4 December 2017

When Does a Geographic Space Become a Geostrategic Community?

By Robert Farley

The term “Indo-Pacific” has become an analytical hot potato. U.S. strategists and political leaders (including then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) have increasingly used the term to describe the set of strategic relationships that structure behavior in from the Eastern Indian Ocean into the Western Pacific. The term effectively puts China, India, Japan, Australia, and the United States is the same geostrategic orbit, a move which would seem to work to the benefit of the United States.

Responding to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor challenge

Harsh V. Pant

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been attracting a lot of attention lately and for all the wrong reasons. Pakistan has reportedly rejected China’s offer of assistance for the $14 billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam, asking Beijing to take the project out of the $60 billion CPEC so that Pakistan can build the dam on its own. Because the project was in a disputed territory, the Asian Development Bank had refused to finance it. So China was keen to step in but Pakistan realized that the tough conditions being imposed by Beijing pertaining to the ownership of the project, operation and maintenance costs, and security of the dam would make the project politically and economically untenable. It gravitated, therefore, towards self-financing.



On May 1, 1960, an American spy plane — having taken off from an airbase in Pakistan — was downed over Soviet skies, sparking a major Cold War crisis. As tensions grew, the prominent public intellectual Norman Cousins, a friend of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, invited a group of private American and Russian citizens to a meeting at Dartmouth College to discuss ways forward. This gathering, according to a 2011 Foreign Policy essay by Charles Homans, established a new form of diplomacy, known as Track II: discussions between nongovernment interlocutors meant to build trust and pursue cooperation during trying times for relations between countries. Track II dialogues have become a popular way for experts and former practitioners to try to lay the groundwork for smoother exchanges on official levels.

Why German Companies Are Threatening to Retreat From China

By Charlotte Gao

On November 24, the Delegations of German Industry and Commerce in China (AHK China) – which represents the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce in China – issued a strong statement threatening to pull out of Chinese market if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues its attempt to interfere with foreign companies’ internal business. The statement said that the Delegations have received reports about attempts by the CCP to strengthen its influence in wholly foreign-owned German companies in China.

Malhama Tactical Threatens to Put China in its Crosshairs

By: Alessandro Arduino, Nodirbek Soliev

In early August 2017, Malhama Tactical, an unusual militant group operating in Syria and sometimes labelled the “Blackwater of jihad,” issued a statement in which it hinted at a planned expansion into China and alluded to the experiences of China’s Uighur population in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang. The message is a departure from the group’s previous statements, which have been aimed at the Syrian government and its allies — Russia and Iran. It is likely only rhetoric, as the Malhama Tactical’s operations have so far been confined to the Syrian conflict, where its battle-hardened Chechen fighters have turned the training of young jihadists into a profitable business.

China’s Rising Coal Use Defies Forecasts – Analysis

By Michael Lelyveld

China is gradually transforming its economy and patterns of energy consumption, but it may be decades before citizens see dramatic improvements in air quality, according to a recent report. The finding this month by the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) came as an international group of climate scientists blamed an increase in China’s coal consumption for the first big rise in global greenhouse gas emissions since 2013. The warning from the Global Carbon Project of a two-percent jump in 2017 emissions coincided with the IEA’s release of its long-range energy forecast and its first in-depth China analysis in the past 10 years.

The Four Faces Of China In Central And Eastern Europe – Analysis

By Michał Roman*

An American, a German, and a Chinese gentleman walk into a bar in Prague. The first two order a beer, and the bartender then turns to the Chinese man to ask, “What can I get you?” He simply replies, “The accounts please, I own the place.” FDI competition? Europe remains the leading source of FDI for Poland, the largest economy in the Central and Eastern European region, though China promises more (Sources: National Bank of Poland, Ministry of Development, Polish Investment and Trade Agency)

There Have to Be Consequences For China

By Joseph Bosco

Pyongyang’s latest and most powerful missile test demonstrates that China has not delivered on North Korea, as Beijing apparently promised U.S. President Donald Trump it would. Instead, it continues to deliver for North Korea, ignoring or undermining the very sanctions it voted for in the U.N. Security Council. While some Chinese banks have cut ties with North Korean entities, plenty of illicit channels of trade and investment are allowed to provide ongoing life support to the regime. More important, Beijing continues to make clear to Washington, Pyongyang, and the world what its own geostrategic priorities are.

What Cyber Command learned from ISIS operations

By: Mark Pomerleau

When Ash Carter, then the secretary of defense, tasked Cyber Command to turn its skill set against the Islamic State group, it was billed as the young command’s first true test. Since then, Cyber Command leaders learned how to better employ cyber capabilities, Brig. Gen. Timothy Haugh, director of intelligence at Cyber Command, said during a panel at CyberCon hosted by Federal Times in Arlington, Va., Nov. 28.

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.

High-Technology Set to Dominate Russia’s Rearmament Program

By: Roger McDermott

Russia’s General Staff has stated that the active phase of its involvement in combat operations in Syria is drawing to a close, without any hint that this might involve withdrawing its forces or even entirely ceasing to conduct airstrikes. The complexity of the emerging post-conflict settlement, from Moscow’s perspective is further complicated by a growing anti-Iran coalition, which may well prove more challenging for the future security of the Middle East than the Kremlin’s largely successful effort to prop up the regime in Damascus (see EDM, November 27). 

No Exit for Saudi Arabia: The Kingdom’s War in Yemen

By: Michael Horton

It has been more than two and half years since Saudi Arabia began its war in Yemen. The campaign named “Operation Decisive Storm” was supposed to be a short, sharp operation to defeat — or at least cow — Yemen’s Houthi rebels and reinstall its government in exile, but it has failed to achieve either of these objectives. Yemen’s impotent and largely discredited government continues its exile in Saudi Arabia, while the Houthis and their allies have retained control of northwest Yemen. The Saudi-led war has succeeded only in devastating a nation of 26 million and greatly empowering al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which wields growing influence in southern Yemen. Ironically, the Saudi-led war is the glue that keeps the alliance between the Houthis and their former enemy, Yemen’s ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, together.

Monkey Cage Analysis Why moderate Muslims come to support extremist groups

By Barbara F. Walter

Discarded shoes of victims remain Saturday outside al-Rawda mosque in Bir al-Abd in northern Sinai, Egypt, a day after attackers killed hundreds of worshipers. The assault was Egypt’s deadliest attack by Islamic extremists in the country’s modern history, a grim milestone in a long-running fight against an insurgency led by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group. Why do some extremist groups, such as the one that attacked Egypt’s al-Rawda mosque, thrive in today’s civil wars in ways that moderate groups have not? In 2016, Salafi-jihadist groups accounted for most of the major militant groups in Syria, half of all such groups in Somalia and a third of Iraq’s militant groups. 

How Cyber Gray-Ops Became the New Norm in the Middle East

Cyber-enabled information operations in the Gulf, such as the one that seemingly spurred the ongoing feud between Qatar and its neighbors, represent the gray line between open conflict and backchannel disagreements that have proven difficult to respond to, according to experts who spoke at an event Wednesday co-hosted by The Cipher Brief and the Qatar-America Institute. Influence operations are an age-old tactic, but coupled with digital technology, they can uniquely lend privileged access to key communities, plausible deniability and a global audience. 

Iranian, Hezbollah, and Yemeni Missile Threat

By Anthony H. Cordesman

No one can discount the threat of nuclear war, even when the threat is still materializing and remains far lower than some media reports would indicate. At the same time, it makes little sense to define the nuclear threat simply in terms of the range of ballistic missiles and the reliability of their reentry vehicles without considering all of the factors that shape the real-world effectiveness of such weapons, and why and how they might actually be used. Worse, it makes even less sense to focus on nuclear exchanges without regard to the broader strategic context in which such exchanges might take place.

Jumping the Nuclear "Gun"

Russia Introduces EW Spetsnaz to Western Military District

By: Sergey Sukhankin

Russian authorities have created the first specialized Electronic Warfare (EW) unit tasked with countering unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The unit is to be based on the territory of Kursk oblast, in the Western Military District (MD). Colonel Alexander Vostrikov (the head of the EW troops in the Western MD) stated, on October 28, that this unit is an absolutely unique formation (TASS, October 28).

Japan’s Imperatives To Break-Free From Pacifist Constitution – Analysis

By Dr Subhash Kapila*

Japan on the verge of 2018 is geopolitically a ‘Leading Power’ in Asia along with India, and both as important heavy counterweights to a militarily disruptive China need to fast-track their corresponding military build-ups. Japan needs to unshackle itself from its Pacifist Constitution to do so. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s overwhelming victory in October 2017 snap elections uniquely places him as Japan’s ‘Prime Minister of the Moment’ to lead Japan to break-free from the militarily debilitating Pacifist Constitution shackling Japan to confront threats increasingly emanating from China and North Korea.

North Korea Sends Mixed Messages

On November 13 an event occurred in Korea that soon shocked a lot of people on both sides of the DMZ (DeMilitarized Zone) that has divided the country since 1953. At the JSA (Joint Security Area) on the DMZ a North Korean soldier escaped into South Korea despite being shot five times by four other North Koreans pursuing him into South Korea. The wounded North Korean was rushed to a hospital and after two operations and several days of uncertainty South Korean doctors announced that the soldier would live, although he did not regain consciousness until the 21st. By then the list of surprises was already growing. First there was the fact that one of elite of the North Korean military would suddenly make a break for freedom at such a heavily guarded part of the DMZ was astonishing. Another quickly noted surprise was the fact that at least one of his pursuers was firing an assault rifle. The agreement that established the JSA specified that none of the 30-40 soldiers on each side of the JSA DMZ would be armed with anything but pistols.

The History of North Korea's Arsenal

By Stratfor Worldview

The war of words between the United States and North Korea is escalating, and the world is watching intently to see what each country does next. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has even threatened to carry out an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific Ocean. But such a display would simply be the latest in a lengthy series of missile and nuclear tests that spans over a decade. Each new step that Pyongyang has taken in its development of missile and nuclear technology has been critical to its goal of acquiring a viable nuclear deterrent to U.S. military action against it. And further strides are on the horizon.

Spectrum (EW) Should Be A Warfighting Domain: Rep. Bacon


WASHINGTON: After two decades of decline, American electronic warfare is recovering, but not fast enough, says general-turned-congressman Rep. Don Bacon. What the military needs to do, Bacon said is to elevate the electromagnetic spectrum to an official domain of warfare — alongside land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace — and appoint general officers as EW advocates in all four services and to the joint staff“As a young EWO (Electronic Warfare Officer), there was no doubt we had the best electronic warfare capabilities in the world,” Bacon said. After the Soviet Union fell, however, “we let it atrophy for a decade-and-a-half.”