16 January 2018

A Delhi traffic circle, a faraway port, and a tale of rare heroism, gallantry

by Sushant Singh

In September 1918, the Hyderabad, Jodhpur and Mysore Lancers won one of the most celebrated battles of World War I, capturing the present-day Israeli city of Haifa from the Ottoman Army. A century on, neither the Indian Army nor the children of Haifa have forgotten the bravery of the ‘Teen Murti’. The controversy around the renaming of Teen Murti Marg and Teen Murti circle in the heart of New Delhi — the New Delhi Municipal Council moved last week to include ‘Haifa’ in the names, but subsequently deferred the decision — has had an unintended consequence: it has reminded people of a slice of recent Indian history which has been all but forgotten now. It is the history of the armies of the princely states in British India, which contributed to the war effort of the British Empire.

For A Second Term Please Do The Right Things, Mr Prime Minister!

by Minhaz Merchant

This year will be crucial for the Narendra Modi government. His strategy must take into account the complex electoral math that will confront him in April-May 2019 and at the same time focus on a strong economic and governance agenda in the final year of his tenure.  The 2019 Lok Sabha election will set India’s political and economic agenda for the next decade. If the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is returned to office, it can execute many of the reforms it has begun. If the Congress, buoyed by its resurgence in the Gujarat assembly election, manages to stitch together a coalition government, India could be in for a spell of political instability.

A More Radical Way for Trump to Confront Pakistan

By David Rohde

Last week, President Trump conducted an extraordinary week-long public rebuke of a country that he has previously ignored. At 7:12 a.m., on Monday, January 1st, Trump made Pakistan the focus of his first tweet of the New Year, accusing that nation’s leaders of giving the United States “nothing but lies & deceit” in return for thirty-three billion dollars in aid since 2001, and of providing “safe havens for the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.” He added, “No more!” On Friday, at 11:19 p.m., he ended the week with a retweet of a proposal by Senator Rand Paul, calling on the United States to cut off all aid to Pakistan and to spend that money on building roads and bridges in this country. “Good idea Rand!” Trump wrote.

The C.I.A.’s Maddening Relationship with Pakistan

Nicholas Schmidle

Thirteen years ago, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrived in Pakistan with a list. He pulled it from his shirt pocket during a meeting with President Pervez Musharraf, and told the general how, during a recent Oval Office gathering, President George W. Bush had expressed bewilderment and annoyance that most of the terrorists on the list were suspected of hiding out in Pakistan—an ostensible American ally. Musharraf promised to look into the matter, according to a participant in the meeting. And, less than a month later, Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or I.S.I., arrested one of the men atop the list. “Here’s the truth,” a former senior U.S. intelligence official told me. Pakistan has been “in many ways” America’s best counterterrorism partner, the official said. “Nobody had taken more bad guys off the battlefield than the Pakistanis.”

Ask Huawei About The "Coming" U.S.-China Trade War

Dan Ikenson,

Speculation is rampant that President Trump will soon announce sanctions against China for its heavy-handed intellectual property and technology transfer policies, cavalierly thrusting us into a deleterious trade war. Huawei Technologies has news for these speculators: For over a decade, Washington and Beijing have been waging a tit-for-tat technology trade war, which is escalating and claiming victims as you read. The latest hostilities occurred Monday when AT&T, poised to deliver its longgestating plan to sell smart phones produced by Chinese technology giant Huawei, instead abruptly announced that it was aborting that plan. If history is any guide, AT&T likely was compelled to change course by U.S. policymakers with leverage to affect the telecom’s fortunes.

Africa is changing China as much as China is changing Africa

Lily Kuo

Eight years ago I watched the movie “2012,” named after the year the Mayan calendar supposedly ends. In the film an American geologist learns that a solar flare is heating the core of the earth and causing its tectonic plates to shift drastically. Before long, mass earthquakes and tsunamis are annihilating mankind. Los Angeles slips into the Pacific Ocean. The White House gets wiped out by a giant wave, with the president still inside. Soon, most of the earth is submerged in water.

China's Great Awakening How the People's Republic Got Religion

By Ian Johnson

For decades, outsiders have thought of China as a country where religion and faith play marginal roles. Images of Chinese people overwhelmingly involve economics or politics: massive cities sprouting up, diligent workers laboring in vast factories, nouveaux riches flaunting their wealth, farmers toiling in polluted fields, dissidents languishing in prison. The stories about faith in China that do exist tend to involve victims, such as Chinese Christians forced to worship underground or groups such as Falun Gong being repressed by the government.

Danish intelligence: al-Qaida could grow as IS weakens

Danish intelligence: al-Qaida could grow as IS weakens 

Danish intelligence officials say al-Qaida “still has ambitions to attack the West,” adding that support for the extremist network may increase as the Islamic State group weakens. Finn Borch Andersen, head of Denmark’s Security and Intelligence Service, says al-Qaida’s capability primarily lies in North, West and East Africa and in Yemen but the network has also “a significant presence” in Syria that may pose a threat to the West. Borch Andersen says foreign fighters who have left Syria and Iraq represent “a terror threat” but added access to Europe is “restricted by increased security measures,” such as border controls within the European Union. In the agency’s terror threat assessment for Denmark, presented Friday, he said the threat to the country remains significant and “is primarily posed by militant Islamism.”

From Bad To Worse? 5 Things 2018 Will Bring To The Middle East

by James L. Gelvin

After all, few experts foresaw Anwar al-Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem in 1977, which led to the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab state, nor did they predict the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79 or the Arab uprisings of 2010-11. Having taught and written about the Middle East for three decades, however, I feel confident in making the following forecast for the region in 2018.

1. The Syrian conflict will drag on without resolution.

Are Jihadi Motives Really a Mystery?

by Raymond Ibrahim

The mainstream media would have us believe that Akayed Ullah's bombing of a New York City subway on December 11 was motivated by concern for Muslim refugees in Bangladesh. The so-called mainstream media's approach to and apologias for Islamic terrorism have become as predictable as they are farcical. In a recent piece titled, "A Mysterious Act of Mercy by the Subway Bombing Suspect," the New York Times' Jeffrey Gettleman portrays would-be suicide bomber Akayed Ullah—whose foiled attempt at Times Square subway last month could have massacred countless Americans—as just another Muslim youth angered at and responding to the mistreatment of Muslims, that is, a Muslim with legitimate "grievances." This is clear from the opening sentences:

MILITARY AND POLICE Putin’s New Cyber Weapon May Be GPS Spoofing

By Bart Marcois 

Imagine the chaos and destruction that can be caused in modern warfare if a guided missile can be misdirected by a false GPS signal. That may well be the goal of Russian cyber warfare engineers, as they aim to nullify a longtime U.S. advantage. It’s called GPS Spoofing, and it may be about to arrive on the battlefield.The issue received attention this week because Russian taxi passengers have been tweeting about comically high fares in taxicabs in Moscow. Some were presented fares as high as $5,000 for rides from the suburbs to downtown. The taxi meters use GPS to determine fares, and they had registered signals indicating the cars were in distant provinces or countries. One car registered as being in Romania.

North Korea Plans to Defeat the U.S. Army in a War. Here's How.

Michael Peck

Normal military doctrine says that an attacker should outnumber the defender by at least three to one at the point of attack. But since when is North Korea normal? The Korean People's Army (KPA) believes that it only needs to amass a two to one edge on the battlefield to defeat U.S. and South Korean troops. What's more, North Korea seems to believe that it can win using the same tactics that Chinese troops successfully employed in the Korean War.

Why Is Japan Populist-Free?

Contemporary Japan may have its flaws, but it is now much more egalitarian than the United States, India, or many countries in Europe. By remaining a country of, by, and for the middle class, where the most affluent tend to be discreet, Japan has avoided the dangerous politics roiling developed and developing countries alike. TOKYO – Even as a wave of right-wing populism is sweeping Europe, the United States, India, and parts of Southeast Asia, Japan has so far appeared to be immune. There are no Japanese demagogues, like Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump, Narendra Modi, or Rodrigo Duterte, who have exploited pent-up resentments against cultural or political elites. Why?2

Shake-Up at Pentagon Intelligence Agency Sparks Concern


The director of the agency responsible for analyzing satellite imagery says he wants to modernize the work. Some employees fear they’re being replaced by artificial intelligence. When Kim Jong Un gears up to launch a ballistic missile, analysts at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency comb through satellite imagery, looking for distinct signs on the the ground in North Korea indicating test preparations are underway.

The Wolfowitz Doctrine

by Dan Steinbock

Despite continued nuclear threats, all US postwar presidents have failed to reset relations with Russia. Why? The “New Cold War" between the US and Russia began a decade ago. The elevated tensions in the Korean Peninsula are only a part of the collateral damage around the world. But what led to the new friction? The simple response is the Wolfowitz Doctrine.

The Wolfowitz Doctrine

North Korea's Nuclear Infrastructure

by Martin Armstrong

At a time when tensions between the United States and North Korea are only getting higher, the threat of an armed conflict erupting has arguably not been greater since the sinking of the ROKS Cheonan and the bombardment of Yeonpyeong island in 2010. Two major differences between 2010 and 2017 though, are a somewhat unpredictable president sitting in Washington and the apparent advancement of North Korea's nuclear programme. In this new climate, our infographic uses information from Nuclear Threat Initiative to show where Kim Jong-un's nuclear infrastructure is located.

Draft Nuke Review: Big NC3 Changes, LRSO OK’d, Small Yield Nukes Back


That’s the most essential message of the leaked Nuclear Posture Review. (Kudos to my colleague Ashley Feinberg at Huffington Post for getting this one.) The Pentagon immediately issued a statement saying it’s pre-decisional and they don’t comment on such documents and it could change, etc. etc. However, as one who has read a number of such documents over the years, this appears to be a very mature draft since it includes the Defense Secretary’s introduction, has no spelling mistakes I could find and is well written in a consistent voice.To our readers, the biggest news is that it charges Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, to deliver a plan to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on to change how the Nuclear Command, Control and Communications (NC3) “to ensure its effective functioning and modernization.”

The Euro in Decline How the Currency Could Spoil the Global Financial System

By Kathleen R. McNamara

When the euro was created some 15 years ago, there was speculation that the new currency might come to challenge the dominance of the U.S. dollar as the international reserve currency of choice. But the euro’s guardian, the European Central Bank (ECB), had little appetite for such a role. Likewise, foreign exchange markets showed little support for supplanting the dollar’s hegemony with the euro, despite a move into euro-denominated bonds and a strengthening of the value of the euro over the 2000s. This has meant that the EU has, in large part, played a “helper” role in U.S. financial hegemony throughout the postwar era to today.

How do we make the electrical grid more resilient?

Jeff Terry

This week, a US federal commission said “no” to a proposed rule that would have paid a premium to coal and nuclear power plants. The rule, put forward by Energy Secretary Rick Perry with the goal of protecting the electricity grid from power outages, was controversial. Critics said it unfairly favored two flailing industries over renewable energy. Perry argued, though, that only power plants capable of storing at least 90 days’ worth of fuel onsite—in other words, coal and nuclear—are reliable enough to keep the US grid resilient through the worst winter storms.

Pentagon Panel Urges Trump Team to Expand Nuclear Options

John M. Donnelly

A blue-ribbon Pentagon panel has urged the Trump administration to make the U.S. arsenal more capable of “limited” atomic war.m The Defense Science Board, in an unpublished December report obtained by CQ Roll Call, urges the president to consider altering existing and planned U.S. armaments to achieve a greater number of lower-yield weapons that could provide a “tailored nuclear option for limited use.” The recommendation is more evolutionary than revolutionary, but it foreshadows a raging debate just over the horizon. Fully one-third of the nuclear arsenal is already considered low-yield, defense analysts say, and almost all the newest warheads are being built with less destructive options. But experts on the Pentagon panel and elsewhere say the board’s goal is to further increase the number of smaller-scale nuclear weapons — and the ways they can be delivered — in order to deter adversaries, primarily Russia, from using nuclear weapons first.

US Military Eyes New Mini-Nukes for 21st-Century Deterrence


The future of nuclear weapons might not be huge and mega destructive but smaller, tactical, and frighteningly, more common. The U.S. Air Force is investigating more options for “variable yield” bombs — nukes that can be dialed down to blow up an area as small as a neighborhood, or dialed up for a much larger punch. The Air Force currently has gravity bombs that either have or can be set to low yields: less than 20 kilotons. Such a bomb dropped in the center of Washington, D.C., wouldn’t even directly affect Georgetown or Foggy Bottom. But a Minuteman III missile tipped with a 300-kiloton warhead would destroy downtown Washington and cause third-degree burns into Virginia and Maryland.

How the Eurozone Might Split

By Mark Blyth and Simon Tilford

In February 2016, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development opined that developed country growth prospects had “practically flat-lined” and that only a stronger “commitment to raising public investment would boost demand and help support future growth.” Fast-forward some 24 months, and despite Brexit, the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, and the rise of the populist Alternative für Deutschland in Germany, the euro seems to be a much better bet than it has been in a long time. But has the euro really weathered the crisis and come out stronger? In this article, we make two interrelated arguments about the future of the eurozone.

Those Who Wrote Off Merkel Were Wrong Again

Leonid Bershidsky 

How many world leaders can go 24 hours non-stop, debating policy minutiae with bitter rivals and truculent allies -- and hammer out a deal more or less on their own terms? Certainly not many, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is one of them. For the umpteenth time, she proved she was being written off too early by reaching a preliminary coalition deal with the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

This is already the longest post-World War II period in which 

Amazon Vs. Google - The Battle For Smart Speaker Market Share

Steve Rabuchin, the VP of Amazon Alexa, has a vision.

He dreams of customers having a conversation – not just with voice-enabled devices like the Amazon Echo, but with appliances, cars, and everything in between. Though that dream may not be realized in the short term, sales of smart speakers are increasing as people warm up to the idea of using voice-assisted devices in their homes. 

Don’t fear the robopocalypse: Autonomous weapons expert Paul Scharre

Lucien Crowder

Paul Scharre, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, has pretty good credentials when it comes to autonomous weapons. If you’ve ever heard of Directive 3000.09, which established the Defense Department’s guidelines for autonomous weapons, Scharre led the working group that drafted it. And he’s got a relevant book due out in April: Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of WarFor what it’s worth, Scharre also led a Defense Department team that established guidelines on directed energy technologies. And another on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Prior to his time in the Pentagon, he served as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan and as a civil affairs specialist in Iraq.