26 February 2018


by Vibhanshu Shekhar

Vibhanshu Shekhar, Former Visiting Fellow at the East-West Center in Washington, explains that “These incomplete projects highlight a fundamental difference between the posture and reality and raise questions over India’s ability to deliver results.”

India-ASEAN relations reached a new level of euphoria during the last week of January, 2018 when leaders from the ASEAN countries marched to New Delhi to commemorate the silver jubilee (25 years) of the India-ASEAN partnership, and witness India’s republic day celebrations on January 26, 2018. For the first time in independent India’s history, New Delhi celebrated its republic day ceremony with the leaders of ten ASEAN states (as opposed to normal tradition of one head of state). India’s Ministry of External Affairs hailed the commemorative summit as “absolutely historic,” “unprecedented,” and filled with an “air of festivity.” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the commemorative summit “an unprecedented gesture of goodwill from ASEAN nations,” a “historic milestone in a remarkable journey,” and a “deepening partnership of great promise.” The Indian and ASEAN media called the summit “the ASEAN embrace,” “an epic bond,” “the most significant exposition” of India’s ‘Act East’ policy, and India and ASEAN were “lost in each other’s eyes,”. The year of 2017 marked 25 years of India-ASEAN relations, 15 years of summit partnership with ASEAN, and five years of strategic partnership.

India must impose punishing sanctions on the Maldives

Source Link
Brahma Chellaney 

China, the sole defender of the Maldives’ embattled autocrat, Abdulla Yameen, has issued an open threat through a State mouthpiece: If India militarily intervenes in the Maldives, Beijing won’t “sit idly by” but will “take action to stop” it. This essentially is an empty threat because China has no credible capability to sustain a military operation far from its shores. Despite China’s rising naval power, taking on India in its own maritime backyard will be a fool’s errand.

India could call China’s bluff through quick military action that deposes Yameen and installs the jailed Supreme Court chief justice as the interim president to oversee fair elections under United Nations’ supervision. In truth, an Indian intervention is not on the cards, in part because such action would trample on the principles India has long championed.

Unlocking US-India Trade


The Trump administration's vision of an Indo-Pacific where democracy and open seas can flourish, needs sharpening. India can aid in the optimization of this objective by using bilateral and sectoral lenses to find where the they can best cooperate in order to offset bellicose incursions in the region from aggressive foreign powers. An agreement that focuses just on the technical sector minimizes the risks of a broader bilateral accord and opens the door for the geostrategic cooperation that India seeks. Given the centrality and significance of IT and e-commerce to both India and the United States, the links between the two nations in these spheres would facilitate a grander coalescence with ramifications not only in trade but for security capacity, defense interoperability, and regional peace and stability. The Honorable Paula Stern analyzes these groundbreaking themes in "Unlocking US-India Trade: Why a Bilateral Technology Agreement Works for India and the United States," which illuminates the major trends that will shape the region and the US-India bilateral partnership in coming years.Read the Publication (PDF)

Maldives crisis: China sends a naval task force to muscle India, Australia out of power game

Jamie Seidel

CHINESE warships have entered the Indian Ocean, marking a significant shift in regional power. They’re there to keep India away from Beijing’s interests in the strife-torn Maldive Islands.

And their presence has implications for Australia.

Naval posturing is nothing new. Gunboat diplomacy has been a major player in great power games of thrones for centuries.

But it is odd for it to be played out so close to home.

A Nuclear Angle to the 2014 PNS Zulfiquar Attack

By Ankit Panda

Was a nuclear weapon really on PNS Zulfiquarwhen al-Qaeda terrorists tried to seize control of the ship?

A September 2014 attack by terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) on a Pakistani frigate, PNS Zulfiquar, may have targeted a nuclear warhead on board the vessel. This disturbing detail is included in Steve Coll’s latest book, Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and sourced to an Indian intelligence report at the time. (Hat-tip to Vipin Narang for pointing out the excerpt from Coll.)

Sparks Fly Between Chile and Peru

Chile's relationship with Peru has improved since 2014, when the International Court of Justice issued a final ruling over their territorial dispute. That trend will continue this year as both countries prepare to connect their electricity systems.

Chile's need to increase the electricity supply to its growing lithium industry will play a key role in the drive for energy integration projects with Peru.

Chile's recently elected president, Sebastian Pinera, will assume office in March and is likely to continue pursuing this trend.

Xinjiang ‘separatists’ and Tibet’s ‘Dalai cliques’ – targets in China’s latest organised crime crackdown

Jun Mai

“Dalai surrogates” in Tibet and Xinjiang “separatists” are among the groups of people targeted by regional governments in China’s latest national crackdown on “organised crime”.

The authorities in the autonomous regions issued notices identifying the targets after a closed-door meeting of the Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog in Beijing last month.

The meeting marked the start of the national campaign and featured a warning from President Xi Jinping about collusion between triads and officials, especially the protectors of “mafia-style organisations”, which he said had threatened the party’s rule.

China’s step into the maelstrom of the Middle East

The Middle East has a knack for sucking external powers into its conflicts. China’s ventures into the region have shown how difficult it is to maintain its principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. 

China’s abandonment of non-interference is manifested by its (largely ineffective) efforts to mediate conflicts in South Sudan, Syria and Afghanistan as well as between Israel and Palestine and even between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is even more evident in China’s trashing of its vow not to establish foreign military bases, which became apparent when it established a naval base in Djibouti and when reports surfaced that it intends to use Pakistan’s deep sea port of Gwadar as a military facility. 

In the South China Sea, US and UK Navy Deployments Won’t Change Anything

By Phillip Orchard

The turbulent waters of the South China Sea will get a bit more crowded over the next month. This week, a U.S. carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson docked in Manila – the first visit by a U.S. carrier to the Philippines since 2014. In mid-March, the Vinson will head to Da Nang for the first such visit to Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War. This comes a week after the U.K. Defense Ministry announced that a British frigate, the HMS Sutherland, would swing through the South China Sea in the coming weeks to assert the right of freedom of navigation in the contested waters.

ICSR Insight – ISIS And Terrorism In Europe: What Next?

By Peter R. Neumann

Just over three years after the launch of the military campaign against Islamic State, the United States-led Global Coalition, together with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, have accomplished their mission. Ninety-eight per cent of the territory Islamic State had once held in Syria and Iraq has been recaptured. The Caliphate’s most important cities, Raqqa and Mosul, are no longer controlled by jihadists. And of the 40,000 men who once fought for Islamic State, only 3,000 are thought to be left, hiding in the desert and hoping to survive.

Understanding the BRI in Africa and the Middle East

By Isaac Kfir

This Strategic Insight aims to expand on Paul Dibb and Richard Brabin-Smith’s powerful, provocative paper, Australia’s management of strategic risk in the new era. Dibb and Brabin-Smith, two of Australia’s leading strategic thinkers, examined China’s growing assertiveness in our region. Here, I look beyond our region and beyond China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative (BRI) to highlight how China is expanding its influence in Africa and the Middle East. I examine some selected cases, such as Zimbabwe, Israel, Turkey and Iran. I also try to situate the BRI in President Xi Jinping’s grand strategy.

Isaac Kfir joined ASPI in August 2017 as the Director of the National Security program and Head of the Counter-terrorism Policy Centre. .PDF ( 0.66 MB )

BEARing back: Russia's military power in the Indo-Asia-Pacific under Vladimir Putin

By Alexey D Muraviev

Current perceptions of Russia as a power factor in the Indo-Asia–Pacific (IndAsPac) geopolitical system are very much influenced by established post-Cold War assumptions that Moscow is no longer able to influence the regional geostrategic landscape because of its reduced military power and limited economic engagement with the region, and thus should be disregarded as a player worth considering and factoring into any strategic calculus.

In the 2000s, the Russian military began gradually rebuilding its fallen combat potential. Under President Vladimir Putin’s leadership, the once cash-strapped national military machine received a massive financial boost and, more importantly, full political support, which remains unchanged to date. Qualitative upgrades of Russian modern military power, while visible, remain neglected by the Western strategic and defence community..PDF ( 2.09 MB )

#PutinAtWar: Moscow’s Missile Shield Update

On February 12, the Russian Ministry of Defense proudly announced its second successful test of the new PRS-1M interceptor missile. @DFRLabreported on the first successful test in November 2017, in which the interceptor missile hit a mock target. We took a quick look at the second PRS-1M test and the A-135 anti-ballistic missile system (NATO reporting name: ABM-3 Gorgon) guarding Moscow.

Russian media channel TV Zvezda released a news report, which covered the latest PRS-1M test in Sary-Shagan, Kazakhstan.

Russian Meddling Was a Drop in an Ocean of American-Made Discord


Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, announcing the indictment of 13 Russian citizens and three Russian organizations accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

As international conspiracies to undermine the world’s last remaining superpower go, the Russian-led plot revealed by a Justice Department indictment on Friday can seem, in its particulars if not its intent, audacious but, as revealed so far, somewhat narrow.

The conspirators stand accused of spreading falsehoods online, hiring Hillary Clinton impersonators at rallies and starting Facebook groups that tried to convince minority voters to stay home or cast their ballots for Jill Stein.



A Hezbollah member reacts while Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah talks on a screen during a televised speech at a festival celebrating Resistance and Liberation Day in Nabatiyeh, Lebanon. 

For a second week in a row, Israel has seen severe security incidents on its borders which, with one small miscalculation, could have very easily somersaulted into another devastating conflict in the region.

Last week an Israeli F-16 was downed after Syrian air defenses launched some 20 missiles towards Israeli jets carrying out retaliatory strikes deep inside the war-torn country after an Iranian drone infiltrated Israeli airspace.

Trump's Trade Challenges

U.S. President Donald Trump has a chance to pursue protectionist trade measures that could be his most significant trade restrictions yet. After an investigation launched in April 2017, the Commerce Department has found that steel and aluminum imports threaten to impair U.S. national security. To counter that threat, it has recommended a wide range of remedies, including a global tariff on steel imports of at least 24 percent and quotas restricting imports to just 63 percent of their 2017 volume. Trump and his administration now have until April 11 and 19 to decide what measures to take on steel and aluminum imports, respectively.

U.S. Infrastructure: A Visual Anthology

For years, U.S. politicians on both sides of the aisle have been striving to find ways to fix the country's crumbling infrastructure. The need to repair roads, bridges and water pipes has prompted various plans over the past several decades, and now, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has presented its own proposal. The White House's $1.5 trillion plan depends heavily on public-private partnerships. It also designates several billion dollars to go to grant projects, which will be evaluated in large part based on their ability to find funding and generate profit. There are a number of roadblocks on the way to implementing a new infrastructure plan of any sort, and in the meantime, the country will continue to operate under the threat of profit and job losses that comes from an outdated infrastructure.


By Heath Niemi 

It is time for the U.S. military to embrace a revolution in training: “synthetic readiness”. The emerging state of the art in virtual and augmented reality is the next great leap in training military forces. The recently released National Defense Strategy (NDS) emphasizes a return to prioritizing preparedness for war. It also calls for innovation, and a continued focus on finding greater efficiencies in how the U.S. military develops forces and trains for conflict. This marks a tremendous opportunity for investment in virtual and augmented reality training. Yet this requires a significant shift of the mind for the military. For all the military’s stated openness to innovation (a strong emphasis of the NDS), it remains relatively old-school when it comes to certifying units as “ready” for their missions. Unit readiness—especially for the Army—hinges on rotations to Combat Training Centers. This is both inefficient and unimaginative, and it needs to change. New technologies provide new ways to train units to operate at much higher, more sophisticated levels of coordination across the joint force.

These are the world’s top business schools in 2018, according to the Financial Times

Rob Smith

The Financial Times (FT) has released its annual guide to the 100 best business schools for studying an MBA.

The FT Global MBA Ranking 2018 is compiled using responses from alumni and data taken from each school, and includes 20 different ranking criteria, such as average salary three years after graduation, average salary increase, and the course’s perceived value for money.

The report also highlights the percentage of students that had found a job or accepted a job offer within three months of graduation, and features a handful of gender-related criteria, including the number of female students and staff members on each course.

Chasing The Ghosts: Investigating The Attribution Of Transnational Cyber Attacks


Cyber attacks fall under a misty and gray area which could be best depicted as ‘below the threshold of armed conflicts’, a hard-to-recognize hole within the margins of international law. Thus, cyber tools extraordinarily fit well with hybrid warfare and espionage purposes. Although the bulk of contemporary hostile cyber activities are related with state actors, these intrusions mostly take place in the form of proxy war which enables the states to keep being concealed in complex secrecy. In fact, high–end computer, network and telecommunications technologies help states to sustain the abovementioned ambiguity in their cyber operations.

Defending Digital Democracy Releases New Playbooks for States to Counter Election Cyberattacks and Information Operations

Cambridge, MA – Defending Digital Democracy (D3P), the bipartisan project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, released three new playbooks today in its mission to help campaign and election officials defend themselves against cyberattacks and information operations aimed at undermining trust in the American election system.

The recommendations in the three playbooks are based on D3P’s extensive field research, observation of three recent elections, an in-depth survey, and multiple tabletop exercises conducted with bipartisan groups of election officials. Rather than simply highlight the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the nation’s election systems, the D3P team strove to work directly with election officials to develop measures to strengthen their cyber defenses and incident response capabilities.

What The World's Top 10 Tech Firms Have In Common

Amir Mizroch

The world's top ten tech companies --Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Alibaba, Intel, Oracle, Samsung and Baidu--increasingly have something in common: they're doing mission-critical work in Israel that's core to their businesses back at HQ. Let's take a look at how this trend is playing out.

Earlier this year, Microsoft hired a 34-year-old cyber-security prodigy --a hacker essentially--as its new head of R&D in Israel. The young man, a veteran of the country’s elite Unit 8200 (Israel’s version of the NSA), will be responsible for future-proofing Microsoft’s defense of its crown jewels in the cloud. Microsoft is a cloud-first company now, everything is there: Azure, Cortana, Office, even Minecraft. In other words, Microsoft’s cloud has to be an absolutely critical part of the company’s core business going forward, and the Redmond-based company is entrusting its security to a 34-year-old Israeli.

Army Research Lab awards $25 million contract for Internet of Battlefield Things

By: Daniel Cebul  

Washington—The U.S. Army Research Lab (ARL) has awarded a $25 million contract to a consortium of university researchers known as the Alliance for Internet of Battlefield Things Research on Evolving Intelligent Goal-drive Networks (IoBT REIGN) to develop new predictive battlefield analytics and services.

As battlefields become more reliant on integrated technologies that partner cyber and physical elements, the speed at which those systems must communicate is necessary. To execute man-machine teaming envisioned by the Department of Defense’s Third Offset Strategy, researchers hope to develop an IoBT that “will connect soldiers with smart technology in armor, radios, weapons, and other objects, to give troops ‘extra sensory’ perception, offer situational understanding, endow fighters with prediction powers, provide better risk assessment, and develop shared intuitions,” according to a University of Illinois press release.

Why it’s harder for soldiers to tell if their radios are being jammed

By: Adam Stone 

U.S. Army Sgt. Samantha Dubuis, Senior SATCOM communication systems operator, 578th Signal Company, 302nd Signal Battalion, 21st Signal Brigade Fort Bragg, N.C., makes a radio call on the urban assault course during the Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) Best Warrior Competition at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., June 10, 2014. The popularity of the Internet of Things has made spectra more difficult to discern.

The radio spectra are increasingly crowded and confused, and smart devices are making it worse. Already jammed full of telecom signals, the airwaves have become increasingly congested with the popularity of the Internet of Things.

Charting a Course - Write Better Paper

By Kevin Eyer

One of the most important and lasting things you will do as a commanding officer (CO) is to write quality evaluations (evals) and fitness reports (FitReps) for your chiefs and officers. These documents not only will have immediate and resounding effects in your chiefs’ mess and wardroom, they will echo for years in the lives of the recipients. More important, the future of the service is drawn by a commander’s hand as he or she decides what to put onto paper for each individual.