17 June 2017

***Shanghai Cooperation Organization: New Delhi’s March Into Eurasia

Rashmini Koparkar

SCO is an opportunity for India to expand its political influence and economic footprints in the Eurasian region.

This must not stop with annual visits, but involve comprehensive engagements that would raise India’s international stature.

India became a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on 9 June in Astana. Along with India, Pakistan has also joined the forum. Inclusion of the new members has expanded the organisation’s geographical outreach, and has raised its international stature. SCO now represents 42 per cent of world's population, 20 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP), and 22 per cent of land. From India’s point of view, this membership brings some challenges and a lot of opportunities.

History of the SCO

*** In Russia, Protests Demonstrate a Fundamental Change


Protests have swept across Russia once again, and the Kremlin has wasted no time in moving to quash them. Demonstrators, many of whom were answering the calls of prominent Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny, flooded into the streets of more than 145 cities across the country on June 12 to demand an end to corruption, better standards of living and some form of democracy. The protests highlighted the increasing willingness of young Russians to engage in political action, as well as the government's willingness to use mass arrests to crack down on them. As the Kremlin gears up for a prolonged election cycle, President Vladimir Putin's administration is concerned about protecting the margins of its electoral victories nationwide. And though the recent political commotion is not enough to drive Putin from office, it will lay the groundwork for a shift in Russia's political landscape down the road.

***Monitoring Social Media

by William Marcellino, Meagan Smith
1.2 MB 

Research Questions 

How could social media analysis contribute to DoD information operations, and which approaches are most applicable? 

How can DoD field a robust social media analysis capability while navigating U.S. law and cultural norms? 

What are the benefits and drawbacks of DoD's options for integrating social media analysis and tools, such as the use of open-source technologies versus commercial solutions? 

Social media analysis is playing an important and increasing role in advertising and academic research, but it also has significant potential to support military information operations by providing a window into the perspectives, thoughts, and communications of a wide range of relevant audiences. Although there are compelling national security reasons to field a social media analysis capability, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) must do so while navigating U.S. law and cultural norms and under conditions of great uncertainty. 

** China Expanding on All Fronts

China has a grand strategic plan and it’s no secret. For the last few years Chinese officials have been describing their economic and military expansion plan as Obor (One Belt, One Road). A new PR campaign for Obor describes it as a revival of the ancient “Silk Road” but that’s not accurate as the ancient Silk Road was only partially run by the Chinese. Most of it was operated by other major powers (Iranian, Indian and Arabs) and was largely put out of business after the 16 th century by European innovations in ship building and management of sea routes that presented a safer and cheaper way to move goods worldwide. Moreover, until the late 20 th century Chinese leaders never encouraged (and often banned) foreign trade. For most of Chinese history the leaders believed China had all it needed (largely true) and considered all non-Chinese and their products as inferior. The big change now is that China needs international trade and Obor is the Chinese plan to control as much of it as possible. This is essential for a prosperous economy because without that the communists are in big trouble. Obor means China owning or otherwise controlling as many of the new roads, railways, ports, pipelines and sea routes as possible. China is investing nearly $200 billion in Obor construction. This includes land routes through Central Asia to Europe and the Middle East, another through the Himalaya Mountains to the Indian Ocean (soon to be under new management if China has its way) and new land connections into Southeast Asia. The key to China’s new sea routes is asserting ownership of the South China Sea.

**Why Pakistan is gaining strategic ground in Afghanistan’s troubled political landscape

Shakti Sinha

The horrific suicide bomb attack in Kabul on May 31 that left 150 dead, and subsequent similar attacks at a funeral a few days later briefly brought Afghanistan back into the news. But only briefly since the British elections, the string of terrorists’ attacks in that country and general consternation with Trump’s antics and shenanigans meant that Afghanistan soon receded from public attention. This has meant that Pakistan’s game of gaining ‘strategic depth’ has gained substantial traction and the constitutional framework set in motion with the ouster of the Taliban in 2001 is in real danger of unravelling.

America’s failure to stabilise Afghanistan has led to a general sense of fatigue about that country as reflected in the minuscule coverage of the terrible acts of terrorists’ violence that has grown unabated in recent years. America has also been distracted by its domestic political wrangling that marked the presidential election campaign, and has worsened with the coming into office of Donald Trump. This has allowed Pakistan to rearrange regional power equations quite dramatically, ably supported by China who brought in the Russians onto the same side. While the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) has made its appearance in the eastern Afghan province of Nangrahar, its influence and ability to launch terrorist strikes has been exaggerated to achieve this. American missteps and the Iranian tendency to adventurism has meant that over the past decade, Iran and the Taliban have become close tactical allies. The result is that despite stepped up terrorists attacks aimed at civilians, the Taliban is being presented by these countries as a moderate player that should have a key role in any peace process.

* The Un-Mighty American Pen

By Curtis Kimbrell

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” This widely used saying, which originated in an 1839 play about Cardinal Richelieu written by novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton, has become so common as to border on platitude. And yet, these simple words reflect a clear and enduring principle: writing, and by association information, is more influential than military might.

To wield the power of the pen effectively one must have power behind it. That power can be in the form of military might but, does not have to be. And as the most powerful nation in the world—not just militarily, but economically, in terms of political influence, soft power, and by virtually any metric—the United States should be in a position to capitalize by wielding information in the service of US national interests. And yet, we’re not very good at it, objectively or compared to other governments. Why?

The US military’s joint doctrine gives us the DIME model as a framework to understand the instruments of national power—diplomatic, information, military, and economic. For three of these instruments, it is clear how that power is wielded and by whom within the US government:

DiplomaticInteraction with the international system of states to advance US values, interests, and objectives. Diplomacy, requires access, so diplomatic credentialing gives the Department of State the lead.

A fact sheet from Kashmir


After spending a week in the pleasant weather of my birth place, Kashmir, I returned to the scorching heat in Kolkata and straightaway attended an international seminar on “Jammu & Kashmir – Way Forward” at the Tollygunj Club recently. Most speakers presented a grim picture of the situation in valley while emphasising that the sovereignty of India over Kashmir is non-negotiable. A good take away was the recognition amongst panellists with the background in defence services that the Kashmir problem is of a political nature and security forces can only have a limited role.

Let me present here a fact file of what is happening in Kashmir now, much much different from the earlier days of militancy. These facts were gathered during my stay in a tense Srinagar, and following interactions with different sections of the society — friends who have held senior positions in the Government and a mix of educated youth who have acquired professional degrees from universities outside Kashmir in India and abroad, common people like Taxi drivers, Boatmen, shop keepers and also a couple of visiting journalists.

Trump and the Broken Gulf: Will India be Able to Swim Through?

In what has been termed as a step to “fight terrorism”, the three Global Corporation Council (GCC) countries– Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain- and Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Maldives recently announced their decisions to sever ties with Qatar accusing it for fomenting terrorist and sectarian groups, including the Islamic State and Al Qaeda. This article looks at the following: What is the US’ Response to the Crisis? Can this this lead to leadership change in Qatar? What role can India play in the recent Gulf Crisis? 

Trump’s Response to Gulf Crisis

Two weeks back, Trump’s speech in the Middle East demanded that Muslim states fight terror. The recent developments an therefore be termed as the first fallout of what is being referred to as ‘Trump doctrine’. Still in its nascent stage, the doctrine espouses the US’ involvement in the war against extremist ideology and organisations in the region and those who back them. In this war, it seeks the support of Saudi and its allies, termed as the Arab NATO. The third and arguably the most pivotal aspect of the doctrine is confronting Iran—“the axis of evil”. The analysts have read it as an anti-Iran Sunni alliance bolstered by Israel’s participation. 

India’s ‘Look East’ – ‘Act East’ Policy: Hedging as a Foreign Policy Tool

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Olli Ruohomaki

Against the backdrop of an evolving strategic context in the Asia-Pacific region, competition is mounting between India and China in the realms of both security and trade. While the US’s relative influence in the region is declining and China is rapidly ascending as an increasingly assertive regional power, India is seeking to redefine its geostrategic posture.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Look East’ – ‘Act East’ policy confirms a shift away from India’s traditional focus on creating spheres of influence in its immediate neighbourhood.

India’s Eastward focus seeks to establish external security and trade-related cooperation with third countries through the formation of so-called strategic partnerships, in an effort to balance a rising China. Examples of these increasingly important bilateral ties include partnership agreements with ASEAN, Australia, South Korea and, no less importantly, Japan.

At the same time, India’s policy can be seen as part of a hedging strategy, as it also entails engagement and cooperation mechanisms with China. India has been engaging China economically, and a partnership with the latter can be put into action in terms of enhancing connectivity, which is the enduring purpose of India’s ‘Look East’ – ‘Act East’ agenda.

An Afghan Settlement Will Require America to Work with Russia, Iran and Pakistan

Moeed Yusuf

U.S. policymakers must keep their eye on the ultimate objective of achieving a peaceful Afghanistan that ceases to be a direct threat to the United States.

The recent spate of horrific bombings in Kabul has once again highlighted the urgent need for a coherent U.S. strategy to reverse the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. President Trump’s aides have reportedly asked him to consider additional troops and expanded authorities for the U.S. military to address the problem. His approval will send an important signal of U.S. recommitment to Afghanistan. But this move, even if only aimed at strengthening the United States’ hand in an eventual negotiation with the Taliban, may also lead Afghanistan’s neighbors opposed to long-term U.S. military presence to double down on resisting the United States. Pakistan’s negative role—and increasingly the roles of Russia and Iran—is already helping to sustain the Taliban. Their further support to the insurgency could tip the balance decisively in the Taliban’s favor.

To succeed in Afghanistan, the United States needs to get these regional spoilers to instead back the United States’ desired end state of a Taliban sworn to peace and willing to operate within the Afghan constitutional framework.

Chinese Warships Visit Pakistan

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has dispatched three surface warships on a four-day goodwill and training visit to the Pakistani port of Karachi, Chinese state-owned media reported on June 11.

The ships arrived in the port city on June 10 and were welcomed by Chief of Naval Staff of the Pakistan Navy Admiral Mohammad Zakaullah. The small PLAN fleet is commanded by Rear Admiral Shen Hao, the deputy commander of the PLAN’s East Sea Fleet.

The Pakistan Navy and PLAN will conduct a so-called passage exercise to enhance interoperability between the two navies, according to Pakistani military officials. The PLAN fleet consists of three ships, the Type 052C Luyang II –class guided missile destroyer Changchun, the Type 054A Jiangkai II-class guided missile frigate Jingzhou, and the Type 903 Quiandaohu-class replenishment ship Chaohu.

The Luyang II-class, equipped with a four array AESA multi-function phased array radar system and armed with up to 48 vertically launched HQ-9 naval air defense missiles, was the first PLAN class of warships capable of long-range fleet air defense. The class is succeeded by the Type 052D Luyang III-class–dubbed the “Chinese Aegis.” As I explained elsewhere (See: “China Launches Yet Another ‘Carrier Killer’ Destroyer”):



On February 17, 1898, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst adorned the front pages of their respective newspapers – The New York World and The New York Journal – with the same sensationalist illustration depicting the explosion of USS Maine – a cruiser sent to Havana in the wake of what would become the Spanish-American War. At a time when other, more respected newspapers exercised restraint (given the unverified reasons for the cruiser’s explosion), Hearst and Pulitzer pressed on and published a fabricated telegram, which implied sabotage. While the U.S. Navy’s investigation found that the explosion was set off by an external trigger, a Spanish investigation asserted the opposite, claiming the explosion was a result of something that happened aboard the ship. Historians of journalism still debate the extent to which “yellow journalism” had influenced the investigation. No matter the cause, war broke out with the U.S. blockade of Cuba in April 1898. The American victory in the war was solidified by the Paris Treaty of 1899, which granted the United States control over Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines and transformed it into a world power. The war was a turning point and had lasting effects on U.S. foreign policy over the next half century, initiating a period of external involvement driven by expanding economic and territorial interests.

Far from Doha

Hamas’s security forces have arrested hundreds of jihadists in the Gaza Strip in the last six months. Among them are militants firing rockets into Israel and scores of suspected Islamic State group (ISG) sympathizers. It seems to be a peculiar move for a group that calls for Israel’s destruction. And it all might come to an end if Qatar’s row with its Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) neighbors gets out of hand.

Despite its hostility toward Israel, Hamas maintains order in the Gaza Strip, and the Israeli government relies on it to do so. Without an enforcer in Gaza, Israel fears that the area would be overrun by warring factions posing an even deadlier threat. As a result, Israel facilitates Hamas’s rule by supplying its enemy with electricity and ensuring the steady flow of medicine, food, and consumer goods.

In practice, Israel seeks to ensure that Hamas is strong enough to dominate more radical groups in Gaza like the ISG, but not strong enough to feel emboldened to attack Israel. It is a delicate balance fraught with risk, and Qatar, more than any other external actor, has enabled it. Should the unfolding intra-GCC feud result in pressure on Qatar to end its support to Hamas, it would shake Gaza’s delicate equilibrium. That could potentially trigger another Israel-Hamas confrontation, with dire consequences for Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike.

Uneasy Times In Europe As Continent Mulls Next Fighter


Today, Europe is faced with both: a Russia that is a strategic rival, and an American President for whom an ‘America First’ approach echoes the isolationism of the 1930s. The British vote to leave the grand endeavor of the European Union raises fundamental questions about Europe’s future. Add nationalist populism across Europe and the United States and the trans-Atlantic security environment is arguably at its lowest ebb since the early 1980s.

President Trump had the opportunity during his May visit to NATO to dispel concern amongst Alliance partners regarding Article 5, but he did not address it directly. He did finally affirm Article 5 during a press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, but to most Europeans and Canadians this was this remained grudging acknowlegment.

Trump did use his visit to upbraid member states over the failure of many to hit the 2 percent of GDP target for defense spending. It was a missed opportunity on two counts: spending more effectively rather than merely spending more is a point that needs making. As important, but left unsaid, is the plan to spend 20 percent of defense budgets on military equipment and research and development. Too many NATO member states continue to spend too much on personnel costs.

Russia Has Developed A Cyber Weapon That Can Disrupt Power Grids, According To New Research

By Ellen Nakashima

Hackers allied with the Russian government have devised a cyberweapon that has the potential to be the most disruptive yet against electric systems that Americans depend on for daily life, according to U.S. researchers.

The malware, which researchers have dubbed CrashOverride, is known to have disrupted only one energy system — in Ukraine in December. In that incident, the hackers briefly shut down one-fifth of the electric power generated in Kiev.

But with modifications, it could be deployed against U.S. electric transmission and distribution systems to devastating effect, said Sergio Caltagirone, director of threat intelligence for Dragos, a cybersecurity firm that studied the malware and issued a report on Monday.

Europe Is Developing Offensive Cyber Capabilities. The United States Should Pay Attention.

It is no surprise that the United States and its European allies are looking to integrate offensive cyber capabilities as part of their military operations. Last year, the Pentagon boasted about dropping “cyber bombs” on the self-declared Islamic State group. France and the United Kingdom have built similar capabilities, as have smaller European states, such as Denmark, Sweden, Greece and the Netherlands.

Unfortunately, as NATO members rush to build their capabilities, they will quickly have to confront challenging trade-offs. Cyberweapons—or specifically the vulnerabilities they exploit—tend to be single use weapons: once a defender or vendor identifies a vulnerability being exploited, they can patch it, rendering the attacker’s capability useless as well as the capability of any other potential attacker who built a weapon around the same vulnerability. In other words, one state’s exploitation of a vulnerability will affect its allies’ ability to do the same.

US blames N. Korea for series of cyber attacks

by Deb Riechmann

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials are blaming the North Korean government for a series of cyberattacks dating to 2009 against media, aerospace, financial sectors and infrastructure in the United States and around the world.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning this week, saying the cyberattacks were carried out by actors within the North Korean government who are known as “Hidden Cobra.”

“DHS and FBI assess that Hidden Cobra actors will continue to use cyber operations to advance their government’s military and strategic objectives,” the alert said.

U.S. officials are distributing internet addresses to help networks defend against any attacks. The FBI said it has high confidence that the internet addresses are linked to systems infected with Hidden Cobra malware to further exploit networks. The cyberattacks targeted weaknesses in Microsoft Corp. operating systems and Adobe Systems Inc.’s Flash software, which were patched in January and June, respectively.

‘Total and Complete Vindication’? No Way.

That Donald Trump and his defenders are breathing a sigh of relief after former FBI Director James Comey’s blockbuster Senate testimony shows how low the bar has been set for the president. Sure, he lied and behaved unethically — but, hey, at least he’s not personally under investigation for colluding with Russia to alter the 2016 election. Trump claimed “total and complete vindication.”

What total and complete chutzpah. Not only is Comey’s testimony damning on its own, but the situation is far worse for the president than the testimony, taken in isolation, would suggest. What Comey said, in his calm, just-the-facts-ma’am manner, is only one piece of the Kremlingate jigsaw puzzle. You have to look at it in totality to see how damning the whole picture actually is. There’s a good reason why Sen. John McCain recently said this scandal is reaching “Watergate size and scale.” There are three parts of this puzzle: collusion, quid pro quo, and cover-up.

Did the US Just Abandon Tibet?

By Pradeep Nair and Sandeep Sharma

Reversing its stand on Tibet policy and giving a huge jolt to the Tibetan aspirations, the Trump administration recently took a step away from precedent by proposing zero aid to the Tibetans in 2018. This move points to both the changing internal politics of the United States, especially after Trump’s election, and also the new geopolitics and emerging world order, which is overshadowed by the People’s Republic of China.

The U.S. “Tibetan Policy Act of 2002” clearly states that it is intended to “support the aspirations of the Tibetan people to safeguard their distinct identity,” including by supporting “projects designed … to raise the standard of living for the Tibetan people and assist Tibetans to become self-sufficient.” This act, a major piece of Tibet legislation, was enacted as law by President George W. Bush on September 30, 2002, as part of the U.S. Foreign Relations Authorizations Act.

Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses (CTTA) – Volume 9, Issue 06

Muhammad Haziq Bin JaniRohan Gunaratna

Volume 9, Issue 06 (June 2017): ‘Countering Violent Extremism (CVE)‘ In 2013, the US announced the end of its Global War on Terror (GWoT) after defeating Al-Qaeda. Two years later, in 2015, at a White House-hosted summit, the Obama administration propounded the concept of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) to confront, contain and eventually eliminate the latent threat of radicalism and extremism. Though CVE is not an entirely new concept, the purpose of the summit was to add more urgency and impetus to the various on-going non-kinetic efforts to counter extremism and its underlying causes.

Recently, some media reports have indicated that the Trump administration is toying with the idea of scrapping the CVE project. Others maintain that the US is considering renaming CVE as countering radical Islamic extremism and shifting the focus back to kinetic-efforts. Regardless of the decision, it is clear that components of CVE will have to be retained if the present threat of religious extremism and terrorism is to be checked. These involve community engagement to build social resilience and counter extremism, and rehabilitation and re-integration of radical elements.

** Is India's Submarine Fleet Defenseless?

By Franz-Stefan Gady

With the recent cancellation of a $200 million contract for 98 Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes at the end of May, the Indian Navy’s new submarine fleet continues to lack adequate defense capabilities against enemy subs and surface warships in the event of a conflict.

India’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has canceled the order for Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes, built by torpedo maker Whitehead Alenia Systemi Subacquei (WASS), a subsidiary of Italian arms manufacturer Finmeccanica, due to corruption allegations involving another Finmeccanica subsidiary, Agusta Westland. According to the Indian MoD, Agusta Westland representatives allegedly paid bribes for a 2010 purchase of 12 AW medium lift helicopters, which resulted in the termination of the contract in 2014 and the purported blacklisting of the company.

The recent cancellation of the torpedo order was a direct result of the corruption allegations involving the European defense contractor and the Indian National Congress political party. The Black Shark torpedo was specifically purchased for the Indian Navy’s future fleet of six Scorpene-class (Kalvari-class) diesel-electric attack submarines. A second batch of 49 Black Shark torpedoes was also to be installed aboard India’s domestically developed and built Arihant-class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.

How artificial intelligence can deliver real value to companies

Companies new to the space can learn a great deal from early adopters who have invested billions into AI and are now beginning to reap a range of benefits. 

After decades of extravagant promises and frustrating disappointments, artificial intelligence (AI) is finally starting to deliver real-life benefits to early-adopting companies. Retailers on the digital frontier rely on AI-powered robots to run their warehouses—and even to automatically order stock when inventory runs low. Utilities use AI to forecast electricity demand. Automakers harness the technology in self-driving cars

A confluence of developments is driving this new wave of AI development. Computer power is growing, algorithms and AI models are becoming more sophisticated, and, perhaps most important of all, the world is generating once-unimaginable volumes of the fuel that powers AI—data. Billions of gigabytes every day, collected by networked devices ranging from web browsers to turbine sensors. 

Ending The Endless Crypto Debate: Three Things We Should Be Arguing About Instead of Encryption Backdoors

By Kevin Bankston

Recently I participated in a fascinating conference at Georgia Tech entitled “Surveillance, Privacy, and Data Across Borders: Trans-Atlantic Perspectives.” A range of experts grappled with the international aspects of an increasingly pressing question: how can we ensure that law enforcement is able to obtain enough information to do its job in the twenty-first century, while also ensuring that digital security and human rights are protected? How can or should law and policy adapt to a world of digital evidence, much of which is easily obtainable—but much of which is not?

The primary focus of that conference was on how best to regulate the sharing of needed user data between internet companies in one country and law enforcement in another country. However, in this post—part of an online symposium at Lawfare following up on that conference—I’ll be mostly focusing on another, particularly controversial part of the broader conversation regarding modern policing: the debate over encryption, and how law enforcement should respond to it.

A Cyber-Weapon Warhead Test

By Nicholas Weaver

The Daily Beast has a story on “CrashOverride”, a computer program best described as transient anti-infrastructure warhead designed to disrupt the power grid. It was tested live against a Ukrainian substation in December 2016 creating a small blackout. Kim Zetter has another good report at Motherboard, and Dragos has the technical details. 

Dragos attributes the attack as conducted by “ELECTRUM”, a group it assesses as being associated with Sandworm—an evaluation that is only slightly better than rolling attribution dice. It is probably more accurate to phrase the attribution as “probably Russia, and probably affiliated with the previous Ukrainian power grid attack in 2015.” (The December 2016 attack was the second assault on the Ukranian power grid.)

The payload of CrashOverride is rather elegant in its simplicity; in a way it’s reminiscent of how a toddler might sabotage the lights at home. Once CrashOverride is running on a control system, it begins by mapping out all the circuit breakers. Once the payload knows where all the switches are, it can launch the primary malicious attack, either by turning off all the switches or—potentially more catastrophically—by repeatedly flipping them on and off until the substation in question is isolated.