13 July 2016


Nagaland accord is a botched deal; it promised 5,000 BSF jobs for NSCN cadre

Ajay Singh 
Jul 11, 2016  
Source Link

Last year, the central government announced a "historic" breakthrough with the signing of the draft treaty of the Naga peace accord with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM). It was projected as one of the biggest initiatives of the new NDA government for peace in the North East.

The draft accord was signed on 3 August by Thuingleng Muivah, the general secretary of the NSCN-IM and RN Ravi, the government's interlocutor in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. 

But after the initial brouhaha, the accord was quickly forgotten only to find passing mention on 28 June, with the death of Isak Chisi Swu, the 87-year-old chairman of NSCN-IM.

Upon his death, the prime minister tweeted his condolences: "My heartfelt condolences to the family and supporters of Mr Isak Chisi Swu on his demise. May his soul rest in peace... Mr Swu will be remembered for his historical role in bringing out the Framework Agreement for Naga peace."

Ten days later, it was remembered again when The Hindu published an interview with Thuingleng Muivah. Muivah, unlike the prime minister, recalled the accord only to claim that the NSCN-IM had not given up the demand for sovereignty. Muivah, of course, couched it in niceties, praising the Union government for understanding the Naga problem in the right perspective, and for realigning its position in accordance with the Naga insurgents.

**** New FAS Nuclear Notebook: Chinese Nuclear Forces, 2016

Jul.01, 2016

China’s nuclear forces are limited compared with those of Russia and the United States. Nonetheless, its arsenal is slowly increasing both in numbers of warheads and delivery vehicles.

In our latest FAS Nuclear Notebook on Chinese nuclear forcespublished in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, we estimate that China has a stockpile of about 260 nuclear warheads for delivery by a growing diversity of land- and sea-based ballistic missiles and bombers.

Changes over the past year include fielding of the new dual-capable DF-26 road-mobile intermediate-rage ballistic missile, the reported fielding of a new nuclear version (Mod 6) of the DF-21 road-mobile medium-range ballistic missile, more flight-tests of the long-rumored DF-41 road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, and the slow readying of the Jin-class (Type 094) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.

China is also modernizing its aging fleet of H-6 bombers, some of which may have a secondary nuclear role.

Although China is still thought to be fielding more DF-31A launchers, the overall number of ICBM launchers has not increased since 2011 but remained at 50-75 launchers. The oldest of these, the liquid-fuel DF-4, apparently has an extra load of missiles but is thought to be close to retirement. None of the new ICBMs are thought to have reloads.

ICBM Exercises and Force Level

** How The World's Most Dangerous Bank Could Destroy The Global Economy

by Shah Gilani, Money Morning
09 July 2016

There is a "Lehman" moment out there somewhere - just as sure as there are black swans in the world.

Brexit was scary for markets around the world... but it was not a Lehman moment.

It was, as I've said, a "Bear Stearns" moment, a terrible harbinger of impending financial disaster.

Once again, it's about the banks...

Except this time, it's not the big American banks - we're not talking about the likes ofJPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC), orCitigroup Inc. (NYSE:C), though they won't be immune from contagion effects.

On Wednesday, I told you that the next Lehman moment could be brought about by the irreparable insolvency of one or two big Italian banks, or even a few of the big British banks. Both the European Central Bank and the Bank of England have been scrambling to obfuscate just how dire things are in Western Europe. Of course, a look at their balance sheet tells a different story - the numbers just don't add up.

But the more likely - and far more frightening scenario - is that the entire global financial system will be brought to its knees by a single bank.

Here's what's really going on, what to watch for, and what to do if world's most dangerous bank continues to falter.
European Banks Were in Trouble Before Brexit

**The Rise of Think-Tanks in India

Dr D Suba Chandran

21 June 2016

Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bengaluru, & former Director, IPCS

Suhasini Haidar in her recent commentary (South Block in the Shade) in The Hindu has highlighted an interesting foreign policy phenomenon in India – the rise of think-tanks. Though she sees it as a factor in checking the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) from being “India’s primary interlocutor for the world,” many working on foreign policy have been asking for an effective role by the think-tanks with quality inputs to the Establishment.

For a long time, the Indian political establishment across the board has viewed independent think-tanks in the country primarily from a negative perspective – as being foreign funded (thereby implying that they follow a different agenda than that of the government). Though the different ministries (especially the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the MEA) and different wings of the Indian armed forces have – directly or indirectly – supported their own, these think-tanks did not have a negative tag in the governmental corridors.

Do independent think-tanks such as the India Foundation (IF) and Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) challenge the role of the South Block? Or do they signify, along with few others such as the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and Gateway House (GH) – the rise of think-tanks that are much needed and timely? And do they not help the state in today’s world of having “speciality” independent institutions?

** Stratfor: What the Ramadan Attacks Reveal About ISIS

Lead analyst: Scott Stewart
7 July 2016

Summary: The fall of Fallujah and the Ramadan attacks mark a decisive retreat of the jihadist (led by ISIS) from Mao’s Phase 3 operations (holding areas) back to Phase 2 (attacks on the government, terrorism). Last week Stratfor looked at Fallujah; here is their analysis of the Ramadan attacks. Eventually it will get crushed as was al Qaeda, setting the stage for Jihad 3.0.

What the Ramadan Attacks Reveal About the Islamic State

Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammed al-Adnani called on the group’s followers in late May to launch a spate of attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Looking back on that month, which ran from June 5 to July 5, it is clear that his call was answered. This year’s Ramadan has been the bloodiest on record since the Islamic State declared its caliphate in June 2014. {See info about the Ramadan Offensives in in 2003 and in 2006.

That is not to say that past Ramadans did not see their share of violence, too. In 2015, the holy month brought significant attacks against a tourist beach resort in Sousse, Tunisia, and against a military reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. But this year’s carnage has far surpassed last year’s in both scope and body count, in spite of the Islamic State core’s notable losses of territory and fighters in Iraq and Syria.

Internal Security – Chinks Very Apparent

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
12 Jul , 2016

The term ‘internal security’ needs to be taken with a pinch of salt with borderless proxy wars, terrorism, optimization of internet by tech savvy terrorists and more such reasons. Nations need dynamic policies that are reviewed, monitoring ongoing developments. With state sponsored terrorism seething in South Asia and the Subcontinent, defence and internal security will remain inexorably linked. The question is often asked whether India has a national security strategy and the cover of the RM’s Directive is taken at times. But then Narasimha Rao as the PM admitted to Parliament in 1995 that while there was no document called ‘National Defence Policy’, several “guidelines” are followed – talk of adhocism! Little wonder then that Narasimha Rao as PM and EAM without consulting MEA told Pakistanis that India would withdraw from the Saltoro Range, without a thought to what would be the next line of defence and more importantly strategic disadvantages of such suicide. But then we never undertook a comprehensive defence review, relying on sundry committees whose recommendations are partially implemented or dumped. Whether we have a comprehensive internal security policy or are again relying on some ‘guidelines’ as in the case of defence remains a mystery but certainly recent events indicate many chinks and lack of proper assessment in the short, medium and long terms that would have helped us remain focused on what changes in policy are warranted.

Rightsizing the Armed Forces: Problems and Prospects

Bhartendu Kumar Singh

28 June 2016

Until last year, manpower reductions did not figure in Indian military modernisation discourse, though its centrality is well established in revolution in military affairs (RMA) worldwide. Instead, the Indian preference was for the recruitment of more officers and men under the rubric of a two-front war, low intensity conflicts, and the scourge of terrorism. India was the only country amongst great powers not to work on manpower reduction in its military. However, taking perhaps the most commendable step in India’s post-independence military reforms, the Government recently announced the high level Shekatkar Committee to rightsize the armed forces and cut extra flab wherever possible.

What was the turning point? Undoubtedly, it is Prime Minister Modi’s leadership that impressed upon the armed forces the need to rightsize during his December 2015 address at the combined commanders’ conference. He lamented that, “when major powers are reducing their forces and rely more on technology, we are still constantly seeking to expand the size of our forces. Modernisation and expansion of forces at the same time is a difficult and unnecessary goal. We need forces that are agile, mobile and driven by technology….we should shorten the tooth-to-tail ratio.” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also called upon the armed forces to reduce the extra flab on many occasions before commissioning the Shekatkar committee.

A key problem that could hamper the Shekatkar Committee’s working is the choice between an in-house approach and sourcing views from outside. It could adopt an in-house approach assuming that outsiders will not know the nitty-gritty of the armed forces. However, even from a layman’s perspective, many reasons exist for manpower reforms in armed forces. First, numbers do not count anymore in the modern military power index. China down-sized the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) from 4.9 million in the early nineties to 2.3 million, and further declared to reduce it by 3 lakh in the near future. The contemporary emphasis is on educated soldiers fighting a technology-driven war with modern gadgets and machinery. The Indian soldier, representing the rural gentry, is semi-educated and deployed in the traditional warfare system.

Pak Army’s Grand Deception on Terrorism

By Farooq Ganderbali
12 Jul , 2016

The grand deception perpetrated by Pakistan Army on its people, and on the world, must be exposed. Pakistan Army chief, General Raheel Sharif, ever since he has taken over the reins of the army, has been running around the world boasting about how he and his troopers have been taking on terrorists in his home turf and how great the sacrifices of his troops have been neutralising terrorism from the region.

General Sharif has no doubt a way with words, like a true blooded soldier, he can bluff through fire and smoke and sound convincing; that’s his training and experience. But when he is dealing with the serious issue of terrorism the safety of his people should come first, and then the people of other countries. He needs to measure his words, contain his overpowering urge to fabricate facts and occasionally keep his word.

His latest declaration to root out terrorists and terrorism from Pakistan came within hours of a suicide bomber blowing himself up in a Lahore park crowded with Christians celebrating Easter this March. More than 72 people were killed and several thousand suffered various kinds of injuries, many serious. No doubt, the General was outraged and he declared that “these inhumane savages will not be allowed to overrun our life and liberty.”

America's War in Afghanistan

Written by Frank Li
Source Link

America's War in Afghanistan has been going on for almost 15 years, with no end in sight. Here is a recent news story: Obama to leave more troops than planned in Afghanistan.

It's debatable whether President Obama has ever made a good decision about Afghanistan. It's undebatable that this war has been a total disaster not only for the Afghans, but also for America! Hear me out ...

1. No foreigner has ever won in Afghanistan!

Three significant examples:
More than 2,000 years ago, Alexander the Great's conquest of the world by seeking to reach the "ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea" actually ended in Afghanistan!
In the 19th century, the British waged two wars in Afghanistan (First Anglo-Afghan War and Second Anglo-Afghan War). Both failed miserably!
In the 1980s, the Soviets waged a war in Afghanistan (Soviet-Afghan War), only to find the same fate as all previous invaders: give up and withdraw!

Will America's fate be different? "No", according to a Soviet commander (shown below)! For more, read: Soviet commander: U.S. faces similar Afghan fate.

Being unneighbourly Hostilities between Pakistan and Afghanistan are rising despite both facing a common enemy in the IS.

Written by Christophe Jaffrelot
July 11, 2016
Source Link

Last month, the Pakistan-Afghanistan relations took a violent turn when both the countries deployed tanks and armoured personnel along their border at Torkham (Khyber pass), one of the busiest Durand Line crossings. The escalation resulted as Islamabad attempted to build a new fence and a gate for checking passports and inspecting cargo vehicles. Last month’s tensions, which culminated in the firing of mortars and several casualties, hark back to the structural bones of contention: Afghanistan has never recognised the Durand Line and is not prepared to accept it as the proper border. But this has never generated so much acrimony in the past.

Hostilities between the two countries have precipitated due to several factors over the last 12 months. Till then, the relations between Islamabad and Kabul were improving, largely because of the attitude of the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani. In contrast to his predecessor Hamid Karzai, who was seen to be close to India, Ghani had made overtures to Pakistan after assuming office. Soon after meeting Raheel Sharif in November 2014, Ghani had ordered action against some Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants suspected to have orchestrated the Peshawar tragedy of December 2014. He had also sent Afghan National Army cadets to study in Pakistan and turned down the Indian offer to supply Kabul with weapons — something made possible by the India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership. Ghani had hoped that Islamabad would reciprocate by fighting against the irreconcilable Taliban, which had found refuge in Pakistan, and by bringing the others to the negotiating table. Pakistan government somewhat delivered by bringing the TTP to the Murree meeting in July 2015 for peace talks in a new format called the Quadrilateral Coordination Group. The QCG, comprising Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US, recognised Pakistan’s key role.

Drawing a line in the sea

China’s rejection of international arbitration raises questions. Delhi’s reaction must focus on need to de-escalate conflict in South China Sea.

Written by C. Raja Mohan | Updated: July 12, 2016
China’s so-called nine-dashed line in the South China Sea constitutes a claim for nearly 90 per cent of its waters. Its claims clash with those of its neighbours including Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. (Source: AP Photo/File)
Tuesday’s ruling on the South China Sea disputes by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague is bound to mark a definitive moment in the evolution of international maritime law and Asia’s geopolitical order. It will also highlight India’s own stakes in promoting peace and stability in the contested waters of the South China Sea.
More than three years ago, the Philippines, which was locked in an escalating territorial dispute with China over the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, decided to go court. China refused to participate in the proceedings at The Hague and called them a “farce”. Beijing has declared it will not accept the ruling from the PCA.
In anticipation of the award this week, China has launched naval exercises in the South China Sea. It has embarked on a massive political campaign to challenge the legitimacy of the arbitration and defend its expansive claims over the South China Sea.

China’s so-called nine-dashed line in the South China Sea constitutes a claim for nearly 90 per cent of its waters. Its claims clash with those of its neighbours including Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.
Amidst the widespread expectation that the PCA award is likely to go largely against China on a range of legal issues involved, Beijing has warned other powers against meddling in South China Sea affairs. It has pressed many countries, big and small, to express public support for its position on South China Sea.
Maritime disputes are not new in East Asia; they are indeed a legacy from the ambiguous territorial settlements that followed the Second World War. The growing regional economic integration and the normalisation of China’s relations with most Asian countries after the Sino-US rapprochement in the 1970s seemed to create a framework for pragmatic management of disputes. A number of reasons, however, have turned the dormant disputes into dangerous flash points.

The Standoff in Bangladesh

July 7, 2016
The first time I walked into the Holey Bakery, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, one of its owners was on the verdant front lawn, a rare holdover of old-world extravagance in the country’s densely inhabited capital. Situated next to a lake in the upscale Gulshan neighborhood, the bakery and its sister restaurant, the O’Kitchen, occupied the house in which, he said, he had fallen in love with his wife. A rare venue for European food, it catered to affluent foreigners and the country’s elite; less than a dozen dimly-lit marble-topped tables stretched around impressive imported ovens inside, with a few on a terrace for use when weather allowed. 

On the evening of Friday, July 1, bone marrow was on the menu, and the diners included nine Italians, most of whom were employed in the country’s garments sector, as well as a group of recent graduates of the exclusive American International School, which is just across the lake that Holey’s garden overlooks. Cristian Rossi, forty-seven, and Nadia Benedetti, fifty-two, were Italian apparel entrepreneurs saying farewell to the country. The young students enrolled in college in the United States—Tarishi Jain, nineteen, at Berkeley, and Faraaz Hossain, twenty, and Abinta Kabir, eighteen, a US citizen, both at Emory—were back for the summer holidays and celebrating a reunion of sorts.

At around 8:45 PM, however, the restaurant turned into a place of devastation and utter horror, when a siege by five—or possible six—young Islamist militants (the presence of a sixth attacker has not been ruled out), apparently affiliated with ISIS, executed these and other patrons, eighteen of them foreign nationals. Strikingly, several of the attackers, who were all Bangladeshi, appear to have come from the same well-heeled, educated backgrounds as the restaurant’s patrons. In recent years, Bangladesh has experienced growing incidents of violence and killings by Islamists, but until now the elite, whether politicians or the wealthy, have not generally come under attack. This time was different. Not only had an exceptionally brutal form of international terrorism arrived in this supposedly tolerant Muslim democracy at the height of Ramadan; its cold hand had now reached the heart of the Bangladeshi establishment.

Taiwan Creates Its Own Cyber Army to Combat China

Po-Chang Huang
July 11, 2016

Taiwan’s “Cyber Army” Plan

Taiwan’s new Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) recently confirmed the intention of the new government to create a “Cyber Army” (網軍) as the fourth branch of Taiwan’s armed forces. The announcement followed the plan outlined in the Defense Policy Blue Papers published earlier by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which specifically called for the “[Integration of] existing military units and capacities of IT, communications, and electronics to establish an independent fourth service branch alongside the current Armed Forces consisting of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.”[1] Looking ahead, it will be fruitful to observe what the new Cyber Army can add on top of Taiwan’s existing cybersecurity and cyberwarfare structure.

It is easy to see where the impetus for establishing a Cyber Army came from; for many years Taiwan has been on the frontlines of the battle against the ever-intensifying cyber attacks from China. This has reached such an extent that observers and even Taiwanese officials acknowledged Taiwan as a “testing ground” for China’s cyber army and state-sponsored hackers. The case of the 2015 hacking of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) further illustrates the ambitions and capabilities on the part of the Chinese hackers and the dear consequences of failing to stop such an attack.

China to Launch World’s First Quantum Communication Satellite

By Puneet Bhalla
12 Jul , 2016

Communication satellites relay data to support both military and commercial networks. The vulnerability of these communication links could be exploited to compromise sensitive information being transmitted through them. Quantum encryption is emerging as a promising technological option towards providing non-hackable communications. It involves transmitting of encoded data through a method called quantum key distribution (QKD), which relies on cryptographic keys transmitted via light-pulse signals. QKD uses quantum mechanics rather than conventional mathematical encryption technologies. Any attempt at interfering with the network, to eavesdrop, would result in a change in the quantum state of the data and this would be noticed by data flow monitors, resulting in aborting of the data transfer.[1]

The world’s first functioning quantum cryptographic system was built in US. Subsequently, developments in quantum communications for transmission through fibre-optic cables and also through the Earth’s atmosphere have been pursued by many advanced countries. However, distances achieved have failed to cross 200 kilometres mark due to physical limitations of the technology. Consequently, only a few such linked systems over limited ranges and involving only a few devices are in operation worldwide.

China has been earnestly pursuing Quantum Communications under the leadership of Pan Jianwei, a professor of quantum physics at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in Hefei. Experimental systems built in 2007 by Chinese and US physicists had reportedly achieved secure QKD transmissions between two points more than 100 kilometres apart. It first tested a secure network for exchanging information among government officials during a military parade in 2009. In 2012, it established terrestrial quantum communications network in Hefei linking some government devices and followed up in 2014 with a civilian focused network in Jinan.[2] China is now building a 2000 kilometre terrestrial quantum communications network linking government offices in the cities of Beijing and Shanghai, which is expected to be completed by the year end.[3]

Chinese large freighter plane enters military service

July 7, 2016

File photo shows the Y-20, China's homegrown large transport aircraft. Y-20 officially joined the People's Liberation Army Air Force on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Cao Yinan) 

Painted grey and carrying national flags and yellow serial numbers on their tails, two Y-20 planes, China's largest homegrown transport aircraft, officially joined the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force on Wednesday.

Designed and manufactured by state-owned aviation giant the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the Y-20 boasts a maximum takeoff weight of around 200 tonnes.

It is ideal for transporting cargo and people over long distances in diverse weather conditions, according to AVIC.

"The Y-20 entering into service marks a crucial step for the Air Force improving its strategic power projection capability," said PLA Air Force spokesperson Shen Jinke.

The Air Force needs more and better transport to better fulfill its military responsibilities, including safeguarding national security as well as domestic and international rescue and relief work, Shen added.

ReportMcKinsey Global InstituteJune 2016 Capturing China’s $5 trillion productivity opportunity

By Jonathan Woetzel, Yougang Chen, Jeongmin Seong, Nicolas Leung, Kevin Sneader, and Jon Kowalski

It won’t be easy, but shifting to a productivity-led economy from one focused on investment could add trillions of dollars to the country’s growth by 2030. 

After three decades of sizzling growth, China is now regarded by the World Bank as an upper-middle-income nation, and it’s on its way to being one of the world’s advanced economies. The investment-led growth model that underpinned this extraordinary progress has served China well. Yet some strains associated with that approach have become evident. 

In 2015, the country’s GDP growth dipped to a 25-year low, corporate debt soared, foreign reserves fell by $500 billion, and the stock market dropped by nearly 50 percent. A long tail of poorly performing companies pulls down the average, although top-performing Chinese companies often have returns comparable with those of top US companies in their industries. More than 80 percent of economic profit comes from financial services—a distorted economy. Speculation that China could be on track for a financial crisis has been on the rise. 

The nation faces an important choice: whether to continue with its old model and raise the risk of a hard landing for the economy, or to shift gears. A new McKinsey Global Institute report, China’s choice: Capturing the $5 trillion productivity opportunity, finds that a new approach centered on productivity could generate 36 trillion renminbi ($5.6 trillion) of additional GDP by 2030, compared with continuing the investment-led path. Household income could rise by 33 trillion renminbi ($5.1 trillion), as the exhibit shows. 

Storm in the South China Sea

ReutersA LARGE PIE: “The underlining problem is the claim of overlapping areas by different countries.” Picture shows the Tien Sa port in Vietnam which the U.S. Navy makes port calls to. The U.S. carries out joint exercises with the Vietnamese Navy in the China Sea after growing tensions.

It is not clear whether the ruling in The Hague this week will bring resolution to the disputes.

The International Court of Arbitration is set to give its ruling on the South China Sea disputes on July 12 amid strong opposition from China. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, has said: “I again stress that the arbitration court has no jurisdiction in the case and on the relevant matter, and should not hold hearings or make a ruling.”

The case filed by the Philippines at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea at The Hague in 2013 seeks to counter the Chinese claims in the South China Sea. Beijing insists that Manila’s case is an issue of territorial sovereignty over which the tribunal has no jurisdiction.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea along the nine-dash line on the map. The Philippines argues that the claim made by China is against international law.

The current round of tension between the two countries began in 2008-2009 after a tense but bloodless stand-off over the Scarborough Shoal, which led to China gaining de facto control of it in 2012.

China’s expansionist moves

Obama Asked the Military For A Plan to Protect Civilians. Here’s One.

JULY 7, 2016

We learned through experience the importance of preventing civilian casualties in today’s wars.
President Barack Obama last week issued an executive order directing the military to improve the protection of civilians in combat zones. As veterans who have commanded American forces in combat, we urge the Department of Defense to consider hard-won lessons from recent conflicts when implementing the order.

The military teaches its leaders to balance the needs of the mission with protection of the force. In some cases, this balance can present a difficult trade-off. The best leaders accomplish both to the greatest extent possible.

Some argue that any efforts to protect civilians beyond what is required in the law of armed conflict, or LOAC, constitute unnecessary restrictions on the use of force and could endanger our soldiers on the ground. Others argue that the United States military should go above and beyond the minimum rules of engagement to protect civilians. Both views have some merit; however, neither captures reality in all cases.

Today’s wars that are typically fought among the people often result in a third critical task – protection of the civilian populace. In the wars of the post-9/11 era, balancing the need to protect our force while minimizing civilian casualties has become increasingly difficult – and increasingly consequential to successful accomplishment of the mission. The enemies we and our partners have fought frequently have located in population centers – a phenomenon that has grown more commonplace with the increase in urbanization around the world. The guerrillas and insurgents (and even the Islamic State’s army) we have fought have often used civilians as shields, thus complicating the job of soldiers on the ground carrying out operations to capture or kill or clear the enemy from the populations we are seeking to secure.

Is the Islamic State Unstoppable?

JULY 9, 2016
Celebrating the Islamic State’s declaration of a caliphate in Syria in 2014. CreditReuters

WASHINGTON — BEFORE Fayad Tayih abandoned the Islamic State earlier this month, he detected a striking trend: More people inside the self-declared caliphate were signing up to become suicide bombers. Mr. Tayih had been working in an administrative job for the jihadist group in Deir al-Zour, in eastern Syria, at the time. “Those who were working with me noticed the same thing,” he told me over Wickr, an encrypted messaging app.

Statistics released by the Islamic State confirm his observations. According to monthly updates from Amaq, the group’s official news outlet, the Islamic State was carrying out 50 to 60 suicide attacks per month in Iraq and Syria last November. Today the number of such attacks is 80 to 100 per month, an average of two to three operations a day. The trend peaked in March, with 112 members blowing themselves up in Syria and Iraq.

The Islamic State is shifting tactics, and not just on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. The group is reverting to insurgency tactics it relied on before June 2014, when it took over Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, and declared the formation of a caliphate. This operational change has been on plain display in recent weeks: Hundreds of civilians were killed in a spate of suicide attacks attributed to the Islamic State in Turkey, Iraq, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia. In Baghdad last week, more than 280 civilians were killed when a car bomb exploded outside a shopping mall.

The Tendrils of Terrorism

Local residents pay their respects to the victims of the attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery at a stadium in Dhaka on July 4. © AP

Asia needs a concerted campaign to counter the fast-spreading culture of jihad.

One of Bangladesh’s worst terrorist attacks, in which 20 patrons of a Dhaka restaurant were butchered by militants, highlights Asia’s growing threat from Islamist violence. Among those killed were seven Japanese aid workers, including an 80-year-old railway expert, nine Italians, one Indian and a U.S. national. Terrorist attacks this year from Jakarta to Pathankot, India, have served as a reminder of the growing scourge of jihadism in Asia.

Several factors have contributed to the rise of Islamist terrorism. Some Muslim communities are caught in a vicious circle of exploding populations, a chronic dearth of jobs, high illiteracy and fast-spreading extremism. In Bangladesh, among other troubled states, the intersection of political instability, popular discontent, resource stress and population pressures has formed a deadly cocktail of internal disarray, fostering a pervasive jihad culture.

In addition, a corroding state structure has served as an incubator of Islamist terror, creating conditions under which transnational militant groups can thrive. Weak or dysfunctional states are more likely to host terrorist groups that not only carry out transnational attacks but also target their host states.

Death Toll From U.S. Airstrikes

by Felix Richter, Statista.com

-- this post authored by Dyfed Loesche

From 2009 to 2015 the U.S. armed forces conducted 473 air strikes against suspected terrorists.

According to figures provided by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), close to 2700 people, of which up to 116 were civilians, were killed in those strikes.

The below chart illustrates those strikes carried out outside so-called "areas of active hostilities", commonly referred to as war zones. By definition air strikes in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are discounted. On the other hand countries such as Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia are included.

Translated into plain language, this chart shows where the U.S. armed forces have used, mostly drones, to eliminate what officials thought to be terrorists in areas where no hostilities have officially been declared. The term "active hostilities" is misleading as anybody firing a rocket from a drone against any target is actively engaged in hostilities.

Also, the term non-combatant is used to refer to what are usually called civilians. Distinguishing combatants from civilians is hard enough when troops engage irregular forces on the ground. This differentiation must be even harder when targets are chosen and engaged with from high up in the sky. So-called post-strike battle damage assessments can for obvious reasons be very inaccurate too.

How Brexit Was Also A Struggle Between British Common Law And Laws Of EU

Adithya Reddy
July 10, 2016

At one level, Brexit was also a question about what legal framework would a Britain of the future follow? 

Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader who spearheaded the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign on a largely anti-immigration platform, said he has a “slight preference” for Indians and Australians over other immigrants because they are more likely to “speak English, understand common law and have a connection with this country”. For these fighters of British nationalism therefore, common law is as much a part of British identity as speaking English itself. 

Common law, as opposed to the continent’s civil law system, is essentially judge-made law. It has evolved over time to meet changing values. Flexibility and creativity are its hallmarks. On the other hand, the civil law system relies heavily on codified rules and procedure to govern society. A classic statement on the historic and cultural significance of common law to the British can be seen in Sir Frederick Pollock’s “Oxford Lectures & Other Discourses”:-

“The point is that it is different and independent ; that it provokes comparison and furnishes a holding-ground for criticism. In its absence nothing but some surpassing effort of genius could have enabled us to view the Corpus Juris from the outside. Broadly speaking, whatever is not of England in the forms of modern jurisprudence is of Rome or of Roman mould. In law, as in politics, the severance of Britain by a world’s breadth from the world of Rome has fostered a new birth which mankind could ill have spared.”

Brexit Aftermath: Will Others Follow Suit?

by Felix Richter, Statista.com
4 July 2016

Looking at the plain numbers of how people perceive the EU in different countries shows that the Brexit might not have been the last vote in favour of a member state exiting the union.

As the below infographic based on data by the Pew Research Center shows, many people in France for example aren't too fond of the EU either, more even than there were in the UK before the referendum on 23 June 2016. However, there aren't any plans to hold a popular referendum in France, yet.

This could change after the French general election in May 2017, as there are candidates in favour of holding a referendum. The extreme right candidate Marine Le Pen of the National Front and the former Socialist minister Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the far left have said that they would hold votes.

Disliking the EU isn't the only variable, and doesn't mean a country aspires to leave the EU. Many people in Greece look upon the EU in unfavourable terms. However, it seems very unlikely for Greece to Grexit, even though this was the original term the word Brexit was adapted from.

Europe: The Nations Are Angry

The nations are angry, as anticipated in the GEAB since late 2011, and this is a logical consequence of a crisis without historical precedent, a multi-directional crisis of global dimensions to which the levels of national "democratic" power are structurally unable to respond while governance structures, which are most likely to put solutions into place, i.e. international and transnational structures, have no political legitimacy, knowing plitical legitimacy is acquired in only two ways: by force or democratically...

In 2014, our team anticipated the disintegration of the Eastern European flank following the conflict between the EU and Russia. Two years later, the damage has become visible. If Europe and Russia fail to renew any dialogue, the worst is yet to come in this part of Europe, a region where old demons are in full resurrection (Cold War, European wars, balkanization and empires...) and where the failures of the EU enlargement policy are coming to light.

Figure 1 - Map of Central and Eastern Europe. Source: KKR.

The biggest failure in the past 30 years of European integration is related to the enlargement policy of the ex-Soviet countries. This policy, essentially driven by the greed of Western European companies (and beyond), was carried on at the cost of the continent's political integration as a whole, but particularly of that of the Eastern populations. We have often mentioned the low turnout in the European elections for this Eastern region, once so eager to enter the EU. The Eastern part of the EU is now a patchwork of countries driven by different motivations, integrated to different degrees and crossed by interests of all kinds. The risk of disintegration and conflicts is enormous and threatens the European project, maybe even more so than a Brexit hypothesis.

Listening To The Echoes Of The American Revolution


-- this post authored by Rodger Baker
The struggle had opened in a grey dawn at Lexington; its last shot was fired eight years later on the other side of the world outside a dusty town in southern India.

So ends Piers Mackesy's 1964 book "The War for America; 1775-1783."

Not, perhaps, the common narrative of the American Revolution, but through 500-plus pages, Mackesy traces the war from a British perspective, one that seeks to understand not the questions of battlefield technique or specific battles, or even the politics of independence, but rather the broader context of a nearly seven-year conflict with a distant colony amid a global competition for economic and strategic security.

Mackesy helps us see beyond the story of a scrappy band of rebels cleverly hiding behind trees and using backwoods marksmanship to defeat an outdated rank-and-file military organization, an image still pervasive in Americana today. Instead, what emerges is a cautionary tale of just what it means to be an empire with global interests and relations. Writ large are the choices and responsibilities that ultimately limit possibilities, require prioritization and can lead to unexpected catastrophic results.

Published in the same year as the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the book in retrospect appeared to offer a set of potential lessons learned for the United States to study. In today's global environment, it may be even more relevant to reconsider the War of Independence, not to critique British policies then or American policies now, but to see how the complexities of a global system often exert unexpected pressures. Economic constraints and domestic political concerns shape and are shaped by international policies. And distance, logistics, cultural misunderstanding and resource limitations leave even the most carefully thought-out plans at the mercy of the day-to-day volatility of human endeavor.
A Global Hegemon

Geo-Strategic Security Environment, Threats and Challenges



A Ukrainian protester waves a flag from the top of a statue in the Independence Square in Kiev February 20, 2014. For some time hackers with strong suggested ties to Russia have been infiltrating Ukrainian military communications and embassies in an effort to advance Moscow's agenda in the region.REUTERS

Hackers have consistently used low-level cyberwarfare tactics to advance Russian goals in Ukraine.

A dedicated group of hackers successfully infected the email systems of the Ukrainian military, counterintelligence, border patrol and local police. The hackers use a spear-phishing attack in which malware is hidden in an attachment that appears to be an official Ukrainian government email.

For the most part, the technologies are not advanced but the attacks have been persistent. Lookingglass, a cybersecurity firm, suspects the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) is the culprit behind the virus dubbed Operation Armageddon.

The Russian government is likely behind an even more dangerous virus. Since 2010, BAE Systems has been monitoring the activities of malware they dubbed Snake, and numerous digital footprints point to the Russian Bear. Moscow time-zone stamps were left in the code and Russian names are written into the software.

Other clues point to the Kremlin. "It's unlikely to be hacktivists who made this. The level of sophistication is too high. It is very well written—and extremely stealthy," observed Dave Garfield,BAE's managing director for cybersecurity.

Obama’s Bitter Afghan Legacy

Nearly 15 years after its launch, the United States’ war in Afghanistan is still raging, making it the longest war in American history. Nowadays, the war is barely on the world’s radar, with only dramatic developments, like America’s recent drone-strike assassination of Afghan Taliban Chief Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, getting airtime. But Afghans continue to lose their friends, neighbors, and children to conflict, as they have since the 1979 Soviet invasion, which triggered the refugee exodus that brought the parents of Omar Mateen, the killer of 49 people in a nightclub in Orlando, to the US.

America’s invasion, launched by former President George W. Bush in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, was intended to dismantle Al Qaeda and remove the Taliban from power, thereby ensuring that Afghanistan would no longer serve as a safe base of operations for extremists. With those goals ostensibly accomplished, Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, reduced troop levels in the country, even declaring a year and a half ago that the war was “coming to a responsible conclusion.”

But, with a resurgent Taliban stepping up attacks, the war has raged on, exacting staggering costs in blood and treasure. One key reason is Pakistan, which has harbored the Afghan Taliban’s command and control, while pretending to be a US ally.

If there were any doubts about Pakistan’s duplicity, they should have been eliminated in 2011, when Osama bin Laden was killed in a military garrison town near the country’s capital. Yet, five years later, Pakistan still has not revealed who helped bin Laden hide for all those years. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has continued to shower the country with billions of dollars in aid.

NSA’s Top Secret Hacker Unit Gets a New #2

Shaun Waterman
July 11, 2016

NSA ninja hackers get new deputy chief

Rear Adm. Steven Parode (DOD)

The famed ninja hackers of NSA's Tailored Access Operations team are getting a new deputy chief, the U.S. military let slip Friday afternoon.

Rear Adm. Steven Parode, the current director of intelligence for U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, is being transferred to Fort Meade in Maryland, the Defense Department said in a release

A D.C. native, Parode was commissioned out of the Navy ROTC unit at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1986 and trained as a cryptographer, according to his official biography

As intelligence director for U.S. Stratcom, Parode is the senior intelligence officer for the command and the principal intelligence adviser to its commander Adm. Cecil D. Haney. Prior to that appointment he had an assignment as a fellow at the prestigious Strategic Studies Group — a program for up-and-coming naval officers that’s dedicated to producing “revolutionary innovation,” according to its website.

Notably, Parode is effectively swapping jobs with his predecessor, Rear Adm. Ronald Copley. In April, Copley, the then-deputy director of TAO, was assigned to the intelligence job at Stratcom, according to a DOD release.

Parode previously worked in the office of the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, where he where he “validated [Information Operations]/Cyber requirements, served as program manager for special program capability development and guided policy implementation for intelligence support to [Information Operations],” according to his biography. 



On August 15, 2012, a mysterious self-replicating virus struck Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company. The cyberattack wiped out every piece of software and every line of code on as many as 30,000 company computers, along with terabytes of data. Four months later, another unidentified virus targeted Bank of America, Wells Fargo and a dozen other major U.S. banks, repeatedly shutting down their online services. Experts said the technical sophistication of the two attacks strongly suggested the work of a foreign government. But with no obvious return address, President Barack Obama didn’t respond, leaving the private sector to deal with the damage.

Secretly, however, Obama and his top aides knew who did it and why. It was Iran, they concluded, retaliating for a covert U.S.-Israeli cyberoffensive that used the now-infamous Stuxnet virus to destroy more than 1,000 centrifuges at Natanz, then the center of Iran’s nuclear program. “White House officials knew the Iranians had sent them a message, saying: ‘Stop attacking us in cyberspace the way you did at Natanz with Stuxnet,’” says Richard Clarke, the White House special adviser on cybersecurity at the time. “We can do it too.’”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz uranium enrichment facilities on April 8, 2008, to announce that Iran has begun the installation of some 6,000 new centrifuges—many of which were destroyed when the plant was attacked by a mysterious virus.



The newest battleground isn’t on land or by sea—it’s over bandwidth. And everyone is susceptible to attacks. In July, the federal government database was hacked, and 21 million government employees’ information was published. Cyber warfare has emerged as a new threat in a short period of time, with countries such as China, North Korea and Russia emerging as threats to our nation’s cyber security. By 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense plans to roll out a new cyber defense program that includes creating a task force aiming to protect America on all sides from cyber terrorism to intellectual property attacks. by Assistant Editor Alica Kort.

There's no doubt technology has made our lives easier. With one click or touch of a screen, you can buy a Babybjörn, set up an apartment viewing or lock your front door from miles away. But having everything at your fingertips comes with a price: your security.

According to the Identity Theft Center, 641 data breaches happened in 2015 alone, making private information very public. In 2016, these breaches will likely become even more commonplace. Some airing of information is done for the greater good—call it “hacktivism”—but most data leaks are done with malicious intent. Corporations lose billions of dollars as well as the trust of their customers when their security is compromised. Meanwhile, cybercriminals run rampant online, using stolen credit cards to make off with millions of dollars. Most businesses don’t have the means to detect fraud, so they’re turning to cyber security companies in Silicon Valley. "I believe that data breaches are a fact of life, and they’re going to happen," says Jason Tan, CEO of Sift Science. “Ten years from now, my social security number will be floating around on the Internet somewhere. As unfortunate as that is, we need to prepare for that inevitability so that just having someone’s social number is not enough to steal someone's identity."