26 May 2018

No agreement with Pakistan on resolving Indus Waters dispute: World Bank

The World Bank has said it failed to arrive at an agreement with a visiting Pakistani delegation on a way forward to address Islamabad’s concerns regarding the Indus Waters Treaty with India.  Over two days – Monday and Tuesday-- a high-powered Pakistani delegation led by Attorney General, Ashtar Ausaf Ali, met with Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank chief executive officer, and the regional management for South Asia. During the meetings, held at Pakistan’s request to discuss issues regarding the Indus Waters Treaty and opportunities within the treaty to seek an amicable resolution, “several procedural options” for resolving the disagreement over the interpretation of the treaty’s provisions were discussed, the bank said.

Commander of JSOC to be new US commander in Afghanistan: report

Ellen Mitchell

The Pentagon will name Lt. Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller as the next commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, the ninth U.S. general to lead in the 17-year war, The Wall Street Journal reported on TuesdaySenior military officials told the Journal that Miller will replace current commander Gen. John Nicholson, who has been in charge of the Afghan war since March 2016. Miller will be the first commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan appointed under President TrumpThe three-star general has spent the past two years in charge of the military’s Joint Special Operations Command, which oversees the elite Special Mission Units. Those units include the Navy’s SEAL Team Six and the Army’s Delta Force, which perform highly classified activities.

Rohingya militants massacred Hindus in Myanmar, says Amnesty

Hannah Ellis-Petersen 

The Rohingya military group Arsa carried out deadly massacres and abductions of the Hindu community in Myanmar’s Rakhine state last year, a new report by Amnesty International has revealed. Testimony collected by Amnesty from dozens of witnesses and survivors of the attacks in Rakhine in August have detailed how up to 99 Hindu men, women and children were killed by Arsa militants armed with knives, swords and sticks. Only those who agreed to convert to Islam were spared. According to the report, on 25 August last year, Arsa militants, aided by some local Rohingya, descended on the village of Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik, in the northern Maungdaw township in Rakhine.

Forget Iran. Russia is the real threat to the US in the Middle East

President Trump's plan to abandon the Iran nuclear deal is like the BREXIT: It caused a continental earthquake. Iran and Israel are inching towards an all-out war that could redefine the Middle East. Meanwhile, experts in Washington are debating what to do like it's 2012, when the U.S. was the powerbroker. But it's 2018 and Moscow has supplanted Washington in the region, a key fact missing in the debate. By focusing too much on the dead nuclear deal, we miss the bigger picture: Our contest is not with Iran or even the Middle East — it's with Russia. Until the U.S. gets serious about the Russian threat, we will cede much of the Middle East to Moscow in a self-inflicted catastrophe of American foreign policy.

Restoring the Eastern Mediterranean as a U.S. Strategic Anchor

U.S. strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean is long overdue for revision. Policies, priorities, and activities girded by U.S.-led alliance structures were developed to stabilize Europe and deter Soviet aggression at the dawn of the Cold War. Seventy years later, they are no longer fit for purpose. However, the region remains a linchpin for an array of vital U.S. interests. In the last decade alone, regional conflicts and state fragmentation have caused millions of migrants and internally displaced to flee their homes, creating one of the largest migration crises since World War II. The arrival of an unprecedented number of migrants has triggered political backlash and polarized domestic politics in Europe and in the Eastern Mediterranean. Many of the littoral states in the Eastern Mediterranean have faced destabilizing economic crises that have created deep political and strategic vulnerabilities. Significant natural gas deposits discovered off the coasts of Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt could boost regional economic prospects as a potential energy-producing region, but a divided Cyprus, historical animosities, as well as a lack of infrastructure connectivity hinder this regional economic potential.

The United States Withdraws from the Nuclear Deal with Iran: Lessons from a Simulation

Sima Shine

In the coming days President Donald Trump is to decide whether or not to authorize the continued suspension of nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. The US president is required to waive sanctions every 120 days to remain in compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Failure to waive sanctions will result in the automatic reinstatement of American sanctions on Iran, which contravenes the commitments stipulated in the agreement and therefore constitutes a breach of the deal and, in practical terms, an American withdrawal from it. This scenario was examined in a simulation that took place in November 2017 at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), in collaboration with the RAND Corporation. The purpose was to consider Iran’s potential response and the responses of other relevant parties should the United States withdraw from the deal, as well as the consequences of such a development for Israeli national security.

Trump Doesn't Need a Grand Strategy

Of all the criticisms raised against the foreign policy of U.S. President Donald Trump, the most predictable is to deplore his lack of a grand strategy. For instance, Rebecca Friedman Lissner and Micah Zenko have criticized Trump’s “anti-strategic” foreign policy and inability to “develop and execute a purposive course of action over time.” Others concede that although Trump does indeed have a grand strategy, it is ill conceived and insufficient. Colin Kahl and Hal Brands write that Trump’s “America first” platform, though recognizably strategic, is “plagued by internal tensions and dilemmas that will make it difficult to achieve the president’s stated objectives.” 

Trump’s foreign policy is sound, but the economy gets shorted

By Peter Morici

President Trump recognizes U.S. foreign policy has for too long sacrificed economic interests and the livelihoods of ordinary working Americans for other important goals — spreading democracy, human rights and alliance building. And we are not getting our money’s worth — our allies expect Americans to bear disproportionate shares of the costs and risks to military personnel of dealing with maelstroms created by Russia, terrorists in the Middle East, China in the Pacific and the like.

Trump’s Foreign Policy Vision Is Crystal Clear

Peter Morici

President Trump recognizes U.S. foreign policy has for too long sacrificed economic interests and the livelihoods of ordinary working Americans for other important goals — spreading democracy, human rights and alliance building. And we are not getting our money's worth — our allies expect Americans to bear disproportionate shares of the costs and risks to military personnel of dealing with maelstroms created by Russia, terrorists in the Middle East, China in the Pacific and the like.

The Israel-Palestine Standoff

by Richard A. Epstein

Few issues produce more political and emotional discord than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In principle, there is much to commend a two-state solution. If achieved, it could allow the two groups to live beside each other in peace. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the interminable peace process came to a screeching halt this past week as the American embassy opened in Jerusalem. An exultant Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed before Israeli and American dignitaries, “We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay.” At the same moment, thousands of angry Palestinian demonstrators were rebuffed with deadly force as they sought to storm into Israel from Gaza. The confrontations took place on May 14 and 15—and the Palestinians consciously timed their protests to correspond with the seventieth anniversary of the Palestinian Exodus that resulted in the birth of the Israeli state. Some 62 Gazans died and thousands were wounded as the Israelis used live ammunition to keep protestors from storming over the barricades into Israel.

Can the U.S. and Russia Find a Path Forward on Arms Control?

By Sergey Rogov

U.S.-Russian relations are at their lowest point in decades, with huge implications for the future of arms control and nonproliferation. Should the situation deteriorate even further, Washington and Moscow could soon be on the brink of a direct confrontation or even a nuclear escalation. The Soviet Union and the United States were long able to avoid a nuclear war by negotiating a set of political agreements and treaties that kept military escalation under control. Unfortunately, the arms control regime that those agreements helped build is on the verge of complete collapse.

Ukraine and Russia: Peace, War and the Future

Volodymyr Dubovyk

ODESSA: Russia relations with Ukraine in the post-Soviet era may certainly be divided into two periods uneven in length. The first one was a period of relative peace between 1991 and 2014. The second one is ongoing, a time of war, since the end of February 2014. Hopefully, the second period will end up much shorter one than the first. However, there are many reasons to expect that the next period – the post-war one – will differ from the first. It might yet be another period of peace, but a very different kind of peace.

Democrats fight Pentagon’s push for battlefield nukes

Democrats fight Pentagon’s push for battlefield nukes 

WASHINGTON — House Democrats are fighting on multiple fronts to block the Trump administration from developing a new tactical nuclear weapon, and the debate threatens to turn into a partisan fight on the House floor. House Armed Services Committee Democrats broadly backed a failed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this month that would have stripped the bill’s proposed sea-launched, low-yield nuclear warheadDemocrats have not given up and since proposed multiple NDAA amendments that are hostile to the weapons. The bill is set to be considered on the House floor this week, and on Tuesday, the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Smith, of Washington, said the fight isn’t over.

DOD Releases Annual Report on Military Developments in North Korea

May 22,2018

The US Department of Defense (DOD) annual report on what has transpired in the world of defense affairs inside North Korea has just been released online, but not by the Pentagon, which has withheld the document from the public for reasons that defy easy explanation. The first clue of the existence of this report came from Bloomberg News, which revealed its existence in a May 17, 2018 article entitled Pentagon Says North Korea’s Regime Has Staked Its Survival on Nuclear WeaponsMost of the 32-age report, entitled Military and Security Developments Involving the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 2017, deals with North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programs. North Korea’s huge but rapidly decaying conventional forces are barely even mentioned in the report. The DOD report makes clear that, in their opinion, Pyongyang views nuclear weapons as an essential deterrent needed to guarantee the security of the hyper-paranoid North Koran regime, which sees enemies all around them. As such, the Pentagon feels that the North Korean regime would be highly unlikely to trade away this deterrent capability, which runs contrary to what Donald Trump thinks.

The European Union after the United States Withdrawal from the JCPOA

President Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from the JCPOA is the most recent development in a series of unilateral decisions by the administration that have thrown relations between the US and its European allies into a crisis. In the short term, Germany, France, and Britain, like the European Union as a whole, will need to confront their relations with Iran vis-à-vis the nuclear deal against the background of the American withdrawal, and in the long term, their future relations with the United States. Indeed, the crisis stemming from the agreement with Iran is a symptom of the fundamental disagreement that has characterized US-Europe relations since President Trump entered the White House, which reflects only limited commitment by the US to multilateral frameworks. 

The art of unraveling a potential deal

Brahma Chellaney

Donald Trump’s planned summit meeting with Kim Jong Un is still days away but the American president has already stirred things up by warning the North Korean leader of “total decimation,” in the way Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi met a gruesome end, “if we don’t make a deal.” Even if that threat were to frighten Kim into agreeing to a deal, he has no assurance that Trump will keep his end of the bargain. Trump’s record, after all, attests to his proclivity to renege on commitments. In fact, following Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal with Iran, Kim appears to have got cold feet. This is apparent from Pyongyang’s change of tone, including new warnings to the U.S. and South Korea, thereby undercutting the White House hype over the forthcoming Trump-Kim summit in Singapore.


Avi Salzman had a full-page article in this weekend’s (May 21, 2018) Barron’s, “Despite Recent Price Drop, Bitcoin Gets Vote Of Confidence.” “Bitcoin has plunged 58 percent from its December highs, Warren Buffet has compared it to rat poison, and few people use it for everyday purposes. Other digital coins are stuck in legal limbo. In any other industry, this would be a death knell,” Mr. Salzman wrote. “And yet, at CoinDesk’s annual conference in Manhattan [last week], the premier event for bitcoin and blockchain enthusiasts, roared with optimism and money,” Mr. Salzman added. “Some of that roar came from the rented Lamborghini’s out front; and, the optimism may have been stocked by the blockchain powered, free-beer dispensing machines.” Mr. Salzman adds some more color to the gathering and I refer you to this weekend’s Barron’s for the full article. He does note that despite the price drop noted above, “suits follow the money,” and — “even after the price drop, the [digital] coin world has nearly $400 billion in assets, 20 times more than [it was] at the start of 2017.”

Defending against “The Entertainment”

William Regli

“the so-called perfect Entertainment… that danger of Entertainment so fine that it will kill the viewer… The Entertainment exists.”

--- Infinite Jest (1996), David Foster Wallace, pp 318-319

I have yet to try out any serious augmented reality games. Stuff like “Pokémon Go” actually scares me a bit.

I have a memory from some years ago about another hot video game. I’d heard about it from a friend who is a medical doctor: “It’s called Doodle Jump, it’s addictive!” he warned me. Indeed, in navigating to its entry in the Apple iPhone App Store, one sees the sort of label normally deployed by the Surgeon General for products like cigarettes: “Doodle Jump. BE WARNED: Insanely Addictive!” and “WARNING! Doodle Jump is addictive and will cause you to lose large amounts of your day.”

Banking on military models to combat cyber threats

By Thomas Gaulkin

Writing in The New York Times, Stacy Cowley details steps taken by banking industry heavyweights like Mastercard, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo to coordinate their defense against cyber attacks like the Equifax breach that exposed 146 million people’s information last year. As companies become increasingly paranoid about the vulnerability of their systems, Cowley reports they are increasingly willing to do whatever it takes to protect them. Cybersecurity is “the only place in the company that doesn’t have a budget constraint,” says Bank of America CEO Brian T. Moynihan.

SOCOM's Top 10 Tech Needs

By National Defense Staff

As the Pentagon puts renewed focus on preparing for great power competition, U.S. Special Operations Command is looking for new capabilities to support its warfighters. Ahead of NDIA’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, National Defense reached out to SOCOM and asked for a list of its top 10 technology needs. With its input — along with speeches and testimony by SOCOM officials — the magazine staff identified the Top 10 technology categories. They are listed in no particular order as: the tactical assault light operator suit (also known as TALOS or the Iron Man suit); assured communications; counter-UAS; biotechnology/human performance; precision strike; expeditionary ISR; signature management; expeditionary logistics; positioning, navigation and timing; and small arms.

US Defense Budget Not That Much Bigger Than China, Russia: Gen. Milley


"I've seen comparative numbers of US defense budget versus China, US defense budget versus Russia," Gen. Milley said. "What is not often commented on is the cost of labor. We’re the best paid military in the world by a long shot. The cost of Russian soldiers or Chinese soldiers is a tiny fraction." It’s become a commonplace to say the US spends much more on defense than any other country — but what if that’s not exactly true? Inspired by something Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley said to the Senate, I pulled together some numbers that suggest America’s superior spending power erodes dramatically when you compare actual purchasing power. Once you factor in how much the US military spends on pay and benefits for uniformed and civilian personnel — almost half the budget by some measures — as opposed to weapons, operations, and training, then China’s defense budget may actually be bigger.

Indo-PACOM? Pentagon may rename US Pacific Command

By: Tara Copp

The Pentagon may soon be announcing a new name for its largest area of operations, with a change to Indo-Pacific Command to “better encapsulate the responsibilities the command currently has,” Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning said Monday. The unexpected discussion that U.S. Pacific Command may be getting re-named came after a reporter’s question at a briefing Monday. “I want to ask about the change of name from Pacific Command to Indo-Pacific Command,” the reporter said. “Aside from changing signs, what implications would it have?” “There’s no announcement on the change of Pacific Command,” Manning said. “What I will tell you is, that as you know, the significance of any name change is to better characterize the responsibility.”

Air Marshal Phil Osborn on Intelligence and Information Advantage in a Contested World

RUSI Whitehall

A lecture by Air Marshal Phil Osborn CBE FRAeS RAF, Chief of Defence Intelligence, UK Ministry of Defence The clarity of peace, transition to war, and war is fast disappearing. State-based competition and confrontation are now becoming the norm, played out across a multi-dimensional and multi-speed battlespace. For some, traditional levers of national power are being fused with an aggressive use of information tools, placing a premium on risk appetite, speed of decision-making and proactivity. In his lecture, Air Marshal Osborn offered his perspective on the current operational context, the more complex challenge that faces UK defence today, and the increasing importance of a strategic military approach that places information advantage at its heart.
The Speech

Ladies and Gentlemen, good afternoon …

Project Mentor: A Case for Broadening Within U.S. Army Cadet Command

Keith Benedict and William Folinusz

"Under [Fox] Conner's direction, Eisenhower found a sense of purpose. For the first time he became a serious student of his profession, which he found to his delight was truly interesting and exciting. – Stephen Ambrose in Ike: Abilene to Berlin[i] A mentor is a leader who assists personal and professional development by helping a mentee clarify personal, professional, and career goals and develop actions to improve attributes, skills, and competencies.” – Field Manual 6-22 Leader Development In the early 1920s, Major Dwight Eisenhower benefitted from a world-class, personalized leader development program. While serving as a Brigade Executive Officer in the Panama Canal Zone under the command of General Fox Conner, Major Dwight Eisenhower, found a mentor that would influence him through the rest of his career as a Soldier and politician. Through routinized daily operations orders and long horseback rides, thanks to General Conner’s close mentorship, Dwight Eisenhower reaffirmed his desire to serve and fully embraced the need for continued preparation for the responsibility of command.[ii]

Missile-tracking satellites are part of the plan to foil Russia’s hypersonic weapons

by Sandra Erwin

Russia reportedly is testing hypersonic ballistic glider weapons that currently would be undetectable after the initial boost phase of their flight. the Pentagon is looking at the possibility of deploying sensors in space to fill blind spots in the nation’s antimissile defense system. This not a new idea. Six previous administrations have weighed concepts for space-based sensors but none materialized — the exception being two experimental satellites launched during the George W. Bush presidency that are still in orbit. The Trump administration is expected to seek funds in 2020 to begin work on a constellation of missile-watching sensors. Congress has hinted it would support the plan in light of new warnings that Russia is testing hypersonic ballistic glider weapons that currently would be undetectable after the initial boost phase of their flight.