26 September 2016

***Afghanistan's Unending Civil War

Despite Western backing, the government has been unable to suppress the Taliban and gain control of the country.

To say that Afghanistan’s security forces are weak is an understatement. But the country’s real problem is that it lacks a social contract between its various stakeholders and a government that’s able to govern. As a result, what exists is a chaotic situation in which the faction with the most power dominates the battlefield. Opposition to the Taliban is the only real factor that binds together the various factions of the current beleaguered political system, and that is not enough to prevent them from devolving into militias.Introduction

*** Coping with China’s slowdown

The China head of leading global elevator maker Kone says the country’s days of double-digit growth may be past, but market prospects there remain bright. 

When Kone entered China’s elevator market, in 1996, the Finnish multinational was embarking on a journey of extraordinary growth, with high-rises proliferating across China’s urban landscape. Today, the country provides around 35 percent of Kone’s annual revenue, which in 2015 hit €8.6 billion. Bill Johnson began serving as country manager of Kone’s China division in 2004 and in 2012 became the executive vice president in charge of the company’s newly formed Greater China division. In this interview with McKinsey’s Allen Webb and Jonathan Woetzel, Johnson shared his thoughts on China’s next phase of development, on the growth of services, and on the growing role of digitization throughout Kone’s Chinese business. 

The Quarterly: Tell us a little bit about your personal experience with the Chinese growth slowdown. 

Bill Johnson: There clearly has been a slowdown in the economy over the last 12 to 18 months, and it’s really begun to impact the elevator business. Last year was down about 5 percent in terms of units ordered, and this year we see another 5 to 10 percent decline coming in our market. 

** Pay heed to India's sensitivites including NSG and ban on Azhar Masood: Chinese politician to Xi Jinping

By Rajeev Deshpande

"Your(Jinping) ability to see beyond the curve has ensured that our party and people adjusted to the new normal of 6 per cent growth without significant discomfort," says Jeichi.

Respected President, 

The near and long term prospects for China present a unique opportunity to bring to fruition the dedication and sacrifices of the Communist Party, and realise your visionary and bold efforts to make our nation the leading economic and military power in the next decade. It is therefore time to evaluate the true worth of key partnerships and pursue strategies that will make the "China dream" a reality. 

Your ability to see beyond the curve has ensured that our party and people adjusted to the new normal of 6 per cent growth without significant discomfort. China's $11 trillion economy generates sufficient resources to protect national sovereignty in the neighbourhood and secure geo-political interests thousands of miles away. 

The courageous decision to crack down on corruption irrespective of rank and privilege and getting state owned enterprises to recognise primacy of market principles reflect your strong belief in preserving the party's legitimacy in the public eye and displays an insightful understanding of the global economy. 

** Germany Again

By George Friedman

The results of state elections in Berlin may be another indicator of an economic downturn.

My apologies for constantly returning to Germany but for the moment it is the pivot of the world. Germany is the fourth largest economy in the world, the largest economy in Europe, the lender of last resort and the foundation of European stability. If Germany weakens or destabilizes, Europe destabilizes, and it is not too extreme to say that if Europe destabilizes, the world can as well. I am confident in saying I am not making too much of a small thing. In Sunday’s state election in Berlin, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) got 21.6 percent of the vote. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) got 17.6 percent. A party called Die Linke (or The Left) got 15.6 percent and the Greens got 15.2 percent, while the liberal Free Democrats garnered 6.7 percent. The anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) won 14.2 percent.

The difference between AfD and the party that got the highest percentage of the vote was just 7.4 percent. Three other parties were jammed between these two. In other words, the electorate in the Berlin region is completely fragmented. Put another way, the mainstream SPD and CDU together got a little over a third of the vote. The rest went to anti-establishment parties, with the two left-wing parties, Die Linke and the Greens, getting over 30 percent combined and the anti-immigration party getting just under 15 percent.

Arunachal Pradesh - Govt Prepares Plans For Key Border Road-Link To Tawang

A government body has approved the construction of a road along the Indian border with China in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The road, apart from improving accessibility to border areas, will connect Tawang in western Arunachal Pradesh to Vijaynagar in the south-eastern part of the state.

Informing a group of journalists about the decision, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju stated that a final approval from the cabinet will be sought after the Transport Ministry prepares a detailed project report. He also added that the Defence Ministry has cleared the project, realigning the road in two portions namely Mago to West Kameng and Tuting-Singa-Anini.

During the last decade, the central largely government neglected infrastructure development along the border. The road will provide better access to areas that are inaccessible and help in reducing Chinese incursions into Arunachal that have increased in recent years.

With Pratham Launch, India Will Demonstrate Advances In Space Technology Yet Again

The Indian space agency, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), will launchthe ‘Pratham’ satellite, designed and made by IIT-Bombay students, along with seven other satellites on Monday (26 September). Of the eight satellites, five are foreign, and the three domestic ones include the weather satellite SCATSAT-1.

The eight satellites will be launched from a single Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket that will blast off from ISRO’s rocket port at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on Monday morning.

The satellite programme at IIT-B was conceptualised in 2008 with the aim of making the institution a centre for space science and technology research. The objective of this programme at IIT-B is to empower students with the skill sets required to develop a satellite.

Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Warheads and India’s Nuclear Doctrine

Gurmeet Kanwal

In an endeavour to preserve strategic stability, India, a reluctant nuclear power, has demonstrated immense restraint despite grave incitement from Pakistan. In stark contrast, ever since it became a nuclear-armed state, Pakistan’s behaviour has been marked by brinkmanship, with provocation bordering on actions that could lead to large-scale conventional conflict with nuclear overtones. Recent developments in Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal have been of the same destabilising pattern.

As part of its quest for ‘full spectrum deterrence’, Pakistan has developed the Hatf-9 (Nasr) short-range ballistic missile (SRBM). Pakistan claims the Hatf-9 is equipped with a tactical nuclear warhead (TNW) and is intended for battlefield use as a weapon of warfighting. The Pakistan Army appears to believe that a few TNWs can stop the advance of Indian forces across the International Boundary (IB) into Pakistan. By employing TNWs on the battlefield, the Pakistan Army hopes to checkmate India’s ‘Proactive Offensive Operations’ doctrine, which is colloquially called the ‘Cold Start’ doctrine.

This brief analyses the efficacy of TNWs as weapons of warfighting. It examines the likely impact of its use by Pakistan on the columns of the Indian Army advancing across the IB and, consequently, on India’s nuclear doctrine.

The Explosive India–Pakistan Situation


The explosive situation in Kashmir is getting worse, and India and Pakistan, the two nuclear powers most likely to find themselves at war with each other, are closer to armed conflict now than in many years. The New York Times reports:

Escalating tension over the contested Kashmir region is presenting a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, who needs regional peace to reach his principal goal of economic revival there. But Indian citizens have been clamoring for a response to what they say is a provocation by Pakistan.

The tension reached a boiling point on Sunday when militants attacked an army base in the Indian-controlled side of Kashmir and killed, at last count, 18 soldiers, setting off a war of words between the two nuclear powers, which have fought three wars in recent decades. India accuses the militants of having links to Pakistan.

The situation not only risks economic growth but could also send two nations skidding into a nuclear war.

Why India Must Follow Kshatriya Dharma To Defeat ‘Adharmi’ Pakistan

David Frawley 

India today is faced with a hostile Pakistan. In the face of such dire challenges, a strong Kshatriya Dharma is required, which obviously means not only diplomacy but also the possible use of force.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was practising Lord Krishna’s ahimsa when his armies fought against the tyrannical rule of Aurangzeb in the seventeenth century. The Hindu resistance to foreign rule that continued for over a thousand years, from the first Arab invasion in the eighth century to the British rule in the twentieth century, was rooted in the true meaning of Vedic ahimsa – which is actively working to remove the forces of adharma from the world, even if force is required.Ahimsa as merely avoiding the use of force, or not using weapons, is something any coward can do.

True ahimsa does not mean non-violence under all circumstances, nor does it require surrender to the forces of darkness in order to avoid conflict. It means reducing the amount of harm going on in the world, which requires a proactive policy. It does not imply only passive resistance but also empowers active resistance when necessary. In this regard, the Indian freedom fighters that used force against the unrighteous British rule were also practising ahimsa, though perhaps not of the Gandhian variety.

America Must Stand by India—and Pressure Pakistan

C. Christine Fair

Washington’s mistake is indulging Pakistan’s bad behavior, while putting the squeeze on India.

This week, Pakistan-backed militants attacked a military base in Uri, Kashmir. It was the deadliest attack that India has suffered in decades. It has come after months of Pakistan-backed unrest in Kashmir following the killing of a well-known Pakistan-backed terrorist commander, Burhan Wani, by Indian security. Wani worked for the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), which the United States, the European Union and India have designated as a terrorist organization. Pakistan’s civilian-led government denounced his killing as “deplorable and condemnable” in yet another exhibit of Pakistan’s wanton and indefatigable support of terrorism. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif debased himself by praising the terrorist on the floor of the United Nations during his address to the General Assembly, calling him a symbol of the Kashmiri “intifada.”

Water Availability in Pakistan

By Col Harjeet Singh

There appears to be a growing perception of Indian wrongdoing on water in Pakistani minds. While India–Pakistan relations are not on even keel, another canard can only add to the already strained situation. That the issue needs to be understood objectively and shorn of the hype, on both sides of the border, is self-evident.

The Case for Isolating Pakistan

Vivek Mishra

The international isolation that Pakistan currently faces is unprecedented by most measures. Its misdeeds include its: inability to control terrorist activities both inside and outside the country; the nexus of government, intelligence, terrorists and the army; terrorist spillover to neighboring countries; army and intelligence-backed infiltration bids; and most subtly, its all-weather bonhomie with China.

Consider: the United States, which has been hinting for some time now that the bilateral grants flowing from it to Pakistan under the Coalition Support Fund are contingent on its abilities and effectiveness to reign in terror emanating from its soil, has blocked $300 million in concessional military aid to Pakistan. The Pentagon is not happy with Pakistan’s approach to containing the dreaded Haqqani network, which has been carrying attacks on civilians and also targeting U.S. interests in Afghanistan. In a recent example, the United States has added the Pakistani militant outfit Jamaat-ur-Ahrar to its list of global terrorists, triggering sanctions against a group that has staged multiple attacks on civilians, religious minorities and soldiers. These steps by the United States have been read by most not just as a financial obstruction, but also as tightening of the diplomatic noose on Pakistan by the United States. This was preceded by the United States making it clear that it was not willing to sell subsidized F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan under the foreign military sales program. As an almost immediate follow-up, India struck a deal with the U.S. defense major Lockheed Martin to avail “most advanced” F-16 fighter jets by 2019-20. Under the deal, the company will be manufacturing the latest version of the jets – F-16 Block 70/72 – “exclusively” in India.

Pentagon Official Admits Taliban Still Control About 30% of Afghanistan After 15 Years of War

U.S.-backed forces control 70 percent of Afghanistan, U.S. military chief says

Local security forces control 70 percent of Afghanistan, a senior U.S. military official said on Thursday, suggesting that the Taliban and other militants hold almost a third of that nation after 15 years of U.S. and NATO efforts to secure it.

Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that Afghan security forces had taken more casualties “than we’re comfortable with” and said they remained behind in what was required in key areas including air power, special operations and intelligence.

The U.S. military did not immediately provide figures for how many Afghan soldiers and police have died as they battle a still-powerful Taliban.

“On balance, I would call what is going on right now between the Afghan national defense security forces and the Taliban [as] roughly a stalemate,” Dunford, who commanded U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan from 2013-2014, told lawmakers.

Dunford also said that Afghan security forces would likely be able to secure the country if they receive continued support from the United States and its partners. Even though its combat role is officially over, the U.S. military has repeatedly expanded its mission in Afghanistan to ensure that local forces can beat back militants.

Afghan Government Signs Peace Deal With Taliban Warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

By Ivan Watson

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN)After months of delays, Afghan government negotiators signed a peace deal Thursday with an insurgent faction led by one of the country's most notorious warlords.

The deal was signed at a ceremony attended by negotiators, the President's national security adviser, and representatives of the Hezb-i-Islami faction of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Afghan and US officials applauded the agreement, but a prominent human rights organization strongly criticized the deal.

In a statement, the US Embassy called Thursday's accord "a step in bringing the conflict in Afghanistan to a peaceful end."

Zika And Health Security In Southeast Asia – Analysis

By Sunil Unnikrishnan and Mely Caballero-Anthony* 
SEPTEMBER 22, 2016

This is a transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of Zika virus, which is a member of the family Flaviviridae. Virus particles are 40 nm in diameter, with an outer envelope, and an inner dense core. Photo Credit: CDC/ Cynthia Goldsmith, Wikipedia Commons.

As Southeast Asia continues to see reports of new Zika outbreaks, this latest case of public health threat underscores the importance of continued vigilance to new emerging diseases, as well as deepening regional cooperation in ensuring health security for states and societies in ASEAN and beyond.

Since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Zika – a hitherto little-known virus – as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in February 2016, Zika cases have spread in over 70 countries and territories. Brazil recorded the highest number of cases: 78000 confirmed infections. Southeast Asia has not been spared.

Singapore has already reported 383 cases, including 8 pregnant women, while cases have also been reported in Philippines and Thailand. The Zika outbreak once again highlights the need for continued disease surveillance and control in the region, while underscoring the importance of having a clear and comprehensive public health strategy in dealing with the threat of emerging diseases to health security.
Impact of Zika

Illness due to the Zika virus is relatively mild in most cases. But it is of serious concern to pregnant women: in about 1% of Zika-affected pregnancies, the infants are born with microcephaly (unusually small heads). Microcephaly is typically accompanied by neurological damage, resulting in lifelong health burden. In rare cases, the infection leads to Guillain-Barré syndrome, a severe neurological condition that can require long periods of hospitalisation. Furthermore, uncertainty about sexual transmission complicates family planning for couples, foreshadowing potential demographic problems for a country.

India’s Grand Strategy to counter Chinese aggression

By Bharat Lather

Fifty four years ago, on October 20, 1962, with the world’s terrified gaze fixed firmly on the U.S.-Soviet nuclear standoff in Cuba, China attacked India. Provoked by a territorial dispute and tensions over Tibet, the war was brief and China emerged victorious. Beijing declared a unilateral ceasefire on November 21, and the PLA withdrew to its pre-war positions.

India still sees China as a nationalist, aggressive power which seeks to dominate Asia and one that might once again strike unexpectedly, just as it did in 1962.

Chinese space station to fall out of sky. Who regulates these things anyway?

By Ben Rosen

When China launched the Tiangong-1 into orbit in 2011, the country heralded its first space station as a milestone in its bid to be a superpower in space and on Earth.

Six years later, the station will meet an unglamorous, fiery death, apparently with China not at the wheel.

Officials appear to have confirmed the fears of astrophysicists and amateur astronomers that the country has lost control of the 34-foot-long, 8.5 metric ton spacecraft. The unmanned station will likely crash into Earth in late 2017, but scientists don't know where that would be, Chinese officials said in a news conference in the Gobi desert Wednesday.

The odds of debris from the craft injuring a particular person on Earth are less than those of that person being struck by lighting. But China’s apparent admission highlights a question faced by every spacefaring nation: How do you develop end-of-mission plans to avoid posing any threat to humans or other spacecraft? It’s a question even the United States has failed to resolve in the past, ever since parts of Skylab, its first space station, famously crashed in a sparsely populated part of Australia.

Suspicion Shadows ‘Albanian Terror’ Trial In Macedonia – Analysis

By Semra Musai 
SEPTEMBER 22, 2016

The trial of 37 alleged members and accomplices of an ethnic Albanian terror group that battled Macedonian police in Kumanovo last year has been marred by allegations about false witnesses and police brutality.

The trial of the 29 alleged gunmen and their eight alleged accomplices, accused of being part of or aiding a terrorist group that fought the security forces during a deadly two-day shootout in the northern Macedonian town of Kumanovo in May last year, has been hit by defence claims that prosecution witnesses have been coached to lie in court.

The trial has been going on behind closed doors, but Artene Ademi Iseini, the lawyer for 11 of the defendants, claimed that protected witnesses who have been giving testimony have been coached by the prosecutors to echo the authorities’ version of what happened in Kumanovo.

“Prosecution witnesses are describing in a very cynical way things that probably the prosecution itself taught them what to say. Their testimony is contradictory, confusing and does not support the indictment. In some cases it is compromising for the police and the prosecution,” Iseini told BIRN.

More than a year after the Kumanovo shootout in May 2015, which left 18 people dead, Iseini said that the truth about what happened during the two-day gun battle remains unclear.

The prosecution says the group devised a plan to form a terrorist group and acquired cash, weapons, ammunition and medical supplies.

How the US Intelligence Community Confirms a Terrorist ‘Kill’

Islamic State took an unusual step in late August when it announced that its spokesman and external operations leader Abu Muhammad al-Adnani had been killed near Aleppo, Syria.

Washington had offered a $5 million reward for Adnani, who had a hand in the gruesome November 2015 Paris attacks and other assaults. Adnani likely met the business end of a Hellfire missile fired from a Reaper drone in what the Defense Department labels a “precision strike.” He is one of the highest-level targets of the 120 or so senior Islamic State leaders the coalition has killed in the last few years.

Yet the death of a targeted terrorist is often shrouded in mystery. Determining whether U.S. weapons hit their mark is a complex endeavor. Pentagon statements couch words like “killed” in euphemisms like “taken off the battlefield.” Complicating matters, militant groups might announce a leader’s death even if the target escaped harm.

So how can the American public know if Adnani – or any senior Islamic State leader, for that matter — is really dead? How does the Pentagon determine that a strike has successfully taken out its target?

The most reliable sign for those not privy to classified data: The State Department removes a target’s name and photograph from its “most wanted” list. The U.S. government runs the website, Rewards for Justice, where it offers $1 million to $25 million for information that leads to those it classifies as terrorists. Once the administration is certain a target is dead (or locked up), it deletes that name from the list.

Troubling Times for Regional Stability in Russia

By Antonia Colibasanu

The Kremlin is searching for ways to hold the country together in the face of a struggling economy.

The Russian government announced yesterday that, considering the difficult fiscal environment, it plans to increase the use of interregional budget transfers to help poorer regions. Russian regions have seen their debt increasing during the last few years and have reached out to commercial banks for loans and bond issues to get cash and service some of their debt, even though Moscow has offered them cheap loans.

Russia’s vast geography has always been a challenge for its leaders. The country’s immense landmass is disproportionally populated because of its climate. Much of the Russian population lives north of the 50th parallel, which is even further north than Canada’s main population centers. This makes agricultural production scarce. Population density and urbanization rates are higher in the western regions, which have seen greater commercial development, considering their access to river routes. These factors have resulted in dramatic differences between rural and urban Russia and between western and eastern regions. These differences are highly problematic during times of economic crisis.

STRATCOM Nominee Favors Boosting Cyber Command, Nuke Modernization

By: Joe Gould

WASHINGTON — US Cyber Command should be elevated to an independent, unified combatant command, the nominee to head US Strategic Command told lawmakers Tuesday. 

Air Force Gen. John Hyten, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the evolution of the cyberthreat means its “simply a matter if when, not if,” US Cyber Command is elevated. During the more than 90-minute hearing, Hyten also threw strong support behind modernizing the nuclear triad.

Hyten commands Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The White House is reportedly moving toward separating US Cyber Command from the National Security Agency, a step touted by proponents as easing responses to threats, budget prioritization, strategy and policy. 

A convenient terrorism threat

Daniel L. Byman

Many governments, including several important U.S. allies, simultaneously fight and encourage the terrorist groups on their soil. This two-faced approach holds considerable appeal for some governments, but it hugely complicates U.S. counterterrorism efforts—and the United States shouldn’t just live with it. This post originally appeared on Lawfare.

Not all countries that suffer from terrorism are innocent victims doing their best to fight back. Many governments, including several important U.S. allies, simultaneously fight and encourage the terrorist groups on their soil. President George W. Bush famously asked governments world-wide after 9/11 whether they were with us or with the terrorists; these rulers answer, “Yes.”

Some governments—including at times Russia, Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan among others—hope to have it both ways. They use the presence of terrorists to win sympathy abroad and discredit peaceful foes at home, even while fighting back vigorously enough to look plausible but not forcefully enough to solve the problem. This two-faced approach holds considerable appeal for some governments, but it hugely complicates U.S. counterterrorism efforts—and the U.S. shouldn’t just live with it.

We’re not talking about straightforward state sponsors of terrorism like Iran, which brazenly supports Hezbollah and others, or basket-case quasi-states like Somalia, whose government is too feeble to provide basic services, let alone defeat a rampaging terrorist group like al-Shabaab. Here we’re talking about governments that are at least semi-competent and notionally oppose the terrorists, yet still think it’s in their interests to give militants some rope or even tacitly aid them.

These governments come in various shades of democracy and autocracy, but they all put their international ambitions or domestic politics above sustained counterterrorism. As these leaders see it, the presence of terrorists among their foes discredits the entire opposition—including peaceful groups.

Red Atlantic: Russia Could Choke Air, Sea Lanes To Europe


NATIONAL HARBOR: Russia could hinder US reinforcements headed to Europe in the event of a major war, warned the recently retired Supreme Allied Commander, Gen. Philip Breedlove. It’s well known Russian radars, missiles, and strike planes — “Anti-Access/Area Denial” systems — threaten ships and aircraft across wide swathes of the Black Sea, Eastern Europe, and the Baltic. But Gen. Breedlove’s worries are on a wider scale: He’s anxious about the Atlantic.

CJCS Dunford Calls For Strategic Shifts; ‘At Peace Or At War Is Insufficient’


NATIONAL HARBOR: The increasingly “adversarial” relationships with Russia and China are forcing the Pentagon to classify its previously public National Military Strategy, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says. Classification will allow bolder and more specific discussions of how to manage those relationships and our responses to them, Gen. Joe Dunford told the annual Air Force Association conference here.

“This year’s National Military Strategy will be classified so we can focus on these four-plus-one challenges and the five domains we are dealing with,” Dunford told the audience at the annual Air Force Association conference.

(“Four plus one” refers to four nation-states — Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea — plus the enduring but ever-mutating problem of Islamic extremism, once exemplified by al-Qaeda but now embodied by the so-called Islamic State, aka Daesh. The five domains are the land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace).

Russia (our top threat), China, and Iran use “economic coercion, political influence, unconventional warfare information ops, cyber ops to advance their interests and they do it in a way that they know we don’t have an effective response,” Dunford said. “They, unlike us, are able to integrate the full range of capabilities their states possess to advance their interests.”

Small Wars: An Innovative Approach to War Gaming

War games are considered invaluable in certain parts of Washington—not just for those who make war, but also for those who must deal with other complex and path-dependent contingencies, everything from combat to disaster response to public health emergencies. But not everyone buys into them, nor do senior leaders necessarily have the time it typically takes to participate. As a result, this approach, proven and time-tested in military circles, may not gain the wider following that it deserves, especially among senior policymakers.

So, some champions of war gaming at Brookings, Booz Allen Hamilton and a few government and nongovernmental organizations conducted an experiment earlier this summer, to streamline the process without losing any of the intellectual rigor and insight that come with it. Dubbed Brookings’s first-ever National Security Challenge, it was really more like National Security Improv, and all who played it agreed that it was a success.

Obama’s UN speech revealed a paradox at the heart of global politics

Zack Beauchamp 

Near the beginning of President Barack Obama’s final speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday morning, he pointed out something really important about the world today: We are living through the best time in human history, but it feels to a lot of us likeanything but.

“This is the paradox that defines our world today: A quarter century after the end of the Cold War, the world is by many measures less violent and more prosperous than ever before. And yet our societies are filled with uncertainty and unease and strife,” Obama said.

This isn’t just a one-off observation on his part. It actually speaks to something very fundamental, and underappreciated, about the nature of the world we live in. We have set up a series of institutions that order the world — ranging from NATO to the global free trade regime to the UN itself — and have helped make the world better for most people.

But not everyone. Some people have suffered tremendously from the way the world is ordered — and it’s helped create a broader sense of social and global crisis.

The Evolution of Modern Grand Strategic Thought

By Spencer Bakich

For at least one of its practitioners, grand strategy is a fiction. Confiding to his long-time associate and former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, President Bill Clinton insisted that the link between grand strategy and policy was tenuous at best. Rather, Clinton argued, grand strategy’s role was one of political communication, a means of signaling to allies and adversaries alike what the U.S. was doing in the world. Policy itself was not driven by any particular grand strategic formulation, the president concluded, because “strategic coherence ‘was largely imposed after the fact,’ and that successful leaders like [Harry S.] Truman and [Franklin D.] Roosevelt had ‘just made it up as they went along.’”[1]

President Clinton would likely find Lukas Milevski sympathetic to his argument on the role of grand strategy in statecraft. In an impressive new book, Milevski argues that grand strategy is a conceptual nomad, an idea whose course has been driven solely by immediate historical contingency, with little theoretical grounding or guidance. Over the course of nearly two hundred years, writers on grand strategy have demonstrated a curious case of presentism in their approach to studying and refining the idea. Spurred by the necessity of solving immediate problems, grand strategy has been pushed in one direction after another, whipsawed by the emergence of new contingencies. Along the way, the concept of grand strategy hasn’t so much evolved as it has changed. Today’s grand strategy cannot really be understood by tracing its historical and theoretical development. Rather, the conceptual content of any particular grand strategy is explicable only by reference to its own narrow geopolitical context. Without a firm grounding in any sort of accepted theory, grand strategy is inchoate because every scholar or practitioner is incentivized to interpret the term as he or she sees fit. Many ships are passing in the night.

Half a billion Yahoo accounts were compromised in a 2014 hack

Ananya Bhattacharya

Yahoo disclosed it was the target of a massive cybersecurity breach that exposed details of over 500 million users.

In a press release today (Sept. 22), Yahoo confirmed that it was the victim of a hack in late 2014. The company believes the hack—compromising names, email addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, hashed passwords, and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers—was carried out by a “state sponsored actor,” the release said. (Yahoo did not immediately respond to a request from Quartz for further information.) The internal investigation found that “unprotected passwords, payment card data, or bank account information” were not stolen.

The data breach first came to light in August this year, when hacker“Peace” alleged that almost 200 million Yahoo accounts were for sale on the dark web. Prior to the Yahoo attack, Peace was infamous for offloading hacked data from MySpace and LinkedIn. He had speculated that the hack took place in “2012 most likely.” At the time, Yahoo said it was reviewing the allegations.

Artificial Intelligence For Air Force: Cyber & Electronic Warfare


AFA: The Air Force wants artificial intelligence to track and react to cyber and electronic threats, to update countermeasures against enemy hackers, radars, and missiles faster than human minds can manage. But first you have to fix the basics.

Today, the Department Of Defense Information Network (DODIN) is really not a single network, but a quasi-feudal patchwork of often incompatible local networks. It’s the Holy Roman Empire of cyberspace. There are so many dark corners and hidden vulnerabilities that no amount of intelligence — human or artificial — can monitor them all, let alone defend them.

Air Force Leading Way To 3rd Offset: Bob Work


NATIONAL HARBOR: The Pentagon’s biggest advocate of artificial intelligence just spoke to the Air Force Association for over an hour — and he didn’t mention drones. When Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work talks about autonomy, he’s much less interested in killer robots than in command and control.

The Air Force led the way on C2 by developing the world’s first “offensive battle network” in time to eviscerate the Iraqi military in 1991, Work said. Today, he said, with experiments like the new JICSPOC command center for space operations and “multi-domain command and control,” it’s leading the way again as part of the Pentagon’s high-tech Third Offset Strategy.

“Offset strategies are not about technology per se, so it drives me crazy when people say, ‘oh, the Third Offset is AI and autonomy,’” Work thundered. “Wrong!” Offset is about “operational and organizational constructs,” he said, which are “enabled” by new technology but not simply a matter of tech.

Fiction for the Strategist

Army Strategist Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Bazin recently posted an article on what successful strategists should read. His inclusion of fiction pieces sparked some debate. In a rebuttal, T. Greer argued that, “[s]trategic theory is in essence a theory of decision making…A strategic actor oriented around incorrect narratives or ideas (or a strategic actor which cannot update these ideas to match changing conditions) faces a severe disadvantage in competitive environments like international relations or war. My concern is that too many of the models and ideas we use to orient ourselves are complete fictions.”

I disagree. Vehemently.

I haven’t read all the fiction pieces on Colonel Bazin’s list. I’d offer a slightly modified list, but his inclusion of War and Peace, Killer Angels and Once an Eagle, Catch-22, and 1984 earn my sincere applause. My list would also include The Godfather and The Game of Thrones (whose film adaptations have been enormously successful).


Strategy is not just decision-making; its the art of out maneuvering other humans. And, in order to out maneuver humans, you must know them very well. So, what is the point of a story? Stories are one of the most important parts of the human experience. Humans have been telling stories since the beginning of time. Human culture is inundated with people telling stories. When you watch a show in television — its a story. When you read the newspaper — you read a story. Read a book — its a story. Go to church — hear a story. Listen to music — its a story. While works of fantasy and fiction are notreal, they are conceptualized by humans. The greatest fictions of this world are the pinnacle of human thought and imagination.

Great fiction can do many things. For strategists, I think there are three very important areas where fiction plays a role. First, great fiction can give you a feeling. It is not likely any of us will ever be in the position that many of our great war heroes were in. However, we can learn from understanding how they felt. Second, great fiction can be looked as a social experiment. Its difficult (if not impossible) to conduct social experiments on humans, its unethical and unrealistic. But fiction gives us an alternative to this predicament — and the best fiction has elements that ring so true it seems as though the experiment was actually carried out. Finally, the very best fiction can illustrate the complexities of decision-making in a chaotic and uncertain world. Fiction gives readers a chance to understand decision-making from many points of view.

The F-103 Could Have Been America's Mach 3 Ramjet Fighter

September 22, 2016

Before the advent of ICBMs in the 1950s, the horsemen of the nuclear apocalypse would have trampled Washington and Moscow in the form of high-altitude bombers.

Existing U.S. fighters such as the F-86 Sabre were seen as too slow to meet this threat. So in 1949, the U.S. Air Force put out a request for a high-altitude supersonic interceptor that could intercept and destroy high-flying Soviet nuclear bombers before they dropped their loads.

Designated the 1954 Interceptor project to mark the year it was to enter service, the Air Force received nine proposals, of which three were chosen for preliminary development: Convair with a design that later became the F-102 Delta Dagger, Lockheed with a plane that later became the F-104 Starfighter, and Republic Aircraft with the AP-57, later renamed the XF-103.

Of the three designs, the XF-103 was the most advanced. Republic proposed an aircraft that could fly 2,600 miles per hour—faster than three times the speed of sound—to an altitude of 80,000 feet. For the early 1950s, when subsonic F-86s and MiG-15s were dogfighting over Korea at speeds of a torpid few hundred miles per hour, the XF-103 would have seemed more rocket than airplane.

Scales On War: A Q&A With MG Bob Scales, USA (Ret.)

LTG H. R. McMaster

Recently, we asked LTG H. R. McMaster, USA, to host a Q&A with Fox News commentator MG Bob Scales, USA (Ret.), author of Scales on War: The Future of America’s Military at Risk. Part I of their exchange follows.

McMaster: Your call for a historical-behavioral approach to military strategy and defense policy is consistent with Graham Allison’s and Niall Ferguson’s recent essay in the Atlantic in which they call for a board of historical advisors to advise the president to improve the wisdom of foreign policy. What is the value to contemporary affairs and why do you think it is underappreciated?

Scales: Not only do I think Presidents need historians to provide advice I believe the military does as well. War is the only profession that’s episodic. Soldiers don’t practice war (thankfully) as much as they study it. Thus the intellectual backbone of our profession should be the study of past wars. Sadly, it is not. Reluctance to study war among our senior leaders is, in a way, understandable. A newly appointed general has spent half his or her life (or more) actively engaged in fighting or preparing to fight a war. It’s reasonable for a serving officer to question the merits of study when he’s fully engaged in practicing the profession. As we witnessed with the British Army in the late nineteenth century these habits are hard to break. Imperial officers published under a pseudonym for fear of being labeled an intellectual. Conversation in the officer’s mess was about sport, not tactics. And the British paid a painful price when they were unable to adapt intellectually once they shifted from a native to an industrial age European enemy. The lesson is clear. We must artificially induce our young officers to shift from the visceral to the vicarious, an unnatural act for a contemporary Army on active service.