21 January 2018

Eastern India's Embrace of China

By Tridivesh Singh Maini

In recent years, a number of Indian states, including, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh have been proactively reaching out to Chinese provinces, seeking foreign direct investment. Chief ministers of various states, cutting across party lines, have been visiting China in recent years, such as Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh’s 2016 visit to China. The India-China Forum of State Provincial Leaders, which was inaugurated during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s China visit, was initiated with an eye on promoting robust links between Chinese provinces and Indian states. There have been efforts on both sides to explore new opportunities, and look at underexplored investment destinations. For India, that means looking beyond the usual destinations of Guangzhou or Shanghai; on the Chinese side, the effort has been to look beyond Maharashtra, Gujarat, and southern Indian states.

Why Haj Subsidy Is Not Comparable To What The Government Spends On Indic Religious Events

It is not surprising that as soon as the National Democratic Alliance government announced an end to the Haj subsidy earlier this week, the “secular” media popped the question: what about the subsidies paid for Hindu pilgrims going to Manasarovar? And what about the crores spent on the Kumbh melas? India’s rising mini-Jinnah, Asaduddin Owaisi of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, even asked what about Article 290A, which promises all of Rs 46.5 lakh to the Travancore Devaswom Board.

China’s clout grows in South Asia, but can India raise its game?

Harsh V. Pant

Harsh V. Pant says the Chinese offers of economic cooperation and infrastructural development in India’s own backyard are reshaping regional relationships, and are a test of India’s own global ambitions The past year has marked a turning point in Sino-Indian relations in more ways than one. If 2017 began with India taking a strong stance against China’s ambitious “Belt and Road Initiative”, it ended with China’s tightening grip in South Asia. In between was the 73-day long Doklam stand-off between Asia’s two giants. The year’s events underscore the challenges for this bilateral relationship in ways few would have anticipated in the recent past. India and China increasingly jostle with each other for strategic space. And South Asia is fast emerging a theatre of Sino-Indian rivalry.

INS Arihant Accident Raises Questions About the Sustainability of India's SSBN Force

By Robert Farley

As news emerged of an accident that may have damaged INS Arihant, it’s worth considering just how difficultgetting a sea-based nuclear deterrent off the ground (or under the sea) can be. India has embarked on the pursuit of an SSBN force much differently than any previous nuclear power, and even other navies have struggled to make it work. The idea of putting part of a nuclear deterrent on submarines emerged in the 1950s, as the United States and the USSR experimented with arming diesel-electric boats with rudimentary cruise and ballistic missiles. The value of nuclear propulsion was immediately obvious, as it allowed subs to remain on patrol for long periods of time.

India tests-fires Agni-V ballistic missile, a nuclear-capable ICBM

India tests-fires Agni-V, a nuclear-capable ICBM 

The nuclear-capable Agni-V is believe to be India’s most advanced ICBM. It was fired Thursday morning India time from Abdul Kalam island off the coast of the eastern state of Odisha, the ministry said in a tweet.It called the test a “major boost” to the country’s defense capabilities.‘Stepping up the complexity’ India is believed to have around 120 to 130 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, according to the Federation of American Scientists, compared to several thousand for the US. Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT who studies nuclear proliferation, said Thursday’s test did not demonstrate any “new capability, (this) was simply a developmental test before India inducts it into operational range."Narang said it’s possible India’s armed forces were testing the canister the missile is launched out of, as well as its ejection, flight performance and accuracy – a "regular technical test in that regard."Ajai Shukla, a New Delhi-based defense analyst and former Indian army colonel, said the country has been "gradually stepping up the complexity of the testing process."The Agni-V has been tested five times since 2012, with the most recent being in December 2016

What Pakistan's Decision to Pull Out of a Mega Dam Project Tells Us About the Future of CPEC

By Umair Jamal

About a month ago, Pakistan withdrew its request to include the $14-billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project citing strict monetary conditions on Beijing’s part as being against the country’s national interests. The fact that an energy-starved country like Pakistan has pulled out of a dam project that it has not been able to complete on its own for years is significant. While the exclusion of a single major project doesn’t mean that the whole infrastructure scheme between the two countries is in danger, observers warn that Beijing’s strict monetary conditions have landed the future of Pakistan’s whole economy in a tight spot. The whole process of Chinese-funded projects has not been transparent. There are alarming reports about the levels of debt these secret dealings will impose on Pakistan.

What Pakistan's Decision to Pull Out of a Mega Dam Project Tells Us About the Future of CPEC

By Umair Jamal

About a month ago, Pakistan withdrew its request to include the $14-billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project citing strict monetary conditions on Beijing’s part as being against the country’s national interests. The fact that an energy-starved country like Pakistan has pulled out of a dam project that it has not been able to complete on its own for years is significant. While the exclusion of a single major project doesn’t mean that the whole infrastructure scheme between the two countries is in danger, observers warn that Beijing’s strict monetary conditions have landed the future of Pakistan’s whole economy in a tight spot. The whole process of Chinese-funded projects has not been transparent. There are alarming reports about the levels of debt these secret dealings will impose on Pakistan.

China prepares to deploy nuclear submarines at Pakistan's Gwadar Port: True face of CPEC?

China has already begun work on infrastructure required to station nuclear submarines at the Gwadar Port in southwestern Pakistan. This vindicates India's long-standing discomfort over the possibility that the true purpose of China's involvement in Gwadar is strategic more than trade. Gwadar Port, which China has financed and built, would give Beijing the direct strategic access and to the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) that it has always craved, and give it blue water naval capability. The stationing of a submarine fleet there would also allow China to keep close tabs on the operations and influence of the Indian Navy.

The Risk of a Nuclear-Tinged South Asian Crisis Is Rising

By Sameer Lalwani and Hannah Haegeland

The latest U.S. spat with Pakistan, initiated by President Donald Trump’s inaugural tweet of 2018, suggests that the recently revamped U.S. South Asia strategy may already be in jeopardy. The South Asia strategy was in some ways a test run for the National Security Strategy (NSS). As the first major strategy review conducted by the Trump administration, it began as a review of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, but eventually expanded over nearly six months into a U.S. strategy for the region. Both reflect that the risks of South Asian crises are high on the list of U.S. concerns. Trump’s speech announcing the new South Asia strategy on August 21, 2017, stated that “Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict. And that could happen.” The subsequent NSS released in December described India and Pakistan as “two nuclear-armed states…present[ing] some of the most complicated national security challenges.” The implication of course is that conflict between India and Pakistan — which have fought four wars, numerous skirmishes, and regularly exchange fire across their disputed border — could potentially result in a mushroom cloud.

How China Infiltrated U.S. Classrooms


Last year, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte made an announcement to great fanfare: The university would soon open a branch of the Confucius Institute, the Chinese government-funded educational institutions that teach Chinese language, culture and history. The Confucius Institute would “help students be better equipped to succeed in an increasingly globalized world,” says Nancy Gutierrez, UNC Charlotte’s dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and “broaden the University’s outreach and support for language instruction and cultural opportunities in the Charlotte community,” according to a press release.

China’s involvement in Africa is changing from “business only” to include peacekeeping and other political interests.

By Felipe Cruvinel

It would be tempting to write off the Chinese-built Doraleh port in Djibouti, inaugurated in late May, as another phase of Beijing’s African investment spree. China’s state companies have spent years entrenching themselves in the continent’s shipping, mining and defense industries. The port, however, adds a whole new dimension to China’s role in the most tangible of ways: an adjacent military base, currently under construction, which represents Beijing’s first permanent overseas installation and may bring an end to its long-held policy of “non-intervention” across the African continent, from the Horn of Africa to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Long home to French, US, and Japanese forces, Djibouti has found its niche in its strategic position atop the shipping lanes connecting the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Its relative stability in the fractious region belies an authoritarian government ruling over an ethnically divided nation. Since 1999, President Guelleh’s tenure has been marked by reliable economic growth at the expense of individual freedoms.

Here’s How to Stop Squelching New Ideas, Eric Schmidt’s Advisory Board Tells DoD

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“DoD does not have an innovation problem; it has an innovation adoption problem,” reads one of the new recommendations from the Defense Innovation Board. It even has an “innovation theater” problem: the preference for small cosmetic steps over actual change. The advisory is chaired by former Alphabet chief executive Eric Schmidt. Their latest series of recommendations, to be voted on and then (after a successful vote) delivered to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, suggests that the Pentagon too often tends to squelch its new ideas with outdated bureaucratic models and obsolete cultural notions. Obtained exclusively by Defense One before the meeting, A draft of several new recommendations include:

ASEAN’S Continuing South China Sea Dilemma – Analysis

By Mico A. Galang*
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“There is currently no alternative to ASEAN’s convening power in Asia [since the] great powers are not capable of leading Asian regional institutions because of mutual mistrust and a lack of legitimacy,” Amitav Acharya argued. Albeit a loose grouping of diverse countries, ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is a key player in shaping the multilateral architecture of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Indeed, ASEAN is at the center of various multilateral platforms—which include the major powers like the United States (US) and China—such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN-Plus Three (APT), ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM), among others.

So The Eurozone Is Finally Recovering? Think Again!

by Elliott Morss
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For example, Derek Halpenny comments as follows:
In the second quarter of 2017, annual real growth in gross domestic product rose above 2 per cent for the first time since 2011. The Eurozone unemployment rate is also falling more sharply than expected. Recent data from the ECB reveal that foreign investors bought a record €238bn worth of Eurozone equities between May and July of this year....Because of fluctuations in the exchange rate, US investors have experienced an 8.1 per cent loss, while the S&P 500 is up 28.5%....Investors have woken up to the Eurozone recovery. They look set to stay.

Avoiding Armageddon in Korea Or Launching a War for the Ages

Most people intuitively get it. An American preventive strike to wipe out North Korea’s nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles, or a commando raid launched with the same goal in mind, is likely to initiate a chain of events culminating in catastrophe. That would be true above all for the roughly 76 million Koreans living on either side of the Demilitarized Zone. Donald Trump, though, seems unperturbed. His recent contribution to defusing the crisis there: boasting that his nuclear button is “bigger and more powerful” than that of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Exclusive: Here Is A Draft Of Trump’s Nuclear Review. He Wants A Lot More Nukes.

By Ashley Feinberg

In his first year in office, President Barack Obama gave a landmark address in Prague in which he famously affirmed “clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” The commitment to total nuclear disarmament was a major departure from the George W. Bush administration — the first time, in fact, that the United States had declared a nuclear-free world a major policy goal.



The Pentagon plans to build two new nuclear weapons to keep up with the modernizing arsenals of Russia and China, according to a comprehensive Department of Defense review on the U.S. military’s nuclear capabilities, sparking heated debate about the strategy: Will it bolster the U.S. military's ability to deter threats, or make a nuclear war more likely?  "While the United States has continued to reduce the number and salience of nuclear weapons, others, including Russia and China, have moved in the opposite direction," an unclassified draft of the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) states. "The United States must be capable of developing and deploying new capabilities, if necessary, to deter, assure, achieve U.S. objectives if deterrence fails, and hedge against uncertainty."

U.S., Iran: The Nuclear Deal Survives Another 120 Days

In Stratfor's 2018 Annual Forecast, we wrote that the United States' continued hard-line policy toward Iran would jeopardize the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action but that the nuclear deal would survive the year. U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to approve the deal, while also promising not to renew it again and pursuing further sanctions against Iran, confirms that forecast.

The Slippery Task of Balancing Supply and Demand in the Oil Market

Russia and many OPEC members view higher prices with cautious optimism. They've tried to curb production enough to keep oil prices stable without curbing it so much so as to direct investment to North American shale oil production or alternative energies. There are conflicting views about how much U.S. production has actually increased and how sustainable the increase is, but many producer countries remain concerned. 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring a massive productivity boom

What good is technology?

I believe technology serves us best when it gives us more time to do things that are uniquely human. This includes activities that are enjoyable, creative, and productive.

For nations and societies, the “good” or benefit of technology is often expressed in economic terms, in measures such as workplace productivity and business growth.

As we move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the digital transformation of life as we know it, the potential benefits and risks of this new era are in ongoing discussion, in Davos and elsewhere.

Pentagon Suggests Countering Devastating Cyberattacks With Nuclear Arms

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A newly drafted United States nuclear strategy that has been sent to President Trump for approval would permit the use of nuclear weapons to respond to a wide range of devastating but non-nuclear attacks on American infrastructure, including what current and former government officials described as the most crippling kind of cyberattacks. For decades, American presidents have threatened “first use” of nuclear weapons against enemies in only very narrow and limited circumstances, such as in response to the use of biological weapons against the United States. But the new document is the first to expand that to include attempts to destroy wide-reaching infrastructure, like a country’s power grid or communications, that would be most vulnerable to cyberweapons.

As America’s Nukes and Sensors Get More Connected, the Risk of Cyber Attack Is Growing

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Building nuclear weapons and warning systems that can be relied upon is harder than it was during the Cold War, thanks to the growing number of digital connections between various parts of the nuclear enterprise. Those links are intended to improve everything from commanders’ response times to the accuracy of missile defenses, but they also provide more avenues of attack and make it harder to know your exact level of readiness, according to new reports from U.S. Air Force advisors and a London think tank. 

Time to Get Serious about Hardware Cybersecurity

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities should be the kick in the pants that moves the US government past wishful thinking.  When we hear about a new cyber vulnerability, we often think of software bugs or poorly written code — serious problems to be sure, yet typically solved with an appropriate patch. But fixing hardware problems like the recently discovered vulnerabilities in chips made by Intel, ARM, AMD, and Qualcomm is generally far more expensive, time-consuming, and disruptive. Eliminating the threat posed by the Meltdown and Spectre exploits, for example (and despite the reassurances being issued by major technology companies) will likely take more just a software patch. The fix will probably require some sort of hardware replacement in each of the millions of devices and systems that use these ubiquitous chips: laptops, smartphones, cloud servers, critical infrastructure control systems, weapons from missiles to fighter jets, other defense-related systems, and more.

CSA MiIley Bets On ‘Radical’ Tech, Promises No More FCS

CRYSTAL CITY: The Army needs revolutionary technologies from robot tanks to a long-range super-rifle, the Chief of Staff said today — and it can get them without repeating the mistakes that doomed high-tech programs in the past. By reforming the acquisition bureaucracy, embracing commercial technology and rigorously prototyping new tech to work out bugs, Gen. Mark Milley said, the Army can improve 10-fold on its current weapons without falling into the pitfalls that doomed its last attempt to leap ahead, the canceled Future Combat System.

What’s Behind Vietnam’s New Military Cyber Command?

By Prashanth Parameswaran

On Monday, Vietnam officially announced what the government characterized as a designated cyberspace operations command. The development was just the latest in a series of moves we have seen from the Southeast Asian state as it seeks to boost its capabilities to respond to growing challenges in the cyber realm. Vietnamese officials have repeatedly stressed that a confluence of several trends, including the increasing number of Vietnamese going online and the emphasis on the fourth industrial revolution, presents opportunities but also major challenges for Hanoi, especially in the cyber realm where opponents can use various means to sabotage the regime. Not unlike some of its other Asian neighbors, the Vietnamese government has come to recognize that cyber is a critical fifth combat area for the country to master, following land, water, air, and space.

Becoming an Officer and a Gentleman

By Mark Thompson 
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Have no fear, Air Force Academy cadet: the service is seeking outside help to calm those Aim-High-society jitters. The Colorado Springs, Colo., academy “has a requirement for a comprehensive etiquette training program instructing cadets and staff in military protocol for social and business situations as well as the skills they need to succeed in the U.S. Air Force and in life,” it said in a Thursday contract solicitationThat’s because being an Air Force officer is not all tarmac, cockpits and ready rooms. According to the academy, it’s also “table etiquette (settings, seating, decorum, conversation), the art of conversation (tact and diplomacy, small talk, use of proper language style, body language and non-verbal communication), social conduct in stressful situations, leadership roles outside the military structure, and ceremonies.”