6 July 2017

*** Pakistan Can’t Afford China’s ‘Friendship’

In recent months, the Chinese-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has left Pakistanis emboldened, Indians angry, and U.S. analysts worried. Ostensibly, CPEC will connect Pakistan to China’s western Xinjiang province through the development of vast new transportation and energy infrastructure. The project is part of China’s much-hyped Belt and Road Initiative, a grand, increasingly vague geopolitical plan bridging Eurasia that China’s powerful President Xi Jinping has promoted heavily.

Pakistani and Chinese officials boast that CPEC will help address Pakistan’s electricity generation problem, bolster its road and rail networks, and shore up the economy through the construction of special economic zones. But these benefits are highly unlikely to materialize. The project is more inclined to leave Pakistan burdened with unserviceable debt while further exposing the fissures in its internal security.

Pakistan and China often speak of their “all-weather friendship,” but the truth is that the relationship has always been a cynical one.Pakistan and China often speak of their “all-weather friendship,” but the truth is that the relationship has always been a cynical one. China cultivated Pakistan as a client through the provision of military assistance; diplomatic and political cover in the U.N. Security Council; and generous loan aid in an effort to counter both American influence and the system of anti-Communist Western treaty alliances. China also sought to embolden Pakistan to harangue India, but not to the point of war because that would expose the hard limits of Chinese support. Despite Pakistan’s boasts of iron-clad Chinese support, when Pakistan went to war with India in 1965, 1971, and 1999, China did little or nothing to bail out its client in distress.

*** India Must Stand Up To China, The Bully Of Asia, But There’s No Need For Bravado

R Jagannathan

The bully of Asia no longer follows the dictum “Speak softly, but carry a big stick”. Having convinced itself of the inevitability of its great power status, China no longer feels the need to speak softly, and likes to brandish the stick whenever it wants to cow down others. Barring the US or EU, China no longer talks to others like an equal. It is the beginning of the arrogance of power for the world’s No 2 superpower.

Nothing illustrates this better than China’s recent efforts to test India’s responses in the tri-junction of Sikkim, Bhutan and southern Tibet, where it is building a road from where it can threaten the Chicken’s Neck region of India, which connects India to the rest of the North-East. It destroyed some bunkers on the Indian side, and has trespassed into areas claimed by Bhutan. In the resultant standoff, it arrogantly reminded us of our 1962 defeat.

To which, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley mildly retorted that the India of 2017 is not the India of 1962. China has – not unexpectedly – responded that even China is not what it was in 1962, and will take “all necessary measures” to safeguard its territory.

The China of 2017 is acting like that T-Rex in Jurassic Park, which tests a different part of the electrified fence each time to check for weaknesses. It tests India repeatedly in areas of weakness, whether it is in Ladakh, or the North-East. In 2013, a platoon-sized Chinese army contingent pitched tents 30 km south of Daulet Beg Oldi and demanded that India demolish bunkers some 250 km south in Chumar as these were reportedly a threat to the Chinese. After a standoff, India appears to have obliged.

*** Charting a Course Beyond Mosul: No Easy Way Forward

With the imminent military defeat of the Islamic State in Mosul, the government must find ways to unite to keep the specter of chaos at bay. On June 29, as Iraqi state TV proudly proclaimed "The Myth of the ISIS Caliphate Has Fallen," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi made his way to western Mosul to give a victory address. On June 29, after months of tough urban fighting, Iraqi forces reclaimed critical pieces of the western part of the city, including the remains of the al-Nuri mosque in the Old City. Like the mosque, the Islamic State in Iraq lies in rubble, but the Mosul offensive has helped rehabilitate the security forces in the eyes of many Iraqis. Yet many battles still lie ahead, including dangerous political ones.

While victory in Mosul is close, the fighting is not over. Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, a spokesman for the Joint Military Command, confirmed that Iraqi forces had militarily defeated the Islamic State there. Within hours of a dawn assault June 29, Iraqi counterterrorism units had advanced on all major portions of Mosul's Old City, where the tight, densely populated, winding streets filled with deadly clashes. Iraqi forces aim to take the western banks of the Tigris River in the Old City; they have controlled the eastern banks since January. Hostages and weary families emerged from hiding throughout western Mosul, and thousands have yet to be freed. They add to the strain of hundreds of people seeking refuge daily in makeshift camps. While eastern Mosul has resumed the patterns of pre-Islamic State life and many refugees have returned home, the western half is months away from some semblance of normal life because of the destruction and because of hidden improvised explosive devices and other military traps planted by the Islamic State.

** Disagreement: An American Tradition

By George Friedman

Many believe there have never been more contentious times than those in which we now live. It’s a belief shared by most everyone of every era. I admit that times are strange, and in some ways they are unlike any other. But are they as bad as the late 1960s and early 1970s, the decade of assassinations and riots, of slain war protesters and Richard Nixon? Are they as bad as McCarthyism or the Great Depression or the Civil War?

The United States was born not in peace but in strife. Inside the hall in which the Constitution was debated and, in 1788, produced, there was disagreement, even suspicion. Outside the hall, some people trusted the Founding Fathers, while others believed they were corrupt, self-serving men, using a piece of paper to protect their wealth and power, ensuring people’s perpetual impoverishment.

And the United States has stood for nearly 250 years. It has existed in four very different centuries. It has survived civil war and world wars, depressions and expansions, many wise presidents and many foolish ones, and the noise of many malicious and self-righteous mobs. And throughout it all, its leaders and citizenry disagreed on issues from slavery to the Bill of Rights, from tax schemes to minimum wages.


Beijing is demonstrating an inflexibility that is injurious to the bilateral relationship

By ruling out a compromise to end the standoff between the Indian and the Chinese troops at Dok La and placing the condition that India must withdraw its forces for a resolution to happen, Beijing is demonstrating an inflexibility that is injurious to the bilateral relationship. The Chinese Ambassador to India, Luo Zhaoui, says the the ball is in India's court and it is up to New Delhi to decide if it desires a military solution to the crisis. This is being disingenuous. Indian troops didn't enter Chinese territory, but it's the other way round. Moreover, the Chinese Army also intruded into Bhutan's territory, and the Bhutanese Army personnel were compelled to confront the intruders.

Besides, this is not the first time that Chinese Army personnel have sought to claim disputed territory as their own — either along the Indian borders or even elsewhere — in the South China Sea. China's expansionist mindset is well known and it has for long followed the tactic of forcefully occupying disputed land and then seeking to negotiate from a position of strength — negotiations that lead nowhere for decades. By placing conditions, Beijing has only made a resolution difficult. India is committed to protecting the sovereignty of Bhutan, besides its own territorial integrity, and there appears to be little scope of New Delhi backing out from this commitment. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are slated to meet on the sidelines of the forthcoming G20 meet, and it is hoped that the two leaders will be able to find common ground to proceed in a peaceful manner.


Claude Arpi 

How can a state, which claims to be a responsible power, unilaterally grab a ‘disputed' area to build a road on it when it is aware that this road is strategically located for a neighbour? Only Beijing can answer

After completing my first book on Tibet in the 1990s, I looked for a title which could resume the content of my research. At the end of the 19th century, Tibet was a mere pawn in the great game between imperial powers. The 1890 Treaty on Sikkim, today quoted ad nauseam by the Chinese Government, was one of the ‘unequal treaties’ imposed on a smaller nation. Big insects had little consideration for the weak.

The 13th Dalai Lama could grasp the forces at play and was determined to make Tibet an independent State. It did not work. Charles Bell, the British frontier officer, recalled the Lama’s great deception when China invaded the Land of Snows in 1910. After deciding to temporarily take refuge in India, the Tibetan leader cabled the British Agent in Gyantse, Tibet, asking him to inform London that “large insects are eating and secretly injuring small insects.”

The story seems to continue today with China building a road on Bhutanese territory without informing Thimphu. But this time, what Beijing had not expected is that India would come to the rescue and defend the small kingdom. China, which dreams of becoming a ‘big insect’ (without the name!) tried to change the status quo in the Doklam area of the Bhutan-Tibet border.

Truths Mapped Out: India Cannot Afford To Have China Controlling Doklam Plateau

Rohit Vats
Source Link

The present stand-off is because of Chinese incursion in a region which is disputed territory between China and Bhutan. India has got involved because development in this area has serious security ramifications for India.

As I write this, India finds itself in a border stand-off with China. But unlike other times when India and China squared off due to difference in ‘perception’ of Line of Actual Control (LAC) along their vast border from eastern Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh, the present stand-off is because of Chinese incursion in a region which is disputed territory between China and Bhutan. India has gotten involved because development in this area has serious security ramifications for India.

However, none of the reports barring one gives correct information about the geographical region where this stand-off has taken place and the likely reason for this new conflict. Even the report by Manoj Joshi only gives a broad outline of the area.

The objective of this report is to understand the boundary issue, claims of either party (China and Bhutan), geography in the area and Indian sensitivities. The thrust of this write-up is to clear the ambiguity about the exact area, where the present stand-off is taking place, and why India is reacting much more strongly – to the extent of helping to keep the China’s People's Liberation Army (PLA) out of Bhutanese territory.

Being realistic - Narendra Modi's open friendship with Israel

Krishnan Srinivasan 

The Indian prime minister in New Delhi before leaving for Israel

India and Israel achieved independence in 1947 and 1948 respectively, and both were beset with the problems of partition. India recognized Israel de jure in 1950, but diplomatic relations commenced only in 1992. The Oslo peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the importance of closer relations with the United States of America after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the diminishing sensitivity of the main Indian political parties to Muslim vote-bank politics - all played their part in creating the diplomatic opening. This year, the 25th year of this diplomatic relationship, is being marked by the first visit by our prime minister to that country. The presidents of Israel have been in India twice and its prime minister once, while President Pranab Mukherjee visited Israel in 2015. Bilateral ties have flourished even in the absence of many high-level exchanges, irrespective of the nature of governments in New Delhi and Tel Aviv. Narendra Modi has met Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at multilateral meetings and their personal chemistry has been good.

Modi had visited Israel as Gujarat's chief minister, and since becoming prime minister in 2014, has made it very clear that he does not subscribe to the previous inhibitions about an open friendship with Israel. While Israel has a population of only around nine million, it is advanced in technology and has more companies listed in the New York Nasdaq technology index than any developing country. This is because it is highly skilled in military-security hardware, recycling, desalination, bio-technology, water management, healthcare, communications, pharmaceuticals and non-conventional energy. These are all relevant for India's development and Indian private and public companies should consider outright purchase, or failing that, investment to access Israeli technology as high priority. A trade agreement has been under negotiation since 2010, and with total trade standing at about $5 billion, India is Israel's seventh biggest trade partner. There is longstanding cooperation between the diamond industries of Israel and Gujarat. In India, under a science and technology agreement, there is joint research in biotechnology, lasers and the human genome, and 15 Israeli agriculture centres have been set up in 10 states. Thousands of tourists travel in both directions each year and there are 70,000 Indian-origin Jews living in Israel.

India’s Costly Embrace of Israel

By Rob Jenkins

India is importing not just weapons from Israel, but a paranoid political mindset as well.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave President Donald Trump an awkward hug last week at a public appearance in Washington. No one knows if Benjamin Netanyahu will get the same treatment when Modi arrives in Jerusalem for a state visit on July 4. But one thing is certain: India’s embrace of Israel is increasingly intimate. It also comes at a price.

Modi is the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel. India recognized Israel in 1950, but its principled support for Palestinian self-determination and a practical desire to remain on good terms with the Arab world prevented India from establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel until 1992. The end of the Cold War and the changing landscape of Middle East politics had provided India powerful incentives to change course.

For the past 25 years, India has generally conducted its Israel policy with little fanfare and with careful attention to the sensitivities of Palestinians and their international backers. Under Modi, this has changed. His government has officially delinked India’s relationship with Israel from the question of Palestinian self-determination. India’s ambassador to Israel recently stated that “we can deal with the Palestinians and Israelis separately, on their own merits.”

The standoff in Doklam

Shyam Saran

BHAI BHAI: Build on the recent Narendra Modi- Xi Jinping friendly meeting held on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Almaty.

The latest face-off between the Indian and Chinese security forces in Doklam, where the borders of India, China and Bhutan meet, brings a sense of déjà vu. There was a similar extended face-off in the Depsang area in Ladakh in April 2013. There have been other incidents as well but the mechanisms in place to maintain peace and tranquillity at the border have eventually worked and the issues have been resolved. Both sides have remained committed to preventing escalation. One hopes that the Doklam incident will not be allowed to vitiate the relationship between the two countries, particularly in view of the fact that Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly had a friendly meeting on the sidelines of the recent meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Almaty. Both leaders made a special effort to put relations back on a positive track after a somewhat prickly interlude, which included India's refusal to join the Chinese-led One Belt One Road initiative. This turnaround in relations must not suffer a setback as a result of the latest incident. This may impact the prospects of a possible bilateral summit when the leaders attend the forthcoming G-20 summit in Hamburg. 

Global Flashpoints generating Indian Foreign Policy Challenges in 2017

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Major global flashpoints generating challenges for Indian foreign policy stretch from North Korea to the Middle East via the South China Sea disputes, China’s disruptive strategies in South Asia, Pakistan’s Islamic terrorism exports and the explosive Saudi-Iran confrontation and ultimately the external military interventions in Syria.

As an Emerged Power, India cannot be a passive spectator as these global flashpoints become incendiary and explode, and whose unintended consequences may unleash uncontrolled violence. India needs to speak out and initiate foreign policy responses supportive of those oppose or checkmate nations which flout international conventions, are defiant of global public opinion and indulge in military aggression and brinkmanship. This is only possible when the Indian foreign policy establishment engages itself in a lateral analysis of the global flashpoints and their linkages.

In the above spectrum of global flashpoints what is notable is that China stands out directly or indirectly involved in all the flashpoints that exist in the wider Indo Pacific Asia. Confronting China directly or indirectly along this entire spectrum is the United States which has and ought to have vital security stakes in Indo Pacific Asia.

India’s nuclear industry deserves a place in the sun

Brahma Chellaney

New nuclear power has become increasingly uneconomical in the West but electricity from Indian-made reactors is still competitive.

The Indian government recently approved the construction of 10 commercial nuclear power reactors of indigenous design, initiating the largest nuclear building program in the world since the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. The global nuclear power industry is still reeling from that calamity: Just three of Japan’s 42 reactors are currently operating, while France — the poster child for nuclear power — plans to cut its reliance on atomic energy significantly.

New nuclear power has become increasingly uneconomical in the West, in part because of rapidly spiraling plant-construction costs, prompting the U.S. and France to push reactor exports aggressively, including to “nuclear newcomers” such as the cash-laden oil and gas sheikhdoms of the Arabian peninsula. Still, the bulk of the new reactors under construction or planned worldwide are located in just four countries — China, Russia, South Korea and India.

The Indian decision to turn to a “fully homegrown initiative” reflects the continuing problems in implementing a 2005 agreement on nuclear power with the U.S. Nine years after the U.S. Congress ratified the landmark deal, commercialization is still not within sight.

4 Ways America Can Fix Afghanistan

James P. Farwell

America must privately quash any expectation by the Afghans that the West will stand by it should its government fail to make necessary reforms.

As the U.S. government considers whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, the real issue is what political outcome we’re plausibly trying to achieve? Military force is useful only as a means to achieve a political end.

Today, the Trump administration is debating whether to send four thousand additional troops to the country. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis indicated to Congress that a new deployment would aim to bolster U.S. air-power capabilities and to strengthen the train, advise and assist mission. How realistic is that hope? In 2010 and 2011, the United States had one hundred thousands troops in the country. Led by able commanders such as Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus, success proved elusive. Before we commit more blood and treasure to this conflict, the United States needs to ask hard questions. Jim Mattis earned high respect as a military commander. I express no opinion on military strategy. But a successful outcome to this conflict will turn on political dynamics.

Expanding the U.S. military presence makes sense only as part of a realistic political strategy that offers a plausible possibility of stabilizing Afghanistan and the region, and keeping both the Taliban and ISIS from winning. A Taliban victory is unacceptable. During the 1990s, it focused internally on Afghanistan.

Why Afghanistan? Why Now?

Roy Scranton

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis went to Brussels last week to convince NATO allies to send around 3,000 more troops to Afghanistan, where they will likely join between 3,000 and 5,000 more American troops expected to be sent there (that’s in addition to the more than 8,500 US and 5,000 other NATO troops already in country).

The number of U.S. troops isn’t official yet and probably won’t be until mid-July, but according to a White House leak last month, that number is 4,000. The mission will be basically the same, “to train, advise, and assist Afghan forces,” but the intention will be to break what General John Nicholson, current commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has called a “stalemate.”

“We are not winning in Afghanistan…” Secretary Mattis said in June, “and we will correct this as soon as possible.”

You might be forgiven for feeling some déjà vu. You might also be forgiven for being surprised to hear that we’re still in Afghanistan. And you’d most definitely be forgiven for wondering why.

The reasons that the United States first sent troops to Afghanistan almost 16 years ago—to hunt down Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in response to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon—no longer hold. Special Forces assassins killed Osama bin Laden six years ago in his house in Pakistan. Al Qaeda is a shadow of its former self, and while according to some accounts the organization maintains a presence in Afghanistan, it’s probably only there because we are, much like the cadres of ISIS-affiliated terrorists who are said to be behind a recent series of attacks in Kabul. U.S. soldiers in Islamic countries tend to draw jihadists like honey draws flies.

US Navy Destroyer Conducts Freedom of Navigation Operation Near China-Held Island

By Ankit Panda

Just 39 days after a first operation, the Trump administration authorizes a second FONOP in the South China Sea.

On Sunday, a U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Stethem, sailed within 12 nautical miles of a China-occupied island in the South China Sea. Specifically, the U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near Triton Island, a China-held island in the disputed Paracel group, also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

Sunday’s operation marks the second freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) by the Trump administration since the late-May operation by USS Dewey near Mischief Reef, which is one of China’s seven artificial islands in the Spratly Group.

According to reports, USS Stethem sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island on Sunday. Though the U.S. Navy has not released any official details regarding what excessive maritime claims the operation sought to challenge, there is precedent for an operation at Triton Island.

The United States previously conducted a FONOP near Triton Island in January 2016, when USS Curtis Wilburchallenged China’s prior notification requirements by conducting an innocent passage around the feature.

The Paracel Islands present a different case from the Spratlys because China has long maintained illegal straight baselines around its features. It has additionally occupied the Paracel features since the 1970s.

How ISIS Will Go On Without Mosul

Long after the city is back in the hands of the Iraqi government, it will continue to be a prop for the Islamic State—although an altogether different one.

Eight and a half months into the coalition-backed campaign to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s second city looks like it is finally on the brink of freedom. After launching the last phase of the battle in mid-June, the Iraqi security forces slowly but surely penetrated the Old City, one of the final ISIS redoubts in Mosul. And, on Thursday, just after recapturing the Nuri Mosque—at which ISISleader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi accepted his role as “caliph” in June 2014, and which ISIS demolished one week ago—the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the “end of the Daesh [ISIS] state of falsehood.”

While this is indisputably good news, we must rein in our optimism. The truth is, ISIS has been planning for defeat in Mosul for months, if not years. Losing the city has long been part of its global plan. And even though the loss of its self-declared Iraqi capital will be a genuine blow to the group’s territorial pretensions, ISIS is not going to evaporate just because it has fallen.

Since October 2016, when the campaign to retake Mosul was first launched, ISIS has been putting up an immensely stiff resistance: thousands of its fighters have been killed by coalition forces, and hundreds more blown up in suicide operations. But no matter how fiercely it fought, the group was never realistically going to repel the onslaught. The few thousand fighters that ISIS had holed up in the city faced about ten times as many members of a reconstituted and determined Iraqi security forces that was backed by U.S. air power.

Foisting Blame for Cyber-hacking on Russia

By Gareth Porter

Exclusive: Cyber-criminal efforts to hack into U.S. government databases are epidemic, but this ugly reality is now being exploited to foist blame on Russia and fuel the New Cold War hysteria, reports Gareth Porter.

Recent hearings by the Senate and House Intelligence Committees reflected the rising tide of Russian-election-hacking hysteria and contributed further to it. Both Democrats and Republicans on the two committees appeared to share the alarmist assumptions about Russian hacking, and the officials who testified did nothing to discourage the politicians.

On June 21, Samuel Liles, acting director of the Intelligence and Analysis Office’s Cyber Division at the Department of Homeland Security, and Jeanette Manfra, acting deputy under secretary for cyber-security and communications, provided the main story line for the day in testimony before the Senate committee — that efforts to hack into election databases had been found in 21 states.

Former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and FBI counter-intelligence chief Bill Priestap also endorsed the narrative of Russian government responsibility for the intrusions on voter registration databases.

But none of those who testified offered any evidence to support this suspicion nor were they pushed to do so. And beneath the seemingly unanimous embrace of that narrative lies a very different story.

An Electronic and Cyber Warfare Doctrine to Contain North Korea’s Provocations

By Rachael M. Rudolph and Nhan Tran

North Korea’s missile launches in February, March and April of 2017 came during a period of heightened tension between the US and North Korea, and the implosion of two of them seconds after being launched brought speculation as to whether the USor China was responsible for their sabotage. Both the US and China have electronic and cyber warfare capabilities and programs designed to use electromagnetic pulse weapons to attack, protect, and support military operations. North Korea also has electronic and cyber warfare capabilities. Although there has been no speculation as to whether some of the failed missile tests over the years (or those conducted recently) were actually North Korea’s testing of a High Powered Microwave (HPM) device, fears have been uttered of its ability to use High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) weapons, deliverable through its long-range missiles, against the US.

North Korea’s use of HEMP in the immediate future to attack the US mainland is not per se strategically realistic but it is reasonable to assume that any future war on the Korean Peninsula would entail the use of both HPM and HEMP weapons. The Asia Pacific region, however, is unprepared for any type of hybrid war that would encompass the combined use of conventional and unconventional capabilities. The present situation in the Korean Peninsula, therefore, is untenable, and past policies employed by the US under the doctrine of strategic patience have had limited success. A doctrine of strategic coercion, as advocated by the Trump administration, is also likely to have limited success. The US, South Korea, Japan, China, or Russia cannot alone contain North Korea and its intentional, conventional and unconventional, asymmetric provocations in the present. Through a strategic doctrine of electronic and cyber warfare containment, however, it would be possible for certain strategically significant actors to contain North Korea, while other strategically significant actors simultaneously work toward a peaceful resolution to the North Korean issue. A concerted, multipronged, and strategic approach is warranted to not only diffuse tensions but also to bring about lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

A European Union Army: Objective or Chimera?

The proposal for a pan-European defence force has been in the public domain for quite some time. As early as 1950, Winston Churchill, the then British Prime Minister, had for the first time proposed a ‘European Army subject to proper European democratic control’. This did not fructify owing to opposition from France. Recently, in March 2017, the European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker spoke favourably about a European Union Army (EUA), inter alia, recommending the need for support structures, in the context of obtaining greater integration within the European Union (EU) on defence and security matters. However, Juncker has also struck an ambivalent note by mentioning that ‘a EUA is not a project [to be immediately pursued] for the future`.

Neither the objectives for setting up a EUA nor the framework within which it will operate are clear. There has been strong resentment on this issue from Britain — now on the way towards exiting the EU. There have also been contrasting views from some EU members, with opposition from East European countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia being particularly significant. France and Germany are, however, in support of the initiative. French president Emanuel Macron has optimistically observed that a EUA will provide strategic autonomy to the EU bloc.

The U.S. Military's 5 Worst Defeats Ever

James Jay Carafano

George Washington's effort to hold off the British Invasion of New York could not have gone worse. Luckily, the Continental Army avoided complete annihilation by slipping across the Long Island Sound, under cover of darkness. The battle itself was a humiliating defeat for Washington. But, the loss also revealed an insight that was key to the ultimate American success: The Continental Army could afford to lose battles; but if it remained an Army-in-being, the British couldn't declare victory. Washington rightly surmised that, as long as the enemy couldn't win the war, they would eventually lose. 

Defeat can be an integral instrument of victory.

War is a competition between thinking, scheming, determined adversaries. Gaining a decisive advantage over the enemy is the ultimate high-ground. Sometimes this critical competitive edge comes from losing battles—when the loss sparks the actions that lead to winning.

For much of the 19th and 20th century, the Western way of war was battle-centric. Blame Waterloo (1815), the climatic one-shot campaign that ended Napoleon's run as the military master of Europe. Clausewitz and Jomini, the two-top commentators on Napoleonic warfare, went through a lot of ink describing the role of battle in diminishing the enemy's capacity to wage war. Meanwhile, Cressy's book on decisive battles of the Western World propelled combat into the center of Victorian pop culture.

An addictive attention to battle endured well into the next century, even with the advent of "push-button" nuclear warfare and the resurgence of messy, shadowy insurgencies like Vietnam.

“Identity Intel Ops” Turn U.S. Special Operators Into Combat Detectives

By Joseph Trevithick

When you hear a report about an American counter-terrorism operation, especially one that results in the death or capture of some apparently notable militant in a hot spot around the world, you’ll often hear about how important intelligence was in tracking them down. What you won’t hear much about is exactly what this “intelligence driven” process necessarily entails in any detail. The War Zone has now obtained a document through the Freedom of Information Act that gives a more in depth look at how U.S. special operators are becoming combat detectives, gathering vacuuming up forensic details during missions that could lead them to their next target.

Though it’s just one piece of the intelligence puzzle, so-called “identity intelligence,” or I2, has become an essential part of the action cycle, which broadly involves gathering information, tracking individual terrorists, neutralizing them, and then repeating the process with any new data obtained during those raids. U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has codified these concepts what it officially calls Directive 525-40, Identity Intelligence. Thanks to the FOIA, we received what appears to be the most recent edition of this document, which is dated April 7, 2017. This replaced a previous version the Pentagon’s top special operations command had published four years earlier.

That special operations forces “will conduct more multinational, intelligence driven, I2 Ops supporting the range of military operations,” is the guide’s number one assumption. “I2 Ops … deny anonymity to the adversary, and protect U.S. and allied assets, facilities, and forces.”

Losing the Nation-State - The American Interest

Andrew A. Michta

The liberal international order cannot survive the unraveling of strong national communities that are the baseline of democratic government.

It is not difficult to recognize that the West is in flux. Eight months after the presidential election in the United States, partisan rancor has reached a fever pitch and continues unabated. Europe seems trapped in a collective leadership paralysis in the face of the greatest mass migration crisis since 1945. Public anger against elites keeps rising. The people seem less and less willing to listen to the explanations and admonishments of their leaders and the media, nor to accept that their nations are merely a transitional phase before the emergence of a multicultural, globalized world.

Beneath the popular resentment and frustration bubbles a longing for a vanishing sense of community, mixed with an often deeply felt democratic impulse to reclaim ownership of the state. Signs of a popular rebellion across the West abound. The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the Trump movement in the United States, and the emergence of national and populist parties across Europe (though their support fluctuates) are all symptoms of a deeper yet seldom articulated structural problem that has been straining democratic politics in the West: the progressive fragmentation of the nation-state.

Govt Study: Cyber, Nuclear Attacks Pose Equal Threats

By Larry Bell

A February Department of Defense Science Board (DSB), Task Force on Cyber Deterrence reports, "The United States faces significant cyber threats from a number of potential adversaries, most notably from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and terrorist groups including the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)."

It further warns, "A large-scale cyberattack on civilian-critical infrastructure could cause chaos by disrupting the flow of electricity, money, communications, fuel and water. Thus far, we have only seen the virtual tip of the cyberattack iceberg."

The DSB study determined, "In one sense, the United States has a campaign underway today to deter cyberattacks — but to date, that campaign has been largely reactive and not effective." Its task force counselled, "Although progress is being made to reduce the pervasive cyber vulnerabilities of U.S. critical infrastructure, the unfortunate reality is that for the next decade, the offensive cyber capabilities of our most capable adversaries are likely to far exceed the United States’ ability to defend critical infrastructures."

These threats will rapidly become worse "in coming years as adversary capabilities continue to grow rapidly." Making matters worse: "The introduction of massive numbers of digital sensors (the so-called Internet of Things), processors and autonomous devices of today’s Internet will only exacerbate an already tenuous posture and make defense even more challenging in the coming years."

Defense Industry in a Race to Buy Into Hot Startups

In just one year, the nation’s largest defense contractor has injected close to $20 million into tech startups. And more investments are coming, says Chris Moran, executive director and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures.

Moran spent three decades in Silicon Valley before joining Lockheed Martin in June 2016. The company’s $100 million venture capital shop had been dormant for a few years and Moran was hired to revive it.

His most recent pickup is Terran Orbital, a manufacturer of tiny spacecraft known as nanosatellites.

Space companies have been popular targets of investors. Defense contractors are especially attracted because of the crossover appeal for military and commercial options. Lockheed became an early financer of New Zealand's Rocket Lab, which is building a carbon-composite rocket to launch small satellites into orbit for less than $5 million.

Other markets the defense industry is pursuing feverishly are cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. Lockheed last year struck a deal with Cybereason, whose machine learning software helps detect network attacks as they happen. This is a huge breakthrough compared to traditional cyber defenses that are the equivalent of closing the barn doors after the horses left. “Artificial intelligence looks for pattern changes to prevent attacks before significant damage occurs,” Moran says in an interview. “Cybereason was one of the early practitioners in this space.”

A Survey of Ongoing Wars Around the World

While Islamic terrorism continues to dominate the news, it is but one example of an ancient curse that has reappeared recently in multiple forms; calls for the revival of empires. Some of these efforts are more media friendly than others but all share the same characteristics; mobilizing popular support for rebuilding lost empires. There are numerous examples. The most obvious one (the Islamic caliphate) grabs most of the headlines because Islamic terrorism has been a common symptom of desperate, longshot efforts to restore the caliphate for a long time (over a thousand years). As a religion based empire (“Islam” literally means “submission”) that has been hostile to any kind of progress (especially technology, economic or religious) past revival efforts have been unsuccessful. Thus the quick and brutal demise of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) because it also tried to use self-righteous fanaticism as its primary weapon and motivation in a world that was largely hostile to such a brutal and simplistic ideology. ISIL was one of the few Islamic radical movements that mobilized nearly all Moslems to unite and violently oppose it. Yet even with ISIL gone (or suppressed) there are plenty of other Islamic empire revivalists who all seek to not just make Islam great again but to do it on a global scale.

The Coming Laser Wars?

Sebastien Roblin

On June 26 an Apache helicopter successfully tested a high-energy laser pod on targets at the White Sands testing range in New Mexico—the first laser weapon ever employed by a helicopter.

As much as laser-armed helicopters might seem like they belong in a Command & Conquer video game, in reality they are joining a wide variety of ground-, air- and sea-based laser platforms—many of which may be entering service in the coming decades and a few of which are already operational. In fact, a new era of laser warfare may soon be dawning, thanks to lasers’ usefulness for countering two important weapons systems: drones and long-range missiles.

Films like Star Wars depict laser weapons as emitting short pulses of green and red light. However, the “phasers” depicted in Star Trek in the 1960s were arguably a bit more accurate. Real laser weapons project a coherent ray of directed photons (light) that strike their target virtually instantaneously. This beam often streams into the target for several seconds or longer as thermal energy builds up to destructive effect—although some “pulsing” lasers also exist.

However, unlike the weapons in Star Trek, the rays from high-energy antimaterial lasers for use in the atmosphere are silent and generally invisible, as they usually operate at an optical wavelength indiscernible to the human eye. And today’s laser weapons are more likely to burn a hole in a target or cause it to combust, rather than vaporizing it.

Why use a laser instead of a bullet, shell or missile? To begin with, lasers are highly accurate and quick acting, since they are fast as light and mostly unaffected by gravity. This could make them ideal for swatting down small, speedy targets, such as incoming rockets and artillery shells. Laser precision could also be handy for disabling ground or sea vehicles without killing their occupants. Of course, a soundless, invisible and recoilless weapon is also pretty stealthy—if you can get close enough to use it.

How Raymond Davis Helped Track Osama Bin Laden Down?

By Nauman Sadiq

Six weeks before the killing of Osama Bin Laden, on 16 March 2011, a CIA’s private contractor Raymond Davis, who had previously worked for Erik Prince’s infamous Blackwater security firm, was released from a prison in Lahore and was secretly flown to the US.

On 27 January 2011, Raymond Davis had killed two armed men on a busy street in Lahore, who, according to the inside sources of Pakistan’s intelligence, were its “assets.” Minutes after the shooting, an SUV rushing to Davis’ aid from the American consulate in Lahore had crushed another bystander to death.

Recently, Raymond Davis has published his memoirs titled: “The Contractor: How I landed in a Pakistani prison and ignited a diplomatic crisis,” in which he has narrated all the gory details of the shooting, his time in prison and the subsequent release under a settlement with victims’ families, but has painstakingly avoided any mention to his role as the CIA’s acting station chief in Islamabad or to his job of tracking Osama Bin Laden’s couriers.

In his last year’s May 5 report , Greg Miller of the Washington Post posited that Mark Kelton, the CIA station chief in Islamabad at the time of Bin Laden’s killing in Abbottabad, was poisoned by Pakistan’s military intelligence due to Kelton’s role in the assassination of Bin Laden.

It should be remembered here that Mark Kelton succeeded Jonathan Bank in January 2011, after the latter’s name was made public by Pakistan’s military intelligence due to Bank’s “suspicious activities,” and Raymond Davis worked as CIA’s acting station chief during the interim period.

News Article – Center for Security Studies

To many military commanders, The Law is not a neutral thing. It has allegedly 1) ‘handcuffed’ them from combat success; 2) interjected ‘counterproductive hesitancy’ into operational environments; and 3) become a ‘weapon’ used by enemies of the West. There might be some truth to these charges, observes Charles Dunlap, but they miss the ultimate point. Today’s wars are being fought in law-rich environments where globalization is busy creating new legal frameworks and norms. Here’s Dunlap’s primer on the lawfare that exists today.

For many commanders and other military leaders, the role of law in twenty-first century conflicts is a source of frustration. Some think it is “handcuffing” them in a way that is inhibiting combat success. For others, law is another “tool that is used by the enemies of the West.” For at least one key ally, Great Britain, law seems to be injecting counterproductive hesitancy into operational environments. All of these interpretations have elements of truth, but at the same time they are not quite accurate in providing an understanding of what might be called the role of lawfare in today’s military conflicts.

Law has become central to twenty-first century conflicts. Today’s wars are waged in what Joel Trachtman calls a “law-rich environment, with an abundance of legal rules and legal fora.” This is the result of many factors outside of the military context, including the impact of internationalized economics. Still, as the Global Policy Forum points out, globalization “is changing the contours of law and creating new global legal institutions and norms.”

Here’s what Cyber Command’s war-fighting platform will look like

By: Mark Pomerleau

This is Part II of a four-part series exploring what U.S. Cyber Command will need to operate on its own, separate from the National Security Agency.

Given the two distinct — yet sometimes similar — mission sets of U.S. Cyber Command, a war-fighting organization, and the National Security Agency, an espionage organization, separate infrastructure, tools and training is needed for the former to operate on its own.

For CYBERCOM to meet the stipulations of current law (as discussed in Part I), which are unlikely to change in future years’ legislation given the stern opposition from influential lawmakers regarding a premature NSA-CYBERCOM split, the organization will need its own infrastructure on which to conduct its operations.

This effort is currently spearheaded by the recently established Capabilities Development Group, which plans and synchronize capability development for the joint cyber force and whose No. 1 goal is developing the Military Cyber Operations Platform, or MCOP.

MCOP is “essentially the sum total of the portfolios we manage,” said Keith Jarrin, executive director of the Capabilities Development Group at CYBERCOM.

Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, of which CYBERCOM is a sub-unified command, recently told the Senate: “I will not advocate separating the two until we have a separate platform in the services that Cyber Command can operate on.”

The NSA Confronts a Problem of Its Own Making

Recent cyberattacks show what happens when America’s secret-keepers can’t keep their secrets. 

It is hard to imagine more fitting names for code-gone-bad than WannaCry and Eternal Blue. Those are just some of the computer coding vulnerabilities pilfered from the National Security Agency’s super-secret stockpile that have been used in two separate global cyber attacks in recent weeks. An attack on Tuesday featuring Eternal Blue was the second of these to use stolen NSA cyber tools—disrupting everything from radiation monitoring at Chernobyl to shipping operations in India. Fort Meade’s trove of coding weaknesses is designed to give the NSA an edge. Instead, it’s giving the NSA heartburn. And it’s not going away any time soon.

As with most intelligence headlines, the story is complicated, filled with good intentions and unintended consequences. Home to the nation’s codebreakers and cyber spies, the NSA is paid to intercept communications of foreign adversaries. One way is by hunting for hidden vulnerabilities in the computer code powering Microsoft Windows and and all sorts of other products and services that connect us to the digital world. It’s a rich hunting ground. The rule of thumb is that one vulnerability can be found in about every 2,500 lines of code. Given that an Android phone uses 12 million lines of code, we’re talking a lot of vulnerabilities. Some are easy to find. Others are really hard. Companies are so worried about vulnerabilities that many—including Facebook and Microsoft—pay “bug bounties” to anyone who finds one and tells the company about it before alerting the world. Bug bounties can stretch into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Cyber warfare unit set to be launched by Australian Defence Forces

Australia's military is undergoing a major transformation, with the launch of a new information warfare unit.

Key points: 

Focus on cyber one of the biggest shifts in defence strategy 

Unit's brief is to protect Australia's military infrastructure 

Cyber weaponry will be able to be used to defend, gather intelligence or launch attacks 

The ABC has learned the team will launch within days and will be a central part of Australia's defence operations.

It will be tasked with defending Australian military targets from cyber attacks and preparing to launch its own assaults on foreign forces.

Professor Greg Austin from the University of New South Wales described it as one of the biggest shifts in defence strategy.

"The main angle of cyber war is to prevent the enemy's armed forces from reaching the start line of battle," he said.