25 February 2017



America should be wary of sending more troops to Afghanistan. Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee this month, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John W. Nicholson, called for thousands of more advisors to assist the Afghan security forces in their fight against the Taliban. U.S. forces have been at war in Afghanistan for over 15 years and he cost has been great: over 2,350 American war dead and almost 700 billion dollars spent. And for what? Far from defeated, the Taliban appear to be in the ascendancy and are wrestling a third of the country away from government control. Back in October 2015, Donald Trump suggested that he would “begrudgingly” keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But this prompted him to ask, “Are they going to be there for the next 200 years?”

Commanders in Afghanistan and military pundits in Washington have for years argued that Western forces must gain on the upper hand on the battlefield before the Taliban would enter into peace talks. Writing in War on the Rocks in December, Joe Collins repeated this line of thinking. At the height of the military surge under President Barack Obama in 2010, the United States had just over 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, serving alongside 30,000 more troops in the International Security Assistance Force coalition. Today is NATO has 13,000 troops in Afghanistan under its Resolute Support Mission and 8,500 of these are American. It is hard to imagine that a few thousand more will make any difference to the fortunes of the Afghan security forces. They are losing, and losing badly, primarily due to the endemic corruption that has undermined these and other institutions as well as public support for the government.

Will Chinese Jobs Come To India?

Vivek Kaul

India needs a large burst of economic activity in labour intensive sectors which can employ India’s largely low-skill, semi-skilled and unskilled workforce.

If Indian firms are leaving India and setting up apparel and leather firms in other countries, it is not surprising that the space being vacated in China is moving to other countries and not India.

One of the themes that I have regularly explored in the Diary is the fact that one million individuals are entering the workforce every month and there aren't enough jobs going around for them. This basically means that around 12 million or 1.2 crore youth enter the Indian workforce, every year.

And how many jobs are available for them? As a recent news report in the Business Word magazine points out: "According to the Labour Bureau of India, only 1.35 lakh jobs were created in 2015 and 4.93 lakh in 2014 across eight sectors." Hence, there are barely any jobs being created for those entering the workforce.

Given the fact that so many individuals are entering the workforce every year, India needs a large burst of economic activity in labour intensive sectors which can employ India's largely low-skill, semi-skilled and unskilled workforce. Only then will the country be able to put its so called demographic dividend to good use.

Will Pakistan Buy Russia’s S-400 Missile Air Defense System?

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Responding to the recent news that India and Russia will ink a contract in 2017 for the procurement of four to five regiments of Russian-made S-400 Triumf advanced Air Defense Systems (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler), the Pakistan military is now purportedly considering purchasing a number of S-400 units as well, a high-ranking Pakistan military official told Russian state media on February 15.

“Russia has good tanks, helicopters, electronic equipment, air defense systems that Pakistan may consider. S-400 is a big ticket number and it will all depend on our budget,” the military official told Sputnik News, the foreign language arm of Russian news agency RIA Novosti. Pakistan officially spends about $7 billion annually on defense, although the real number may be substantially higher, and is in the process of modernizing its military forces.

Yet while the country’s economy has grown a solid 4.7 percent in 2016 and is expected to continue to expand by 5 percent in 2017 (partially due to Chinese investments under the Chinese-led China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) allowing for a modest military spending increase, the Pakistan military’s big ticket budget priorities are clearly on new combat aircraft, submarines, surface warships, and the country’s various indigenous missiles programs.

New Fault Lines Emerge in South Asia Around Afghanistan

By Harsh V. Pant

Russia hosted a six-nation conference on Afghanistan’s future in Moscow last week that saw participation from India, Iran, Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan. This was Russia’s second initiative, after the first trilateral conference in December last year which only included China and Pakistan. These Moscow-hosted talks come almost 38 years after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 and underscored a significant shift in Russia’s Afghanistan policy.

After facing flak for not inviting Afghanistan to the December conference on the nation’s future, Russia decided to broaden its outreach by inviting India, Iran, and Afghanistan. The Afghan government had registered strong protest after its exclusion from the December conference, underlining that regardless of the intentions of the participants, excluding Kabul from talks would not help the situation in the country. “Even if such talks are organized with good will, it cannot yield any substantial results because no one from the Afghan side is there to brief the participants about the latest ground realities,” Ahmad Shekib Mostaghni, a spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Ministry, had said.

Taliban overruns Afghan district where al Qaeda ran training camps

Bill Roggio

The Taliban claimed it “completely liberated” the district center for Shorabak in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar earlier today. Shorabak was the site of a massive al Qaeda training camp that was assaulted and destroyed by US forces in Oct. 2015. The Taliban now claims to control four of Kandahar’s 18 districts, and that others remain contested.

According to a statement released on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official propaganda outlet, Taliban forces torched the administration buildings and police headquarters after local police and Afghan soldiers abandoned the Shorabak district center.

“The Enemy soldiers and police were forced to flee after setting fire to the said district administration center and police HQ, Mujahideen immediately got control of the region,” the Taliban stated.

Additionally, the Taliban claimed to ambush a military convoy that was dispatched from the nearby district of Spin Boldak and destroyed two armored vehicles.

The Taliban’s claim cannot be independently verified in the Afghan press or FDD’s Long War Journal, but the district has been hotly contested and overrun by the Taliban in the past. Additionally, past Taliban claims of overrunning district centers have been proven to be accurate; these claims have later been confirmed in the Afghan press.

Shorabak had previously fallen to the Taliban in Oct. 2016, but Afghan forces later pushed the jihadist troops to the outskirts of the district center. Taliban fighters have laid siege to the district center since that time. As recently as Feb. 4, Moulavi Rahimullah, the Taliban’s military commander for the souther provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan, and Daikundi, said that his forces had the district center surrounded.

The India-Bangladesh Wall: Lessons for Trump

By Sudha Ramachandran

United States President Donald Trump’s plans to build a “great, great wall” along the United States’ 3,200 kilometer long border with Mexico to keep out what he calls “criminals, drug dealers, [and] rapists” is hardly a new idea. Several other countries, many motivated by Islamophobia, have fenced their borders with their neighbors to keep out illegal migrants, terrorists, and criminals.

Trump would do well to learn from the experience of these countries. Not only are their fences not particularly effective but also, constructing and managing them are enormously expensive in terms of money and human lives.

Take India, for instance, which has border fences with two of its neighbors, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The fence along its border with Bangladesh is aimed primarily at keeping Bangladeshi migrants from entering India. The decision to build a fence to keep them out was made in the 1980s when the issue of Bangladeshi migration turned politically explosive in the northeast Indian state of Assam.

A powerful mass agitation and armed insurgency in Assam drew attention to the impact of migration on the state’s demography, identity, voting patterns, employment, etc. And in a bid to placate Assamese passions on the subject, the Indian government agreed to put in place a slew of measures, including the construction of a fence to keep out “illegal migrants.”

India and Bangladesh share a 4,097 km long porous border, which snakes through plains, rivers, hills, and paddy fields. This borderland is densely populated; the people inhabiting it have numerous cross-border connections, some going back several centuries and others new.

An eight-foot-high fence of barbed wire, electrified in some stretches, runs along roughly 70 percent of this border. It is an intimidating structure but it hasn’t deterred Bangladeshi migrants anxious to cross into India to visit relatives or in search of livelihood security from making the perilous journey. Smugglers, drug couriers, human traffickers, and cattle rustlers from both sides of the border too continue to cross the border to ply their trade, often with the connivance of Indian and Bangladeshi border guards.

The Right Way to Confront China

By Tyler Roylance

In a phone call late last week, U.S. President Donald Trump assured his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, that the United States remained committed to the “one China” policy, which lies at the foundation of bilateral relations. Also last week, Trump pledged his “100 percent” support for the decades-old defensive alliance with Japan during a visit by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Days earlier, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis had stressed Washington’s abiding interest in a “rules-based international order,” including strong U.S. alliances in Asia, freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, and protections for the rights and autonomy of China’s smaller neighbors. He downplayed the need for “dramatic military moves” over disputed islands in the region, saying the problem was “best solved by the diplomats.”

These statements are reassuring departures from past remarks by the Trump team, which seemed to drop traditional U.S. policies in favor of a more pugnacious, unilateralist, and nationalist approach. Inconsistency should be applauded when the change is from bad to good. Unfortunately, there are still two major reasons to be concerned about the emerging Trump policy in Asia:

First, the administration has offered no sign that it will make democracy and human rights significant components of its foreign policy, either globally or in China’s region.

Second, while it was right to set aside reckless and bellicose confrontation, the administration’s newly conciliatory tone risks neglecting the need to counter Beijing’s increasingly harmful behavior.

Would China Use Nuclear Weapons in a War With Taiwan?

By Ben Lowsen

On October 28 of last year, the Carnegie Foundation in Washington, D.C. hosted a panel of Chinese scholars and officials to discuss Chinese nuclear thinking. During the event, two former officials—retired diplomat Sha Zukang and retired PLA major general Yao Yunzhu—offered their opinions on how China might react to a U.S. military intervention if a crisis were to take place concerning Taiwan.

Yao was quite direct: “China’s No First Use policy will not change, not only in the Taiwan scenario but in other scenarios as well, and we have 100 percent confidence that we can deal with the Taiwan independence issue by peaceful means and, if necessary, non-peaceful means.”

Unsurprising, but then Sha drew legs on the snake: “And, to add [to] what General Yao said, at any cost we will certainly do the job on our own. … I wish it would never happen, but it’s a wish. But we have to think of the worst scenario … [if] this scenario appeared and China were cornered, as I said earlier, we had no choice but to do the job at any cost.”

Had this been a discussion of a Taiwan scenario, Sha’s comment may have passed with little notice, simply an expression of national resolve. But in a discussion of nuclear policy, it led the audience to a very different and chilling conclusion, expressed in the next audience member’s comment: “It seemed like there was an implied threat to use nuclear weapons in a scenario with China.”

China's Strategic Support Force: A Force for Innovation?

By Elsa Kania

The new PLA branch might be China’s key to leapfrogging the United States on military technology. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping has tasked the new People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF) with pursuing “leapfrog development” and advancing military innovation. The SSF, which has consolidated the PLA’s space, cyber, and electronic warfare capabilities, has consistently been characterized as a “growth point” for the construction of “new-type” forces, while also considered an important force in joint operations. The SSF not only possesses the capabilities to contest space and cyberspace, the “new commanding heights of strategic competition,” but also may take responsibility for the PLA’s initial experimentation with and eventual employment of a range of “new concept weapons.” Looking forward, the SSF could become a vital force for innovation through which PLA may seek to leapfrog the U.S. military in critical emerging technologies.

In its design, the SSF is intended to be optimized for future warfare, in which the PLA anticipates such “strategic frontiers” as space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic domain will be vital to victory, while unmanned, “intelligentized,” and stealthy weapons systems take on an increasingly prominent role. According to its commander, Gao Jin, the SSF will “protect the high frontiers and new frontiers of national security,” while seeking to “seize the strategic commanding heights of future military competition.” Through its integration of space, cyber, and electronic warfare capabilities, the SSF may be uniquely able to take advantage of cross-domain synergies resulting from the inherent interrelatedness and technological convergence of operations in these domains. The frequent characterization of the SSF as responsible for the construction of “new-type” or “new-quality” combat forces does allude to these known capabilities, which are often characterized in such terms. However, the concept is also used to refer expansively to a variety of forces based on advanced technologies. For instance, the SSF will likely incorporate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including for electronic warfare.

China May Soon Surpass America on the Artificial Intelligence Battlefield

Elsa Kania

The rapidity of recent Chinese advances in artificial intelligence indicates that the country is capable of keeping pace with, or perhaps even overtaking, the United States in this critical emerging technology. The successes of major Chinese technology companies, notably Baidu Inc., Alibaba Group and Tencent Holding Ltd.—and even a number of start-ups—have demonstrated the dynamism of these private-sector efforts in artificial intelligence. From speech recognition to self-driving cars, Chinese research is cutting edge. Although the military dimension of China’s progress in artificial intelligence has remained relatively opaque, there is also relevant research occurring in the People’s Liberation Army research institutes and the Chinese defense industry. Evidently, the PLA recognizes the disruptive potential of the varied military applications of artificial intelligence, from unmanned weapons systems to command and control. Looking forward, the PLA anticipates that the advent of artificial intelligence will fundamentally change the character of warfare, ultimately resulting in a transformation from today’s “informationized” (信息化) ways of warfare to future “intelligentized” (智能化) warfare.

The Chinese leadership has prioritized artificial intelligence at the highest levels, recognizing its expansive applications and strategic implications. The initial foundation for China’s progress in artificial intelligence was established through long-term research funded by national science and technology plans, such as the 863 Program. Notably, China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016–20) called for breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, which was also highlighted in the 13th Five-Year National Science and Technology Innovation Plan. The new initiatives focus on artificial intelligence and have been characterized as the “China Brain Plan” (中国脑计划), which seeks to enhance understandings of human and artificial intelligence alike. In addition, the Internet Plus and Artificial Intelligence, a three-year implementation plan for artificial intelligence (2016–18), emphasizes the development of artificial intelligence and its expansive applications, including in unmanned systems, in cyber security and for social governance. Beyond these current initiatives, the Chinese Academy of Engineering has proposed an “Artificial Intelligence 2.0 Plan,” and the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China has reportedly tasked a team of experts to draft a plan for the development of artificial intelligence through 2030. The apparent intensity of this support and funding will likely enable continued, rapid advances in artificial intelligence with dual-use applications.

Status Report on the Battle of Mosul

By Emily Anagnostos and the ISW Iraq Team

The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) launched operations to retake western Mosul on February 19. The ISF has not yet begun operations inside western Mosul city, focusing instead on isolating ISIS in Mosul by cutting off exits routes west of the city and setting conditions to breach the city limits through the southern airport.

The ISF launched operations on February 19 to recapture western Mosul after a three week operational reset following the recapture of eastern Mosul on January 24. The ISF has not yet entered western Mosul, and is continuing shaping operations south and southwest of the city. Units from the Federal Police and the Emergency Response Division (ERD) consolidated control over villages south of Mosul on February 19 and 20. The units reached the outskirts of the Ghazlani military base and Mosul airport on February 20 and began artillery strikes on February 21 on the airport and base in preparation to storm. Meanwhile, the 9th Iraqi Army Armored Division alongside a Hawza militia from the Popular Mobilization, Firqat al-Abbas al-Qitaliya (FAQ), began to close off western escape routes out of the city. The division will likely continue the current trajectory to isolate Mosul by heading north towards the Tigris River. The desert operations are also more suitable to the armored division, which would have trouble navigating western Mosul’s narrow streets. The units may ultimately enter the city, but moving from the outside in rather than the inside out. 

We’re Ignoring the Best Bad Option for Syria


A frozen conflict would give the country space to begin rebuilding.

Last year, there was no shortage of red-tinted profile pictures, “Stand with Aleppo” tweets, and op-ed after op-ed insisting that the international community could not stand by and let Syria’s second-largest city fall to the Assad regime. Once eastern Aleppo did fall in December, critics proclaimed it the hallmark of a failed Obama policy, and comparisons to Srebrenica and echos of “never again” abounded.

But now, well into the new year, these voices have grown quiet. This may be attributed to uncertainty over the new Trump administration’s approach to Syria. But it also reflects a foreign-policy community that is not prepared to deal with a painful reality: Assad has secured his position in Syria and will not be removed from power. This is terrible to be sure, but the sooner a sober conversation begins on how to approach this reality and on the suboptimal outcomes Syria faces, the better. Dreadful as Assad clinging to power may be, there is a chance for the war to dramatically slow down. The West may not be in a position to direct this charge, but it should at least work to preserve the potential for a meaningful reduction of violence.

Assad Will Neither Lose Nor Win

For far too long, the opposition and its backers latched on to the notion that, under military threat, Assad would negotiate his own departure. With the regime’s stalwart backing by Russia and Iran, and now with the retaking of Aleppo, it should be apparent that Assad will not be removed—militarily or diplomatically.

Russian Military Acknowledges New Branch: Info Warfare Troops

By Vladimir Isachenkov

MOSCOW (AP) — Along with a steady flow of new missiles, planes and tanks, Russia's defense minister said Wednesday his nation also has built up its muscle by forming a new branch of the military — information warfare troops.

Sergei Shoigu's statement — which came amid Western allegations of Russian hacking — marked the first official acknowledgement of the existence of such forces.

Speaking to parliament, Shoigu said that the military received a sweeping array of new weapons last year, including 41 intercontinental ballistic missiles.


He added that the wide-ranging military modernization will continue this year, with the air force set to receive 170 new aircraft. The army will receive 905 tanks and other armored vehicles, and the navy will receive 17 new ships.

Also this year, three regiments of Russia's strategic nuclear forces will receive new intercontinental ballistic missiles, Shoigu said. Each regiment has up to 10 launchers.

The rising number of new weapons has raised demands for new personnel. Shoigu said the military currently needs 1,300 more pilots and will recruit them by 2018.

Trump Gets an Upgrade at National Security Advisor


By replacing Mike Flynn with H.R. McMaster, President Donald Trump added one of the most talented officers the U.S. Army has ever produced to a key post.

Let me be as clear as I can be: The president’s selection of H.R. McMaster to be his new national security advisor is unambiguously good news. The United States, and the world, are safer for his decision.

McMaster is one of the most talented officers the U.S. Army has ever produced. That sounds like hyperbole but isn’t. In the Gulf War, he led an armored cavalry troop. At the Battle of 73 Easting—a battle much studied since—his 12 tanks destroyed 28 Iraqi tanks, 16 armored personnel carriers, and 30 trucks. In 23 minutes.

In the next Iraq war, he led a brigade in 2005 and was among the first U.S. commanders to think differently about the conflict and employ counterinsurgency tactics to pacify Tal Afar—one of the most wickedly complex cities in Iraq. He excelled at two different echelons of command in two very different wars.

Donald Trump Will Defeat ISIS

The dysfunction at the highest levels of the American government right now obscures a dramatic reality: Donald Trump is going to defeat the Islamic State, and Americans need to be fine with that.

Like most of the people reading this, I have been so completely absorbed by the drama at the White House over the past week that its been easy to lose track of what’s taking place on the ground in the Middle East, where U.S. troops, diplomats, and intelligence professionals continue to work by, with, and through local forces to destroy the Islamic State.

When President Obama turned the affairs of state over to President Trump on January 20th, the Islamic State was in full retreat across Iraq and Syria. This was no accident: In the fall of 2015, while I was serving as the head of the Pentagon’s Middle East policy shop, the Obama administration ramped up its campaign against the group—and began to see the effects of that escalation when Iraqi forces retook Ramadi in December of 2015.

Over the course of a very difficult summer of 2015—one in which both Ramadi in Iraq and Palmyra in Syria had fallen under the black flags of the Islamic State—civilian and military planners noticed an opportunity: For the first time since their campaign began in 2014, the U.S. and coalition forces surrounding the Islamic State were in a position to squeeze it from all directions.

When I came back into the Department of Defense in 2015 after a two-year sojourn away, I was struck by how well the Islamic State moved men, weapons, and materiel across the battlefield in Iraq and Syria. This allowed them to apply pressure to the places where the forces in opposition were weakest. It also allowed them to mass their own limited forces in places where they could overmatch their opposition.

The U.S. NATO Alliance Has Been a One-Way Street for Too Long

Doug Bandow

Defense Secretary James Mattis made a splash on his visit to Europe. He ratcheted up Washington’s traditional request for the Europeans to spend more on their defense. And his demand resonated across the continent, because his boss, President Donald Trump, has spent years denouncing Washington’s feckless allies for leeching off America.

But some Europeans, when asked to do what normal countries do—take care of their own security—said no. In essence, declared European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, Europe was busy financing Third World development, so America should continue to face down nuclear-armed Russia on the continent’s behalf. Such a deal!

President Trump should respond unequivocally. The United States won’t tell Europeans how much to spend on the military, but henceforth they will be responsible for the consequences of their decision. Washington should develop a plan to gradually but completely shift responsibility for Europe’s security back onto the Europeans, not simply collect a little extra cash for continuing to do their dirty work.

NATO has faced an existential crisis since the end of the Cold War. Created to contain and deter the Soviet Union, the American-led European alliance lost its raison d’être when the Soviet Union disappeared and the Warsaw Pact dissolved. In search of new roles, some alliance officials desperately suggested that the military alliance organize student exchanges and fight the drug war.

How America Can Avoid a War with China

Joe Renouard

Sino-American relations seem to be at a crossroads, though exactly where the relationship is headed is anyone’s guess. President Trump’s scattershot approach to public diplomacy and policymaking has thus far sparked more questions than answers. Is he acting irresponsibly and provoking unnecessary conflicts, or is he shrewdly testing Beijing’s resolve before he challenges it on trade and security matters? Will he successfully maintain America’s leading regional role, or will his nationalism encourage the other Asia-Pacific nations to make their own deals with China? Will these nations be gradually drawn into a China-led regional order?

There is no denying the sheer scale of U.S.-China relations. As former secretary of state John Kerry stated in 2014, “The U.S.-China relationship is the most consequential in the world today, period, and it will do much to determine the shape of the 21st century.” Yet “consequential” does not mean “amicable” or “mutually beneficial.” While advocates for greater bilateral engagement can cite many reasons for optimism, especially the formidable economic ties between the two nations, others make a plausible case that the importance of these ties is overstated.

The root causes of bilateral friction outnumber the sources of cooperation, though a U.S.-China military conflict is by no means inevitable. This essay suggests that the new administration can maintain a balance in the Western Pacific if it actively engages China in a few key areas of mutual interest.

A Future of the English-Speaking Peoples

By Edoardo Campanella and Marta Dassù

From U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” to Brexiteers’ “Global Britain” and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “Great rejuvenation of the Chinese people,” nostalgic nationalism has become a major force in politics around the world. Appeals to past national glories animate far-right populist movements in Europe, fueling Russian President Vladimir Putin’s expansionism in his neighborhood, and animating Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman ambitions. Such a world is prone to conflict. Yet nostalgia can still be consistent with some form of international cooperation, especially where culture, history, and values overlap. And in that context, the re-emergence of an Anglosphere—a long-held dream for many proud Britons—is no longer so far-fetched.

The idea of the Anglosphere dates back to the collapse of the British Empire. In his voluminous History of the English-Speaking Peoples, former Prime Minister Winston Churchill weaved through 2,000 years of history a thread of Anglophonism that then inspired the Euroskeptics who opposed the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Economic Area in 1973. In their view, London should have rather focused on the Commonwealth, integrating with what Churchill once called its true “kith and kin.” More recently, nostalgic nationalism, including nostalgia for the Commonwealth, dominated the Leave campaign, with Boris Johnson, now foreign minister, stating that when London joined the Common Market, it betrayed “our relationships with Commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand.”

The Duty of General McMaster


In reporting on President Trump’s appointment of H.R. McMaster to the post of national security adviser, the New York Times referred to Lieutenant General McMaster as a “military strategist.” Precisely what this phrase is meant to convey is not entirely clear. In profiling McMaster, the Times does not credit him with having originated some Big Idea akin to Alfred Thayer Mahan’s theory of seapower or Billy Mitchell’s conception of strategic bombing.

In all likelihood, Times editors use the phrase “military strategist” loosely to mean something like “a soldier who thinks.” Or more crudely, “not a knuckle-dragger.” Or “preferable to the cretin who Trump just fired.” By conferring on McMaster the title of military strategist, the Times signals its approval.

Of course, the responsibilities of the position to which McMaster now ascends extend well beyond mere military matters. The national security adviser operates—or should operate—in the realm of “grand strategy.” In this rarified atmosphere, preparing for and conducting war coexist with, and arguably should even take a backseat to, other considerations. To advance the fundamental interests of the state, the successful grand strategist orchestrates all the various elements of power. While not shrinking from the use of armed force, he or she sees war as a last resort, to be undertaken only after having exhausted all other alternatives.

NATO, the Middle East and Eastern Europe

By George Friedman 

NATO's mission has shifted, but are its members willing to meet the new challenges?

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

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

German soldiers load armored vehicles on a train at the troop exercise area in Grafenwöhr, southern Germany, on Feb. 21, 2017. The German armed forces Bundeswehr are sending military vehicles to Lithuania as a part of the NATO program "Enhanced Forward Presence." ARMIN WEIGEL/AFP/Getty Images

As the Soviet Union was collapsing, Iraq invaded Kuwait and the United States, as the only global power, created a coalition going far beyond NATO to repel the invasion. There was great satisfaction at the outcome, without a realization that the Iraqi invasion was not a stand-alone event but the beginning of a massive restructuring of the Middle East that would include vast instability and terrorist attacks on the U.S. and Europe. From 1945 until 1991, the fundamental global issue was the status of Europe in the wake of World War II. From 1991 until today, the fundamental issue for Europe and the United States has been the status of the Islamic world in the wake of the end of the Cold War, which had the effect of imposing a kind of stability in the region.

India’s buy American challenge

D. Ravi Kanth

The ‘Buy American, Hire American’ slogan of US President Donald Trump is rapidly assuming Goebbelsian proportions. Photo: Reuters

The ‘Buy American, Hire American’ slogan of US President Donald Trump is rapidly assuming Goebbelsian proportions. There is not a day when he doesn’t issue this ultimatum. He signed an executive order on ‘Buy American’ measures on 16 February.

Trump told his supporters during his first re-election campaign rally for 2020 in Florida, on 18 February: “And very importantly, as I was about to sign it, I said who makes the pipe? Who makes the pipe?…Simple question.”

“The lawyers put this very complex document in front. I said, who makes the pipe? They said, sir, it can be made anywhere. I said, not anymore. I put a little clause in the bottom. The pipe has to be made in the United States of America if we’re going to have (a) pipeline,” Trump thundered at the rally.

On 20 February, the ‘Buy American’ policy measures in the renewable energy sector faced their first major international legal challenge. India, the country that is now taking the sole superpower to task on this issue for further adjudication at the World Trade Organization (WTO), is also the one that was told that its own measures to promote renewable energy for grappling with human-made climate changes are inconsistent with global trade rules.

Projected Costs Of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2017 To 2026

CBO estimates that existing plans for U.S. nuclear forces would cost $400 billion over the 2017 - 2026 period - $52 billion more than CBO’s 2015 estimate for the 2015 - 2024 period, largely because modernization programs will be ramping up.

Nuclear weapons have been a cornerstone of U.S. national security since they were developed during World War II. In the Cold War, nuclear forces were central to U.S. defense policy, resulting in the buildup of a large arsenal. Since that time, nuclear forces have figured less prominently than conventional forces, and the United States has not built any new nuclear weapons or delivery systems for many years.

The nation’s current nuclear forces are reaching the end of their service life. Those forces consist of submarines that launch ballistic missiles (SSBNs), land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), long-range bomber aircraft, shorter-range tactical aircraft, and the nuclear weapons that those delivery systems carry. Over the next two decades, essentially all of those nuclear delivery systems and weapons would have to be refurbished or replaced with new systems to continue operating. Consequently, the Congress will need to make decisions about what nuclear forces the United States should field in the future and thus about the extent to which the nation will pursue nuclear modernization plans.

To help the Congress make those decisions, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 required CBO to estimate the 10-year costs to operate, maintain, and modernize U.S. nuclear forces. In response, CBO published Projected Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2014 to 2023. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 requires CBO to update its estimate of the cost of nuclear forces every two years. This report is the second such update.


The Former Secretary Of Defense Outlines The Future Of Warfare

By Nicholas Thompson, www.wired.com

To an engineer in Silicon Valley, the Defense Department can look a little old, a little slow, and a little fat. To the Defense Department, the smug confidence of young engineers doesn’t go unnoticed. Is it really better to work on an app for ordering sandwiches than it is to build submarines that can launch nuclear weapons?

Two years ago, Barack Obama appointed a new Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter-a technocrat physicist, an arms control veteran, and a professor at Stanford-to help close this divide. During his tenure, Carter set up a virtual outpost in Silicon Valley. He worked to make it easier for tech companies to sell things to the Pentagon, for their engineers to work there, and for their bosses to offer up advice. He even let WIRED tag along and write a profile of him. He also impressed the local royalty. “He’s been amazing,” Ben Horowitz, the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, told me in an interview.

This week, Carter, who left office along with Obama, agreed to chat with WIRED about his tenure, the challenges facing his successor, and a White House that isn’t entirely beloved by technocrats.

Nicholas Thompson: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

Ashton Carter: Sure. It’s good to be back with WIRED.

You put a lot of effort during your tenure into building bridges between Silicon Valley and the Pentagon. How well will they survive your departure?

How Net Neutrality Will Fare Under Trump’s FCC

Donald Trump’s Federal Communications Commission is expected to roll back hard-fought rules on network neutrality — specifically the decision to make broadband as heavily regulated as landline phone service — but it will most likely take an act of Congress to do so, according to Wharton experts.

The new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is a noted critic of regulations on net neutrality — the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally — preferring to rely on competition to put curbs on the industry. Already, he has ended investigations into companies technically in violation of net neutrality because they let their customers stream digital content exempt from their data caps.

At the heart of the fight is the 2015 classification of broadband as a common carrier service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The reclassification of broadband was an Obama-era decision that drastically shifted longstanding U.S. policy because of the view that high-speed internet access is becoming as important as basic phone service.

Under Trump, “it’s unlikely that the FCC’s classification of broadband as a Title II service will survive. But I think that’s going to change not from FCC action but from congressional action,” says Kevin Werbach, Wharton professor of legal studies and business ethics who was an adviser to the FCC and tapped to serve on the Obama technology transition team.

Due to the FCC’s internal procedures, it’s not easy to revoke Obama’s regulations — the 2015 Open Internet Order — which also was upheld by the courts. “The FCC can’t just change its mind every time there’s a new party in office,” Werbach explains. “For them to put out another order saying we’ve changed our mind, they would have to come up with a reason why circumstances have changed again so much [in a short time] other than there’s a new party in charge.”