3 June 2016

Why go it alone?

June 3, 2016

India has traditionally displayed a self-imposed ‘unilateral bias’ in addressing key challenges in the neighbourhood and near abroad. The limits of this approach are evident

The Salma Dam in Afghanistan’s Herat Province, built with Indian assistance and scheduled to be inaugurated during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Afghanistan, is a significant landmark in India’s engagement with the war-ravaged country. Coming close on the heels of the Indian investment in Iran’s Chabahar port complex and opening a land route onwards to Afghanistan, the ongoing strategic engagement with Tehran and Kabul represents New Delhi’s ambitious foray into its extended neighbourhood. Momentous though these initiatives are, there is considerable scepticism within the strategic community regarding India’s material and political wherewithal to stay the course vis-à-vis these long-term projects, especially in the context of India’s not-so-impressive record when it comes to delivering on strategically important projects in the region and beyond.

The problem and the solution

India’s strategic engagements in the region and beyond suffer from several handicaps. First of all, New Delhi lacks the financial resources to invest in crucial projects in a sustained manner due to budget constraints and compulsions of domestic priorities. New Delhi’s inability to accept Colombo’s offer to build the Hambantota Port some years ago is a case in point. Clearly, there is only so much that a developing country like India can do to assist others. Second, there is also a problem of severe attention deficit resulting from an inability to commit diplomatic and political capital to pursue key strategic objectives. Third, many of India’s strategic initiatives in the region, Chabahar for instance, often get portrayed in competitive terms, thereby getting into the cross hairs of adversarial/insecure neighbours.

*** China's Strategy for Asia: Maximize Power, Replace America

May 26, 2016 

China’s primary strategic goal in contemporary times has been the accumulation of “comprehensive national power.” This pursuit of power in all its dimensions—economic, military, technological and diplomatic—is driven by the conviction that China, a great civilization undone by the hostility of others, could never attain its destiny unless it amassed the power necessary to ward off the hostility of those opposed to this quest.

This vision of strengthening the Chinese state while recovering China’s centrality in international politics—both objectives requiring the accumulation of “comprehensive national power”—suggests that the aims of Beijing’s grand strategy both implicate and transcend the United States’ and China’s other Asian rivals, to replace U.S. primacy in Asia writ large. For China, which is simultaneously an ancient civilization and a modern polity, grand strategic objectives are not simply about desirable rank orderings in international politics but rather about fundamental conceptions of order.

Because the acquisition of comprehensive national power is meant to both increase the Chinese state’s control over its society and maximize the country’s overall capabilities relative to its foreign competitors, Beijing has consistently pursued four specific operational aims since the revolution—though the instruments used to achieve these ends have varied over time.

China’s Four Strategic Goals

- Maintain Internal Order 

*** Hybrid Wars 5. Breaking the Balkans (IV)

by Andrew Korybko 
May 30, 2016 



Historical Foundation:

The rivalry between Croatia and Serbia is centuries-long, stretching to before either of them were modern-day nation states and back to the time when they were still under the occupation of Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, respectively. It’s been argued that both people are of the same ethnic origin, with their only substantial differences being in dialect and adherence to a particular Christian sect (Catholicism for Croats, Orthodoxy for Serbs). Extended research has already been published on the fraternal similarities between these two people and the reasons for their contemporary perception of “separateness” as regards the other, so the present study will refrain from repeating what has already been established long before it and begin the historical discourse from the more relevant period of World War II.

** The Tyranny Of Time

-- this post authored by Reva Goujon

As Americans commemorated their fallen soldiers this Memorial Day weekend, two European leaders met in the eastern forests of France to memorialize some of the darkest days of their nations' histories. Flanked by piles of French and German bones encased in the alcoves of the eerily militaristic

Douaumont Ossuary, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel embraced as they remembered the more than 300,000 soldiers slain in the agonizingly long 10-month Battle of Verdun a century ago in World War I. The battle, which was designed to "bleed the French white," ended up burying both sides under a mountain of gruesome death so high that the memory of Verdun alone would give any hardcore Euroskeptic pause to consider the true cost of another bout of Franco-German antagonism in a freshly fractured Europe.

Standing beside his German counterpart, Hollande called for the protection of the European Union, warning that the "time needed to destroy it would be much shorter than the long time it took to build it." There is much truth to this statement. In fact, Hollande's warning reflects in some ways the basic structure of our universe. If entropy, or disorder, is always increasing, then it will always take more work to create than to destroy. And for politicians, that tyranny of time can be quite terrifying. Peace treaties, trade agreements and political institutions meant to impose order may take epochs to build. But in periods of extreme stress, time becomes compressed into blocks with edges sharp enough to snag and unravel even the most carefully woven political narratives.

*India’s $500 Million Bet on Iran

MAY 31, 2016 

New Delhi hopes a giant new Iranian port will help meet its energy needs — and outflank Pakistan. 
India’s plan to spend $500 million on a new port complex on Iran’s Indian Ocean coast caps a decade-long quest to find a way to get sorely needed supplies of energy. But the Chabahar port deal also offers India a way to outflank Pakistan and elbow its way into the economic and diplomatic jockeying that is reshaping Central Asia.

During a visit to Iran this week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a spate of deals that included the long-sought accord to develop the port of Chabahar, which sits less than 50 miles from Gwadar, the deepwater port China is developing in Pakistan. The development plans will give Iran its first deepwater port, to finally allow it to conduct global trade with big cargo ships rather than the small ships its ports can currently handle, thus ending its reliance on the United Arab Emirates as a shipping intermediary.

The Chabahar plans also include factories as well as road and rail links to Afghanistan and beyond. Once complete, the new port could help India bypass Pakistan and deepen its ties with energy-rich countries in Central Asia like Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Chabahar also promises to give Afghanistan an outlet to the sea, potentially boosting the trade prospects of the landlocked and war-torn nation.

Will Export led Strategy Boost Indian Defence Sector?

By Radhakrishna Rao
02 Jun , 2016

For quite some time now, serious discussions are on towards devising an efficacious strategy to turn India into a hub of defence export from being the largest importer of the combat hardware. In fact, since he took over as the Prime Minister of the country two years ago, Narendra Modi has been repeatedly highlighting the need for the country to shed its “unsavoury distinction of being the largest defence importer” by going in for the large scale export of domestically made weapons systems and fighting platforms. Not surprisingly then, taking a cue from Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has made a strong pitch for boosting defence export from India with the target of earning US$2-billion by 2018.

Currently, India’s defence export constitute around 4% of the arms, ammunition and fighting equipment imported by the country. Of course, by boosting defence export, India can stand to derive geo strategic and diplomatic advantages.

As expected, Parrikar has projected India’s fourth generation, supersonic fighter jet Tejas LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) as a prized defence hardware with a reasonably good export potential. Indo Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is another high profile weapon system, in which many countries have evinced keen interest.However, no decision has so far been taken as to which countries it could be exported.

India And Japan: Emerging Indo-Pacific Security Partnership – Analysis

By Dhruva Jaishankar*
JUNE 1, 2016

India and Japan, motivated primarily by shared concerns about China, have been developing a closer defence partnership defined by regular maritime exercises and high-level political consultations. The upward trajectory in strategic ties since 2006 can be maintained, as long as both countries take certain structural limitations into consideration.

Amid growing competition between the United States and China in Asia, the often-overlooked relationship between two secondary powers – India and Japan – has quietly developed into a close security partnership over the past 16 years. Ties now encompass regular military exercises, particularly between their maritime forces, and frequent high-level political consultations. The evolving security collaboration between Asia’s largest and wealthiest democracies will play a critical role in the regional balance of power.

The security relationship between India and Japan has been driven primarily by shared concerns about the rise of China, with which both have politically-charged territorial disputes. For Japan, this includes Chinese assertiveness over the Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands, as well as rising anti-Japanese nationalism often promoted by China’s top leadership. For India, the legacy of the 1962 Sino-Indian border war still casts a long shadow. Incursions by Chinese forces along the disputed border with India in 2013 and 2014 stoked tensions. India is also increasingly wary of Chinese dual-use infrastructure projects and political influence in the Indian Ocean region.
Significant Changes in Foreign and Security Policies

Killing of Mullah Mansour: Illusions of Peace

By Brig NK Bhatia, SM (Retd)
02 Jun , 2016

Mullah Akhtar Mansour head of Afghan Taliban was killed in a US drone strike on the afternoon of 21 May 2016near Ahmad Wal town on the main highway connecting Quetta along Afghanistan-Pakistan border.As per the widely circulated story the Taliban leader had earlier crossed over from Iran through the Taftan border check post between Iran and Pakistan, located approximately 500 kilometers away. A Pakistani passport and identity card recovered from the site of attack revealed his identity as Wali Mohammad son of Shah Muhammad. The passport had a valid Iranian visa and he had proceeded there in end March 2016 and was returning to Quetta, known Headquarter of Pakistan based Afghanistan Taliban.

According to a statement attributed to US secterary of state John Kerry, on an official visit to Myanmar, Mansur posed a “continuing, imminent threat” to US personnel and Afghans. “If people want to stand in the way of peace and continue to threaten and kill and blow people up, we have no recourse but to respond, and I think we responded appropriately”. President Obama echoing similar views stated that “Mansour represented a special threat to United States and its forces”.

Mullah Mansour had, since taking over the reins of Taliban in July 2015, consolidated his hold over the outfit.An audacious attack targeting Afghan government intelligence building in April had resulted in 64 deaths and 347 injuries. Simultaneously Taliban had been making inroads into Afghanistan attacking government forces and gaining territory and indirectly threatening the legitimate government of President Ashraf Ghani.

China's Perspective on North Korea

By George Friedman 
June 2, 2016 

A daily explanation of what matters and what doesn't in the world of geopolitics. 

Managing Pyongyang's outbursts is a valuable tool for Beijing in its relationship with Washington. 

The director of North Korea's International Department, Ri Su Yong, is in China and met with Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday. It is said that Ri is close to North Korea's ruling family, meaning that at the meeting he represented the views of Kim Jong Un and those around him. According to media reports, the North Koreans refused to reduce their emphasis on nuclear weapon development, as the Chinese asked of them.

Nevertheless, it was agreed that good relations between the two countries are essential. In effect, the Chinese accepted that North Korea could violate China's wishes on nuclear weapons without harming bilateral relations.

China clearly sees real value in North Korea. It likely has nothing to do with ideology. Even with the increasing autocracy of Xi's regime, China and North Korea have very different ideological perspectives. 

North Korea is utterly centralized and has sacrificed economic development in order to maintain rigid control of all aspects of society. China takes a much less centralized approach, even under Xi. They are both considered communists, but they are very different regimes.

Harry Wu: China’s Man for All Seasons

May 31, 2016

I recently spoke at a memorial at the Library of Congress for my friend Harry Wu, a tremendous champion of human rights who dedicated his life to exposing China’s horrific brand of communist repression. As Beijing’s ever-increasing financial and military power has led many in our nation’s capital to curtail their criticisms and concerns regarding this totalitarian behemoth, we could always count on Harry to set us straight. Harry never hesitated to lay out the discomforting facts, warts and all, about the gross human rights violations taking place behind the barbed wire of the Bamboo Curtain.

Harry was himself a victim for almost two decades of China’s insidious “laogai” reform-through-labor system. Harry could not, as a matter of conscience, forget the millions he left behind, including an estimated fifteen million dead, in the largest slave labor camp system in the post-WWII era. What will we do without having Harry’s voice to proclaim over all the propaganda about “China’s peaceful rise” the very ugly reality lying just below the surface? 

Could This Be China's Panama Canal?

May 30, 2016

President Obama’s trip to Vietnam was ostensibly focused on the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the Asia-Pacific region. However, it is quite certain that the visit had a powerful subtext: strengthening the partnership between Washington and Hanoi to offset Beijing’s aggressive approach to the South China Sea. The Chinese reef reclamation projects resulted in shiny, new and large airstrips coupled apparently with deep water berths for ships have set the whole region on edge.

Two years ago, a crisis occurred between China and Vietnam that whose significance is reminiscent of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. The China-Vietnam crisis was comprised of hundreds of paramilitary vessels, a rising superpower’s untested leader, and plenty of nationalist bile on both sides. Both liberal internationalists and bellicose realists are looking forward in the coming months to resolution of the arbitration in the Hague brought by the Philippines against China, but it is far from clear that this legal ruling will calm the turbulent waters of the South China Sea. However, readers may also consider the possibility that all the above theatrics could well be a sideshow for the main act.

What Happens When Arab Autocrats Are Left to Fend For Themselves? Turmoil Galore – OpEd

JUNE 1, 2016

We have been given the impossible task of telling you in the words of Hollywood director and actor Woody Allen everything about the Middle East that you want to know and never dared to ask and all of that in 15 minutes. So what I am going to do is give you a series of headlines so that we can flesh some of those out in the subsequent discussion. In doing so, I may be a bit provocative but that will hopefully make debate more lively.

Let me start by saying that the rise of Asia shares significant responsibility for the turmoil the Middle East is experiencing. Yes, you heard me correctly. What I mean to say with this is that popular wisdom has it that a war weary, indecisive and weak President Obama’s disengagement from the region lies at the root of nations with Saudi Arabia in the lead adopting more assertive foreign and defensive policies with disastrous consequences in places like Syria and Yemen and the potential to destabilize others in the region.

Yes, there is a degree of US disengagement but not out of weakness but out of strategic reinterpretation of US national interests. That reinterpretation reduces the importance of the Middle East to the United States with some exceptions like Israel and attributes significantly increased significance to Asia. It also involves a realization that support for autocratic regimes that are fighting for survival irrespective of the cost constitutes a failed policy, a policy that has fuelled anti-Americanism and militant interpretations of Islam.

Isis face likely defeat in battles raging across Iraq and Syria - but how will power be shared between the victors?

In the second of a four-part series examining Isis, Patrick Cockburn says the terror group may be under threat, but regaining the terrority it captured would not necessarily stabilise the region 

Isis is under attack in and around the last three big cities it holds in Iraq and Syria – Fallujah, Mosul and Raqqa. It is likely to lose these battles because its lightly armed if fanatical infantry, fighting from fixed positions, cannot withstand air strikes called in by specialised ground forces. They must choose between retreating and reverting to guerrilla war or suffering devastating losses.

It is two years since Isis launched itself on the world by capturing Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, though it had already taken Fallujah 40 miles west of Baghdad at the start of 2014. In its first campaigns, its ability to achieve surprise by using mobile columns of vehicles packed with experienced fighters was astonishingly effective.

It had developed these military techniques in the years of warfare that followed the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, first fighting the Americans and later the Iraqi army. Its menu of tactics combined ideological fanaticism with a high degree of expertise and rigorous training, and was distinguished by the mass use of suicide bombers, snipers, IEDs, booby traps and mortar teams.

Atrocities highly publicised through the internet terrified and demoralised opponents even before Isis fighters appeared and go a long way to explaining why an Iraqi army, far superior to Isis in numbers and equipment, broke up and fled when Isis attacked it in Mosul in 2014.

Torture of Al Qaeda Captives Becoming an Issue at Guantanamo Terrorism Trials

May 31, 2016

Sept. 11 suspects’ treatment a focus in Guantanamo hearing

A pre-trial hearing for five Sept. 11 suspects began on Monday at Guantanamo Bay, with prisoners’ treatment expected to be a focus of the U.S. military court sessions.

Forty-two motions are scheduled for the week-long hearing at the Navy base in Cuba. They include multiple requests by defense lawyers for evidence of how the five suspects were treated at secret Central Intelligence Agency prisons.

James Connell, a defense lawyer, told Judge Army Colonel James Pohl that medical records provided by the prosecution had been insufficient, lacking personal identifying information and a chronology of patient care.

“This is not the way that discovery is supposed to work … the medical records are actually extremely important,” said Connell, who represents Kuwaiti inmate Ammar al Baluchi, an alleged al Qaeda money mover.

He is among five men suspected of conspiring to help hijackers slam airliners into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001. Almost 3,000 people died in the attacks.

The Myth That Empowers Islamic Terrorism

May 31, 2016

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a man of mystery. Fascinating as he is dangerous, I contend that the only thing you need to know about him is that he is a religious scholar.

This is because Baghdadi is not alone as a terror leader; the founding or operational leaders of other major terrorist groups in the news—the Taliban, Boko Haram and Al Qaeda—are also religious figures such as clerics or Islamic scholars: namely, Mohammed Omar, Mohammed Yusuf and Abdullah Azzam, respectively.

Why have religious leaders come to play such an important role in violent radicalism, how did this all start, and what is the basis of their support?

For starters, the defining trend of recent centuries is the worldwide embrace of modernity and the socioeconomic advances brought about by science. As science began to replace religion as a source for understanding the world, secularists began growing in influence at the expense of religious leaders.

What Washington Doesn't Get about Iran

May 31, 2016

Obscured by the drama of America’s presidential campaign, one major foreign policy issue—the future direction of the U.S. approach to Iran—is at a crossroads. President Obama stood before world leaders at the UN General Assembly in September 2013 and stated, “If we can resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road towards a different relationship, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.” Yet in the aftermath of the July 2015 nuclear accord, statements by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iranian actions have provided little indication that U.S.-Iran relations are moving in a direction more respectful of American interests.

“It is now clear,” writes UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba, “that one year since the framework for the deal was agreed upon, Iran sees it as an opportunity to increase hostilities in the region.” Internally, executions of prisoners is at a twenty-year high. Still, the occasion of national elections in February for Iran’s parliament and Assembly of Experts—like the June 2013 election of President Hassan Rouhani—generated widespread commentary by policy experts in the United States that a process of meaningful change was at hand, as “reform” candidates outpolled their hard-line opponents in Tehran.

From Bosnia to Iraq: The Failure of Forced Coexistence

May 30, 2016

The U.S.-led military interventions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, rump Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq have revealed Washington’s inclination toward forcible regime change and external democratization, but also its propensity for the maintenance of the status quo in regard to international boundaries (with Kosovo’s secession from Serbia as an obvious exception to the rule). In three out of four cases, the interventions have included neither border changes nor the diplomatic recognition of breakaway regions; in two, they’ve comprised the foreign imposition of experimental federal arrangements as part of a larger policy of compulsory coexistence between disparate ethnic and/or religious groups.

Legal But Illegitimate

In 1995, Bosnia and Herzegovina became a sui generis (con)federation, incorporating three constituent peoples but only two territorial entities, even though the second largest ethnic group—the Bosnian Serbs—clearly expressed the wish on a referendum in 1991 to remain within rump Yugoslavia, and boycotted the official Bosnian independence referendum of 1992. A decade later Iraq was established as an asymmetric federation of Shia and Sunni Arabs and mostly Sunni Kurds, although the second largest ethnoreligious group—the Sunni Arabs—overwhelmingly rejected the proposed constitution on the Iraqi constitutional referendum of 2005 (e.g., the predominantly Sunni Arab Anbar Province voted with 97 percent against the proposed document).

The severe lack of political loyalty among the Sunni Arab and Kurdish populations to the new Shia-dominated Iraqi state became brutally obvious in the summer of 2014, when it disintegrated within weeks, making room for a revived Islamic caliphate (ISIS) and a de facto independent Kurdistan. Even though the country practically broke apart along ethnic and sectarian lines, just as former U.S. diplomat Peter W. Galbraith predicted in his 2006 bookThe End of Iraq, the U.S. government stood firm on its One Iraq policy, frustrating the Kurdish Regional Government in Erbil to the point of reevaluating its staunch foreign political orientation toward Washington.

The Iran Deal Hasn't Changed Anything

May 30, 2016

Since the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, along with Germany) signed the nuclear deal with Iran in July 2015, remarkably little has changed. Instead of using the opportunity to bring itself back into the international community, Iran has continued to sow instability across the region. Syrian forces are still backed by Iran, and Iraqi militias still get their orders from Tehran. From the Gulf to the Red Sea, Tehran is using Shia groups in its quest for supremacy up to the borders of the old Persian Empire. None of this should be surprising—Iranian policy has barely changed in two thousand years.

Cyrus the Great, the only Persian king still celebrated in Jerusalem, set the tone by ruling all the way to Egypt. Since the 1979 Revolution, the rulers of the Islamic Republic have sought to dominate this region once again.

Obama in Hiroshima: Betwixt spoken and the unspoken

By Dr Preeti Nalwa
02 Jun , 2016

Barack Obama became the first sitting US President to visit Hiroshima on 27 May 2016. He did that after concluding the Group of Seven (G7) industrialised nations’ summit meeting in Ise-Shima. In doing so, in addition to his saying in his April 2009 Prague speech that “as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act”, Obama has slightly changed America’s approach to recognizing the devastation of the nuclear attacks on Japan. Contrary to the view of critics that an American presidential visit to Hiroshima is undesirable since it implies an ‘implicit apology’ for the atomic bombings thereby compromising the sacrifice made by American soldiers in winning the war and liberating Asia, Obama has demonstrated a “personal dignity” in visiting Ground Zero. In a solemn ceremony at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama laid a wreath on a cenotaph under an arched monument that honours those killed on 6 August 1945.

Hiroshima is a polarised consciousness of ‘remembering’ and ‘forgetting’. Historically, it is remembered as the site of the world’s first nuclear destruction, perpetrated by America during WW II to end Japan’s imperial expansion and imperialist atrocities. The incineration of thousands of victims on August 6, 1945 did not end in Hiroshima. The same destructive act was repeated three days later in Nagasaki, instantaneously vaporizing tens of thousands of more civilians. The horrific devastation devoured about 250,000, and polluted all the areas that were exposed to the mushroom cloud. The nightmare was far worse for those who survived, with ravaged bodies suffering radiation and slow painful death generation after generation.

New U.S. Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Figures Released

Steven Aftergood
May 31, 2016


The size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile as of September 30, 2015 – 4,571 weapons – and the number of U.S. nuclear weapons that were dismantled in FY 2015 – 109 of them – were declassified and disclosed last week.

The latest figures came as a disappointment to arms control and disarmament advocates who favor sharp reductions in global nuclear inventories.

The new numbers “show that the Obama administration has reduced the U.S. stockpile less than any other post-Cold War administration, and that the number of warheads dismantled in 2015 was lowest since President Obama took office,” wrote Hans M. Kristensen in the FAS Strategic Security blog.

But precisely because the new disclosure casts an unflattering light on the Obama Administration, it also represents a triumph of transparency. Since it is at odds with the Administration’s own declared agenda, the release enables the press and the public to exact a measure of accountability.

“The new figures […] underscored the striking gap between Mr. Obama’s soaring vision of a world without nuclear arms, which he laid out during the first months of his presidency, and the tough geopolitical and bureaucratic realities of actually getting rid of those weapons,” wrote William J. Broad in the New York Times on May 26.


JUNE 1, 2016

When the Chief of Staff of the Army, the Chief of Naval Operations, Deputy Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and the NORTHCOM commander say the country’s ballistic missile defense system needs to change, maybe someone should listen. There is a growing consensus that the system deployed today, which is centered on long-range kinetic interceptors, is fiscally unsustainable and trending towards operational obsolescence in the face of adversaries’ technological gains. And while the third offset strategy announced by Secretary of Defense Hagel in 2014has been successfully implemented across other defense investments, missile defense remains a glaring — and odd — exception. As has been the case during the past several budget cycles, the proposed FY17 future years defense program(FYDP) continues to fund incremental gains to existing hit-to-kill systems without making the investments required to rapidly advance the promising, non-kinetic technologies that constitute the third offset component of missile defense.

While declining budgets constrain research into new technologies, there are at least three existing or planned missile defense investments that either do not align with a realistic threat or over-fund missions that are already well resourced. During this budget season, Congress and the Department of Defense should re-evaluate investments in the European Phased Adaptive Approach, the Israeli Cooperative Program and a proposed East Coast interceptor site to free up funds for research into more effective and sustainable alternatives.

The Third Offset and Missile Defense


JUNE 1, 2016

Thanks to the jihadi version of an Edward Snowden data dump, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point now hosts documented evidence of who has joined the Islamic State’s ranks.When compared to other Islamic State foreign fighters estimates or to the last decade’s foreign fighter flows to Iraq, this new data shows thatEurope’s foreign fighter recruitment rate is growing far faster than that of any other region. The dangers of unaddressed foreign fighter facilitators and new foreign fighter currents spell trouble on the horizon.

The Problem with Foreign Fighter Estimates

Foreign fighter numbers to the Islamic State and al Qaeda routinely surface in the media, each larger and more alarming than the last. These estimates are fraught with analytical danger. First, they often focus on raw numbers of recruits heading off to Syria and Iraq rather than the rate of recruitment per capita. These counts, often just guesses, completely miss the point. More populous countries will almost always, and should be expected to have, the largest count of foreign fighters in a sample. Another common misstep comes when analysts calculate foreign fighter recruitment rates using a country’s total population. This too is a deceptive method by which to measure the problem. The most accurate foreign fighter recruitment comes from measuring the raw count of fighters against the Sunni Muslim population of a country, which is often a small subset of a country’s total, especially in Europe. Another set of problems arises when analysts take distinct foreign fighter samples as representative of the entire foreign fighter population. For example, the Sinjar records showing foreign fighters to Iraq provided the best source of data last decade, but it represented only one foreign fighter transit point into Iraq and only those recruits entering during 2006 and 2007. External, open-source foreign fighter estimates prior to the recent Islamic State data dump relied principally on social media aggregation and thus missed pockets of members who were physically recruited or arrived from countries where social media participation is either less common or heavily surveilled (as in Russia).


MAY 31, 2016

Good scholarship doesn’t need to fit within a 2×2 matrix, but it sure helps make sense of things when it does. It’s in this spirit of conceptual clarity that I developed the diagram below depicting variations in the fait accompli, an age-old but underappreciated tactic of the disgruntled and strategically minded. Rather than the naked use of force or threat-making alone—situations whose logics are straightforward even if the best responses aren’t—the fait accompli is a move that pursues an advantage by making it difficult for a competitor to retaliate or counter.

This 2×2 diagram is part of a lecture I give at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies on revisionist tactics short of war — what many now call “gray zone” conflicts. Although most security studies scholars and analysts understand broadly what a fait accompli is — literally an “accomplished fact” — the tactic itself has rarely been an object of analysis (two recent rare exceptions are discussed more below). This is a serious oversight, because in the so-called “gray zone” of conflict, the fait accompli is a common means by which states pursue revisionist agendas.

Dangerous Nuclear Security Failures in Russia's Backyard

May 30, 2016

Nuclear security is seemingly at the forefront of global attention, but the large framework of international safeguards is increasingly perceived as a toothless tiger. In the contemporary age, where asymmetric threats to security are among the most dangerous, the time is nigh to mitigate the risk of rogue actors having potential access to materials that are necessary to develop nuclear weapons.

Nowhere is this urgency more pivotal than in already turbulent areas, such as the South Caucasus. With many geopolitical instabilities, lasting for decades with no completely bulletproof conflict resolution process in place, adding the threat of potential nuclear weapons means creating a house of cards that can cause a complete collapse of regional peace and stability. That is precisely why Armenia’s recently uncovered recurring actions toward the goal of building its own nuclear capacity must be addressed more seriously. They should also attract a bolder response to ensure safety of the region is sustained.

According to a report by the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Armenia has established a record of illegal trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials. There have been several serious incidents spanning from 1999 onward. A large number of reported incidents has occurred on the country’s border with Georgia, leading the IAEA to conclude there is high probability that a so-called Armenian route does in fact exist. There is a further evidence to support this assertion. An unusually high number of Armenians have been caught in nuclear trafficking activities. Additionally, some of the incidents that made their way into the official reports suggest that the main focus of trafficking activities is the smuggling of materials that could be used for nuclear weapons. There were also reports suggesting the trafficking of other radioactive materials that could be used for alternate purposes, such as building a so-called dirty bomb. Since the stakes are always high with nuclear weapons, this threat must not be underrated and dismissed too easily.

Google, Microsoft, Twitter And Facebook Agree To Remove Hate Speech Online

By Catherine Stupp
JUNE 1, 2016

(EurActiv) — Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook said they will remove posts containing hate speech within 24 hours as part of a new agreement organised by the European Commission to counter extremism on the internet.

The four American companies have been meeting with the Commission behind closed doors since December to come up with terms for removing online hate speech, which is illegal in the EU, and posts promoting terrorism.

Civil society groups said the agreement will damage freedom of expression by letting private companies decide what is hate speech.

Two NGOs, European Digital Rights and Access Now, withdrew from the meetings with companies and the Commission because they said they were not consulted on the code of conduct.

“The whole problem is the lack of judicial oversight in this process,” said Maryant Fernández, an advocacy manager at European Digital Rights.

The Philippine Navy's Long Struggle to Modernize

May 31, 2016

The Filipinos are justifiably proud of their spanking new Indonesian-built landing platform dock, BRP Tarlac, which was commissioned last week with much fanfare. Indeed, the ship is the first brand-new warship for the Philippine Navy, long judged to be the weakest of all Southeast Asian navies, in roughly two decades.

The navy has, in recent years, been experiencing a sort of renaissance under the outgoing president, Benigno Aquino III. The question is whether president-elect Rodrigo Duterte can sustain momentum in the navy’s modernization efforts. This depends on Manila’s ability to bankroll new acquisitions and political commitment. The previous administrations could offer useful lessons.

Ramos: Strategic Impetus for a Funding-Starved Navy

Not long after American forces withdrew from Philippine bases, the first major Sino-Philippine South China Sea incident erupted over Mischief Reef, after Chinese forces were first spotted occupying it in 1995. Fidel Ramos rallied for naval modernization. “The Navy must be given priority over all the other services because we have nothing but. . . maritime borders around the Philippines," he boldly remarked in January 1996.

This Program Can Make America's Future Engineers Number One

May 31, 2016

Our society practically worships two groups of individuals: athletes and entertainers. It has been this way a long time, but the trend has reached its pinnacle in the modern era. We swoon over pop stars and movie stars; we pay the best pro athletes in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Perhaps most significantly, in terms of what it says about our culture and how it shapes future generations, we send messages to our kids from early in their lives that sports are what count most at school, at least in terms of after-class activities. We often emphasize sports facilities, large coaching staffs and homecoming games over other types of extracurricular activities.

Not all of this is bad. We admit to liking sports ourselves. Strong, healthy bodies complement bright minds; exercise gets the blood flowing in ways that ultimately can help the brain, too. Done right, sports can develop teamwork skills and a strong sense of camaraderie.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been called the next Industrial Revolution

it will change the way all businesses, governments, and consumers interact with the physical world. 

For more than two years, BI Intelligence has closely tracked the growth of the IoT. Specifically, we've analyzed how the IoT ecosystem enables entities (i.e. consumers, businesses, and governments) to connect to, and control, their IoT devices in 16 environments, including manufacturing, the connected home, transportation, and agriculture. 

In a new report from BI Intelligence, we discuss all of the components of the IoT ecosystem, including its devices, analytics, networks, and security. We also provide estimates and forecasts on the burgeoning IoT market, including device growth, amount invested, and potential return on investment. 

Here are some key points from the report: 
In total, we project there will be 34 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020, up from 10 billion in 2015. IoT devices will account for 24 billion, while traditional computing devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, etc.) will comprise 10 billion. 
Nearly $6 trillion will be spent on IoT solutions over the next five years. 
Businesses will be the top adopter of IoT solutions. They see three ways the IoT can improve their bottom line by 1) lowering operating costs; 2) increasing productivity; and 3) expanding to new markets or developing new product offerings. 
Governments are focused on increasing productivity, decreasing costs, and improving their citizens’ quality of life. We believe they will be the second-largest adopters of IoT ecosystems. 
Consumers will lag behind businesses and governments in IoT adoption. Still, they will purchase a massive number of devices and invest a significant amount of money in IoT ecosystems. 

The B-21 Bomber Should Be Unmanned on Day 1

MAY 31, 2016

So far, U.S. Air Force leaders have said only that it will eventually be able to fly without crew. 
While plans for the B-21 — née Long Range Strike-Bomber — have long included an unmanned option, Air Force officials have shown little interest in having that capability on Day One of the plane’s service life. This is unwise; an unmanned option would increase the U.S. military’s operational flexibility, providing much-needed endurance and persistence at only a marginal increase in cost. 

Kelley Sayler is an associate fellow with the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security.

Paul Scharre is a Senior Fellow and Director of the 20YY Future of Warfare Initiative at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Full Bio

To date, the Air Force has confirmedthat the B-21 will be inhabited — that is, it will carry aircrew — when it enters service around 2025 and that it will be nuclear-certified about two years later. (It has also said no nuclear missions will take place without crew aboard.) However, the service has not offered a definitive statement on when the aircraft is expected to feature an uninhabited capability. It is reportedly “not a short-term priority” for the Air Force, and thus unlikely to be incorporated into early production models.