7 September 2017

Optimising Ladakh’s strategic advantage

P. Stobdan

The best way to blunt the CPEC is to think about India's own belt- and-road idea. Modi should offer Xi Jinping an alternative energy corridor originating from an Indian port running across Ladakh to China. Why not jointly use the Aksai-Chin highway? J&K needs resetting for it to be advantage India.

THIS government has made a distinct shift in policy to deal with Pakistan. But mending the chronic nature of Kashmir imbroglio needs other steps than just accosting Pakistan. An equally radical step is needed to reset the internal parameters of Jammu and Kashmir. The government can do it. It is time to look at India's internal political statecraft. The initial flawed decision on Kashmir was essentially crafted by Jawaharlal Nehru who had wistful familial links with the Valley. It undercut India in several poignant ways. The faulty statecraft failed to check both China and Pakistan eating into the state's territory. Over 55 per cent of the State's 222, 236 sq. km territory is under the occupation of either China or Pakistan.

Pakistan has, at least, separated Gilgit-Baltistan from 'Azad Kashmir,' realising the sensitivity involved. India's tagging of Ladakh to Jammu and Kashmir underscores its lack of strategy clarity. Why this incapacity? The nation ought to rethink its Jammu and Kashmir policy in a realistic way to ensure that it is in tune with the changed circumstances.

Rigid rules trip Modi's $250 billion plan to modernise India's defence

By N. C. Bipindra

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious $250 billion plan to modernize India’s military is being tripped up by the country’s own best practices.

Rigid rules that forbid single bidders, cap prices and blacklist companies accused of graft -- together with a lengthy trials process and insistence on local manufacturing -- have pushed Modi’s administration to cancel at least $25 billion worth of tenders over the past three years. These include last month’s decision to withdraw an order to buy 44,000 light machine guns despite warnings of a serious shortage of weapons amid a tense eyeball-to-eyeball standoff with Chinese troops.

While the border dispute has since eased, Modi’s army chief warned that such encounters will only increase in the future. A report from India’s expenditure watchdog in July showed that the military lacks enough ammunition to fight an intense war and blamed "tardy progress in procurement."

"The idea of the defense procurement procedures is to ensure that the armed forces are equipped with the best the country can afford. It was never the intention to prevent procurements," said K.V. Kuber, a New Delhi-based independent defense analyst who has served on government panels shaping procurement policies. "By canceling imminent contracts, besides depriving the forces of the military platforms they need, it causes avoidable trust deficit in the industry, both domestic and foreign."

Modi Risks `Trust Deficit' as India Rips Up Arms Contracts

N. C. Bipindra

(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious $250 billion plan to modernize India’s military is being tripped up by the country’s own best practices.

Rigid rules that forbid single bidders, cap prices and blacklist companies accused of graft -- together with a lengthy trials process and insistence on local manufacturing -- have pushed Modi’s administration to cancel at least $25 billion worth of tenders over the past three years. These include last month’s decision to withdraw an order to buy 44,000 light machine guns despite warnings of a serious shortage of weapons amid a tense eyeball-to-eyeball standoff with Chinese troops.

While the border dispute has since eased, Modi’s army chief warned that such encounters will only increase in the future. A report from India’s expenditure watchdog in July showed that the military lacks enough ammunition to fight an intense war and blamed "tardy progress in procurement."

"The idea of the defense procurement procedures is to ensure that the armed forces are equipped with the best the country can afford. It was never the intention to prevent procurements," said K.V. Kuber, a New Delhi-based independent defense analyst who has served on government panels shaping procurement policies. "By canceling imminent contracts, besides depriving the forces of the military platforms they need, it causes avoidable trust deficit in the industry, both domestic and foreign."

Exclusive: Pakistan builds new tunneled nuclear weapons storage facility in Baluchistan


An overview of the new nuclear facility | Source: @rajfortyseven

The new facility in Baluchistan can store 30-60 Shaheen-III missiles, will bring India and even Israel into target range.

In continued efforts to safeguard its nuclear first-strike capability, Pakistan is building an underground facility in the restive Baluchistan region that is likely to be used to deploy its Shaheen series of nuclear-tipped missiles, bringing the entire Indian mainland, and even Israel, into its target range.

Information accessed by ThePrint shows that the new facility is coming up in an earthquake prone zone deep in the mountains of Baluchistan. Pakistan’s FWO or Frontier Works Organisation, akin to India’s BRO or Border Roads Organisation, has built at least three sites.

The U.S. deep state recklessly edging its way towards balkanization of Pakistan

If we are looking for the unabashed bottom line of the latest version of the U.S. strategy on Afghanistan, or shall we say an outline of the next episode of the New World Order drama, in its most succinct form, the following words of Trump’s elaborate discourse delivered on August 21, 2017 would suffice: “Our troops will fight to win.”

Not to mention the cost of spreading this war across the border into Pakistan as overtly as both Trump and Nicholson have alluded to could bear serious consequences for US

“We will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge… Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on.”

BRICS lists Pak-based JeM, LeT as global terror groups

Atul Aneja

The grouping expressed concern over the security situation in the region

The Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping of the five emerging economies has unequivocally named the Pakistan based groups Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as terror organisations, removing a key irritant in ties between New Delhi and Beijing and stepping up the fight against global extremism.

A Joint communiqué released at the BRICS summit on Monday expressed concern about the regional security situation and listed Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al-Qaida and its affiliates including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP and Hizb ut-Tahrir as sources of violence.

Asked if the declaration will advance the effort to impose a UN ban on Masood Azhar, as an international terrorist, Priti Saran, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs said: “The declaration has been endorsed by all the BRICS leaders, so obviously it has the approval and endorsement of all the countries.”

Part II: The Case Against Involvement in Afghanistan

By Daniel Byman

The case for involvement prioritizes future risk; the case against involvement focuses on the considerable cost of past U.S. efforts and the seeming futility of attempts to improve the situation.

The United States has been at war in Afghanistan for almost 16 years. And before the United States intervened, the country suffered a civil war for the better part of 25 years. Clearly, something is deeply wrong. We can postpone defeat, perhaps, or at least slow the Taliban’s momentum, but this history suggests that a complete victory is not in the cards.

The United States has lost more than 2,400 soldiers and Marines–and spent a trillion dollars–during its intervention in Afghanistan. U.S. allies have lost more than 1,000 of their forces. Afghan casualties dwarf these: In 2016, almost 7,000 Afghan soldiers and police died. Since 2009, more than 25,000 Afghan civilians have died, and this year may mark the highest annual death toll yet. Not surprisingly, Afghans feel insecure, which often leads them to work with the Taliban out of fear. In 2006, 40 percent of Afghans feared for their or their families' safety; in 2016, this figure reached 70 percent.

The human cost would be less painful if the United States and the Afghan government were on a path to victory, but this is not the case. Instead, the Taliban are ascendant. Although the group lost many forces, it can recruit new ones and has perhaps 30,000 men under arms. At the end of 2016, the Afghan government controlled only 57 percent of its territory, a dramatic downturn since 2015. (On the bright side, however, the Afghan government controls or influences almost two-thirds of the population because it dominates Afghan cities.) Although the Taliban mostly control remote areas, the Taliban and groups like ISKP can strike in Kabul and other areas of government control, terrorizing the populations across the country.

Myanmar-The Rohingya Conundrum: Regional Implications:

By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan

On the night of 24th August, Rohingyan militants staged a coordinated attack on 30 Police posts that cover more than 24 villages around Maungdaw. They also tried unsuccessfully to storm an Army Base. The attackers held only a few small arms, machetes and home made explosive bombs but no sophisticated weapons.

Ten Policemen were killed in the attack, most of them brutally hacked with sharp weapons. One Army soldier was killed in the attempt on the Army camp. In all, over 110 have been killed that included 21 of the intruders and another 38 suspected militants. One militant was reportedly captured. Operations against the Rohingyan militants are continuing resulting in the exodus of over 40,000 civilians. This was to be expected.

This attack was similar to the one staged on October 9 last year by the same group when they made coordinated attacks on three border Police posts resulting in the death of over 9 Policemen. In the resulting Army operations last year some 87000 Rohingyas were said to have fled northern Rakhine state.

Doklam issue: China’s Xi Jinping has a PLA problem

Brahma Chellaney 

The Doklam debate has missed one key element: The mutual withdrawal deal was clinched just after Chinese President Xi Jinping replaced the chief of the People Liberation Army’s (PLA) joint staff department. This topmost position – equivalent to the chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff – was created only last year as part of Xi’s military reforms to turn the PLA into a force “able to fight and win wars”.

The Doklam pullbacks suggest that the removed chief, General Fang Fenghui, was an obstacle to clinching a deal with India and probably was responsible for precipitating the standoff in the first place. Fang was fired just days after he hosted America’s highest-ranking military officer, General Joseph Dunford.

To be sure, this was not the first time that PLA belligerence in the Himalayas imposed diplomatic costs on China. A classic case was what happened when Chinese President Xi Jinping reached India on a state visit in September 2014. Xi arrived on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday with a strange gift for his host — a predawn Chinese military encroachment deep into Ladakh. The encroachment, the worst in many years in terms of the number of intruding troops, overshadowed Xi’s visit.

It is bizarre that the PLA would seek to mar in this manner the visit of its own head of state to a key neighbouring country. Yet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s earlier visit to New Delhi in 2013 was similarly preceded by a 19-km PLA incursion into another part of Ladakh that lasted three weeks.

From Doklam to Tibet

by Dr. Parasaran Rangarajan

As the Doklam standoff ended last week, observers were left wondering what the legal circumstances of the situation is, including the international legal status of Tibet. Even the large online Wikipedia encyclopedia added a section titled “Tibetan sovereignty debate” which was last edited on August 27th, 2017.[1]

Sources in the U.S. government expressed their concern for the sovereignty of Bhutan and called on all sides to respect international law.[2]

Several issues are addressed in this paper:
Legality of India’s presence in the Doklam Plateau. 
China’s offer to renegotiate the 1890 Convention. 
Tibet’s legal status. 

Legality of India’s Presence in the Doklam Plateau

As per Article II of the Indo-Bhutanese Friendship Treaty (2007)[3]; “Neither Government shall allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the national security and interest of the other.”

Bhutan considers the Doklam Plateau to be part of its nation. Therefore, the presence of Indian troops in the area with the consent of the Royal Government of Bhutan is legal and does not compromise Bhutan’s sovereignty.

How China Can Really Help on North Korea

Michael Auslin

If Xi Jinping is serious about helping curb North Korea he will join the Trump Administration in a new policy of deterrence and containment.

China has condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear test, one Pyongyang claims was a hydrogen bomb and which may have exceeded by five or six times the size of its last detonation, in September 2016. Yet Beijing predictably followed its condemnation with a call to return to diplomatic talks as the only way to defuse the crisis. If Xi Jinping is serious about helping curb North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, he will drop the idea of new negotiations, and instead join the Trump Administration in a new policy of deterrence and containment.

The first step in this process is for the United States similarly to drop its long-held goal of “complete, irreversible and verifiable denuclearization,” as most recently outlined by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in the Wall Street Journal. The Trump administration should not make the mistake of thinking we are in 1994 or 2005, and that negotiations, no matter how unlikely, have an actual chance of succeeding.

A deadly proxy war

Hasan Suroor

WHILE the world is preoccupied with Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, a deadly and open-ended war is grinding on in Yemen where Saudi Arabia and its allies are engaged in a cynical proxy war with Iran. The Shia-Sunni divide in the region couldn’t get uglier than this. More than two years after a Saudi-led coalition invaded Yemen to restore its president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was toppled by Iran-backed Shia Houthi rebels, there’s no settlement in sight. Hadi, who sought refuge in Saudi Arabia, has since returned to Yemen but his government’s writ barely runs. Nor, despite the daily bombings and a crippling naval blockade have pro-Hadi forces succeeded in dislodging the Houthis from their northern strongholds. Even the capital Sana’a remains under Houthi control forcing the government to pitch its tent in Aden. 

Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis caused by two years of fighting is steadily deteriorating. Persistent and heavy bombardment, frequently killing innocent civilians, has reduced the country’s infrastructure — whatever little there was — to a rubble and there’s no such thing as a functioning economy left. Up to an estimated 10,000 people have been killed, three million displaced and thousands are dying of malnutrition caused by food shortages. An outbreak of cholera epidemic has claimed hundreds of lives and it’s spreading because of poor medical facilities (mostly makeshift and poorly-equipped clinics) and severe shortage of medicines. Children have been the hardest hit.

Malaysia’s Reckoning With the Islamic State

By Cristina Maza

With ISIS being pushed out of Iraq and Syria, is Malaysia ready? 

In Malaysia’s bustling capital Kuala Lumpur, with its towering steel and glass skyscrapers and sleek, modern rail and highway networks, the call to prayer rings out from a mosque on a quiet side street just several doors down from a Hindu temple.

With a population of around 1.6 million, much of which is employed in the finance and real estate sectors, Kuala Lumpur is the heart of a country that has embraced shopping malls and almost entirely eradicated poverty. Malaysia’s mix of ethnic Malay, Chinese, and Indian residents – Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus respectively – all work and worship on the same streets, allowing the country of 31 million inhabitants to be upheld as a symbol of cosmopolitan multiculturalism and tolerance.

But simultaneously, the world’s most regressive and ultra-conservative Sunni Muslim group is increasingly targeting this majority-Muslim nation. As U.S.-allied forces drove extremists from the Islamic State (ISIS) out of major parts of their self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq, the militants ramped up their efforts in Southeast Asia and declared Malaysia a part of their dominion. Most recently, the extremist group named Malaysia’s anti-terror chief, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, one of its main targets, calling on its adherents to “awake now and finish off Ayob Khan,” according to social media messages and media reports.

An ISIS-Al Qaeda Merger?

Some reports indicate (or claim) that ISIS and Al Qaeda are discussing a merger.[1] Since the discussions have supposedly been between representatives of “Caliph” al-Baghdadi of ISIS and al Qaeda Central (AQC) head Ayman al-Zawahiri, in the interest of caution we should assume that the discussions are not just about a reconciliation in Syria and Iraq but about a global merger.

If such a reconciliation were to somehow take place, it would obviously be very bad news for the rest of us. It would risk combining the ultraviolence, media savvy and worldwide mobilization of jihadis (including both its efforts to build international terrorist networks, especially in Europe, and its ability to mobilize free-lance terrorists) demonstrated by ISIS with the deliberate planning endorsed by AQC and practiced by various branches of al Qaeda.

However, we should regard such reports with skepticism. The first reason is timing.

At present, neither side is really in a position to impose terms—if either could have done so they would have done it before now. At first glance, this might look like a situation where negotiation would be worthwhile. However, AQC actually has little reason to negotiate, since it is actually in an overall position where it can afford to wait. ISIS, currently in retreat in its core area in Syria and Iraq, is dealing from a position of weakness that can be expected to get weaker over time. Self-proclaimed “Caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi claimed his position as caliph by right of conquest.[2] What will happen to that claim when those conquests are gone, and the ISIS statelet has clearly been lost? ISIS will only be able to spin defeat for so long before it is obviously double talk for having lost.[3] This being the case, why should AQC negotiate at all, unless AQC is exploring the possibility of an ISIS surrender or positioning itself to absorb ISIS assets as the organization is overrun.

ISIS After The Caliphate

by Andrew Byers and Tara Mooney

The defeat of ISIS in the Iraqi city of Mosul and its increasingly tenuous grip on its capital in Raqqa, Syria, demonstrates that the group can, and will, be physically defeated. In early July Iraqi security forces reported that they had broken through ISIS’ last line of defenses in Mosul, leaving ISIS in control of a strip of land along the Tigris River measuring only an eighth of a mile.[i] In desperation ISIS even allowed women into battle as a way to slow Coalition advances. Female militants reportedly fired upon Iraqi forces with their children at their sides as human shields, thus preventing the use of air strikes to hasten ISIS’ final push from the city. Although ISIS will likely maintain guerrilla warfare against the people of Mosul, it is no longer able to boast that it controls Iraq’s second-largest city.

ISIS’ problems are larger than its defeat in Mosul. ISIS has already lost more than two-thirds of the territory it once held in Iraq and almost half of its Syrian territory. While the exact timeline and cost for physically defeating ISIS remains unclear, it is reasonable to assume that ISIS will lose control of its “caliphate” during the next year.

Why didn’t the US shoot down North Korea’s missile? Maybe it couldn’t

Joshua Pollack

Perhaps no aspect of national defence is as poorly understood as ballistic missile defence. After North Korea’s shot over Japan last week with an intermediate-range ballistic missile, many people wanted to know why it wasn’t shot down. The answers may be disappointing – but hopefully they will also be enlightening.

Focus on missile defence capabilities will only increase after Pyongyang’s claims on Sunday that it had tested a hydrogen bomb that can be loaded on to an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The first and most fundamental issue to understand is that developing and operating ballistic missile defence, or BMD, is an extremely challenging undertaking. Some are better than others, but the resulting systems are inherently limited in their capabilities and roles.

Perhaps the most attractive sort of defences simply do not exist today, and quite probably never will. So-called boost-phase systems are designed to stop ballistic missiles early in flight, while their engines are still firing and they are ascending into the upper atmosphere and beyond. At times, the US has contemplated a global network of boost-phase interceptors that would whirl around the planet in low-Earth orbit, but the complexity and the economics of the idea are forbidding.

Solutions Remain Elusive for Solving the Problems at India’s Public Sector Banks

By Aswin Mannepalli

Bank sector consolidation could address India’s non-performing loan crisis, but political realities make resolution uncertain. 

Many Indian government-owned enterprises remain chronically unprofitable and laden with debt. As pressure mounts on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deliver on his reform mandate, the government is presenting plans to privatize or consolidate state-owned enterprises across the economy – including in banking.

The country’s banks (both private and public) lent extensively over the past decade betting on a sustained global economic recovery. Even though the Indian economy grew at 7.1 percent in 2016-17, looser lending criteria have saddled bank portfolios with non-performing loans.

S. Vishwanathan, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), called the issue a “major challenge” and noted that the stability of the banking system worsened over the past year due to lower profitability and deteriorating asset quality. Eighty percent of the bad loans in the system have been made by publicly-owned banks.

Moody’s estimates that $14.3 Billion (₹95,000 crore) in equity capital will be needed to stabilize the banking system. As a signatory of the Basel III accord, Indian banks will also have to meet higher capital reserve requirements starting in 2019. So far, the government has budgeted only a fraction of this amount (₹10,000 crore) in 2018 and 2019 as part of its Indradhanush plan to address the shortfall.

Welcome to the H-Bomb Club, North Korea

By Ankit Panda and Vipin Narang

North Korea’s pursuit of a thermonuclear weapon comports perfectly with its nuclear strategy. 

After months of anticipation, it finally happened. On Sunday morning, September 3, at precisely noon local time, North Korea detonated its sixth nuclear device ever to test a presumably new thermonuclear bomb design. The explosion generated an earthquake that was felt across the border in China and suggested a total explosive yield on the order of hundreds of kilotons, or ten times greater than the weapon the United States dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945 — and likely similarly an order of magnitude greater than North Korea’s fifth nuclear test almost exactly a year ago.

What exactly did North Korea achieve with this test? In its state media, North Korea claimed the new device was an advanced nuclear bomb design ready for use with its Hwasong-14/KN20 intercontinental-range ballistic missile — the missile it first tested on July 4 this year — which can likely reach parts of, if not most of, the continental United States. If North Korea’s new bomb design appears as capable as initial impressions suggest, and its claim of missile-readiness are unexaggerated, North Korea has unquestionably attained what it sees as the capabilities necessary to deter the United States from a military attack against its leadership and territory.

For the doubters, North Korea released a highly specific technical statement through its state-run Korean Central News Agency meant to signal specific knowledge of thermonuclear bomb design — specifically, what is known as a two-stage Teller-Ulam bomb. The accomplishment, if verified, would be no small feat. Many new nuclear powers struggle to achieve this design capability quickly if at all, including India and Pakistan more than 20 years after their first tests in 1998. France took over 8 years, achieving this destructive capability in 1968. North Korea may have gotten there in a little over 10 years — which is quite impressive given the noose around the country and its program.

U.S. Army unprepared to deal with Russia in Europe


A self-assessment by the 173rd Airborne Brigade is called ‘a real eye-opener’ to how some critical capabilities to deter Russia have eroded.

The U.S. Army’s rapid reaction force in Europe is underequipped, undermanned and inadequately organized to confront military aggression from Russia or its high-tech proxies, according to an internal study that some who have read it view as a wake-up call as the Trump administration seeks to deter an emboldened Vladimir Putin.

The Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade, a bulwark of the NATO alliance that has spent much of the past decade and a half rotating in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan, lacks “essential capabilities needed to accomplish its mission effectively and with decisive speed,” according to the analysis by the brigade, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO.

When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, the unit's paratroopers were the first American troops to reach the Baltic states to deter another potential incursion on NATO’s eastern flank.

But the assessment details a series of “capability gaps” the unit has identified during recent training with Ukrainian troops with experience battling Russian-backed separatists, who have used cheap drones and electronic warfare tools to pinpoint targets for artillery barrages and devastated government armored vehicles with state-of-the-art Russian antitank missiles.

EU Defense Is Not Just for Diplomats

By Daniel Keohane

Since the 2016 British vote to leave the EU, European governments have agreed on a number of new initiatives to improve their military cooperation. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in June 2017 that the EU had “moved more in 10 months than in the last 10 years.” European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen went even further, claiming that Europeans had made more progress on defense issues in six months than in the previous sixty years.

These statements are exaggerations. But, Brussels bluster aside, the EU has recently agreed on some useful ideas to improve European military cooperation. They cover a range of activities, from funding for military research to better planning for EU operations, which could add real value to European military efforts.

To ensure that these plans do add value, they will require much more buy-in from national defense ministries. There is a structural quirk at the core of current EU decisionmaking: national foreign ministries, not defense ministries, lead EU military cooperation efforts. This reduces the incentives for defense ministries to embrace EU plans, which include sound but challenging ideas like coordinating national defense planning cycles.

What Causes Wars? Religion? Oil? The REAL REASON Will Shake Your Beliefs

Was the Syrian civil war partly caused by climate change? In an interview with Sky News on November 23, Britain’s Prince Charles made headlines when he informed listeners of a direct link between climate change and the ongoing civil war in Syria. 

“There is very good evidence indeed that one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria was a drought that lasted for about five or six years,” he told Sky News, adding that climate change is having a “huge impact” on conflict and terrorism. Before him, United States President Barack Obama, Al Gore, and the democratic presidential hopefuls Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, had linked climate change to the Syrian conflict.

Have you ever wondered why most of the wars and conflicts between and with countries are now being linked to human-induced climate change or against the Earth? Does religion, politics or oil have nothing to do with wars? 

The National Geographic Channel’s 2007 documentary Six Degrees Could Change the World, explained that at 2 degrees Celsius warmer, urban Bolivians will move into rural areas in search of water; at 4 degrees hotter, we are set to experience worldwide political upheaval, economic disaster, and armed conflict as heat-weary migrants seek climate refuge in places like Northern Europe and New Zealand.

There's No Need to Panic Over the Mexico Travel Warning

By Scott Stewart

Travelers who keep an eye on U.S. State Department warnings may know by now that the department has issued cautions for the Mexican states of Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur. The addition of those states to the government's periodic updates of travel dangers caused a significant stir, largely because they are the homes to two of Mexico's most popular resorts: Cancun and Cabo San Lucas.
It is not surprising that these states were included in the warning, which was issued Aug. 22. As Mexico's powerful drug cartels have splintered, a spiral of crime and violence has enveloped all parts of the country, to include its storied resorts. However, I believe that by understanding what drives the violence, and the types of the incidents that result, companies operating in Mexico and travelers to the country can avoid most of it.


As Washington policymakers seek a new strategic course, we believe there is a growing danger that U.S. national security strategy will focus too much on the conventional aspects of great and regional power competition, neglecting the importance of competition short of armed conflict. Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran all pose both conventional and unconventional threats. Sub-state actors can also pose direct dangers, as the Islamic State has set a new standard for lethality and reach.

The central challenge is that today’s turbulent world does not allow a single strategic focus. Unlike earlier bipolar and unipolar moments in world history, today the United States faces three distinct but significantly interrelated defense and security challenges:

Renewed competition with great powers, particularly Russia and China. This competition will likely center on the nature of the international order. Russia and China embrace some aspects of the current order but nonetheless seek to alter it significantly through force, coercion, and influence operations.

The secret weapon that helps Indian Army nab terrorists: Data Analytics

There are over 200 plus data analytics firms in India, some of the major players include Mu Sigma, Manthan, Brillio, Fractal Analytics, Cartesian Consulting, among others.

Do the Indian forces patrolling the border know when and where terrorists are likely to cross over into Indian soil? The answer, surprisingly, is rather precise. The next incursion is likely to happen in the wee hours of the morning – around 2 am – about eleven or twelve days after a herd of cattle meanders close to the border.

Sounds unbelievable, right? But that’s precisely the kind of insight that Indian defense forces and policeare getting to crack down on everything from minor riots to armed militants crossing the border – all thanks to a bunch of data analytics organizations. "We have more than 20 terabytes of data on the border movement which earlier used to be recorded in physical log books of soldiers. These include thermal images, instances of people going near the fence from across the border, activity at late night etc,” says 26-year old Tushar Chhabra, co-founder of Gurgaon-based driverless truck company Cron systems, which helps the army in predicting border infiltration patterns.


By J. Overton

A snowstorm hits the coastal city of a near-peer competitor. That country’s largest naval shipyard, housed in this city, communicates via its own web site and through the local commercial media that all non- essential navy personnel should stay home until further notice. It also releases notice that a ship homecoming, due to happen the next day, will be postponed until the weather improves.

That evening, fire breaks out on a dry-docked submarine in that shipyard. The minimal staff on-site fails to notice or report the fire until the next morning. By then, the submarine and dry dock have suffered massive and horrendously expensive damage.

That morning, packages and envelopes are delivered to facilities at each of the other major naval bases in the country, all containing white powder and threatening notes. Due to an abundance of caution, the buildings in which these packages were opened evacuated, locked down until a thorough test of the substances can be done. Backpacks and unattended bags found near the entrances to the bases cause further alarm, and all of the country’s naval bases are put on reduced manning until the suspicious packages are investigated. Bomb threats call in to every coastal base at noon that day and prompt further panic, and a decision is made to get all ships that can underway.

The Impossible Quest for Absolute Security

By Richard Weitz

Demands for perfect security by one nation, without regard for others, heighten anxiety and prompt unnecessary weapons buildup

The G20 summit in Hamburg, the Russian-Chinese presidential meeting, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization leadership summit underline new concerns driving such public gatherings of world leaders. Among the major obstacles to great power cooperation that preoccupy leaders is how they perceive one another as selfishly advancing their individual national security heedless of others’ concerns.

At the G20 summit, some delegates criticized the US policy of putting American economic interests first above the need for global cooperation to limit climate change or to sustain international free trade. German Chancellor Angela Merkel openly said that Europeans would have to assume the mantle of climate change leadership from what she depicts as a security-selfish US.

This security dilemma impeding great power cooperation is also evident in how the presidents of China and Russia approached North Korea’s latest missile tests, an action underpinned by Pyongyang’s own quest for absolute security from US military threats by acquiring a nuclear deterrent. At their July 4 presidential summit in Moscow, China and Russia urged Pyongyang to suspend missile testing in return for a US–South Korean freeze on major military activities, which the US rejected as a Chinese-Russian attempt to exploit the North Korean threat to weaken the US–South Korean alliance.

Could America's F-22, F-35, and B-2 Stealth Aircraft Crush North Korea in a War?

Dave Majumdar

In the event a war were to break out on the Korean peninsula, American airpower would play a key role.

Initially, the burden would likely fall to the Pentagon’s fleet of stealth aircraftincluding the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.

The U.S. Navy, too, would likely have to play a role using its surface warships and submarines to launch waves of Tomahawk cruise missiles to target North Korean air defenses and command and control assets. However, American forces would have to move quickly to take out North Korea’s retaliatory strike capability—both its nuclear forces and its conventional artillery forces that could lay waste to Seoul.

That’s ultimately the problem for American military planners during any potential pre-emptive strike against North Korea. How does one eliminate Pyongyang’s nuclear forces without risking a retaliatory strike that would leave thousands of South Korean and Japanese civilians dead? Indeed, if some of the worst case scenarios play out, North Korea could potentially even strike back at the American homeland with an nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile.

If the Trump administration were to strike at North Korea, stealth aircraft like the F-35 would have to eliminate North Korean air defenses quickly. Pyongyang does not have the most modern of air defense systems—the threat mostly comes from the sheer volume of older Soviet-built systems it has available to it.

Google Builds China Workforce to Develop Artificial Intelligence

By Alyssa Abkowitz

Alphabet unit is seeking engineers to fill jobs related to AI, cloud computing in country seen as having certain advantages over U.S.

Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL -1.10% Google is ramping up its presence in China, hiring engineers to specialize in one of technology’s hottest corners: artificial intelligence.

The Silicon Valley behemoth has recently posted at least four AI-related jobs on its career site in Beijing, including a technical lead to develop a team to work on natural language processing, data compression and other machine learning technologies. Two of the jobs are related to machine learning in Google’s cloud-computing operation.

Google Cloud currently doesn’t operate in China. The company would need a local partner and special licenses to establish the business here.

Broadly defined, AI involves computers that learn from the information they process. China, with hundreds of millions of people connected to the internet and few qualms about privacy, is seen as having advantages over the U.S. as a place to advance parts of the technology.

Assessment of Cryptocurrencies and Their Potential for Criminal Use

By The Viking Cop

Summary: Cryptocurrencies are a new technology-driven virtual currency that has existed since late 2009. Due to the anonymous or near-anonymous nature of their design they are useful to criminal organizations. It is vital for law enforcement organizations and regulators to know the basics about how cryptocurrencies work as their use by criminal organizations is likely to continue.

Text: Cryptocurrencies are a group of virtual currencies that relay on a peer-to-peer system disconnected from a central issuing authority that allows users an anonymous or near-anonymous method to conduct transactions[1][2].

Bitcoin, Ethereum, LiteCoin, and DogeCoin are among 820 currently existing cryptocurrencies that have a combined market capitalization of over ninety billion U.S. Dollars at the time of this assessment[3][4].

The majority of cryptocurrencies run off a system design created by an unknown individual or group of individuals published under the name Satoshi Nakamoto[2]. This system relies on a decentralized public ledger system, conceptualized by Nakamoto in a whitepaper published in October of 2008, which would later become widely known as “Blockchain.”

How to Become Insanely Well-Connected

Fall 1996. A young Chris Fralic is selling software for Oracle. He’s not sure what he wants to do next, but he’s always been curious about venture capital. And then some unusual magic happens — a friend offers to introduce him to Kevin Compton, a vaunted name in VC. To his surprise, they talk on the phone for over an hour, and Fralic not only walks away with a comprehensive download on the industry, but a thesis on networking he’s adhered to ever since: The best way to be highly influential is to be human to everyone you meet. 

Fast forward to today, Fralic is a successful VC himself, responsible for First Round’s investments in Warby Parker, Roblox, HotelTonight and Adaptly among others. When asked what’s made his career possible, he’ll tell you outright it’s the relationships — built deliberately over many years. This might sound like a common response, but among his peers, he’s acknowledged to be a world-class super-connector with rarefied expertise. Known for helping launch the famed TEDTalks (this is his 24th year attending TED), and a landmark Forbes piece on nailing email introductions, Fralic still responds thoughtfully to over 10,000 emails every year. 

In this piece, he unpacks the strategies that have earned him this reputation — including how to become a genuine and highly-connective networker, how to propel your career forward with each interaction (while doing the same for others), do’s and don’ts for getting responses from influencers in your industry, and how to regularly measure your performance in this area so it becomes a competitive advantage.