8 November 2016

*** Here’s How the Pentagon Wants to Use Social Media On the Battlefield

OCTOBER 28, 2016

Artificial intelligence will weave open-source and satellite data into useful intelligence in real time, the Pentagon’s No. 2 says.

It still takes the U.S. military too long to turn social media and other open-source information into something that operators in the field can use. Artificial intelligence is going to change that, and give U.S. troops a distinct battlefield edge, says U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work.

Take the 2014 downing of Malaysian flight MH17 over Ukraine. (A conventional investigation by a European Union Joint Investigation Team took more than a year to affix blame to pro-Russian separatists operating a Russian-made BUK surface-to-air missile.) To test the current state of machine learning applied to open source intelligence, the Pentagon hired a data integration and geospatial intelligence company called Orbital Insight, a big-data analytics company with a focus on satellite imagery and geospatial data. Most of their business is commercial — for example, they, analyze pictures of parking lots from space topredict holiday sales trends.

The company quickly scanned all available open-source media and assembled a picture of evidence, and did it instantly. He used slides to tell the story to an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies: “On the lower left is a Twitter shot ofMH17 taking off…The next one comes from ParisMatch.com. It is the picture of the Russian SA-11 launcher with a serial number on it, date and time stamped near the village where the shootdown occurred; then on Bellingcat.com, the exact sameSA-11, at the exact same location. Then there’s a Twitter shot of a contrail of a missile rising at the time of the shootdown. Then a rebel leader takes credit for the shoot down on VK.com. That was immediately taken down, by the way. Finally on YouTube, there’s a picture of the exact same SA-11 with a missile rail that is now mysteriously empty going back into Russia. Learning machines did this without any human interaction.”

*** Trade vs Terror: Time for China to Choose

By Sanjay Kumar Kar
07 Nov , 2016

India-China relations have been severely impacted by China’s open support for Pakistan on many fronts. One of the important areas where China seems to be least worried is cross-border terrorism affecting countries like India and Afghanistan. India has been a victim of cross-border terrorism for many years — the most recent being the September 18, 2016 Uri attack sponsored by its neighbouring country Pakistan. 

China’s stand on terrorism is baffling and it pains India more than any other country. New Delhi has been pressing the United Nations (UN) to declare Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar — operating from Pakistan — as an international terrorist who poses serious threat to humanity and disrupts peace and tranquility in the subcontinent. Unfortunately, Beijing has consistently blocked the Indian move. On technical ground, China has succeeded twice in delaying the UN’s decision on Masood Azhar.

China’s deliberate tactics of blocking India’s progress in international fora is quite evident. In June 2016 at Seoul, Beijing successfully blocked New Delhi’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Pakistan may be China’s natural ally but India is one of the biggest trade partners of China. While China-Pakistan total trade stood at $12 billion in 2014-15, China-India trade was valued at $72 billion in the same year. During the period under consideration, China’s export value to Pakistan reached just $10 billion compared to export value of $60.4 billion to India. In short, for all practical purposes, India is 6 times valuable for the Chinese economy than Pakistan.

*** The future is now: How to win the resource revolution

By Scott Nyquist, Matt Rogers, and Jonathan Woetzel

Although resource strains have lessened, new technology will disrupt the commodities market in myriad ways.

A few years ago, resource strains were everywhere: prices of oil, gas, coal, copper, iron ore, and other commodities had risen sharply on the back of high and rising demand from China. For only the second time in a century, in 2008, spending on mineral resources rose above 6 percent of global GDP, more than triple the long-term average. When we looked forward in 2011, we saw a need for more efficient resource use and dramatic increases in supply, with little room for slippage on either side of the equation, as three billion more people were poised to enter the consumer economy.

While our estimates of energy-efficiency opportunities were more or less on target, the overall picture looks quite different today. Technological breakthroughs such as hydraulic fracturing for natural gas have eased resource strains, and slowing growth in China and elsewhere has dampened demand. Since mid-2014, oil and other commodity prices have fallen dramatically, and global spending on many commodities dropped by 50 percent in 2015 alone.

Even though the hurricane-like “supercycle” of double-digit annual price increases that prevailed from the early 2000s until recently has hit land and abated, companies in all sectors need to brace for a new gale of disruption. This time, the forces at work are often less visible and may seem smaller-scale than vertiginous cyclical adjustments or discovery breakthroughs. Taken together, though, they are far-reaching in their impact. Technologies, many having little on the surface to do with resources, are combining in new ways to transform the supply-and-demand equation for commodities. Autonomous vehicles, new-generation batteries, drones and sensors that can carry out predictive maintenance, Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, increased automation, and the growing use of data analytics throughout the corporate world all have significant implications for the future of commodities. At the same time, developed economies, in particular, are becoming ever more oriented toward services that have less need for resources; and in general, the global economy is using resources less intensively.

*** Russia Falls Into Old Habits

25 October 2016

Nearly 10 years ago, Stratfor published a series on Russia's historical boom-and-bust cycle. At that time, Russia was clearly at the height of a boom, rebuilding itself into a stable and robust power. Today, the country is quickly descending into the next, less pleasant stage. The strategy that revitalized the country is becoming less effective, forcing Russia and its leaders to act more aggressively at home and abroad.

Though still assertive, Russia is no longer acting from a position of strength. The country may maintain some semblance of strength for years to come, but its fragility will eventually become apparent, forcing it into the next phase of the cycle.

Geography's Role in Russian History

For nearly eight centuries, Russia has been trapped in a loose cycle: It rises from chaos, returns as a regional and sometimes even global power, grows aggressive as the system cracks, and then collapses before rising again. The cycle is less about political choice than it is about geographic constraints. Geographically speaking, Russia is operating from an inherently weak position. It is the largest country in the world, covering roughly 13 time zones (split now into four mega-zones). Yet 75 percent of the country is virtually uninhabitable frozen tundra that becomes marshland in the summer, making domestic trade extremely difficult. Maritime trade is also difficult for Russia, given that its only warm-water port, on the Black Sea, is blocked by rivals, including Turkey. Therefore, the country has struggled to develop economically.

*** How Army’s archaic evaluation system is hurting the service

November 1, 2016 

There is an old saying that generals prepare for the last war they fought.

For the past decade and a half, the U.S. has been fighting a war in the Middle East against a lesser adversary, an enemy that in no way parallels the United States’ military might.

As cyber becomes more prominent and Russia flexes its muscles in Europe, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and senior military leaders realize the enemy is changing, which is why they are signaling for a shift in the talent makeup in the military.

The Army’s guidance given to promotion boards in 2016 reflected Carter’s call for a different kind of soldier; one that is creative and has advanced civilian degrees and broad experiences.

In that case, it would seem that Capt. Jim Perkins, executive director of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, an innovation engine of emerging defense leaders, would be a shoe-in for promotion. Perkins, also earned his M.B.A. from Georgetown University while in the Army.

Special Report Overview

Not only is he a high achiever, but he’s willing to pass up a much higher salary in the private sector in order to serve the public good.

As part of Federal News Radio’s special report The Army is Shortchanging its Future Force, Perkins said his experience is one example of how the Army is forcing out talented, promising and innovative officers from its ranks.

*** Barack Obama, Neutral Nets, self driving cars and future of the world

Joi Ito, Scott Dadich, and President Barack Obama photographed in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on August 24, 2016. 

IT’S HARD TO think of a single technology that will shape our world more in the next 50 years than artificial intelligence. As machine learning enables our computers to teach themselves, a wealth of breakthroughs emerge, ranging from medical diagnostics to cars that drive themselves. A whole lot of worry emerges as well. Who controls this technology? Will it take over our jobs? Is it dangerous? President Obama was eager to address these concerns. The person he wanted to talk to most about them? Entrepreneur and MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito. So I sat down with them in the White House to sort through the hope, the hype, and the fear around AI. That and maybe just one quick question about Star Trek. —SCOTT DADICH

SCOTT DADICH: Thank you both for being here. How’s your day been so far, Mr. President?

BARACK OBAMA: Busy. Productive. You know, a couple of international crises here and there.

DADICH: I want to center our conversation on artificial intelligence, which has gone from science fiction to a reality that’s changing our lives. When was the moment you knew that the age of real AI was upon us?

November 2016. Subscribe to WIRED.

OBAMA: My general observation is that it has been seeping into our lives in all sorts of ways, and we just don’t notice; and part of the reason is because the way we think about AI is colored by popular culture. There’s a distinction, which is probably familiar to a lot of your readers, between generalized AI and specialized AI. In science fiction, what you hear about is generalized AI, right? Computers start getting smarter than we are and eventually conclude that we’re not all that useful, and then either they’re drugging us to keep us fat and happy or we’re in the Matrix. My impression, based on talking to my top science advisers, is that we’re still a reasonably long way away from that. It’s worth thinking about because it stretches our imaginations and gets us thinking about the issues of choice and free will that actually do have some significant applications for specialized AI, which is about using algorithms and computers to figure out increasingly complex tasks. We’ve been seeing specialized AI in every aspect of our lives, from medicine and transportation to how electricity is distributed, and it promises to create a vastly more productive and efficient economy. If properly harnessed, it can generate enormous prosperity and opportunity. But it also has some downsides that we’re gonna have to figure out in terms of not eliminating jobs. It could increase inequality. It could suppress wages.

*** Responding to China's Strategic Use of Combined Effects

October 26, 2016

China is wielding superior strategies that envelop opponents with expedient instruments of national power. Drawing from a rich tradition of comprehensive and indirect stratagems, Chinese leaders use a variety of methods notably absent in US strategy.

The core of Chinese strategy consists of combining preventative and causative effects, such as defend and coerce, deter and compel, dissuade and persuade, secure and induce. By combining these different effects, China forces others into disadvantageous outcomes. This paper reveals Chinese strategy as complex forms of confrontation and cooperation, and recommends a countervailing US strategy of combined effects.

Chinese strategy is based on simple distinctions that produce complex warfare. The operating logic is this: psychological and physical tools target an actor’s will and capability to create complex effects difficult to counter. In psychological confrontation, China intimidates will and neutralizes capability to Deter – Compel. In psychological cooperation, China assures will and enhances capability to Dissuade - Persuade. In physical confrontation, China punishes will and denies capability to Defend - Coerce. In physical cooperation, China demonstrates will and exercises capability to Secure – Induce. These differences create inexhaustible permutations.

Using this language, we examine variants of combined effects that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has constructed to secure its territorial integrity. The cases involve 16 border disputes since the PRC’s founding in 1949. Overall, China’s pattern is to lead with inducement and follow up with other effects to isolate, divide and force accommodation by its intended targets.

In order to compete with China’s multiple effects, the U.S. needs offsets that integrate advanced technologies into synergistic strategies. Superior weapons technology is not enough. To prevail against China’s comprehensive strategy, American military power needs to contribute to the sustainment of combined effects. This is no simple feat for any government, but it has been a chronic challenge for pluralistic democracies to pull off. US national security strategy needs to organize its fragmented national capabilities into flexible lines of effect. 

** Sticks and Stones

By Jacob L. Shapiro
Nov. 4, 2016

The U.S. has faced some tough words from foreign leaders of late, but does it matter?

It wouldn’t be a normal day in the Philippines if President Rodrigo Duterte weren’t finding new and inventive ways to insult the United States. Two days after the U.S. State Department said it would halt the sale of 26,000 assault rifles to Philippine police forces on account of opposition in the Senate, Duterte said in a televised speech: “Look at these monkeys, the 26,000 firearms we wanted to buy, they don’t want to sell. Son of a bitch, we have many home-made guns here. These American fools.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is surrounded by the media as he answers questions following his inspection of Japan's coast guard drills in Yokohama on Oct. 27, 2016. 

Every time Duterte says something like this, the headlines the following day are easy to predict. The U.S. is losing an ally in the important Asia-Pacific region. U.S. power is eroding before the world’s eyes. China looks like the dominant power of the region. And then the news cycle runs its course, and Duterte is quiet for a few days, and the U.S. and the Philippines continue to cooperate like two allies who have had a Mutual Defense Treaty for the last 65 years, until Duterte says something again and the cycle repeats itself.

Duterte is the prototypical anti-U.S. politician right now, but the U.S. has plenty of relationships with countries whose leaders have insulted the United States. Consider the U.S. relationship with one of its most important allies in the world: Turkey. After the failed military coup in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan purged many sectors of society. The U.S. criticized Turkey for this, and Erdoğan fired back by pointing a finger at the United States, claiming Washington was behind the coup.

** One Wonders: It Happens Only in India !!

By Lt Gen Gautam Banerjee
05 Nov , 2016

It is said that morale makes a soldier, sailor and airman victorious against extreme and unforgiving odds. Therefore it comes as a surprise that while the Indian state finds Pakistan as an enemy state and China as an adversarial one, and remains tormented by an unending succession of internal revolts, the Ministry of Defence of the Government of India leave no limits breached in serving the cause of these inimical forces to de-motivate the Indian soldiery – the term ‘soldiery’ here bring synonymous to the warriors in the three Services. In so doing, the defence bureaucracy takes advantage of cluelessness, and perhaps carelessness, of their political bosses – the Defence, Finance and the Prime Ministers – to stir up mischief that must be unthinkable against the pristine majesty of the state.

Simple facts, dismaying no end, are illustrative. But the import of these may be truly appreciated only when tested against the principles of just governance. These principles recognise the salience of the final effects on the ground, and on the people, rather than motivated interpretations of rules and partisan trickery with rules, regulations and procedures. The defence bureaucracy’s abuse of such principles, just to keep the military institution in a perpetual state of professional and social starvation, is actually out of tune with the modern trends that have been adopted in all other Ministries. The urge to perpetuate that state of affairs is so compelling that even the interventions of the nation’s apex Court are brazenly diverted and deflected without compunction. But the main concern here is that the partisan trickeries being played in all of the Departments of the Ministry of Defence and its Finance Division relate to military morale and its culture of ‘nation-before-self’ that is fundamental to India’s power to protect her sovereignty and integrity as a nation-state, and that takes generations to build but just few acts of dishonesty to destroy.

Reams have been written in the media about the machinations and intrigues, and exposure of the defence bureaucracy’s subversion of the well being of the Indian soldiery. Therefore, just certain indicators should suffice to point out as to how the soldiery is being purposefully pushed into a sense of cynicism against the state it fights for, cynicism that could poison its so far invincible nationalist fervour. Consider the following representative examples, that ‘it happens only in India’:-

What Borrowing Trends Say About the German Economy

By Antonia Colibasanu

German businesses are relying less on external funding.

This week began with the release of numerous positive monthly statistics for the German economy. The Munich-based Ifo Institute’s latest German business climate index noted that business managers’ optimism has risen, considering that the index value for October is not only higher than last month but at its highest level in more than two years. At the same time, the Purchasing Managers’ Index, compiled by IHS Markit and used by the European Central Bank to assess the health of the region’s economy, indicated an accelerated increase in German business activity in October compared to September.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the Christian Democratic Union Economics Conference of the Economic Council on June 09, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. The Economic Council (Wirtschaftsrat der CDU e.V.) is a German business association representing the interests of more than 11,000 small- and medium-sized firms, as well as larger multinational companies. Axel Schmidt/Getty Images

In addition, the Cologne Institute for Economic Research forecast that German exports to the U.K. will fall by just 6 percent next year due to the devaluation of the pound in relation to the euro following Brexit and that this decline will only marginally affect Germany’s economic performance in 2017. Lastly, the German development bank KfW released its latest report on the German middle class and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on Oct. 25. It noted not only that the middle class is in “excellent shape” but that SMEs are continuing their strong performance, with stable sales growth of 3.3 percent and an equity ratio of 30 percent. All these developments seem to indicate that Germany has again become the driving force of the European economy.

Pakistan's polity doesn't have capacity to sustain normal ties with India

Shivshankar Menon
Nov 04, 2016

On whether he sees any prospect for resolution of the Kashmir issue, Menon, who has been India's High Commissioner to Pakistan, replied in the negative.

NEW YORK: Pakistan's polity does not have the capacity to sustain a normal relationship with India, former foreign secretary and national security advisor Shivshankar Menon has said as he characterized relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors as "managed hostility". 

"I would characterize (India-Pakistan relations) today as managed hostility, which I hope it stays managed," Menon said in response to a question on relations between the two nations at a panel discussion organised by the 'South Asia centre at New York University' here yesterday. 

On whether he sees any prospect for resolution of the Kashmir issue, Menon, who has been India's High Commissioner to Pakistan, replied in the negative. 

He said many of the issues relating to Kashmir have been around for a long time and "we know the solutions" to many of them but they seem to be "politically difficult" to serve. 

"Today I don't think Pakistan's polity has the capacity to sustain a normal relationship with India. I think there is a very strong institutional interest there," he said. 

Menon, who has authored the book 'Choices: Inside the Making of Indian Foreign Policy', however added that his "fear" is that if "it becomes a party political issue in India, which it has not always been, then you have the same dynamic operating." 

He emphasized that expectations in India on any improved relations with Pakistan are "very very low" particularly after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. 

Getting a Grip on Issues Regarding Forward Areas

By Claude Arpi
07 Nov , 2016

Whether senior or junior, bureaucrats serving in the ministries of Defence, Home Affairs and Finance, should spend a weekend every month in the border areas. It should be seen as a ‘refresher course’

Something made my Diwali special this year: Prime Minister Narendra Modi spent the day with officers and jawans of the Indian Army, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBPF) and the Dogra Scouts who man the Tibet-India border in Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh.

The borders have always been neglected by Indian politicians, mostly busy preparing for the next election in their constituencies. It is truly a positive development to see the Prime Minister visiting the borders.

Though it was announced that Modi would be with the ITBPF at the Mana border post in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, he finally went to Kinnaur. Probably for security concerns, a diversionary announcement was made.

After landing at Chango, an Army and ITBP camp in Lahaul-Spiti, the Prime Minister travelled to Sumdo in Kinnaur district, where he distributed sweets to the jawans: “Our forces endure grave hardships for our security. If we remember them while being in a festive mood, our remembrance will give them strength and renewed energy”, he declared.

Tibet's Party Boss visits Indian Border

By Claude Arpi
06 Nov , 2016

According to The China Daily, Wu Yingjie, the Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region, visited Yümé (or Yumai) ‘the most sparsely populated town in China’ on October 12. 

The village (termed as a ‘township’ by China) is located north of the McMahon Line (and the Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal).

It is a border village with India.

The China Daily reported that Wu met frontier troops in the remote area: “[Wu] conducted a field survey on how to promote development and stabilization of the border region, people’s livelihood, grass-root-level Party building and poverty alleviation.”

The Chinese publication adds: “Setting out from Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, you must drive 400km to reach Lhunze [Lhuntse] county, Shannan city [in Lhoka] and another 200km muddy mountain road to reach the township.” The ‘township’ covers an area of 1,976 square kilometers and has one village comprising nine families …and 32 people.

Wu Yingjie told the local residents: “You defend the border areas of our country and protect our country from being nibbled or divided. I salute you.”

A flag raising ceremony was held in Yümé on the occasion of the Party boss.
The China Daily notes: “Frontier soldiers and local residents patrol in the township.

Every resident of the township has a strong awareness of border defense and make it part of their life,” adding “Though far away and less populated, Yumai township is not under-developed. It once had only one family. Then cadres and doctors were dispatched there by the government and the road, power station and health center were built to make it more suitable for living. By 2015, the residents’ per capita disposable income reached 26,000 yuan ($3,838).”

Who is to verify this?

School Burning: Turning the Clock Back in Kashmir

By Brig Anil Gupta
06 Nov , 2016

In the last 48 hours, more than three schools have been burnt in South Kashmir taking the tally to 25 so far since July 9 — a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was gunned down by security forces. 

Why are schools being targeted and why are only government school buildings being burnt? Is it to destroy government property or is it part of a bigger sinister game plan?

The separatists and the fundamentalists in the Kashmir Valley are determined to turn back the clock and take the Valley once again to the medieval era where the Maulvis and Qazis ruled the roost and their writ ran unchallenged. They want the common Kashmiris to remain ignorant, poorly educated and under-developed so that they continue to hold sway over the masses as well as keep them deprived of the benefits of modern education that is mandatory to enjoy the benefits of development and economic growth.

“Great minds are always feared by lesser minds,” goes an old saying. It would answer the question as to why schools are being targeted. Schools are temples of learning. They impart knowledge. Through proper curriculum, schools imbibe the quality of reasoning in young minds, cultivate the spirit of nationalism and inculcate the habit of acquiring knowledge through the process of learning.

Knowledge is power. Knowledge allows one to decide what would be best for one to do. This is what the self-appointed leaders of radicalisation fear — and hence want to deprive young Kashmiris of knowledge. Their target is the future generations of Kashmiris so that they can have unbridled hold over them.

How to reduce South Asia's nuclear dangers

Jayita Sarkar

In the near term, prospects for South Asian nuclear disarmament appear dim. Assuming that nuclear weapons won't soon be eliminated from the subcontinent, what measures are available to India, Pakistan, outside nations, and international organizations that might reduce the risk of a South Asian nuclear exchange?

India and Pakistan continuously increase their stockpiles of fissile material. Pakistan possesses battlefield nuclear weapons that it threatens to deploy against India. New Delhi is close to completingdeployment of a nuclear triad. Non-state actors in South Asia pose a perpetual threat of gaining access to nuclear weapons or materials. Artillery fire along the India-Pakistan border is frequent.

For all these reasons, the nuclear situation in South Asia demands attention. But with Islamabad and New Delhi unlikely to slow their nuclear weapons development amid the long-standing antagonism and mistrust between the two sides, can anything be done to reduce nuclear risk in the region? Yes—initiatives of three kinds stand out for their potential to enhance South Asian nuclear stability. First, New Delhi and Islamabad could undertake bilateral cooperation in nuclear security. Second, the two sides could—with international help—seek to improve the region's nuclear cybersecurity. And India and Pakistan could commit, in one fashion or another, to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Improving nuclear security. An ongoing concern in South Asia is that terrorist groups might gain access to nuclear materials, either to use these materials in attacks or to use them as bargaining chips against either New Delhi or Islamabad.

US involvement is critical for South Asian arms control


South Asia's nuclearization has transformed the Indo-Pakistani conflict from a regional matter into a global issue. An exchange of 100 nuclear weapons between the two nations could kill 20 million people within a week and could also reduce global temperatures by 1.3 degrees Celsius, putting up to 2 billion additional people at risk of famine.

Realist scholars have long argued that to prevent the use of nuclear weapons in an Indo-Pakistani war, the two countries must achieve stable nuclear deterrence. Achieving this goal has come to seem increasingly difficult, if not impossible, and recent changes in India and Pakistan's nuclear doctrines and conventional strategies have made nuclear relations even more unstable. For example, the Indian Army's Cold Start doctrine involves quick conventional attacks—launched in retaliation for a terrorist attack by a Pakistan-based jihadi organization and intended not to provoke Pakistan into a first use of nuclear weapons. But Pakistan says it would respond to a Cold Start offensive with low-yield nuclear weapons.

The conventional wisdom is that India maintains a "recessed deterrence posture"—during peacetime, nuclear warheads are not mated with delivery systems and warheads themselves are not fully assembled. According to Debalina Ghoshal of the Delhi Policy Group, recessed deterrence contributes to strategic stability in Indo-Pakistani relations. But according to political scientist Vipin Narang of MIT, the belief that India keeps its nuclear weapons in a disassembled state "is largely now a myth. … [I]t seems likely that all of India's nuclear missile systems will eventually be deployed in a near-ready 'canisterized' state, which is a far cry from the prevailing perception that India maintains its nuclear force in a relatively recessed state." Pakistan's nuclear weapons, meanwhile, are apparently ready for use at any time, and authority to use nuclear weapons during military crises with India has reportedly been pre-delegated to Pakistani field commanders since 2000. It's too late now for true recessed deterrence in South Asia, and stable nuclear deterrence is probably impossible on the subcontinent.

The alt

South Asia: Beyond crisis management

12 OCTOBER 2016

Rather than "too much Uncle Sam"—that's how a subheading in Rabia Akhtar's first essay expressed the author's view—the problem in South Asia is "too little Uncle Sam."

Akhtar is concerned about India and Pakistan's inability to "grow up" and end their dependence on US management of nuclear crises. I share her concern, but unless Washington forces New Delhi and Islamabad to stop their nuclear arms race and take arms control seriously, the two South Asian nations will continue playing with nuclear fire. Pure bilateralism, without any US pressure, is a dead-end street—witness the two countries' inability to prevent the current crisis over the Uri attack.

What India and Pakistan require is more US involvement (along with a multilateral effort to reduce nuclear dangers, both globally and in South Asia). Washington's ultimate goal in the region must be denuclearization. Nuclear arms control would be a first step in that direction.

Akhtar claims that US influence over the South Asian rivals "is less pronounced… than my roundtable colleagues seem to believe." But Pakistan still depends on US economic and military aid. And the United States could use its leverage over India—made possible by the US-India nuclear deal—to encourage India to disavow its army's Cold Start Doctrine. Meanwhile, Washington could exert strong pressure on the Pakistani military to enforce the illegal status of allanti-Indian jihadi terrorist groups based on Pakistani territory. India might then reduce its military pressure on Pakistan, allowing the Pakistanis to feel more secure. Islamabad then might agree—under US pressure—not to deploy tactical nuclear weapons. The Indians might then make a similar pledge. This would amount to a "graduated and reciprocated initiative in tension reduction" of the sort identified by British economist and peace activist Kenneth Boulding. The result would be significant reduction in the risk of a South Asian nuclear exchange.

Xi Jinping gets a new title

Nov 5th 2016 

He wants to show who’s boss in the struggle that will now unfold

COMMUNIST leaders relish weird and wonderful titles. Kim Jong Il, the late father of North Korea’s current “Great Leader”, was, on special occasions, “Dear Leader who is a perfect incarnation of the appearance that a leader should have” (it doesn’t sound much better in Korean). China’s rulers like a more prosaic, mysterious epithet: hexin, meaning “the core”. Xi Jinping—China’s president, commander-in-chief, Communist Party boss and so forth—is now also officially “the core”, having been called that in a report issued by the party’s Central Committee after a recent annual meeting.

The term was made up in 1989 by Deng Xiaoping, apparently to give his anointed successor, Jiang Zemin, greater credibility after the bloody suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests. Just as Mao had been the core of the first generation of party leaders and Deng himself of the second, so Mr Jiang was of the third. (Hu Jintao, Mr Xi’s predecessor, was supposedly offered the title of fourth-generation core but modestly turned it down.)
In this section

Being core confers no extra powers. Mr Xi has little need of those; he is chairman of everything anyway. Status, though, is what really matters in China (Deng ruled the country for a while with no other title than honorary chairman of the China Bridge Association). And Mr Xi seems to be finding that all his formal power does not convey enough. Early this year, in what looked like a testing of the waters, a succession of provincial party leaders kowtowed verbally to Xi-the-core. But the term soon disappeared from public discourse. Its revival makes it look as if Mr Xi has won a struggle to claim it.

*** Why China And The U.S. Need Each Other In Space

01 November 2016

Space may be miles above us, but how it is being used - and by whom - is becoming increasingly important here on Earth. As of now, the United States leads the world inspace exploration and exploitation, but China is determined to narrow the gap. Beijing has set its sights on becoming a major power in space, and in the next two decades it could surpass veterans in the field such as Russia, perhaps even someday rivaling the United States itself.

It may come as little surprise, then, that Washington and Beijing rarely consider each other partners in space. Though not for lack of trying on China's part, U.S. leaders are suspicious of Beijing's intentions, particularly since the Chinese space program remains shrouded in secrecy. China's propensity for stealing technology is only added cause for concern in Washington, as is the Chinese army's interest in using civil and commercial advances in space for military gain.

In fact, in some ways the United States' current competition with China is not unlike its Cold War-era space race with the Soviet Union. Today's contest, however, is unfolding in a profoundly different atmosphere. Space is no longer a theater reserved for the world's militaries, and as the skies become more crowded, the costs of an accidental confrontation are rising. At a time when many civil space programsare struggling to stretch their shrinking budgets to cover growing expenses, most countries can no longer afford to pursue their lofty ambitions in space on their own. The United States and China are no exception, and despite their mutual distrust, they may have no choice but to work together to achieve some of their common goals in space.
A History of U.S. Unease

For decades, the United States has watched China's burgeoning space program with growing apprehension. Washington's fears initially did not stop it from allowing U.S. companies to use Chinese launch systems to put satellites into orbit. After a string of failures in the mid-1990s, however, the United States began to distance itself from its Chinese competitor.

With another rocket success, China solidifies place in space industry

NOVEMBER 4, 2016

The new Long March 5 rocket launched successfully on Thursday. The rocket could be used to support a Chinese space station and send an uncrewed mission to Mars.

A nation’s dream of journeying to Mars took flight in Wenchang, China, on Thursday. For now, though, the latest contender in the space race is sticking a little closer to home.

The new Long March 5 rocket launched successfully from the Wenchang Space Launch Center. The rocket measures 187 feet, making it the largest produced by China. It can carry 25 tons of payload into low-Earth orbit. The rocket carried a satellite that will be used to test a variety of technologies, from observing space debris to electric propulsion.

The rocket is an integral part of the growing Chinese space program. It lays the groundwork for future missions, such as China’s plan to have a fully-crewed space station by 2022 and send an uncrewed mission to Mars some time between 2024 and the end of the decade.

"Its successful launch has propelled China to the forefront of the world in terms of rocket carrying capacity, and marks a milestone in China's transition from a major player in space to a major power in space," the ruling Communist Party’s Central Committee and the Central Military Commission wrote in a letter, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Excluded from participating in the International Space Station project, China has been assiduously growing its own space program. The country hopes to become an “aerospace power,” President Xi Jinping said, according to NBC News.

The vulnerability of the Chinese Corridor

Game theory suggests India’s dismay over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor might be unfounded

After the Uri attacks, Pakistan’s special Kashmir envoy Mushahid Hussain Syed declared that the US was a waning power, suggesting that Pakistan was seeking out other allies. The reference was to China, a country that has been courting Pakistan for several years through a number of means including assistance in its nuclear programme.

Of late, there has been much talk of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that stretches from the autonomous region of Xinjiang to the Gwadar port. This corridor—which includes road, rail and port infrastructure—is expected to allow China to avoid the vulnerable Indian Ocean route currently used to transport oil from the Gulf. It will also enable Pakistan to create an alternative to the US for patronage while bringing economic development in desperately poor regions including Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).

India has noted the development of the project with some dismay. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is believed to have brought up the issue of the economic corridor passing through PoK in his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in September. Game theory, a subject that came of age at the height of the cold war between the US and the Soviet Union, suggests our dismay might be unfounded.

Top 10 American Misconceptions about China (Version 3)

Written by Frank Li

Misconception 1: China is a communist country

China is no longer a communist country per se! China was a communist country from 1949 to 1976. China embraced capitalism after Mao died in 1976. Today, China is more capitalistic than America in many ways.

China has a one-party political system. The ruling party is called the CPC (Communist Party of China). This unfortunate name has given the American political-media complex a good excuse to keep referring to China as "communist China" to impugn the country and arouse distrust in America. However, it's not true and it's done only to mislead Americans.

Misconception 2: China is a threat to America

China is not an enemy to America. Economically, China is a competitor to America. The use of the word "threat" is distraction and clearly un-American!

Militarily, China has never been a threat to America! For example, in 2015, China's 2015 military spending was $145 billion vs. America's $600 billion. China did increase its military spending in 2015 by 10%, which was characterized by America's mainstream media as a "ballooning" military budget. Where else on earth could this kind of talk have been possible other than in America? Thanks to "brainwashing" (Brainwashing in Communism and in Democracy)!

In 2015, America spent more on her military than the next 10 top spenders combined! Worse yet, America is the only country that has been spending like that for decades! Why so much? Because the MIC (Military Industrial Complex) has powerful lobbyists in Washington and has convinced our politicians (with enormous gifts) that the rest of the world is just waiting to subjugate us! Due to our perpetual military interventions, America has been, since the Cold War ended in 1991, a major source of instability around the world, especially in the Mideast.

How The Next U.S. President Can Contain China In Cyberspace

OCT 31, 2016 

This piece will appear in the Winter 2016 issue of the Journal of International Affairs. 

The next president should keep the pressure on China, but that requires following the Obama administration playbook. 

When transition planning gets underway in earnest this fall, one of the hardest memos to write will be the outbrief from the current National Security Council (NSC) team on what to do about China’s ongoing campaign of cyber espionage targeting the intellectual property of U.S. companies. While long a focus of both the president’s cyber and China teams, there is little chance that in the coming months the issue is going to be brought to any type of resolution. Instead, the next president will inherit a partially implemented plan that has produced positive results in the short term, but its long-term sustainability remains uncertain. He or she would be wise to follow the playbook left by the Obama administration, with a redoubled focus on the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime.

Critics of the administration on this topic generally fall into two camps. One, summed up nicely by the title of a book by Peter Kiernan, is the Becoming China’s Bitch camp.[1] In this view, the United States is so dependent on China that the Chinese can do what they want and there is little Americans can do to stop them. They hold U.S. debt, Americans can’t manufacture anything without them, Chinese students are leaps and bounds smarter than American students, and there are millions more of them studying science and math. The Chinese are strategic, looking around the corner of history and shaping it in their interests. They are playing three-dimensional chess and President Obama has been playing checkers. They put the blame on what they would characterize as Obama’s willingness to “lead from behind.” They then quote Sun Tzu, reference Unrestricted Warfare, and drop the mic.[2]

In the nuclear order, what role for China?

If China's economic and military power continues growing as in the recent past, Beijing can be expected to play a more active part in addressing geopolitical challenges, including the challenge of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. Is the role that China plays today in the nuclear arena appropriate to its national circumstances—and how should Beijing address disarmament and nonproliferation as its power and confidence increase?

China’s growing economic and military capabilities may have increased expectations in the United States. But the Chinese Communist Party takes a more modest view of its ability to address geopolitical challenges, including the challenge of nuclear disarmament.

Limits to growth. The Chinese government is responsible for the welfare of nearly a fifth of humanity. According to the World Bank, China ranks 71st among all nations in gross domestic product per capita. Chinese leaders see the enormous size of their population as a significant constraint on the nation's economic capabilities. They wish their counterparts in the United States were more understanding.

Demographic constraints on China’s long-term economic prospects led the Chinese Communist Party to fix military expenditures at approximately 2 percent of GDP: a percentage it has maintained since 1988. Comparatively high rates of annual economic growthhave allowed corresponding annual increases in military spending, but as the Chinese economy matures and its growth rate slows, military expenditures are likely to follow suit.

An obligation, not a luxury. China's leaders are aware that their participation in international nuclear arms control negotiations is not predicated on attaining a certain level of economic or military development. They understand that it is required under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The most important obligation China incurred by acceding to the NPT in 1992—an obligation it shares with the other four nations (the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, and France) temporarily allowed to retain nuclear weapons—is to "pursue negotiations in good faith" on "a treaty on general and complete disarmament."

Blood, Dirt and Bombs: Battle for Mosul is Fierce Urban War

November 4, 2016

As Iraqi troops battled to gain ground a few streets away, soldiers in the Mosul district of Intisar wrapped a wounded and bloodied colleague in a blanket, lifted him off his Humvee, and sped him away from the frontlines for treatment.

Heavy shooting and mortar fire shook the neighborhood, which the soldiers were trying to recapture from Islamic State militants who have held Mosul for more than two years.

Fighting their way into the city this week, soldiers have gained a foothold in the eastern districts. A trip to the battlefront by Reuters journalists, one of the first visits into Mosul itself, showed the scale of the battle they face.

The thud of explosions boomed across the city streets and black smoke rose from an area about five blocks away. Many buildings were covered in a layer of black soot and one yellow house had a hole blown into it…

The battle to drive Islamic State out of Mosul is the biggest ground operation in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, and is likely to decide the fate of the self-proclaimed Islamic State caliphate that has defied the world since 2014…

Energy 2050: Insights from the ground up

By Scott Nyquist

How will the world satisfy its need for energy? McKinsey research offers a perspective. 

When it comes to energy, there is one matter everyone agrees on. For the near future, at least, the world will need more of it—and how it is produced and used will be a critical factor in the future of the global economy, geopolitics, and the environment. With that in mind, McKinsey took a hard look at the data, modeling energy demand from the bottom up, by country, sector, and fuel mix, with an analysis of current conditions, historical data, and country-level assessments. On this basis, McKinsey’s Global Energy Insights team has put together a description of the global energy landscape to 2050. 

It is important to remember that this is a business-as-usual scenario. That is, it does not anticipate big disruptions in either the production or use of energy. And, of course, predicting the future of anything is perilous. With those caveats in mind, here are four of the most interesting insights from this research. 

Global energy demand will continue to grow. But growth will be slower—an average of about 0.7 percent a year through 2050 (versus an average of more than 2 percent from 2000 to 2015). The decline in the rate of growth is due to digitization, slower population and economic growth, greater efficiency, a decline in European and North American demand, and the global economic shift toward services, which use less energy than the production of goods. For example, in India, the percentage of GDP derived from services is expected to rise from 54 to 64 percent by 2035. And efficiency is a forthright good-news story. By 2035, McKinsey research expects that it will take almost 40 percent less fuel to propel a fossil-fueled car a mile than it does now. By 2050, global “energy intensity”—that is, how much energy is used to produce each unit of GDP—will be half what it was in 2013. That may sound optimistic, but it is based on recent history. From 1990 to 2015, global energy intensity improved by almost a third, and it is reasonable to expect the rate of progress to accelerate. 

Israeli intelligence agencies see downside in Mosul

Shi'ite militias launch offensive to seal off western Mosul. Photo from Twitter/Reuters 

Israel’s intelligence agencies are closely monitoring the advance on the ISIS bastion in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and they are not optimistic about the outcome either for Iraq or themselves. 

A report issued Sunday by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC), a security think tank, predicts a long siege and sectarian bloodbath in Mosul and an increased likelihood of ISIS attacks on Israel and its vulnerable neighbor Jordan. 

“This fear on Israel’s part is based on an assessment that conditions exist in Jordan that can turn significant portions of the population into Islamic State supporters,” said Shlomo Brom, formerly the director of the Israeli army’s strategic planning division. “The uniqueness of the Islamic State phenomenon lies in the fact that it expanded beyond the borders of one Arab state, both in its ideology and its operations.” 

Citing ISIS activity in Kirkuk, al-Rumba and Sinjar, the ITIC report says that “terrorist attacks and guerrilla warfare can be expected to continue in other arenas to divert attention and resources from the campaign for Mosul and to raise the morale of ISIS’s supporters in Iraq and Syria and beyond.” 

Israel’s connection to the Mosul area traces back to the British Mandate period before the proclamation of the state, when a pipeline ran from the oil fields in Kirkuk through Jordan to the port of Haifa. The assumption is that ITIC reports are based on human, signal and open source intelligence. 

Israel has long maintained a policy of providing covert military assistance to Kurdish groups, and in the past decade extended increased humanitarian aid to the both Kurds and Yazidi Christians in northern Iraq.