of macabre violence, access to large sources of wealth that made it the richest terrorist group in the world, the creation of a terrorist controlled protostate and the declaration of a purported Islamic Caliphate.

While the first and more enduring set of factors that has created the environment of 'savagery' (to borrow the Islamists' terminology) within which Daesh has flourished are unlikely to be addressed over the medium term, the second set, the very factors that contributed to Daesh's prominence among the current forces of disorder, is likely to be the most significant causes of its degradation and eventual demise. While its excesses and propaganda won it thousands of recruits from across the world, it has also united the world's powers — including much of the Muslim world — against it and created a near-consensus that Daesh must be crushed; while Daesh was rich as long as it was a mere terrorist formation, the creation of a proto-state, with duties of the 'administration of savagery' and the provision of public goods has left it starved of resources; and while the declaration of the 'Caliphate' has attracted thousands to its armies and its cause, this act of hubris has alienated millions of devout Muslims, and all other Muslim majority states.

A Drizzle than a Storm These considerations are crucial as the world now struggles to devise responses to the attacks in Paris — though it is not clear why these attacks demand a more urgent response than, for instance, the downing of the Russian Metrojet airliner which killed 224 on October 31; or the slaughter of over 2,000 people by Boko Haram in Baga town in Nigeria in January this year; or, indeed, the tens of thousands slaughtered in Iraq and Syria over the past years, to mention a few of many examples of worse terrorist atrocities.

Why It’s Time for a Free Kurdistan


It’s spread across several de facto ‘states,’ but Kurdish nationalism has become a reality as the rest of the Middle East crumbles. 

It’s time to stop debating whether or not the Kurds deserve an independent state. There are around 40 million Kurds across Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria—the largest ethnic group without self-determination. Kurds have long sought independence, but the states in which they live have always opposed it. The U.S. and its Western allies oppose Kurdish independence because of fears it could destabilize the already volatile Middle East. 

The arguments against Kurdish independence are obsolete. It’s not a question of whether the world should allow Kurds to have independent states. It’s a matter of the international community catching up with what the Kurds have already done. In Iraq and Syria, Kurdish groups have established their own states—albeit de facto—without waiting for anyone’s permission. These are not fully fledged independent countries with diplomatic missions at the United Nations and international recognition. They don’t need to be. Kurds have shown they can manage without that. In Turkey, where close to half of all Kurds live, they are demanding self-rule but are up against a state that is unwilling to negotiate political rights. 

The question now is whether the U.S. and others can accept Kurdish self-rule. That question is more urgent given the importance of the Kurds in Iraq and Syria for the fight against the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS. As importantly, can the Kurds learn to accept their own divisions and not constantly meddle in each other’s affairs? 

Stratfor: In France, New Attacks Come From Old Problems

Summary: Here Stratfor looks at a seldom-mentioned aspect of the Paris attacks. Their roots lie deep in France’s history, allowing large-scale immigration from its colonies to provide cheap labor for its corporations. Just as American has done. But as Frances’s Jews discovered, France has little ability to assimilate foreigners. Its slow economic growth makes this even more difficult. Paris was a result.

The governor of the colony, William Bradford, abolished this system and gave each household a parcel of land. With private property to call their own, the Pilgrims were suddenly very industrious and found themselves with more corn than they knew what to do with. So they invited the Indians over to celebrate. (In some other versions, the first Thanksgiving is not a feast but a brief respite from famine. But the moral is always the same: socialism doesn’t work.) The same commune-to-capitalism, famine-to-feast story is told of Jamestown, the first English settlement, in 1607.

It’s a sad story, showing how we have come to believe stories that are almost an inversion of the truth — told to us for tawdry political actors. Annual debunkings by journalists and historians have had little effect.

Some attempt direct attacks on the liars, such as this by Ben Norton at Salon: “Rush Limbaugh’s ‘The True Story of Thanksgiving‘ is a lie-filled load of stuffing that turns villains into victims” — “Tea Party Thanksgiving mythology bludgeons socialism with lies while covering up capitalists’ genocide of Natives.”

Some do rebuttal with detailed narratives, like the Charles C. Mann’s superbly told account tin the Smithsonian Magazine; “Native Intelligence” (December 2005). Some articles attempt to shock us into awareness, telling the facts in an entertaining way from another perspective. The best of these I’ve seen is Scott Alexander’s brilliant “The Story Of Thanksgiving Is A Science-Fiction Story” (2013).

Domestic Concerns

Our magical thinking about ISIS, and shallow thinking about the Long War.


Summary: As we lurch in a second phase of our mindless Long War, we lack the excuse of ignorance that led to our failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. After 14 years of war, a host of voices — people with a wide range of relevant expertise — explain the folly of our actions. Here is an excerpt from an article well worth reading about the West’s shallow thinking — almost certain to end with our tears.

Excerpt from “Magical Thinking about Isis
Adam Shatz, London Review of Books, 3 December 2015

What most of the jihadis appear to have in common is a lack of any serious religious training: according to most studies, there is an inverse relationship between Muslim piety and attraction to jihad. As Olivier Roy, the author of several books on political Islam, recently said, ‘this is not so much the radicalisation of Islam as the Islamicisation of radicalism.’

By sending a group of French – and Belgian – citizens to massacre Parisians in their places of leisure, IS aims to provoke a wave of hostility that will end up intensifying disaffection among young Muslims.

… France has been using {its} weapons more frequently, more widely, and more aggressively in recent years. The shift towards a more interventionist posture in the Muslim world began under Sarkozy, and became even more pronounced under Hollande, who has revealed himself as an heir of Guy Mollet, the Socialist prime minister who presided over Suez and the war in Algeria.

It was France that first came to the aid of Libyan rebels, after Bernard-Henri Lévy’s expedition to Benghazi. That adventure, once the US got involved, freed Libya from Gaddafi, but then left it in the hands of militias – a number of them jihadist – and arms dealers whose clients include groups like IS. France has deepened its ties to Netanyahu – Hollande has made no secret of his ‘love’ for Israel – and criminalised expressions of support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.​

Smartphone Wars are Coming


Information technology tools will transform the operating environment for U.S. forces in significant ways, ushering in an era of radical transparency, connectivity, and atomization of conflict. Can America's military adapt? 
Paul Scharre,  November 29, 2014

We are living today in the midst of the greatest democratization of information since the invention of the printing press. Smartphones transform any person into a citizen reporter, the leader of a digitally-enabled smart mob, or the spark of a new viral movement. Information technology connects people and empowers. This technology (literally) in the hands of everyday people is changing the operating environment in profound ways for U.S. military forces, creating a world of radical transparency, connectivity, and atomization of conflict.

Radical Transparency:

Ubiquitous smartphones have ushered in an age of radical transparency, and many governments are not ready for it. The ability of any individual to record and spread in real-time information about abuses by authorities has upended relationships between citizens and traditional authorities around the globe. In the United States, police departments have struggled to adapt to an era where abuses – real or perceived – can be recorded by bystanders and broadcast globally. Abuses that previously might have existed in the shadows have been dragged into the open. Incidents that previously would have been isolated, with only immediate bystanders aware of what actually occurred, can now be replayed over and over on social and traditional media. Pictures and video bring an objective record of events, or at least the appearance of one, as well as a visceral emotional quality that resonates with viewers. Debates over whether this new reality is changing police behavior and what that means overshadow a deeper point: Information technology has fundamentally altered public transparency over police behavior.

The same dynamic will exist in military operations. While there have been incidents in recent conflicts, such as Koran burning or urinating on corpses, that have had wider ramifications, the day-to-day interactions between U.S. troops on the ground and host nation populations have been relatively localized to that home or village. A world where every action and inaction of Soldiers and Marines on the ground is recorded and spread via social media is a radically different social environment. A misstep that previously might have inflamed a village now could inflame a country. One negative interaction can easily overshadow tens of thousands of positive interactions; a perceived slight or disrespect toward one person can become a symbol of perceived U.S. attitudes toward an entire population. In a world where information spreads virally and organically over social media, the U.S. military could find itself caught flat-footed by one mistake by a private on the ground that changes a population’s attitude overnight toward the U.S. military’s presence.

‘Gray Zone’ conflicts far more complex to combat, says Socom chief Votel

Army Gen. Joseph Votel calls the Islamic State “a non-state actor attempting to operate like a state.” 

Published: November 28, 2015 | 
TAMPA — Between peace and all-out war exists the Gray Zone.

To Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, the Gray Zone is a familiar place of ambiguity. It’s a place where the Islamic State operates. A place where Russia has taken on Ukraine.

And it’s home to many other spots, hot, lukewarm or otherwise, around the globe.

“The Gray Zone,” said Votel, “really defines this area between ... for the most part healthy economic, political competition between states, and open warfare.”
It’s a place, he said, where “actors, sometimes state actors and sometimes non-state actors, act in a manner just below what would normally take us into normal open warfare.”

In September, Socom, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, issued a paper on Gray Zone challenges. The paper says that while traditional war might have been the dominant means of deadly conflict, Gray Zone challenges have now become the norm, and that countering foes like the former Soviet Union in many ways proved far less complex than taking on current adversaries.
Last week, Votel sat down to talk to The Tampa Tribune about his vision for Gray Zone conflicts, how the command he leads fits into that paradigm, and how commandos are ideally suited for a mental and physical space that challenges much of what we have come to know about the nature of conflict.

“It is certainly the most challenging environment that I have experienced in 35 years of military service,” Votel said.
It is an especially important topic, given that the Gray Zone is a space that Army Green Berets, Rangers, Delta Force and aviators, Navy SEALs and special warfare boat crews, Marine Raiders and Air Force special operators will be operating in for many years to come.

They don’t own it, and they act at the behest not of Socom but of U.S. diplomats, the military’s regional commanders and host nation officials. Still, with some 7,000 commandos stationed in 85 to 90 countries at any given time, the nation’s special operations forces are a key projection of power and influence in the Gray Zone.
It is not a new concept, said Votel.

Ex-US Intelligence Chief on Islamic State's Rise: 'We Were Too Dumb'


Interview Conducted By Matthias Gebauer and Holger Stark

Islamic State fighters in Raqqa, Syria: "The sad fact is that we have to put troops on the ground. We won't succeed against this enemy with air strikes alone."

Without the Iraq war, Islamic State wouldn't exist today, former US special forces chief Mike Flynn openly admits. In an interview, he explains IS' rise to become a professional force and how the Americans allowed its future leader to slip out of their hands.

Michael Flynn, 56, served in the United States Army for more than 30 years, most recently as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he was the nation's highest-ranking military intelligence officer. Previously, he served as assistant director of national intelligence inside the Obama administration. From 2004 to 2007, he was stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, where, as commander of the US special forces, he hunted top al-Qaida terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of the predecessors to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who today heads the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. After Flynn's team located Zarqawi's whereabouts, the US killed the terrorist in an air strike in June 2006.
In an interview, Flynn explains the rise of the Islamic State and how the blinding emotions of 9/11 led the United States in the wrong direction strategically.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: In recent weeks, Islamic State not only conducted the attacks in Paris, but also in Lebanon and against a Russian airplane over the Sinai Peninsula. What has caused the organization to shift its tactics and to now operate internationally?

Military Payloads Hosted on Commercial Satellites How Can the Space and Missile Systems Center Increase the Number of Commercially Hosted Military Payload Contract Awards?

Maj Peter A. Cunningham, USAF
2015, 49 pages


Commercially hosted military payloads (CHMP) is one approach the Space and Missile Systems Center would like to use to accomplish its mission of delivering resilient and affordable space capabilities. A CHMP uses a commercial satellite’s available size, weight, and power to accommodate a military payload. When the military payload requirements and commercial host characteristics match, a CHMP solution can be a cost saving alternative. To date, the Air Force has only contracted one CHMP, with a 21 September 2011 payload launch. The CHMP was a wide field-of-view infrared sensor, known as the commercially hosted infrared payload (CHIRP). The CHIRP demonstrated that a CHMP solution would garner a reduction in cost and schedule.

Nontraditional Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Making the Most of Airborne Assets

Maj Michael S. Cornelius, USAF
2015, 41 pages


This paper uses nontraditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (NTISR), now known in tactics, techniques and procedures as Operations Reconnaissance, as a case study to increase combat capability across multiple weapon systems within the Air Force. NTISR demonstrates how one capability can flex to bridge gaps across several doctrinal functions and mission sets. It also provides an argument for the development of future technologies within extant fiscal constraints, revealing a requirement to shift the acquisition weight of effort away from traditional niche assets to those that support true multi-role capabilities.


The Terrorist In The Data 
Nov. 26, 2015 

Yet the idea that one can hide in the crowd-“security through obscurity”, as some call it-is mostly fiction. The combination of powerful algorithms, greater processing power, almost limitless computer memory and huge capabilities in data collection mean that people are far more visible than many realise-to private firms if not to governments. Most people give away vast amounts of private personal information in exchange for services such as “free” e-mail (far from being the customer, they are the product: their attention and profile is being sold to advertisers). Every website can record the details of the visitor’s browser and computer settings that often make up a unique fingerprint.

After the Paris attacks, democratic societies can reasonably ask whether the right to remain anonymous, be it online or travelling around Europe, should remain near-absolute. As long as there is proper democratic oversight of those handling the data, Europeans will have to give up some anonymity to preserve the liberty and security that matter. In an open internet, the security of personal data and identities should be preserved with strong and ubiquitous encryption. In an open Europe, personal safety is best safeguarded by police and intelligence services sharing information as seamlessly as do the terrorists.

THE final text message from one of the Paris attackers was grim: On est parti on commence, “We’re off, we’re starting”. It was found on a mobile phone dumped in a bin near the Bataclan theatre, where gunmen killed 89 people at a rock concert on November 13th. The phone’s digital trail helped lead investigators to a flat in Paris that was raided by armed police on November 18th; the presumed mastermind, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, and two others died there during a siege. The spoor of another phone linked an abandoned suicide-vest to Salah Abdeslam, a plotter who fled to Belgium and is now the most wanted man in Europe.

The vast stores of digital information generated by everyday lives-communications data, CCTV footage, credit-card records and much more-are yielding invaluable clues about the attack and are helping guide the hunt for the surviving plotters. Yet it is also painfully apparent that much information that could and should be known is not: France complains that no European country had warned it that Mr Abaaoud, who fled to Syria and was wanted by the Belgian police, had returned to France though he must have passed one or other European frontier (the tip-off eventually came from Morocco). At least two attackers slipped into Europe via Greece, posing as refugees. Yet police forces do not have routine access to the database of asylum-seekers’ fingerprints.

Inside The App That’s Become The Islamic State’s Biggest Propaganda Machine


Inside the app that’s become the Islamic State’s biggest propaganda machine

AN ENCRYPTED MESSAGING app has been the subject of much media coverage over the past fortnight, amid fears that Islamic State members are increasingly using it to communicate with one another.
While it isn’t not clear how exactly the Paris terrorists communicated, Telegram is one of a number of apps that have created difficulties for intelligence agencies more broadly when dealing with terrorism.

Isis doesn’t appear to rely on any one platform to communicate publicly and privately. But experts have noted a troubling shift, in particular, to Telegram, which has been used to recruit people, disseminate propaganda and facilitate private messaging between members.
Some experts have cast doubt on the characterisation of the app’s encryption as nearly impenetrable. But nevertheless, it’s not easy to crack.

Russian origins

Telegram was created by Nikolai and Pavel Durov, the brothers who launched Russia’s biggest social networking site, VKontakte, in 2013.

Pavel fled Russia after VKontakte caught the Kremlin’s attention and allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin took control of the social network.
He said he came up with the idea for Telegram when he called his brother during a Swat standoff at his home in St Petersburg. The standoff followed 2011 demonstrations over parliamentary elections.

“I realised I don’t have a safe means of communications” with my brother, Durov told The New York Times. “That’s how Telegram started.”

Pavel claimed in May that Telegram has 62 million monthly active users, according to TechCrunch. He said at a TechCrunch conference earlier this year that the network sees about 12 billion messages sent per day.

Britain Begins to Rearm

Britain Begins to Rearm - Wall Street Journal

Europeans will remember 2015 as the year in which national security became an everyday concern, from Russia’s encroachments on NATO’s periphery to the jihadist threat to their urban centers. So kudos to David Cameron’s government for reversing years of cuts to Britain’s military spending with a strategic review that starts to take account of the world as it is.

“We must expect the unexpected,” the Prime Minister warned Parliament on Monday. Britain, he added, “can make sure that we have the versatility and the means to respond to new risks and threats to our security.”

To that end, the government plans to spend £2 billion ($3 billion) on additional weapons for its special forces, hire 1,900 new foreign and domestic intelligence personnel, buy 20 long-range Reaper drones, restore Britain’s maritime patrol capabilities with nine P8 Poseidon aircraft (useful for hunting Russian submarines), and add new squadrons of land-based Typhoon and sea-based F-35 jets. The government will also set aside £41 billion to build Britain’s next generation of nuclear missile submarines…