26 January 2016

*** India's civil-military dissonance: Road to Perdition?


India's Republic Day on Tuesday (January 26) will be celebrated with traditional pageantry and the citizen gets a panoramic view of the country's military capability. Intelligence inputs warn that it will be yet another test for the national security apparatus. However, it provides an opportune occasion to objectively review how India has dealt with its complex security challenges. Regrettably in India's National Security 'Hall of Shame' we can now add, 'Pathankot 2016' after 'Kandahar 1999', 'Parakram 2002' and 'Mumbai 2008.'
Given that India is a nuclear weapon state, which fields one of the world's largest armed forces and spends upwards of $40 billion annually on defence, one cringes at accounts of our seemingly inept handling of yet another terrorist attack. Equally disheartening is the fact that, eight years after 26/11, we lack the ability to deter the architects of this attack, and the will to punish its perpetrators.
It is a matter of sheer good fortune that the cross-border terrorists who managed to enter the Pathankot air base failed to target aircraft, helicopters and missiles as well as the huge bomb-dump and fuel-storage facilities. We overlook the fact that some of our air bases, adjuncts to the nuclear deterrent, may also house nuclear warhead components. So, while cautioning the world about the dangers of Pakistani warheads falling into jihadist hands, we need to ensure that a similar fate does not befall our own.

The calibre of a nation's leadership is tested by a crisis. Whether it is floods, an aircraft hijacking or a terror strike, India's response to any crisis has followed a depressingly familiar sequence. Regardless of intelligence inputs, the onset of a crisis finds multiple agencies pulling in different directions, lacking unitary leadership, coordination and, above all, a cohesive strategy. Ad-hoc and sequential damage-control measures eventually bring the situation under control, with loss of life and national self-esteem. After a free-wheeling blame-game, the state apparatus relapses into its comatose state - till the next disaster.
From the media discourse, it appears that this template was faithfully followed in the Pathankot episode. While the military has due processes for learning from its mistakes and dealing with incompetence, one is not sure about the rest of our security system.
Whether or not India-Pakistan peace talks are resumed, the Pakistani 'deep state' has many more 'Pathankots' in store for India. For Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), cross-border terrorism is an inexpensive method of keeping India off-balance. The strategy of plausible deniability and threat of nuclear 'first-use' assures them of impunity from retribution. Such situations call for all components of India's national security, military, intelligence, bureaucracy, central and state police forces to work in the closest synergy and coordination. Regrettably, civil-military relations have, of late, been deeply vitiated and the resultant dissonance could have adverse consequences for the nation's security.

What is worse; civil-military recriminations, so far, confined within the walls of South Block, seem to be proliferating. Post-Pathankot, the constabulary has jumped into the fray and, if an intemperately-worded newspaper article (Indian Express, January 13) by a serving Indian Police Service (IPS) officer is an indicator, civil-military relations may be entering a downward spiral. This outburst should compel the political leadership to undertake a re-appraisal of the prevailing civil-military equation which contains many anomalies; one of them being the role of the police forces.
Worldwide, an unmistakable distinction is maintained between the appearance and functions of the military and civilian police, the latter being charged with the maintenance of law and order, crime prevention/investigation and traffic regulation et al. India's unique security compulsions have seen the Indian Police Service (IPS) not only retaining the colonial legacy of sporting army rank badges and star plates but also garnering unusual influence in national security matters over the years.
Many of our Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) have blurred the distinction between police and military; terming themselves 'para-militaries', with constables wearing military style combat fatigues and being addressed as 'jawans'. There are only three, duly constituted, para-military forces in India: the Coast Guard, Assam Rifles and the Special Frontier Force; all headed by armed forces officers. The five CAPFs, namely BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF and SSB - cumulatively over a million strong - are headed by IPS officers.
The deployment of CAPFs in border-guarding as well as counter-insurgency roles calls for military (read infantry) skills; for which neither the police constables nor officers receive adequate training. This lack of training and motivation as well as a leadership deficit has manifested itself in: (a) these forces repeatedly suffering heavy casualties (confined only to constables) in Maoist ambushes; and (b) recurring instances of infiltration taking place across borders guarded by CAPFs.
In the case of the anti-terrorist National Security Guard (NSG), its combat capability comes from the army; yet, by government mandate, it is headed by a police officer. The fact that this elite force has seen 28 directors general in 31 years makes one wonder if round holes are being filled by square pegs.
A second anomaly in the civil-military matrix pertains to the fact that the Government of India Rules of Business have designated the civilian secretary heading the defence ministry as the functionary responsible "for the defence of India and for the armed forces". Since no military officer, including the three chiefs, finds mention in the Business Rules, the Service HQs are subaltern to a 100 percent civilian ministry. Every major decision - whether it pertains to finance, acquisition, manpower or organization - requires a ministry nod which can take decades.
A false and dangerous belief prevails on Raisina Hill that civil-military relations constitute a zero-sum game in which 'civilian control' is best retained by boosting the bureaucracy and police at the expense of the military. Post-independence, the civil-military balance has been steadily skewed by pushing the military officer well below his civilian counterparts with the same years of service. This has caused deep resentment in the military, and the resultant hierarchical distortion could lead to a civil-military logjam - the last thing the nation needs at this juncture.
It is high time the Indian politician shed his traditional indifference to national security issues and took tangible measures to ensure a stable and equitable civil-military paradigm - one which ensures a say for the military in matters impinging on the nation's safety and security. Until that happens, the Republic Day parade will remain a vainglorious display of hardware and pageantry - and the nation's security in parlous straits.


Monday, 25 January 2016 | Joginder Singh
Activists are supposed to espouse their causes through their NGOs. But the funds they receive are often misused. The Government must crack down on those engaging in such fraudulent activities
A non-governmental organisation is one that is neither a Government agency nor a conventional for-profit business. Usually set up by private citizens, NGOs may be funded by Governments, foundations, businesses or private persons. Some avoid formal funding altogether and are run primarily by volunteers. NGOs make for a highly diverse groups of organisations engaged in a wide range of activities, and take different forms in different parts of the world. Some may be charities while others may be registered for tax exemption based on recognition of social purposes. Still others may be fronts for political or religious groups.
The Central Bureau of Investigation, in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in August 2015, said that there were 31 lakh NGOs in 26 States of India. Karnataka, Odisha and Telangana are still to adduce information about the number of NGOs, so the country-total will be more than 31 lakhs. Besides, more than 82,000 NGOs are registered in the seven Union Territories.
The total number of schools in the country is around 15 lakh, as per data compiled by the Planning Commission in 2011. The Commission had calculated the number of schools, classifying them as primary, upper primary, secondary, lower secondary and higher secondary. In March 2011, the total number of Government hospitals in the country was 11,993, with 7.84 lakh beds. Of these, 7,347 hospitals were in rural areas with 1.60 lakh beds and 4,146 hospitals in urban areas with 6.18 lakh beds. The number of NGOs also exceeds the strength of policemen in the country. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there were 17.3 lakh policemen nationwide in 2014, as against a sanctioned strength of 21 lakh.
The Delhi High Court, in May 2013, had called for tightening the law for NGOs, observing that many of them were “frauds”. A Bench of the Delhi High Court said, “Most privately-run so-called philanthropic NGOs do not understand their social responsibilities. Ninety nine per cent of the existing NGOs are fraud and simply money-making devices. Only one out of every 100 NGOs serves the purpose they are set up for.” The court also added, “There is a need for toughening of licensing norms and legislature has to keep this in mind.”
The Supreme Court, in September 2015, directed the Centre and State Governments to shut down all children’s homes run by unregistered NGOs, saying many of these centres had become child-trafficking hubs.
Enabling rural people in one of India’s poorest states to use mobile handsets to broadcast issues in their own language.

Bultoo is not a person; it is how local adivasis in Chhattisgarh pronounce Bluetooth. It refers to the ‘Bultoo’ radio, a scheme launched by the Raman Singh government, which enables rural people in one of India’s poorest states to use mobile handsets to broadcast issues in their own language. These are converted to Internet-based radio programmes and transmitted to all gram panchayats with broadband facilities. Each morning, one representative of each village visits their gram panchayat office to download those radio programmes onto their Bluetooth-enabled mobile handsets, and carries them back to their village to share through Bluetooth, free of charge, with other villagers. All programmes recorded in the district over the day reach every villager via ‘bultoo’. Since many of these are to do with local problems, the message reaches government officials, leading to a noticeable improvement in administrative work. In the smartphone era this may not mean much to urban Indians, but it is a sign of the aspirations of their rural brethren. And an indication of the path Digital India must take if it is to make sense to vast, unconnected millions. Bultoo is the way forward, not Free Basics and its empty promises.

Speak to the Pakistan Army, too

January 25, 2016, AYESHA SIDDIQA
India may have to find a way to initiate dialogue not only with the civilian government of Pakistan but also with the armed forces. Only then will things move
In a study conducted in 2014 on Pakistan’s trade with India, Iran and Afghanistan, the business community, despite some reservations and caution, supported increased trade with India. Most heartening was the shift in Punjab, considered central to the idea of enmity with New Delhi. There are numerous other studies that point to a similar sentiment. Earlier in 2014, even the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad sounded convinced that from an Indian perspective, it was a different Pakistan. Despite his limited access, the diplomat could notice the change — that Pakistanis were eager to do business and reach out across the border.
And then Pathankot happened.
Historical attempts
But the diplomat wasn’t incorrect in his assessment. The public view in Pakistan today does not necessarily represent the popular view prevalent in the years after Partition, especially in Punjab which was one of the main victims of the carnage. For instance, it couldn’t have been imagined in the 1970s for a Prime Minister to reach out to his or her counterpart as Benazir Bhutto did in 1990. By inviting India’s then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, she not only deviated from her father Zuqfikar Ali Bhutto’s legacy of “a thousand years of war with India”, but also began a new chapter in the political imagination of bilateral linkages with an old enemy. This is not to argue that things were perfect. Political realities also forced Benazir Bhutto to seemingly retract, behaviour owed to politics of survival vis-à-vis a strong military rather than a lack of clarity.
In fact, one of the common threads between the governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif during the 1990s was an emerging clarity in the mind of top leadership regarding peace with India. The two main political parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), realised that greater political empowerment and improvement of civil-military balance required improving relations with India. A military for which the threat from India remains the raison d’etrecould not be engaged evenly without improving ties.

Navigating the fourth industrial revolution India cannot afford to lose out on the offerings of this revolution

India’s advantage of cheap labour, mostly poorly skilled, will be blunted by fourth industrial revolution.
The crane used for loading ships can be fitted with sensors that measure the weight of the containers and plug it into a software model. Using the design of the ship, the software sends instructions on where exactly to place the container in order to optimize the weight-balance of the ship. This process can enhance the fuel efficiency of the ship by 5-8%, according to Markus Lorenz of the Boston Consulting Group. By combining the data from the user cards and systems built-in to report train malfunctions, Traffic For London automatically credits the user’s account for delays without the latter being required to fill an application form. These are just a couple of examples, but they give a flavour of what the fourth industrial revolution is about.
The fourth industrial revolution combines digital and physical systems to completely transform the interaction between humans and machines. The tools that it has at its disposal include—but are not limited to—big data, robotics, augmented reality and the Internet of Things. The fourth industrial revolution builds upon the first three industrial revolutions (steam power and mechanical production; assembly lines and electrification; and electronics and computing) and the rapid pace of technological progress since then to achieve almost surreal results by fusing the boundaries between all of them.
The impact of the fourth industrial revolution has so far not been reflected in productivity numbers. Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan speculated, speaking at the just-concluded annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, which this year was dedicated to the fourth industrial revolution, on three possible reasons for this. Perhaps it will take more time. Or maybe the inadequate monetization of much of what is being built may be playing a role. Or it might be entirely possible that the way the world measures productivity is outdated and needs to be altered.
Notwithstanding the debate on productivity, the fourth industrial revolution is real and its impact can be felt even if not measured. It is, therefore, important to be aware of the implications of these developments. The biggest impact, perhaps, will be felt by the labour market. The fourth industrial revolution, by its end, might be responsible for a large tranche of job losses at the lower end of the skill spectrum. This will be offset—at least partially—by an increase in demand for high-skill jobs. Driverless cars, for instance, will obviate the need for drivers but require a lot of smart coders who can make such cars ply the roads in different parts of the world safely.

Besides making them stay competitive, the tools of the fourth industrial revolution help firms in a number of ways. Robots, for instance, do not unionize—at least not yet—nor do they litigate. While such developments that hurt vested interests will create obstacles, additional questions around individual privacy and national security might become a millstone around the necks of those at the forefront of the revolution.

While the world at large will be grappling with such issues, how important is the fourth industrial revolution for India? Extremely important. In 1600, India contributed more than 22% of the world’s gross domestic product, which plummeted to about 4% in 1990 before economic reforms revved it up to 6.8%. A major reason was India failing to climb the bandwagon of the first industrial revolution. India remained behind the curve on the next two as well. If India fails to reap the benefits of the fourth, it will not have imperial Britain to blame this time.

However, India’s path is strewn with challenges. Its comparative advantage of cheap labour, most of which is very poorly skilled, will be blunted by the fourth industrial revolution. While India needs to invest heavily in upskilling initiatives, the probability of some dislocations cannot be discounted. This will require it to make provisions for elaborate safety nets without letting it degenerate into an entitlement culture.

Building the right institutions of governance, particularly regulatory institutions, is another challenge. Hierarchical bureaucracies operating in silos are not geared to deal with networked firms operating on dynamic real-time data. For example, the Karnataka transport department’s recently framed guidelines prohibit, among other absurd measures, dynamic pricing by app-based taxi operators. Regulators have to do a lot better for India to realize the fourth industrial revolution’s benefits.


Monday, 25 January 2016 | Shivaji Sarkar | in Oped

The Union Government has been doing its bit to promote entrepreneurship, boost manufacturing and create employment avenues. But the private sector has not risen to the occasion. It must be willing to take risks
As debated in the World Economic Forum, India is indeed on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution, but there are many challenges. As Union Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley said, “The Indian economy needs some multiple engines of growth, while the focus for the Government now is on reviving private investments.”
Indeed, we have to invest in capitals like human, infrastructure, finance and physical. We have to allow innovation through freedom from the state. Yes, India has seen its information technology sector grow beyond expectations. The state had never anticipated the existence of such an opportunity. Entrepreneurs had a free hand and they innovated to lead the economy ahead.
India is not without its challenges in a volatile world. It has affected its export volumes and forex earnings. The slowdown of the Chinese economy is making imports cheaper and has thrown up challenge to the Make in India manufacturing experiment. India’s factory output has come down. Consumer price inflation is going up.
The oil price fall advantage is not coming to prices; rather it has hit the rupee and the stock markets. Companies used to high profits are ruing the oil seeking its natural level. The era of low cost, low profit operations have come. The new economy has to adopt to it. The Government cannot say that savings from oil are being used to invest in roads and other infrastructure. Even if this is true, it is raising the costs. It is harmful for the economy and also creates new vulnerabilities. The final product has to be cheaper.

India has started thinking afresh. The country can take limited satisfaction in that it is growing faster than the rest of the world. The country has the advantage of manufacturing sector growing and investment pouring in. The steps are slightly long-term. New schemes like Digital India, Make in India and Skill India, would take a bit of time to show results.
But it’s true shows that India wants to create the demand within by empowering its people. The process is a bit long-term but a definite break from the 1991 globalisation style, which in many ways now appears a half-hearted and hesitant opening. Liberalisation did not come with less control. In many cases, the state’s presence was overwhelming even for creating volatility in the stock market, as the 1992 Union Budget and the sudden stock market spurt indicated. An era of new controls and scams siphoned of trillions of crores of rupees of investment from the public domain.

The Future Of ISRO – Get More Private Industries Involved And Encourage Academic Participation

Book Excerpts, 24 Jan, 2016 
Former Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation Dr K Kasturirangan, on the future of ISRO, the need to interface with university systems as well as consortium of industries and the viability of an Indian human space mission. 
It is time we start looking at ISRO in a very different perspective. We cannot go on producing satellites and launch vehicles which are operational within the system. Right now, our manpower is about 15,000 to 18,000 or that kind of a number; it should not grow more than 20,000 to 22,000 whereas the number of missions should grow by three to four times in the coming five to eight years. Obviously, this can come only if there is an external capacity that is built and the whole mechanism of institutionalising, and how to do it outside ISRO, are well planned and ensured. Industries have been meeting ISRO’s requirements very well. With proper policy framework for ISRO in place, the industry can be allowed to use our launch and test facilities. This is yet to take place. It’s not purely outsourcing. 
Industries will have to get missions, get the stakeholders and user community and also do business with outside world. And for that, it has to be more than just being an outsourcing system. So you have to really create a parallel ISRO within the industrial system in this country. This is important. 
Yes, you need to focus on R&D, proof of concept missions, international collaborations, human space mission as and when it takes place, planetary programmes, etc. This should be all within the scope and the overall agreed programmes on space, which should be the mandate of ISRO. But the moment an operational system is created, a consortium of industries should come and take it over and also do business on that basis. So, that is what I would say should be the next attempt. 

On frustrating moments 
Frustration comes in because you have expectations and you don’t meet those. Expectations from ISRO, particularly from outside, are great; many times it is difficult because people think that a great thing is happening in this country and they do not have a benchmark, so their expectations are high. Within ISRO, we know there is a gap between what we are capable of and what we are doing. 
Then we get frustrated because we think that we should be doing more. Take for example remote sensing applications: in ISRO we have major centres doing this. We have operationalised some applications. We also have Regional Remote Sensing Centres. Very good. But when we see what systems like Google are doing, we know we are far from them. We should have gone ahead without any constraints on using remote sensing data. 
The second thing is the non-proliferation of space science into the university system. I think we have got very limited interface with university systems. You look at planetary mission like Chandrayaan. How many university papers do we see? Practically nothing. It was not pushed with passion. Now Mangalyaan! It was called as a test flight for technology. I was amazed at the way in which these things are being said outside. Planetary mission is a planetary mission. You will have instruments with which we can do contemporary science. You’re going to have a new look at Mars with respect to its origin, its atmosphere, the climatology system, its implication with respect to Earth. This is the objective. 

Bacha Khan University or Pathankot: Pakistan has no desire to discontinue its disastrous jihadism

Instead of blaming Afghanistan for the varsity attack, Pakistan would do better to correct its deadly course.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan may be down but it certainly is not out. Various factions of the terrorist group have launched and claimed several deadly attacks in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa province in the past months. And January was no exception. On two consecutive days, the TTP factions struck twice. First against a paramilitary border force and then targeting the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa’s agricultural heartland where Pushkalavati (the Lotus City), the capital of the ancient Gandhara empire, once stood.
The attack on the ragtag paramilitary border patrol barely registered on the Pakistani media’s radar but the university assault drew in political and military leadership to Ground Zero. Twenty-two students and faculty died in the assault on the institution that is named after one of the foremost torchbearers of non-violence in the 20th century, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan aka Bacha Khan.

The university’s guards and at least one student and a teacher Hamid Hussain put up armed resistance to stymie the terrorist attack or the losses could have been much worse. Pakistani military eventually neutralised the four attackers. While the TTP’s main spokesman denied involvement in the ghastly attack, the outfit’s splinter group led by Khalifa Umar Mansoor claimed the attack in a detailed video message.
The Director General Inter-Services Public Relations, Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, has held two press conferences since the attack, alleging that the attack was masterminded from Afghanistan and the attackers crossed through the Torkhum checkpoint on the Durand Line, apparently after duping the Pakistani security detail there. The military spokesman said the attackers were receiving phone calls from an Afghan mobile number during the attack. General Bajwa later played an audio recording of a phone call where a terrorist leader is ostensibly calling a Pakistani reporter to claim the attack. As he did not share the details of which cellular towers the number was using during the call, it is hard to comment on the veracity of his claims, especially since Afghan-origin cellular SIM cards are used in tribal and some settled areas of Pakistan rather commonly.

Creating a false equivalence
Nonetheless, the Pakistani military seems to have laid the blame for the Charsadda attack squarely on Afghanistan’s doorstep as it has done on multiple occasions in the past. The Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif again spent no time in picking up the phone and calling Afghan president Dr Ashraf Ghani directly. Whatever the veracity of the claims – which have been swiftly rejected by the Afghan government – the general’s call was a curious move.

China’s Investments in Africa: What’s the Real Story?


In December, Chinese president Xi Jinping offered a whopping $60 billion loan and aid package to Africa, according to Voice of America. Xi said that China aims to develop infrastructure, improve agriculture and reduce poverty on the continent. This is only the latest example of China’s burgeoning economic presence in Africa. Its investment there has skyrocketed in recent years from $7 billion in 2008 to $26 billion in 2013, according to figures cited at a Wharton Africa Business Forum held last fall. But the relationship is fraught with controversy.
Opponents assert that it is exploitative for China to finance African infrastructure projects in exchange for the continent’s natural resources. Some accuse China of “neo-colonialist” behavior as it acquires the raw materials like oil, iron, copper and zinc that it urgently needs to fuel its own economy. Supporters, on the other hand, say that China’s initiatives to build and improve infrastructure such as roads, railways and telecom systems have been a boon to Africa’s manufacturing sector; have freed up domestic resources for other critical needs such as health care and education; and have aided everyone doing business on the continent.
Three experts from the front lines of the China-Africa relationship offered their views on this complicated issue at the Forum. (The panel was provocatively titled “China in Africa: The Real Story.”)
Looking at the Numbers
Wenjie Chen, an economist in the African Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said there are widespread misconceptions about China’s involvement with Africa. She presented data reported by China’s Ministry of Commerce, which also appeared in a paper Chen recently authored with David Dollar of the Brookings Institute and Heiwai Tang of Johns Hopkins University.
“One of the great misconceptions about the China-Africa business relationship is that there’s some smoke-filled room in Beijing where all the [state-owned enterprises] sit around and divvy up the projects.”–Aubrey Hruby
While acknowledging that Chinese investment on the African continent has been on the upswing since 2009, Chen said that nevertheless, “there’s not really this pattern where you see more deals going into natural-resource-rich countries.” According to her data, the top 20 African nations in which China is involved include not only commodity-rich nations such as Nigeria and South Africa, but commodity-poor nations like Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.
Chen said that the largest deals — which tend to be government-to-government — do in fact involve infrastructure projects and natural resources. Those are the deals that make headlines. But, she asserted, they tend to skew the total reality. When looking at all Chinese firms that invested in Africa between 1998 and 2012, she said a picture emerges of small- and medium-sized private Chinese firms whose activities have nothing to do with commodities. “The number-one industry, in fact, is in services. It’s business services; it’s wholesale and retail,” said Chen, noting that many Chinese entrepreneurs run restaurants, hotels and import/export furniture companies.

China Has 'Reached Consensus' With Djibouti on Military Base

In addition to moving forward on a new military facility, China seals a series of trade deals with Djibouti. 
By Shannon Tiezzi, January 23, 2016
China and Djibouti have “reached consensus” on building logistical facilities in the African state for the use of China’s military, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. The news confirms reports that have been swirling since May 2015, when Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh said his country was in discussions with the Chinese over a possible military base. China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the negotiations for the first time in November of last year.
Now, it appears talks are close to an end. “China and Djibouti consulted with each other and reached consensus on building logistical facilities in Djibouti, which will enable the Chinese troops to better fulfill escort missions and make new contributions to regional peace and stability,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said on Thursday. Hong’s comments referred to anti-piracy escort missions in the Gulf of Aden, which China participates in as part of a United Nations-sanctioned international effort.
Hong pointed out that, while on anti-piracy missions in the area, China has “encountered real difficulties in replenishing soldiers and resupplying fuel and food” – problems the new facility in Djibouti will solve. “The nature of relevant facilities is clear, which is to provide logistical support to Chinese fleets performing escort duties in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast,” he said.

Turkey and the Kurds Widening the conflict

A campaign against the PKK turns the country’s south-east into a war zone Jan 23rd 2016 | DIYARBAKIR | 
THE birds of Diyarbakir are doing very little perching these days. Just when they manage to settle on a satellite dish, a blast of artillery or machine-gun fire sends them dashing skyward. The humans who live here are distraught, too. “We can barely get any sleep,” says a woman walking her son to school just outside the Sur district, the city’s historic centre, where Turkish forces are battling militants aligned with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
In July the PKK, which has waged a decades-long war for Kurdish self-rule, returned to killing Turkish police and soldiers after a two-year ceasefire. The group accused Turkey of tacitly supporting Islamic State (IS). (The jihadists had tried to wipe out the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobane as Turkish soldiers looked on, and have killed scores of Kurds in bomb attacks across Turkey.) Turkey responded with air raids on PKK camps and a crackdown in the largely Kurdish south-east. Since then, fighting in Diyarbakir and other Kurdish cities has killed at least 230 Turkish security officers, up to 240 civilians and hundreds of PKK fighters, says the International Crisis Group, a think-tank. Last week a PKK car bomb killed a police officer, three children and two other civilians.
In Diyarbakir Turkish tanks, along with 2,000 police and soldiers, appear bent on burying in rubble the PKK fighters still holed up in Sur. The region’s governor, Huseyin Aksoy, has heard reports of 50 to 70 militants left in the old city. He insists that the army has trained most of its firepower on the militants’ booby-trapped ditches and barricades: “The heavy weapons are not being used against people.”

Locals disagree. Residents fleeing Sur say swathes of their neighbourhood have been destroyed by artillery fire. Historical sites, including a 16th-century mosque and a newly restored Armenian church, have been damaged, says Ahmet Ozmen, deputy head of the local bar association. In November the bar’s president, Tahir Elci, was shot dead during a gun battle moments after making a televised plea for peace.
The local economy, which was just emerging from decades of war, is again reeling. Metin Aslan, of the local chamber of commerce, estimates the cost to Diyarbakir alone at more than $300m; the unemployment rate threatens to climb from 16% last year to over 30%. The city’s gleaming new international airport, a reminder of the faith investors once placed in peace talks between the PKK and the government, is nearly empty.

The PKK, its ambitions fanned by Western support for Kurdish victories over IS in Syria, is facing a reality check in Turkey. Its fighters may hold out for a few more weeks in Sur, Silopi and Cizre, but it stands little chance of wresting territory from a government that boasts NATO’s second-biggest army and has few qualms about using force. Yet the rebels may not care. The longer the fighting lasts, the more recruits are driven into the group’s arms, says Cengiz Candar, a Turkish analyst: “The way they see it, even if they lose militarily…they stand to gain politically.”

Russia and U.S., While Pushing for Peace Talks, Jockey for Position in Syria

by Anne Barnard and Eric Schmitt, New York Times

The Russian military is expanding its footprint in Syria, setting up operations at an airfield in a northeastern, mostly Kurdish province across the country from its main coastal base. In an adjacent province, locals say the United States is intensifying its aid to Kurdish militias, even taking over a small agricultural airport; Pentagon officials denied this. And some Syrian fighters say Russia has reached out to Sunni tribes, offering to help them fight the Islamic State extremist group in the east after similar American efforts failed.
As diplomats from Russia and the United States work to bring Syria’s government and its domestic opponents to peace talks next week, the two countries are jockeying for position on the ground in Syria in a battle that will continue regardless of any peace deal: the fight against the Islamic State.
Both powers seem to be presuming that the peace effort will fail and digging in for the next phase of war. Their separate, and competing, new efforts against the Islamic State are part of a parallel battle over who will lead the fight against the extremist group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, and possibly take credit for defeating it…

U.S. Grand Strategy: Destroying ISIS and al Qaeda, Report One

Frederick W. Kagan, Kimberly Kagan, Jennifer Cafarella, Harleen Gambhir, and
Katherine Zimmerman


The Future of ISIS: Al Qaeda 2.0?

Posted by Ronald Tiersky on January 21, 2016

President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address spent a couple of paragraphs discussing the terrorist threat to the American homeland. In the wake of the San Bernardino attack, he felt obliged to say what is obvious: that while the Islamic State group "can do a lot of damage" to civilians and property in the United States, "they do not threaten our national existence." On the other hand, new terrorist attacks would surely disrupt American life.
How powerful is the Islamic State really? Is it still expanding? Will its so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq endure? Will its government territory become a permanent fact of international life? Is its jihadist ideology still as convincing as it once was? Here's an evaluation of the situation.
The Islamic State/ISIS should be seen as a combination of two phenomena. For clarity, let's use the acronym ISIS to refer to the jihadist movement in general, and Islamic State for the territorial so-called caliphate it holds in Syria and Iraq. Evidence is accumulating in Iraq and Syria that the Islamic State is losing, being pushed back and progressively dismantled. Its defeat is slow and painstaking, but it is also unmistakable. On the other hand, beyond Syria and Iraq, ISIS remains a grave terrorist threat that may well be multiplying.

Geopolitically, the Islamic State has lost a lot of its conquered territory - about 40 percent in Iraq, and approaching half that in Syria. It will surely shrink further in the coming months. Important resources - military, financial, and personnel - have been destroyed. The early excitement for and credibility of the caliphate ideology must be wavering among many ISIS fighters and potential recruits - although this is hard to measure. We know that life inside caliphate territory today is anything but a glorious advent. Terrorist attacks abroad might suggest global enthusiasm remains strong. Yet it stands to reason that, like any movement based on fanatical enthusiasm, the longer ISIS is stymied and the more senseless violence it commits, the less convincing are its claims to be the vanguard of a new world. The number of foreign fighters arriving in Syria may be decreasing, even as terrorist recruits in foreign affiliates may be increasing.
Jihadist organizations in perhaps 20 countries - though not many recently - have pledged allegiance to ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But this apparent spread of the Islamic State's reach is not what it seems to be; it's not militarily substantive, strategically reinforcing, or contiguous territory. Terrorist attacks seem to have increased across the Greater Middle East and within Europe in addition to the attack in the United States, at San Bernardino. But their frequency and intensity (and whether ISIS actually organizes them) are far from what most people once expected. No war is won by terrorism alone, and the menace posed by the Islamic State is different if ISIS is basically a loose terrorist network.

This Is Not What Banks Were Meant To Be

by Michael Hudson, New Economic Perspectives
Appeared originally at New Economic Perspectives 27 January 2012.
What Will The Future of Banks Be? What Is The Government's Proper Financial Role?
The inherently symbiotic relationship between banks and governments recently has been reversed. In medieval times, wealthy bankers lent to kings and princes as their major customers. But now it is the banks that are needy, relying on governments for funding - capped by the post-2008 bailouts to save them from going bankrupt from their bad private-sector loans and gambles.
Yet the banks now browbeat governments - not by having ready cash but by threatening to go bust and drag the economy down with them if they are not given control of public tax policy, spending and planning. The process has gone furthest in the United States. Joseph Stiglitz characterizes the Obama administration's vast transfer of money and pubic debt to the banks as a "privatizing of gains and the socializing of losses. It is a 'partnership' in which one partner robs the other."[1] Prof. Bill Black describes banks as becoming criminogenic and innovating"control fraud".[2] High finance has corrupted regulatory agencies, falsified account-keeping by "mark to model" trickery, and financed the campaigns of its supporters todisable public oversight. The effect is to leave banks in control of how the economy's allocates its credit and resources.
If there is any silver lining to today's debt crisis, it is that the present situation and trends cannot continue. So this is not only an opportunity to restructure banking; we have little choice. The urgent issue is who will control the economy: governments,or the financial sector and monopolies with which it has made an alliance.
Fortunately, it is not necessary to re-invent the wheel. Already a century ago the outlines of a productive industrial banking system were well understood. But recent bank lobbying has been remarkably successful in distracting attention away from classical analyses of how to shape the financial and tax system to best promote economic growth - by public checks on bank privileges.

How banks broke the social compact,promoting their own special interests 
People used to know what banks did. Bankers took deposits and lent them out, paying short-term depositors less than they charged for risky or less liquid loans. The risk was borne by bankers, notdepositors or the government. But today, bank loans are made increasingly to speculators in recklessly large amounts for quick in-and-out trading. Financial crashes have become deeper and affect a wider swath of the population as debt pyramiding has soared and credit quality plunged into the toxic category of"liars' loans."
The first step toward today's mutual interdependence between high finance and government was for central banks to act as lenders of last resort to mitigate the liquidity crises that periodically resulted from the banks' privilege of credit creation. In due course governments also provided public deposit insurance, recognizing the need to mobilize and recycle savings into capital investment as the Industrial Revolution gained momentum. In exchange for this support, they regulated banks as public utilities.

Who Really Lost Iraq? Obama didn’t turn victory into defeat. There was no victory.

In the fall of 1919, a year after the guns of the Great War fell silent, a senior British officer dined with the former German general Erich Ludendorff. The conversation turned to Germany’s recent defeat, which Ludendorff blamed on the home front. “Do you mean, general,” asked the British officer, “that you were stabbed in the back?” Ludendorff’s eyes suddenly lit up. “Stabbed in the back? Yes, that’s it, exactly, we were stabbed in the back.” And so was born theDolchstoßlegende, or the stab-in-the-back myth. German conservatives claimed that the kaiser’s army hadn’t been defeated on the battlefield in 1918, but was instead betrayed by domestic anti-war groups.
In the United States, the stab-in-the-back has become a staple right-wing explanation for lost wars. During the McCarthy era, conservatives blamed the Harry Truman administration for “losing” China to communism during the Chinese Civil War in 1949, and then failing to secure victory in Korea. After the Vietnam War ended in defeat for the United States in 1975, Richard Nixonimpugned liberals, the media, Congress, and anti-war demonstrators for failing to back Saigon. Even the movie hero Rambo got in on the act: “Sir, do we get to win this time?”
In the wake of the Iraq War, the stab-in-the-back myth has resurfaced. This time, conservatives place the blame squarely on President Obama. As the story goes, George W. Bush’s “surge” of American troops in Iraq achieved a victory, before Obama fecklessly withdrew U.S. soldiers, transforming success into failure and triggering the rise of ISIS.
Senator Lindsey Graham said, “When it comes to blaming people about Iraq, the person I blame is Barack Obama, not George W. Bush.” Jeb Bush said the president retreated from Iraq in “blind haste” and concluded: “Rushing away from danger can be every bit as unwise as rushing into danger, and the costs have been grievous.” The conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer claimed that the Iraq War had been “won,” only for the victory to be “tossed away” by the president.
Like many myths, the stab-in-the-back combines an ounce of truth with a pound of exaggeration. In 1918, German sailors mutinied and the country collapsed in revolution, giving the superficial appearance of a military betrayed at home. But the war effort was already lost, as newly arriving American forces overwhelmed German troops. In 1975, the American will to fight in Vietnam had indeed eroded. But no victory was possible. By that point, the United States had lost nearly 60,000 soldiers in a campaign to prop up an illegitimate regime in Saigon. How would pouring even more resources into the Asian sinkhole serve American interests?

Why We Need To Rethink The Financial Future Of Oil

The price of oil keeps moving in one direction - down. Even political tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia (historically a cause of price rises) has not stopped the drop. It may come as a surprise to some, but it drives home the point that it is not politics but market fundamentals that set prices.
The global marketplace is awash with crude, thanks in part to US shale, Russia pumping at its limits, OPEC countries incapable of agreeing to a cap on production, Saudi Arabia remaining in a fierce price war with US shale producers, and Iranian stocks entering the market. Industry stocks are as high as almost ever before.
Demand also remains sluggish in emerging regions such as Asia. Wall Street augurs even see additional downward potential, suggesting US$20 as a likely floor price - which is remarkable given that from 2010-14 US$100 oil was the "new normal". In short, the market environment is soft, which is why oil futures traders are not paying heed to the hostilities between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Oil giant BP reacted by shedding 4,000 jobs, while globally some US$1.5 trillion of energy investment has been put into question. Clearly, oil assets are on the losing side and the future does not bode well for global oil. This, however, is for reasons related to climate change, not because of tumbling prices. Two actors are key: the US government and financial investors.

Oil prices 2011-2015.
Shale squeeze
In the US, it is particularly the "independents" that have become squeezed. These are small to mid-sized companies which form the backbone of the recent shale gas revolution. So far, they have shown a remarkable ability to cope with an oil price spiralling downward, thanks to their innovative nature and their ability to cut costs and streamline production processes. Now, they have hit their limits. While some unconventional oil wells on the Barnett, Eagle Ford or Bakken formations still break even at US$30 a barrel, many no longer do, leaving the independents in the red.
The US government's decarbonisation strategy, meanwhile, has a strong incentive to keep these independents alive and well. By and large it relies on replacing coal with gas, in addition to tougher power plant regulation. This strategy so far has worked thanks to lots of additional gas coming online as a byproduct of oil production, keeping the market oversupplied and gas cheap. A faltering shale oil industry therefore also questions whether a US climate policy that relies on "market signals" remains sustainable.

Ash Carter: It’s Time to Accelerate the ISIL Fight

By ASH CARTER , 1/22/2016
The storied 101st Airborne Division will soon deploy 1,800 troops to Iraq to aid in the fight against ISIL. They will head there with the support of the American people and armed with a clear campaign plan to help our allies deliver the barbaric organization a lasting defeat, which I personally shared with them last week at Fort Campbell. I also traveled to U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, where I discussed the plan’s implementation with our top commanders. And this week I visited Paris, a city of determination and resolve, to discuss the plan with our allies.
In Paris, French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian and I co-hosted our counterparts from Australia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Britain. Those countries have been the biggest contributors to the counter-ISIL campaign. The military actions that the United States and our partners have taken in recent months have applied unprecedented pressure on ISIL in Iraq and Syria. In recent weeks, ISIL has lost territory, lost key leaders and even lost some of its cash and oil. We are gathering momentum on a number of fronts and are determined to put ISIL on an irreversible path to lasting defeat. Now is the time to do even more.
ISIL is a cancer that threatens to spread. And like all cancers, you can’t cure the disease just by cutting out the tumor. You have to eliminate it wherever it has spread, and stop it from coming back. The coalition military campaign plan the United States has developed, and which our key allies support, focuses on three military objectives: One, destroy the ISIL parent tumor in Iraq and Syria by collapsing its two power centers in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqah, Syria. These cities constitute ISIL’s military, political, economic and ideological centers of gravity, which is why our plan has big arrows pointing toward both. Two, combat the emerging metastases of the ISIL tumor worldwide wherever it appears. Three, our most important mission: Protect the homeland.
To eliminate the parent tumor in Iraq and Syria, we are enabling local, motivated forces with critical support from a global coalition wielding a suite of capabilities—ranging from airstrikes, special forces, cyber tools, intelligence, equipment, mobility and logistics, training, advice and assistance. It must be local forces who deliver ISIL a lasting defeat, because only they can secure and govern the territory by building long-term trust within the populations they liberate. We can and will enable such local forces, but we cannot substitute for them.

Britain Warns Allies: Russia’s Next Assassination Could Be On Your Streets

Vladmir Putin's reported assassination program is growing ever more blatant, but the KGB has been running devilish plots to kill dissidents in Britain for decades.
LONDON — Britain has formally warned the United States and its global network of allies to be on the lookout for brazen state-sponsored assassins with Russian accents.
After exotic, KGB-linked murders on the streets of London that span four decades, Britain should know.
The radioactive poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko came a generation after another dissident was struck down in broad daylight by a powerful toxin.
Like the CIA’s exploding cigar plot to kill Fidel Castro, the Russian security services have relied heavily on British stereotypes for inspiration.
The nuclear byproduct used to kill Litvinenko was placed inside a teapot; in 1978 a Bulgarian exile was killed by a pellet of ricin hidden in the tip of an umbrella.
An inquiry into the death of Litvinenko that was published this week found conclusively that the assassination was ordered by the FSB—the KGB’s post-Soviet reincarnation. A retired High Court judge, who oversaw the inquest, said Vladimir Putin had “probably” approved the operation personally.
Britain was initially reluctant to hold the public inquiry, but its findings—which link the Kremlin to seven recent assassinations—have now forced the cloak-and-dagger world of international espionage out of the movies and into the news bulletins.
“Although not often discussed in public, our security and intelligence agencies have always—dating back to their roots in the first and second world wars—had the protection of the U.K. from state threats at the heart of their mission,” admitted Theresa May, the Home Secretary, who is responsible for Britain’s security and intelligence. “We have to accept that this does not come as a surprise.”
Russia daring to commit murder on the sovereign soil of a major Western nation was nothing new.

What the Falling Oil Price Means for Russia and Ukraine

At present the price of Brent crude oil is $28 per barrel, while it was $114 per barrel in June 2014. This price fall by three-quarters is of great importance for the Russian economy and its policy toward Ukraine. The only rational option for the Kremlin is to wind down the conflict with Ukraine.
Russia is a petrostate. When the oil price was high, oil and gas accounted for two-thirds of Russia's exports, half of its state revenues, and one-fifth of its GDP. At this oil price, Russia's exports fall by half to $260 billion. State finances do not suffer that much because of the parallel ruble devaluation, but the standard of living in Russia plunges with the ruble, which has fallen from 33 rubles per dollar in June 2014 to 84 rubles per dollar at present. Russia's GDP measured in dollars has shrunk from $2.1 trillion in early 2014 to less than $1 trillion now. Russia has declined from the sixth largest economy in the world to barely the fifteenth after Mexico.
Low oil prices are likely to persist for a decade. Since the end of the nineteenth century, the energy sector has been characterized by long supercycles lasting for about a quarter of a century. The oil price was low from 1981 to the early 2000s, while it was high from 2003 to 2014. Since the 1880s, low energy prices have persisted for eleven years on average. The reason for this pattern is that most energy investments, both in production and in consumption, are long-term. Therefore the price of oil isn't likely to rise much in the near future unless a major war erupts.
Oil and gas wealth has a devastating effect on societies, because a small elite usually monopolizes these fortunes. To be able to do so they favor dictatorship. All the seventeen states in the world with the largest oil rents as a share of GDP are authoritarian states. The eighteenth is Norway, which was a wealthy and strong democracy before it found oil. During the last period of low oil prices, the Soviet bloc and the Soviet Union broke up, and about half of its successor states became democracies.

Seven Key Reforms for Ukraine in 2016

After Orthodox Christmas, I spent a few days in Kyiv. It is quite striking how the mood has changed in a positive direction. The 2016 budget and the modified tax code were adopted on December 24. After two weeks of well-deserved rest, there is a sudden realization that Ukraine accomplished many important economic reforms in 2015. Admittedly, many Ukrainians repeat the mantra that no reforms have taken place, but that is not true. Hundreds of sensible reform laws have been adopted and their breadth is impressive.
Energy reform has greatly reduced price discrepancies and limited the opportunities for corrupt arbitrage between state-controlled and free prices, while sharply reducing state subsidies. The budget has been brought close to balance, and major international financing together with debt restructuring was accomplished. Tax reform has been adopted. The banking system is being cleaned up as more than one-third of the banks have been closed. After a substantial devaluation, the exchange rate has stabilized and international currency reserves have increased considerably. Electronic procurement has been widely introduced. Some deregulation has occurred.
Yet Ukrainians are right to complain. Output has slumped, while prices have skyrocketed as the exchange rate has plummeted. The country is much poorer. The dominant concerns are that corruption has not diminished and public services have not improved. Nevertheless, the previous achievements listed above indicate what remains to be done and what the country's priorities should be in 2016.

1. The main priority is reform of the prosecution and courts. Ukraine adopted a law on prosecution, but Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin managed to take control of the reform process, minimizing the change. Shokin has to go and the reform of the prosecution needs to start anew under new leadership. Similarly, the country's 10,000 judges need to be lustrated and new judges appointed in a reformed court system.
2. Much was accomplished in energy reform in 2015, and in 2016 it should be completed. Gas and electricity prices should be unified at a market level and set under the control of an independent regulator from April 1 and a gas and electricity market should finally be allowed to develop. Taxation of independent oil and gas producers must be made reasonable, and their regulation should be simplified. Social subsidies are given to the poorest third of the population, but no further subsidies should be given to energy companies.

When Emotional Intelligence Goes Wrong

People skills can be dangerous.
“People skills” are almost always assumed to be a good thing. Search employment ads and you will find them listed as a qualification for a startling array of jobs, including Applebee’s host, weight-loss specialist, CEO, shoe salesperson, and (no joke) animal-care coordinator. The notion that people smarts might help you succeed got a boost a quarter century ago, when the phraseemotional intelligence, or EI, entered the mainstream. Coined in a 1990 study [1],the term was popularized by Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book [2]. Since then, scores of researchers have shown how being in touch with feelings—both your own and other people’s—gives you an edge: compared with people who have average EI,those with high EI do better at work [3], have fewer health problems [4], and report greater life satisfaction [5].
There’s a catch, though: other researchers have recently examined what they call “the dark side” of EI, and their findings suggest an unnerving link between understanding people and using them. Last year, a group of Austrian psychologists reported a correlation between EI and narcissism, raising the possibility that narcissists with high EI might use their “charming, interesting, and even seductive” qualities for “malicious purposes,” such as deceiving others[6]. Similarly, a 2014 study linked “narcissistic exploitativeness” with “emotion recognition”—those who were prone to manipulating others were better at reading them [7].
Another study found that “Machiavellians” (those who rated high on a scale of “Machiavellianism”—essentially, manipulativeness) with high EI were more likely to have publicly embarrassed someone else for self-promotional reasons [8]. Happily for the rest of us, there don’t seem to be many emotionally intelligent Machiavellians on the loose—Scottish researchers found Machiavellianism to be inversely correlated with EI [9].
Less happily, at least for those of us with jobs, the workplace seems to provide ample opportunities for people with high EI—be they narcissists, Machiavellians, or everyday strivers—to behave deviously. A 2010 journal article reviewed“self-serving” uses of EI in office settings, such as “focusing on strategically important targets” (subordinates, rivals, supervisors) and working to “distort, block or amplify rumors, gossip, and other types of emotion-laden information”[10].
Finally, a note of caution to those hoping high EI might help them get ahead: it is not always an asset. In a 2013 study, college students were shown news footage of people pleading for a missing family member’s return—half of whom were in fact responsible for the person’s disappearance. When the students rated the sincerity of these pleas, those with higher EI were more likely to be duped, perhaps due to overconfidence in their ability to read others [11]. So don’t underestimate people skills—but don’t overestimate them, either. Reading emotions doesn’t mean you can read minds.

How Do You Disrupt ISIS' Social Media Strategy and Safeguard Freedoms?

January 22, 2016
“Spending time arguing about ‘Hey encryption is bad and we have got to do something about it,’ that is a waste of time to me,” Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the Commander of US Cyber Command and Director of the National Security Agency, said at the Atlantic Council on January 21. Barry Pavel (left), Director of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, moderated the discussion. (Atlantic Council)
The Obama administration is “trying to come to grips with” how to prevent terrorists from using technology as a recruiting tool, while at the same time safeguarding individual freedoms, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the Commander of US Cyber Command and Director of the National Security Agency, said at the Atlantic Council on January 21.
The question of whether to censor online activity “goes to the heart of the whole American construct,” said Rogers. Yet, he added, the reality today is that there are some who “burn people alive in cages, behead people for videos” and seek to exploit technology to “spread that ideology and to incite others.”
Rogers noted that the United States has laws that prevent the exploitation of youth and filter social media content aimed at the exploitation of children. “Even as we acknowledge the freedom of expression and the rights of all of us to express our opinions, we have decided collectively as a society that the exploitation of youths is unacceptable,” he said. “So one of my questions gets to be, is there a similar kind of construct when it comes to terrorist exploitation of the information domain? In addition to the legal framework that we have created, is there a social pact that we can come up with that says, ‘Hey, look this is unacceptable to us. That is not something that we are going to allow.’”
Rogers is actively engaged with the private sector in his quest to find the answer to that question. Both the private sector as well as the government have to be comfortable with the solution, he said.
Rogers spoke at a Commanders Series event hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. Barry Pavel, Director of the Scowcroft Center, led the discussion with Rogers.
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has most prominently embraced social media as a key part of a strategy to spread its radical message and recruit disaffected youths. Technology will increasingly be part of ISIS’ strategy, said Rogers. “That is a troublesome development for us and we have got to figure out how we are going to deal with it.”
A big challenge that the Obama administration faces in coming up with a solution to this problem is a trust deficit. The government is largely distrusted and concerns about privacy have never been higher, Rogers admitted. “Given that big kettle, how do we make all of this work? That is not an insignificant challenge for us.”
Terrorist groups have wider ambitions than simply using social media as a recruitment tool. Speaking at the Atlantic Council on Nov. 10, John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the US Department of Justice,said while terrorist groups are using social media to “crowdsource” terrorism, they are also intent on developing the capacity to conduct crippling cyber attacks.

10 Reasons Why Ubuntu Is Killing It In The Cloud

Microsoft MSFT +3.77% might have set an ambitious goal of pushing Windows 10 to 1 billion devices. But one OS that is doing wonders in the cloud, desktop, mobile, and IoT segment is Ubuntu. This Debian-based open source OS has been on a roll ever since IaaS has become mainstream to run server workloads in the cloud. From AWS to OpenStack, Ubuntu is most preferred OS by system administrators and DevOps professionals.
Here are a few interesting facts about Ubuntu and its enormous growth. 
Docker users love Ubuntu – As of January 2016, over 37.5 million Docker users launched an Ubuntu container, which include multiple versions ranging from the most popular 14.04 trusty to the recent 16.04 xenial build. Ubuntu is the base image for a number of Docker images. 
Ubuntu is the most preferred Vagrant BoxVagrant, the popular, open source DevOps tool makes it a breeze to configure dev and test environments. In December 2015, Ubuntu crossed 10 million download mark on Vagrant. 
In 2015, over 2 million Ubuntu instances were launched in the cloud – Based on their statistics, Canonical claims that 67,000 new Ubuntu cloud instances are launched every day! That’s by far the largest number that any OS vendor can dream! Ubuntu dominates the LAMP deployments in the cloud. 
51% of OpenStack deployments are powered by Ubuntu – The OpenStack Foundation conducts an annual survey to get a snapshot of the adoption of OpenStack. The last survey that was done just before the OpenStack Tokyo Summit showed that Ubuntu dominates the scene with 51% of OpenStack deployments. 33% of those run in production. CentOS is the distant second with 28% of deployments. 
Wikipedia and Wikimedia are powered by Ubuntu – The world’s most credible and trusted source of information is delivered by Ubuntu. With over 18 billion page views a month, Wikipedia is undoubtedly the largest content-driven web property. Both Wikipedia and Wikimedia run on LAMP stack based on Ubuntu and Debian OS. 
Walmart’s cloud runs on Ubuntu – Walmart, the retail giant, is a poster child of OpenStack in the enterprise. Its private cloud powered by OpenStack runs on a 150,000 core compute layer. Ubuntu is the chosen OS for running the entire eCommerce stack and the underlying OpenStack cloud. 
PaaS is powered by Ubuntu – Every developer pushing their app to Cloud Foundry, or Heroku uses Ubuntu. Cloud Foundry’sofficial stemcell for major cloud environments is based on Ubuntu. It is responsible for bootstrapping the PaaS deployment by creating a homogeneous layer for Cloud Foundry. The internal LXC containers that isolate the code run on Ubuntu. Heroku, Salesforce.com CRM +1.37%’s polyglot PaaS environment also runs Ubuntu. 
The most advanced supercomputer runs Ubuntu – Tianhe-2, the supercomputing project backed by the Chinese government is considered to the most powerful supercomputer. It consumes 17,808 kW of energy equivalent to the power needs of a small city. Ubuntu Kylin powers Tianhe-2 supercomputer. 
Snappy Ubuntu can run on mobile to cloud – Snappy Ubuntu Core is the miniature version of Ubuntu that is designed to run on anything from a phone to the massively scalable cloud. Based on Canonical’s own container technology called LXD, Snappy Ubuntu Core is all set to be the foundation for microcontroller-driven IoT applications to web-scale microservices. It powers the GE smart refrigerator called Chillhub. 
Ubuntu runs some of the largest cloud deployments – What’s common among Netflix NFLX +0.93%, Uber, Lyft, Dropbox, Paypal, Snapchat, Pinterest, Reddit, and Instagram? They are not only the examples of successful web-scale deployments but also case studies for Canonical. They all run Ubuntu. 
This article is heavily inspired by Dustin Kirkland’s fun response to a skeptic who questioned the reach of Ubuntu.
Janakiram MSV is an analyst, advisor, and architect. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

The Challenges of the "Now" and Their Implications for the U.S

by David E. Johnson, Rand Corporation
The U.S. Army has been at war in Afghanistan and Iraq almost continuously for more than a decade. While this experience has honed the Army's ability to fight irregular adversaries, these may not be the adversaries the Army will need to fight in the future. This perspective reviews the spectrum of military adversaries and operations the nation currently faces, how it has adapted to irregular challenges and the consequences of that adaptation, and the lessons of other recent conflicts. The aim here is not so much to learn about the current conflicts but to help understand battles the United States has not yet fought but likely will in the future — to learn how to address the recurring Army pattern of ignoring potential conflicts while focusing intently on a current one. To counterbalance this focus, the author has synthesized prior RAND research and drawn on personal experience and discussions with current Army personnel. He notes that our country's potential adversaries know U.S. military capabilities and vulnerabilities and are adapting. The Army needs to prepare for the full range of adversaries it is likely to confront, some of whom will be armed with weapons that are now superior to some of its own.

Key Findings
Potential Adversaries Know U.S. Military Capabilities and Vulnerabilities
These adversaries are adapting.
The Army needs to prepare for the full range of adversaries it is likely to confront, some of whom will be armed with weapons that are now superior to some of its own.