4 September 2017



The end of a standoff between India and China over a remote road on the Doklam plateau has prompted a vibrant discussion about the lessons learned. The emerging consensus is that India “won” and China “lost.” India’s willingness to challenge China is even viewed as providing a model that other states can use to counter Chinese coercion. If others stand up, China will back down.

Nevertheless, this consensus is misplaced. And the sports analogy of winning and losing obscures much more than it reveals.

To start, it remains unclear that India “won.” From India’s point of view, the status quo ante of June 2017 was restored, a victory. Yet from China’s perspective, Indian forces withdrew from Chinese territory (also claimed by Bhutan, but not by India). Moreover, on the ground at the site of the confrontation, Indian forces pulled back first. Meanwhile, Chinese forces remain in Doklam, even if Beijing chose not to press ahead with the road extension that sparked the standoff..............

The China-India Border Standoff: What Does Beijing Want?


After 10 weeks, the latest chapter in the long-running China-India-Bhutan border dispute has come to an end. On Monday, India and China agreed to remove their troops from a disputed region called the Doklam Plateau, claimed by both China and Bhutan. (The area is not claimed by India, but it is very close to the Indian border, and of extreme strategic importance to New Delhi.) Although the dust-up failed to attract much attention from the international community, it is nonetheless worthy of note, both for what it says about a rising China’s more forward-leaning approach to its neighbors, and also for what it says about the Trump administration’s strangely inattentive approach to an increasingly restive Asia.

The trouble began on June 16, when Chinese construction workers were spotted in disputed territory on the remote Doklam Plateau. The workers were building a road that would extend China’s strategic position further into territory claimed by Bhutan. India responded immediately, sending troops into Bhutan to halt the road-building. Soon thereafter, troops from both sides were seen pushing and shoving each other, a form of low-intensity conflict known as “jostling.”

Over the weeks that followed, each side held its ground. For its part, Beijing demanded that India withdraw its troops before any negotiations could begin. Chinese officials also fired various verbal darts at New Delhi. On August 4, Wu Qian, a Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesman, issued a thinly veiled threat to India to stand down. “Here is a wish to remind India, do not push your luck and cling to any fantasies,” Wu said. Statements by semi-official Chinese media outlets were even more blunt and aggressive in tone, assuring India that it would lose any conflict with the much stronger and richer China.

Are India’s Government-Subsidised Solar Shops Thriving Or Barely Surviving

Jennifer Richmond and Kartikeya Singh

Government of India’s Akshay Urja programme sought to support the establishment of at least one shop per district for the sale of subsidised solar-powered technologies. Based on a survey of shop owners, this column finds that while the programme has been successful in establishing a network of solar shops across the country, many of the owners struggle to connect their products to large markets of consumers.

India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) began the Aditya Solar Shops programme in 1995 to support entrepreneurs who opened shops to sell subsidised solar-powered technologies. Shops were designed to sell items which would help poorer households without electricity access (or unreliable access) to tap into distributed solar power. Although most urban households in India tend to be connected to the grid – even if service is poor – many rural areas lie well beyond the reach of power plants and the central grid. This creates space for viable alternatives, such as distributed solar-powered systems and technologies.

Aiming at a barrage of clean development targets

In 2010, the Indian government rebranded the Aditya programme as the Akshay Urja Solar Shops programme and expanded its reach to set up at least one shop in every district in the country. This was a signal from the government that India was serious about providing electricity access to its less centralised populations and that it intended to promote clean growth. This became glaringly clear in 2015 when the government declared that it would provide reliable access to every household in the country by the next national election in 2019; that’s quite a promise considering nearly a quarter of the country’s 1.3 billion (130 crore) people still live beyond the reach of the grid and without any modern alternatives.

What Modi now needs to do with China

'Modi and Xi can solve the India-China border problem in a single sitting by keeping the big picture before them, by sweeping away the cobwebs of the past, and by mustering a statesman-like spirit and a long range vision,' says B S Raghavan, the distinguished civil servant.

India has coyly described the basis of resolution of the nearly three month- long tense face-off with China at Doklam as 'disengagement understanding'.

China has been somewhat brusque in its official statement, claiming that the end of the face-off followed India's withdrawal of 'all its border personnel and equipment that were illegally on the Chinese territory to the Indian side'.

It has asserted that 'Chinese border troops continue with their patrols in the Dong Lang area,' and that 'China will continue to exercise its sovereign rights and maintain territorial sovereignty in accordance with the provisions of the historical conventions'.

Reading both texts together, it is not at all clear whether, as part of the deal, there has been a corresponding withdrawal of Chinese troops from the disputed area and whether China has specifically agreed to drop its plan for any road construction in the area.

What China Learned About India at Doklam

By Ankit Panda

What comes after the Doklam saga will matter greatly for the relationship between China and India. 

The months-long border standoff between China and India on the Doklam plateau, an obscure patch of disputed land near Bhutan in the Himalayas, came to a sudden close in the final days of August – days before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Xiamen BRICS nations summit.

Weeks of behind-the-scenes diplomatic effort succeeded in defusing what once appeared to be a high-stakes and intractable crisis.

The Indian and Chinese foreign ministries released statements on Monday acknowledging a drawdown. While each country’s statement about the details of the end to the standoff varied in emphasis, there was no apparent contradiction.

India highlighted an “understanding” between the two sides that led to the “expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site,” just 60 odd meters from the Indian Army’s outpost on the Bhutanese border at Doka La.

Reports later confirmed that India had secured a withdrawal of Chinese troops – including construction crews – from the site of the standoff.

Climate Finance In India: A Case Of Policy Paralysis – Analysis

By Srinivas Raman

Pursuant to the Paris Agreement, India has been spearheading the clean energy revolution in Asia and has set itself ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions and follow sustainable development by generating 175 gigawatts of renewable energy (RE) by 2022.

To achieve its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) goals, India requires a whopping USD 200 billion as climate finance. The USA’s exit from its erstwhile commitments under the Green Climate Fund coupled with the shift in priorities under the Trump administration adds pressure on India and other developing countries to generate climate finance independently and place less reliance on international aids and subsidies. Towards this end, India has started developing its climate finance instruments by further economic liberalization and by following international best practices.

In recent years, India has introduced ‘green bonds’- innovative financial instruments to fund the RE sector. Green bonds have been successfully issued by several large corporate and financial institutions such as Yes Bank, Axis Bank and Hero Future Energies which have raised millions of dollars. In May, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) recognized and legitimized the use of these debt instruments and has laid down detailed disclosure guidelines which need to be followed for the issuance of green bonds.

China’s Afghanistan Strategy: Status And Security – Analysis

By Baisali Mohanty

As Afghanistan receives renewed strategic focus, the international community faces daunting challenges in establishing security and stability in the country. With the Trump Administration announcing a more robust South Asia strategy premised on more troops on the ground and tougher line against Pakistan, competition between the major actors could intensify. In this context, China is likely to play a critical role. From engaging minimally with Kabul since the early 2000s to a proactive Afghan policy after the period of Taliban rule, China’s interest has grown, especially since 2014.

In a strategic environment where India, Russia, Iran and Pakistan are significant stakeholders, China is carving a role that bequeaths status, enabling Beijing to perform a consequential role in establishing regional stability through multilateral cooperation.

Over the last three years, Afghanistan has benefited from significant Chinese contributions in development assistance and aid. China, besides confirming an aid contribution of over $1.5 billion, has gone a step further in conducting joint patrols with the Afghan authorities – looking to fill the vacuum which the complete draw-down of US forces from Afghanistan will herald.

The roots of Afghanistan’s tribal tensions

TODAY, August 31st, Afghan politicians and writers will gather to mark Baluch-Pushtun Unity Day, which celebrates the cultural bonds between the two ethnic groups. The day might not be entirely upbeat, though. At the same event last year one of the speakers warned that “common enemies” were victimising Baluchis and Pushtuns. Such language is routine in Afghanistan, a country frazzled by tribal divisions. But how did these tensions start, and how do they influence Afghan life today?

Afghanistan has been ethnically diverse for millennia. Herodotus, an ancient Greek historian, wrote about the Pushtuns in the fifth century BC. Tajiks, the country’s second-largest group after Pushtuns, are ancient too. About 2.5m Uzbeks live along the northern mountains, and a similar number of Hazara live in the middle of the country, west of Kabul. Smaller clusters of Arabs and Punjabis, among others, also huddle among Afghanistan’s hills and valleys. All told, 14 recognised ethnic groups live in Afghanistan today. Each is honoured in the national anthem and protected by the constitution. 


Ashok K Mehta 

Donald Trump's U-turn on Afghanistan and termination of the long and tortuous policy-making process are welcome. But two key elements not indicated are the length of the mission and force augmentation numbers

US President Donald Trump’s U-turn on Afghanistan and the termination of the long and tortuous policy-making process are a victory for his Generals. His disclosure at Fort Myers will be remembered not for what he said but what he did not say. Two key elements not indicated are: The length of the mission and force augmentation numbers. While Trump said US support is not unlimited and not a blank cheque, it is not time but condition specific. This deflates the Taliban joke: ‘While the Americans have the watches, we have the time’. The final product is not out-of-the-box stuff.

The happiest person on August 21, the day the Trump policy on Afghanistan was released in Kabul, was Gen John Nicholson, Commander, Operation, Resolute Force. He had been waiting for it since April and the last date given to him was July 18 but it arrived a month later. In the interim, according to the White House grapevine, Nicholson nearly lost his job. The Commander-in-Chief was so upset at his not winning the war that he wanted him replaced with National Security Advisor (NSA), Lt Gen HR McMaster.

Help Afghans Exploit Their Mineral Riches

By Michael Silver

I met with President Trump recently to discuss American development of Afghanistan’s mineral deposits. Afghanistan owns one of the world’s richest untapped deposits of rare-earth and critical metals. The Afghans cannot develop these vast deposits on their own, but if they get U.S. help to do the job right, they will have an opportunity to move from a war-torn nation to a self-sustaining economy.

These materials are essential to green technology. A misconception in the environmental movement is that green technology eliminates mining. In fact it simply changes what you mine. You can’t build an electric car without neodymium and lanthanum, or produce solar or wind energy without indium and gallium.

No doubt the entire supply chain, from rare-earth ore to a solar panel, has less environmental impact than mining and burning coal, but bottom line it’s still mining. And building a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure of wind and solar farms and millions of electric vehicles is going to involve a lot of mining. The Afghans are fortunate that plate tectonics pushed much of the good stuff their way, and they are now well-positioned to take advantage.

Deciphering the Taliban

by Stratfor

Afghanistan embodies geopolitics in a way that few nations can. Its breathtaking mountains, vast steppes and harsh deserts have obstructed the influence of would-be rulers since ancient times. Yet these topographical impediments have protected and sheltered so much of what defines Afghanistan today, forming zones of refuge that harbor ethnic patchworks living in defiance of easy categorization or governance. Interpreting the complexities of the human and physical terrain from the lines and colors on a map is almost impossible. It is only when gazing over the deserts and mountains from 35,000 feet that the intricacies of the country become clearer. And only by walking in the shoes of everyday Afghans can you begin to comprehend their mindset. Very quickly you learn that Afghanistan is a country that rejects easy solutions…

Afghans tell you in no uncertain terms that the jarring environment, complicated history and conservative religious beliefs — regardless of ethnicity — will make you a warrior. And as a warrior, you are compelled to resist any perceived foreign encroachment against your land and beliefs. It is this Afghan warrior culture that will ultimately delimit any proposed long-term resolution. Many people I sat with felt that a negotiated solution to the country's problems is the only plausible outcome. Time and again it was emphasized to me that the existing tribal order will continue to trump any foreigner-backed government that operates under perceived Western values. Any system of governance associated with outsiders is immediately suspect in the eyes of Afghans, regardless of intent or investment. This is in part why the Taliban's message continues to resonate and why the militant organization is so hard to eradicate. The group represents a distinct tribal order that emerged from the rural countryside and the ungoverned expanses that typify the region. The Taliban will not give up, not until they have achieved at least a stalemate in their favor. They have already endured better than anyone expected, thanks to their fluidity and comparative military resilience, their deft use of mountain hideaways and the support they receive from local communities — willingly or unwillingly given…

How the Muslim Rohingya insurgency behind Myanmar attacks grew

BANGKOK (AP) — Armed with machetes and rifles, a ragtag band of insurgents comprised of members of Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority launched unprecedented attacks last week, triggering fighting with security forces that has left more than 100 people dead and forced at least 18,000 to flee into neighboring Bangladesh.

Here’s a closer look at the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, the group that claimed responsibility for the attacks:

The group was formed last year by Rohingya exiles living in Saudi Arabia, according to the International Crisis Group, which detailed ARSA’s origins in a report last year. It is led by Attullah Abu Amar Jununi, a Pakistani-born Rohingya who grew up in Mecca, and a committee of about 20 Rohingya emigres. ICG says there are indications Jununi and others received militant training in Pakistan and possibly Afghanistan.

ARSA is believed to receive funding from the Rohingya diaspora and donors in Saudi Arabia, as well as other parts of the Middle East, ICG says.

Analysts blame Myanmar’s government for the conditions that led to the group’s creation. Successive governments in the predominantly Buddhist country have denied the Rohingya basic rights and citizenship, deeming most of them to be foreign invaders from Bangladesh, even though Rohingya have lived in Myanmar, also known as Burma, for generations. Bangladesh also rejects them.


Claude Arpi 
Though one can only rejoice about the disengagement in Doklam, one should not forget issues that are extremely disturbing: It is China's non-respect of agreements and international rules

On August 28, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a statement: The Doklamconfrontation was over, both the Indian and Chinese troops had agreed to withdraw. Later in the afternoon, the MEA clarified further: “India has always maintained that it is only through diplomatic channels that differences on such matters can be addressed. Our principled position is that agreements and understandings reached on boundary issues must be scrupulously respected.”

This was a reference to the 2012 agreement between India and China to not change the status quo. Delhi explained once more its position: “India’s policy remains guided by the belief that peace and tranquility in the border areas is an essential pre-requisite for further development of our bilateral relationship.”

Despite the agreement, Beijing’s propaganda continued. Answering a question fromPTI, on whether the disengagement is mutual, Hua Chunying, the Chinese spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, affirmed: “China will make adjustments based on actual situation.”

More German ´Blue Helmets´: Four Reasons the Federal Republic of Germany Should Show Greater Commitment to UN Peacekeeping

By Markus Kaim and Lena Strauß 

Should Germany become more involved in UN peacekeeping operations? Markus Kaim and Lena Strauß believe that it should and here explain how four reasons why relate to 1) the urgent needs of UN peacekeeping missions; 2) how UN peacekeeping operations are being rediscovered as effective crisis management tools by European nations; 3) calls within Germany for the country to take on greater responsibility in global affairs; and 4) Germany’s aims to secure a seat on the UN Security Council.

The German Armed Forces is to contribute to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). This is the first time in more than 20 years that Germany has deployed a strong contingent for a United Nations peacekeeping operation, though the UN’s multilateral crisis management is currently required to operate in very different conflict contexts. The Federal Government should scrutinize how Germany can participate more comprehensively and more strategically in these missions than it has done up to now. There are a number of reasons to sustain, prioritize and extend this commitment which pertains to issues of strategy, personnel policy, training and equipment.

North Korea Launches a Ballistic Missile Over Japan: First Impressions and Analysis

By Ankit Panda

Scott LaFoy and Ankit Panda discuss North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile into the Northern Pacific over Japan. 

Open source missile analyst Scott LaFoy, a producer for the Arms Control Wonk podcast, joins The Diplomat‘s Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) to discuss North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile over Japan. The launch is the first of its kind with a ballistic missile; North Korea had previously launched satellite launch vehicles over Japan in 2009 and 1998.

Click the arrow to the right to listen. If you’re an iOS or Mac user, you can also subscribe to The Diplomat’s Asia Geopolitics podcast on iTunes here. If you use Android, you can subscribe on TuneIn or on Google Play Music. If you like the podcast and have suggestions for content, please leave a review and rating on iTunes and TuneIn.

Terrifyingly Rational: North Korea’s Missile Over Japan

By Yukari Easton

Did Kim Jong-un just call Donald Trump’s bluff? 

Shortly before 6 a.m. in Japan on August 29, North Korea launched a ballistic missile over the country. The nation’s disaster alarm system, J-Alert, was activated and people were warned that a missile had entered Japanese airspace. Northern residents were advised to seek refuge; local and the bullet train services were immediately halted. Fourteen minutes after launch, the missile landed in the Pacific Ocean, 1,180 km off Hokkaido’s Cape Erimo.

Depressingly, the North Korean launch, while irresponsible by any standard, was rational and even predictable in the light of U.S. President Donald Trump’s seemingly off-the-cuff “fire and fury” and “locked and loaded” comments in recent weeks. In understanding the balance of power between the United States and North Korea, we need to recognize that this is not a stable Nash equilibrium akin to the Cold War’s nuclear stand-off, whereby adversaries essentially decide to do nothing because, in the absence of cooperation, neither side can gain. In this case, North Korea is unilaterally improving its position, day-by-day, as its mastery of ICBM and nuclear weapons technologies improves. In response, Washington seems able merely to impose sanctions, either unilaterally or in limited concert with others. But states committed to a nuclear capability are not so easily dissuaded. As the late Ali Bhutto of Pakistan famously once said, “We’ll eat grass but build the bomb.”

North Korea: Time To Focus On Minimization, Not Denuclearization – Analysis

By Rahul Raj

The North Korean nuclear programme has been the focus of international attention over the last two decades because Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles cannot be separated from its bellicose behaviour, which has caused a great deal of tension in the region and the world. Since revelations of North Korean nuclear weapons development surfaced, the US and South Korea have tried unsuccessfully to bring the programme to a halt.

Denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula has been central to the foreign policy of both countries for decades, yet one presidential administration after another has left office without deterring North Korea’s steady progress in becoming a nuclear-armed state. In fact, just the opposite has occurred, with North Korea currently developing even more sophisticated nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems.

US intelligence services have recently reported that North Korea has developed miniaturised nuclear weapons that can fit into the heads of a new class of ballistic missiles, which Pyongyang has successfully tested in the waters between Korea and Japan. These tests began a war of words between Washington and Pyongyang, with President Donald Trump promising “fire and fury” if North Korea attempts to threaten the US. North Korea retorted by threatening to conduct missile tests directed towards the US territory of Guam in the Pacific Ocean, edging both states to the brink.

Breakthrough In Nuclear Fusion: MIT Researchers Find A Way To Increase Energy Output

Jaideep A Prabhu

An MIT experiment with a new nuclear fusion fuel, producing 10 times as much energy from energised ions as previously achieved, takes us another step closer to achieving limitless clean energy with virtually no toxic byproduct.

The recent announcement by scientists of a major breakthrough in fusion research has gone largely unnoticed or with jaded acknowledgement among energy analysts. A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Plasma Science and Fusion Center obtained a tenfold increase in energy output from the Alcator (ALto CAmpo TORo, High Field Torus) C-Mod tokamak in an experimental run last year. The results were so exciting that researchers at the Joint European Torus in Britain decided to replicate them. Success has raised hopes that the first commercial fusion reactors might be on the horizon by the 2030s.

Nuclear fusion is considered by many to be the holy grail of energy, promising limitless clean energy with little to no waste production. Unlike fission, which splits atoms and releases excess binding energy from the daughter products, fusion combines atoms and uses energy left over from a more efficient atomic configuration. However, it has substantial challenges, and promises made from optimism than a grounding in engineering in the early days of the nuclear age – such as Lewis Strauss' famous 1954 declaration that electricity will become too cheap to meter in the future – have not yet panned out, causing scepticism among lay observers.

Comforting words from Martin van Creveld about nuclear war

Summary: Martin van Creveld discusses one of my big fears — nuclear war. He paints a comforting picture. Let’s hope his logic proves correct, and that the forces of irrationality do not take the stage. As they have so often in history.

Here is a story that took place many years ago — about twenty-five, if memory serves me right. I was conversing with a high-up defense official in the Pentagon; since he is still alive, though retired, I shall not call him by name. He and I had known each other for some years, and I knew that normally he was the most tight-lipped of men. As, indeed, his position required him to be.

That day, however, he was feeling unusually expansive. We were discussing something, I can’t remember what. “Martin,” he suddenly said, “Out of about 30,000 persons who work in this building today, I am probably the only one who has actually seen a nuclear weapon exploding.” And, he added, “It is not at all like what you see on TV.”

From this point the story went as follows. In 1955 — if memory serves me right — Mr. X, who at that time was a young economist cum mathematician, and a friend of his were invited to witness a one of a series of nuclear tests being conducted by the U.S Army in Nevada. Along with many others, they were told to sit down in the desert, about three miles from ground zero. Wearing goggles, they were ordered to turn their backs to the planned site, close their eyes, and put their faces on their arms and knees. Also, for heaven’s sake not to turn around and look before counting ten from the moment of the explosion—or else, if they did so, they would go blind.

Barbarians at the Monetary Gate

HONG KONG – Financial markets today are thriving. The Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq composite index have all reached record highs lately, with emerging-economy financial markets also performing strongly, as investors search for stability amid widespread uncertainty. But, because this performance is not based on market fundamentals, it is unsustainable – and very risky.

According to Mohamed El-Erian, the lost lesson of the 2007 financial crisis is that current economic-growth models are “overly reliant on liquidity and leverage – from private financial institutions, and then from central banks.” And, indeed, a key driver of financial markets’ performance today is the expectation of continued central-bank liquidity.

After the US Federal Reserved revealed its decision last month to leave interest rates unchanged, the Dow Jones industrial average set intraday and closing records; the Nasdaq, too, reached all-time highs. Now, financial markets are waiting for signals from this year’s meeting of the world’s major central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

But there is another factor that could further destabilize an already-tenuous leverage- and liquidity-based system: digital currencies. And, on this front, policymakers and regulators have far less control.

Former Air Force CIO: Service must 'radically transform' in information age

By: Mark Pomerleau

Recently retired Lt. Gen. William Bender, the Air Force’s former chief information officer, has offered his thoughts on how the service must change to fight and win in the increasingly complex information age.

In “The Cyber Edge: Posturing the US Air Force for the Information Age,” published by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Bender notes that airmen must “think and act differently about how they will face adversaries in 21st century warfare.”

“To manage the risks associated with emerging ‘cyber-contested environments’ the U.S. will face in the future, we must radically transform a litany of decades-old policies, processes and business practices to respond to this completely different world,” he wrote. “Perhaps more importantly, we need to fully embrace cyberspace as an operational domain, and undertake the necessary cultural shift this will entail.”

The nature of the information world — which is heavily reliant on connected networks underpinned by hardware and software — creates unique and inherent vulnerabilities. “While a P-51 [Mustang] would have been impossible to stop through cyber attack, a vastly more capable F-35 is so dependent upon software and IT-enabled support equipment that it could prove less effective in certain scenarios than the Mustang,” Bender wrote, citing the World War II- and Korean War-era fighter plane.



The future is not what it used to be. Not, at least, for the U.S. Army. In the three-plus years since Russia invaded Ukraine, Army leaders have had to rethink what they will need to wage tomorrow’s wars successfully. Near-peer, state-based threats such as the Russian military are a different kind of challenge than the Taliban.

Somehow, the Army will need to prepare for fighting both kinds of enemies, and a diverse range of other adversaries, with a budget that amounts only to a dozen days’ worth of federal spending per year. Personnel and readiness will have to come first, leaving relatively little money for modernization. So, Army leaders are struggling to prioritize which investments matter most.

The Army must have new items to fight and win in the medium term, meaning 10 years in the future. Much of the commentary about future land warfare technology focuses on ideas that won’t come to fruition for 15–20 years. For instance, the Army’s Future Force Development Strategy warns that even if development of a next-generation combat vehicle were to begin today, system fielding would likely not begin until the early to mid-2030s.


Jyri Raitasalo

During the last 20 years, western militaries have followed a transformational agenda. Ever since the early 1990s, military “overweight” has been shed as direct military threats to western security and strategic interests evaporated. During the post-Cold War era, and relying on the so-called “Revolution in Military Affairs” (RMA), military transformation became a tool to redefine war and the guidelines for developing national armed forces in the West. Trashing Army Corps, Divisions and Brigades, slashing fighter jets and Navy vessels and reducing military manpower by the millions, western militaries, particularly in Europe, have become more usable, but less resilient and capable to operate according to the demands of large-scale high-intensity warfighting. This is particularly true if one takes the rising military capabilities of China and Russia as a yardstick.

The recent events in the East and South China seas, as well as Russia’s actions in Ukraine and Syria, have all surprised western strategic decision-makers. After two decades of outright western (read: American) defense policy supremacy, peer competitors have emerged, and they have started to challenge the western-defined post-Cold War era international security architecture. What was expected to be all about common security threats in an interdependent world with a non-zero-sum approach to security, has turned into fierce competition between western states on the one hand and China and Russia on the other. And in-between a range of lesser, but still notable, actors are causing more problems than used to be the case during the 1990s and the following decade.

LtGen James Mattis' Reading List

LtGen James N. Mattis

Commander's Intent: The Global War on Terrorism is a long war, and as such we need to continue our preparation to be engaged in all aspects of this war. For our current fights the MARCENT Reading List provides a collection of readings to be read dependent upon your grade and how long you have before deploying. Whether part of a unit or an individual augment, my intent is to prepare you for the operational, tactical, cultural and environmental factors affecting your specific fight. This reading list is not all inclusive and your local command may require you to accomplish other tasks in preparation for deployment as well. All of these actions will ensure we send educated, well-trained and properly prepared Marines into the fight. Turn-to, get it done, you and your Marines will be better for your efforts.

Section II is recommended reading separated into specific regions within the AOR. Applicable ranks are assigned and each item is marked by the estimate amount of time that the item can be completed prior to deployment. The time allotted permits prioritization of the reading requirements should a Marine receive late notification for deployment.

Six ways CEOs can promote cybersecurity in the IoT age

By Harald Bauer, Gundbert Scherf, and Valerie von der Tann

As digitization has risen on the executive agenda, cybersecurity skills and processes in most companies have also advanced, though at a slower pace. But rapid growth in the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the game. Cybersecurity is more relevant and challenging than ever, and companies need to build capabilities in this area—quickly.

IoT holds great potential to help companies improve their products and services or increase production efficiency by harnessing sensors and actuators that seamlessly connect objects to computing systems. No wonder, then, that many companies are bringing more and more devices, products, or production systems online. Conventional estimates suggest we could reach 20 billion to 30 billion connected devices globally by 2020, up from 10 billion to 15 billion devices in 2015. However, as devices proliferate, the security risks will increase sharply. Historically, risking the confidentiality and integrity of information was the prime concern compared with any risk regarding availability. In the IoT world, lack of availability of key plants or—even worse—tampering with a customer product becomes the dominating risk. How can CEOs and senior executives hedge against that threat?

The challenge of cybersecurity in the Internet of Things

With the IoT, security challenges move from a company’s traditional IT infrastructure into its connected products in the field. And these challenges remain an issue through the entire product life cycle, long after products have been sold. What’s more, industrial IoT, or Industry 4.0, means that security becomes a pervasive issue in production as well. Cyberthreats in the world of IoT can have consequences beyond compromised customer privacy. Critical equipment, such as pacemakers and entire manufacturing plants, is now vulnerable—meaning that customer health and a company’s total production capability are at risk.

Senate Intelligence Committee takes aim at cyber vulnerabilities

By: Mark Pomerleau

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s annual intelligence bill is taking aim at the process by which the federal government discloses cyber vulnerabilities.

The bill, which passed in the committee at the end of July by a vote of 14-1, calls for the head of each element of the intelligence community to submit a report to Congress detailing the process and criteria used to determine whether to submit a vulnerability for review under the vulnerabilities equities process.

The vulnerabilities equities process was established by the Obama administration and is a process by which the government discloses certain vulnerabilities discovered by both the public and private sectors in the name of cybersecurity for all. The government retains sets of discovered exploits or vulnerabilities, in some cases zero-day vulnerabilities, as a means of collecting intelligence against certain targets. Legislation has been introduced to codify the vulnerabilities equities process, as it is merely policy.

The reports submitted to Congress as outlined in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bill would be unclassified but may include classified annexes.

Employees continue to pose biggest cyber risk to agency

By: Adam Stone 

The company found that the main threat comes from within.

All government entities surveyed named their own employees as the biggest cyber risk. “The main reason is bad experiences. In 2016, human errors caused security incidents in 57 percent of government entities,” the authors note.

“In addition, 43 percent of organizations admitted they had to investigate security incidents that involved insider misuse,” the authors found. Fourteen percent of all system downtime was found to have been caused by accidental or incorrect user activity.

This aligns with findings in industry, such as SANS’s recently released 2017 Threat Landscape Survey, which names phishing and ransomware as among the top threats. Both these exploits are commonly triggered by employees opening infected attachments or otherwise mishandling emails.

The employee threat is compounded by a lack of sufficient resources. About three-quarters of respondents said their organizations lack dedicated security personnel. As a result, security compliance falls on the shoulders of IT operational teams, the majority of whom say they have not implemented security governance or risk management within their IT infrastructures.



One of my biggest frustrations during my time in the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s cyber policy office was the way elevating U.S. Cyber Command became overhyped. Cyber Command was created as a subordinate command within the military’s premier nuclear deterrence command, U.S. Strategic Command. There were good historical reasons for this, but my analysis convinced me there was nothing Cyber Command could undertake if it became a unified command that it could not already do as a subordinate command. Yet as cyber operations became more prominent, the chorus grew to elevate it to its own, independent command. While I never found reason to oppose such a move, I did not think the benefits were all that remarkable. The more consequential question would be when and how to separate the leadership of Cyber Command from the National Security Agency.

Ultimately, Obama administration officials deferred elevating Cyber Command because they viewed it as linked to this related issue of separating the command from the NSA — because they did not undertake the latter, they passed on the former.

Fear the rise of info-monopolies over America

Summary: New giant info-monopolies arise and feel their strength. Here are tales of that new era in America (unlike Europe, which is already moving to control them), and guesses about how it will end.

We have seen this on TV. You wake up to a new day. You check your Gmail — and find your account is closed, your contacts lost. You turn to your website, hundreds or thousands of articles representing countless hours of work, and find it is gone.

Salil Mehta is a statistician and well-known public intellectual. See his impressive bio. He has been cited in major publications, such as the NYT. But Google closed his email and website (Statistical Ideas) down without notice or explanation. When he submitted an inquiry he got this. “After review, your account is not eligible to be reinstated due to a violation of our Google Terms of Service. We recommend viewing our Google Terms of Service …”

Google’s Disturbing Influence Over Think Tanks


The first thing you see when you walk into the offices of the New America Foundation in Washington is the Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab, a space named after the executive chairman of Google’s parent company. Google, Mr. Schmidt and his family’s foundation are the principal funders of that think tank.

On Wednesday, New America’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, issued a statement saying that Barry Lynn, a pre-eminent scholar there, had been fired for “his repeated refusal to adhere to New America’s standards of openness and institutional collegiality.”

What horrible, dangerous act had Mr. Lynn committed? He wrote a piece for New America’s website in support of the $2.7 billion fine the European Union levied against Google for antitrust violations in June. That post fit perfectly with the work of the Open Markets initiative he lead, which has been one of the strongest voices in Washington calling for more antitrust scrutiny of our economy. It’s the platform Mr. Lynn, Matt Stoller and Lina Khan have used to call for regulatory scrutiny of the tech monopolies like Google, Amazon and Facebook as these companies increasingly come to dominate our economy. But Google’s financial power at New America was apparently such that it could close the group down. Though Ms. Slaughter denies the connection between Google’s funding and her decision, the implication seems clear. A firm whose motto was “Don’t Be Evil” has no interest in being called a monopoly by a think tank it funds.