27 January 2018

Pakistan’s Burgeoning Relationship with China

By Muhammad Akbar Notezai

As a Pakistani journalist, China has always been of great interest to me. In recent years, I have had the opportunity to explore the country twice. Each time one visits China, it looks different and more developed compared to the last time. Many parts of the country are still changing rapidly. Pakistan’s most populous city, Lahore, is similar in that respect. In Lahore, in contrast to Pakistan’s other cities, there are roads, tunnels, buses, underpasses and other infrastructure, which look like they might have been designed in China’s capital, Beijing. It also seems that Pakistan wants to copy China at a broader level, following the investment – the largest in Pakistan’s history – in the multibillion dollar project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

What a U.S.-China Trade War Would Look Like

By John Edwards

Sometime soon, US President Donald Trump will announce his plan to respond to what the administration calls China’s “economic aggression”. When he does, it is not only China that needs to be prepared to respond. Together accounting for well over a third of global output, the collateral damage of a serious trade fight between the two countries would be enormous, let alone the damage casued to the two nations directly.

North Korea: China's Unwelcome Mirror

By Bonnie Girard

There may be several reasons why Xi Jinping, and Chinese leaders before him, have been reluctant to “solve” the North Korea problem. Some have suggested that the Chinese Communist Party leadership does not see North Korea as a problem, and to some extent, this is true. Why would the Chinese Communist Party, which has prevailed against overwhelming odds not only to stay in power, but also to propel its country dramatically forward, see its sister political party in North Korea as anything but legitimate? More importantly, if the Kim dynasty and the Communist Party in North Korea are in any way illegitimate, then does this not bite at the heels of the perceived legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party? Why would the Party do anything to undermine its own philosophical basis for power?

How Would a War Between the US and China End?

By Robert Farley

The question “How could war start between China and the United States?” has, quite reasonably, dominated much strategic analysis of East Asian politics. But wars that start have to end, sooner or later; Josh Rovner, associate professor in the School of International Service at American University, has repeatedly concentrated on the question “how does war between the United States and China end? In a recent article in the journal Diplomacy and Statecraft, Rovner notes that most analysts, and apparently most soldiers, expect that a war between China and the United States would end quickly. Theoretically, the collision of the two great reconnaissance-surveillance-strike complexes would quickly exhaust one side or the other of its most lethal weapons.

China Wants Confrontation in the South China Sea

Gordon G. Chang
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Last Wednesday, the USS Hopper, an Arleigh Burke–class missile destroyer, sailed within twelve nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal, a few rocks in the northern portion of the South China Sea. We would not have known about the sail-by if we were relying on the Pentagon. Beijing announced the event and then made threats. The Chinese, we have to conclude, are itching for a confrontation. Therefore, strategic Scarborough Shoal, a mere 124 nautical miles from the main Philippine island of Luzon and guarding Manila and Subic bays, could be the hinge on which America’s relations with China swings.

Turkey's Afrin Offensive and America's Future in Syria

By Aaron Stein

Last week, Turkey launched an offensive to take control of Afrin, a small and isolated enclave in northwestern Syria controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has fought an insurgency in southeastern Turkey for just over three decades. The Turkish offensive has sparked conversation about U.S. strategy in Syria, and in particular whether Washington can balance its relationships with Turkey—a NATO ally—and the Syrian Kurds, who have been the United States’ most reliable partners in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.

The ISIS defeat myth: No one talks about ISIS sympathizers and US military remaining in Syria


Under President Obama’s watch, the Islamic State conquered a so-called caliphate the size of Ohio in Syria and Iraq. Luckily a new, “tough” president — Donald Trump — stepped in, loosed restrictions on his military, and, defeated the bad guys. At least that’s the popular story and the party line. Of course, the ground-level truth is much messier. If ISIS is so decisively and irreversibly defeated, how then to explain last week’s gruesome double-suicide bombing in Baghdad and expert warnings that up to 10,000 ISIS loyalists remain in Iraq and Syria?

Trump Should Abide by His Own National Security Strategy

The United States could restore its global influence by adhering to its commitments.

With any other president occupying the White House, the above would be a strange headline. It typically goes without saying that presidents should follow their own strategies. But President Donald Trump’s raises a few questions — and not because it is a poorly crafted template for how the United States should engage with the world. Quite the opposite. The new National Security Strategy, released last month, is a commendable document that recognizes the reality of how countries interact and provides a comprehensive framework for the advancement of U.S. interests around the globe.

Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution for Life on Land

The stress on the earth’s natural systems caused by human activity has considerably worsened in the 25 years since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit in Brazil. As a result of the “great acceleration”1 in human economic activity since the mid-20th century, research from many earth system scientists’ suggests that life on land could be entering a period of unprecedented environmental systems change.

Serial Production of Russia's Deadliest Tank to Begin in 2020

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Russia will begin serial production of the third-generation T-14 Armata main battle tank (MBT) in 2020 with the first batch of T-14s purportedly to be deployed to the country’s Southern and Western military districts, a Russian defense industry source said in Moscow this week. “In accordance with the 2018-2027 State Armaments Program, the serial production of the T-14 tanks based on the Armata platform is planned to begin in 2020, hundreds of tanks will be made,” the source told TASS news agency.

The Glaring Flaws in the New Defense Strategy

By Harlan Ullman

Last week, retired Marine General now Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis released an 11-page summary of the nation’s latest national defense strategy. The strategy reflected the secretary’s philosophy and his experience as a brilliant practitioner of military art and a serious student of war in all its forms whose knowledge exceeds that of many scholars. The document is an extension of the last administration’s “four plus one” strategy.

Analysts: U.S. nuclear modernization plan under-invests in cybersecurity

by Sandra Erwin
Since a leaked draft of the Defense Department’s nuclear posture review was revealed by the Huffington Post, analysts and arms control experts have sounded alarms about language in the document that suggests the Trump administration would broaden the scenarios where it would be acceptable to use nuclear weapons. “For the first time in a long time there is an expansion of the circumstances under which a president would use nuclear weapons,” said Tom Countryman, chairman of the board of the Arms Control Association. One of those circumstances is a cyber attack.

This is how democracies die

by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

Blatant dictatorship – in the form of fascism, communism, or military rule – has disappeared across much of the world. Military coups and other violent seizures of power are rare. Most countries hold regular elections. Democracies still die, but by different means.  Since the end of the Cold War, most democratic breakdowns have been caused not by generals and soldiers but by elected governments themselves. Like Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, elected leaders have subverted democratic institutions in Georgia, Hungary, Nicaragua, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Ukraine. Democratic backsliding today begins at the ballot box. The electoral road to breakdown is dangerously deceptive. With a classic coup d’état, as in Pinochet’s Chile, the death of a democracy is immediate and evident to all. The presidential palace burns. The president is killed, imprisoned or shipped off into exile. The constitution is suspended or scrapped.



But while the private sector can offer higher pay and benefits to entice qualified applicants, the U.S. government isn’t so fortunate. To make matters worse, the federal government — including both the intelligence and defense community — has difficulty retaining the cybersecurity talent it already has, as talented experts may leave government service after a few years for lucrative private-sector jobs. Indeed, the National Security Agency, racked by deep morale problems, is suffering 8 to 9 percent attrition ratesamong its hackers.

Can Mattis Succeed Where His Predecessors Have Failed?

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Secretary of Defense James Mattis personally rolled out the U.S. government’s new National Defense Strategy in a speech last week, signaling his intellectual and bureaucratic ownership of the document. This is a good thing, and as one might expect from the so-called warrior monk, the strategy is a lot more about sensible approaches to a very complicated world — including a very strong emphasis on diplomacy and alliances — than it is about President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda.

Is Creativity Finally Dead?

Creativity has been on a downward spiral in many segments of society as a result of profound information overload. We can call up information on almost any topic with a few clicks of the keyboard. As a result, we’ve gained massive amounts of awareness into the way our world works and into things and people and places of which we would previously have never been exposed. And yet we’ve lost something, too: We’ve lost a sense of the powerful dangers of knowledge. We’ve lost the ability to create meaning and substance out of the power of not-knowing.

2018: Innovation — Trends and Opportunities

Technology is moving at an incredible pace. We live in an amazing era where things like autonomous cars, personalized medicine and quantum computing are becoming real as we speak; Artificial Intelligence, crypto-currencies, advanced automation, deep learning and concepts like Universal Basic Income are about to reshape our world — what an exciting era to live! he years to come will bring impressive technological breakthroughs with massive impact on our lives, markets and societies. In our connected world, with the unprecedented level of information, knowledge and ideas exchange, innovation is happening continuously, at scale and in several forms; it is driven by corporations, secret labs, universities, startups, research scientists or simply by thousands of creative individuals across the globe.

18 technology predictions for 2018

Azeem Azhar
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We are living in interesting times. Multiple technologies, improving exponentially, are converging. I have been chronicling this convergence for several years in my newsletter, Exponential View. As Bill Gates said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” Likewise, most annual predictions overestimate what can occur in a year, and underestimate the power of the trend over time.  Here are 18 areas, excluding climate change risks, which I think will be interesting to watch in the new year and why:

Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone


One year into Donald Trump’s presidency, U.S. foreign policy stands as wobbly and diminished as his critics had predicted. Our commitments are doubted (mainly because he has thrown doubt on whether he’d honor them). Our allies are seeking separate routes to security and fortune that bypass us and our interests. Our adversaries are probing the vacuums as areas for expansion. No one quite knows what we stand for, if anything. A Gallup poll released this weekshows America’s esteem around the globe at an all-time low, with the average rating plunging nearly 20 percentage points—in some of our most closely allied countries, more than 40 percentage points—since last year.

Why Cyberattacks Don’t Work as Weapons

By Myriam Dunn Cavelty

Cyberattacks must also be understood as a phenomenon of political violence and combated as such, says Myriam Dunn Cavelty. Digitalisation will fundamentally alter many aspects of our lives – in many cases for the better. However, our increasing dependence on computers and networks for data exchange and storage is creating new vulnerabilities for both individuals and society. The key word here is: cybersecurity. This encompasses more than just technical solutions: it involves not only security in cyberspace, but also security that is influenced by cyberspace.

Cyber Threats to Democratic Processes

By David Siman-Tov, Gabi Siboni and Gabrielle Arelle for Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)

In this article, David Siman-Tov et al highlight how elections are vulnerable to cyberattacks and other information operations, and how such weaknesses leave democratic nations open to the influence of foreign powers. Our authors conclude that the threat posed by such vulnerabilities is such that nations must recognize elections as a form of critical infrastructure. Further, states must protect each competent of electoral processes – including the media, public discourse, political parties and the voting system itself – if they are to preserve the health of their democracy.

6 reasons to be optimistic about the future of work

Saadia Zahidi

The path to a good life appears increasingly difficult to find and pursue for a growing number of people. A key factor driving these concerns is the extent to which opportunities for finding stable, meaningful work have increasingly become polarized, favouring those fortunate enough to be living in certain geographies and to be holding certain in-demand skills. We need a future in which a range of options open up for the many, not just for the few. How can we prepare everyone for the displacement – and the new opportunities – to come? Here are six findings from our new report, Towards a Reskilling Revolution: A Future of Jobs for All, on creating a future of jobs for all:

5 key trends for the future of healthcare

Albert Bourla
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A human embryo’s DNA is “edited” to take out a disease. Surgeons practice complicated procedures on models created by 3-D printers. A pre-programmed drone collects blood samples from residents of a rural village and travels back to the capital. These awe-inspiring scenarios have all recently unfolded in what is undoubtedly a golden era of innovation in healthcare. Rapid change and unprecedented opportunity are now the hallmarks of the biopharmaceutical industry. But the future of health won’t just be defined by the innovations we set out to create; it will be equally shaped by how we respond to — and anticipate — the challenges and consequences of each great advancement. The more we know, the more “known unknowns” are revealed. The boundaries of areas left for researchers to explore constantly expand, while possible applications of new technologies proliferate.

50 Years Ago, A US Military Jet Crashed In Greenland - With 4 Nuclear Bombs On Board

by Timothy J. Jorgensen

Fifty years ago, on Jan. 21, 1968, the Cold War grew significantly colder. It was on this day that an American B-52G Stratofortress bomber, carrying four nuclear bombs, crashed onto the sea ice of Wolstenholme Fjord in the northwest corner of Greenland, one of the coldest places on Earth.

The kill chain: inside the unit that tracks targets for US drone wars

Roy Wenzl in Wichita, Kansas

In a dimly lit room at McConnell air force base in south central Kansas, analysts from a national guard intelligence reconnaissance surveillance group watch live drone surveillance video coming from war zones in the Middle East. During combat, the analysts become part of a “kill chain” – analyzing live drone video, then communicating what they see – in instant-message chat with jet fighter pilots, operators of armed Predator and Reaper drones, and ground troops. They carry out drone warfare while sitting thousands of miles from battlefields. They don’t fly the drones and don’t fire the missiles. They video-stalk enemy combatants, and tell warfighters what they see. The work, they say, helps kill terrorists, including from Isis. the group does this work in the middle of America, at an air base surrounded by flat cow pastures and soybean fields. The 184th Intelligence Wing of the Kansas air national guard, started this work about 2002. Until last year, most people in Kansas knew nothing about their role in drone warfare.



Nearly 80 years ago, the German blitzkrieg took Europe by storm. Often lost in discussions about the German military’s panzers and Luftwaffe is that the assault on France would have never succeeded had it not been for “the remarkable performance of the German infantry.” Yes, it was the world’s best infantry small units that set the conditions for the German blitzkrieg in Sedan, France, allowing Germany to capture almost all of Western Europe in a month’s time. When the German Army was stopped at the Meuse River in Sedan, these small units, led by carefully selected and trained sergeants, crossed the water obstacle via small boats and then rapidly destroyed dozens of “pillbox” positions that anchored the French defensive system. The speed in which the Wehrmacht’s close combat “storm-troopers” destroyed these positions enabled their armor forces to cross the Meuse and continue their attack to the English Channel faster than the French could respond.