28 February 2017

**** The View From Olympus: How to Prevent 4GW in America

William S. Lind

Low-level Fourth Generation war has been underway in the U.S. for some time, largely in the form of gang activities. That is likely to continue, as will occasional terrorist incidents. This low-level warfare is a problem, but it does not threaten the state.

However, the Left’s reaction to the election of Donald Trump as president points to a far more dangerous kind of 4GW on our own soil. Trump’s election signified, among other things, a direct rejection of the Left’s ideology of cultural Marxism, which condemns Whites, men, family-oriented women, conservative blacks, straights, etc. as inherently evil. Not surprisingly, those people finally rebelled against political correctness and elected someone who represents them.

That is how our system is supposed to work. But the Left only accepts the results of democracy when they win. A rejection of cultural Marxism is, to them, illegitimate. Hence we continue to see not just the hard Left but the whole Establishment howl with hatred, loathing, and contempt directed toward President Trump and those who elected him. Establishment organs such as the New York Times drip venom from every page. The Times last week went so far as to devote and entire op ed to attacking the way the president ties his necktie!


The age of the strike carrier is over. As the United States enters an era where the potential for modern great-power war is increasing dramatically in Eurasia, a return to the traditional roles of the aircraft carrier is required to maintain maritime access. Carrier-borne over-land strike warfare has not proved decisive in previous conflicts in heavily contested air defense environments, and will not prove so in the future. In the potential high-end conflicts of the twenty-first century, the likely utility of carrier-based land strike is largely non-existent. Thankfully, the traditional carrier aviation roles of maritime interdiction and fleet air defense remain highly valuable in wars against modern navies, but are precisely the roles, missions, and tactics sacrificed for sea based over-land strikes over the past sixty years. Regaining this capability will require a modest investment in existing and developing systems and capabilities and should be the force’s, the service’s and the nation’s highest objective in the coming years.

Aircraft Carriers in Over-Land Strike

American carrier airpower received its combat indoctrination in the Pacific War. However, pollution of the history of that campaign by naval aviation and airpower enthusiasts caused the lessons of that war to ossify over time. During Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz’s campaign aircraft carriers and their air wings almost exclusively provided maritime interdiction and fleet air defense. There are three major exceptions to this rule; Doolittle’s raid, the offloading of the Enterprise air group to Henderson Field during the Solomon Islands operation, and the strikes against the Japanese redoubts and the home islands late in the war. Additionally, carrier air forces provided strikes to Marine landings and naval aviation supported the Army landings of MacArthur’s campaign, most famously at Leyte. Admiral Kinkaid’s light carriers supported much of this effort, as well as Vice Admiral William F. Halsey’s and Raymond Spruance’s fast carrier task forces of Third and Fifth Fleets. 

*** NATO, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe

George Friedman

Over the past week, American officials have attended meetings of NATO and the Munich Security Conference. The topic has been the future of NATO, with the United States demanding once more that the Europeans carry out their obligation to maintain effective military forces in order to participate in the NATO military alliance. At the same time, many European countries raised the question of whether the United States is committed to NATO. The Europeans are charging that that Americans may have military force but lack political commitment to Europe. The Americans are charging that the Europeans may be politically committed to NATO but lack the military force to give meaning to their commitment.

The real issue is that NATO has achieved its original mission, and no agreement exists on what its mission is now. NATO’s original mission was to block a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. That was achieved in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Having achieved the mission, NATO could have dissolved, but the problem with multinational institutions is that they take on a life of their own, independent of the reason they were created. Disbanding NATO because it had achieved its goal was never an option. So it continued to exist, holding conferences, maintaining planning staff and acting as if there was political agreement on what it was supposed to do.

** Think Asia Will Dominate the 21st Century? Think Again.

Dov S. Zakheim

Michael R. Auslin deconstructs the tensions lurking below the region’s prosperous surface.

MICHAEL R. Auslin opens his book with a preface entitled “The Asia that Nobody Sees.” He might better have entitled it “Hiding in Plain Sight.” For far too long, but especially during the Obama years, policymakers chose to focus on Asia’s remarkable economic growth, coupled with an era of relative peace. Too often they overlooked economic, demographic, social, political and military tensions that did not lurk all that far below Asia’s shiny surface.

Barack Obama, who spent part of his formative years in Indonesia, was a leading cheerleader for the concept of the Asian century. He seemed to care little about Europe and preferred to avoid the troubles of the Middle East as much as possible. He embraced the notion of a rising Asia that soon would constitute America’s most vital interests. It was in that spirit, too, that Hillary Clinton announced the “pivot to Asia,” which was meant to refocus American military power and political and economic priorities away from Europe and the Middle East and instead underscore Asia’s importance to the United States.

MHA’s report: Need to control mosque, madrasa, media for Kashmir valley narrative

by Rahul Tripathi

The report suggests that some of the financial schemes of the Centre may be implemented through these people that may help to bring more people in their area of influence.

The report suggests that some of the financial schemes of the Centre may be implemented through these people that may help to bring more people in their area of influence.

“Control” of the mosque, madrasa, print and TV media, changes in political atmosphere, strengthening of intelligence set-up and reaching out to the moderate faction of Hurriyat are some of the suggestions in an assessment report prepared by the Centre about the prevailing situation in the Kashmir Valley. The report, compiled after securing inputs from ground, suggests long-term “actionable points” and has been sent to National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, sources said.

Discussing the three-decade-old insurgency in the Valley, the report makes no reference to Pakistan but suggests that the political atmosphere in the Valley needs to be changed and those who were part of the 2014 election victory need to be supported and promoted by the government.

Move Over, America. India’s the Captain Now.

Anirudh Kanisetti

India has a tradition of pluralism and tolerance that makes us uniquely suited to a role of global leadership in a multipolar world.

In1805, the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte conquered most of Germany, overthrowing the smaller princedoms and humbling the Prussians and Austrians. This led to Germans beginning to see themselves, for possibly the first time, as possessing a broader loyalty than their direct rulers: as being “Germans” (especially as being anti-French). It was a mature form of the same sentiment that Otto Von Bismarck, Chancellor of Prussia, took advantage of in 1870 to defeat France and unite Germany into the Second Reich, in a swell of nationalistic fervour.

The Proclamation of the German Empire in 1870. Bismarck is at the centre, dressed in white. German nationalism was one of the great shaping forces of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

As the 19th century drew to a close, Europe continued to modernize. Old feudal ties had been swept away by centralizing empires such as Austria and Russia. Yet the modernizing imperial project offered little to subject peoples who weren’t part of the ruling culture or linguistic group. Hungarians in Austria-Hungary, for example, demanded not only the right to self-rule but also respect for their culture and traditions, as did the Polish in Tsarist Russia[1]. Virulent forms of nationalism, in fact, later led to the rise of Fascism and Nazism and were certainly responsible for the Second World War. After the World Wars, national boundaries based on regional cultures and linguistic histories did indeed seem to be the firmest basis for states which could offer no other common ties to their voting citizenry. Radical nationalism, it was thought, was a thing of the past.

Building Deterrence

by Manmohan Bahadur

In war, and more importantly, in preparing for war, uncertainties abound. The spectrum of conflict is becoming larger and time compression due to computing technology and the opening up of the aerospace frontier demands acquisition of knowledge. The arena too has expanded from land/sea/air to the cybersphere, space and the electromagnetic domain. Call it new generation or hybrid warfare, it is incumbent on decision-makers to plan India’s approach towards capability building to meet the threat of war.

While casualties have a deleterious impact on society, it is the country’s standing in the comity of nations that is at stake. The mantle falls on people charged with the brief of war prevention, war planning and war making; the political executive has a major part in all three since policy formulation directly effects the creation of deterrence.

There are two macro issues that demand attention. First, the restructuring of the Higher Defence Organisation (HDO), characterised presently by the incessant demand for a Chief of Defence Staff linked with theatre commands, a la the US, and now China. Clinical analysis is necessary to tackle this issue, which has become an emotive one. Second, for too long have we pussy-footed on the need to develop an indigenous defence manufacturing base — changes are happening, but just about.

Pakistan: Stoking the Fire in Karachi

Decades of neglect and mismanagement have turned Karachi, Pakistan’s largest and wealthiest city, into a pressure cooker. Ethno-political and sectarian interests and competition, intensified by internal migration, jihadist influx and unchecked movement of weapons, drugs and black money, have created an explosive mix. A heavy-handed, politicised crackdown by paramilitary Rangers is aggravating the problems. To address complex conflict drivers, the state must restore the Sindh police’s authority and operational autonomy while also holding it accountable. Over the longer term, it must redress political and economic exclusion, including unequal access to justice, jobs and basic goods and services, which criminal and jihadist groups tap for recruits and support. It must become again a provider to citizens, not a largely absentee regulator of a marketplace skewed toward the elite and those who can mobilise force. Sindh’s ruling party and Karachi’s largest must also agree on basic political behaviour, including respect for each other’s mandate, and reverse politicisation of provincial and municipal institutions that has eroded impartial governance.

The megacity’s demographics are at the root of its many conflicts. Every major ethnic group has a sizeable presence; economically-driven waves of rural Sindhis, Pashtuns, southern Punjabis, those displaced by conflict and natural disasters and refugees and illegal immigrants from all over South Asia continue to add to the population. While long term these waves could reconfigure its politics, today’s primary divide dates to British India’s 1947 partition and the influx into Karachi of millions of Mohajirs (Urdu-speaking migrants from India and their descendants) that reduced Sindhis to a minority. In Pakistan’s early years, a predominantly Mohajir Muslim League leadership stacked government institutions with its constituents, creating Sindhi resentment. In turn, the policies of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government, including quotas for under-represented Sindhis in government jobs and other institutions, were resented by Mohajirs in the 1970s and resulted in violent clashes during the 1980s and 1990s that destabilised provincial and national politics.

The Islamic State and al-Qaeda in Pakistan

Farhan Zahid

Dr. Farhan Zahid earned his PhD in Terrorism Studies from Vrije University Brussels (VUB), Brussels, Belgium. He writes on counter-terrorism, al-Qaeda, Pakistani al- Qaeda- linked groups, ISIS, Islamist violent non-state actors in Pakistan, jihadi ideologies and the Afghan Taliban. He authored "Roots of Islamic Violent Activism in South Asia", (2014), "From Jihad to al-Qaeda to Islamic State", 2015; and "The Al-Qaeda Network in Pakistan", (2015).

The Islamic State’s (ISIS) credentials substantially improved after their conquest of Mosul in 2014. In only two years, this al-Qaeda splinter group has spread into most Middle Eastern countries, the Islamic Maghreb, South and Southeast Asia, and has established cells and inspired individual attacks in Europe and North America.

Not much has been studied and analyzed about the growing ISIS network in Pakistan and its founder’s connections to the Islamist ideologues and terrorist organizations in the country. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi began his jihadi career in Pakistan in the late 1980s, and it was there that he established strong relationships with a number of Palestinian jihadi ideologues. Zarqawi, originally from Jordan, was a veteran Afghan-Arab who later established a training camp, with bin Laden’s permission, in Herat, Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

How China Lost $1 Trillion


It’s a lot of money — but it’s shrinking.

On Tuesday, China’s central bank said its foreign exchange reserves slipped to $2.998 trillion in January. While they dropped only a modest amount from December, the fall still put the reserves below the psychologically important $3 trillion level. Three years ago, they were at nearly $4 trillion.

When they were last at $3 trillion, in early 2011, China’s economy was growing at a much faster pace — and the central bank’s foreign-exchange reserves were growing rapidly.

What are China’s foreign exchange reserves? 

China keeps a firm grip on the value of its currency, the renminbi. For years, that meant keeping the renminbi steady as vast amounts of the world’s money flooded into the country to buy the toys, shoes, electronics and other goods it makes.

Under the rules of global finance, that flood of money should have driven up the value of the renminbi against other currencies, like the dollar. Instead, China kept the renminbi from rising as a way to help its manufacturers compete abroad. The mechanics of how it did that are complicated, but the process resulted in China holding large sums of money denominated in other currencies.

ChinaRussian Federation Russia and China’s Enduring Alliance

By Jacob Stokes

Several commentators, among them Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute and Edward Luttwak of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, have suggested that U.S. President Donald Trump should take any efforts to warm relations with Russia one step further and try to enlist Moscow’s help in balancing a rising China. Trump views China and Islamist extremism as the two principal challenges to U.S. security, and he sees Russia as a potential partner in combating both. The thinking goes, then, that Trump should run a version of the diplomatic play that former U.S. President Richard Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger followed in the early 1970s when they thawed relations with Beijing to counter the Soviet Union. This time, however, Trump would partner with Russia to balance China.

The proposal entices with visions of ambitious strategic gambits across Eurasia, in Trumpian vernacular the “big league” of geopolitics. Nixon going to China was one of the most consequential diplomatic deals in U.S. history. What better way for the dealmaker in chief—especially one who regularly consults with Kissinger—to burnish his credentials than carrying out a version of it for himself? In theory, the move would adhere to traditional maxims of geopolitics: namely, the imperative to maintain the balance of power on the Eurasian continent. U.S. strategists have relied on this principle to varying degrees since at least World War II. Further, a strategy that engages with Russia to counter China might lend a degree of coherence to the Trump administration’s otherwise disjointed foreign policy.

Slower May Be Better in Going at ISIS

Paul R. Pillar

A couple of tendencies that are all too common in policymaking and policy debate tend to make for unwise foreign commitments or overextended foreign expeditions. One is to treat a goal that is at most an intermediate objective as if it were an end in itself. Doing so obfuscates clear analysis of means and ends, overlooks other ways to achieve the same ends, and distorts perception of the costs and benefits associated with achieving the immediate objective. The other tendency is to give insufficient attention to what comes after achieving the immediate objective. One only has to recall the example of insufficient attention given to what would come after the objective of overthrowing Saddam Hussein to appreciate the problems involved.

One could add a third phenomenon, which is less common but sometimes arises, which is to try to fulfill a campaign promise for the sake of fulfilling a campaign promise.

All three factors appear to be present now with the issue of next steps for the U.S. military in Syria in going after ISIS. The head of U.S. Central Command is saying, “It could be that we take on a larger burden ourselves.” His comment comes amid the Department of Defense coming up with a plan requested by President Trump, who promised during the campaign to hasten the defeat of ISIS.

Russia's Rostec to co-develop 5th-gen fighter with UAE

By: Jill Aitoro

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Russia defense heavyweight Rostec will partner with the UAE Ministry of Defence to co-develop a fifth-generation light combat fighter, company CEO Sergey Chemezov said at IDEX in Abu Dhabi Monday. 

Development, which is based upon its MiG-29 twin-engine fighter aircraft, will kick off in 2018, and will take an estimated seven to eight years, Chemezov said during a media briefing with journalists. He elaborated in an exclusive one-on-one interview with Defense News. 

“That’s not fast, because it takes quite a long period of time to develop,” he said speaking through a translator. “We anticipate local production here in the Arab Emirates, for the needs of Emirates. And of course [we expect development to support the needs of] the neighboring countries." 

Details about how the partnership would be structured have not been finalized, though Chemezov said it could potentially function as a joint venture between the company and UAE or UAE's domestic suppliers. 

The announcement comes soon after confirmation by the company that it would support development of India’s fifth-generation advanced medium combat aircraft. Though Chemezov wouldn’t comment on deals still under negotiations, the company is expected to sign a contract for Su-35 aircraft for Indonesia any day. Egypt is another country that reportedly is in talks with Rostec for fighters – MiG-29 aircraft specifically. The two companies signed a $3.5 billion arms package in 2014 covering aircraft, missiles, and coastal defenses. 

As Trump Flounders On Foreign Policy, Russia Flexes Its Nuclear Muscles

Thirty years after Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev signed a landmark nuclear arms treaty which laid the foundations of post-Cold War relations between the West and the Soviet Union, recent developments suggest that the Kremlin has quietly restarted the nuclear arms race with the deployment of a new generation of nuclear weapons which could wind back the clock to the bad old days of superpower confrontation.

Of course, there have been episodes since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 that have put considerable strain on relations between the two powers - chief among them Yugoslavia, Iraq, Chechnya, Georgia, Libya and Ukraine. But the latest news from Russia suggests a more fundamental shift. According to a report in The New York Times US officials confirmed on February 14 that the Russians had secretly deployed new ground-launched cruise missiles known as SSC-8s with a range capability of between 500km and 5,500km in the area around Volgograd in south-west Russia. A second operational unit was deployed elsewhere, but its location is as yet undisclosed.

These missiles are intermediate range nuclear weapons that carry multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs). They are not intercontinental, but the target range of the Volgograd site covers the entirety of Western Europe - including Britain.

What I Saw in Kyiv


Ukraine’s democrats are desperate for American leadership, but they fear Trump will abandon them to Moscow’s clutches. 

I last visited Kyiv in April 2014, when the energy in the city was still electric. For months, Independence Square—dubbed the Euromaidan by Ukrainians seeking to tug their country out from under Russia’s grasp—had been occupied by protesters and police as unrest gripped the city in the dead of the Ukrainian winter. As I stood on Khreshchatyk Street, the Euromaidan was still filled with Ukrainians from every walk of life, demanding a more transparent government, a more democratic society and closer integration with Europe and the West.

The major protests had dissipated by February, when 100 demonstrators were tragically killed by sniper fire. Nevertheless, the protests resulted in a victory for the people of Ukraine. By the time our congressional delegation arrived to assess the situation, former president Victor Yanukovych had fled to Russia and Ukraine was in the early days of organizing a new government. As an American, it felt inspiring. As a member of Congress, it felt essential. As I arrive in Kyiv today, this time as a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that U.S. support for Ukraine is more important than ever.

Trump and Russia: Lessons From the Red Scare


Donald Trump has dismissed concern about undue Russian influence on his campaign and presidency as “fake news”—a fiction created by Democrats to explain away their defeat. Much of the news isn’t fake; it includes, among other things, a very real U.S. intelligence assessment that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election in part to help Trump, and the very real dismissal of Trump’s campaign chairman and national-security adviser amid scrutiny of their connections to the Kremlin. But Trump is right that the issue has become partisan, scrambling American politics. The Democrats have largely replaced the Republicans as antagonists of Russia and champions of the U.S. intelligence community.

“It is now the Republican Party, which at the height of the Cold War tarred its liberal opponents as Kremlin cronies, that must defend its president from charges of dual loyalty,” Joshua Zeitz recently observed in Politico. Noah Millman of The American Conservative has gone further, arguing that Trump’s opponents, in using “increasingly extreme and irresponsible rhetoric” to suggest that there’s a “Manchurian Candidate” in the White House, are perpetrating a “new Red Scare.”

Pacific Rim States Affected By Trump's War On Free Trade

by Dyfed Loesche

U.S. President Donald Trump has taken a clear stance on free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The former he scrapped before it could come in to effect by means of one of his first presidential orders signed since taking office on January 20. The latter, which includes Canada & Mexico, he wants to have revised.

China is the Pacific Rim country which has been the target of a lot of criticism by Mr. Trump, him calling her a "currency manipulator", having committed the "greatest jobs theft in history", also being involved in "illegal activities". As our infographic shows, China produces many wares that are imported to the U.S., hence the pretty hefty trade deficit, which probably can’t be corrected by signing a presidential decree.

This chart shows U.S. trade balances with selected trading partners (Nafta & TPP*, China) and their GDP.

Harbingers of Future War: Implications for the Army with Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster

KATHLEEN H. HICKS: Good morning, everybody. Thank you for joining us here at CSIS today.

I’m Kathleen Hicks. I direct the International Security Program here at CSIS. And I have the great pleasure of being able to introduce and moderate the session today with General H.R. McMaster.

Let me first thank Rolls-Royce North America, who makes this Military Strategy Forum possible.

And also let you know that, should there be a fire alarm or something of that sort, obviously you know there are doors behind you. There are doors behind me as well. I’m the safety officer for this session, so if anything should happen just follow my lead and we’ll head across the street. As I like to tell people, there is a church and a bar. (Laughter.) They’re in two separate locations, and so depending on what the event is we’ll go to one of them – (laughter) – more maybe in serial order.

But as to today’s event, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster has graciously agreed to join us today to talk about how the Army thinks about – how he thinks about implications for the Army in the future. And certainly the world today is extremely complex and challenging for our United States Army.

How to hunt a lone wolf: Countering terrorists who act on their own

Daniel L. Byman

In the last two years, “lone wolf” jihadists seemed to emerge as the new face of terrorism. In December 2015, husband and wife Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik attacked a Christmas party held by Farook’s employer, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, killing 14. In June 2016, Omar Mateen killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida—the deadliest attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. And in July, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove a truck through a Bastille Day celebration in Nice, killing 86 people. The attacks by the San Bernardino killers, Mateen, and Bouhlel followed an increasingly common pattern: the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) claimed credit for them, but the perpetrators appear to have planned and executed their operations alone.

Analysts traditionally define a lone wolf as a terrorist who is not part of a group or directed by an outside organization. In reality, few lone wolves truly act alone: Farook and Malik were a married couple, and some security officials believe that Bouhlel had been in contact with suspected extremists in his neighborhood. Nevertheless, the label is important: terrorists who act without external guidance pose a different threat, and call for a different policy response, than do those who are directed by an extremist group.

Lone wolves are an old problem, but in recent decades, the number of attacks by them has grown. And it won’t fall anytime soon: ISIS has embraced the tactic, and recent successes may well inspire copycats. And although lone wolves usually kill few people, they have an outsize political impact. In both the United States and Europe, they are fueling Islamophobia, isolating Muslim communities, and empowering populist demagogues.



My Dearest,

May I call you Deep State? Everyone else is doing it and it’s so hot right now. Such a brief and convenient nickname, which must make up for the fact that it’s wildly inappropriate.

It’s a week after Valentine’s Day, D.S. (may I call you D.S.?), but I feel like it was time to get in touch.

You’ve been a naughty boy D.S. I hear you’ve been responsible for a cascade of leaks! It’s so interesting, you’ve leaked like a sieve for decades but only this round has somehow made you a Deep State! Quelle surprise. It’s so very odd. Everyone seems to know why you’re spilling your guts to the press, as though your leaks are footnoted and, using the word of the month, unprecedented. I do also find it astonishing that all three million of you have gathered together to bless these leaks as well. I’m sure there is no wishful thinking influencing this #analysis.

And you, all by yourself, took down the president’s closest national security confidant! A three star general who lied to the vice president and was fired by the Obama administration for bad management! Remarkable, my darling, that you took this upon yourself just to save the Iran deal, and not the cast of political players with possible axes to grind against one another.

CJCS General Joe Dunford Discusses Strategy, Threats at Brookings Event

Jim Garamone

Countering the threats posed by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea -- and countering violent extremism -- is still the correct way to benchmark what the Defense Department must do to prepare the joint force, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at the Brookings Institute today.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford spoke generally about strategy and specifically about Russia and Syria during a session with Brookings Fellow Michael O’Hanlon.

“If you look at the capabilities presented by those four-plus-one threats … it gives you the full spectrum of the challenges we may face,” the chairman said.

Dunford hastened to add that he does not anticipate fighting any of these nation states, but they present the capabilities that the U.S. military would have to overcome should deterrence fail.

Existential Threat

Russia is an existential threat to the United States, he said. The nation is modernizing its nuclear enterprise, cyber capabilities, land, sea and air forces and space capabilities. And Russia has a strategy that uses information, cyber, diplomacy and military capabilities short of war to accomplish strategic goals, Dunford noted.

Artificial Intelligence: ‘Frankenstein’ Or Capitalist Money Machine – OpEd


The Financial Times’ Special Report (2/16/2017) published a four-page spread on the ‘use and possible dangers of artificial intelligence (AI)’. Unlike the usual trash journalists who serve as Washington’s megaphones on the editorial pages and political columns, the Special Report is a thoughtful essay that raises many important issues, even as it is fundamentally flawed.

The writer, Richard Walters, cites several major problems accompanying AI from ‘public anxieties, to inequalities and job insecurity’. Walters pleads with those he calls the ‘controllers of autonomous systems’ to heed social and ‘political frictions’ or face societal ‘disruption’. Experts and journalists, discussing the long-term, large-scale destruction of the working class and service jobs, claim that AI can be ameliorated through management and social engineering.

This essay will proceed to raise fundamental issues, questions leading to an alternative approach to AI relying on class analysis. We will reject the specter of AI as a ‘Frankenstein’ by identifying the social forces, which finance, design and direct AI and which benefit from its negative social impact.

Cyber wrap

Zoe Hawkins and Michael Chi

Russia’s been ruffling feathers across Europe again this week, with Ukraine accusing the Russian government of using a new virus to target its critical infrastructure as part of Russia’s ongoing cyber sabotage campaign against the country. Ukraine’s security service chief of staff claimed that Russia’s Federal Security Service collaborated with corporate entities and criminal hackers on this effort, exemplifying the blurred lines between state and non-state activity in cyberspace. Further west, France is becoming increasingly concerned that Russia is meddling in its upcoming presidential election. Leading pro-Europe candidate Emmanuel Macron experienced a wave of cyber incidents against his campaign website and email servers earlier this month. Responding to the allegations, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault declared that France would consider retaliatory measures if necessary, ‘because no foreign state can choose the future president of the Republic’. Similar concerns over the integrity of political campaigns have been voiced in Germany and the Netherlands.

Microsoft President Brad Smith recently encouraged the international community to establish a ‘digital Geneva Convention’, as a way of establishing international rules to protect civilians from nation-state activities in cyberspace. Smith’s provocative suggestion, delivered during his address to the RSA Conference in San Francisco (also attended by the inflatable #cyberroo), is a continuation of Microsoft efforts to advance the debate around international cyber norms. The company proposed a normative framework in 2014 and then followed up with a range of implementation measures in 2016. Microsoft’s proposal of a digital Geneva Convention fits into a broader international debate over whether secure access to the Internet should be considered a human right.

Big Data: the devil’s in the detai

Michael Chi

As the government’s review of the Australian Intelligence Community (AIC) picks up steam, one of the key challenges is to identify and resolve growing gaps in the AIC’s technological capabilities. One such capability is the collection and use of Big Data.

The generally accepted definition of big data casts it as a “problem”, because it’s characterised by its extreme volume, velocity, and variety, which makes collection, management and analysis rather challenging. The problem stems from a ‘data deluge’ of social media posts, photos, videos, purchases, clicks and a burgeoning wave of sensor data from smarter and interconnected appliances and accessories, known as the ‘Internet of Things’. Those sources generated a staggering 4.4 trillion gigabytes of data in 2013, but that figure is forecasted to reach 44 trillion gigabytes of data by 2020, which threatens to overwhelm conventional methods for storing and analysing data.

In response to the problem of big data is the “promise” of big data analytics. Analytics promises to not only manage the data deluge, but also to analyse the data using algorithms to uncover hidden correlations, patterns and links of potential analytical value. Techniques to extract those insights fall under various names: ‘data mining’, ‘data analytics’, ‘data science’, and ‘machine learning’, among others. That work is expected to yield new insights into a range of puzzles from tracking financial fraud to detecting cybersecurity incidents through the power of parallel processing hardware, distributed software, new analytics tools and a talented workforce of multidisciplinary data scientists.

Cyberwar: Russia admits 'information troops' involved in expanded propaganda operations - report

By India Ashok

The acknowledgement follows repeated allegations that Kremlin conducted cyber attacks targeting Western nations. 

Russia has for the first time reportedly acknowledged its military's involvement and efforts in cyberwarfare. Kremlin's "information troops" have allegedly been involved in various "intelligent, effective propaganda", according to Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu. Kremlin's information warfare efforts have reportedly been significantly expanded post the Cold War.

Nato is believed to be one of the Russian military's top targets. Shoigu told Russian MPs, "we have information troops who are much more effective and stronger than the former 'counter-propaganda' section", BBC reported. The admissions follow repeated allegations against the Kremlin of conducting cyberattacks against Western nations. Russia has previously dismissed accusations of any attempts at carrying out cyberattacks.

Commenting on Shoigu's remarks, former Russian commander-in-chief Gen Yuri Baluyevsky said a victory in information warfare "can be much more important than victory in a classical military conflict, because it is bloodless, yet the impact is overwhelming and can paralyse all of the enemy state's power structures".

27 February 2017

*** Jihadism: An Eerily Familiar Threat


As part of my day-to-day job, I read a lot of news reports, books and scholarly studies. Though the never-ending avalanche of information sometimes feels like a mild version of electronic waterboarding, it also allows me to pick out interesting parallels between different events.

Not long ago I re-read Blood and Rage, an excellent book by historian Michael Burleigh that outlines the cultural history of terrorism. As I flipped through the chapters on nihilist and anarchist terrorism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, I couldn't help but notice some intriguing similarities to jihadism. This week I'll share them with you to put the modern threat that jihadists pose into better context.

Above image: Assassination of President McKinley. During their heyday, anarchists managed to assassinate a number of world leaders. Jihadists share similar ambitions but so far have fallen short. (T. DART WALKER)

The technological tools today's jihadists use are certainly new; after all, the internet and social media only emerged over the past few decades. But many of the tactics they rely on are as old as terrorism itself. And despite the more primitive means at their disposal, anarchists were often far more successful than their jihadist counterparts in using propaganda and the media to recruit, radicalize and equip their followers.

** Darker Shades of Gray: Why Gray Zone Conflicts Will Become More Frequent and Complex

Nora Bensahel PDF Version

The United States has long fielded the world’s most capable armed forces. It spends more on its military than the next nine nations combined, of which five are U.S. treaty allies.[1] It fields more active-duty military personnel than any country other than China,[2] and its weaponry and technological capabilities are peerless. U.S military superiority has helped deter major power wars, secure the global commons, and maintain the global order for many decades, and it continues to do so today.

Yet, every strength has a corresponding weakness, every advantage a corresponding vulnerability. Perhaps paradoxically, this conventional military dominance means that few adversaries are likely to directly challenge the United States with the use of force, since doing so risks complete military defeat. As Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster has often quipped, “there are two ways to fight the U.S. military – asymmetrically and stupid.”[3] Fighting asymmetrically can mean fighting at the lower end of the conflict spectrum, through terrorism and insurgency. But it also can mean fighting in what has become known as the “gray zone,” which may not involve military forces at all.

Gray zone conflicts are neither war nor peace, but instead lie somewhere in between. As I’ve written elsewhere, “their defining characteristic is ambiguity – about the ultimate objectives, the participants, whether international treaties and norms have been violated, and the role that military forces should play in response.”[4] Such ambiguities enable adversaries to pursue their interests while staying below the threshold that would trigger a military response – and, if they remain ambiguous enough, they might avoid any response. They are therefore a smart approach for revisionist powers, who wish to change the current U.S.-led international order to better serve their own interests. According to Hal Brands, the goal of gray zone approaches “is to reap gains, whether territorial or otherwise, that are normally associated with victory in war. Yet gray zone approaches are meant to achieve those gains without escalating to overt warfare, without crossing established red-lines, and thus without exposing the practitioner to the penalties and risks that such escalation might bring.”[5]

Our children aren't taught the ugly truth about the British Empire - it's time for them to learn

By Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Millions were displaced and countless murdered in India, as folk – who had lived peacefully – turned on each other. 

The Viceroy's House, a feature film by Gurinder Chadha, director of the joyous Bend it like Beckham, is out on general release in March. It is a beautifully made, devastating expose of Winston Churchill's dirty tricks as India gained independence in August 1947.

The country was partitioned, millions displaced, and countless murdered, as folk, who had lived peacefully, turned on each other. Ever since then our historians and film and TV programme makers have framed this savagery in religious terms: Intemperate Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims slaughtered each other because they could not share the land.

Using newly discovered documents, Chadha shows how Churchill had well set plans to scythe through India because he was worried about the influence the USSR would have in that region. Lord Mountbatten, who was sent out there to organise British withdrawal, had no idea about this dark plan. Nor do today's Brits, Indians or Pakistanis. This state guards its wicked deeds and noxious secrets. Always did. Always will.

104 satellites, World’s Cheapest, and more ISRO fluff

Pavan Srinath
 ISRO’s many launch vehicles. Only the PSLV is active. GSLVs are not yet fully mature — with GSLV Mk II having launched two satellites so far, and GSLV Mk III only completing one development flight till date.

Science geek turned wonk, loves everything in between. Fellow and faculty member at the Takshashila Institution. Anchors the Indian National Interest platform.

It’s the season to celebrate ISRO again. But pardon me if I don’t get up from my seat for this anthem. ISRO‘s competence is to be expected, and only higher achievements merit widespread celebration.

Yesterday, India’s space agency ISRO set a new record by launching 104 satellites from one single launch vehicle. This is about three times what anyone had done before.

The magical 2% How much should India spend on defence?

Nitin Pai

While it is true that India’s defence expenditure has been rising over the past two decades, it is falling as a fraction of GDP. Headline defence expenditure is set to drop from 2.29% of GDP this year to 2.14% of GDP next year. Furthermore, the share of capital expenditure is set to drop from 34.7% to 33% — more than two-thirds of the defence expenditure is on “revenue” or operational expenses. Then there’s the money that the defence ministry returns back to the treasury because it is unable to spend it. Pavan Srinath points out that actual defence expenditure is 1.6% of GDP.

For many analysts 2% of GDP is a magical figure, an anchor, that is used to benchmark whether we are spending more or less that what we should.

So where does this 2% come from? What’s its significance?

It comes from NATO. The alliance came up with that number to ensure that each member of the alliances pays its fair share of the costs of defending the West. The United States was especially keen that NATO member states do not free ride on its own contributions. I’m not sure how the 2% figure was arrived at, but it’s usefulness lay in the fact that each member-state had to spend a minimum amount on (collective) defence. (James Mattis, the new US defence secretary, has just warned NATO that many of its members have not met this target)

Clearly, it does not follow that India must spend 2% on defence. However, because spending has been around that mark for several years, it has ended up becoming a traditional norm. So we have the absurd situation where our defence spending levels are anchored to an arbitrary 2% of GDP that lacks a sound analytical basis.

Battle of the Trolls II — A.I. botnets

Puru Naidu

Politically sanctioned A.I. botnets for micro-targeting of voters for political messaging poses a threat to our democracy.

Last week, I blogged that politically sanctioned troll armies on social media to manage public perception and opinion is a weaponized tactic, and has become the new status quo of political campaigning. But, it seems like I had the mild version of the new reality. Using paid troll armies is just the surface of it. The advanced version is using big data analytics and behavioral science to form psychographic profiles of users for political messaging. ‘This isn’t anything new! Its basic advertising tactic that has been done for years’, is probably what you are thinking right now. No, not at the level of accuracy, speed, and collective influential power an intelligent botnet is capable of.

This is what Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics company, did during the Brexit and Trump campaigns. It used big data to create personality profiles and used A.I. botnets to prey on users with manipulative political messaging that ultimately changed their behavior. The company started off with massive amounts of data collection from data brokers and social media companies. Used it to develop personality profiles, a.k.a psychographic profiles, for each individual users. Then used A.I. botnets with automated scripts to target each of those users with A/B testing tactic that probes them for response towards different news articles, fake news, advertisements, and dark posts. The psychographic profiles are further updated with specific information about the user, and user manipulation continues.

Fighting Islamic State: A Trap For India – Analysis

By Ashok Malik

Located in the Sindh town of Sehwan, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is among Pakistan’s best-regarded Sufi shrines. It is associated in popular culture with the haunting voice of Reshma, the late artiste whose family migrated at Partition from the deserts of Rajasthan to Sindh and who shot to fame as both a devotee of Shahbaz Qalandar and the singer who gave us Dama Dam Mast Qalandar. Ironically many Indians first heard that devotional song not in the voice of Reshma, but of Runa Laila, a Bangladeshi icon, establishing how culture, music and faith link the subcontinent in more ways than we can imagine.

All this makes the terrorist bombing of the Shahbaz Qalandar shrine on 16 February 2017 that much more poignant. It is an act of infamy for which the Islamic State (IS), or Daesh as it is known, has claimed responsibility. It has been suggested, correctly, that Daesh’s puritan version of an Islam practised in the medieval desolation of Arabia cannot fathom or sanction divergent and regional practices of Islam, specially in South Asia. As such, targeting a Sufi shrine that is, frankly, beyond just Islamic in its appeal is entirely in keeping with the IS worldview.

Yet, while not discounting IS, it needs to be kept in mind that attacks on Sufi shrines, on Shias, on Ahmediyyas and on forms and modes of subcontinental Islam that are considered “deviant” and “blasphemous” by Wahhabi and similar interpretations of the faith are not new in Pakistan. They have been sanctioned and supported by the ideologues of Pakistan, by a state-back religious police, and even by sections of the military.

Military—Jihadi Complex S16E1: Bajwa the bibliophile

Pranay Kotasthane

Feat. India and Pakistan’s favourite pastime

My contention: the pastime that unites Indians and Pakistanis is not cricket as it is commonly believed to be but a far more interesting game called Clutching at the Straws.

The mechanics of this game are as follows: 

gameplay resets/begins when a new person replaces an incumbent one in any of these three positions: the PM of India, the PM of the putative state of Pakistan, or the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) who heads the Pakistani Military—Jihadi Complex (MJC). 

You earn straws whenever there’s a statement from the new appointee that can even remotely be construed as a measure to bring down tensions between India and Pakistan. More the media traction this statement gets, more the straws you earn. 

You get a leg-up if the new appointee actually translates these initial statements into actions. Common actions are: a photo op between any two leaders in the triad that can be used as a sign of bonhomie, a meeting on the sides of a multilateral summit, or even a bilateral meeting.