12 May 2017

**** Ashley Tellis’s recent testimony at U.S Senate Armed Services Committee

P K Mallick

I sent this e mail yesterday. Please read if you have the time.

Dear Prof Sen,

This is in response to your anguish and e mail to heads of two Indian Think Tanks on Ashley Tellis’s recent testimony at U.S Senate Armed Services Committee available at : http://carnegieendowment.org/…/protecting-american-primacy-… for Ashley Tellis's statement.

In last few years I had tried to generate number of discussions on Indian Think Tanks. I thought it is done and dusted. For one last time I am responding.

Ashley Tellis is like Kala Pahad. Kala Pahad after converting to Islam became the biggest destroyer of Hindu temples. Tellis was an Indian, educated at Mumbai. But then he is a US citizen now and promoting US interests is his sacred job. He is doing it perfectly well. Somehow we have this infatuation with PIOs. If CEOs of Google and Microsoft or other NRIs come to India, it is to promote their business interest of USA. We, media, everybody go gaga, how much Google is paying his CEO, etc. Please note, there is hardly any IITians who are there in ISRO or BARC, our Indian torch bearers, they are keeping the Indian flag high. These NRIs are flying US Flag!!

My point is the attitude of our, your coined word, “Lumpen Strategic Community”. When Tellis delivers a talk in India, this community literally drools over his talks, hardly anyone confronts him with hard facts, US interests vis a vis Indian interests etc. No wonder his name keeps popping up as US Ambassador to India, he has the ear of the highest of the land etc.

The moment the present Govt came to power Ashley proclaimed that Indian aircraft carriers should have arresters for their aircrafts to land. Obviously it was US business interest. I have not read much about the compatibility factor of US aircrafts landing on Russian designed aircraft carriers. There will be major issues but after the demise of erstwhile USSR it is all Newport lobby in the Navy. There is nobody like Adm Vishnu Bhagwat who can raise a flag.

*** Kashmir, stop being delusional


Let us start with a few clarifications. There is no freedom struggle in Kashmir, but a war foisted on us all these years with ground rules laid down by the Pakistan Army. These ground rules, therefore, must change, where we are no longer reactive but be in charge, literally. This should start with an escalatory response. There is little point in our having our High Commissioner in Pakistan or theirs here when there is no substance in the relationship. At least, their High Commissioner gets prime time on TV and is lionised all over the country. Downgrading would be the first signal. The MFN status should be withdrawn. There is hardly any trade, let it remain negligible or less. There is no need to offer electric power for onions. This may not amount to much, but, currently, the optics about this are askew. Many years have elapsed since India and Pakistan signed the Indus Waters Treaty and the time has come to reconsider this to better suit Indian interests and present conditions. Strategically, we need to revisit our No First Use doctrine. Finally, we should do all this not just out of a sulk but based on political realism which means accepting that Pakistan and India have very little in common with each other and it is best to part ways. (Pakistan Goodbye and Good Luck, Anand Ranganathan).

*** Financial Reform, With Chinese Characteristics

China will prioritize streamlining and unifying the country’s financial regulatory framework, as well as cracking down on corruption in the sector, over liberalization. 

The mounting risk posed by local government and corporate debt will require more ambitious relief programs. 

Political sensitivities will delay implementation of certain regulatory reforms until after the pivotal 19th Party Congress, set for this October. 

Financial sector reform in China is gaining steam. A number of recent developments point to a renewed push to clean up the country's financial system by chipping away at a disjointed and outdated regulatory system and clamping down on corruption in the banking, securities and insurance industries. Simultaneously, programs aimed at helping local governments and businesses metabolize their enormous debts have expanded rapidly. But while these initiatives hint at a more comprehensive approach to financial reform, with efforts to manage past debts running in tandem with those to tamp down the unsustainable credit growth of recent years, they do not portend substantial liberalization of China's financial system in the near future. More likely, these are early steps in what Chinese authorities see as an incremental, carefully managed program to restructure and improve (but not dismantle) the country's heavily state-influenced financial and economic systems.

** China and Arunachal Pradesh: Time to Understand from History and Learn from Experience.

As I prepare to visit China for a talk to an audience of Chinese India watchers, I have begun to dust up some old NOTES written by me on related topics. I found this and I think some of you would be interested.


China and Arunachal Pradesh: Time to Understand from History and Learn from Experience.

The Chinese seem to be either testing the waters or ratcheting up the dispute over, either the whole of Arunachal Pradesh or part of it with their string of pronouncements on the subject, starting with the statement of the then Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Yuxi and recently by former State Councillor Dai Binguo.

The Chinese have never been quite explicit on how much of Arunachal they seek. I once saw an official map displayed in a travel agents office in Lhasa that showed only the Tawang tract as Chinese territory. In other maps they have their border running along the foothills, which means all of Arunachal.

The Chinese have based their specific claim on the territory on the premise that Tawang was administered from Lhasa, and the contiguous areas owed allegiance to the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal ruler of Tibet.

Then the Chinese must also consider this. Sikkim till into the 19th century a vassal of Tibet and Darjeeling was forcibly taken from it by the British! By extending this logic could they realistically stake a claim for Sikkim and Darjeeling?

** How Russia Weaponized Social Media in Crimea

By Michael Holloway

This essay is part of the #WhatIsInformationOperations series, which asked a group of practitioners to provide their thoughts on the subject. We hope this launches a debate that may one day shape policy.

Within the U.S. military's complex operating environment, acts committed by either side of a conflict may form a narrative that races out of control instantaneously. Within moments, neighbors call family members, witnesses upload video footage, and tweets trend across social media. At this point, those who wish to manipulate the event can employ social media to shape the narrative for a targeted audience to achieve a desired effect. This manipulation can call others to action, divide a population, or sway opinions against U.S. or coalition efforts. The world saw the effectiveness of such a social cyber-attack during the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea.[1] The militaries of the United States and her allies must internalize the lessons from this conflict and enable soldiers and leaders at every level to shape the fight in this new domain of warfare.

Baba Ramdev And Sri Sri At Forefront Of The New Hindu Spiritual Business Model

R Jagannathan

Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar are taking Hinduism Lite into a new revenue model that augurs well for both spirituality and business.

Yoga and spirituality need to be underpinned by sound finances; business sans spirituality is just a business.

Yoga guru Baba Ramdev and Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, two of Hinduism’s biggest brand ambassadors, are building viable business models around themselves. This is good news for the longevity of their spiritual-cum-business institutions, making it easier to take on the organised nature of the Abrahamic proselytising faiths, which are essentially driven by strong marketing strengths and a business model that can sustain their expansionist visions.

The Catholic and Protestant churches of Europe and North America are built around business models, and not just humble contributions from believers. Churches invest billions of dollars and euros in businesses, and this is what gives them sustainable revenues to carry on their proselytisation activities come what may. Thus the Vatican Bank, generally very scandal-ridden, has assets of over $64 billion (this is not counting the Vatican state’s own finances), while American pastors are even richer, counting themselves as millionaires many times over (see the pastoral millionaire list here).

Tired of Just Blocking Wikipedia, China’s Government Wants to Create Its Own Online Encyclopedia

Ian Prasad Philbrick

After years spent tussling with Wikipedia over issues of internet censorship, China’s government has announced its long-delayed plans to digitize its state-sponsored Chinese Encyclopedia. The print Chinese Encyclopedia has existed since the late 1970s, and the Chinese State Council, the ruling Communist Party’s cabinet, first approved an online edition in 2011. But concerns about the relevance of the encyclopedia in a digital environment reportedly delayed implementation of the digitization project. In April, though, things once again got moving. The Chinese State Council has announced that it will hire more than 20,000 scholars to create the encyclopedia.

Set to go live in 2018, the Chinese government’s effort will comprise more than 300,000 entries authored by Chinese academics and researchers spanning more than 100 different disciplines.

The Chinese Encyclopedia digitization project is a thinly veiled attempt to displace Wikipedia as a source of information for the more than 720 million Chinese netizens whose online activities are already limited by the so-called Great Firewall of China. The state has cyclically banned and reinstated Wikipedia access since 2004, usually in response to tetchy public-relations moments like anniversaries of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Private Chinese internet companies have arisen to fill this inconsistent informational void, but offer dramatically less content than Wikipedia itself.

China's Belt-and-Road Express Runs Into Bumps

ON APRIL 10th a freight train pulled out of Barking station in London carrying Scotch whisky, baby milk and engineering equipment. It arrived in Yiwu in eastern China (see map) nearly three weeks later, completing the second-longest round-trip train journey ever made (after Yiwu to Madrid and back, a record set in 2014). It lopped around a month off the time of a sea journey from Britain to China.

A day after the train’s departure, a less ballyhooed but potentially more significant event took place in the port of Kyaukphyu in Myanmar. Workers started transferring oil from a tanker into a new pipeline that runs from the Burmese port north to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province in south-western China. The pipeline bypasses the Malacca Strait, through which 80% of Chinese oil imports are shipped. Eventually, energy supplies to Chongqing, the largest city in the west of China, will no longer be vulnerable to political disruption in the strait.

Kashmir, Xinjiang, & terror

Nantoo Banerjee | 8 May 2017 9:40 PM | New Delhi China's development model in the last 25 years has left the world awe-struck and has been a major reference matter in local, regional, as well global economic forums. Few cared to know how the country's biggest province, Xinjiang, or Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region as it is officially known, progressed over the years and its contribution to China's phenomenal growth. Xinjiang, accounting for almost 50 per cent of China's total Muslim population of around 2.50 crore, has been China's most communally sensitive province and a hotbed of terrorist activities and religious extremism. Rich in natural resources, economic development in the region has been accompanied by large-scale immigration of Han Chinese. The planned immigration had sizeably reduced the share of the Muslim population as part of Xinjiang's total population. Many Uyghurs complain of discrimination and their marginalisation by the Chinese authorities. Anti-Han and separatist sentiment have become more prevalent since the 1990s, flaring into frequent violence in Xinjiang. Hans built their own civil resistance groups. Not many outside Xinjiang, not even those living in other regions of China, are aware of such incidences of violence and how ruthlessly China's military and security forces handle them. The media is under the total control of the government. Whatever little the world knows about the ethnic trouble involving Uyghurs is what the Chinese authorities officially states. Sharing borders with some six Islamic countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, it also has borders with predominantly Buddhist Mongolia, secularist Russia, and India. Similarly, few have knowledge about how China has been tackling the Islamic militancy in Xinjiang over the years. Few world human rights and religious groups credibly criticise relentless Chinese action to contain Islamist movements there. For instance, earlier this year, China strictly banned the use of names such as Islam, Quran, Saddam, and Mecca for Muslim children by their parents as well as references to the star and crescent moon symbol. They are unacceptable to the ruling Communist party. Children with those names are denied household registration, a crucial document that grants access to social services, healthcare, and education. The list of such banned Muslim names is not made public. It is unclear exactly what qualifies as a religious name. Earlier, Xinjiang Muslims were upset with China's one-child policy. Reportedly, Chinese troops often demonstrate force and vow to 'relentlessly beat' separatists in Xinjiang. It may not be wrong to assume that China's multi-billion-dollar infrastructure development deal with Pakistan is partly to contain the separatist Islamic elements in Xinjiang operating in connivance with Pakistani Islamist militants. The reference to Xinjiang and the tough Chinese approach to tackling Islamic separatist movement is drawn mainly to compare and capture India's weak-kneed policy towards handling separatists in the geographically small Kashmir Valley, bordering principally Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. J&K's Muslim population is only around 96 lakh as of March 2017. The Indian census of 2011 recorded J&K's Muslim population at 85.67 lakh or about 68.31 per cent of its total population of 125.41 lakh. Hindus numbered 35.66 lakh or 28.43 per cent of the total. If only India did even partly what China did in Xinjiang by migrating Han workers there, the non-Muslim population in Kashmir could have been substantially increased, especially after the partition of India and migration of Hindus and other non-Muslim communities from the west and east Pakistan. In the last century, Israel was created with migrant Jews from Europe, supported by the financially and politically US-backed International Zionist Organisation (IZO). For not entirely explicable reasons, Nehru's India stood firmly against building such religious equation in Kashmir. Today, J&K has 22 districts. Of them,17 have a Muslim majority. Hindus are the majority community only in four districts of the Jammu division. Buddhists are the majority in Leh. The government, had, instead, gone to protect the rights of Kashmiri Muslims over their land constitutionally. Even central public sector enterprises were not allowed to legally acquire land in Kashmir to set up units there which could have changed the total economic picture of Kashmir, providing better employment, better education and decent living to the local people and, also, the process, promote secular values of the country there. Out of India's 29 states and seven Union Territories, only J&K has a Muslim majority. And, its Muslim militant groups, mainly in collusion with Pakistan, are constantly fighting, under local and global media glare, to secede from India. Other religious majorities in other Indian states and territories have no problem to reside with minority population as it is expected in any civilised society. The latest spurt in Pakistan-backed separatist movements in Kashmir is substantially due to the continuing inept attitude of the government, since the Nehru era, to firmly handle the communal violence and separatist organisations and their leaders and build civil resistance groups to fight them, instead of frequently using uniformed security forces. Many expected the BJP-led Central government would show the guts to tame the situation in Kashmir and, if necessary, amend the Constitution to make J&K like any other Indian state. Instead of blaming Pakistan for fomenting violent separatist activities, including surreptitious military action, in Kashmir, India must constitutionally establish its stamp on Kashmir as its part under an integral state policy. In the interim period, the government of India can replicate a lesson or two from China on tackling religious extremism and separatist groups in Kashmir. Any political opposition to such steps will only expose such political parties and groups which are against a lasting peace and unity in the country. If much larger separatist groups and their leaders in Xinjiang can be substantially tamed by Beijing, without making it unpopular locally and among other Muslim countries, including Pakistan, there is no reason to believe that New Delhi's application of the Chinese medicine will not work in Kashmir. (The views are personal.)

Empowering ISIS Opponents on Twitter

by Todd Helmus, Elizabeth Bodine-Baron

What are the options for operationalizing recent RAND findings about ISIS opponents and supporters on Twitter? 

How can a counter-ISIS message leverage voices of influential Twitter users in the Arab world to promote a bottom-up and authentic counter-ISIS message? 

How can U.S. and partner governments and nongovernmental organizations use RAND’s previous analysis to more effectively implement top-down messaging to directly counter ISIS support on Twitter? 

This Perspective presents options for operationalizing recent RAND Corporation findings about ISIS opponents and supporters on Twitter. This paper formulates a countermessaging approach for two main communication pathways. First, we articulate an approach for working with influential Twitter users in the Arab world to promote bottom-up and authentic counter-ISIS messaging. Second, we highlight ways that U.S. and partner governments and nongovernmental organizations can use our analysis to more effectively implement top-down messaging to directly counter ISIS support on Twitter. Our original study found that there are six times the number of ISIS opponents than there are supporters on Twitter. We argue that it is critical to empower these influencers by drawing on lessons from the commercial marketing industry. We consequently highlight approaches to identify influencers on social media and empower them with both training and influential content.

Emmanuel Macron Wins In France. So What Next?

It’s the first time a candidate, not representing the mainstream parties, has been voted to the office of the French President.

Opinion is divided on whether Macron will be the right man to fix the ailing French economy.

Emmanuel Macron will be the next President of France. All of 39, Macron is certainly the youngest President since the Gaullian republic was proclaimed. The landslide victory of Macron was the culmination of a dream run that began 13 months back when he floated his 'neither left or right' bipartisan political movement, En Marche (On the Move).

A Europhile 'centrist' and an ex-Rothschild banker, Macron's landslide victory is unprecedented – it's the first time an independent candidate, not representing the mainstream parties, has been voted to the office of the French President.

Even the huge email leaks from Macron’s campaign team, which were allegedly a treasure trove of incriminating information establishing his close connection with global big finance and predictably described by his supporters as politically motivated hacking engineered by Russians, did little to mar his electoral prospects.

The unimaginable about wars is being imagined again, says acclaimed military strategist Peter Singer

Carl Prine

During my former gig at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, I came up with the idea of working on a project called “World War III.” It would canvass the brightest minds inside the Pentagon, U.S. State Department, intelligence community and Wall Street to scribble a drama that would play out in the pages of the newspaper for weeks, with the United States military pitted against a rising China.

A few days into this effort, after yapping with generals and admirals and senior policymakers, Peter “PW” Singer and co-author August Cole published “Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War.”

So I probably should be a bit cross with the man who’s been hailed as one of the great defense intellectuals of the 21st Century. But I’m not. Singer’s work is always fascinating. He’s cast a wide net in the past 14 years, writing important studies about mercenaries, child soldiers, robots on the battlefield, cyberwarfare and maritime strategy.

Singer, a senior fellow and strategist at the Washington, D.C.-based New America Foundation, recently sat down for an interview with me that sprawled across many of these topics, plus new insights into Russian espionage, the ethics of war and the Islamic State.

Lock Them Up: Zero-Deployed Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons in Europe

How can non-strategic nuclear weapons holders, particularly Russia and the US, ensure these arms are not used in a conflict in Europe? This text advocates 1) transferring these warheads to a small number of storage facilities, and 2) developing verification procedures that would confirm the absence of deployed warheads at nearby, nuclear-capable bases. The virtue of this approach is that the parties involved wouldn’t have to disclose the number of warheads they possess, which has been a serious stumbling block in previous deterrence efforts.

Germany needs a strong EU. Why would it allow Britain an easy Brexit?

Martin Kettle

Britain has long misread the German attitude to Brexit, with many Tories wrongly assuming that Angela Merkel’s government will be driven by economic self-interest to ensure Britain gets a good deal.

In Berlin there is some optimism that a larger parliamentary majority will make May an easier negotiating partner to deal with. She will of course be better placed to resist pressure from opposition parties and the House of Lords for a softer Brexit but also to face down the Eurosceptic right of the Tory party who could try to veto any compromise she might do with the EU in order to strike a deal. At the same time, however, excessive anti-EU rhetoric during the coming election campaign could erode some of the goodwill that Britain will need from other European governments to secure a half-decent deal.

It is true that many Germans regret the departure of a country that is committed to free trade and free markets, and opposed to the economic interventionism of France, Italy and others. Britain, like Germany, is also a net contributor to the EU budget. They fear that Brexit will weaken the EU’s foreign and defence policy. And some worry that Brexit will make Germany even more dominant within the union, thus fuelling resentment towards Berlin from other member states.

Critical Assumptions and American Grand Strategy

What are the dominant assumptions that have undergirded American grand strategy in the post-Cold War era? Are they now passé or do they merely need to be reinforced? According to this text’s authors, US leaders should address these questions by first interrogating and stress-testing the strategic assumptions that are currently in place, both at the global and regional levels. They should then take six specific steps to make American grand strategy and strategic planning more resilient.

Strategy is Dead, Long Live Strategy

by Leon Young
In case your head was firmly stuck in the sand looking for the lost city of Ubar in the Empty Quarter, the bell has tolled for strategy (again). Strategy is dead and Tactics is the new monarch. Tactics has sent the heralds out with promises of agile victory on the turbulent battlefield. Supporters of the new regime proclaimed that Strategy was too old, too feeble and too set in its ways to be able to anticipate and cope with increasing changing landscape. Strategy, it seems, was not resilient enough for the modern world. The streets rang with the cry: “Strategy is dead, long live Tactics”.

Fools. Tactics should be in the field, commanding the troops. Tactics’ small hands are lost on the big maps in the throne room. Tactics wants simple solutions and has little patience for the complexity involved in steering the kingdom into the vast unknown future. Tactics wants to fight, pillage, conquer and doesn’t know what to do after the battle is won. I am afraid that Tactics is unsuited for the role thrust upon it by nervous courtiers and disillusioned nobles. They would have been better placed giving the crown to the Fool. At least then we would be laughing on our way to social fragmentation and national disintegration.

Even With RBI In The Middle, Bad Loan Write-Offs Will Bite Government In The Butt

R Jagannathan

In the ultimate analysis, when loans to big borrowers are rescheduled or written off partly, the buck will stop with the government.

With the issuance of an ordinance to help clean up banks’ bad loans mess, the Narendra Modi government is finally moving into top gear on a problem it should have begun addressing in 2014. This delay has cost India a huge opportunity in terms of postponed growth. Now, despite the desperate need to resolve bad loan issues, it will cost good money too.

The ordinance inserts two clauses in section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act; the new section 35AA empowers the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to direct banks to resolve stressed assets through an insolvency process, and section 35AB empowers the central bank to issue directions to banks to settle, and to set up oversight committees to oversee bad loan resolutions. The idea is to give bankers a level of comfort that vigilance officers will not be chasing them for corruption once loans are written off.

However, while one can wonder if the RBI should be taking the political flak for directing banks to start writing off loans and taking haircuts, at the end of the day it is the government that will have to pick up the bill.

What Talent Management Could Look Like

By Harlan Kefalas

The morning sun beat down on Staff Sergeant Alex Morgan as he hurried down the sidewalk towards the battalion classroom. He was running late and did not want to be noticed by the Command Sergeant Major. As he snuck into the room, his First Sergeant glared at him. The Command Sergeant Major was introducing the guest speaker, Mr. Evan Thompson, a civilian from Human Resources Command. They were rolling out a new assignment program soon, something called IC4AP—Individual Career Control and Commander’s Choice Assignment Program. “The goal of IC4AP is to provide individuals greater control of their career while allowing commanders increased freedom in choosing who is on their team,” Mr. Thompson began.

It is just like the Assignment Satisfaction Key, Alex thought. A few years ago, he tried to get back to Fort Lewis and set it as his top choice in that system. He studied for and passed the Defense Language Proficiency Test for Korean, hoping to get assigned to an Asia regionally aligned force on Fort Lewis. Despite this, he still received orders to Fort Bragg, which wasn’t even one of his choices. He could still hear his wife’s dismay, “The Atlantic Ocean is nothing like the Pacific Ocean.”

Deadly Militant Attack Strains Fragile Pakistan-Iran Ties

Ayaz Gul 

Iran is pressing Pakistan to capture and punish Sunni militants who staged last week’s deadly terrorist attack on Iranian border guards before allegedly fleeing to the neighboring country.

A high-powered 12-member Iranian delegation, led by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, visited Islamabad Wednesday and raised the issue with Pakistani leaders.

An anti-Iran Sunni Muslim militant group called Jaish al Adl, or the Army of Justice, took credit for the April 26 ambush in the southeastern province of Sistan-Balouchestan, which borders southwestern largest Pakistani province of Baluchistan.

Iranian officials said the attackers killed nine guards, wounded two others, abducted one, and then fled to the Pakistani side.

Zarif’s delegation opened the day-long visit by meeting with Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, who also overseas border security matters. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the Pakistani minister tried to play down the tensions stemming from the border incident.

“As I mentioned to my brother His Excellency, the [Iranian] Foreign Minister, it's a case of two countries with one soul. There are too many common bonds," said Khan. "Yes, there are a few irritants. We have decided to work on a fast-track basis to remove the irritants and send a message to the world that Pakistan and Iran are two countries with one soul.”


By Tim McGeehan and Douglas Wahl

A significant science and technology gap currently exists between the military forces of the United States and those of most of the rest of the world. This gap is by design and has long served as a centerpiece of U.S. defense strategy. While it has allowed the U.S. to maintain military primacy for decades, the technical capabilities of many allies and partners now lag far behind, raising concerns about the gap’s impacts on interoperability. This gap can drive critical tactical and operational decisions on where, when, and how forces are employed in a multinational environment, often with political ramifications. While the science and technology gap must be maintained over adversaries for strategic reasons, just as much effort should go into mitigating it to ensure maximization of allied capability in today’s coalition environment.

Are Terrorists Using Cryptocurrencies?

by David Manheim, Patrick B. Johnston, Joshua Baron, Cynthia Dion-Schwarz

Over the past few years, several experts have voiced concerns that the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and other terrorist groups could use cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as a new funding stream to further their operations. But in spite of these fears, the use of digital currencies among terrorists is not widespread—yet. Neither terrorist financing methods nor cryptocurrency technology is static, however, and the world could soon see the worst-case scenario unfolding. Greater pressure on existing terrorist finance methods coupled with easier-to-use cryptocurrencies that give users greater anonymity may well lead to a large-scale adoption of the technology by extremists.

At present, cryptocurrencies are hardly a go-to solution for terrorist financiers. Most types afford only limited anonymity, and it is difficult to quickly transfer large amounts of money through these systems. Moreover, there is limited acceptance of digital cash in regions such as the Middle East and North Africa, where many terrorist groups are most active.

Yet as the U.S. Treasury Department and its partners have increasingly denied terrorists access to other parts of the international financial system, new cryptocurrency technologies could provide an attractive alternative. To be sure, gauging whether these new technologies will be adopted, and if so, how quickly, is difficult. The answer depends on a host of unknowns, such as what other technologies are around the corner, how the public uses the new cryptocurrencies, and how useful or safe they prove to be. Digital currencies could be used for general funding; for money laundering; or to pay the personnel, associates, and vendors that keep the terrorist machine running. But there can be barriers to use as well, depending on the type of group and how its operations are financed.

Our World Transformed: Geopolitical Shocks and Risks

Mathew J. Burrows, David K. Bohl, Jonathan D. Moyer 

The geopolitical shocks of the past few years have laid bare the questionable assumptions many of us hold dear about liberal markets, international relations, armed conflict and democracy. What’s worse, observe Matthew Burrows et al, is that three nascent problems may further aggravate the instability and risks we now face. They include 
1) protectionism and the possibility of a worsening China-US trade dynamic; 
2) a large-scale energy crisis triggered by conflict in the Middle East; and 
3) widespread water and food insecurity.

Commentary: As cyber warfare turns 10, the West risks falling behind

By Peter Apps

When Estonia became the first nation on the receiving end of an overwhelming cyber attack 10 years ago last week, government and other critical websites and systems such as banking collapsed in one of the most internet-connected countries of the time. Widely blamed on Russia, the assault prompted Western nations – including the United States – to plow billions into improving their own cyber defenses. 

If something similar happened today, it could be even more disruptive and dangerous – and also more complex. Western states, militaries and companies have made strides in building the technical ability to guard against cyber attacks. But as often with new technologies, developing the doctrine and expertise to know how to use them inevitably lags behind. 

That points to a broader problem. A decade after the Estonia attack, the West’s potential enemies still have a better sense of what they want to achieve in cyberspace than the United States or its allies. 

For the West, “cyber” remains a tightly defined concept, a matter of protecting nationally vital systems, keeping secrets or finding them out from potential enemies. For countries like Russia and China, however, it has become something much broader. 

What makes a CEO ‘exceptional’?

By Michael Birshan, Thomas Meakin, and Kurt Strovink

We assessed the early moves of CEOs with outstanding track records; some valuable lessons for leadership transitions emerged. 

New CEOs face enormous challenges as they start assembling a management team and setting a strategic direction in today’s volatile environment. To provide some guidance for transitioning CEOs, we looked at the experiences of exceptional CEOs, those defined as the very top performers in our data set of roughly 600 chief executives at S&P 500 companies between 2004 and 2014. 

Our focus was on the top 5 percent of the CEOs in our sample as a whole whose companies’ returns to shareholders had increased by more than 500 percent over their tenure. We contrasted this group both with our full sample and with a subset of CEOs whose companies achieved top-quintile performance during their tenure as compared with their peers.1

The exceptional group includes some leaders who managed remarkable performance in part due to unusual circumstances, for example, by guiding a company through bankruptcy proceedings and then returning it successfully to the public markets. It also includes CEOs who were able to deliver the highest returns through strategic repositioning and operational discipline over many years, within more normal industry and economic conditions. Overall, the exceptional CEOs were neither more nor less likely to be found in particular industries, to lead companies whose size differed from the mix in the broader S&P 500, or to join particularly high- or low-performing companies. Here are three lessons that emerged from close scrutiny of these exceptional leaders. 


By RC Porter 

Noted, and internationally renowned cyber expert, Bruce Schneier, had an article on April 27, 2016 on the LawFare.com, with the title above. Mr. Schneier begins with this observation: “There is something going on inside the intelligence communities in at least two countries; and, we have no idea what it is. Consider these three data points,” Mr. Schneier wrote: “Someone, probably a country’s intelligence organization, is dumping a massive amount of cyber tools belonging to the NSA on the Internet; Two: someone else, or maybe the same someone, is doing the same thing to the CIA; Three: in March, Deputy Director of the NSA, Richard Ledgett, described how the NSA penetrated the computer networks of a Russian intelligence agency; and, was able to monitor them as they attacked the U.S. State Department in 2014. Even more explicitly, a U.S. ally — my guess (Mr Schneier) is the U.K. — was not only hacking the Russian intelligence agency’s computers; but, also the surveillance cameras inside their building,” Mr. Schneier wrote. “They [the U.S. ally], monitored the [Russian] hackers as they maneuvered throughout the U.S. systems, and as they walked in and out of the work-space, and were able to see faces,” the official said.

“Countries don’t often reveal intelligence capabilities: “sources and methods.” Because it gives their adversaries important information about what to fix, it is a deliberate decision done with good reason. And, it’s not just the target country who learns from a reveal. When the U.S. announces it can see through the cameras inside the buildings of Russia’s cyber warriors, other countries immediately check the security of their own cameras,” Mr. Schneier observes.

Eugene Kaspersky on cyber-espionage: 'The reality is that everyone hacks everyone'

By Jason Murdock

"In cyberspace it's much easier to manipulate someone's opinion," says Russian tech pioneer. 

Eugene Kaspersky, the founder and chief executive of the world-famous cybersecurity firm that also bears his surname, has said that when it comes to state-sponsored hacking, espionage and propaganda, no country should be presumed innocent.

Since the alleged cyber-sabotage operation last year against victims including the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, which many claim to be linked to the Russian government, news of state-backed hacking has firmly hit the mainstream.

Many headlines went straight for the term 'election hacking'. However, according to Kaspersky, it is misinformation and propaganda that are more likely shape the outcome of any future cyber-war.

"The reality is that everyone hacks everyone," he told IBTimes UK.

"I agree with the Americans that elections are critical infrastructure because the future of the country depends on that," he added. "Of course they don't want someone else to manipulate their future, as we in Russia don't want someone else to manipulate our future."

Joint Staff links cyber ops to countering air, missile threats

By: Mark Pomerleau, 

Undoubtedly cyber is at the cornerstone of every aspect of military planning and operations, and this is reflected in the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s recent update to doctrine on countering air and missile threats.

Released April 21, 2017, the Joint Publication 3-01 “Countering Air and Missile Threats” updates the previous iteration that was published in March 2012. Among the updates in the new document is a discussion of “cyberspace operations support to countering air and missile threats.”

The new document notes that the counter-air mission integrates offensive and defensive operations to attain and maintain joint force commanders’ desired degrees of control of the air and protection through the elimination of enemy aircraft and missiles, both before and after launch.