16 November 2017

To Counter China, India Pushes East

China’s regional expansion in the Asia-Pacific will continue driving India into a security partnership with the United States and Japan as part of its Act East policy.

Barriers to market access will continue limiting the expansion of Indian trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Fiscal and project management impediments will limit progress on India’s two key infrastructure projects in the northeast, thereby limiting its land-based ASEAN trade.

Why America Can't Afford to Continue Waging a War in Afghanistan

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced yesterday that the alliance will send three thousand more troops to Afghanistan in support of Donald Trump’s new strategy to confront the Taliban. NATO’s decision emphasizes the importance of making sure that the United States and its allies have good reason to keep going after such a long, costly and ineffective occupation. As Trump mulled over what he admitted was the difficult decision to remain in Afghanistan, two new arguments for staying the course emerged. Both arguments, unfortunately, are dangerously flawed.

Bangladeshi Hindus: Less Than 5 Per Cent, Very Soon

“‘Below five per cent’ is a huge psychological and physical setback for non-Muslims in an increasingly Islamist country. Once our population falls below 5 per cent, we are doomed. We will have to convert or leave the country.” Last week’s attack on Hindus at Thakurpara in Rangpur in which about 30 houses belonging to Hindus were torched and many more were looted follows a pattern. Islamist mobs, egged on by radical Wahhabi clerics, started burning and looting houses and attacking Hindus and temples after an alleged Facebook post by a Hindu defaming Islam. Investigations have revealed that the rumours about the Facebook post were patently false and spread by hardline Islamist clerics. Last year, too, false rumours about a fake Facebook post triggered widespread attacks on Hindus at Brahmanbaria that left hundreds of families homeless and 15 temples destroyed.

How America and Its Indo-Pacific Allies Will Redefine Regional Security

Even before Trump headed off on his Asian grand tour, the shape of things to come started to emerge. The present administration’s foreign policy will place adequate emphasis on Europe and the Middle East, but America won’t be pivoting away from the Asia-Pacific. Meanwhile, the region presents more challenges than ever. An emerging China is increasingly upsetting the status-quo; North Korea remains as rambunctious as ever, and transnational Islamist terror threats appear ever-present. How the administration manages these problems will go a long way toward determining our status as an Asian power.

Trump and Xi’s Narcissism of Small Differences

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President Donald Trump is returning home from an Asian trip during which the United States and China announced agreements worth over $250 billion. This allows Trump, who built much of his political identity on his supposed negotiating prowess and willingness to stand up to China, to return home triumphantly announcing his success at standing up to China.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this supposed victory is entirely hollow. Most of the largesse comprises ongoing deals or ones unlikely to be executed; even if all of the $250 billion in deals is realized, it will have minimal impact on the structural United States trade deficit and does nothing to address the lack of market access facing foreign firms in China. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping carefully avoided any public discussion of more fundamental issues like market access to China by foreign firms.

These 5 Things Could Challenge China's Rise

Jonathan Ward Reed Simmons

During his presidency, George W. Bush famously asked Hu Jintao, then president of China, what kept him up at night. Hu replied that it was job creation: how would he be sure that he could provide employment for the twenty-five million people entering the workforce every year? Hu’s China was a different era. The “peaceful rise of China” has given way to the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” and, at the 19th Party Congress last month, Xi Jinping unequivocally stated that China will now be “moving closer to center stage.”

China and the CIA Are Competing to Fund Silicon Valley’s AI Startups

The U.S. intelligence community is upping its early-stage investments in machine-learning companies — but Beijing is pouring in far more. 

A trio of new investments in Silicon Valley machine-learning startups shows that the U.S. intelligence community is deeply interested in artificial intelligence. But China is investing even more in these kinds of U.S. companies, and that has experts and intelligence officials worried.

One Belt One Road and East Africa: Beyond Chinese Influence

By: Cobus van Staden

In October the Chinese Communist Party enshrined Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road Initiative” (OBOR) in its constitution. The move again demonstrates how the sweeping plan linking China and Europe via land and sea routes now is at the heart of China’s foreign policy and international development strategy. However, the project is not simply unidirectional. The Belt and Road Forum for Global Development held in Beijing in May gave China an opportunity to both present itself as part of a recently coined global community of countries along the trans-Eurasian route, and as a leader of that community. It offered China a chance to present a China-centered vision of globalization, clad in the rhetoric of mutual development.

Saudi Crown Prince clears a path to the throne

Just two weeks ago, the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh took place to international acclaim. Now, investor interest has turned to intense uncertainty, as power shifts unfold in the Gulf. But despite the short-term risks, Alex Damianou argues that the long term impact should be positive.

The 4th of November was an historic day in Saudi Arabia. King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), demonstrated their continued, almost Machiavellian determination to execute social and economic reforms under Vision 2030. Their goals – to usher in a new area of transformation, consolidate power, and re-assert themselves on the regional battleground towards Iran.

An Information Based Strategy to Reduce North Korea’s Increasing Threat

By Fredrick Vincenzo

The United States’ current approach to North Korea does not fundamentally resolve the risks of its belligerent behavior nor halt the development of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. As these capabilities are improved, there is greater potential that Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea—confident he can deter a regime-threatening reaction—will attempt a violent provocation to achieve political objectives but in doing so miscalculates and instead sparks a crisis which escalates disastrously. While the United States has contingency plans for a wide range of conflict scenarios, executing them would be extraordinarily costly—the military capabilities Pyongyang has now amassed would inflict catastrophic damage.

How Americans Became Vulnerable to Russian Disinformation

ATLANTA – As the United States marks the first anniversary of President Donald Trump’s election, the question of how Trump won still commands attention, with Russia’s role moving increasingly to center stage. Each new revelation in the investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 campaign brings the vulnerability of the US democratic process into sharper focus.

Last week, Congress unveiled legislation that would force Facebook, Google, and other social media giants to disclose who buys online advertising, thereby closing a loophole that Russia exploited during the election. But making amends through technical fixes and public promises to be better corporate citizens will solve only the most publicized problem.

Russia's Economy Is Growing With Borrowed Money

Leonid Bershidsky
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Without any new ideas from a technocratic government constrained by President Vladimir Putin's apparent indifference, the Russian economy is once again relying on consumers, who are borrowing more to buy real estate and imported products. The growth is real, but it's also meager. And it will be hard to sustain without bigger changes. On Monday, Rosstat, Russia's official statistics agency, announced that the country's gross domestic product increased 1.8 percent year-over-year in the quarter than ended in September. That's lower than Bloomberg's consensus forecast of 1.9 percent and slower than the 2.5 percent increase in the previous three months. The oil price jumped 20 percent during the quarter, but the economic statistics won't pick up the related growth until the fourth quarter. So far this year, the Russian consumer deserves most of the credit for the growing economy. After suffering through three tough years -- during which time oil tanked and the ruble devalued sharply -- they are buying things again. Unfortunately, most of the things Russians are buying aren't made in Russia. 

Assessment of U.S. Cyber Command’s Elevation to Unified Combatant Command

Summary: U.S. President Donald Trump instructed the Department of Defense to elevate U.S. Cyber Command to the status of Unified Combatant Command (UCC). Cyber Command as a UCC could determine the operational standards for missions and possibly streamline decision-making. Pending Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ nomination, the Commander of Cyber Command will have the opportunity to alter U.S. posturing in cyberspace.

Mastering Disaster: How Companies Can Help in Rescue and Recovery

Do disaster-hit regions benefit when corporations pitch in on relief efforts? Or can they sometimes crowd-out more productive aid from traditional providers? Looking at a data set that includes more than 74,000 donations by over 34,000 corporations, Wharton management professors Michael Useemand Tyler Wry, and Luis Ballesteros of The George Washington University analyze where corporate contributions can — and cannot — help.


PW Singer

Editor’s note: War Books is a weekly MWI series, in which we ask interesting guests—practitioners, experts, or experienced students of war—to list five books that have shaped the way they understand war, warfare, and strategy. This edition of War Books originally appeared in 2016. The one that started the Horatio Hornblower series, which I love, especially how it follows his changes across the different levels of command, from midshipman to admiral, and yet the same anxieties bedevil him.

U.S. Takes Fight to ISIS on Cyber Battlefield


No terrorist group has capitalized on networked technology more than ISIS, both for recruitment messaging and commanding their fighters on the ground. The internet is their response to asymmetric disadvantage. Where they lack in infrastructure and resources of a state, they use the web to plan attacks, solicit money and reach out to potential members.

Hezbollah’s Drone Program Sets Precedents for Non-State Actors

By: Avery Plaw, Elizabeth Santoro

On the afternoon of September 19, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) launched from an airstrip near the Syrian capital of Damascus flew into the demilitarized zone that separates the Syrian-controlled area of the Golan Heights from that which is controlled by Israel. The Israeli military scrambled jets and launched a patriot missile to intercept what it identified as a Hezbollah drone approaching Israeli airspace. The Patriot missile, its flight accompanied by two Israeli fighter jets, successfully intercepted the drone in the air (Haaretz, September 19). The debris fell inside the demilitarized zone, near the ruins of the Syrian city of Quneitra.

Asian Water Security

Few security risks are becoming as serious and far-reaching as those that fall under the heading of “ecological overshoot”, i.e., the idea that humans are stretching the planet’s resources to the breaking point and even beyond. The growing scarcity of fresh water on a rapidly changing planet is an important example of this phenomenon. An insecure supply of clean water raises the dangers of economic disruption, social tension, and even conflict over water resources at both the domestic and international levels. These dangers are highest where water is scarce and governance (at the domestic or international levels) is poor.


United States ground forces are and will be significantly vulnerable in present and future conflicts due to a dangerous reliance on satellite communication (SATCOM) and a degraded readiness to fight in the face of a growing counter-space and communications electronic warfare (EW) threat. Although SATCOM provides significant advantages over terrestrial communication systems, it carries liabilities for which the U.S. Army is ill-prepared. Coinciding with the Army’s dependence on SATCOM, there is a lethargic institutional response to the unyielding proliferation of EW threats facing terrestrial communications. Although the U.S. military’s overall technological lead over near-peer threats has narrowed, the U.S. Army continues to train and equip as though there is little technological threat to its communication practices and as if SATCOM is guaranteed. This complacency is accompanied by the procurement of high-data communication and mission command systems that deny ground forces both the flexibility and electronic protection that they need to communicate and fight effectively in an environment where both space and the electromagnetic spectrum are contested.

Easy Tips to Service Your Computer

If your computer has become slow and is starting to lag, it’s probably about time you serviced it. You can take it to a computer repair shop, but this will obviously cost you money, and a lot of what they’ll do you could easily do at home yourself. In other words, instead of paying out for pricey malware removal or a computer tune-up, why not simply do it yourself?

This article won’t talk you through how to identify a failing component and repair it by hand. It focuses on the easy fixes – stuff that people still pay hundreds of dollars to have done for them.