6 February 2017

*** Immigration Chaos As long as illegal immigration is permitted, the foundations of American culture are at risk.

By George Friedman 

Last week, President Donald Trump temporarily blocked both “immigrants and nonimmigrants” from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. From the beginning of his presidential campaign he has spoken at various times and in a variety of ways of taking a step like this. Having done it, the action created uproar in part because it was done without adequate preparation, and in larger part, because it was done at all. The mutual recriminations over this particular act are of little consequence. What is important is to try to understand why the immigration issue is so sensitive. The uproar over Trump’s action is merely one of many to come, which also will be of little consequence.

Trump has pointed to two very different patterns. One is immigration to the U.S. by Muslims. The other is illegal Mexican immigration. Both resonated with Trump’s supporters. It is interesting to consider other immigration patterns that have not become an issue. One is immigration to the U.S. from India. The other is immigration from China and other parts of Asia. Both have been massive movements since about 1970, and both have had substantial social consequences.

Protesters gather at the Los Angeles International Airport’s Tom Bradley Terminal to demonstrate against President Donald Trump’s executive order effectively banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. KONRAD FIEDLER/AFP/Getty Images

Indian migration to the U.S. has been one of the most successful in American history in that it has been among the least disruptive, has generated minimal hostility and has been extraordinarily successful economically. Today, Indian-Americans are the wealthiest single ethnic group in the United States. They are hardly invisible, as they are present in all professions and as corporate executives.

Chinese and East Asian immigration is more complex. Chinese immigrants began coming to the U.S. in the mid-19th century. They came as laborers supplied by Chinese contractors and were crucial in building American railroads alongside – and in competition with – Irish immigrants. The Chinese were exploited and brutalized and didn’t get citizenship. But after the 1970s, their story matched the Indians’ – the Chinese were not quite as wealthy, but they did well.

About 3.7 million people of Indian descent live in the U.S., many of them second-generation immigrants. About 4 million people of Chinese descent live in the U.S., with somewhat more complex backgrounds. There also are 3.3 million Muslims and 35.8 million people of Mexican descent, including an estimated 5.2 million of the 11 million who are in the U.S. illegally, according to Pew Research Center.

*** Pakistan Is the Crisis Flying Under the Radar

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The set of foreign-policy challenges headed like a freight train at the Trump administration is obvious: the Islamic State and the associated tragedy of Syria; a bubbling North Korea led by an unpredictable dictator with a fistful of nuclear weapons; an angry China hypersensitive about Taiwan and the South China Sea; and Russian cyber-activity roiling domestic political waters alongside Moscow’s ongoing occupation of Crimea and destruction of Syria. But flying under the radar is a dangerous problem not receiving a great deal of attention: Pakistan.

As the sixth-most-populous country in the world (ahead of Nigeria, and behind Brazil), Pakistan is home to more than 200 million people and, by some accounts, the world’s second-largest city, Karachi. When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was elected in May 2013, the country marked its first democratic transition between political parties since partition in 1947. Recently, the strength of the country’s nascent democracy has been questioned as Sharif confronts protests in response to the Panama Papers, which revealed that his family hid wealth in overseas accounts to avoid paying taxes. This highlights the ongoing challenge of corruption (Transparency International rates the country 117 out of 168 on its Corruption Perception Index) that threatens Pakistan’s democratic stability and long-term growth potential. The nation also faces a virulent terrorism problem from the Pakistani Taliban, which has killed tens of thousands of civilians and troops over the past five years. Since 2006, more than 60,000 Pakistanis have been killed in terrorist events — essentially two 9/11 tragedies per year in a country with a population much smaller than the United States.

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DHS Secretary John Kelly insists he was in the loop and that the executive order is running smoothly.

Looming over all of this are the issues associated with Pakistan’s long, unsettled relationship with India. Tensions between India and Pakistan have been especially high since September, when Pakistani terrorists attacked an Indian army base in Kashmir, leaving 19 soldiers dead; the two countries have since exchanged daily cross-border fire, leading to the deaths of soldiers and civilians on both sides. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal probably contains over 100 warheads, existing as a hedge against a similar Indian arsenal. 

While under a reasonable level of military security at the moment, the nuclear weapons represent the world’s least-stable nuclear capability — with the possible exception of North Korea.

While under a reasonable level of military security at the moment, the nuclear weapons represent the world’s least-stable nuclear capability — with the possible exception of North Korea.

** Is Indian IT Slipping? ‘The Economist’ Misses The Woods For The Trees

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Mohandas Pai

The remarkable global domination of the Indian IT industry has come about not because of its “cheap engineers”, but the extraordinarily high standards in delivery of IT services.

Automation, AI, ML, Robotics certainly are big threats to Indian IT, but they are also driving this themselves.

In an article dated 21 January titled ‘Reboot’, The Economist made some startling remarks about Indian IT sector based on misconception and prejudice. It effectively downgraded the achievements of the Indian software services industry, as if to suggest that performance can happen only in the charmed circle of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

The essence of the article was that Indian IT was nothing more than an "outsourced back-office" , Indian IT has become a place where "rich country companies could lower costs by getting tedious behind the scene IT work done by cheap engineers in India". Indian IT does not see much digital action, it does not drive innovation, "designing a mobile banking app for millennial, say is a far cry from parsing lines of code for bugs".

The article says further that Indian IT is in structural decline with minimum salary costs in the US for H1B visas likely to rise from $60,000 to $100,000, visas likely to be cut from 65,000 by the new Donald Trump Administration. It goes on to say the Indian IT is behind the curve etc etc... Many statements based on conjecture without much research and taking some research reports out of context.

Let us get the facts right. Five of the top 10 IT services companies in the world by market capitalisation are Indian. About 75 per cent of their total employees of around 2 million are Indian. The IT services exports from India this year is expected to be around $115 billion, the street value, value in terms of billing for the same services at US rates, is estimated closer to $200 billion.

This remarkable global domination has come about not because these are "cheap engineers" but the extraordinarily high standards in delivery of IT services, epitomised by the largest number of CMM level 5 companies in the world, the best in class training given to employees, high quality processes and project management, great leadership and above all the exceedingly high quality workforce from the top 20 per cent of university graduates. Indian IT delivers complex quality projects and are not cheap body shops as The Economist could be hinting. All this has made only India amongst all countries so successful in a fast changing high tech industry. If this was based on cheap labour only, many other countries would have been competing too.

The systems of many large global corporations are managed and run by these companies, a critical function, the failure of which could disrupt the banking system and paralyse their operations. No major company will go with "cheap engineers" to run their critical systems unless they trust the high quality standards and ability of these companies. Yes, costs are lower but evaluation is based on a risk weighted basis, not mere costs. The costs are lower because of the model, with other major Western companies having large workforces in India too and competing. Despite this competition the Indian companies have superior margins. The major work is not an outsourced back office, but enterprise resource planning (ERP) installations, new software applications, upgradation of systems, maintenance of critical systems calling for great capability and some consulting services.

** The United States: Between Isolation And Empire

 By Rodger Baker

Since taking office less than two weeks ago, U.S. President Donald Trump has moved quickly to put his policy directives into practice, from placing a temporary ban on the admittance of some migrants and refugees to lengthening the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He has also withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and is reportedly reviewing proposals to cut the United Nations' funding and to potentially withdraw from select multinational treaties. The flurry of activity has drawn criticism and support alike, reflecting the deep divides in U.S. politics that were thrown into sharp relief during the campaign season.

Trump's actions are not without precedent, even if their pace and scope are fairly unique in U.S. history. Is banning immigrants from a particular country new? Look at the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. What about the potential detention of dual citizens? Tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans were intentionally interned (along with Chinese- and Korean-Americans) during World War II. How about the Mexico City policy, or withholding funds from the United Nations? Ronald Reagan's administration first instituted the ban on aid to overseas relief organizations that included abortion among their family planning options and cut off U.N. funding to coerce changes in its administration. The list goes on. This is not to condemn or justify the current president's acts. For better or worse, American history is filled with examples of decisions that, to some, are contrary to the nation's values, while to others they are consistent with the country's immediate moral and national security needs.

Finding the Past in the Present

If we step back from the politics of personality - something that isn't always easy to do when they hit so close to home - we can see where and how Trump's tactics fit into the evolution of U.S. policy as a whole. In Stratfor's decade forecast for 2015-2025, we predicted two major elements in U.S. behavior moving forward: a partial disengagement from the international system, and a domestic political crisis triggered by the decline of the middle class. Neither of these behaviors was dependent on the outcome of any particular U.S. election; in fact, we identified them as trends that lie beneath the day-to-day vagaries of politics. Two years ago, we said the first behavioral shift was already in motion. At the time we believed the second shift wouldn't manifest until after the coming decade had ended, but now it is clear that both are unfolding before our eyes.

With this context in mind, it's useful to look at the origins of U.S. activism abroad, and the two diverging paths it often takes. Henry Kissinger held up Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson as models for comparison, contrasting the former's pursuit of U.S. interests through economic, political and military means with the latter's quest for an international solution, a concert of nations working together to keep the global peace. More recently, their respective analogs - George W. Bush on one hand, and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama on the other - followed roughly similar paths. But the initial directives of the Trump administration don't fit neatly into either category. Rather, they show an odd mix of the assertion of U.S. interests abroad and reversion to an earlier form of semi-isolationism. In the 19th century, the United States looked out upon a world full of empires, and though some Americans harbored ambitions to follow their lead, Washington generally sought to avoid any entanglements in Europe. Instead, the United States adopted a mercantile model in which it primarily used its military might to support the activities of American businesses around the globe.

Now, we are only a week into the Trump administration, and it will take years to form a clear assessment of its strategy. So far, though, the president appears to be refining the often-mixed set of messages and visions he laid out over the course of his campaign. Trump has chosen the phrase "America First" to define and guide its path forward, but as with his reuse of "Make America Great Again" (much like Reagan's "Let's Make America Great Again"), it isn't entirely clear how the president intends to apply historical precedent to the present. Intentional or not, his choice of "America First" - the name of the committee that lobbied to keep the United States out of World War II - as his policy slogan reflects isolationism. (At the time, the committee argued that an isolated America would be impregnable to the chaos spreading across Europe and that Washington's first priority should be to secure its own defenses at home, rather than supplying materiel to antagonists abroad.)

** Osama bin Laden’s Secret Masturbation Fatwa

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In January, the U.S. government released 49 new documents seized in 2011 from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Among the items — the fourth and final batch of bin Laden documents made public since 2012 — is a letter addressed to a senior colleague in North Africa in which the now-deceased al Qaeda leader raises “a very special and top secret matter”:

It pertains to the problem of the brothers who are with you in their unfortunate celibacy and lack of availability of wives for them in the conditions that have been imposed on them. We pray to God to release them. I wrote to Shaykh/Doctor ((Ayman)), [al-Zawahiri], and I consulted with Shaykh ((Abu Yahya)) [al-Libbi].

Dr. Ayman has written us his opinion … As we see it, we have no objection to clarifying to the brothers that they may, in such conditions, masturbate, since this is an extreme case. The ancestors approved this for the community. They advised the young men at the time of the conquest to do so. It has also been prescribed by the legists when needed, and there is no doubt that the brothers are in a state of extreme need.

It is well-known that bin Laden was a fastidious and overbearing micromanager. But few would have suspected that it extended this far. And although it has been widely reported that he was in possession of a porn stash at his Abbottabad compound, it will no doubt come as a surprise that bin Laden, the foremost jihadi of his generation, had thought long and hard (no pun intended) on the issue of masturbation, as has current al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

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Bin Laden’s edict, though, raises more questions than it clarifies: If knocking one out in times of “extreme need” is permitted, how does one define the emergency of “extreme need”: Is it a week, a month, or a mere day of celibacy? Alas, bin Laden’s letter doesn’t shed any light on these burning questions.

All of this is good, harmless fun, of course. But the sexual torment of jihadis is no laughing matter, and may even help explain the genesis of their violence.

In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the evolutionary biologist and world-famous atheist Richard Dawkins poured scorn over the notion that the 19 hijackers were motivated by thoughts of injustice. On the contrary, he insisted, what they really wanted was to get laid. Referring to the “martyr’s reward of 72 virgin brides,” he claimed that “testosterone-sodden young men too unattractive to get a woman in this world might be desperate enough to go for 72 private virgins in the next.”

A more nuanced version of this argument holds that suicidal jihadi violence is rooted in the sexually repressed atmosphere endemic across the Muslim world and in Muslim communities in the West. In both, sexual activity outside of marriage remains taboo — especially for women. 

** Mission Command and Detailed Command – It’s Not a Zero-Sum Game

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By Alan Hastings

Recent debate among military professionals on the subjects of mission command and detailed command has highlighted a common misunderstanding about each’s role in tactical operations. While we cannot expect to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative without embracing the philosophy of mission command, it is not a panacea to every tactical problem leaders are likely to face. Operations often require detailed command and control in order to achieve the overwhelming effects on the enemy necessary to accomplish the mission. Thus, both mission command and detailed command provide value to the tactical leader during operations.

The use of mission orders enables disciplined initiative by the tactical leader to pursue realization of the commander’s desired end state. The tactical leader conducts operations in accordance with his commander’s intent. When he encounters an enemy, he executes a decision cycle and acts in the manner that he believes will result in the most favorable outcome.

Against those enemies within his formation’s capabilities to defeat, he executes those maneuvers or battle drills that he and his formation have trained for just such a circumstance, defeats the enemy, and resumes the attack in accordance with the commander’s intent (Figure 1).

Figure 1 – The tactical leader executes a decision cycle (here, represented by actions on contact) and acts by conducting a well-rehearsed battle drill.

* IG Report: Taliban Have Captured 15% of All Districts in Afghanistan Since 2015

The Afghan government “has lost territory to the insurgency” and “district control continues to decline,” the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in its most recent quarterly report to United States Congress. An estimated 15 percent of Afghanistan’s districts have slipped from the government’s control over that time period.

The picture is more bleak than what the Obama administration and top military commanders have let on when looked at from a longer distance. According to SIGAR, the Afghan government controls or influences just 52 percent of the nation’s districts today compared to 72 percent in Nov. 2015.

“SIGAR’s analysis of the most recent data provided by US Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) suggests that the security situation in Afghanistan has not improved this quarter,” the watchdog group noted in its most recent assessment of the country. “The numbers of the Afghan security forces are decreasing, while both casualties and the number of districts under insurgent control or influence are increasing.”

“[T]he ANDSF [Afghan National Defense and Security Forces] has not yet been capable of securing all of Afghanistan and has lost territory to the insurgency,” since the last reporting period. The Afghan government has lost control of more than six percent of Afghanistan’s 407 districts since SIGAR issued its last report, on Oct. 30.

According to SIGAR, the insurgency, which is overwhelmingly made up of the Taliban, now controls nine districts and influences another 32, while 133 districts are “contested.” USFOR-A defines contested districts as “having ‘negligible meaningful impact from insurgents,’ contending that neither the insurgency nor the Afghan government maintains significant control over these areas.”

The names of the Taliban controlled and influenced districts, as well as those that are contested, were not disclosed by USFOR-A or SIGAR. However, according to SIGAR:

The region with the most districts under insurgent control or influence is centered on northeast Helmand Province and northwestern Kandahar Province, and includes the Helmand/Kandahar border area, Uruzgan Province, and northwestern Zabul. This region alone accounts for 16 of the 41 districts (or 31.7%) under insurgent control or influence.

* Pakistan and China: Don't Fear Chabahar Port

By Ahmad Bilal Khalil

A security personnel looks on at oil docks at the port of Kalantari in the city of Chabahar, 300 km (186 miles) east of the Strait of Hormuz (January 17, 2012).

A closer look at what Iran’s Chabahar port deal with India and Afghanistan really means for China and Pakistan’s CPEC. 

Recently, on the sidelines of the sixth Heart of Asia Conference-Istanbul Process in Amritsar, India, Afghanistan and India planned to start air cargo transportation over Pakistan. The move will help greatly in exporting Afghan goods, such as fruits and carpets, to India and allowing Indian medicines to be imported to Afghanistan. According to Afghan official sources, both sides will soon sign a memorandum of understanding in this regard.

This air cargo deal comes after Afghanistan and India, along with Iran, signed the Chabahar transport and transit agreement in Tehran. That trilateral agreement, centered on the Chabahar port, provoked suspicions in the region and negatively influenced hawkish views in both Pakistan and India. Strategists in both India and Pakistan are overestimating the potential of the Chabahar port and often frame it as the main rival to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is anchored by Gwadar port in Pakistan.

For Kabul, the Chabahar agreement was a sigh of relief. The Afghan ambassador to India, Shaida Mohammad Abdali, praised the deal as “heralding a new era in regional integration,” fulfilling “a billion hopes” and “a billion dreams.” The Chabahar deal means that Afghanistan is no longer dependent on Pakistan for its transit and trade with India and the rest of the world. It has diversified transit routes options for Kabul, giving an end to the Pakistani transit route’s monopoly.

The Chabahar Dilemma?

Given the importance of Chabahar in the current strategic milieu, observers might be surprised to know a similar arrangement was proposed by Afghanistan all the way back in the 1950s. At the beginning of the Cold War, Afghanistan-Pakistan relations were soured and even severed due to “Pashtunistanism” and the issue of the Durand line border between the two countries. Cold bilateral ties also damaged Afghan trade through Pakistan. Therefore, in the 1950s, Kabul asked Washington for assistance in carving out a new transit route through Iran to the Chabahar port, thus bypassing Pakistan completely. However, both the United states and Iran rejected the Afghan proposal regarding Chabahar port as being economically “impractical.”

Today, the signing of the Chabahar transit agreement in Tehran has left Pakistan in a quandary. This transit trade agreement, seen with both suspicious and hopeful eyes in Islamabad, has since become a dilemma for Pakistanis. The reactions of the Pakistani media (particularly the Urdu media) have been uneasy; some retired army generals (and former defense secretaries) even referred to the Chabahar agreement as a “security threat” to Pakistan. Though these views can’t officially represent governmental policies, they surely shed some light on what Pakistan’s power center (the army) might be thinking regarding Chabahar.


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Pravin Sawhney 

India needs to disclose its strategic posture regarding the Indian Ocean, given Chinese belligerence in the region. Behaving like a leading power, which it is not, since it lacks credible Naval power, would require it to protect the SLOC in the Indian Ocean with US' support

On January 18, two days before the inauguration of US President Donald Trump, US Pacific Commander, Admiral Harry Harris, delivered an important message in Delhi. Speaking at the second Raisina Dialogue, he said that the incoming US defence team “understands the importance of the region (Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean). They assured me that the Carter (outgoing Defence Secretary Ashton Carter) view will transcend the new administration.”

Admiral Harris emphasised the need for the US and India “to shape the New Normal and uphold the rules-based international order”. What this meant was that, instead of allowing China to shape a new security architecture in the region, the US would, along with its allies and partners, ensure that China abides by the agreed international rules including Freedom of Navigation (FON) across the two Oceans (western Pacific and Indian Ocean). “Shared domains will not be closed down”, he asserted. Making a strong case for working together, Admiral Harris said that the US’ objective was the same as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region) for the benefit of the region.

In a one-on-one interaction with me in March 2015, the Admiral had said that “the US considers India as the pivot in the Indian Ocean”. Explaining re-balancing or the pivot to Asia, he had asserted, “Re-balancing is real. By the end of 2020, the US will have 300 ships, 60 per cent of which will be in the Pacific (55 per cent are presently in the region), while 60 per cent of the submarines are already here. We will invest in new capabilities and strengthen our alliances and partnerships.” He had, however, added, “Re-balancing serves diplomatic, economic, strategic and military interests. However, the most important component is economic not military. We will have a forward presence when it comes to humanitarian needs and for this we will have bilateral readiness programmes with various countries.”

Slow, Slow Progress in the Iraqi Campaign to Retake Mosul

By Emily Anagnostos and the ISW Iraq Team

Operations in Mosul paused since the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) recaptured eastern Mosul on January 24. The ISF is now preparing to retake the western side. Political conditions have changed, however. Increased pressure on Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to keep his premiership and uncertain relations between the U.S. and Iraq may allow pro-Iranian groups to extract concessions from PM Abadi that run contrary to U.S. interests in Iraq.

The ISF recaptured the last ISIS-held neighborhood in eastern Mosul on January 24, nearly three months since operations in the city began on November 1, 2016. Preparations and troop movement are now underway for operations to break into western Mosul, though no official start date has been announced. Mosul Operations Commander Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah announced that local Ninewa police and fighters, headed by the 16th Iraqi Army Division, will hold recaptured eastern neighborhoods while local Ninewa tribal militias will hold recaptured land outside of the city limits. The Federal Police stated on January 29 that their forces were moving towards western Mosul, suggesting that the three brigades which supported southeastern operations returned to their original position on the southern axis. 

PM Abadi is at increased risk of losing his premiership. Former PM Nouri al-Maliki is maneuvering to reclaim the position by appealing to Iranian interests and courting the pro-Iranian support base away from PM Abadi. PM Abadi, who has been receptive to and supported by the U.S., may need to make concession to the pro-Iranian political base in order to ensure his position, especially if U.S.-Iraq relations strain. PM Abadi compromised on the appointment of a Badr Organization member as the Minister of Interior on January 30, despite previous reservations. He may also need to appease political parties by allowing their affiliated militias greater latitude in anti-ISIS operations.

There Are the 5 Killer Weapons Russia Could Use to Crush Ukraine

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Robert Farley

Because of Western reticence about transferring lethal arms to Kiev, as well as Ukraine’s dire economic situation, there is no obvious path to overcoming Russia’s military advantages along the border. As long as Russia persists in committing men and weapons to Donetsk and Luhansk, Kiev will struggle to restore order, and recapture its territory. And now with Moscow seemingly pressing Kiev once again with fierce fighting once again taking place, these would be the weapons of choice for Russia. 

The smoldering conflict in Ukraine’s eastern provinces has now gone on for more than two years. Although an uneasy status quo has settled on the region, skirmishes continue, and tension periodically run high. With the prospect of open, large scale conventional combat receding, the focus has shifted to the tactics and weapons that either side can use to press the other at the margin, to recapture a sliver of territory, or increase the temperature on the enemy. Here are five kinds of weapons that Russia uses to maintain pressure on eastern Ukraine, and Kiev as a whole.


Unless it decides to expand its incursion into Ukraine, Russia’s ability to hurt the Ukrainian government depends on its willingness to leverage airpower, economic power and cyber-power. Of the first of these, Russia has been reticent to carry out direct attacks against Ukraine with either aircraft or ballistic missiles. Given the weakness of the Russian economy, Moscow can offer less and less in terms of coercive economic statecraft. But in the cyber-arena, Russia remains dangerous.

As Thomas Rid and others have argued, the prospects for “cyber-war” are a combination of murky and over-hyped. Nevertheless, Russia has established that it has the capacity to engage in annoying, often disruptive attacks against unfriendly cyber-networks. These attacks cannot destroy the social fabric on their own, but they can certainly prove costly to the targets. Moreover, cyber-attacks continue to carry a degree of deniability that saves Russia from paying the diplomatic costs of aggression.

Air Defense:

In the early days of the Ukrainian Civil War, Kiev tried to leverage its airpower advantage over the rebels by conducting airstrikes and other missions over the disputed eastern provinces. Central governments traditionally have airpower advantages over rebel groups, as the former remain in control of air assets and of the logistical framework necessary to keeping planes in the air.

Countering the US Third Offset Strategy: Russian Perspectives, Responses and Challenges Main content

Author Vasily Kashin, Michael Raska

How is the US defense establishment’s Third Offset Strategy impacting Russian policies? According to this paper’s authors, the core technology initiatives within the strategy have troubled Moscow for some time. In response, it has 1) prioritized the development of both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons systems, and 2) countered US efforts with similar programs via the Advanced Research Foundation (ARF). Nevertheless, the question for the Putin administration remains a familiar one – where will it find the necessary resources to translate its ideas into actual military capabilities.

Download English (PDF, 24 pages, 433 KB)

Series RSIS Policy Papers

Publisher S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS)

Defending Vital U.S. Interests: Policy Prescriptions for Trump

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Robert D. Blackwill

Here's what the Trump administration should do to keep the country safe and prosperous. More

While many policy analyses since President Donald Trump’s election attempt to predict how his administration will conduct international relations, few indicate what Trump should specifically do in a comprehensive way. The United States needs policies that defend its vital national interests, defined as conditions strictly necessary to safeguard and enhance the country’s survival as a free and secure nation. These policies should:

1. Prevent and deter the use, and reduce the threat, of nuclear and biological weapons, catastrophic terrorist attacks, and cyberattacks against the United states or its military forces abroad.

2. Prevent the slow global spread of nuclear weapons, secure nuclear weapons and materials, and reduce further proliferation of intermediate and long-range delivery systems for nuclear weapons.

3. Maintain a regional and global balance of power that promotes peace and stability through domestic American robustness, U.S. international primacy, and strengthening and defending U.S. alliance systems, including the alliance with Israel.

4. Prevent the emergence of hostile major powers or failed states on U.S. borders.

5. Ensure the viability and stability of major global systems: trade, financial markets, supplies of energy, and climate.

ARGUMENT We Must Reclaim Patriotism From Leftists — and From Trump

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President Donald Trump, in dependable jingoistic fashion, has declared Jan. 20, the date of his inauguration, an official day to venerate patriotism. America has always been a famously patriotic country. Thus, to proclaim what is already obvious is to have darker motives. “A new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart,” reads the proclamation. In fact, Trump misrepresents American history. American history is morally unresolvable. In the course of conquering the frontier, both in the South and in the West, Americans enslaved blacks and virtually extinguished Native American life. But in settling a continent rich in natural resources beyond imagining, overlaid with the greatest internal river system on Earth, America found itself with the economic and geopolitical capacity to save civilization in two world wars and the Cold War that followed. One circumstance led to the other. In a better world, it would have been different, but it wasn’t. We should be both ashamed and proud. And because our history is complex, the teaching of it requires texture and nuance, not ideology or opportunistic politics.

The 19th-century French historian and philosopher Ernest Renan wrote: “To forget … and get one’s history wrong, are essential factors in the making of a nation; and thus the advance of historical studies is often a danger to nationality.” For generations, historians have been stripping away the myth of Manifest Destiny to reveal all the cruelties of a brawling frontier society. Trump has reversed this process with his deliberate disrespect for books and experts, his deliberate misinformation, and his ahistorical sensibility in general. In this way, he does violence to our sacred past, both the good and the bad of it. The fact is, mass democracy, because it tempts populism, has not only been dynamic but dangerous. Yet there is no unity of goodness. American history is unique from European history in that it can more consistently weave strands of redemption into the worst tragedies. That is something we should never forget — and which should make us proud.

Nixon Lawyer Warns of ‘Calamity,’ Calls Trump’s Statement…
John Dean, who kept a list of political enemies, says he has never seen a statement so "nasty."
Edmon De Haro; Alexei Nikolsky 

In 2012, vladimir putin returned to the presidency after a four-year, constitutionally imposed hiatus. It wasn’t the smoothest of transitions. To his surprise, in the run-up to his inauguration, protesters filled the streets of Moscow and other major cities to denounce his comeback. Such opposition required dousing. But an opportunity abroad also beckoned—and the solution to Putin’s domestic crisis and the fulfillment of his international ambitions would roll into one. After the global financial crisis of 2008, populist uprisings had sprouted across Europe. Putin and his strategists sensed the beginnings of a larger uprising that could upend the Continent and make life uncomfortable for his geostrategic competitors. A 2013 paper from the Center for Strategic Communications, a pro-Kremlin think tank, observed that large patches of the West despised feminism and the gay-rights movement and, more generally, the progressive direction in which elites had pushed their societies. With the traditionalist masses ripe for revolt, the Russian president had an opportunity. He could become, as the paper’s title blared, “The New World Leader of Conservatism.”

Putin had never spoken glowingly of the West, but grim pronouncements about its fate grew central to his rhetoric. He hurled splenetic attacks against the culturally decadent, spiritually desiccated “Euro-Atlantic.” He warned against the fetishization of tolerance and diversity. He described the West as “infertile and genderless,” while Russian propaganda derided Europe as “Gayropa.” At the heart of Putin’s case was an accusation of moral relativism. “We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization,” he said at a conference in 2013. “They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious, and even sexual … They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan.” By succumbing to secularism, he noted on another occasion, the West was trending toward “chaotic darkness” and a “return to a primitive state.”

Few analysts grasped the potency such rhetoric would have beyond Russia. But right-wing leaders around the world—from Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines to Nigel Farage in Britain to Donald Trump in the U.S.—now speak of Putin in heroic terms. Their fawning is often discounted, ascribed to under-the-table payments or other stealthy Russian efforts. These explanations don’t wholly account for Putin’s outsize stature, however. He has achieved this prominence because he anticipated the global populist revolt and helped give it ideological shape. With his apocalyptic critique of the West—which also plays on anxieties about Christendom’s supposedly limp response to Islamist terrorism—Putin has become a mascot of traditionalist resistance.

Army Must Be Ready For Multi-Domain Battle In Pacific ‘Tomorrow’

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A Punisher unmanned ground vehicle follows soldiers during the PACMAN-I experiment in Hawaii.

WASHINGTON: With one eye on China and another on North Korea, US Army Pacific is injecting cyber warfare and new joint tactics into every wargame it can. At least 30 forthcoming exercises — culminating in the massive RIMPAC 2018 — will train troops on aspects of Multi-Domain Battle, the land Army’s effort to extend its reach into the other “domains” of air, sea, space, and cyberspace. Meanwhile, USARPAC simulations of the concept test near-future weapons such as ship-killer missiles and cruise missile-killing cannon.

US Army Pacific commander Gen. Robert Brown (right) with Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark Milley (left).

“The big advantage we have in the Pacific is we’ve got a boss that is pushing us,” said Gen. Robert Brown, the USARPAC commander, during a visit to Washington last week. That’s Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris, a fan of Multi-Domain Battle. Harris has got PACOM’s components — Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine — working together as Brown has never seen before, the general said.

There’s a real sense of urgency on Multi-Domain Battle in the Pacific, too Brown told the Center for a New American Security. “This isn’t something 10 years from now,” he said. “If Kim Jong-un goes south tomorrow, I will need some of this tomorrow.”

A land war in North Korea is Gen. Brown’s top concern. That’s where the US Army has stood ready to “fight tonight” since 1953. But Pyongyang’s investments in nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, drones, cyber attack, and special forces might make a second Korean War murderously more complex than the first. That type of threat drives much of Multi-Domain Battle’s emphasis on air, missile, and cyber defense.

Long-Range Strike: ‘More Potent,’ More Survivable & Cheaper

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B-21 artist rendering

On January 19, the Air Force struck Libya to halt terrorist activity using B-2 stealth bombers. This was not the first strike against Libya. A mix of U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy fighters conducted strikes 30 years ago against Libya in response to terrorist acts in Europe.

A comparison of the two raids illustrates the evolution in air warfare over those 30 years—and points to the great value of the B-2 and the planned B-21. One thing is clear: long-range, high-payload, sensor-shooter aircraft like the B-2 and B-21 yield military options in a far more potent and cost effective fashion than legacy aircraft.

In the 1986 Libyan raid, known as Operation Eldorado Canyon, 18 Air Force F-111 medium bombers flying from the United Kingdom combined with 15 Navy carrier-based aircraft operating from two carriers in the Mediterranean, conducted the attack. Denied over-flight by France, Spain, and Italy, the air armada had to fly a lengthy mission that required support by 28 air-refueling tankers. Sixteen additional electronic warfare aircraft (4 EF-111s and 12 Navy fighters) flew to suppress Libyan air defenses. The 33 strike aircraft delivered 48 guided and 252 unguided bombs against five target complexes. One F-111 aircraft was shot down in the raid and the two crew members were killed.

In the 2017 strike, flying from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, the B-2s delivered 108 precision-guided bombs that killed some 100 Islamic State terrorists at two camps. A small contingent of MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft provided pre-strike intelligence, observed the main attack, and then used Hellfire missiles to kill terrorists attempting to escape. Some 15 tankers supported the mission.

Comparisons between the two attacks illustrate the value of the unique combination of range, precision, large payload and stealth into one aircraft: 

Army Must Be Ready For Multi-Domain Battle In Pacific ‘Tomorrow’

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A Punisher unmanned ground vehicle follows soldiers during the PACMAN-I experiment in Hawaii.

WASHINGTON: With one eye on China and another on North Korea, US Army Pacific is injecting cyber warfare and new joint tactics into every wargame it can. At least 30 forthcoming exercises — culminating in the massive RIMPAC 2018 — will train troops on aspects of Multi-Domain Battle, the land Army’s effort to extend its reach into the other “domains” of air, sea, space, and cyberspace. Meanwhile, USARPAC simulations of the concept test near-future weapons such as ship-killer missiles and cruise missile-killing cannon.

US Army Pacific commander Gen. Robert Brown (right) with Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark Milley (left).

“The big advantage we have in the Pacific is we’ve got a boss that is pushing us,” said Gen. Robert Brown, the USARPAC commander, during a visit to Washington last week. That’s Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris, a fan of Multi-Domain Battle. Harris has got PACOM’s components — Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine — working together as Brown has never seen before, the general said.

There’s a real sense of urgency on Multi-Domain Battle in the Pacific, too Brown told the Center for a New American Security. “This isn’t something 10 years from now,” he said. “If Kim Jong-un goes south tomorrow, I will need some of this tomorrow.”

A land war in North Korea is Gen. Brown’s top concern. That’s where the US Army has stood ready to “fight tonight” since 1953. But Pyongyang’s investments in nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, drones, cyber attack, and special forces might make a second Korean War murderously more complex than the first. That type of threat drives much of Multi-Domain Battle’s emphasis on air, missile, and cyber defense.

World War May Be Coming

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By Jessica Hamel -

On Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, President Trump signed executive orders that placed a temporary ban on refugees. This was an indefinite ban on refugees from war-torn Syria. Mikhail Gorbachev warned that “it looks as if the world is preparing for war.”

The Nobel Peace Prize winner, Gorbachev, cited an increase of armored tanks, personnel carriers, and troops being deployed to Europe as a cause for concern. In the last few weeks, deployment of thousands of troops from the U.S. to the eastern border of Europe is the largest since the Cold War.

In an opinion piece for Time magazine, Gorbachev said:

NATO and Russian forces and weapons that used to be deployed at a distance are now placed closer to each other as if to shoot point-blank.

He also opined his perceptions of the hostile and defensive doctrine that military and political leaders are perpetuating. These are being amplified by the media and personalities who have a large platform.

Gorbachev is not alone in this opinion, Thursday, Jan. 26, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist made an announcement that the Doomsday Clock has now been moved from three minutes of midnight to two and a half minutes to midnight. This is the closest it has been to the symbolic apocalyptic danger to humanity since the Cold War.

The clock has been updated yearly since 1947. The scientists and security experts, who are responsible for the clock, also look at other events that are a danger to humanity. Concerns about Russian cyber-attacks during the U.S. elections, which exhibit that a cyber-war is a potential threat that could shake global stability helped increase the time. Other issues such as fake news, a rise in nationalism, and the rhetoric from President Trump also had an impact. Fears surrounding climate change also affect their decision.

Line in the waters: The South China sea dispute and its implications for Asia


Line in the Waters looks at emerging security dynamics in the Southeast Asian littorals and their impact on Asian geopolitics and security. It presents country perspectives of the strategic implications of recent developments in the South China Sea, their implications for maritime security and the regional balance of power. AAfter an Arbitral Tribunal pronounced a verdict in July 2016, invalidating China’s historical rights in the South China Sea, there is fear that the dispute might turn into a flashpoint for conflict. Beyond dwelling on the strategic deadlock that characterises the current state-of-play, contributors outline possible solutions and a way forward.

The Sino-US Security Dilemma: The Root Cause and Way Out | Teng Jianqun 

Singapore’s Security Dilemma | Koh Swee Lean Collin 

Indonesia’s South China Sea Problem | Ristian Supriyanto 

Vietnam’s Regional Security Challenges | Ha Anh Tuan 

Duterte’s Geopolitical Game-play | Richard Javad Heydarian 

A Japan-India Partnership in Maritime-Asia | Satoru Nagao

Retreat from globalisation will destabilise the world economy

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Mohamed El-Erian

Hostility in the UK and US to structures such as the EU, World Bank and IMF will lead to increasing instability for everyone 

Shaken up: Theresa May and Donald Trump have both voiced hostility to regional trading structures. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The retreat of the advanced economies from the global economy – and, in the case of the UK, from regional trading arrangements – has received a lot of attention lately. At a time when the global economy’s underlying structures are under strain, this could have far-reaching consequences.

Whether by choice or necessity, the vast majority of the world’s economies are part of a multilateral system that gives their counterparts in the advanced world – especially the US and Europe – enormous privileges. Three stand out.

First, because they issue the world’s main reserve currencies, the advanced economies get to exchange bits of paper that they printed for goods and services produced by others. Second, for most global investors, these economies’ bonds are a quasi-automatic component of portfolio allocations, so their governments’ budget deficits are financed in part by other countries’ savings. 

All the day’s economic and financial news, as president Trump’s ban on citizens from seven countries entering the US worries investors

The advanced economies’ final key advantage is voting power and representation. They command either veto power or a blocking minority in the Bretton Woods institutions (the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank), which gives them a disproportionate influence on the rules and practices that govern the international economic and monetary system. And, given their historical dominance of these organisations, their nationals are de facto assured the top positions.

These privileges don’t come for free – at least they shouldn’t. In exchange, the advanced economies are supposed to fulfil certain responsibilities that help ensure the system’s functioning and stability. But recent developments have cast doubts on whether the advanced economies are able to hold up their end of this bargain.

Perhaps the most obvious example is the 2008 global financial crisis. The result of excessive risk-taking and lax regulation in the advanced economies, the financial system’s near-meltdown disrupted global trade, threw millions into unemployment, and almost tipped the world into a multi-year depression.

But there have been other lapses, too. For example, political obstacles to comprehensive economic policymaking in many advanced economies have undermined the implementation of structural reforms and responsive fiscal policies in recent years, holding back business investment, undermining productivity growth, worsening inequality, and threatening future potential growth.