29 January 2017

*** Fighting Islamic Extremism: Making Muslims Partners and Not Enemies

By Anthony H. 

A new Administration that came to office with clearly defined intentions to change many key aspects of U.S. policy, and to do so as soon as possible, can be expected to try to act as quickly as possible. There are times, however, when quick action can do more harm than good. The way in which the United States deals with violent Islamic extremism and terrorism is a case in point.

A recent study by the Burke Chair at CSIS addressed these issues in detail, examining the recent trends in violent Islamic extremist terrorism and violence, the causes of such violence, and the critical role played by America's strategic partners in the Muslim world. This study is entitled Rethinking the Threat of Islamic Extremism: The Changes Needed in U.S. Strategy and is available on the CSIS web site at https://www.csis.org/analysis/rethinking-threat-islamic-extremism-changes-needed-us-strategy.

It shows that a successful U.S. strategy—and U.S global posture in dealing with such threats —cannot be dependent on singling out Muslims. Instead, it critically depends on working with moderate Muslim governments as partners in both counterterrorism and regional security. It is also dependent on winning the support of Muslims living in the United States and the West—rather than alienating them and pushing some into the hands of extremists as a result.

** The case of Barahoti, the first Himalyan blunder

In blue, the passes 'forgotten' in the Panchsheel Agreement 

During the annual Army Commanders’ Conference held at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun, one of the topics addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the three Service Chiefs was the infrastructure development along the borders with China and Pakistan.

The commanders apparently pleaded for a far better infrastructure to facilitate the movement of troops in case of crisis.

This raises two important issues: one, the neglect of the Himalayan frontier with China for the past 60 years and two, there is no ‘minor’ issues when the Indian borders are concerned.

Take Barahoti, in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, which witnessed the first Chinese intrusions on Indian soil in 1954. It is a telling case.

Every summer, the Indian media cries foul: “The Chinese have come again”. “The Chinese Dragon struck again”, say reports originating from the ‘inaccessible’ part of Uttarakhand.

In July 2016, The Times of India explained: “It all began on July 22, when an Indian team of 19 civilians led by a Sub Divisional Magistrate first entered into the area in Barahoti, an area perceived by Chinese as their territory. …Six Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel, in civil clothes and unarmed, accompanied the Indian civilians 200 metres inside the ‘alleged disputed’ territory.”

The Chinese troops PLA prevented the Indians paramilitary forces from going further and asked them to return: “No soon did the Indian team return, the Chinese PLA came in exactly 200 metres inside. Seeing the aggressive stance, Indian side led by ITBP asked the Chinese team to return to their original position.”

The story is not finished: on July 25 for the first time, China sent a helicopter to the area. Whether it crossed the LAC (as perceived by India) is not clear. But it was evidently to intimidate the ITBP.

The Government of India, as usual, played down the incident.

The fact remains that the ITBP personnel were not carrying firearms (not allowed as per an agreed protocol signed in 2005 and reiterated in 2013), while Chinese were carrying arms and wearing uniforms.

After the quake

Written by Sanjeev Kumar

In Bhuj’s rebuilding, the Gujarat approach is widely looked at as a model for reconstruction. (Express Archive Photo)

As the nation celebrated its 68th Republic Day, Gujarat mourned the 16th anniversary of the worst disaster that struck the state on January 26, 2001. Gujarat’s historic earthquake killed over 20,000 people, injuring 1,66,000, destroying nearly 4,00,000 homes. The shock waves spread over 700 km; 21 districts were affected and 6,00,000 people left homeless. While many believed that Gujarat would take years to get back to normal, the massive rehabilitation and reconstruction undertaken brought a resilient Gujarat back from the rubble. Bhuj, epicentre of the earthquake, managed to emerge strong after the disaster.

In fact, the pace of development in Bhuj following the disaster has been unprecedented. The town is now spread over 56 sq km — almost four times its size in 2001. It boasts high-rise apartments, sprawling supermarkets, beauty salons, recreation centres, wide four-lane highways, a modern earthquake-resistant hospital and an operational airport. Aid workers, global experts, journalists, corporates and religious groups of every denomination live in Bhuj today. Development banks and state governments have invested vast sums in infrastructure. Land has become an attractive investment. It is now common to hear Hindi spoken in Bhuj and hotels and cyber cafes complete to win the business of immigrants. If an earlier earthquake in the 19th century is thought to have encouraged many people to leave Kutch and settle overseas, then there is some irony in the fact that the 2001 earthquake brought thousands of people to the region.

In Bhuj’s rebuilding, the Gujarat approach is widely looked at as a model for reconstruction. From the recent post-earthquake reconstruction in Nepal in 2015 to the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the Gujarat model is widely replicated. Yet, although the model is celebrated, it is vital to highlight certain concerns flattened in the Bhuj plan. Any relief programme needs to be based on proper assessments of needy and vulnerable groups. But the rehabilitation packages announced soon after the Bhuj disaster offered unequal treatment to various categories of earthquake-affected people. Those who’d suffered equally in terms of damages were given unequal amounts of aid. The size of agricultural lands was also adopted as one of the criterias for assistance given. Places nearer the epicentre received higher assistance. Relief provisions also accorded more assistance for completely collapsed houses in urban areas than rural locations. Pre-earthquake house sizes were taken into consideration; that meant richer people were likely to derive larger benefits.

Japan and India in the New Asian Geopolitical Matrix 2017

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Asia’s new geopolitical matrix in 2017 will be determined by the challenges that US President throws at China and the likely reset of US polices on Russia and it is in this churning Asian geopolitics that Japan and India will be called upon as Asia’s Emerged Powers to act in unison to meet the challenges so arising.

The new Asian geopolitical matrix emerging in 2017 and ensuing thereafter would offer no strategic or political space for Japan’s traditional ‘pacifism’ or for India’s attachment to ‘strategic autonomy’. Both of these political fixations have held back Japan and India from formulating assertive security policies and programmes commensurate with their status as contending powers with China. In the process both Japan and India have had to deal with an overbearing China and also contributed to China’s arrogance by their timidity.

Further, the bitter lessons of the two World Wars of the 2oth Century amply illustrate that ‘Responsible Democratic Major Powers’ have no option but to unite against the rise of ‘Rising Revisionist Powers’ intent on a militaristic rise to zoom up their power trajectories and in the process shatter stability and security. In this direction, Japan, India and the United States have a special responsibility.

Already discussed in my recent SAAG Papers is the likelihood of a United States –Russia Détente and the hovering possibilities of US President Trump adopting harsher security and economic policies against China. In either scenario unfolding, Japan and India would be required to calibrate their geopolitical perspectives and the policies that should logically ensue. Why so? Simply because Japan as a military ally of the United States and India in the process of reinforcing substantially the US-India Strategic Partnership, will have to deal with the spill-over effects of new United States policies under President Trump.

The likelihood of a United States-Russia Détente would most likely be not a strategic concern for either Japan or India. Japan is already the lynch-pin of the US security architecture in the Asia Pacific for decades. Japan will continue to be so for many decades to come and with differing political dispensations in power. Japan is being assiduously wooed by Russia as evidenced by President Putin’s recent visit to Japan. Russia has expressed its desire to resume the 2+2 Dialogue of Foreign Ministers and Defence Misters of both countries. This was disrupted for some time by Russia under ostensible Chinese pressure. The fact that Russia sees merit in resuming the Dialogue with Japan, a country that China despises, indicates that Russia is willing to steer clear of China when it comes to Russian relations with Japan in light of Asia’s new geopolitics emerging.

Japan would therefore have no strategic concerns arising from a possible US-Russia Détente. On the contrary, a United States political reach-out to Russia and removing the American frostiness in existing relations with Russia may possibly mean more leg-space for Japanese foreign policy.

Two events in recent months have returned Kashmir to the centre stage of public discourse in India. The first of was the death of Burhan Wani on 8 July 2016 and the protests that followed on the streets of Kashmir. The second was the surgical strike by the Indian armed forces to dismantle terrorist infrastructure across the Line of Control (LoC). But it would be incorrect for either popular discourse or the government’s response to conflate the two incidents. In essence, it is crucial to disassociate the domestic narrative about Kashmir from Indo-Pak relations — the only sustainable response to civil unrest in the valley is an outreach on the part of the Indian government towards the Kashmiri people.

Post the death of Burhan Wani, the people of the Valley took to the streets to voice their anger. The Indian government in response imposed a 107 day curfew wherein schools and colleges were shut, communication lines restricted, and media freedoms curbed. The surgical strikes, on the other hand, were a response to a terrorist attack on an army camp in Uri, Kashmir, by Pakistani insurgents. The Indian government, for the first time in decades, went public regarding an army operation across the LoC which serves as the de-facto border between India and Pakistan.

Prima facie, these two events do indeed have a common cause — the respective claims of India and Pakistan over the territory of Kashmir, from which emanates Pakistan’s support to Kashmiri separatists in India. However, at their core, these are two distinct challenges facing the Indian state,and the solutions, therefore, must also be separated.

Kashmir seldom enjoys the freedoms the rest of India has come to regard as a given. 

Take the first, the killing of Burhan Wani. Wani was the son of a prominent school teacher in Kashmir. He supposedly took to militancy at the age of 15, when his brother was beaten to death by the Indian army, allegedly in a case of routine harassment. The killing of Burhan’s brother is not an isolated incident — Kashmir remains one of the world’s most militarised areas, with the Indian armed forces enjoying impunity over their actions. Such impunity has meant repeated violations of human rights by the Indian armed forces, as demonstrated by the case of Burhan Wani’s brother’s death. Added to this, Kashmir seldom enjoys the freedoms the rest of India has come to regard as a given — curfews, police raids, limited access to the Internet, and shutting down of schools, colleges, and businesses, are commonplace in the valley. As a result, the Indian state has successfully alienated the peoples of an entire state it deems a critical part of its national identity, and has only added fuel to their demands for Azadi (freedom).

Peace is a process

Vijay Prashad

The absentees at the Astana talks on the Syrian conflict hold the cards for the next steps

Two days of talks over the war in Syria ended this week in Astana, Kazakhstan. Iran, Russia and Turkey were the main powers at the table. Kazakhstan was a perfect location for the talks, since it has close ties with both Turkey and Russia. The Syrian government and the armed opposition sat together for the first time in six years. The Syrians came to the table, but they were not party to the final agreement. In the end, the three powers came to an understanding, which is itself a matter of great significance since these powers were major rivals on the Syrian battlefield.

Lack of external support 

Wars end either with a decisive victory or in exhaustion. In Syria, neither condition has been reached. What drives the ceasefire talks is the recognition that the major proxies of the armed opposition — Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the U.S. — have withdrawn. Turkey has decided that this war has spilled over into its territory, which could break the country apart. Saudi Arabia, stuck in the Yemeni quagmire, finds that its proxies can no longer compete with Russian air power. The U.S., which failed to create a moderate army, now understands that the most capable fighters on the ground against the Syrian government are not to be trusted. This lack of external support brought most of the armed opposition to Astana, where they took their seats uncomfortably.

The principal dispute at the table was how to define the ceasefire. The armed opposition, led by Mohammed Alloush of Saudi Arabia’s proxy, Jaysh al-Islam, wanted a national ceasefire. Syria’s government and the Iranians are keen to remain effectively at the local level. This would allow them latitude to strike rebel targets where they are seen to be weak and then sue for peace when they have attained their objective — what is on display in the suburbs of Damascus. The three powers agreed upon a mechanism to monitor the ceasefire, although this does not cover those who did not come to Astana.

It is those who were absent who hold the cards for the next phase. Turkey’s main proxy, Ahrar al-Sham, did not come to Astana, but uncharacteristically it sent its blessings for the deliberations. It might, in time, join the process. The two parties that are outside the ceasefire are the Islamic State (IS) and the al-Qaeda proxy, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS). These groups have attempted to peel away fighters from those who went to Astana, saying that the negotiators shame the ‘revolution’. The JFS has intensified its retaliatory war against the rebels, such as against Jaish al-Mujahideen and other Free Syrian Army (FSA) outfits in the region around Aleppo. U.S. air strikes against the JFS have not stopped it, since the U.S., like the IS, sees itself in a fight to the end. Whether the withdrawal of its external supporters or its political isolation will demoralise its fighters is to be seen. Sources in these groups tell me that they hope JFS fighters will strengthen their will in the fight against the FSA. Turkey has made it clear that isolation of the JFS will allow other rebel groups to appeal to its members on patriotic grounds for an end to the bloodbath. Whether this is a realistic assumption is to be seen.


By RC Porter

The US Marine Corps did not mince words when deploying F-35s to Japan, saying that the “arrival of the F-35B embodies our commitment to the defense of Japan and the regional security of the Pacific.”

Tensions among the US, US allies, and China have been steadily mounting for years as China builds artificial islands and outfits them with radar outposts and missile launchers in the South China Sea, home to a shipping corridor that sees $5 trillion in trade annually.

One area where the US and China have indirectly competed has been in combat aviation.

In November, China debuted the Chengdu J-20, a large, stealthy jet that some have compared to the F-22 Raptor. But according to experts, the J-20 is not a fighter, not a dogfighter, not stealthy, and not at all like the F-22 or F-35.

Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst at the Australia Strategic Policy Institute, told Business Insider that the J-20 is a “fundamentally different sort of aircraft than the F-35.”

Davis characterized the J-20 as “high-speed, long-range, not quite as stealthy (as US fifth-gen aircraft), but [the Chinese] clearly don’t see that as important.” According to Davis, the J-20 is “not a fighter, but an interceptor and a strike aircraft” that doesn’t seek to contend with US jets in air-to-air battles.

Instead, “the Chinese are recognizing they can attack critical airborne support systems like AWACS (airborne early warning and control systems) and refueling planes so they can’t do their job,” Davis said. “If you can force the tankers back, then the F-35s and other platforms aren’t sufficient because they can’t reach their target.”

Without tanker planes to refuel, US jets like the F-35 have a severely limited range. Cpl. Brian Burdett/US Marine Corps

Retired US Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula gave a similar assessment of the J-20 to Defense & Aerospace Report in November.

“The J-20, in particular, is different than the F-22 in the context that, if you take a look and analyze the design, it may have some significant low-observable capabilities on the front end, but not all aspects — nor is it built as a dogfighter,” Deptula said. “But quite frankly, the biggest concern is its design to carry long-range weapons.”

What the J-20 lacks in stealth and dogfighting ability it makes up for by focusing on a single, comparatively soft type of target. Unlike the US, which has fielded extremely stealthy aircraft, China lacks the experience to create a plane that baffles radars from all angles.

A senior scientist at Lockheed Martin told Business Insider that the Chinese made serious missteps when trying to integrate stealth into the J-20.

“It’s apparent from looking at many pictures of the aircraft that the designers don’t fully understand all the concepts of LO design,” the scientist said, referring to low-observable, or stealth, design.

Yemen´s Forgotten War: How Europe can Lay Foundations for Peace

Adam Baron 

This memo argues that the largely forgotten war in Yemen now matches the conflict in Syria in its severity. Indeed, 86% of the population now needs humanitarian assistance and the country is on the verge of absolute collapse. That’s why the EU should make the most of its comparatively neutral position in Yemen and 1) pave the way for post-conflict stabilization, and 2) reach out to groups that have thus far been marginalized in the ongoing peace process.






Religious Intolerance In The Gulf States – Analysis

By Hilal Khashan*

Interest in the state of Middle East Christians has largely focused on the quality of their lives in the Levant, Egypt, and Southern Sudan, predominantly Christian areas before the rise of Islam that still contain sizeable Christian minorities. By contrast, little attention has been paid to Christians in the Arabian Peninsula, which had no indigenous Christian presence in Islamic times.

However, the oil boom of the 1970s created a tremendous demand for foreign labor in the Persian Gulf rentier states. Unsurprisingly, the number of workers needed to drive the emerging economies of the Gulf states was bound to include significant numbers of Christians. There are now more than three and a half million expatriate Christians working in the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, mostly Catholics from the Philippines, India, and Pakistan. As their numbers increased, the question of how—or whether—to allow them to openly practice their faith became a significant issue.
The Current Status of Arabian Christianity

In the West, the freedom to worship in any way one chooses has been a bedrock value at least since the late eighteenth century.

Lingering anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish restrictions in Europe or North America notwithstanding, the general trajectory has been one of growing tolerance for the modalities of faith. Perhaps the most notable example of this is also one of the earliest: the First Amendment to the U.S. constitution, which made illegal “prohibiting the free exercise” of any religion by the federal government.

Because of its deep-rooted nature within their societies, Westerners tend to frown on other societies that do not share the same ethic. Yet given the Middle East’s importance to their strategic and economic interests in the post-World War II era, Western chancelleries turned a blind eye to the glaring gap between believing in freedom of religion and interacting with those who flagrantly violated this principle. It was only after the 9/11 attacks and the attendant “war on terror” that Muslim intolerance of other faiths began to come under greater scrutiny.

Thus, an editorial in a British news-paper laments that Christians in the countries of the GCC are virtually “servants, abominably treated. Their religion must be practiced in secret, with converts threatened with death.”[1] Another writer went on to explain the emotional significance of this denial of a basic human right:

U.S. General: Liberation of Mosul Involves ‘Hardest’ Urban Combat in Recent History

 By Seth Robinson,

The operation to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul is the most intense urban combat anywhere in the world in recent times, Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin, head of ground forces for the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State, said Wednesday.

Five thousand civilians and 1,600 Iraqi troops have been killed and injured in Mosul since the operation to retake the city began in mid-October, according to Iraqi officials.

Islamic State fighters, who occupied Mosul more than two years ago, have had ample time to turn it into a deadly urban battlefield. Besides intricately prepared defensive positions and tunnel networks, advancing Iraqi forces have had to contend with hundreds of armored cars and trucks bearing improvised explosive devices. These usually emerge suddenly from nearby garages and other concealed locations, leaving little time for troops to react with airstrikes or shoulder-launched rockets.

Such tactics have significantly slowed the Iraqi advance and drawn unfavorable comparisons to the recently ended campaign in neighboring Syria, where government forces and their allies drove out entrenched rebels from Aleppo after just five weeks of intense combat.

How ISIS-controlled drones like this are striking new fear within the U.S. military

By Rowan Scarborough

In a new threat to the West, the Islamic State on Tuesday debuted on social media a commercially available drone dropping small bombs with pinpoint accuracy onto Iraqi targets in and around Mosul.

The new capability raises the specter that the Islamic State one day could attack urban areas from the air, not just on the ground. The U.S. military is alarmed by the terrorist army’s quick technological advances and is evaluating more than 20 systems to detect and destroy its drone air force. Other systems already have been rushed to the war.

The attacks were depicted in a lengthy Islamic State propaganda video showing its terrorists in intense street battles to hold the city of Mosul. Included is aerial footage of a Chinese Skywalker X8 drone, which is available on Amazon, striking clusters of Iraqi soldiers, tanks and buildings.

The video shows that the Islamic State can assemble, arm, launch and guide drones, and find specific targets. The explosions appear relatively small but deadly. Remote pilots were able to hit a tank turret and the dead center of a troop concentration.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, said the drone video shows that the Islamic State has made a progression in delivering improvised explosive devices. The militants have gone from buried IEDs to vehicle-borne IEDS to airborne IEDS.

“In the end the IEDs are the terrorist’s artillery,” Mr. Hunter told The Washington Times. “This is not rocket science. This is a natural progression for IEDs. This isn’t crazy stuff that this is happening now. We should have seen this coming.

“Lets call it an ‘AIED,’ an airborne IED. Boom. I just made that up,” said the former Marine Corps officer.

Asked if the Islamic State could attack a U.S. city with multiple drones, Mr. Hunter said, “Of course.”

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, has been flying small commercially available drones for reconnaissance and propaganda video footage. Scattered reports say the terrorists have dropped grenades from drones.

Russian Analytical Digest No 195: 2016 in Review, Looking Forward to 2017

Hans-Henning Schröder, Aglaya Snetkov, Vladimir Gel’man, Philip Hanson, [Editors: Stephen Aris, Matthias Neumann, Robert Orttung, Jeronim Perović, Heiko Pleines, Hans-Henning Schröder, Aglaya Snetkov] 

The four articles in this issue of the RAD focus on 1) President Putin’s 2016 state-of-the-nation address, which neglected most of the major challenges facing the country; 2) Russia’s recent high risk foreign policy, which may actually pay off in the near-term; 3) the continued consolidation of the Putin administration's authoritarian rule; and 4) the sluggish Russian economy, which will most likely continue to limp along in 2017.





Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen

The Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, The Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University

The Institute of History at the University of Zurich

Resource Security Institute 


© 2016 by Forschungsstelle Osteuropa an der Universität Bremen and Center for Security Studies (CSS) 

Russian Analytical Digest No 196: Russian Security/Defense

By Richard Connolly, Stephen Aris and Bettina Renz

The three articles in this issue of the RAD discuss 1) Russia´s recently-approved 2017–19 budget, which ensures defense spending will remain a priority for the country; 2) the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which Moscow is largely neglecting at this time; and 3) how the Putin regime views the utility of military power as an instrument of foreign policy, particularly after its interventions in Ukraine and Syria.

Hard Times? Defence Spending and the Russian Economy


Driven by an ambitious plan to modernize the armed forces and to upgrade the wider defence-industrial base, defence spending in Russia has grown rapidly since 2010. However, nearly two years of recession and bleak growth prospects have caused policy-makers to make some tough choices over how to allocate public resources. The recently-approved budget for the period 2017–19 envisages a reduction in overall public spending and of defence spending. While this suggests that the period of rapid growth in defence spending has ended, closer inspection of the proposed budget shows that the defence industry and the military remain important to the Russian leadership.

Russian defence spending, driven by an ambitious plan to modernize both the equipment used by the Russian armed forces and to upgrade the wider defence-industrial base, has risen sharply in recent years. However, the budget for the period 2017–19 adopted on December 9th suggests that defence spending, as a share of total federal government spending and of gross domestic product (GDP), may well decline in the coming years. Against the backdrop of Russia’s armed intervention in the Syrian civil war, and amidst a wider heightening of tensions between Russia and the West, this relaxation of the defence burden may appear surprising.

In this article, the scale of the planned reduction in defence spending is considered, along with the implications that spending plans are likely to have for the future of Russia’s plan to re-equip and modernise its armed forces, and what this might mean for Russian economic development in the near future.

From Rearmament…

The urgent need to re-equip the armed forces became apparent in the aftermath of the war with Georgia in 2008. In late 2010, the erstwhile president— Dmitry Medvedev—approved a new ten-year state armaments programme (gosudarstvennaia programma vooruzheniia, hereafter the GPV-2020) that was designed to re-equip and modernise the Russian armed forces by 2020. As well as providing substantial—and in the post-Soviet period, unprecedented—funds for re-equipping Russia’s armed forces, it was also envisaged that the GPV-2020 would revitalize the Russian defense industry through investment in the modernization of the industry’s fixed capital stock. As such, the GPV-2020 was an attempt to both modernize the Russian armed forces and to revamp the Russian defence industry. This led President Putin to express the hope that the defence industry would act as a “locomotive” of technological development in the wider economy.

The Exorcist of Russia


The TV cameras were rolling when Nikita Mikhalkov visited the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Dec. 17. The center’s officials were ready; they knew this day was coming.

Head of the Russian cinematographers’ union, Mr. Mikhalkov is a well-known actor and director and a powerful figure in the world of Russian culture. His father was a prominent Communist writer and the author of the lyrics to the Soviet national anthem, and his mother the descendant of the great painter Vasily Surikov. Mr. Mikhalkov’s older brother, Andrei Konchalovsky, is also a filmmaker, whose works include big Hollywood productions such as “Tango & Cash.”

For years Mr. Mikhalkov has made no secret of his nationalist views and his support for President Vladimir V. Putin, a personal friend: He was a co-writer on an open letter in 2007 pleading with Mr. Putin to remain in office for a third term, in direct contradiction of the Constitution. The following year he told an audience in Serbia that they were witnessing a “war against Orthodoxy” and that their brand of Christian faith was the only power strong enough to withstand the noxious tide of “cultural and intellectual McDonald’s” sweeping the globe. When one dissenting listener dared shout, “What’s better, McDonald’s or Stalinism?” Mr. Mikhalkov retorted, “That’s up to the individual.”

Mr. Mikhalkov airs his political ideas on “Besogon TV” (“The Exorcist TV”), a video blog masquerading as a television show. In a measured tone, he offers his viewers lessons on the age-old perfidy of the West toward Russia. This is history with an enormous chip on its shoulder. To listen is to become convinced that Europe and the United States exist solely to torment Russia and plot its ruination.

Nikita Mikhalkov at the Yeltsin Center in Yekaterinburg, Russia, in December. His image of Russia is that of a besieged fortress under constant threat of attack. CreditDonat Sorokin\TASS, via Getty Images

His image of Russia is that of a besieged fortress under constant threat of attack, a notion that has been nakedly cultivated by the Putin regime in recent years. Russia is a “velikaya strana,” a great country, he keeps reminding his audience, a fact the world forgets at its peril. On a visit to Moscow last spring I saw cars with bumper stickers proclaiming “To Berlin!” and “We can do it again!,” crude allusions to World War II. Some Russians, it seems, are ready to repeat it, and this is the sentiment Mr. Mikhalkov encourages.

Among the demons singled out for exorcism by Mr. Mikhalkov in recent months has been the Yeltsin Center, in Russia’s fourth-largest city, just east of the Ural Mountains. An enormous complex with a museum, archive, library and exhibition halls, the center, which opened in November 2015, is dedicated to promoting “the institution of the Russian presidency and the development of civil society, democratic institutions and the rule of law,” according to its website.

America’s own

Written by Praveen Swami

President Donald Trump invoked Winthrop’s famous metaphor for the utopia the Puritans sought to build in the New World — “we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us” — in his inauguration address. (Illustration by C R Sasikumar)

History has left us just one meagre trace of the life of Philip Ratcliff, who served Mr Craddock in the city upon the hill. From the diary of John Winthrop, English Puritan lawyer and governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, one of the two settlements where the US began its life as a nation, we know he was convicted on June 14, 1631, “of most foul, scandalous invectives against our churches and government, [and] was censured to be whipped, lose his ears, and be banished from the plantation”. We know, from other trials, what would have happened next: Ratcliff’s ears would have been nailed to the pillory, to ease their being sawn off from the screaming, heaving prisoner.

President Donald Trump invoked Winthrop’s famous metaphor for the utopia the Puritans sought to build in the New World — “we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us” — in his inauguration address.

Like so many utopias, Winthrop’s city on the hill was washed with blood: Richard Barnes, ordered to have his “tongue bored through with an awl” for “base and detracting speeches concerning the governor”; the hanging of Hackett convicted on the testimony of a single witness for bestiality. “As people increased”, Winthrop wrote approvingly, “so sin abounded, and especially the sin of uncleanness, and still the providence of God found them out”.

Those words, unlike the city upon the hill speech, are not taught to American children. But as we contemplate the US Trump seeks to build, we ought to consider the invocation of Winthrop with the greatest care. Trump’s project is profoundly Puritan: The raising of Jesusstan out of the ruins of liberalism.

Even in these first days, the first light of an age of reaction is impossible to miss: United States funding will be cut off to NGOs that provide abortion information, the country has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership; hiring of non-military workers has been frozen. Trump has signed into being, incredibly, a “National Day of Patriotic Devotion”. “A new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart,” Trump’s proclamation reads, in words reminiscent of Kim Jong Un’s North Korea.

Shaken by Trump’s Criticism of NATO, Europe Mulls Building Own Military Force

 By Henry Ridgwell, Voice of America

European leaders were left shaken following U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent comments that NATO is "obsolete". The organization has formed the bedrock of Europe’s security since World War II, but some EU leaders say Europe must now take responsibility for its own defense. The continent would face a huge deficit in military capability if the NATO alliance broke down.

German troops are making final preparations for their deployment to Lithuania, part of NATO’s 4,000 troop reinforcement in the Baltic States and Poland.

The deployment is meant to reassure frontline states. But U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent comments that NATO is "obsolete" have shaken European allies.

Wolfgang Ischinger is head of the Munich Security Conference, an annual global summit on defense due to take place next month.

“In addition to the crises we had last year, Ukraine, Syria, the South China Sea, North Korea etc., now we appear to have almost panic in the trans-Atlantic space," said Ischinger. "Is NATO obsolete or not? Is the European Union something which the U.S. can or should ignore or is the EU America's most important partner?”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Europe now has its fate in its own hands. But Jonathan Eyal of Britain's Royal United Services Institute says it will take a dramatic shift in EU policy to make up for any rupture in the U.S. alliance.

“While there is a lot of discussion about closer cooperation in the European Union, there simply is no substitute for American military power," said Eyal. "Up to 75 percent of all the military assets in NATO belong to the United States.”

Will France Sound the Death Knell for Social Democracy?


One afternoon in September, Franck Sailliot marched through the northern French city of Lille alongside a couple of thousand leftist trade unionists and students. The marchers waved union flags, blew whistles, bellowed slogans. “Enough, enough, enough of this society, where there’s only unemployment and insecurity!” they yelled. “We don’t want the law of the bosses! The only solution is to revoke it!” Sailliot, a 48-year-old trade unionist who had worked much of his adult life in a paper mill in a town about an hour’s drive to the east, shuffled along, mostly silent, his hands in his pockets. As the demonstrators made their way through Lille’s town center, passing the ornate 17th-century stock exchange, they shouted, “Fire the stockholders!” and “Everything they have, they stole it!” One man wielded a bloodied, severed mannequin head and waved a French flag emblazoned with the silhouette of Robespierre, who presided over the Reign of Terror. It was a revolution of sorts, but Sailliot seemed a bit bored. The French left has long protested the encroachment of an unbridled free market, and despite some victories in halting its progress, the overall trend was one of demoralizing defeat. Sailliot debated peeling off from the crowd early and grabbing a beer.

He might have been forgiven for betraying a degree of protest fatigue. For seven months, he had participated, off and on, in a wave of large and angry antigovernment demonstrations that transfixed the country and at times paralyzed it. Chief among the objects of the protesters’ ire was a labor law, conceived by President François Hollande’s Socialist government, designed to loosen the country’s impossibly dense network of job protections. The law lacked support in the French Legislature, so in July, Hollande’s prime minister invoked special constitutional powers to push it through without a vote. From the point of view of French leftists like Sailliot, this was the latest in a series of betrayals by an ostensibly left-wing government that backed one nonleftist measure after another. Hollande and his ministers were acting under immense pressure to improve the country’s sluggish growth and chronically high unemployment, which now hovers at 9.5 percent (25.9 percent for people under 25). Everyone from the International Monetary Fund to the European Commission was urging Hollande to undertake a program of economic liberalization in order to remedy the problem. The argument for the labor law was the essence of free-market orthodoxy: If companies could more easily lay off workers in bad times, they would be more willing to hire them in good times.

The argument was unconvincing to many in Pas-de-Calais, the rural and industrial area in the northernmost tip of France, where Sailliot lives. In the 1970s, France, like other industrialized countries, began a shift away from manufacturing to a services-based economy, and within a few decades, Pas-de-Calais came to epitomize industrial decline. It is now France’s rust belt and coal country all in one. The working-class voters of Pas-de-Calais have long supported France’s Socialists along with the French Communist Party. But as in the United States, where Rust Belt voters no longer embrace the Democratic Party, these workers have increasingly lost faith in the parties of the left.

Sailliot’s union, the General Confederation of Labor, or the C.G.T., was among the most strident opponents of the new labor law. The C.G.T., formerly linked to the Communist Party, is one of the oldest and largest trade unions in France. Though its membership and stature, like those of other French unions, have declined considerably from their post-World War II height, the C.G.T. remains unmatched in its ability to mobilize workers. And many of its members retain a far-left ideology and preference for militant tactics. After a draft of the labor law leaked last February, the C.G.T. demanded that it be scrapped and recommended alternative policies: Reduce the French workweek to 32 hours (from the current 35) and give workers raises.

The Islamic State wanted the West to fear refugees and Muslims. It worked.

By Adam Taylor 

Syrian children walk during a sandstorm in November at a temporary refugee camp in the village of Ain Issa. The camp houses people who fled the Islamic State's stronghold of Raqqah, Syria. (Delil Souleiman/AFP) 

President Trump had long promised major restrictions on refugees and visitors from Muslim countries. Now he has entered office, it looks like he is going to make good on his word. 

This week, the Trump administration is preparing a draft executive order that would immediately and indefinitely block Syrian refugees from being resettled in the country. The draft order, which was leaked to activist groups and later obtained by The Washington Post, would also temporarily stop all refugee resettlement from all countries and cut refu­gee admissions from 100,000 to 50,000 a year. 

Additionally, the draft order suggests that all visitors from a number of Muslim-majority countries — likely to include Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — would have their visas to the United States blocked until new visa procedures, including Trump's so-called “extreme vetting,” are installed. 

Today's WorldView

What's most important from where the world meets Washington

These moves described in the draft are likely to be popular with many Trump supporters. Polls have suggested that the U.S. is deeply divided on the subject of refugees, and there is widespread concern about the threat posed by extremist Islamist terrorism. It's likely that Trump's tough talk on immigration helped his November election win to a considerable degree. 

It's also worth noting that the president's campaign rhetoric went much further than the proposals being discussed this week, with Trump calling for a total ban on Muslim visitors to the U.S. — a dramatic policy that would have been globally unique and arguably unconstitutional

Yet the wisdom of any immigration policies that indirectly target Muslims and seek to block refugees is far from clear. There's little, if any, clear evidence that blocking Syrian refugees and Muslim visitors to the U.S. would help reduce the threat from terrorism. 

More alarmingly, the policies described in the draft order would aid the rhetoric of the extremist groups, such as the Islamic State, that it aims to combat. 

A limited effect on terror plots 

Donald Trump as President: Does It Mark a Rise of Illiberal Globalism?

Amitav Acharya

Threats to international liberal order and democratic nations, both external and internal, shape new forms of globalization

Illiberalism rising? Donald J. Trump is sworn in as US President, top; President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tightens an authoritarian grip on Turkey

BEIJING: The liberal order is imploding. The ascent of Donald J. Trump to the presidency of the United States is the consequence, not the cause, of the crisis in the liberal international order led by the United States. That crisis and decline has been forewarned for some time, including this author’s 2014 book, The End of American World Order, and in the pages of YaleGlobal, although many of the liberal order’s proponents were slow to acknowledge it.

Until now, it was generally assumed that the main challenge to liberal order or what may be called liberal globalism would come from external factors, especially from the rising powers led by China. Trump’s victory and Brexit suggest that the challenge to the liberal international order is from both within and without.

Exit polls show that the states Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was expected to carry – such as Wisconsin, which had not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984, as well as Pennsylvania and Michigan, which had not done so since 1988, as well as Ohio and North Carolina – voted for Trump because of sentiments against economic globalization underpinning the liberal order. Trump’s electoral platform on trade carried such elements as: “Negotiate fair trade deals that create American jobs, increase American wages, and reduce America's trade deficit.” Point 1 of his “7 Point Plan to Rebuild the American Economy by Fighting for Free Trade” is to “Withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has not yet been ratified,” a threat he has lost no time in affirming. Point 6 is to “Instruct the U.S. Trade Representative to bring trade cases against China, both in this country and at the WTO. China's unfair subsidy behavior is prohibited by the terms of its entrance to the WTO.” The Trump team has indicated that it will place greater stress on bilateral deals based on a strict and direct reciprocity rather than multilateralism.

Although alliances should be viewed as instruments of power politics, American liberal internationalists have viewed them as key instruments of the liberal order and for the US ability to dominate the world. Trump is not the first American leader to call for allies to do more for their own defense. But his approach is much more than the usual “burden-sharing” talk of past presidents such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Trump seems to betray a fundamental lack of faith in the strategic and normative utility of alliances. He is also the first US president who has explicitly warned about the withdrawal of US protection should the allies not comply with his demand. Trump’s sympathy for Russia means his stance on alliances cannot be easily brushed off as another attempt at burden-sharing, but motivated by a fundamentally different geopolitical calculus.

A major question about the future of the liberal order is whether Trump’s victory might encourage authoritarianism around the world. As many commentators have pointed out, Trump’s victory is encouraging to anti-democratic leaders not only outside the West such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, but also far-right movements in the West, such as those led by the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders, Italy’s Salvini, Britain’s Nigel Farage and France’s Marine Le Pen.

At a Glance: Implementing the Trump Foreign Policy Agenda CFR Backgrounders


President Donald J. Trump has promised sweeping changes to U.S. foreign policy. Trump vowed to reverse many of President Barack Obama’s signature achievements, including the Asia-Pacific Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, the landmark climate change accord signed by 197 nations in Paris, and an agreement with Iran to restrict its nuclear program. He promised to continue and intensify border enforcement policies undertaken under Presidents George W. Bush and Obama and finish building a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico. His energy policy would represent a break with Obama’s push for a less carbon-intensive economy, while his willingness to place a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem could send shockwaves through an already volatile region.

In many of these areas, the president holds significant executive authority and can unilaterally enact change. In some instances, however, Trump will be constrained by treaty obligations, the prerogatives of the U.S. Congress, the requirements of the federal rulemaking process, or rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court: 

Upending Trade Policy 

Trump made trade policy a centerpiece of his campaign, promising to upend decades of bipartisan consensus on the desirability of low tariffs and deeper cross-border integration. While many of Trump’s proposals have not yet been legally tested, experts say that U.S. law gives the president broad powers to unilaterally raise tariffs and modify existing trade agreements.

Trump has various options for reorienting future U.S. trade priorities, including favoring bilateral agreements over regional multicountry deals. He signed an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), negotiated by the Obama administration with eleven other Pacific Rim countries, immediately after taking office. Meanwhile, the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, said that “multinational agreements [are] not in our best interest,” calling into question a potential U.S.-European Union trade deal and World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on trade in services and environmental goods.

The End of American World Order

Amitav Acharya

One of the more important issues concerning the role of regional security arrangements in the emerging world order is whether they would remain under hegemonic control. In Europe, the principal multilateral security arrangement, NATO, has been the pre-eminent form of “hegemonic regionalism” in the sense that it existed, and continues to exist, within the purview of American hegemony.

Regional security arrangements geared toward collective defense, and operating under the security umbrella of a great power, were never very popular in the developing world, as attested by the experience of the SEATO and CENTO. Even collective security and defense frameworks envisaged under the auspices of large multipurpose regional bodies such as the Arab League and OAS, or the OAU/ AU, were hardly credible for the security of their members.

In the third world, the term “regional security arrangements” invariably meant mechanisms for the peaceful settlement of disputes rather than collective defense. The end of the cold war has diminished the appeal of a NATO-style of hegemonic regionalism. After the quick death of the Warsaw Pact, NATO has survived predictions of its early demise in the post-cold war era. But to ensure its continued relevance, it has had to embrace roles that had more in common with cooperative security organizations than collective defense in its classical sense. If NATO did not exist, it is doubtful that anyone would invent it today. Despite concerns over the growth of Chinese military power, the likelihood of there being an Asian NATO is slim for the foreseeable future.

This leads to another question about the future of regionalism: whether the end of unipolarity will open a space for the emergence of regional hegemonies, such as in East Asia under China, South Asia under India, the Caucasus and Baltics under Russia, southern Africa under South Africa, West Africa under Nigeria, and South America under Brazil. Mearsheimer argues that all aspiring great powers seek to achieve regional hegemony, a goal more necessary and attainable than global hegemony.(38) To Mearsheimer, China is the obvious candidate for such regional hegemony in the post-cold war period.(39) But Mearsheimer, who once warned that the post-cold war multipolar Europe would go “back to the future,” was wrong about Europe, and may yet be so about China.

There is little sign of such regional hegemonies emerging today. Instead, one of the key challenges facing the emerging powers is the gap between their global status aspirations and regional legitimacy. All BRICS and many G-20 members are regional power centers. Some (e.g., India in South Asia, China in East Asia, Russia in the Caucasus) have problematic relations with their neighbors over territorial disputes, unequal economic relations, and suspicions of hegemonism. These regional problems can embroil them or pull them down sufficiently to undermine their quest for global status and influence.

Implementing the Iran Nuclear Deal: A Status Report

International Crisis Group 

This report gauges how well the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations has been implemented thus far. In addition to reviewing the deal’s nuclear and sanctions-related commitments, the report recommends ways to implement them more effectively. By the way, applying coercive pressure on Tehran, which the Trump administration is seemingly contemplating, isn’t one of the options.



International Crisis Group 






© 2017 International Crisis Group (ICG) 

Suicide Bombings in 2016: The Highest Number of Fatalities

By Ilana Kricheli, Yotam Rosner, Aviad Mendelboim and Yoram Schweitzer

According to Ilana Kricheli, Yotam Rosner, Aviad Mendelboim and Yoram Schweitzer, 2016 was the deadliest year yet for suicide terrorism. 800 perpetrators killed 5,650 people and injured 9,480 others while carrying out 469 attacks in 28 countries. Unsurprisingly, the so-called Islamic States was either directly or indirectly responsible for 70% of the suicide bombings in the world.

2016 was the deadliest year in suicide terrorism, a main weapon of deterrence and one of the most effective tools for promoting the political goals of terrorist organizations since its use began in the early 1980s.

According to the Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict Research Program at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), in 2016, 469 suicide bombings were carried out by 800 perpetrators in 28 countries, causing the deaths of 5,650 people. These numbers represent bombings that were reported by at least two independent sources; many unverified reports by organizations seeking to glorify their name, headed by the Islamic State, were not counted, and coordinated bombings on a number of targets carried out simultaneously were counted as one bombing. At first glance, these figures appear quite similar to those from 2015, when 452 suicide bombings were carried out by 735 perpetrators. In 2016, however, the number of fatalities rose sharply (approximately 5,650 in 2016, compared with 4,330 in 2015), as did the number of those injured (from 8,800 in 2015 to 9,480 in 2016). In addition, the number of countries in which suicide bombings occurred reached a new height (28 in 2016, compared with 22 in 2015). Note that the Islamic State declared that it had carried out hundreds of suicide bombings in addition to those documented in this report, but many of these bombings were neither reported in detail in the media nor supported by independent sources or evidence from the field, and were therefore not included.

The Islamic State continues to be the leading perpetrator of suicide bombings in the world, and is directly or indirectly responsible (through organizations that swore allegiance to it and joined its ranks) for approximately 70 percent (322) of the suicide bombings in the world. As in previous years, the Middle East was the main arena for suicide bombings. On the other hand, there was a slight decline in the frequency of suicide terrorist bombings in southern Asia, and a substantial drop in their frequency in Africa. The involvement of women in suicide terrorism was again apparent this year, indicating the persistence of their willingness to take part in this activity. In addition, the Islamic State and the different elements inspired by it stepped up their efforts to export suicide terrorism to Europe.

More specifically, the number of suicide bombings rose 45 percent in the Middle East in 2016 over the preceding year (298 bombings in 2016, compared with 207 in 2015), and the number of suicide bombers and victims also rose significantly (513 suicide terrorists and approximately 3,915 fatalities in 2016, compared with 353 suicide terrorists and 2,294 fatalities in 2015). The vast majority of the suicide bombings in the region (about 90 percent) were carried out by the Islamic State and its affiliated organizations.

3D Printing: How It Could Disrupt Asia’s Manufacturing Economies – Analysis

By Christopher H. Lim and Tamara Nair*

From retail goods to medical implants and even food, 3D printing technology promises to change the way we think about everyday things. It’s difficult to predict what impact it will have on manufacturing but, whatever the precise effects, they are likely to be deep and permanent.

3D printing, also known as “additive manufacturing”, refers to processes where an object is put together by layering materials under programmed commands. Objects can be of almost any shape or geometry and are produced from digital model data or other electronic data sources, such as an Additive Manufacturing File.

The advent of 3D printing opens the way for manufacturers to significantly reduce the production cost of their goods by eliminating many steps in the manufacturing process, such as casting and welding metal. It also reduces the complete production process to no more than three to four key players. With 3D printing, what would have initially been a series of stages of production could be cut down to a designer at one end, and the printer or “manufacturer” at the other. The middle players would most likely be suppliers of raw materials or “ink”.
Disruptive Power of 3D Printing and Impact on Economic Security

Such reductions in the manufacturing process could affect both regional and international production networks, possibly resulting in reduced capital requirements, warehousing and other logistics and transportation needs. This change in production systems could potentially alter the very idea of nations’ economic security.

It could, for instance, wreck countries’ carefully laid development plans for creating employment and investment in logistics and warehousing, regardless of economic development level. What might happen to global production networks under such an influential technology?

The introduction 3D printing has the potential to create a new production system by unleashing a disruptive power that the world has not experienced since the industrial revolution. This disruption could turn the global supply chain and existing production processes – perfected over 100 years ago with the Ford assembly line – on its head.