21 December 2016

** Asia’s fight over fresh water


NEW DELHI – Asia, the world’s largest and fastest-developing continent, has less fresh water per capita than any other continent. This has helped foster growing interstate and intrastate disputes over shared water resources. An MIT study published this year found a high risk that Asia’s current water crisis could worsen to severe water shortages by 2050.

In this light, water is emerging as a key challenge for long-term Asian peace and stability. Yet Asia’s maritime-security challenges draw much greater international attention than its river-water disputes. This is largely because sea-related issues, such as in the South China Sea, affect even outside powers by threatening the safety of sea lanes and freedom of navigation. The truth is this: Asia’s sharpening competition over transnationally shared freshwater resources holds strategic ramifications just as ominous as those relating to maritime territorial disputes.

Recent developments are highlighting how the competition and fight over shared water resources is a major contributory factor to the growing geopolitical discord and tensions in Asia.

In fact, China’s “territorial grab” in the South China Sea has been accompanied by a quieter “freshwater grab” in transnational river basins. Re-engineering transboundary water flows is integral to China’s strategy to employ power, control and influence to fashion a strongly Sino-centric Asia.


Ashok K Mehta

Compared to his predecessor, Gen Bajwa, who is from the Baloch Regiment which has very few Balochis, is a relative dove and will try and create conditions to normalise relations with India as the civilian regime wants

The appointment of Lt General Bipin Rawat, superseding two Army Commanders, as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) took most by surprise, even as the announcement went down to the wire only two weeks in advance of Gen Suhag’s retirement, compared to 24 hours in naming Gen Qamar Bajwa, who also superseded two Lieutenant Generals as the Pakistan Army chief, replacing Gen Raheel Sharif. In India according to convention, the appointment of Service chiefs is made six weeks prior to their resuming office so that they are familiarised as Chief Designate about the operational and diplomatic environment beyond the need-to-know principle.

The Government has done splendid by breaking the tyranny of seniority letting merit trump, in at least for the ultimate appointment in the Army. Gen Rawat will undoubtedly have an eventful innings, but this article is not about him but his counterpart, and the new Bajwa team — what it means for peace and stability between India and Pakistan.

Questions about an appointment

Josy Joseph

The blame for the Centre’s unnecessary and dangerous effort to scuttle the long-held convention of appointing the most senior among eligible officers as Chief of the Army Staff cannot be laid at the doorstep of the political executive alone. A significant part of it should go to the Army leadership, which has been betraying significant nepotism and lack of conviction on a range of issues in recent times.

The government has justified the appointment of Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat superseding two commanders saying he had superior professional capabilities. It argues that the prerogative to select the military chief lies with the executive and the decision has been taken purely on merit. Those close to the present government also argue that a factor taken into consideration was the ease of doing business with the new chief.

None of those arguments, however, addresses the concern that the decision could be seen as an unnecessary and dangerous political meddling in the working of a professional military. Arguments in favour of merit do not hold much water here.


Shrihari Honwad

In this age of e-learning, conventional courses have become passé. Students must, therefore, choose educational institutions that offer new-age courses, backed by robust placement mechanism, quality faculty and modern facilities. Present and future realities are crucial

The Internet era which lives in e-space, has rendered traditional thinking, of choosing programmes of study with decade-long steady career path, redundant. Fast changing market scenario and learning requirements have taken its place. For example, once-hot careers such as computer hardware engineering and jobs in BPOs are today riddled with lower prospects or benched employees. Thus, present and future realities become crucial for career decisions.

Today, education has become an investment that is expected to pay throughout one’s life time. While market uncertainties may require additional investments, careful thought in choosing a proper course, with excellent career prospects, is critical. Plain vanilla programmes make no sense nowadays because many will become redundant soon, if not already. Indeed, digital technologies can disrupt any business model. It is time, therefore, for students (and parents) to rethink on career options, keeping present and future realities in mind. Traditional courses no longer guarantee a lifetime of secure career opportunities.

Death for IM cadres only possible verdict

Here the argument isn’t about whether the death sentence should exist or if it should be abolished as a humanitarian move.

The death sentence seems to be the only deterrent to terror modern society can envisage, and so it will be the gallows for five Indian Mujahideen operatives, including a Pakistani, who plotted and executed the blast in Hyderabad’s Dilksuhnagar in 2013. Here the argument isn’t about whether the death sentence should exist or if it should be abolished as a humanitarian move. As the NIA special judge noted, this was among the “rarest of rare” cases, with logistics plotted in Karnataka and done in cold blood in a multi-ethnic, multi-religion metropolis. Terror has no religion, and it’s only right this principle is stuck to as the State goes after terrorists regardless of the religion they adhere to.

The convicts’ zealotry was visible in the emotionless way they executed the plot and in their total lack of remorse at the hearing on quantum of sentencing. Their abrasive remark on whether to pay the fines in old or new currency showed the utter lack of humanity in people to whom the lives of 18 innocent people or those of 131 they scarred for life, with some still carrying shrapnel pieces in their body, seemed to matter not a whit. The chief conspirators, possibly the Bhatkals, who renamed themselves after a Karnataka town and who displayed hardened criminality in hatching not just the attack in Hyderabad but elsewhere too. The quality of mercy is obviously not to be shown to such inhuman tactics as running a war against the State and in the process killing innocent people who probably had nothing to do with the grievances, real or imagined, of the terrorists.

Army Can Never Be Solution To Kashmir Problem – Analysis

By Nishant Rajeev*

The September 18, 2016 Uri terror attack has possibly changed the course of India-Pakistan relations for years to come. It was the single largest loss of life suffered by the Indian Army since the Kargil war. But the events that followed Uri were of greater significance.

The Indian Army crossed the LoC to strike terror “launch pads of terrorists” and even gave a public statement to that effect. It’s not as though the army had never crossed the LoC before, but rather the direct targeting of terror launch pads and the public disclosure is something that no government had dared to do in the past. The Indian media hailed this as a historic feat and said that it was no longer ‘business as usual’. The status quo had changed and the Indian state had the resolve to strike back at Pakistan for conducting terror attacks in India.

Looking beyond all the rhetoric, it must be said that the “surgical strikes” were truly an impressive operation. The ability to conduct such strikes coupled with a robust counter-insurgency grid can adversely affect the operations of insurgents in the Kashmir Valley, not to mention the psychological impact it will have on terror groups across the border.

However, the government’s strategy on cross-border terrorism and Kashmir shouldn’t revolve around the use of the military alone. India’s strategic planners will face new challenges in employing this tactic (surgical strikes) as both countries move forward. The loss of the element of surprise will be of major consequence while planning future operations. The Pakistan army will increase vigil across the border making penetration harder. They will also increase security around these camps and move them further away from the LoC.

India’s Foreign Policy Challenges 2017 Analysed

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Paper No. 6205 Dated 19-Dec-2016

Fluidity in global geopolitical dynamics on verge of 2017 centring on USA, Russia and China with consequent impact on Indian foreign policy is already evident with the initial posturing of US President-elect Trump.

India’s foreign policy management since May 2014 has notched appreciable and dynamic successes under the leadership and personal diplomacy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India’s diplomatic profile has gone up and the regrettable ‘strategic deficit’ of the previous ten years of governance in conceptualising Indian foreign policy formulations stands erased. India today figures substantially in the geopolitical calculus of the Major Powers as never before.

In the unfolding geopolitical dynamics as the world heads towards 2017 India has emerged as the ‘Swing State”, something which can be lucratively capitalised by the Indian foreign policy establishment. Yet, attendant on all this is the crucial imperative for Indian foreign policy planners to estimate and predict the responses and reactive strategies of China and Russia to the forthcominglikely aggressiveness and lesser restraint in the foreign policy of the new US President.

India under the above contextual unfolding of global strategies of USA, Russia and China can no longer operate on the trajectory of its existing foreign policy template. In the ensuing melee, the strategic determinants of India’s foreign policy would tend to dominate the economic determinants. As far as the latter is concerned, India is already an established economic power and an attractive destination for Foreign Direct Investments. India would therefore be well advised to concentrate on the strategic content of its foreign policy formulations to meet the challenges unfolding in 2017 and which would go beyond 2017.

India Floats Radar Tender For Light Combat Aircraft

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The Indian Air Force intends to procure at least 100 new radar systems for its latest fighter jet.

Indian state-owned military aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has floated global bids to procure around 100 state-of-the-art active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar systems for an improved variant of the HAL Mark-I Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), dubbed Tejas Mark-IA, according to local media reports.

“The tender in the form of Expression of Interest (EoI) was floated on Wednesday to five of the global firms,” a HAL representative told The Economic Times on December 15. According to the representative a U.S. defense contractor and an Israeli firm are the top contenders for the contract.

Bids have reportedly been issued to U.S. defense contractors Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, the French company Thales, the Israeli defense company Elta, Swedish aircraft maker SAAB, and Russia’s Rosoboronoexport.

The estimated contract value is $1.85 billion.

“We cannot wait for Indian companies to develop and build these proven systems, and they will be bought off-the-shelf from overseas,” an Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) official told Defense News. The deadline for the submission of bids will be February 15. A final decision is likely to be announced by April 2017.

CPEC: Pakistan's newest holy cow could also become its millstone

By Shabir Choudhry

Pakistan faces many serious problems -- and among them is the status and invulnerability of holy cows, and people who are above Pakistani laws. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not a living being, yet it has also gained the status of being a holy cow -- and people are warned of serious consequences if they dare to oppose or criticise this new holy cow.

People are accused of being ‘anti-Pakistan’ and ‘agent’ of foreign powers because they dared to criticise holy cows -- and some are facing sedition charges for attacking CPEC and demanding a share in the accruing benefits.

I am also among the ‘bad guys’ who are perceived as ‘disrespectful’ and critics of this holy cow and who demand a fair share in the benefits because it runs without permission through our land, Gilgit-Baltistan, which is part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistani officials, some Pakistani people and Kashmiri foot soldiers of Pakistan may not like what I write or say. Their dislike and even hatred does not deter me from speaking out to protect and promote interests of people of Jammu and Kashmir state. 

Does Islamic State Have a Future in the AfPak Region?

By Daud Khattak

The Islamic State’s South Asia branch looks doomed to fail.

The last quarter of the outgoing year witnessed a few spectacular attacks by the Afghan and Pakistani affiliates of the Syria-based so-called Islamic State, which raised many eyebrows regarding the group’s strength, capability, and future prospects in the region.

In one attack in October 2016, the target was a police training academy on the outskirts of Quetta, capital of Pakistan’s impoverished Balochistan province. In another attack in November, a suicide bomber blew himself up amid worshipers at a Sufi shrine in Hub, a remote district of the same province.

Across the border in Afghanistan’s eastern parts, we see reports on daily basis of ISIS capturing a village, killing an official, or recruits of the group being killed in fighting with Afghan forces or targeted in missile strikes from the U.S. unmanned aerial vehicles, popularly named as “drones,” in the region.

The key question is: Can ISIS secure a lasting foothold in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region in the near future? We can reach a logical conclusion by keeping a few key factors in sight.

CPEC: Pakistan’s Newest Holy Cow Could Also Become Its Millstone – Analysis

By Shabir Choudhry*

Pakistan faces many serious problems — and among them is the status and invulnerability of holy cows, and people who are above Pakistani laws. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not a living being, yet it has also gained the status of being a holy cow — and people are warned of serious consequences if they dare to oppose or criticise this new holy cow.

People are accused of being ‘anti-Pakistan’ and ‘agent’ of foreign powers because they dared to criticise holy cows — and some are facing sedition charges for attacking CPEC and demanding a share in the accruing benefits.

I am also among the ‘bad guys’ who are perceived as ‘disrespectful’ and critics of this holy cow and who demand a fair share in the benefits because it runs without permission through our land, Gilgit-Baltistan, which is part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistani officials, some Pakistani people and Kashmiri foot soldiers of Pakistan may not like what I write or say. Their dislike and even hatred does not deter me from speaking out to protect and promote interests of people of Jammu and Kashmir state.

China and the Fear of Failure

By Kerry Brown

In his study Politics (Profile Books), Cambridge academic David Runciman runs through a number of attributes that modern politicians need to have. What, in essence, does this class of professional politicians, of which the modern world has seen a surfeit in recent decades, actually do? His answer, after going through some options, is a disarmingly simple one. In the end, the best politicians can hope for is to be efficient managers of failure. Politicians, for all the bold words when they start out and when they taste sporadic victory, are going to end up in the same place – presiding over failure. This is because the tasks they set out to manage are, in the end, so complex that they defy solutions. The most they can do is avert disaster. They are not here to bring about utopia but to prevent hell.

A cliche of business and political cultures in the United States and, to some extent, in Europe is that they embrace and build on failure. The vast majority of start-up companies fail in the first year or so. The world is full of brilliant ideas that led nowhere. Patents pile up, and gain no revenue because no one wants to use them. For every Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, there are millions who never made it past the first business cycle. And even for the most successful figures, their careers offered plenty of examples of bad choices and initial failures.

China, Thailand Mull Joint Military Production Facility

By Prashanth Parameswaran

China and Thailand are mulling the possibility of setting up a joint military production facility in the latest sign of an expanding defense relationship between Beijing and one of the United States’ two treaty allies in Southeast Asia.

Sino-Thai military cooperation has deepened of late amid a downturn in U.S.-Thai relations over democracy and human rights concerns that emerged following the coup in May 2014 orchestrated by the current ruling junta led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (“Exclusive: Managing the Strained US-Thailand Alliance”).

Both air forces held their first ever joint exercise in 2015, and Thailand has also bought battle tanks from China and selected Beijing for a multi-billion dollar contract to build its first submarines (See: “Does Thailand’s Chinese Submarine Purchase Really Signal US Drift?”). During a defense meeting between the two sides on the sidelines of a regional meeting in Laos in May, discussions had focused on areas like training, personnel exchanges, anti-terrorism cooperation, and defense industry.

In what could be another advance for this burgeoning relationship, Thai defense spokesman Khongcheep Tantrawanich said last week that Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan had raised the proposal of a facility to manufacture and repair armaments in Thailand during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan as part of his two-day visit to Beijing.

Challenges and Successes of Chinese Foreign Investments

By Young China Watchers

This interview was previously published on the Young China Watchers’ blog and is reprinted here with kind permission. Young China Watchers is a global network of China-focused young professionals across nine chapter cities, engaging with the most pressing issues emerging from China today.

Philippe Le Corre is a visiting fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. His research focuses on China’s foreign policy, Chinese economic diplomacy and soft power outreach, as well as France, Brexit, and the future of Europe. His recent book, China’s Offensive in Europe (together with Alain Sepulchre), was published in May 2016 by Brookings Institution Press. He is also the author of a recent report titled “China’s Global Rise: Can the EU and U.S. Pursue a Coordinated Strategy?” Young China Watcher’s Insa Ewert interviewed Le Corre about the future of Chinese foreign investment, particularly in Europe.

Young China Watchers (YCW): You have previously worked for the French government, advised enterprises, and are now a visiting fellow at Brookings in Washington, DC. What are the most striking differences in the approaches between the U.S. and European governments when it comes to investments from China and investments in China?

China Says Will Hand Over Captured US Drone, All Actions 'Professional and Responsible'

By Shannon Tiezzi

The Ministry of Defense statement has worrying implications for China’s ambitions in the South China Sea. 

On Saturday, the Pentagon announced that China had agreed to return the buoyancy glider, which is used to monitor ocean conditions. On Sunday, a statement from China’s defense ministry confirmed that, with spokesperson Yang Yujun saying China would “hand over the U.S. underwater drone it captured in its waters to the United States in an appropriate manner,” according to Xinhua. Yang also scolded the United States for making the incident public, saying it was “not helpful.”

The phrase “its waters,” referring to China’s waters, is particularly alarming. As Ankit pointed out yesterday, the incident took place 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay — well within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone, and seemingly outside of China’s nine-dash line claim (although the claim has never been made with any geographical precision, so it’s impossible to say for certain where China believes the nine-dash line begins and ends). Given that, the claim that the Chinese naval vessel was acting within Chinese waters will only add fuel to fears that Beijing intends to claim the entirety of the South China Sea as its own personal lake.

Residents of China's Xinjiang Province Demand All Citizens Surrender Passports for “Annual Review”

Soo Jin Hwang

Recent developments in western China have brought to light human rights concerns that should have the United States’ attention.

On Oct. 20, the Shihezi Public Security Bureau Immigration Office issued a statement citing orders from higher-ranking authorities that all residents of Xinjiang province should turn in their passports to public security authorities for “annual review.”

Submitted passports are held for “safekeeping” after the review so that those who want to get them back have to get approval to travel. Authorities in the region also require residents to provide DNA samples and other biometric data along with their application for a travel permit.

The Chinese government’s new policy of recalling passports started in May 2015 as part of a nationwide crackdown on “terrorism,” which had begun in 2014.

The aim of this policy, which is used to restrict and monitor the mobility of Xinjiang residents, is to prevent the Uighur Muslim minority group of Turkish descent living in China from traveling to the Middle East for training in jihad.



The U.S. intelligence community has confirmed what many suspected for months: Agents directly affiliated with the Russian government conducted malicious cyber operations intended to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russia’s primary motive — now accepted by the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, and, most recently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation — was not simply to undermine the legitimacy of American democracy, but to actually bolster Trump’s chances of defeating Clinton. Moreover, new reports suggest that Vladimir Putin himself may have actually given the orders.

Notwithstanding the president-elect’s persistent disbelief in the intelligence community’s assessment, many in Washington are calling for action. Several days ago, a bipartisan group of senators penned a letter urging further investigation into Russian hacking. President Obama went one step further:

I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections … we need to take action. And we will – at a time and place of our choosing. Some of it may be explicit and publicized; some of it may not be.



On November 12, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) released a statement that it had arrested “10 terrorists” in Moscow and St. Petersburg. According to the FSB, the men had “a total of four IEDs” and “planned a series of gun and bomb attacks in Russia’s two biggest cities” and had “contacts to leaders” of the Islamic State. The operation followed the killing of two “suspected terrorists” in a shootout that took place in Nizhny Novgorod three weeks before. Overall, according to Russia’s first deputy prosecutor general, Alexandr Buksman, in the first half of 2016, the number of “terrorist crimes” in Russia rose by 73 percent from 2015. The increase, according to Buksman, was not merely a result of better policing but “a reflection of growing threats.”

By all indications, the Russian jihad continues to remain alive and dangerous. As outlined in the first installment, this development has multiple and deep roots. Changing demographics due to migration which have made Russia the largest ethnic Muslim country in Europe and Moscow a key international ISIL recruiting ground. Additionally, pan-European trends such as alienation, unemployment, discrimination, and prison radicalization play increasingly prominent roles in converting citizens of the Russian Federation. Perhaps the most troubling development has been a gradual shift of the locus of militant Islamism from the north Caucasus and into the Russian heartland of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan.

U.S. Army Returns Tanks to Europe as NATO Eyes Assertive Russia


EYGELSHOVEN, Netherlands — The U.S. and its NATO allies are taking no chances amid a build-up of military force on Europe's eastern frontier with Russia.

Three years after the last American tank left Europe, they are being brought back "as part of our commitment to deterrence," Gen. Frederick "Ben" Hodges told NBC News.

Hodges, who is commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, welcomed a batch of tracked and wheeled support vehicles to a depot in the Netherlands on Thursday.

At the Dutch installation in Eygelshoven, a 500,000-square-feet storage space — including nine humidity-controlled warehouses — has been made available to house elements of the Army's "strategically prepositioned critical war stock." It includes Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and Paladin self-propelled howitzers.

In September, the U.S. Army began to assemble additional so called Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS) for permanent storage in Europe. The latest shipment includes ammunition.

America’s Future Relations With Russia and China

Blake Franko

Are hawks prepared to level with Americans about the potential costs of our commitments?

Are the Russia hawks like Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham prepared to level with Americans and “honestly tell them that Americans should die for Kiev and Tbilisi, and not even for Kiev and Tbilisi but to provide them with the privilege to be in NATO on their schedule?” This was the pointed question that Dimitri K. Simes posed at an event at the Newseum yesterday hosted by Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Moderated by Kevin Ryan, the panel featured Fiona Hill from the Brookings Institution, Simon Saradzhyan from the Belfer Center’s “Russia Matters Project” and the president and CEO of the Center for the National Interest, Dimitri K. Simes.

Simes’s question about Kiev and Tbilisi was meant to indicate that America often takes on commitments that it is not necessarily willing to fulfill. Is there a better path forward? Simes started off the discussion by observing that President Bill Clinton was also befuddled by the lingering question of how to improve relations with Moscow. He also expressed optimism that relations between Russia and the United States would improve, due to the fact that “Trump is a dealmaker” and “is not easily intimidated” and would not be hamstrung by stigmas in Washington for wanting to work with Russia. Simes expressed three reasons that Trump may have better luck in deals with Putin than his predecessors.

Relax: the Iran Nuclear Deal Is Doing Its Job

Laicie Heeley,Amy J. Nelson

Trump's cabinet is split between businessmen and hawks. He should listen to the dealmakers.

Nearly one year after Implementation Day, the Iran nuclear deal (also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) is working, and implementation of the deal is, in large measure, on track. Although the president-elect vowed to toss the deal and negotiate a “better” one, the truth is that the Iran deal is accomplishing exactly what it was supposed to: preventing Iran’s nuclear “breakout” through covert and overt pathways. Efforts to derail the deal would be unwise, as the United States’ international partners have made clear their commitment to the deal’s terms, rendering the prospect of renegotiation nil.

Faced with a number of pressing issues on day one, both foreign and domestic, President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to passively support a deal that seems to be on track or aggressively pursue renegotiation will set the tone for an administration that has yet to define its terms. Choices he makes about political appointments and lawmakers about sanctions will shape the U.S. position going forward.

Trump’s Generals: How Wartime Service Shaped Mattis, Kelly, & Flynn


Then-Lt. Gen. James Mattis talks to a wounded servicemember in Iraq.

Among the many anxieties inspired by the rise of Trump, one of the most profound is his fondness for generals. Does naming so many retired military men to top positions undermine the principal of civilian control? How might their shared experiences in our post-9/11 conflicts shape the way they govern? This week, award-winning defense reporter James Kitfield takes us in depth with profiles of Jim Mattis, John Kelly, and Mike Flynn. Today, Kitfield starts the series with a look at Trump’s generals as a group. Besides Trump, what do they all have in common? The answer is one word: war. — the editors

The generals likely to hold top positions in the incoming Trump administration share a common trait: They are combat veterans highly attuned to looming threats.

While it’s raised eyebrows in terms of traditional civil-military relations, president-elect Donald Trump’s decision to lean heavily on generals in building his national security team has been received with sighs of relief by many foreign policy and national security experts. By the nature of their profession, senior military leaders tend to be pragmatic internationalists who know how to run large organizations. They understand from experience how the world works. They are generally disciplined and well-read. Having come of age on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, these generals are also intimately familiar with the horrors of war, and the second- and third-order consequences of firing the first shot.

The Myth of Total War

By Donald Stoker

A recurring theme in discussions of warfare is the search for ways to classify or define conflicts in order to better understand and thus learn from them. The Strategy Bridge has recently published two articles in this genre.[1] One of the results of this often quixotic journey has been an endlessly expanding list of descriptors: Low Intensity Conflict, Civil War, Guerrilla War, Hybrid War, Gray Zone War, and so forth. Too often the result of these efforts has been obfuscation not clarification. One of the most commonly used terms is Total War. It is also among the most useless. Why do I say this?

First and foremost, it fails one of the key requirements for good theory. Instead of helping clarify concepts—as Carl von Clausewitz insists good theory should do—the term Total War muddies the analytical waters.[2] Theory and its key terms should produce firm, universally applicable foundations for analysis. The term Total War does not, thus it is useless as a tool for critical analysis.

The keystone problem is that there is no agreement as to what Total War means. Generally, suggests a “big” war, particularly the twentieth century world wars.[3] Explications of Total War also usually (but not always) include wars fought for the overthrow or complete conquest of the enemy regime.[4] Discussions of potential nuclear wars are often described as total wars, particularly in limited war theory, and sometimes include other elements such as genocide or the extermination of an enemy.[5,6] Some similar terms that are often used interchangeably can be thrown in the same bowl: general war, major war, big war, national war, all-out-war, central war, and any others in this vein. The most bizarre definition I have seen is the following:

How to rethink what’s ‘top secret’ for the Internet age

By Dianne Feinstein

Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, is the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. 

We cannot expect to keep our nation’s secrets secure — or provide meaningful oversight for our intelligence agencies — if proper classification of our country’s secrets is as likely as a coin flip. 

Yet, according to the most recent review of classified documents by the Information Security Oversight Office (the office responsible for oversight of the government’s classification system), improper classification markings were found on half of all classified documents. The rate was as high as 70 percent in certain agencies. 

That even seasoned national security professionals frequently fail to properly classify documents suggests that the system is broken. That’s why the incoming administration must update its methods to protect classified national security information to reflect the realities of the digital era. 

Rooted in a paper-based era, the existing classification system has become so complex and distorted that it no longer serves its fundamental goals: sharing secrets with our allies and partners while safeguarding this information from adversaries who would do us harm. 



Not long ago, the Army had a blog problem.

Gen. Peter Schoomaker, then-Army chief of staff, castigated military bloggers in a 2005 memorandum, citing security risks. As if to underscore Schoomaker’s message, a 2006 cartoon published by the office of the Army’s Chief Information Officer depicted the “Insurgent of the Month” winner thanking military bloggers for leaking valuable secrets on the internet. Soon after, Army policies threatened to squash military blogs altogether as influential military bloggers went offline, including Army Capt. Matt Gallagher, whose blog later served as the basis for the war memoir Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War.

The Pentagon has since done an about-face, becoming a major social media adopter. The U.S. Army alone has millions of followers on Facebook and Twitter—a number that doesn’t include countless more fans of Army units, installations and agencies. Top Army leaders have jumped on the social media bandwagon, too; hardly a day goes by without a picture of Undersecretary Patrick J. Murphy doing pushups with cadets or Secretary Eric Fanning’s clever memes.

Blogs and social media are having a major effect on military operations, leadership and culture. Here are just three ways.

The Benjamin Franklin Method: How to (Actually) Learn to Write

Benjamin Franklin may be the most prolific man in all of American history.

“[He was] the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become.”

Franklin’s literal rags to riches story is jam-packed with insights on writing and a better life.

Born into poverty with 16 siblings, Franklin dropped out of school at age 10. How did Benjamin Franklin go from primary school dropout to the most accomplished American in all of history?

I wanted to find out.

In my own quest to teach myself how to write, I dug into Franklin’s autobiography. Guess what? He wasn’t born with it.

By his late twenties, Franklin had become independently wealthy through his publications of the Pennsylvania Gazette and his famed Poor Richard’s Almanack.

Yet, as a teenager, Franklin was not a good at writing. Determined to improve but with no teachers and no money, he decided to teach himself.

Pentagon Faces ‘Significant’ Cyber Security Challenges

BY: Morgan Chalfant 

Inspector general: Cyber weaknesses persist despite billions invested to boost information security

The Pentagon faces “significant” cyber security challenges as the U.S. military becomes reliant on electronic networks and infrastructure to conduct its operations, according to the Defense Department’s inspector general.

The Pentagon inspector general reviewed nearly two-dozen unclassified government reports addressing a “wide range of cyber security weaknesses” in Defense Department systems that were issued in fiscal year 2016, concluding that the department needs to overcome major hurdles in cyber security.

The report comes amid increased concern about cyber attacks from China and Russia.

“Correcting cyber security weaknesses and maintaining adequate cyber security is critical, as the DoD has become increasingly reliant on cyber space to enable its military, intelligence, and business operations to perform the full spectrum of military operations,” the inspector general wrote in the report issued last week. “Although DoD has taken steps to increase cyber security over its systems, networks, and infrastructure, significant challenges remain.”

Pentagon: China Threatened to Bankrupt Defense Contractor

BY: Bill Gertz

Incident involving jet fighter logistics highlights aggressive Chinese cyber espionage

A U.S. defense contractor was threatened with bankruptcy by Chinese hackers seeking jet fighter logistics secrets, according to the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.

A report earlier this month by the Joint Staff’s J-2 intelligence directorate revealed that the American contractor, a company involved in classified defense work, was threatened by Chinese hackers, according to Pentagon officials familiar with the report.

The Chinese demanded access to the company’s intellectual property, and said unless the company secrets were provided, China would steal the data, reverse engineer it, and then sell it internationally in a bid to force the company into bankruptcy.

The unidentified company is involved in supplying logistics support for U.S. fighter aircraft, such as parts and maintenance for fighters.

A Joint Staff spokesman declined to comment.

Other details of the Chinese cyber industrial espionage were not disclosed, but officials said the incident is an example of a new kind of bold cyber espionage that has been underway for years, involving China targeting U.S. companies such as defense contractors, manufacturers, and high-technology firms.

How to Make Donald Trump’s Phone Safe


The man who led the effort to let President Obama keep his BlackBerry says the best solution for Trump might be multiple devices. 

Eight years after he was the man try­ing to grant Barack Obama’s plea to keep his Black­Berry, Richard “Dick­ie” George is watch­ing with more than cas­u­al in­terest while an­oth­er pres­id­ent-elect fights to keep his smart­phone as a life­line out of the bubble that is the mod­ern pres­id­ency.

Obama won that battle—sort of—thanks to the work of a team at the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency headed by George, and thanks to the pres­id­ent’s will­ing­ness to ac­cept severe re­stric­tions.

Today, the chal­lenges presen­ted by Pres­id­ent-elect Don­ald Trump’s heavy use of so­cial me­dia on an un­se­cured An­droid phone are con­sid­er­ably more daunt­ing. And the out­come is less than clear only five weeks be­fore the In­aug­ur­a­tion.

Trump trans­ition of­fi­cials will not talk about the is­sue, not even re­spond­ing to ques­tions on wheth­er they have had any dis­cus­sions with the NSA. The pres­id­ent-elect, in an in­ter­view with CBS’s 60 Minutesshortly after the elec­tion, prom­ised to be “very re­strained” with Twit­ter “if I use it at all.” With 17.3 mil­lion fol­low­ers, he sees Twit­ter as “a meth­od of fight­ing back” against cri­ti­cism.