21 December 2017

Time for Pakistan to Apologize to Bangladesh

By Uzair Younus

On December 16, 1971, almost 100,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered in Dhaka, leading to the creation of the sovereign nation-state of Bangladesh. Relations between both countries remain frosty 46 years after the Pakistani armed forces surrendered in Dhaka. While some attempts were made by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led government to normalize ties, the current government in Pakistan has made little to no effort in reaching out to Bangladesh. The PPP sent Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Dhaka in 2012 and invited Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to the D-8 summit in Islamabad. However, the PPP was unwilling to meet Bangladesh’s decades-long demand of an unconditional apology for the atrocities committed in 1971, leading to the rejection of the invitation. Despite this, there was hope that both countries were making progress and would normalize relations in the near future.

What Caused the Left Alliance's Landslide Victory in Nepal?

By Kamal Dev Bhattarai

In the recently concluded elections for the House of Representatives (Nepal’s lower house) and provincial assemblies of Nepal, the two communist parties, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) and CPN (Maoist Center) — which joined forces for the elections under the banner of a left alliance — won a landslide victory. The left alliance has now secured overwhelming majorities in both the federal bicameral legislature (the House of Representatives and National Assembly) and the provincial assemblies. The left alliance is also likely to form governments in six out of seven provinces.



China and Russia may be devising a plan to attack U.S. forces in the event of an imminent war breaking out on the neighboring Korean Peninsula, according to two former military officials.Lieutenant General Wang Hongguang, the former deputy commander of the western Nanjing Military Region, warned "the war on the Korean Peninsula might break out anytime between now and March next year"; his comments came during a conference hosted Saturday by ruling Communist Party newspaper The Global Times. The following day, the nationalist outlet expanded on the retired general's remarks with insight from Chinese military expert, commentator and author Song Zhongping, who said China could potentially engage U.S. forces if they posed a threat.

The Great Leap Forward: China’s Pursuit of a Strategic Breakthrough

By Roncevert Ganan Almond

On February 25, 1956, in a closed session of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev gave his “Secret Speech” denouncing Stalin and his cult of personality. The political tremors from this questioning of Communist doctrine traveled across the border to Beijing where Chinese-leader Mao Zedong initially responded with an invitation for criticism (“Let a thousand flowers bloom”), only to double down on his relentless pursuit of internal enemies and continuous revolution. In search of a strategic breakthrough, Mao embarked on the Great Leap Forward, a sweeping, terrifying and, ultimately, catastrophic economic program designed to surpass the achievements of Western industrialization in an accelerated timeframe (in one “big bang”).

Chinese have turned restive western China into a Police State

Nobody knows what happened to the Uighur student after he returned to China from Egypt and was taken away by police. Not his village neighbors in China’s far west, who haven’t seen him in months. Not his former classmates, who fear Chinese authorities beat him to death. Not his mother, who lives in a two-story house at the far end of a country road, alone behind walls bleached by the desert sun. She opened the door one afternoon for an unexpected visit by Associated Press reporters, who showed her a picture of a handsome young man posing in a park, one arm in the wind.

A Constructive Year for Chinese Base Building

International attention has shifted away from the slow-moving crisis in the South China Sea over the course of 2017, but the situation on the water has not remained static. While pursuing diplomatic outreach toward its Southeast Asian neighbors, Beijing continued substantial construction activities on its dual-use outposts in the Spratly and Paracel Islands. China completed the dredging and landfilling operations to create its seven new islands in the Spratlys by early 2016, and seems to have halted such operations to expand islets in the Paracels by mid-2017. But Beijing remains committed to advancing the next phase of its build-up—construction of the infrastructure necessary for fully-functioning air and naval bases on the larger outposts.

How the Pentagon’s cyber offensive against ISIS could shape the future for elite U.S. forces

Dan Lamothe

The U.S. military has conducted cyber attacks against the Islamic State for more than a year, and its record of success when those attacks are coordinated with elite Special Operations troops is such that the Pentagon is likely carry out similar operations with greater frequency, according to current and former U.S. defense officials. The cyber offensive against ISIS, an acronym for the Islamic State, was a first and included the creation of a unit named Joint Task Force Ares. It focused on destroying or disrupting computer networks used by the militant group to recruit fighters and communicate inside the organization. Such offensive weapons are more commonly associated with U.S. intelligence agencies, but they were brought into the open in 2016 after then-Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter pressured U.S. Cyber Command to become more involved in the campaign to defeat the Islamic State.

Flight MH370 didn’t just "disappear": Historian suggests mystery was first case of remote skyjacking and 'was diverted to prevent delivery of secret cargo to China

Claire Carter

Missing Malaysia airlines plane MH370 has still not be found after searches close to Australia - but theorists suggest the plane may be buried under sheets of ice in the Antarctic
All that has been found so far of the ill-fated flight MH370 is a handful of parts, such as part of a wing, washed up on remote islands across the world.Data shows the strange path taken by the Malaysia Airlines plane as it suddenly jerked from east to west, away from its destination of China on March 8, 2014 - but no one has been able to explain why it took this strange path, or where it lay now.

Middle East, Russia Seems to Be Everywhere

Russia's growing prominence in the Middle East was on full display Dec. 11 when Vladimir Putin visited three key Middle Eastern countries in one day. The Russian president followed a surprise trip to Syria with a quick stop in Egypt before ending his day's travels in Turkey. He met with his presidential counterparts in all three countries, and the economic deals, military agreements and political settlements he discussed highlighted Russia's role in the region. While Russia has its own reasons for bolstering its relationships with Syria, Egypt and Turkey, it also benefits from being visible where its regional rival, the United States, is not.

Tell me how Trump’s North Korea gambit ends

By Daniel W. Drezner 

The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts does not live inside the Beltway. That can be a very good thing, as it prevents insider gossip color my read of trends within American foreign policy. Occasionally, however, it means I am slower on the draw to shifts that matter. Take North Korea. My position for most of this year has been that for all the Trump administration’s bluster on the DPRK, the lack of any decent military option rendered much of the war talk to be overblown wishcasting. As I wrote in September: “The current status quo is not great. Changing the status quo is not likely to make the situation any better and very likely to make things worse.”

Russia, N. Korea Eye Bitcoin for Money Laundering, Putting It on a Crash Course with Regulators


Thieves and sanctioned countries are targeting the digital currency’s exchanges, setting up a fight between governments and cryptocurrency powerhouses. Bitcoin’s rising value got a further boost last week with the debut of the first futures trading. But the digital currency has also attracted the attention the interest of U.S. adversaries. A report out this week says that Russia is eying the currency as a means to bypass harsh sanctions levied by the United States and European governments, while North Koreans are suspected of trying to steal Bitcoins from South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges. All this puts pressure on the U.S. government – and may ultimately hurt the cryptocurrency’s value.

North Korean hackers behind attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges, South Korean newspaper reports

North Korean hackers behind attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges, South Korean newspaper reports South Korea’s spy agency said North Korean hackers were behind attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges this year in which some 7.6 billion won ($6.99 million) worth of cryptocurrencies were stolen, a newspaper reported on Saturday. The cyber attacks attributed to North Korean hackers also included the leaking of personal information from 36,000 accounts from the world’s busiest cryptocurrency exchange Bitthumb in June, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo reported, citing the country’s National Intelligence Service (NIS).



Western military alliance NATO’s recent decision to integrate cyber warfare into its command could be its biggest policy shift in decades and represents a stark 21st-century warning to foes, especially Russia, according to one of the leading officials to help draft the new strategy. Capitalizing on the multinational coalition’s recognition of cyberspace as a theater of operations at last year’s Warsaw Summit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced last month the creation of Cyber Operations Center as part of an overall effort to update and adopt a more expansive and efficient command structure. Last week, retired Air Force Colonel Rizwan Ali revealed how the decision, which he helped write and implement, could affect the way NATO conducts operations and counterthreats from abroad.

Who Leads The West: Trump Or Merkel?

Theodor Fontane, the master of the nineteenth-German novel, published Before the Storm in 1876. Set during the winter of 1812-13 in and around Berlin, it explores the decisive historical moment when Prussia changed sides—breaking out of its forced alliance with France in order to join with Russia in the anti-Napoleonic war. Yet the dialectic of that historical moment was such that Germans could participate in the rout of the French army, while nonetheless embracing aspects of their revolutionary legacy. Even as they fought against Napoleon in their “war of liberation,” they also integrated some of the social consequences of the revolution that had begun with the storming of the Bastille. 


Steven Metz 

You can punch above your weight in statecraft as in boxing, and in today’s global security system, Russia is like an aggressive bantamweight. For the United States and the rest of the West, containing or moderating Russia’s sometimes damaging actions depends on understanding why Moscow can punch above its weight, and how that shapes its behavior.

Until the late 1940s, Americans had never thought much about Russia and thus were deeply perplexed when the World War II alliance between Washington and Moscow devolved into the Cold War. In a famous Foreign Affairs article, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” career diplomat George Kennan, who was one of the foremost Russia experts in the State Department at the time, explained that Russia’s history of being invaded, plus its size and geographic location, gave it immense power, but also imbued it with a combination of paranoia and ambition. That gave Russia a deep sense of national mission, seeing itself as a bulwark of the West against hostile outside forces, and as the rightful hegemon in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. ...

German public says ‘jein’ to European security

Ulrike Esther Franke 

A new poll shows that the German public is increasingly concerned with security, but is dismissive of its American security guarantor and unwilling to pay more to help Europe replace it. ‘Jein’ has always been one of my favourite German words. It is a mix of yes (ja) and no (nein), which may sound meaningless, but is often surprisingly useful. For instance, when talking about German attitudes to their country’s foreign and security policy. Each year the German Koerber foundation publishes a poll on the German public’s viewson foreign policy. This week the 2017 edition was presented to the public. It includes a host of interesting stats: 74% think accession talks with Turkey should be broken off; 56% judge the current relationship with the US as bad or very bad; 37% think Brexit will have no particular impact on the EU. 

India should secure infrastructure against cyber threats, says Kaspersky Labs founder

India needs to worry about terror groups attacking critical infrastructure such as power plants, telecom and banking systems, says Eugene Kaspersky, founder of the world’s biggest private cybersecurity firm. Is India particularly vulnerable or a target for cyberattacks, especially from adversarial neighbours such as China and Pakistan? India is one of the most important countries from a cybersecurity aspect because of its large population, Internet literacy, and as a growing economy. I hope and believe we will never have an inter-state cyberwar, simply because all nations are equally vulnerable. Cyberweapons are like a nuclear weapon now, a deterrent. But I am worried about cyberterrorism. There are many groups that are responsible to no one and they are the worst case scenario for us.

Dark Web NightmaresWeak in attack and defence, India walks blind down an unseen war


Think national security and the first thing that comes to mind is the soldier sitting at the border, arms in hand, firing shell after shell to protect his sovereign country come what may. The images might be largely correct, but then long gone are the days of mechanised warfare fought on land with guns and tanks alone. Armed forces throughout the world are now equipping themselves to fight a new kind of unseen war. These are ones fought behind computer screens, but those that have the ability to disrupt countries in ways that don’t just lead to bloodshed of a few at the border. They can trigger mass shutdowns, affecting the lives of common people in ways unim­aginable a decade ago.



Iran is one of the leading cyberspace adversaries of the United States. It emerged as a cyber threat a few years later than Russia and China and has so far demonstrated less skill. Nevertheless, it has conducted several highly damaging cyberattacks and become a major threat that will only get worse.But unlike these other countries, Iran openly encourages its hackers to launch cyberattacks against its enemies.The government not only recruits hackers into its cyber forces but supports their independent operations.

Infographic Of The Day: Inventions That Were Discovered By Accident

One day in 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming returned to his lab in London after a two-week vacation to find that mold had developed on a contaminated staphylococcus culture plate. The scientist was searching for a “wonder drug” to cure a wide variety of diseases. A moldy Petri dish was not a part of the plan, but Fleming noticed the culture had prevented the growth of staphylococci. Further examination revealed penicillin, a powerful antibiotic that could be used to treat everything from tonsillitis to syphilis.

NIST’s lead cryptographer talks encryption’s paradigm shifts

By: Brad D. Williams 

Cryptography has long attracted research into novel applications for secret messages between parties. For nearly 4,000 years, cryptographic methods have slowly advanced, with notable contributions from many ancient civilizations and modern nations. Since the advent of the internet age, cryptographic applications have rapidly expanded. The ongoing evolution has continued this year, with recent breakthroughs that some experts say could fundamentally transform one of the oldest subfields of contemporary cybersecurity.

The End of Net Neutrality: Implications for National Security


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 on Thursday to dismantle their authorities to enforce net neutrality rules that prohibit internet service providers, such as Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast, from interfering in the traffic streams that take place over their infrastructure. The reversal of the FCC’s 2015 decision means the federal government will no longer be able to regulate ISPs as if they were a utility, allowing ISPs to privilege some traffic over others and perhaps even throttle or block content they independently decide to – such as controversial political opinions. 

The Strategic Implications of Non-State #WarBots

By Mark Jacobsen

This essay is part of the #WarBots series, which asked a group of academics and national security professionals to provide their thoughts on the confluence of automation and unmanned technologies and their impact in the conduct of war. We hope this launches a debate that may one day shape policy. Over the past year, a primitive type of WarBot has become a formidable battlefield weapon: the small unmanned aerial system. The threat materialized in October 2016 when a drone booby-trapped by the Islamic State killed two Kurdish soldiers. Within a few months, the Islamic State was flying tens of aerial bombardment missions each day, displayed the capability to drop grenades down the hatches of tanks, and reportedly flew up to a dozen aircraft at a time. The threat was so severe that the Mosul offensive nearly stalled.


Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long

Stanley Kubrick’s iconic black comedy Dr. Strangelove remains one of the most insightful works on deterrence. The film revolves around the Doomsday Machine, which will automatically destroy all life on earth if the United States ever launches a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. After a rogue American general does precisely that, the Soviet ambassador reveals the machine’s existence and explains what is about to happen. American General Buck Turgidson is skeptical, claiming the machine is “an obvious commie trick, Mr. President!” The titular Dr. Strangelove subsequently delivers the film’s biting satirical punch line: “The … whole point of the Doomsday Machine … is lost … if you keep it a secret! Why didn’t you tell the world, eh?”

Impact of Sequestration and the Drawdown on the Different Sectors of the Industrial Base

The United States has long recognized the importance of supporting and sustaining an advanced defense industrial base for maintaining global technological superiority. However, the implementation of the 2011 Budget Control Act's (BCA) enforced reductions to the federal budget has prompted Congressional, DOD, government oversight, and industry officials all to express concerns over the health and future of the defense industrial base. The empirical data presented in this report show that the effect of the defense drawdown on industry was substantial; and that defense contract obligations fell across all platform portfolios (planes, land vehicles, ships, etc.). However, the impact of the drawdown on the different sectors of the defense industrial base varied widely and the varying consequences are discussed herein.