15 February 2018

A New Reality Confronts India in the Middle East

By Harsh V. Pant

India is still stuck in the age-old debates of the Israel-Arab rivalry whereas the Middle East has moved on. Can Modi change that?

As India seeks to pursue multi-dimensional engagement with the Middle East, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest visit to the region has merely underscored the growing salience of the region in the Indian foreign policy matrix. While a lot of focus is often given to India’s ‘Act East’ policy, India’s ‘Look West’ policy too has evolved rapidly. This was Modi’s fifth visit to West Asia in the last three and a half years and sustained high-level engagement has ensured that India’s voice is becoming an important one in a region that is witnessing major power rivalries playing out in the open like never before.

Could Russia Design a Fifth-Generation Variant of the Su-35 for India?

 By Abraham Ait

A stealth-capable Su-35 could be just what India needs to keep pace with China and Pakistan.

With the future of India’s HAL fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), a program to design an Indian next generation fighter based on the Russian Su-57 fifth-generation air superiority platform, currently uncertain, Moscow and New Delhi are reportedly discussing developing a “fifth-generation” version of the Su-35 for India’s needs. This would provide the Indian Air Force with a fifth-generation air superiority platform at a lower cost that the Su-57 derivative — a capability the country sorely needs in light of the induction of the J-20 heavy fifth-generation fighter in neighboring China.

The Major Flaws in Afghanistan's Intelligence War

Javid Ahmad

As the dust settles after the latest string of ghastly bombings in Kabul that took nearly 150 lives, including foreigners, the failure to prevent the attacks should be debated through one important prism: fixing the Afghan intelligence.

By any measure, the new wave of violence across Afghanistan is a forceful response by the Taliban—and, arguably, by Pakistan—to President Donald Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy, indicating that any American attempt to pressure them is not only ill-advised but it would fail. For Afghanistan, the recent spate of violence signifies important intelligence failures.

Pashtun Uprising 3.0

by Asim Yousafzai

Pakistan's relationship with its tribesmen along the Afghan border can best be described as transactional and the events of the 70-year history of the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland has just proved that.

It was 1948, a million people were killed and 15 million displaced in the bloody partition riots; Pakistan was less than a year old when its charismatic leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah decided to take the State of Jammu & Kashmir by force. Regular army of the nascent state was ill-organized and ill-equipped to engage in a full-scale war. The Pashtun tribes from the then Northwest Frontier Province were called upon and they did not hesitate to oblige. The tribesmen readily formed militias to invade Kashmir.

Emerging Asia risks never growing rich

James Crabtree

This should be a moment of grand optimism for Asia. The world economy is enjoying its fastest expansion in a decade. Forecasts show growth in developing nations accelerating especially quickly. Yet even putting this week's global stock market wobble to one side, such bullish projections do not tell the whole story.

They hide the fact that emerging countries as a whole are still growing more slowly than before the 2008 global financial crisis. More importantly, deeper structural changes, notably the way technology is reshaping global manufacturing, are now threatening important parts of Asia's development model.

How to Live with China in the Balkans

By Filip Vojvodic-Medic

The Balkans have recently seen a spike in Chinese investment activity similar to that being witnessed across Central Asia and Central and South America. While concerns about the geopolitical implications of this new trend are legitimate, all strategic calculations need to take into account the kind of influence an investment portfolio can buy, as well as the behavioral pattern of the investor and the investment recipient that is known from the past.

China-Russia Relations Reality Check

By: Peter Wood

In 2017, China and Russia trumpeted the closeness of their relationship, calling it a historic highpoint. Xi Jinping has made good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin a priority, visiting Russia six times and meeting with Putin on 21 occasions since taking office.

Authoritative statements by Chinese government mouthpieces, officials and think tank researchers suggest that China views Russia as a key partner in advocating its view of the international system.

China’s Evolving Nuclear Strategy: Will China Drop “No First Use?”

By: Nan Li

The PLA Rocket Force is continuing to upgrade its missile forces and shift its emphasis from a posture of immobile and vulnerable positions hidden deep in mountains to a highly mobile and more survivable mode. A new CCTV documentary also reveals that China’s multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV)-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) DF-41 will begin active service in 2018 (PLA Daily, December 25, 2017; People’s Daily Online, November 28, 2017).

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. 

Turkey and Iran: On a Collision Course

By Jacob L. Shapiro

The Turkish military said on Feb. 6 that one soldier was killed and five more were wounded in a mortar attack while attempting to set up a military outpost in northwest Syria. The Turkish military statement did not include any details about who had attacked its soldiers, but Arab News – an English-language daily based in Saudi Arabia – claimed that the attack had been carried out by “Iranian militias.” A Saudi media outlet has an interest in playing this up, but various other reports simply noted that “pro-regime forces” had carried out an attack on Turkish forces. Either way, Turkey and Iran are on a collision course.

Israel’s power show on northern border aimed at Hezbollah

Ben Caspit 

The visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the northern border and the extensive paratrooper drill last week sends a clear message to Lebanon and Hezbollah: Israel is prepared for an attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits a military outpost on Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, Feb. 4, 2015. 

On Feb. 6, Israel’s Security Cabinet paid a visit to the country’s northern border. The ministers, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, were photographed in fashionable windbreakers, baseball caps and binoculars looking out over the Syrian border from the Golan Heights. Photos from the tour that reached the press were shot in the Golan Heights, with the ministers looking northeast, or in other words, at the Syrian front.

Security and Stability in Turkey

By Fabien Merz 

Fabian Merz contends that Turkey has witnessed a significant deterioration of stability and security in recent years. So what’s behind this development and what might the future hold for Turkey’s stability? In this article, Merz provides answers by looking at the driving factors that have contributed to Turkey’s current security situation, including 1) Turkey’s growing authoritarianism; 2) the 2016 military coup attempt and its aftermath; 3) jihadist terrorism related to the war in Syria, and 4) the reignition of the Kurdish conflict.

Who Will Protect the Next Olympics From North Korea?

By Austin Duckworth

In less than six months, the XXIII Olympic Winter Games will begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But with an increasingly militant North Korea located less than 161 kilometers (100 miles) away, legitimate concerns have arisen over the event's potential disruption. Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), recently said he was closely monitoring the situation, adding that it would be a topic of discussion at the committee's upcoming meeting in Peru. Even so, it's hard not to wonder who will bear the responsibility of ensuring the safety of athletes and spectators in Pyeongchang. The answer has been constantly evolving for over four decades.

Another Unnecessary War

by Idan Landau

The writing is already on the wall: Israel will soon launch a military operation in Lebanon. Not a targeted attack on a weapons convoy or factory, but a simultaneous attack on Hezbollah’s missile production and launch sites. The operation will take place at the same time as, or immediately after, a series of assassinations of known Hezbollah operatives. That organization will, of course, react by launching a massive missile barrage at population centers in Israel, and Hamas may contribute its share in the south. Last week we were informed that missile interceptor systems have already been deployed throughout the country as part of a joint “drill” between the IDF and the U.S. military. Washington has already given a green light, or so we learn from Thomas Friedman’s most recent column — a faithful mouthpiece of American foreign policy.

Bloody Noses And Black Eyes: What's In A Limited Strike On North Korea?


Numerous stories are circulating once again, both in the media and in the halls of policy and punditry in Washington, Seoul and Beijing, that the United States is considering a "bloody nose" strike against North Korea. By some accounts, the U.S. administration withdrew backing from its candidate for ambassador to South Korea, Victor Cha, because of his opposition to a limited strike against Pyongyang. Other reports suggest there is an emerging cadre of "hawks" on North Korea who are expanding their influence over U.S. foreign policy, raising the likelihood of at least some form of military action. The challenge in deciphering the signals is that, with or without a planned strike, there is strong logic not only in keeping the option on the table, but also front and center in the minds of all actors in Northeast Asia.

This is America's Top-Secret Plan to Crush North Korea in a War

Michael Peck

For years, the expectation had been that a second Korean War would resemble with the first, a big-unit conventional war with U.S. and South Korean forces first stopping the enemy and then counterattacking into North Korea. But OPLAN 5015 reportedly takes a more twenty-first century approach of limited war, special forces and precision weapons. Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported in 2015 that the plan resembled guerrilla warfare, with special forces assassinations and targeted attacks on key facilities. The goal was to consolidate several older war plans, minimize casualties in a war and even prepare for the possibility that the North Korean regime might collapse.

A Dangerous Course Israel Should Avoid


TEL AVIV — When Vice President Mike Pence spoke to the Knesset on Jan. 22, legislators who oppose a two-state solution sent a clear signal that they have taken President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as a green light to proceed with initiatives to annex portions of the West Bank.

The signal came in two parts: As Mr. Pence reiterated America’s commitment to Israeli-Palestinian peace, every member of the governing right-wing coalition stayed silent while opposition legislators rose to applaud. More stunningly, the Knesset’s speaker, Yuli Edelstein, declared that Israel will “develop the whole of the country, including Judea and Samaria,” referring to the biblical names for the entire West Bank.

Is There a Deep State?

Jacob Heilbrunn

IN ALFRED Hitchcock’s 1959 movie North by Northwest, the protagonist Roger Thornhill, a genial New York advertising man played by Cary Grant, is suddenly swept up into clandestine Cold War machinations. Only after he encounters an American spymaster named the Professor, who is based on CIA director Allen Dulles, the brother of John Foster Dulles and a charter member of the American Establishment, does Thornhill begin to decipher the turbulent series of events, including a harrowing encounter with the anonymous pilot of a crop duster, that have put his life in jeopardy. “I don’t like the games you play,” Thornhill declares. “War is hell, Mr. Thornhill,” the Professor retorts, “even when it’s a cold one.” Thornhill is enraged. “Perhaps you ought to start learning,” he says, “how to lose a few cold wars.”

The Economic Impact Of Terrorism On Developing Countries

 Terrorists can inflict heart-breaking loss of life and costly destruction of property. But does terrorism also have an economic impact that extends far beyond the violent act itself?

Subhayu Bandyopadhyay, a research officer and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and Javed Younas, an associate professor of economics at American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, explored the question of whether terrorism can also hurt a developing nation’s economic growth, ability to attract foreign investment and trade flows.

Retraining and reskilling workers in the age of automation

By Pablo Illanes, Susan Lund, Mona Mourshed, Scott Rutherford, and Magnus Tyreman

Executives increasingly see investing in retraining and “upskilling” existing workers as an urgent business priority that companies, not governments, must lead on. 

The world of work faces an epochal transition. By 2030, according to the a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation, as many as 375 million workers—or roughly 14 percent of the global workforce—may need to switch occupational categories as digitization, automation, and advances in artificial intelligence disrupt the world of work. The kinds of skills companies require will shift, with profound implications for the career paths individuals will need to pursue. 

Weaponize Social Media?


ATLANTA – Ever since the 2016 US presidential election, with its revelations about Russian meddling, European officials have been on the lookout for similar attacks. But Europeans aren’t the only ones paying attention. So, too, are China’s leaders, who are considering what they might learn from the Kremlin’s successes.

The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

US Air Force & Army Launch New Cross-Domain War Strategy, Doctrine

by Kris Osborn

The Army and the Air Force are launching a new, collaborative war-gaming operation to assess future combat scenarios and, ultimately, co-author a new inter-service cross-domain combat doctrine.

The concept of cross-domain fires, something inspiring fast-growing attention at the Pentagon, is grounded in the premise that future war challenges will require air, land, sea, space and cyberspace synergies to a much greater extent than may have been envisioned years ago.

Back to the Future: The Potential of Great-Power Conflict

Gabriel Glickman

“We are facing global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order.”

The world is going backwards into the future—the latest evidence being the new National Defense Strategy (NDS), which anticipates a possible great-power transition from the United States to China. There are two components of the new release: one is an unclassified synopsis that is eleven pages long and is available to the public, the other is a much longer (and presumably detail-oriented) report that will remain classified for the foreseeable future.

The Bridge Between Awareness And Action

"Oh-da," they giggled, repeating the term. "Oh-da." The Dominican human rights and nongovernmental organization workers I was instructing took delight in repeating the word, which in their Spanish-inflected pronunciation rhymed with "Yoda," rather than "Buddha," as most Americans would say it. Indeed, to the uninitiated, the term in question, "OODA," sounds strange. But regardless of its pronunciation, the acronym - short for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act - is a critical component of personal security. Consciously following the OODA Loop, the bridge that connects situational awareness and action, can keep you a step ahead of an assailant and help extricate you from a tricky situation, whatever it may be.

Infographic Of The Day: Visualizing The Changing Landscape Of Big Media

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With immense pressure on revenues, market share, and distribution stemming from platforms and the migration to digital, the traditional big media players are scrambling to find new models and tactics that work.

In addition to forcing companies to evaluate new ways to monetize and distribute content, this industry turmoil has also served up the perfect environment for massive mergers and acquisitions. Big conglomerates aren’t going to go down without a fight, and as a result they are willing to “bet the farm” on M&A to try and compete.

The Big Media Landscape

Today’s visualization comes to us from Recode via media reporters Peter Kafka and Rani Molla, and it does an excellent job in summing up the changing landscape of Big Media.

Notably, it helps visualize the significance of the recent $52.4 billion merger between Disney and 21st Century Fox, as well as the $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner. The latter is set to go to antitrust trials in March.

It’s worth noting that the graphic only shows the big players in the media landscape – and new media companies like Buzzfeed ($1.7 billion valuation) and Vox Media ($1.0 billion) are “too small” to include.

As such, it focuses primarily on the conglomerates that own many different media assets, with a heavy slant towards video content and distribution.