4 May 2018

Beyond Wuhan: India Should Establish A New Framework for Engagement With China

By Aman Thakker

Last week, efforts to “reset” India-China relations culminated in an “informal summit’ between Indian Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan, China. Reports of the summit drew comparisons to earlier such summits between Indian Prime Ministers and Chinese leaders, notably Rajiv Gandhi’s summit with Deng Xiaoping in 1988, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s summit with Hu Jintao in 2003. However, these comparisons, particularly with the 1988 summit, fall short of India’s objective for a reset leading up to and during the summit. Indeed, the 1988 summit was a crucial moment for both countries, leading to the establishment of a broad framework, or modus vivendi, for engagement between India and China where the two countries would “not to allow the border dispute to hold the rest of the relationship back.” The Wuhan summit, by contrast, did not hold the same ambition.

The China - India - Nepal Triangle

By Kamal Dev Bhattarai

While Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali was in China from April 16-21, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi asked India to be a part of new development projects in Nepal. “Whether it’s China or India, our two countries shall be happy to see Nepal’s new development after its political transition,” Wang said. China wants to invest in big connectivity projects in Nepal but prefers to bring its Asian competitor, India, on board. Some Nepali and Chinese scholars see this as an opportunity for trilateral cooperation between Nepal, India, and China, but Indian policymakers and academics have not shown much interest.

Is India ready for cyber war?

Prashant Mali

Cyber warfare involves an attempted or actual cyber attack, but for some in the media it means defacing some websites of important organisations. This is not really the case. In fact, I would term such hackers as ‘novice hackers’ in some corner of the world, looking to earn some brownie points amongst their non-hacker peers by fear mongering. Cyber warfare is something quite different. As a researcher, I would argue that cyber warfare involves actions by a state or non-state actor to attack and attempt to damage another nation’s computers or information networks through, for example, computer viruses, denial-of-service attacks, physical attacks and sabotage. 

India and China's Rapprochement Extends Only Skin Deep

The world's two most populous countries will continue their attempts to reset their diplomatic ties after last year's Doklam standoff, as India's prime minister focuses on upcoming elections and China's president presents a unified Sino-Indian front in the face of U.S. protectionism.

Stakes of ‘Islamic vote bank’ and religious politics in Pakistan


Under the enigmatic political leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan came into being in August 1947, a Muslim majority state but not an Islamic state. During Jinnah’s 13-month governorship, the name of the country remained only “Pakistan.” However, it was labeled as an “Islamic Republic” in 1956. After the demise of its founder, orthodox religious strata and state-supported radicalization emerged with the Objectives Resolution in March 1949, prepared by Liaquat Ali Khan and passed by the first National Assembly of Pakistan. This historic resolution was the first step toward legislation as well as the religious bias of all three constitutions categorizing Pakistani citizens as Muslims and non-Muslims.

ZTE's less-known roots: Chinese tech company falls from grace

TOKYO -- Chinese telecommunication equipment maker ZTE finds itself in a new, and undoubtedly uncomfortable, position: It is one of the most talked-about tech companies in the world following its recent ban by the U.S. government from purchasing American technology. In China, however, where free speech is limited but with almost 800 million internet users, the home-grown company appears to be gaining a wide range of support as most stories and comments from news media and netizens take on nationalistic overtones. Among the comments: "I believe in ZTE" and "Why can't we penalize Apple? Can't we stop Apple from selling in China?"

Space: The next frontier for US-China rivalry

Simon Roughneen

SINGAPORE -- With the U.S. government pledging to resume manned missions to the Moon, and eventually send a mission to Mars, Cold War-style competition over space exploration is re-emerging -- between China and the U.S. this time. China hopes to make its first manned lunar landing within 15 years, around six decades after the last American walked on the moon in 1972.  But China is not as far behind as those dates suggest. It hopes to make the first-ever landing on the dark side of the Moon by the end of 2018. This feat eluded the U.S. and Soviet Union during the heyday of their Space Race from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s.

Israel’s Got Its Own Refugee Dilemma: African ‘Dreamers’

By Thomas L. Friedman

TEL AVIV — It’s been obvious to me for some time that the Israeli-Arab conflict is to wider global geopolitical trends what Off Broadway is to Broadway. If you want a hint of what’s coming to a geopolitical theater near you, study this region. You can see it all here in miniature. That certainly applies to what’s becoming the most destabilizing and morally wrenching geopolitical divide on the planet today — the divide between what I call the “World of Order” and the “World of Disorder.” And Israel is right on the seam — which is why the last major fence Israel built was not to keep West Bank Palestinians from crossing into Israel but to keep more Africans from walking from their homes in Africa, across the Sinai Desert, into Israel.

Geo-Economics as Concept and Practice in International Relations: Surveying the State of the Art

By Sören Scholvin and Mikael Wigell for Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA)

Sören Scholvin and Mikael Wigell contend that China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Western sanctions against Iran and Russia, and much more demonstrate a clear trend: states are increasingly practicing power politics by economic means and military means appear to matter less. While this shift is captured by ‘geo-economics’, our authors contend there is no clear definition of the term. To help address this gap, Scholvin and Wigell here provide their conception of what ‘geo-economics’ means as an analytical approach as well as a foreign policy practice.

The Bear and the Eagle, Seen Through the Cyber Lens

By Bruce McConnell

The bilateral relationship between the United States and Russia is at its most dangerous point since the Cuban missile crisis. In some ways it is worse. As a Russian colleague recently observed, the management of Cold War tension was mathematical; today it is emotional. Further cemented by the chemical attack in Syria and by new sanctions, the hard lines both sides have drawn bode poorly for progress in reducing tensions. The immediate task is to keep communication channels open to avoid missteps or miscalculations that could lead to inadvertent or unnecessary escalation of conflict between the two nuclear powers.

5 Reasons Israel’s Army Wins Every War It Fights

Kyle Mizokami

In 1947, Israel’s low population but high level of education meant its citizens could train and organize a national army fairly quickly. Manpower limitations also meant the Israeli Army tended to gravitate towards technologically advanced, high firepower forces, and become more proficient at them than its neighbors. Much like the Israeli Air Force, the Israeli Army came from humble—but more established—beginnings. Israel’s ground forces had their origins in the Haganah, a Zionist paramilitary force created in the early 1920s to protect Jewish interests. The Haganah cooperated with British authorities, but turned hostile in 1944 when the Axis neared defeat and the need for a Jewish state became increasingly clear. In 1947 the Haganah was reorganized into regular army units, and renamed the Israeli Army two weeks after the founding of the State of Israel.

Everything You Need to Know about the Cruise-Missile Strikes in Syria

Dave Majumdar

Russia continues to insist that Syrian forces shot down a majority of the allied cruise missiles launched against the Assad regime by the United States, France and the United Kingdom on April 13, 2018. However, Moscow’s assertions are extremely dubious because low-flying cruise missiles are extremely difficult to intercept, particularly over land. The Pentagon maintains that all of the missiles launched against Syria hit their targets.

The Pentagon Could Get Self-Driving Vehicles First

By  Daniel Flatley

Forget Uber, Waymo and Tesla: the next big name in self-driving vehicles could be the Pentagon. “We’re going to have self-driving vehicles in theater for the Army before we’ll have self-driving cars on the streets,” Michael Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, told lawmakers at a hearing on Capitol Hill this month. “But the core technologies will be the same.” The stakes for the military are high. According to Griffin, 52 percent of casualties in combat zones can been attributed to military personnel delivering food, fuel and other logistics. Removing people from that equation with systems run on artificial intelligence could reduce injuries and deaths significantly, he added.

How Russia Crafted a Three-Dimensional Strategy to Regain Global Influence

Steven Metz 

Near the end of a recent report on the resurgence of both the Islamic State and al-Qaida in Libya was an almost offhand mention of Russian special operations forces active along the country’s border with Egypt, helping provide weapons to Gen. Khalifa Haftar, whose forces dominate eastern Libya. This seemingly minor fact is, in reality, emblematic of important trends in Russia’s revanchist foreign policy. When Moammar Gadhafi controlled Libya from 1969 to 2011, he was an excellent customer for Soviet weaponry and military advice. But in the chaos after his overthrow and death, the Russian Embassy in Tripoli was attacked and all diplomats and their families withdrawn. Moscow seemingly had written Libya off. But it is now re-entering this chaotic political environment in North Africa as part of a three-dimensional global strategy designed to strengthen Russia politically, enrich it economically and allow it to punch above its weight in a rapidly changing security environment. 

Russia acting as buffer between Israel, Iran

Maxim A. Suchkov 

MOSCOW — As the standoff between Iran and Israel threatens to grow out of hand, Russia is apparently seeking a modus vivendi for the two regional enemies. Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi hosted April 25-26 its ninth International Meeting of High Representatives for Security Issues. The event, organized by Russia’s Security Council, brought together secretaries of security councils, presidential aides and heads of intelligence services from 118 countries. The meeting is becoming increasingly popular among international high-level security officials: The first year it was assembled, 43 nations attended the conference; last year, 95 states sent delegates.

Damn, Busted


Britain’s military should be growing. It’s not.

The Royal Air Force celebrated its 100th birthday last week with a gala program at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington. No one does pomp better than the British, but the presence of the Queen’s Colour Squadron had a larger purpose: to solemnize the reformation of 617 Squadron, the famous Dambusters, now flying the stealthy F-35. Those 16 fighter jets are among the best in the world. Given how few planes the RAF has, they’d better be. As a nation, Brexit Britain is stepping out of the shadow of the EU. But as a military power, it’s stepped into the shade.

House Russia report says major spy law has a cyber problem

By: Mark Pomerleau   

A new report from the House Intelligence Committee recommends Congress update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — a law that dictates procedures for electronic surveillance of persons engaged in espionage on behalf of nation states or terrorist entities ― to cover malicious international cyber actors. The recommendation comes as part of the House Intelligence Committee’s final report on its investigation into alleged Russian meddling efforts in the 2016 presidential election. The House panel’s final report, which is roughly 250 pages and heavily redacted, notes that Congress sought to address cyber concerns as part of this year’s statutory reauthorization of the FISA. Revising the bill is part of a highly contentious process more commonly referred to as Section 702.

Why do Trump’s announced trade policies keep coming up empty?

Geoffrey Gertz

Earlier this month, over the span of less than a week, President Donald Trump opened the door to joining the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement before promptly slamming it shut again. Many trade pundits and analysts were delighted when Trump announced he had directed his economic advisers to explore re-entering the TPP, only to have their hopes dashed again when the president tweeted out his repeated criticisms of the Asian trade deal. In the grand scheme, this brief flirtation with the TPP is unlikely to be remembered. But it does raise two broader questions: First, why do Trump’s big splashy trade announcements keep going nowhere? And second, why do the rest of us keep on falling for these empty pronouncements?

Federal 'turf war' complicates cybersecurity efforts


The issue took center stage this week, as senators on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee fretted that they had been unable to pass key cyber legislation requested by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because of a disagreement with the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The reality of the situation is there is conflict here,” said Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) at a hearing Wednesday. “This threat is too significant to allow turf wars to get in the way of as efficient an operation as possible in terms of dealing with a very complex and serious problem.” 

What Happens When Your Bomb-Defusing Robot Becomes a Weapon


Micah Xavier Johnson spent the last day of his life in a standoff, holed up in a Dallas community-college building. By that point, he had already shot 16 people. Negotiators were called in, but it was 2:30 in the morning and the police chief was tired. He’d lost two officers. Nine others were injured. Three of them would later die. In the early hours of July 7, 2016, the chief asked his swat team to come up with a plan that wouldn’t put anyone else in Johnson’s line of fire. Within 30 minutes, their Remotec Andros Mark 5A-1, a four-wheeled robot made by Northrop Grumman, was on the scene. The Mark 5A-1 had originally been purchased for help with bomb disposal. But that morning, the police attached a pound of C4 explosives to the robot’s extended arm, and sent it down the hallway where Johnson had barricaded himself. The bomb killed him instantly. The machine remained functional.

DARPA wants to arm ethical hackers with AI

By: Brandon Knapp 

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to leverage human-artificial intelligence teaming to accelerate the military’s cyber vulnerability detection, according to agency documents. The task of securing the Pentagon’s diverse networks, which support nearly every function of the military’s operations, presents a nightmare for defense officials. The current time-intensive and costly process involves extensively trained hackers using specialized software suites to scour the networks in search of vulnerabilities that could potentially be exploited, but the scarcity of expert hackers makes detecting cyberthreats a challenge for the Defense Department.

Comms down? Don’t give up.

By: Adam Stone   

An artist concept of the distributed battle management system, an emerging solution to enable complex teamwork between manned and unmanned aviation even in comms-deprived environments. (BAE Systems). Adversaries are becoming ever more skilled at denying our communications links. That’s especially bad for pilots who need reliable comms for situational awareness. “Imagine you can’t talk to each other, but you still need to execute on a mission. It’s almost impossible,” said Jarrod Kallberg, distributed battle management technology development manager at BAE Systems. “A lot of times you have to scrub the mission because you are so reliant on the communication that you cannot proceed without that.”

Cyber warfare may be less dangerous than we think

By Benjamin Jensen and David Banks 

This February 2018 warning to the Senate from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats included a message that “there should be no doubt” that Russia, emboldened by its 2016 cyberattacks and informational warfare campaign, will target the U.S. midterm elections this year. We agree. However, our research suggests that, although states like Russia will continue to engage in cyberattacks against the foundations of democracy (a serious threat indeed), states are less likely to engage in destructive “doomsday” attacks against each other in cyberspace. Using a series of war games and survey experiments, we found that cyber operations may in fact produce a moderating influence on international crises. 

Can the Navy protect this ship from hackers?

By: Amber Corrin   

The Navy’s Expeditionary Fast Transport, or EFP, class of ships may be vulnerable to hackers and isn’t achieving key performance milestones, including some related to the cybersecurity of the ship’s systems, according to a new inspector general’s reportThe aluminum catamaran-style ships, which are designed to quickly move troops and supplies, “lacks capability,” an April 2018 report from the Department of Defense Inspector General found. One of those capabilities is securing control systems aboard the vessels.

Civilians and “By, With, and Through” Key Issues and Questions Related to Civilian Harm and Security Partnership

Working by, with, and through partners in military operations has become a preferred approach in U.S. security policy. Doing so without uniform controls governing conduct and the use of force can result in real consequences for civilians and compromise mission effectiveness. The real and perceived benefits of partnered operations can include limiting the extent of U.S. involvement and minimizing risk to U.S. personnel, tapping into the unique capacities of national and local forces, and burden sharing of costs, personnel, and assets. 
The risks of partnered operations can arise from the diffusion of responsibilities and diversion of shared interests and objectives. They may result in civilian casualties, damage to civilian infrastructure, human rights abuses, erosion of U.S. or partner legitimacy, reduction of U.S. domestic support for operations, and long-term humanitarian, economic, governance, and security consequences for civilians.