13 February 2018

When should India employ hard power?

Nitin Pai

I write this after the president of the Maldives has arrested judges of the Supreme Court instead of following its orders to release all political prisoners arrested under trumped up charges. It’s only the latest turn in a drama that started exactly six years ago when the country’s first democratically elected pro-India president was ousted in a coup. Among others, his successor repudiated an airport development contract that had been awarded to an Indian company. The $270 million in damages that international arbiters forced the Maldives to pay was financed through funds injected by Chinese and Saudi investors.

Inside the Indian government’s months-long struggle to curb cryptocurrencies

BYAnwesha Ganguly, Nupur Anand
India may finally have a set of draft rules for cryptocurrencies by the end of the year, but not before the debate within government circles heats up further. It is, as of now, a tug of war between the stakeholders: suspicion on one side, and a stiff upper lip on the other.

A wave of panic swept the Indian cryptocurrency ecosystem last week after finance minister Arun Jaitley, once again, expressed his strong dislike for virtual currencies.

Can the U.S. End Pakistan's Double Game?

Nisid Hajari
Steve Coll’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Ghost Wars” laid out in gut-wrenching detail the chain of events that led from one modern war in Afghanistan -- against the Soviets -- to the Sept. 11 attacks and the brink of another conflict. When the book came out in 2004, the U.S.-led war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda seemed on the wane, at least compared to the then-raging insurgency in Iraq. Soon, however, with the aid of their longtime sponsors in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the Taliban would reconstitute their movement and seize control over great swathes of the Afghan countryside, dueling the U.S. and the Afghan Army to a stalemate. If current trends hold, the U.S. will in the not-too-distant future be sending soldiers to the “graveyard of empires” that hadn’t even been born on 9/11.

Afghanistan: In midwinter attacks, a brutal Pakistani reply to Trump

FEBRUARY 9, 2018 LONDON—Why, in the dead of winter, two months before the traditional start of Afghanistan’s fighting season, has the country been rocked by four attacks that killed more than 150 people?

The trigger was not a change in the Taliban’s fighting calendar, analysts say, nor was it necessarily evidence of intensified competition between Taliban and the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) to lead the insurgency against the Western-backed government.

The US–Pakistan–China nexus

Ramesh Thakur

On 19 January, Defense Secretary James Mattis released an unclassified summary of the Congress-mandated US national defence strategy. In this administration’s outlook, the US military faces five major security challenges: China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and terrorists. The first two are elevated above the other three across the conflict spectrum because both China and Russia are ‘revisionist powers’ bent on ‘undermining the international order from within’. In particular, the top threat, China, ‘is leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce neighboring countries to reorder the Indo-Pacific region to their advantage’ in pursuit of ‘Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term’.

The Case for Counter Insurgency ‘Light’ in Afghanistan

By Charles Barham

"One man seemed to speak for everyone when he made a brief, impassioned plea to the visiting officials. “Our homes are being destroyed, our youths are being killed, people are suffering every day and being forgotten,” he said. “If, God forbid, we lose Lashkar Gah, then Helmand will collapse and the whole region and Afghanistan will collapse. Please save us from this chaos.”

Why is Modi seeking US permission to remove Yameen in Maldives?

Bharat Karnad

As was intimated in previous post, and something newspaper reports today confirm, the Modi government is seeking Washington’s permission to act on Maldives to restore the sanctity of the Courts in that country that ruled against President Abdulla Yameen’s staying in office. Yameen is described by his political rival and India friend Mohammad Nasheed as the “villain in paradise”, whose ouster from power is sought by Nasheed and the entire political opposition. Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot have a clearer picture of the emerging China threat in the Maldives than the one Nasheed has painted for Delhi. If despite this, he persists with the “frightened rabbit” policy natural to MEA that abhors coercion and “military diplomacy”, then the Indian PM will deserve every brickbat that is coming his way. Maldives, Nasheed wrote in an op/ed, is being “sold off” “piece by piece, island by island” to China.

Who Killed More: Hitler, Stalin, or Mao?

Ian Johnson

In these pages nearly seven years ago, Timothy Snyder asked the provocative question: Who killed more, Hitler or Stalin? As useful as that exercise in moral rigor was, some think the question itself might have been slightly off. Instead, it should have included a third tyrant of the twentieth century, Chairman Mao. And not just that, but that Mao should have been the hands-down winner, with his ledger easily trumping the European dictators’. 

While these questions can devolve into morbid pedantry, they raise moral questions that deserve a fresh look, especially as these months mark the sixtieth anniversary of the launch of Mao’s most infamous experiment in social engineering, the Great Leap Forward. It was this campaign that caused the deaths of tens of millions and catapulted Mao Zedong into the big league of twentieth-century murders. 

Tit-for-tat cycle with China will hurt U.S. economy

Ryan Hass

There are legitimate reasons for growing public frustration with China, writes Ryan Hass. The Chinese have overstepped in key areas, and it is appropriate and necessary for the United States to push back against problematic Chinese behavior. But before doing so, the administration owes the American people an honest accounting of the stakes involved in the U.S.-China relationship. This piece originally appeared in the Seattle Times.

Artificial Intelligence: China’s High-Tech Ambitions

By Sophie-Charlotte Fischer 

China aims to become the world’s premier artificial intelligence innovation center by 2030. But does Beijing have the innovation capacity and strategy in place to achieve this goal? In this article, Sophie-Charlotte Fischer responds. She contends that while the US is still the global leader in AI, China’s ambitions should not be underestimated. Further, this is not just because of the state support behind Beijing’s plans but as Washington lacks an AI strategy of its own.

China aims to become a world leader in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) by 2030. This goal is linked to Beijing’s efforts to make its economy more innovative, modernize its military, and gain influence globally. While the US currently retains an edge in AI, China’s ambitions are likely to set off a new technology race.

How Russian cyber-meddling can inspire China

Kent Harrington

For President Xi Jinping, maintaining domestic stability is a top priority, a point underscored by China’s annual budget for internal security. At well over US$100 billion, the official number is low. Like defence outlays, the real number is much higher, owing to hidden spending, including on research and development.

For example, China is exploring how artificial intelligence and big data can be used to monitor everything from social media to credit-card spending, and it plans to assign all citizens a social-reliability rating to weed out potential troublemakers. The regime’s Orwellian strategy is focused squarely on social media and controlling not just what is said, but also how information flows into and around the country.

Stop Giving North Korea a Pass

By Joseph Bosco

The Trump administration has withdrawn the nomination of Victor Cha as U.S. ambassador to South Korea because of policy differences over North Korea. Cha opposes any preventive use of force — the "bloody nose" scenario — except in response to an actual or imminent attack on the territory or forces of the United States, Japan, or South Korea. He has stated his position in a recent Washington Post op-ed and in interviews.

Cha argues that a preventive strike “would only delay North Korea's missile-building and nuclear programs, which are buried in deep, unknown places impenetrable to bunker-busting bombs.” He seems to assume a one-shot big-bomb detonation but does not consider the deeper penetration enabled by follow-on raids.

Ukraine is already on a second iteration of combat-ready war robots

By: Kelsey Atherton 

Robot soldiers from cinematic nightmares are glistening silver automatons, with rictus skulls or towering automaton bodies. Robot soldiers in real life? Not so much. They look very much like the rough assemblage of improvised weaponry that they are: a camera and a gun on a wheeled or tracked body. And rather than the exclusive domain of just a few wealthy states, these improvised robots are put together by irregular and low-budget forces, and fighting on active fronts.

Like in Ukraine.

Robots have seen action in Ukraine since at least 2016. Here’s a description of one such use in May 2017, from the Minsk Monitor:

Israel, Hizbollah and Iran: Preventing Another War in Syria

What’s new? A new phase in Syria’s war augurs escalation with Israel. As the Assad regime gains the upper hand, Hizbollah probes the south west and Iran seeks to augment its partners’ military capacities, Israel has grown fearful that Syria is becoming an Iranian base.

Why does it matter? “Rules of the game” that contained Israeli-Hizbollah clashes for over a decade have eroded. New rules can be established in Syria by mutual agreement or by a deadly cycle of attack and response in which everyone will lose. A broader war could be one miscalculation away.

How Can the U.S. Improve Internet Security, Speed and Access?

Wharton's Kevin Werbach and Northeastern's Andrea Matwyshyn discuss how the U.S. can take internet connectivity to the next level. A scrapped proposal for a nationalized 5G network continues to make waves in the telecom community, giving renewed focus to some of the challenges the U.S. faces in providing a safe, speedy and accessible internet.

Is America’s Balancing Act in the Gulf Sustainable?

Source Link

Bottom Line: As the ongoing dispute between Qatar and Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates enters its eighth month, the U.S. has been forced to strike a delicate balance in its dealings with critical allies in the Middle East. At the same time, the volatility triggered by this divide has paved the way for Iran to expand its subversive regional activity without encountering resistance posed by a unified Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). To this point, the U.S. appears to have taken a neutral position, but increasingly risks jeopardizing ties to both sides as Iran continues to build momentum in its quest to form a Shia crescent spanning the Middle East.

Sealing the border redux: American universities are losing international students

Dick Startz

One year ago, I wrote on these pages: “If new border controls prevent the entry of foreign students, or simply makes them feel unwelcome so they go elsewhere, American jobs and American students pay the price.” I regret to report that we have now started down that path.

First, the fact: College enrollment of international students is down for the first time in a long time. The drop is large, but not overwhelming—at least not yet. We’ve seen a one-year decrease of about 30,000 students, which isn’t massive. However, Department of Education data suggests that foreign-student enrollment had risen consistently for the last 35 years. Here’s a picture based on NSF data. (A nice article in Inside Higher Edgives more details.)

America’s Unimportant, Unserious Wars

by John Bolton
Source Link

For America, brewing risk in its financial system, economy, and the wellsprings of national strength was far greater than anything that terrorists or other global rivals could muster.

-- David Rothkopf

American soldiers spent another holiday season fighting what Foreign Affairs recently called “America’s Forgotten Wars.” Having spent my career serving in an Army at war, I would add unimportant and unserious. Though their last real peacetime holiday was 17 years ago, most Americans regard their seemingly perennial wars as an abstraction at best. The nation has ignored these wars beyond the most superficial attention and supercilious “Support the Troops” platitudes. America lacks both serious consideration about the ends America seeks in deploying its sons and daughters across the globe and the way it is achieving our stated ends.

The Chance of Accidental Nuclear War Is Growing


Recapitalizing the U.S. nuclear deterrent won't help. What's missing is a strategy and resources to reduce risks of cataclysmic accidents, miscalculation, and human error. 

The Trump administration’s nuclear posture statement comes at a particularly rough time, reminiscent of the transition from President Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan. Back then, an outgoing president had watched his ambitious arms control agenda fall to tatters. Negotiations on nuclear testing and space warfare had gone nowhere, while the prospect of a second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty had been shredded by Soviet tanks rumbling into Afghanistan.

The Two-Degree Delusion The Dangers of an Unrealistic Climate Change Target

By Ted Nordhaus

Global carbon emissions rose again in 2017, disappointing hopes that the previous three years of near zero growth marked an inflection point in the fight against climate change. Advocates of renewable energy had attributed flat emissions to the falling cost of solar panels. Energy efficiency devotees had seen in the pause proof that economic activity had been decoupled from energy consumption. Advocates of fossil fuel divestment had posited that the carbon bubble had finally burst.

BlackEnergy Malware: How Hackers May Tackle our Infrastructure

Adam Vincent 

On December 23 2015, 230,000 people in Ukraine were left in the dark for six hours after hackers compromised several power distribution centres which provide electricity to residents in Ukraine. The attackers used spear phishing emails and variants of the BlackEnergy 3 malware to gain a foothold into the IT networks of the electricity companies and knock real-world systems offline. 

This incident was the first recorded successful cyber-attack on an electric grid - and if a power outage at the beginning of winter doesn’t sound too bad, just consider the impact if such a breach were to affect the country’s hospitals.

A Nationalized 5G Network as Counter to China?

By Don Tse

United States national security officials considered building a secure 5G network to guard against China, a cybersecurity and economic threat, according to a memo and Powerpoint slides leaked to the media. The nationalized 5G plan did not enthuse the U.S. wireless industry. The Federal Communications Commission leadership also opposed the idea of a government-controlled network. The White House later clarified that the documents were dated and did not suggest an upcoming policy announcement.

There is a new cyberspying power in the world: The Netherlands

Max Smeets
Washington Post

There’s a new cyberpower in the world. Last month, Dutch reporters from Nieuwsuur and de Volkskrant revealed that in mid-2014 the Dutch Joint Sigint Cyber Unit (JSCU) infiltrated the computer networks of the infamous Russian hacker group “Cozy Bear.”

By sharing information with their U.S. counterparts, JSCU helped oust the Russian government-linked group thought to be responsible for the Democratic National Committee breach during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.


Ron Roberts 

Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. liked to give it to them double dirty. When he wanted his men to remember something of importance, he laced it with plenty of profanity. As he put it, “You can’t run an army without profanity; and it has to be eloquent profanity. An army without profanity couldn’t fight its way out of a piss-soaked paper bag.” Probably his best known speech, which he delivered with small variations on numerous occasions, was laced with expletives. This speech has become part of American culture, due in great part to George C. Scott’s Oscar-earning portrayal of the general in the 1970 movie, Patton.



As U.S. troops draw down, the Afghan military struggles to provide care for its countless wounded soldiers — on the battlefield and at home.

It’s a warm day in Kandahar as we wait in the parking lot of the airport on the whim of the Afghan army. We are supposed to spend three days at the Kandahar air base, in one of the most violent provinces in Afghanistan, documenting the plight of injured Afghan soldiers. In the long struggle for Afghanistan, the men of the Afghan army have borne the brunt of the fighting. But it has been an uncertain road to get here, not least because the government is reluctant to admit the extent of its own losses. Citing troop morale, the Afghan government stopped releasing official numbers years ago.