14 May 2016

Ethnic Reconciliation in Myanmar: Military ceding power is the key

By Obja Borah Hazarika
13 May , 2016

The newly sworn in government has managed to usher some incremental changes in Myanmar. Even after winning an overwhelming mandate in the recent held elections, Suu Kyi could not become President as constitutional provisions barred her from becoming one. Nonetheless, she was appointed as foreign minister and as special “state counsellor” which was a post created by the new government despite opposition from the military members of the Parliament.

In another bold move, political prisoners of the junta era were freed by the NLD led government which was achieved after the military-dominated Defence and Security Council was bypassed. Suu Kyi as State counsellor also decreed against corruption and nepotism among officials. Despite these achievements, there has been precious little advance in the reconciliation of ethnic groups in Myanmar which has become one of the most glaring problems of the country. 

In the recently concluded Joint Monitoring Committee which comprised of representatives from the government, the military and the eight non-state armed groups that signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) with the former government of President Thein Sein in 2015, Suu Kyi called for a major peace conference styled on the Panglong Conference with ethnic minorities.

South Pacific: Gaining Prominence in Indian Foreign Policy Calculations

By Niranjan Chandrashekhar Oak
13 May , 2016

The state visit by President Pranab Mukherjee to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and New Zealand marked an important milestone in India’s extended ‘Act East’ policy. It signalled the new momentum that has emerged in India’s relations with the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) since Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed power in May 2014. In August 2015, leaders from 14 PICs — Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu — visited India for the second summit of the Forum for India Pacific Cooperation (FIPIC), which was launched during Modi’s visit to Fiji in November 2014. The importance of the latest visit by Mukherjee lay in the fact that it was the first Presidential visit from India to Papua New Guinea and New Zealand as well as the first high-level visit from India to Papua New Guinea.

The South Pacific, a sub region of the larger Indo-Pacific, has long been considered a backwater of global politics.1 The region is home to a large number of islands which can be grouped into Micronesia (Northern Pacific), Melanesia (Western Pacific) and Polynesia (Eastern and Central Pacific). Traditionally, these islands have had close economic and political links with the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, the United States (US) and, to a lesser extent, Japan.2

Indian Ocean Region Strategic Net Assessment: The Red Sea and Horn Subregion

Apr 15, 2016 

While almost every state in the Red Sea and Horn of Africa subregion qualifies as high risk internally, none of the countries in the subregion constitute a serious strategic risk to the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Two key strategic issues affect the subregion and the IOR: 1) maritime piracy and 2) the security of maritime traffic and energy exports through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. Currently, these strategic issues present a low overall risk to the IOR.

The international community’s anti-piracy efforts have been a great success in the subregion. As reported by NATO, since May 2012 there have been no successful pirate attacks off of the Horn of Africa;[1] this is down from the peak point in 2009, a year that saw 52 successful hijackings.[2] Anti-piracy policing efforts, such as NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield (OOS), the EU’s Operation Atalanta, and the US Combined Task Force 151, provide a significant force presence in the Indian Ocean, forcing pirates to reconsider conducting operations. Out of 190 globally reported instances of piracy in 2015, not a single one took place in the Red Sea or off of the Horn of Africa. [3] At present, NATO’s OOS only deploys surface vessels intermittently, signaling the alliance’s confidence in the IOR’s maritime security.[4]

Kenya’s military intervention against al-Shabaab in Somalia also contributed to the demise of piracy near the Horn of Africa. Operation Linda Nchi resulted in the capture of the major al-Shabaab stronghold at the port of Kismayo in southern Somalia.[5] Additionally, commercial vessels transiting the region have increased precautions; either by fortifying themselves against attacks using a wide array of non-lethal weapons, or by rerouting altogether.[6] It is difficult to gauge what would happen if anti-piracy operations were to cease near the Horn, but instability in Somalia, and now in Yemen places many young men into extreme financial- and security-related trouble, priming the region for the potential resumption of piracy operations should maritime policing ever wane to a point where these activities could be deemed viable again.

Indian Military Modernization: Growing Dust – OpEd

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, walks with U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma, right, as he arrives in Goa, India, April 10, 2016.DoD photo by Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz
Among all the imminent actions of the recent meeting of Parrikar and US Secretary of Defense with their rapid and uneven defense procurement there is something new in the box. This visit is seen very closely in certain quarters by neighboring countries because of their continuous military modernization and nuclear arms procurement stimulates massive and growing impacts-creating unrest in Asia in the past and may do so in future as well.

This new found access to boost defense ties seems to be a welcoming effort to this unending race of achieving massive military assets. The problem, however, is the Indian long haunted increase in defence spending which threatens to upset and upsurge the delicate military balance.

With expanded India/US defense relationship with co-production of US defense system in India, if ever there was a question about Indian continuous hike to 6.3 percent in defense spending every year, suffice for any volatile situation. Accelerating at a fast-track, where these deepening ties between New Delhi and Washington also allowed both partners to commerce a civil nuclear deal where former is a non-signatory to NPT, which is not a stable geometry for region.

“More than now, than ever”: The need for a global counter terrorism policy

By Anant Mishra
13 May , 2016

“Everyone’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s really an easy way: Stop participating in it.” ― Noam Chomsky

Post 9/11 shifted the world’s opinion on terrorism as nations voiced together to eliminate this threat, which then forced nations to redefine the word “global offensive” and “governance” and launching a series of new debate on “state security”. Within the UN, the opinion seems to be divided on global counter terrorism policy as many experts believe that the policy will be “Northern” in nature whereas most casualties are witnessed by South-North and South-South countries. With many fearing adverse impacts of counter terror policies on human rights and sustainable development, member nations haven’t been able to bring voice together on this issue. It is important for member nations to understand the need for a counter terrorism policy which will not only bring them unanimous on the international arena, will leave strong message for the perpetrators.

With this sudden shift in policy, nations are now adopting defensive mechanism rather than taking a proactive role in offensive techniques against such military groups.

Positions Of Responsibility: The Search For Solutions To Irregular Migration In Southeast Asia – Analysis

MAY 12, 2016

Last year, global media attention thrust into the spotlight the plight of irregular migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar. From 2012 through the first half of 2015, an estimated 100,000 people risked their lives in hazardous journeys by boat to neighboring countries, notably Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.[1] These migrants were not welcomed on arrival but instead faced ‘forced pushbacks’ until a temporary ad hoc agreement was reached that allowed them to stay, pending a determination of their status, for a period of up to a year.[2]

This initial reaction by Southeast Asian governments to the flow of migrants through the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea reflected the dominant perceptions of migrants as posing a threat to state security and stability. The reaction also highlighted their reliance on bilateral or mini-lateral attempts to address the situation, rather than system-wide responses that engage all important stakeholders.

The policies initiated by governments in the region were in many ways strikingly similar to those put into effect in the late 1970s in response to the so-called Indochinese exodus. Yet, it is important to note that, in the earlier case, the regional actors ultimately achieved a compromise solution to the Indochinese refugee problem, in the form of the Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA). Revisiting the circumstances under which this solution was attained could provide valuable lessons regarding how states and communities in the region might work together, in conjunction with major international actors, to develop a humane and sustainable solution to the root causes of irregular migration that recently dominated the news.

China Is Building Up Soft Power in Europe

Leonid Bershidsky
MAY 12, 2016

If there's one thing on which Europeans agree with Donald Trump, it's that the U.S. is gradually losing to China. The Middle Kingdom is working hard to improve its image in Europe and investing lots of money along the way. The Queen of England may think Chinese officials are "very rude," but outside Buckingham Palace they are winning influence and friends.

In 2015, a Pew Global Research survey found that a majority of people in major European countries believe China is going to replace the U.S. as the global superpower or that it has already done so:
The same study showed that in Germany and France, more people consider China, rather than the U.S., to be the world's leading economy. That was before China's recent economic troubles began, but those probably won't affect public perceptions greatly: China's size and the prevalence of Made-in-China goods in European stores -- where U.S. ones are hard to find -- will continue feeding this somewhat premature perception
None of this appears to make Europeans particularly happy. On the whole, they still mistrust China more than they do the U.S. According to Pew, 83 percent of Italians and 50 percent of Germans have a favorable view of the U.S., compared to 40 percent and 34 percent with a favorable view of China. Even so, those perceptions have been changing in recent years.

Ajit Doval's challenge in Beijing this week: Balancing the four Cs

The national security advisor needs to find the right balance of cooperation, conflict, competition and containment.

Later this week, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is expected to visit Beijing for the 19th round of the Special Representative talks, which now cover the original subject –­ the border dispute – as well as the gamut of economic and political relations between the two countries.

His visit on Wednesday will follow that of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who will be in China from Monday. While Parrikar will focus on the military-to-military ties, especially the follow-on of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, Doval will look at wider strategic issues, which includes the border dispute. However, the Indian side is currently cut up over the hold that has been placed on India’s application in the UN Security Council committee to have Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar designated as an international terrorist. China is a member of the council.

Doval first visited China for talks on the eve of President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in September 2014. However, this time, he will be going under the rubric of the Special Representative process. The 18th round of Special Representative talks, the first involving the Modi government, were held in March 2015 in New Delhi between Doval and his Chinese counterpart State Councillor Yang Jiechi. The outcome was fairly anodyne, with both sides being content to express their satisfaction over the pace of negotiations and emphasised their commitment to obtain “a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable” resolution of the border question “at an early date.”

Defining the border

China Building Missiles to Strike Guam

China is building up intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles that pose a growing threat to Guam, the strategic Pacific island that is central to the U.S. military pivot to Asia, according to a congressional report made public Tuesday.

Six different missiles capable of reaching Guam from China are deployed or in late stages of development, says the report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

They include the DF-26 intermediate-range missile that Beijing unveiled during a recent military parade, and dubbed the “Guam-killer,” that can be armed with both nuclear and conventional warheads.

“The DF-26 is China’s first conventionally-armed IRBM and first conventionally-armed ballistic missile capable of reaching Guam,” the report said, noting that its inclusion in a September 2015 military parade in Beijing “indicates it has likely been deployed as an operational weapon.”

The report put the risk of a Chinese attack on Guam as low.

It’s Iraq, not Isis, that’s on the way out

11 May 2016 
If today’s atrocity in Baghdad draws Shia militias into reprisals against Sunnis, it would kill off hopes for the democratic restoration of the Iraqi state and society

‘Today’s attack is a reminder that Isis is still able to commit atrocities across Iraq, and continue to operate as it has done for more than a decade.

“Isis is an idea, not the first of its kind and not the last of its kind,” said a powerful security official when I visited Iraq last month. Indeed, as the international community boasts of Isis’s demise, the jihadists struck a Shia district in Baghdad today, killing at least 63 people and wounding 80 in a series of devastating market bombings.

Officials say that Isis has lost almost half its territory in Iraq and more than 20% in Syria. It is true that Isis leaders are being eliminated and its infrastructure devastated. But while Isis may be losing the territories it governs, today’s attack (and others over the past months) is a reminder that it is still able to commit atrocities across Iraq, and continue to operate as it has done for more than a decade.

In other words, a world without Isis is unlikely to come any time soon. Isis thrives off the lack of institutions in weak or failed states. Remedying this requires good governance, institution-building and the reconciliation of divided communities. But rehabilitating Iraq’s cities and people will prove to be far more costly and challenging than defeating Isis itself. Sectarian tensions, dysfunctional governance and regional polarisation have worsened since Isis came on the scene, factors that precipitated the group’s rise in the first place.

The Middle East’s New Renaissance

MAY 10, 2016

Prince Saud al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia once defined civilization as “the collective effort of human genius built on cumulative contributions from many cultures.” The two key words here are “collective” and “cultures.” The crucial truth in that definition of civilization is the understanding that no single culture has a monopoly on human experience and that civilizations are not competing products in a marketplace of global ideas. The way civilizations evolve is through a collection of many contrapuntal voices that drive ever forward for the sake of common human progress. This is the first step toward understanding that humanity is currently embroiled in a struggle for civilization rather than a clash between civilizations.

Building a renaissance is characterized by the breaking down of walls and the free interchange of ideas. The most important light toward this path is to discover the contents of these many cultures. Meeting people face to face, reading their poetry, listening to their songs, and experiencing one another’s stories are prime reasons why both artists and diplomats alike will never be replaced by computers. As long as human beings remain human, personal interactions will remain irreplaceable. And that is why cultural diplomacy is so important and why it is damaging when it is underappreciated.

Whatever Happened to the ‘Turkish Model’?

MAY 5, 2016

ISTANBUL — About five years ago, everyone was talking about the “Turkish model.” People in the West and in the Muslim world held up Turkey as a shining example of the compatibility of Islam and democracy. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was then prime minister and is now president, was praised as a reformist who was making his country freer, wealthier and more peaceful.

These days, I think back on those times with nostalgia and regret. The rhetoric of liberal opening has given way to authoritarianism, the peace process with the Kurdish nationalists has fallen apart, press freedoms are diminishing and terrorist attacks are on the rise.

What went wrong? Erdoganists — yes, some of them call themselves that — have a simple answer: a conspiracy. When Mr. Erdogan made Turkey too powerful and independent, nefarious cabals in the West and their treacherous “agents” at home started a campaign to tarnish Turkey’s democracy. Little do they realize, of course, that this conspiracy-obsessed propaganda, the self-righteousness it reflects and the hatred it fuels are part of the problem.

To understand why the Turkish model has let us all down, we have to go back to the 2001 founding of Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P. At that time, Turkey was under the thumb of secularist generals who would overthrow any government they couldn’t control. In 1997 they ousted the A.K.P.’s Islamist predecessor, so the founders of the new party put forward a post-Islamist vision. They had abandoned their old ideology, they declared. Their only priorities now were bringing Turkey into the European Union and moving the country toward liberal democracy.

Mosul: suspicion and hostility cloud fight to recapture Iraqi city from Isis

Martin Chulov 
11 May 2016

The stakes are high, but a power struggle between the Iraqi army and the Kurdish Peshmerga is hampering the battle against Islamic State

‘Our friends can’t do this by themselves, and they know that,’ says one Peshmerga soldier of his Iraqi army colleagues. Photograph: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

At the bottom of a hill near the frontline with Islamic State fighters, the Iraqi army had been digging in. Their white tents stood near the brown earth gouged by the armoured trucks that had carried them there – the closest point to Mosul they had reached before an assault on Iraq’s second largest city.

For a few days early last month, the offensive looked like it already might be under way. But that soon changed when the Iraqis, trained by US forces, were quickly ousted from al-Nasr, the first town they had seized. There were about 25 more small towns and villages, all occupied by Isis, between them and Mosul. And 60 miles to go.

Analysis Green zone protests raise questions over viability of Iraq's government
Demonstrations in Baghdad’s fortified green zone shows fragility of the state in face of sectarian divisions

Behind the Iraqis, the Kurdish peshmerga remained dug into positions near the city of Makhmour that had marked the frontline since not long after Mosul was seized in June 2014. The war had been theirs until the national army arrived. The new partnership is not going well.

Scores Are Killed as a Wave of Bombings Bloodies Baghdad

MAY 11, 2016

Aftermath of Baghdad Car Bomb

Dozens of people were killed by a car bomb in a crowded food market in the Sadr City section of Baghdad on Wednesday. By REUTERS and THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on Publish DateMay 11, 2016.Photo by Wissm Al-Okili/Reuters. 

BAGHDAD — In a burst of attacks recalling Iraq’s sectarian civil war, three bombings in three different neighborhoods of Baghdad killed more than 90 people on Wednesday and wounded scores more, the Iraqi authorities said.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the biggest attack, in a crowded food market in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in northern Baghdad. Explosives hidden in a parked pickup truck loaded with fruit and vegetables detonated around 10 a.m., killing at least 66 people and wounding 87 others.

The other two bombings were reported at a police checkpoint in the Kadhmiya neighborhood in northwest Baghdad, where 17 were killed, and at another police checkpoint in the Jamiya neighborhood in central Baghdad, where nine died.

Blood covered the ground at the market in Sadr City, with clothing and slippers, apparently from the victims, scattered throughout the market. At least 30 shops were damaged and as many as 20 cars were burned or destroyed.

Iran's Oil Sector Returns to Form

May 11, 2016

Oil and geopolitics crossed paths repeatedly throughout the 20th century. And perhaps nowhere were the political effects of their intersection more pronounced than in Iran. For nearly five decades, the Anglo-Persian Oil Co., later renamed Anglo-Iranian Oil Co., the forebear of what would eventually become British Petroleum, enjoyed near total control over Iran's oil sector. When Iran nationalized the sector in 1951, the United States and United Kingdom responded by overthrowing its architect, Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, just two years later. Those events heavily influenced the 1979 Iranian Revolution, a foundational element of which was resource nationalism.

And now it appears that BP is returning to its roots. During the week of May 2, the head of Iran's national oil company announced that BP will soon open an office in Tehran. Meanwhile, the country is opening up its energy sector and considering admitting foreign oil companies to set up joint ventures and operate oil fields there for the first time since 1979.

But Iran faces new challenges. To revive his country's economy after years of sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani is now driving an initiative to reinvigorate the oil sector. To do so, Rouhani will have to break what has become a steady cycle of backlash - aimed at foreign and domestic actors alike - over the distribution of oil revenue in Iran.

Iran's Paradox: Nationalism and Pragmatism

Back to Basics on Hybrid Warfare in Europe: A Lesson from the Balkans

By Christopher J. Lamb and Susan Stipanovich 
March 29, 2016 

Dr. Christopher J. Lamb is Director of the Center for Strategic Research, Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), at the National Defense University. Ms. Susan Stipanovich is Program Manager for the Program on Irregular Warfare and Special Operations Studies at INSS. For an in-depth explanation of the Bosnia Train and Equip task force and its performance, see The Bosnian Train and Equip Program: A Lesson in Interagency Integration of Hard and Soft Power, Strategic Perspectives 15 (NDU Press, March 2014).

The complex mix of aggressive behaviors Russia used in Georgia and Ukraine is commonly referred to as hybrid warfare, defined by one scholar as “a tailored mix of conventional weapons, irregular tactics, terrorism, and criminal behavior in the same time and battle space to obtain political objectives.”1 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders fear Russia will use hybrid warfare to destabilize or occupy parts of Poland, the Baltic states, or other countries. They are trying to devise more effective responses to counter such a possibility. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg asserts that NATO must adapt to meet the hybrid warfare threat.2 Speaking at the same event, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter agreed and suggested “part of the answer” was “increased readiness, special operation forces, and more intelligence.”3 Several months earlier, Carter’s deputy, Robert Work, declared the United States also needed “new operational concepts” to confront hybrid warfare.4 Meanwhile some NATO countries are establishing special units to counter hybrid warfare tactics,5 and the U.S. Congress has required the Pentagon to come up with a strategy to counter hybrid warfare.6

Intelligence and National Defense

David Shedd

Challenges the U.S. Intelligence community must overcome to enable effective military operations.

Every successful military plan and operation relies on intelligence. Whether it is a simple field report from a scout about an enemy position or the methodical development of the mosaic of intelligence gathered from myriad sources over years that resulted in the successful raid of Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound, intelligence plays a vital role in our national defense. The diversity and rapidly changing nature of the threats we face as a nation underscore the need for sound intelligence in the hands of those who are charged with making decisions about our security.

This is not a new phenomenon. Intelligence has played a role in national defense since well before the United States was founded. Timely intelligence, however, is the beginning of the surprising and often difficult decisions that are made in war, where force is often critical.1

Since earliest recorded history, accounts of people using espionage to try to understand the intentions of the adversary abound. 

Early Egyptian pharaohs employed agents of espionage to ferret out disloyal subjects and to locate tribes that could be conquered and enslaved. From 1,000 B.C. onwards, Egyptian espionage operations focused on foreign intelligence about the political and military strength of rivals Greece and Rome.

Russia’s New Missile Means the Nuclear Arms Race Is Back On


Team Putin is talking up fearsome new hardware that could accelerate a nuclear contest not seen since the Cold War.

Russia has a new nuclear missile—one that Zvezda, a Russian government-owned TV network, claimed can wipe out an area “the size of Texas or France.”

Actually, no, a single SS-30 rocket with a standard payload of 12 independent warheads, most certainly could not destroy Texas or France. Not immediately. And not by itself.

Each of the SS-30’s multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle warheads, or MIRVs, could devastate a single city. But Texas alone has no fewer than 35 cities of 100,000 people or more.

Which is not to say the instantaneous destruction of a dozen cities and the deaths of millions of people in a single U.S. state wouldn’t mean the end of the world as we know it.

Nobody nukes just Texas. And if Russia is disintegrating Texan cities, that means Russia is also blasting cities all over the United States and allied countries—while America and its allies nuke Russia right back.

Putin’s hydra: Inside Russia’s intelligence services

Far from being an all-powerful “spookocracy” that controls the Kremlin, Russia’s intelligence services are internally divided, distracted by bureaucratic turf wars, and often produce poor quality intelligence – ultimately threatening the interests of Vladimir Putin himself.

Drawing on extensive interviews with former and current intelligence officials, “Putin’s hydra: Inside Russia’s intelligence services” explains how the spy agencies really work, and argues that Europe’s view of them is patchy and based on outdated caricatures.

The paper punctures the myth that the agencies are the power behind the throne in Russia. They are firmly subordinated to the Kremlin, and Putin plays them off against one another. They are not a united bloc but a disparate group, whose solidarity disappears as soon as there is an opportunity to make money or avoid blame.

The agencies often replicate each others’ work, engaging in bloody competition rather than sharing intelligence. The need to please the Kremlin and deliver quick results leads to shoddy information gathering and analysis. Intelligence chiefs must shape and sugarcoat the facts to suit the president – or risk their jobs.

The ‘tech bubble’ puzzle

By David Cogman and Alan Lau
May 2016

Public and private capital markets seem to value technology companies differently. Here's why.

Aggressive valuations among technology companies are hardly a new phenomenon. The widespread concerns over high pre-IPO valuations today recall debates over the technology bubble at the turn of the century—which also extended to the media and telecommunications sectors. A sharp decline in the venture-capital funding for US-based companies in the first quarter of the year feeds into that debate,1though the number of “unicorns”—start-up companies valued at more than a billion dollars—over that same period continued to rise.

The existence of these unicorns is just one significant difference between 2000 and 2016. Until seven years ago, no venture capital–backed company had ever achieved a billion-dollar valuation before going public, let alone the $10 billion valuation of 14 current “deca-corns.” Also noteworthy is the fact that high valuations predominate among private, pre-IPO companies, rather than public ones, as was the case at the turn of the millennium. And then there’s the global dimension: innovation and growth in the Chinese tech sector are much bigger forces today than they were in 2000.2

From the Bottom, Up: A Strategy for U.S. Military Support to Syria’s Armed Opposition

Nicholas Heras 

MAY 10, 2016 
Source Link

The report, “From the Bottom, Up: A Strategy for U.S. Military Support to Syria’s Armed Opposition,” examines the current state of U.S. support for opposition groups and makes a case for scaling up that support, including an in-depth look at the groups to support in each region.

The Post-Imperial Moment

April 22, 2016

IN 1935, the anti-Nazi writer and Austrian-Jewish intellectual Joseph Roth published a story, “The Bust of the Emperor,” about an elderly count at the chaotic fringe of the former Habsburg Empire who refused to think of himself as a Pole or an Italian, even though his ancestry encompassed both. In his mind, the only mark of “true nobility” was to be “a man above nationality,” in the Habsburg tradition. “My old home, the Monarchy, alone,” the count says, “was a great mansion with many doors and many chambers, for every condition of men.” Indeed, the horrors of twentieth-century Europe, Roth wrote presciently, had as their backdrop the collapse of empires and the rise of uniethnic states, with Fascist and Communist leaders replacing the power of traditional monarchs.

Empire had its evils, as Roth himself details in another great work, The Radetzky March, but one cannot deny empire’s historical function—to provide stability and order to vast tracts of land occupied by different peoples, particularly in Europe. If not empire, what then? In fact, as Michael Lind has intuited, the underpinnings of the global order today attempt to replace the functions of empire—from the rules-based international system to the raft of supranational and multinational groupings, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, the International Court of Justice and the World Economic Forum. Silently undergirding this process since World War II has been the undeniable fact of American power—military, diplomatic and economic—protecting sea lanes, maritime choke points, access to hydrocarbons and, in general, providing some measure of security to the world. These tasks are amoral to the extent that they do not involve lofty principles, but without them there is no possibility for moral action anywhere. This is not traditional imperialism, which is no longer an option, but it is a far more humane replacement for it.

How Steel City Became the Front Line in America’s Cyberwar

MAY 12, 2016 

Blending gumshoe investigations with high-tech research, Pittsburgh has become a hotbed of the Justice Department’s fight against international hackers. 

PITTSBURGH — The portraits of Chinese army officers mounted on poster board stare down from the walls of the FBI’s western Pennsylvania field office.

Though they will probably never see the inside of a courtroom, the five men represent the culmination of arguably the most significant cybercrime investigation to date carried out by federal agents based in Pittsburgh: the case against the People’s Liberation Army hackers who were indicted in 2014for stealing industry secrets from the computers of major American companies.

Over the last 15 years, Pittsburgh has emerged as a perhaps surprising center of high-profile cybercrime investigations. Down in Washington, FBI Director James Comey complains that encrypted communications and other data advances have resulted in investigations going “dark” as suspects evade the government’s efforts to nab them online.

But 250 miles away in the Steel City, prosecutors have blended gumshoe tactics, sophisticated digital tools, and the area’s high-tech research centers to unmask and charge hackers and organized crime bosses from China to Russia.

“Companies were being intruded upon, and they didn’t understand it,” said U.S. Attorney David Hickton, who took up the top prosecutor’s job in Pittsburgh in 2010 and stepped up the office’s crackdown on cybercrime.

Should We Feed the Trolls?

Sergei Karpukhin
APR 18, 2016 
Source Link

When it comes to reducing online harassment, deeper social change could have a bigger impact than fighting back one jerk at a time.

Let’s get this out of the way first: The Internet is the real world. 
What you say online is still you saying something—even if you’re shielded by an anonymous account; even if you’re saying it just to be provocative, or performative, or God only knows why else. You on the web is still you, just like you on the telephone is you. Technology doesn’t magically make a person’s behavior inauthentic, or pretend, or inconsequential.
In an essay last week, the writer Stephen Marche set out to explore a Reddit-hosted community that has a rputation for being one of the most misogynistic swamps on the Internet. Marche’s puzzling conclusion was that the participants in this group are pathetic and afraid, their fear fueled in part by a desire for cultural clarity, not by mere hatred of women. He dismissed them, implying they weren’t threatening in any substantial way, and, in the end, suggested they read more classic literature. All this, it seemed, stemmed from Marche’s central (and misguided) question: “Are we our real selves on the internet, or are we not?”

The answer, of course, is that we are our real selves online as much as we are our real selves anywhere else. The Internet is the real world! This stuff should be easy. But it gets harder from here.
* * *
Harassment has been a serious problem online since the dawn of the web. In 1984, scientists puzzled over the “surprising prevalence of rudeness, profanity, exultation, and other emotional outbursts,” that seemed to characterize computer-based communications, The New York Times reported that year.

Today, the majority of Internet users have witnessed name-calling and attempts at humiliating someone online, according to a 2014 Pew survey—and 40 percent of those surveyed said they’d experienced such treatment (or more severe forms of harassment) themselves. Among those who have been harassed, many episodes went beyond name calling to include physical threats, stalking, sexual harassment, or sustained attacks over time. Men (44 percent) were more likely than women (37 percent) to experience online harassment of any kind, but much of the worst harassment is disproportionately targeted at women—and young women, in particular.

A Cyber-Information Operations Offset Strategy for Countering the Surge of Chinese Power

By Jake Bebber 

The following is a two-part series on how the U.S. might better utilize cyberspace and information operations as a Third Offset. Part I will evaluate current offset proposals and explores the strategic context. Part II will provide specific cyber/IO operations and lines of effort.

“It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half of the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what might happen.”

-Herodotus, The Histories


In 2014, then Secretary of Defense Hagel established the Defense Innovation Initiative, better known as the Third Offset, which is charged with recommending ways to sustain American military superiority in the face of growing capabilities fielded by powers such as Russia and China.[i] The purpose of the Third Offset is to “pursue innovative ways to sustain and advance our military superiority” and to “find new and creative ways to sustain, and in some cases expand, our advantages even as we deal with more limited resources.” He pointed to recent historical challenges posed by the Soviets in the 1970’s which led to the development of “networked precision strike, stealth and surveillance for conventional forces.” Centrally-controlled, inefficient Soviet industries could not match the U.S. technological advantage, and their efforts to do so weakened the Soviet economy, contributing to its collapse. 

Today, China represents the most significant long-term threat to America and will be the focus here. A number of leading organizations, both within and outside government, have put forward recommendations for a Third Offset. However, these strategies have sought to maintain or widen perceived U.S. advantages in military capabilities rather than target China’s critical vulnerabilities. More importantly, these strategies are predicated on merely affecting China’s decision calculus on whether to use force to achieve its strategic aims – i.e., centered around avoiding war between the U.S. and China. This misunderstands China’s approach and strategy. China seeks to win without fighting, so the real danger is not that America will find itself in a war with China, but that America will find itself the loser without a shot being fired. This paper proposes a Cyberspace-IO Offset strategy directly attacking China’s critical vulnerability: its domestic information control system. By challenging and ultimately holding at risk China’s information control infrastructure, the U.S. can effectively offset China’s advantages and preserve America’s status as the regional security guarantor in Asia.

Searching for Information Online Using Big Data to Identify the Concerns of Potential Army Recruits

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Research Questions 
How have Army-related searches changed over time and across locations? 
What sorts of questions and concerns are prevalent in Army-related searches? 
How is the number of relevant searches related to the number of people who enlist? 

This report assesses empirical applications of web search data and discusses the prospective value such data can offer Army recruiting efforts. The authors examine three different tools — Google Trends, Google AdWords, and Google Correlate — that can be used to access and analyze readily available, anonymous data from Internet searches related to the Army and to Army service. They found that Google search queries can inform how interest in military careers has evolved over time and by geographic location and can identify the foremost Army-related concerns that potential recruits have. Moreover, by analyzing how search terms correlate across time, it is possible to predict with reasonable accuracy what non-Army related terms people are searching for in the months before or after an Army query. These queries serve as leading and lagging indicators of army-related searches and can offer a glimpse into the concerns of individuals near the time period when they are considering joining. The results suggest that search terms can serve as an indicator of propensity and can be incorporated into models to predict highly qualified Army accessions.

Key Findings

The Six Biggest Misconceptions About Drones

First of all, they aren’t actually very good for spying on your neighbors.

Civilian drones are a popular topic in 2016, providing inspiration for countless onlinemedia hot takes, TV news segments, and late-night discussions at the bar (though you should never drink and drone!). As with any new and novel technology that most people are unfamiliar with, a lot of confusion, misunderstanding, and outright BS surrounds drones. So as part of Slate’s Futurography package on the “creepiness” of drones, I’ve compiled some of the most common misunderstandings people have about this exciting (and excitingly controversial) technology.

1. Military drones and consumer drones are pretty much the same.

While consumer drones are becoming increasingly popular, many people still envision a General Atomics MQ-1 Predator when they hear the word drone. They assume that the camera-carrying quadrotors you can buy on Amazon or in pricy airport stores are simply smaller, less-sophisticated variants on military technology. Common sense as the military connection to consumer drones seems, it’s not actually accurate: While Predators and DJI Phantom 3s are both unmanned aerial vehicles with some autonomous capabilities, they have very different origins and exceedinglydifferent capabilities. To use an analogy, a Predator is like an aircraft carrier and a DJI Phantom 3 is like a rowboat: They’re both technically boats, but you wouldn’t assume they’re capable of the same things—or used for the same purposes.

Manvotional: General Douglas MacArthur’s Prayer for His Son

Editor’s note: While General Douglas MacArthur was stationed in Australia and acting as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Southwest Pacific Area, he penned this prayer for his only son, Arthur.

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee—and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.