7 January 2018

Why Would China Help Build an Afghan Military Base in Badakhshan?

By Catherine Putz

In late December, China’s hosting of a trilateral meeting with the foreign ministers of Afghanistan and Pakistan drew headlines. “China Steps Up to Broker Peace in Afghan-Pakistan Conflict,” Bloomberg reported; “China can help bring peace to Afghanistan,” the South China Morning Post declared. Reuters highlighted China’s announcement that Afghanistan would be included into the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Fewer took note of the subsequent meeting between Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Chang Wanquan and Afghan Minister of Defense Tariq Shah Bahrami. Bahrami also met with the Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission Xu Qilian. The Diplomat’s Ankit Panda covered the meeting, noting that it “underlined the increasingly close military-to-military ties between the two countries.”

Trump, Citing Pakistan as a ‘Safe Haven’ for Terrorists, Freezes Aid

By Mark Landler and Gardiner Harris

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it would suspend nearly all security aid to Pakistan, an across-the-board freeze that is the most tangible sign yet of Washington’s frustration with the country’s refusal to crack down on terrorist networks operating there.

The decision, which could affect as much as $1.3 billion in annual aid, came three days after President Trump complained on Twitter that Pakistan had “given us nothing but lies & deceit” and accused it of providing “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”

Pakistan Loses Importance In US Strategic Calculus 2018 – Analysis

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Strategic utility of a smaller nation to that of a major power lies in its credibility, usefulness and loyal effectiveness to serve the national security interests of its strategic patron and that in case of Pakistan seems to have faded as far as the United States is concerned with Pakistan having decidedly opting for the China-Pakistan Axis.

Pakistan had for decades back opted for China as its strategic patron in preference to the United States but went through the façade of a staunch American ally while double-timing the United States over Afghanistan. Successive US Presidents were aware of it in this century but both the United States and Pakistan let political expediencies to prevail. In case of Pakistan Army, the decision-maker of Pakistan’s foreign policy, a ‘Hedging Strategy’ against the United States was necessary till its alternatively preferred strategic patron China emerged more powerful enough to challenge US power and influence.

Trump’s Belligerence Toward Pakistan Isn’t Unreasonable


On Tuesday, Trump administration officials joined the president to criticize Pakistan’s commitment to Afghanistan’s stability, accusing Islamabad of playing “a double game for years.” The comments by Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, H.R. McMaster, the national-security-adviser, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House spokesperson, are likely to increase the pressure on Pakistan, which is still smarting over the president’s first tweet of the year:

China’s Soft and Sharp Power

As democracies respond to China’s use of information warfare, they have to be careful not to overreact. Much of the soft power that democracies wield comes from civil society, which means that these countries' openness is a crucial asset.CAMBRIDGE – China has invested billions of dollars to increase its soft power, but it has recently suffered a backlash in democratic countries. A new report by the National Endowment for Democracy argues that we need to re-think soft power, because “the conceptual vocabulary that has been used since the Cold War’s end no longer seems adequate to the contemporary situation.”



The U.S. has the most powerful military in the world, but China is not too far behind. If the two countries went to war, it would undoubtedly have a devastating impact on the world. Both countries are nuclear powers and a global ranking of the world's militaries placed the U.S. at number one and China in third place, based on the annual report from Global Firepower Index. There are currently no signs China and the U.S. will go to war in the near future, though it's a topic often discussed among academics and other members of the foreign policy community. Some military minds have also suggested the probability of such a conflict would be much higher if the U.S. takes military action against North Korea, which borders China and is one of Beijing's closest allies. 

Forget North Korea or Russia: The Real Threat to America Is China

The strategic implications of China’s rising power have prompted ambivalent reactions from the U.S. and western democracies. Unlike the quick coalescence on the containment strategy for the Soviet Union after World War II, there is still no real consensus on how the United States should deal with China in the 21st century. Some see its ascension as aggressive and dangerous, calling for a firm balancing response led by the United States and its allies, but avoiding what Graham Allison calls Thucydides Trap, the war between an established and rising power. Others on the spectrum are less certain, pondering whether strategic patience and positive diplomatic and business engagement is the answer, giving time for China to evolve into what many hope will ultimately be a comfortable fit with the free market global system.

Coming to Grips With a Rising China

The strategic implications of China’s rising power have prompted ambivalent reactions from the U.S. and western democracies. Unlike the quick coalescence on the containment strategy for the Soviet Union after World War II, there is still no real consensus on how the United States should deal with China in the 21st century. Some see its ascension as aggressive and dangerous, calling for a firm balancing response led by the United States and its allies, but avoiding what Graham Allison calls Thucydides Trap, the war between an established and rising power. Others on the spectrum are less certain, pondering whether strategic patience and positive diplomatic and business engagement is the answer, giving time for China to evolve into what many hope will ultimately be a comfortable fit with the free market global system.

Backgrounder: China’s Continuing Attempts to Increase Its Influence Around the World

Jessica Meyers

A foreign government accused of infiltrating schools, the legislature and the media, using its agents to monitor students and influence politicians. It looked like a campaign of espionage and interference that a top intelligence official warned could “cause serious harm to the nation’s sovereignty, the integrity of our political system, our national security capabilities, our economy and other interests.” Forget, for a moment anyway, Russia meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential race. This was China meddling in Australia. The reports last year suggested that the Communist Party was taking extreme measures to extend influence beyond its borders. The strains between the two countries illustrate a tension many Western powers now face: how to engage with an increasingly powerful, one-party state without sacrificing their democratic interests or stirring up xenophobia.



Chinese military analysts have claimed that China’s new hypersonic ballistic missile, the DF-17, could destroy U.S. defense systems by flying fast and low to evade detection.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fired the rockets, capable of reaching speeds of up to 7,680 miles per hour, in November. The Diplomat reported that the missiles traveled approximately 1,400 kilometers, passing through the Earth’s atmosphere at 10 times the speed of sound.

China’s ‘Long Arm’ Scholars and political leaders describe increasing concerns about Chinese government influence over teaching and research in the U.S. and Australia.

Elizabeth Redden

Two times in Kevin Carrico’s six years of teaching he’s been approached by students from China who told him that things they said in his classroom about sensitive subjects somehow made their way to their parents back home.

The first time it happened, when Carrico was teaching at a university in the United States, a student informed him that a presentation he’d given about the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 had been reported to his father in China, where the father held a position in government. “This was a situation where the father’s superiors -- I wasn’t given a lot of specifics -- but his superiors mentioned this to him and raised this as something that [the father] should know about, supposedly,” said Carrico, who’s now a lecturer in Chinese studies at Australia’s Macquarie University.

Turkey: Learning From the Ottomans’ Mistakes

By Xander Snyder

Turkey’s president is determined to break the disconnect between perceived and real military capabilities.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to move Turkey’s military procurement process under his direct authority – mandated in an emergency decree passed on Dec. 24 – indicates two things. First, that he knows that for Turkey to rise, it needs a stronger military. Second, that he’s mindful of past mistakes made by the Ottoman Empire. For Turkey to project power, it needs the ability to intervene unilaterally, independent of foreign military purchases. It also needs its strategic planners to be on the same page with those who procure the weapons that support its military strategy. In other words, Erdogan is aware of the risk of the disconnect between perception and reality.

Why nuclear war with North Korea is less likely than you think

By Elizabeth N. Saunders and Michael C. Horowitz 

On Tuesday night, in response to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s claim to have a nuclear button on his desk, President Trump tweeted, “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” 

This is not the first time that things have gotten personal in the U.S.-North Korea standoff. Much of the rhetoric between the two leaders and media commentary about the risk of war focuses on the leadership of Trump and Kim — or “Little Rocket Man,” as Trump has called the North Korean leader. 


Anna Ahronheim
Jerusalem Post

Unit 3060 was formed in 2014 and has soldiers who specialize in technology.

The army is increasing the effectiveness of its troops on the battlefield with a unit in Military Intelligence that has revolutionized how soldiers receive and understand intelligence.

Formed in September 2014 as part of a reorganization of responsibilities by Military Intelligence, Unit 3060 has some 400 soldiers (half of them career intelligence officers) who specialize in technology-related fields.

The ‘Nuclear Button’ Explained: For Starters, There’s No Button


The image of a leader with a finger on a button — a trigger capable of launching a world-ending strike — has for decades symbolized the speed with which a nuclear weapon could be launched, and the unchecked power of the person doing the pushing. There is only one problem: There is no button. A military aide traveling with President Trump in December carried the so-called nuclear football as he walked toward Marine One, the president’s helicopter. CreditMark Wilson/Getty Images

Where The Uranium Comes From

by Dyfed Loesche

According to the German Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources BGR, Kazakhstan is the biggest producer of the radioactive metal. The central Asian country produced around 24,600 metric tons of the substance in 2016. This is a share of close to 40 percent of the worldwide production. Australia comes in at third place with 6,300 metric tons. However, in terms of total resources Australia has the most. Around 1.1 million tons are slumbering in its earths, of which not all can currently be excavated at reasonable costs. Around the world there are known resources of some 3.5 million tons, so there is no foreseeable shortage.

Global Trends to 2035: Geo-politics and International Power

What economic, societal and political global factors will shape the world up to 2035? This publication responds by looks at eight plausible candidates, including the world’s aging population; weakening enthusiasm for globalization; continued industrial and technological revolution; climate change and resource competition; shifting power relations; new areas of state competition; information age politics; and ecological threats. The text also outlines four possible scenarios on the future of European and global stability as well as what policy options the EU could consider to help it navigate the next two decades.

The case for optimism in 2018 My first assumption for the year is there will not be a war on the Korean peninsula

Gideon Rachman

The year 2018 is beginning with economic and geopolitical indicators pointing in very different directions. Global stock markets are at record highs and economic confidence is growing across most of the developed world. But while investors are bullish, followers of international politics are very nervous.

In recent years, it has tended to be the Middle East that delivers bad news, and Asia that specialises in optimism. This year could reverse that pattern. The biggest geopolitical risk is a war on the Korean peninsula. If the US carries through on President Donald Trump’s threat to use “fire and fury” to disarm North Korea it will be the first time that America has gone to war with another nuclear-armed state. The risks are literally incalculable.

Intelligence: Mossad Milks Facebook


Israel’s main intelligence agency, Mossad (Hebrew for Institute) started recruiting new personnel via Facebook in mid-December. Mossad has been recruiting via the Internet since the 1990s but apparently noted that a lot of potential Mossad recruits regarded Facebook as they primary Internet destination. While the Mossad web site goes into detail about jobs available the Facebook approach was more general, using a flashy video. Mossad notes that it has full and part-time jobs and is able to accommodate those with disabilities as long as they have the skills Mossad seeks. Some of the specific skills sought recently include leatherwork, an accountant willing to travel a lot and a master carpenter able to do custom work. Mossad and other major intelligence agencies have long used Facebook for collecting information about what is going on in other countries, including recruiting local agents or informants there. But recruiting staff is another matter.

The Smoldering Hot Spots of Latin American Political Instability

Transitions of political power in Latin America have become generally peaceful over the past three decades. But in Bolivia, Cuba, and Honduras — where deeply entrenched governments will dispute control against political challengers — domestic politics will become more unstable over the coming years.Bolivian President Evo Morales' weakening hold over domestic politics will be the main driver of instability in that country in coming years.In Cuba, the eventual lifting of the U.S. economic embargo will bring with it more money, leaving political leaders to jockey for influence and greater access to revenue from trade and tourism.In Honduras, political unrest will persist over the next few years as the country's opposition tries to resist unpopular government moves.

Character Has Real Consequence

“Ensign, you’re going to stand right here and watch that boat,” my captain ordered me, “and you’re not going anywhere until they’ve moved away from the ship.”“Yes sir,” I replied and dutifully took my position at the rail to watch the small boat come alongside our ship and simulate planting a bomb as part of a scheduled drill. It was all very logical—the captain was a direct sort of man, and he did not trust the small boat not to ding up the side of his vessel. Our ship’s participation in the base security drill was limited to serving as the target, and this was a fairly easy task for me as a newly minted in-port officer-of-the-day—make sure they do not scrape our paint. Check. It unfolded as planned: The boat came alongside, its crew placed the “bomb” (a sticker), and they pulled away. As I turned to leave, the captain approached again, this time with four or five civilians in tow. “Why don’t you stop wasting time,” he asked, “and see if you can actually find some real work to do?” This type of over-the-top, public mistreatment of his junior officers was typical of this man, and I was unfazed by it. “Yes, sir,” I responded, as the captain began walking away with his visitors—presumably a very distinguished group if the commanding officer himself was escorting them. One of the civilians lingered and approached me as I turned to leave. He smiled and extended his hand, which I shook. “Now you know how not to treat people when you get there,” he said.

Brexit - What We Now Know

The Office for Budget Responsibility, established by Government to provide independent scrutiny of the UK’s public finances, says that the UK economy’s ability to grow has been negatively affected since the Brexit vote.“The renewed weakness of productivity growth over the first half of 2017 will almost certainly have been exacerbated by the Brexit Vote.” The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney has also stated that Brexit is already having a “noticeable impact” on the UK economy and is depressing the rate at which it can grow.

The U.S. Army Is Getting Ready for a Jungle War

Kris Osborn

Emerging waterways, lush terrain and tangled bushing make it more difficult for Soldiers to track, find and destroy hidden enemies in the jungle - a scenario which is inspiring a current Army effort to send a newly configured “jungle boot” to war.

A new Version 2 jungle boot is now being fielded to the Army’s 25th Infantry Division as part of a broader process to deploy a new, durable, high-tech, water resistant boot designed to enable maximum jungle combat capability.

Soldier field testing with the boot is expected to take place in the next few months, as a key step toward ultimately developing and deploying a new boot.

Adaptive Leadership and the Warfighter

By Reed Bonadonna

Over the past twenty years, a significant contribution to leadership studies has come under the heading of Adaptive Leadership, pioneered by Ron Heifetz in the seminal work Leadership Without Easy Answers. Heifetz and his colleague Marty Linsky continue to write, teach, and consult, and their courses at the Harvard Kennedy School are attended by an international student body of leadership educators and practitioners, including military officers and other government officials. Their approach to the art and practice of leadership has spawned a body of writings by various protégés and colleagues. The latest version of Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 5-0, The Operations Process, shows some influence of Adaptive Leadership, but many of the concepts most relevant to military leadership and warfighting are left out. The Harvard/Heifetz/Linsky approach to leadership has great potential for the military leader trying to bring about or adapt to change in culture and organization.

Five Reasons The U.S. Army Must Modernize Faster To Avoid Catastrophe

Loren Thompson 

The famous Prussian military theorist and professional soldier Carl von Clausewitz said that war is the continuation of politics by other means. In contemporary Washington, politics sometimes seems like the continuation of war by other means. Partisan infighting has so thoroughly paralyzed federal policymaking that Congress has not completed a budget in time for the new fiscal year even once in the last 20 years. The most basic requirements of sound governance are neglected as politicians maneuver for electoral advantage.