2 January 2018



--  Maj Gen P K Mallick,VSM (Retd)

Angus Deaton, an economics professor at Princeton, is the recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in economics. He is asked : America is trying to come to terms with its economic inequality. Does inequality spur growth or kill it? Is it a necessary evil—or necessarily bad?

Deaton believes the biggest misconception about inequality is that it causes certain economic, political, and social processes. But that’s backward. Economic inequality is a symptom of processes—some good, some bad—that drive the global economy. It’s the residue of a post-industrialized age. He argues :

Two types of inequality

Deaton believes that Inequality is not the same thing as unfairness. It is the latter that has incited so much political turmoil in the rich world today. Some types of inequality feel instinctively ok. Americans adore inventors and rags-to-riches heroes. But innovators rising net worths contribute to inequality. Aspects of globalization and technological change, like outsourcing and robotics, also suppress worker wages while benefiting the rich. But these alone can’t explain why median incomes have stagnated for half a century, while incomes at the top have skyrocketed.

What’s unfair

To Deaton, there are other economic and social processes that propagate inequality, and they’re unfair.

Healthcare Financing. Healthcare jobs grew the second fastest in 2017, but wages were largely flat, leading hospital workers to unionize for higher pay. Healthcare financing cuts wages for the average American. Most employer-sponsored healthcare benefits are actually taken out workers’ paychecks, not a pure company perk.

Mergers. Many industries, like tech, media and healthcare, are now run by a few, large companies. But mergers rarely boost the wages of workers. Big companies have an easier time manipulating public policy to accrue profits, instead of making money through innovation and investment.

The Sluggish Federal Minimum Wage. The US federal minimum wage, at $7.25 an hour, hasn’t budged since 2009. 

Diminishing Worker Power. Twenty percent of workers sign non-compete clauses, which prevent them from taking on side-hustles to make some extra cash, reducing their incomes and bargaining power. Over half of non-union, privately employed Americans—some 60 million people—have signed mandatory arbitration agreements, which means they can never sue their employers.

The Rise of Temps. Companies are increasingly replacing full-time, salaried workers with contractors. Janitors, servers, and maintenance staff who once worked for wealthy companies now work for independent service corporations that compete aggressively against each other over pricing.

The Growth of the Stock Market. While the stock market rewards innovation, it also incentivizes companies to shuffle resources from labor to capital. As median wages have stagnated, corporate profits relative to GDP have grown 20% to 25%. That number would be even higher if executive pay was tracked as profits instead of salaries.

Corporate Wins in Politics. Trump plans to gut 75% of regulations, and may roll back a rule that requires money managers to prioritize their clients’ interests. All the while, the US Supreme Court has ruled that corporations can act as political entities—spending unlimited amounts to support candidates and the lax legislation they will eventually push.

Deaton takes heart from these problems. They’re not a consequence of seemingly unstoppable forces like globalization and technology, but of a dysfunctional economy. And he feels that with the right policies, they can be reversed.

Election Year in Pakistan: Key Dynamics and Prospects

Rana BanerjiMember, Governing Council, IPCS, & former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India 

Despite several hiccups, on 19 December, the Senate of Pakistan passed the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2017 - resulting in the amendment to Article 51 (5) of the Pakistani constitution - which will enable elections to the National Assembly (NA) to be held on the basis of the 2017 provisional census results. Under the newly demarcated constituencies, of the 342 NA seats, Punjab will have 141 General seats and 33 Women seats (7 General and 2 Women seats fewer); Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will have 39 General and 9 Women seats (4 General and 1 Women seat added); Baluchistan will have 16 General and 4 Women seats (2 General and 1 Women seat added); and the Federal Capital Area will have 3 General seats (1 General seat added). The existing 61 General and 14 Women seats in Sindh and 12 General seats in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) remain unchanged. The term of the present parliament ends on 31 May 2018. After the Election Commission implements these changes, elections could be held, after Ramadan, sometime in mid-August 2018.

A look at Islamic State attacks in Afghanistan

A look at Islamic State attacks in Afghanistan 

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - The Islamic State attack on a Shiite cultural center in Kabul on Thursday, which killed more than 40 people and wounded scores more, was the latest in a series of assaults by a powerful local affiliate of the extremist group. The Afghanistan branch, which calls itself the Khorasan Province, has stepped up attacks over the past year even as the extremists’ self-styled caliphate in Syria and Iraq has collapsed. The affiliate is estimated to have some 10,000 fighters, a toxic mix of Uzbek extremists and disgruntled former Taliban.


Nadeem F. Paracha

General Ziaul Haq was perhaps the most controversial ruler of Pakistan. His 11-year-long regime folded in August 1988 when a plane he was travelling in crashed somewhere NEAR Bahawalpur. Sabotage was suspected but never really investigated. Surprisingly, very little has been written about him, apart from what he did as a dictator. There has never been any authoritative biography about the man whose eerie shadow still looms large across the country’s thorny political and social landscape. There are a number of books written about his tenure as dictator, but not much is available on who he really was beyond the image his propagators promoted.


By Lin Zhiyuan 

BEIJING, Dec. 29 (ChinaMil) — The world landscape has changed at a faster pace in 2017. Inter-power cooperation and competition coexisted, with the latter becoming more prominent.

Major countries paid more attention to contention for regional dominance, for buffer zones and “strategic strongholds”, and for emerging fields. But be it confrontation or standoff, all sides remained restrained below the traditional “threshold of war”.

Can Xi’s Rising Power Head Off War on the Korean Peninsula?

For this last week of 2017, we asked our experts to predict what they see for the year ahead. CIA veteran and Asia hand Amb. Joseph DeTrani spoke about what Beijing could do to check the rising threat from North Korea, including implementing U.N. sanctions that Pyongyang has called an “act of war.” On China’s implementation of North Korea sanctions: “I think China has put some emphasis on implementation of those sanctions. I think they’re working to restrict the amount of coal coming into China, if not cutting it off completely—and the same with textiles. So I think China is implementing the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and sanctioning North Korea for its missile launches and nuclear tests. Could they do more? Absolutely, they could do more….”

China Reportedly Tests New DF-17 Hypersonic Weapon

By Kyle Mizokami

China tested a new missile that incorporates a hypersonic weapon system, an unnamed U.S. intelligence source told The Diplomat this week. The weapon, known as the Dong Feng (“East Wind”) -17, or DF-17 for short, is designed to confound existing air defenses. Intended to become an operational weapons system, the DF-17 is likely the first in a new generation of hypersonic weapons under development by the major military powers. The People’s Liberation Army Navy Rocket Force, the arm of the Chinese military that controls Beijing’s nuclear and conventionally armed ballistic missiles, tested the DF-17 in November after more than a half dozen development tests between 2014 to 2016. (The image above is a DF-21D, which is similar to the DF-17.) The missile was launched from the Jiuquan Space Launcher Center in Inner Mongolia, the site of previous Chinese anti-satellite missile tests. The missile is expected to enter service in 2020 and has an estimated range of 1,100 to 1,500 miles.

Why China Won’t Rescue North Korea

By Oriana Skylar Mastro

U.S. officials have long agreed with Mao Zedong’s famous formulation about relations between China and North Korea: the two countries are like “lips and teeth.” Pyongyang depends heavily on Beijing for energy, food, and most of its meager trade with the outside world, and so successive U.S. administrations have tried to enlist the Chinese in their attempts to denuclearize North Korea. U.S. President Donald Trump has bought into this logic, alternately pleading for Chinese help and threatening action if China does not do more. In the same vein, policymakers have assumed that if North Korea collapsed or became embroiled in a war with the United States, China would try to support its cherished client from afar, and potentially even deploy troops along the border to prevent a refugee crisis from spilling over into China.

China’s latest plans to dominate robot, smart car and railway industries by 2020

Jane Cai

Other areas include smart cars, robotics, advanced shipbuilding and maritime equipment, modern agricultural machinery, advanced medical devices and drugs, new materials, smart manufacturing and machine tools. The aim is “to make China a powerful manufacturing country” and upgrade the nation’s industrial power through “the internet, big data and artificial intelligence”, the commission said. To achieve that goal, the agency has laid out specific targets to develop key technologies and guide research and the flow of funds in each sector.

China: Economic Outlook

Written by Dan Steinbock

In the coming years, China shall aim at high-quality development, while seeking to forestall financial and international risks. The recent Central Economic Work Conference marked a historical point in China’s economic development. After Mao’s struggle for the mainland’s sovereignty, and Deng’s economic reforms and opening-up, President Xi’s team seeks to complete much of the transition to post-industrial society by the early 2020s.

Russian-Speaking Foreign Fighters in Iraq and Syria

Together, Russia and the countries of post-Soviet Central Asia have seen more of their citizens and residents travel to Syria and Iraq as foreign fighters than have any other parts of the world. Although numbers vary from source to source, roughly 8,500 individuals from these six countries1 have traveled to join a host of Salafi-jihadi factions—most predominantly the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS).2 Among these individuals are many militants from Russia’s north Caucuses, some of whom bring with them experience in asymmetric and insurgent warfare learned from their involvement in the first and second Chechen wars of independence and the insurgency that has torn apart the North Caucasus region since those wars. These battle-hardened and competent fighters serve important roles within ISIS and Al Qaeda as bombmakers, propagandists, and field commanders. They are joined by Russian speakers who quickly build that experience in combat in Syria, sometimes in groups dominated by North Caucasian and Central Asian leaders and members.3 

Nationalism Is Suddenly Chic in Qatar

What a difference a year makes. In December 2016, pan-Arab solidarity trumped nationalism when Qatar canceled the official ceremonies celebrating independence on its National Day after Aleppo fell to Syrian loyalists. Now, six months after the beginning of a blockade of Qatar imposed by its Arab neighbors, this season of National Days in the Gulf nations (Oman celebrated Nov. 18, followed by the United Arab Emirates on Dec. 2, Bahrain on Dec. 16. then Qatar on Dec. 18) appeared more riven by intra-Arab disputes than ever. In the cracks, the flowers of a new, stronger Qatari nationalism are sprouting.

The risks of war with North Korea in 2018

North Korea state media broadcast a statement recently declaring new United Nations sanctions as an "infringement on sovereignty" and an "act of war." 

One of the most serious issues of 2017 has been what to do about North Korea.

In September, Kim Jong Un's regime tested a large nuclear weapon underground, claiming it was a hydrogen bomb.

North Korea also demonstrated this year that it has the missile technology to deliver its warheads pretty much anywhere in the world.



In some of the more memorable remarks of his tenure as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster has ruled out the idea of keeping Kim Jong Un in check through nuclear deterrence. In August, he rhetorically asked, “the classical deterrence theory, how does that apply to a regime like the regime in North Korea?”

If there were any doubt about the answer, McMaster declared in October that the president is “not going to accept this regime threatening the United States with nuclear weapons. There are those who would say, well, why not accept and deter. Well, accept and deter is unacceptable.”

Has Russia’s Military Learned the Wrong Lessons From Its Role in the War in Syria?

Paul Iddon

Russia this month announced another draw-down from its combat operations in Syria, which began on Sept. 30, 2015. The Russian military will retain troops in the country, likely indefinitely, where it has demonstrated the capabilities of new weapons and tactics — which together show it has learned from its shortcomings in past operations. Nevertheless, as experts told War Is Boring, many of the Russian military’s old habits were also on display throughout this campaign. It’s no secret that Russia used its military campaign to both demonstrate and test hardware, and furnish its forces with some actual combat experience. In March 2016, Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin said that combat operations in Syria are the best form of training for his country’s armed forces.

Japan, a Pacifist in Name Only

By Phillip Orchard

Japan is laying the groundwork for a profound leap in its military capabilities. On Dec. 26, three unnamed government sources told Reuters that Tokyo was considering retrofitting the Izumo helicopter carrier, its largest flat-decked warship, to be able to carry U.S.-made F-35B warplanes. Doing so would effectively give Japan its first fixed-wing aircraft carrier since World War II. This comes a week after Japanese officials confirmed that Tokyo is also planning to equip its own fleet of F-35A warplanes (a variant of the type it would use on the carriers) with long-range cruise missiles capable of striking targets as far as 900 kilometers away – say, ballistic missile launch sites in North Korea – in what would be Tokyo’s first major purchase of offensive weaponry in more than half a century. On Dec. 21, Japan’s Cabinet approved yet another record defense budget, swelling to around $46 billion, or 1.3 percent over 2017’s budget.

How Fast Will Banks Adopt New Technology This Time?

by Drew Dahl ,

New technologies that support financial services - technologies commonly referred to as “fintech" - are expected to change the face of the banking industry. Fintech experts predict that banks of the future will offer elaborate social network platforms, enable customers to use mobile phones to identify investment opportunities and “run almost entirely" on algorithms and robots. Many banks will get to this future sooner, others will get there later and some may never get there at all. This implies that the customers of some banks will be left behind, at least temporarily, in accessing technological innovations that are readily available elsewhere. Who are they?

World economy: Looking up

by Surjit S Bhalla

It is on course for high growth, low inflation, lower taxation, increased income support for the needy. And declining inequality.

The world economy had a very successful year in 2017. Just how successful can be gleaned from the fact that GDP growth (IMF data) registered close to 3.7 per cent in 2017. Unemployment rates in the advanced economies (AE) are at multi-year, if not historical, lows. What is surprising is that (median) inflation rates in AEs, while up from near-zero levels in 2015 and 2016 (0.3 and 0.8 per cent respectively) could only register 1.6 per cent in 2017.

The Year In Review: Global Economy In 5 Charts

It has been a tumultuous year marked by natural disasters, geopolitical tensions, and deep political divisions in many countries. On the economic front, however, 2017 is ending on a high note, with GDP continuing to accelerate over much of the world in the broadest cyclical upswing since the start of the decade.

Here are five charts that help tell the economic story of the past year.

The Countries With The Fastest Internet

According to Akamai, South Korea is on top of the world when it comes to fast internet, with an average connection speed of 28.6 Mbps - 9.9 more than the U.S - in Q1 2017.

The 18.7 for the United States does though show a marked improvement on last quarter's 17.2, finally breaking into the world's top ten.

When the War Comes, What Should We Civilians Do?


Imagine this. Yesterday, Russian warships cut several of the undersea cables that power the internet. Millions of Europeans suddenly found themselves unable to use email and text messaging services. They were unable to bank or pay their bills online. Retailers’ websites ceased to function. Families stampeded on grocery stores. By the evening, internet-enabled hospitals had to revert to old-fashioned treatment. At bank branches, fist fights broke out as people queued up to withdraw cash. Unverified news of an impending military invasion caused residents to leave major cities, clogging up up rail lines, highways, and gas stations.

Smartphones And Apple Dominate Photography

by Felix Richter

The ubiquity of smartphones and their increasingly capable cameras has not only led to a boom in digital photography but also to a rather steep decline in digital camera sales since 2010. According to new data published by photo-sharing platform Flickr, smartphone cameras accounted for 50 percent of all pictures uploaded to the site in 2017. What’s even more impressive though is that Apple’s iPhone is by far the most popular camera among Flickr’s community of hobby and professional photographers, leaving dedicated photography brands such as Canon and Nikon miles behind it. In fact nine of the ten most popular cameras used on Flickr are different iPhone models, amounting to a combined usage share of 54 percent (among the top 100 devices).

Military use of space is coming, Trump can help America prepare


President Donald Trump’s National Security Strategy set a new course by focusing on rebuilding the domestic economy as central to national security and its aim at “rival powers, Russia and China, that seek to challenge America influence, values, and wealth.” Critics observed that the White House seemed to reverse past presidents’ emphasis on advancing democracy and liberal values, reject both reducing global warming and spreading free trade as national security goals, and elevating American sovereignty over international cooperation.

Command Conversation: Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn

By: Amber Corrin 

Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, shown at the C4ISRNET annual conference, sat down with C4ISRNET’s Amber Corrin to discuss the role of DISA and the Joint Force Headquarters-DoDIN in supporting the span of Department of Defense missions. 

Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn’s current role means he has two jobs. He’s in charge of fielding enterprise IT throughout the Department of Defense, while also protecting DoD networks across the military. Neither is a small task, but there’s an army of nearly 7,000 active duty and civilian employees, as well as industry partners and allies, charged with supporting the span of agency missions.

2018 Pentagon priority: Speeding up foreign weapon sales

By: Aaron Mehta  

WASHINGTON — Complaints about the speed of the foreign military sales process from allies, industry and within the Pentagon are nothing new. But those hoping for reform see potential in 2018, thanks to a group of leaders with a personal focus on building up allied capabilities and an administration that sees weapon sales as a way to grow American jobs. It starts with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who early on declared building up partner capabilities as one of his key objectives. That directive has been accompanied by a “steady drum-beat” on the issue, according to Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who told reporters on Dec. 21 that he would be working on the issue directly.