8 June 2018

Modi Needs to Show India Has Teeth

Asia’s premier security meeting is this week, and all eyes will be on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he gives his keynote speech — the first for an Indian leader. The defense chiefs and diplomats at the Shangri-La Dialogue are eager to see whether Modi — and India — have the chops to take on an increasingly critical regional role. Asia’s uncertain political and economic climate presents an opportunity for Modi. U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies, including the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and a purely transactional approach to longtime alliances, have contributed to strategic drift in the region as China grows assertive and authoritarian. The situation calls for steady leadership — and the United States and its Pacific allies better hope that New Delhi can deliver.

5 ways government will fight against botnets

By: Jessie Bur 

Both government and the private sector must take action to combat the threat of botnets — networks of computers infected with malicious software that allows a hacker to control their actions — according to a May 30, 2018, report to the presidentThe “Enhancing the Resilience of the Internet and Communications Ecosystem Against Botnets and Other Automated, Distributed Threats” report released by the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Commerce was mandated under a May 2017 executive order on cybersecurity. It draws from federal agency and private sector input.

Don’t Close the Door on Chinese Scientists Like Me


When then-President Barack Obama uttered these words from the steps of the U.S. Capitol during his first inaugural address, I was watching as a college senior in China, anxiously waiting for admission letters to Ph.D. programs in the United States. I didn’t know the context of the George W. Bush-era policies he spoke of, but I committed the words to memory: America represented an ideal of freedom and opportunity that was worth the risks of the journey.

China’s New Financial Sector Reforms: Will They Go Far Enough?

Earlier this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged that the country will accelerate the opening up of its financial sector in a series of “landmark” measures to be launched in 2018. They include fast-tracking foreign access to the Chinese insurance industry, easing restrictions for entry and expansion of foreign financial institutions, and improving the investment climate. China, he said, “will enter a new phase of opening up.” The reality is likely to be a bit more complicated. While China has come a long way in the last four decades — liberalizing trade, property rights, foreign direct investments and other key areas of the economy — one sector where it has been more cautious to open is the financial sector.

China and India's Disputes Spill Over Into Their Water Supply

By Ambika Vishwanath

Despite the size and importance of the massive interconnected river system China and India share (along with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh), no integrated structure exists for its management, and the bilateral agreements that govern it are far from sufficient. Political disputes, such as the 2017 standoff over the Doklam Plateau, could harm the waterways China and India share. Unless the countries agree to institute a basinwide mechanism for water management, the river systems they both depend on will be at risk.

Trump’s Steel Tariffs on Allies Complicate Bigger Problem: China

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The Trump administration’s decision Thursday to slap steep tariffs on steel and aluminum from some of its biggest trading partners — Canada, Mexico, and the European Union — will make it harder for the United States to tackle the very trade abuses it claims to be fighting. Despite a flurry of last-minute negotiations with Canada, Mexico, and Europe, the United States went ahead and levied a 25 percent tariff on imports of steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports from those three trading partners, ending the temporary exemption they’d enjoyed since the spring.

A Distracted U.S. Struggles To Shift Its Global Focus

by Omar Lamrani

Changing times call for changing measures. In the face of an intensifying great power competition with Russia and China, the United States is expanding its efforts to refocus its global strategy, force deployments and resources to better position itself in a new struggle. But recalibrate as it might, the United States' enduring commitments, along with global flashpoints, will continue to sap the country's attention and resources as it wages a new global battle for influence.

The Big Picture

China’s fast climb up the value chain

By Jeongmin Seong, Kevin Wei Wang, and Jonathan Woetzel

From high-tech unicorns to specialty chemicals, the country’s economy is moving swiftly beyond its lower-margin roots. The Chinese are now the world’s most avid online purchasers of goods and services, which they are likely to pay for with a mobile device. The deepening digital ethos reflects a broader consumerization of the Chinese economy. These trends are creating fertile grounds for digital start-ups while also transforming traditional industries such as specialty chemicals as they supply materials for advanced industries and higher-margin consumer goods. Global companies in China should ensure that they’re not competing for yesterday’s markets.

China’s breakneck pace of digitization

What can we expect in China in 2018?

By Gordon Orr

The nation could be shaped by geopolitics, momentum from robust economic growth, and a host of new leaders eager to implement new policy. With so many new leaders put in position over the last six months by President Xi, an overall leader secure in his position and clear on his objectives, 2018 is likely to see much more activity to implement policies, economic and social, that move China in the direction that Xi wants. We may need to worry more about overenthusiastic implementation of policy than the inaction we have often seen in 2017.

Army to Pursue ‘With Urgency’ Autonomous Systems Strategy

By Connie Lee

The service last year released the “Robotics and Autonomous Systems Strategy,” a document that stated its intention to pursue these capabilities “with urgency.” The strategy outlines the Army’s five capability objectives, which include: increasing situational awareness; lightening soldiers’ physical and cognitive workloads; sustaining the force with increased distribution, throughput and efficiency; facilitating movement and maneuver; and protecting the force. Maj. Mike Dvorak, robotics branch chief at the Army Capabilities Integration Center, said the service is now working on an execution strategy that will “lay [out] the specific details of how we’re going to get the capabilities.” The document is being produced by the Maneuver Center of Excellence and ARCIC, he said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Ground Robotics Capabilities Conference in Springfield, Virginia.

Qatar Won the Saudi Blockade


A year ago Tuesday, a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia imposed a historic land, maritime, and air blockade on Qatar. The measures were designed to strong-arm Doha to comply with a list of demands that involved alleged support for Islamic extremists throughout the Middle East, including within the four countries — Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia — that later became known as the anti-Qatar quartet. The quartet received added momentum one day after the start of the blockade from U.S. President Donald Trump, who tweeted: “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding … extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”

Why Canada Needs a Strong U.S. Economy

To say the economy of Canada has significant dependency on the United States would be an understatement. This is evidenced by the fact that one-fourth of Canada’s GDP comes from its U.S.-bound exports. This dependence is even sharper when viewed in terms of Canada’s most lucrative and important export – petroleum oils. That’s because the U.S. is practically Canada’s only customer for this critical commodity. In fact, 99.1 percent of Canada’s crude oil exports went to the United States, according to Canada’s National Energy Board.

Israel To Pump $2B Into Ground-Ground Missile Unit

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While we can't confirm that Israel used ground-to-ground missiles against Syria, a few months ago the IDF established a new unit -- on the orders of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman -- to operate Israeli-developed ground- ground missiles. TEL AVIV: The recent massive Israeli attack on Iranian targets in Syria may mark a major shift in the way Israel uses its fire power. On May 9 Israel attacked Iranian targets in Syria in response to the launching of 20 rockets from Syria by Iranian-controlled forces. Four of the rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system; the rest exploded on Syrian territory. There were no Israeli casualties. Reports from Israel said more than 20 Israeli fighter aircraft prosecuted the attack, doubtless helped by Israel’s impressive electronic warfare capabilities. But reports from Syria claimed that surface-to-surface missiles were also used to hit the Iranian installations in Syria. Those reports may be signs of a important change in how Israel executes counter-battery strikes.

Italy, Spain: Two New Governments Threaten the Eurozone's Stability

Italy and Spain are the third and fourth largest economies in the eurozone, respectively, which means that political and economic turbulence in Rome and Madrid can have an impact on the entire currency area. In our annual forecast, we said the Spanish government would be weak, and that Italy presented the main source of risk for the eurozone. Both countries appointed new governments on the same day, introducing challenges that align with both our assessments.

What Happened

Caught on Camera: India’s Broken Media


NEW DELHI — Media companies here sometimes use hidden cameras to expose dirty deals at the highest levels of power. Last week, it emerged, the lens had also been focused within, revealing ugly warts across the entire body of the Indian news industry. In a series of video recordings released by Cobrapost, an Indian nonprofit news website, top executives of leading Indian media companies are allegedly seen negotiating contracts worth millions of dollars in exchange for spreading Hindu nationalist propaganda — ostensibly to benefit the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the lead-up to national elections next year.

Iran Wants to Stay in Syria Forever

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Hamid Rezai was among the latest batch of soldiers to die for Iran in Syria, killed by an alleged Israeli rocket attack on the T4 airbase near Homs. He was a 30-year-old native of the capital, Tehran, a pious young man whose father had also been a soldier and who left behind an infant daughter. At Rezai’s late April burial service, his weeping mother said there was no stopping him from volunteering to fight in Syria. “It offends me when people ask, ‘Why didn’t you stand in his way?’” she said, according to an account in the hard-line Mashregh News. “My son chose his own path.”

The North Korea Summit Is Back On—But Don’t Expect Miracles

By Robin Wright

On live television on Friday afternoon, President Trump had a lingering schmooze with the second-most powerful man in North Korea—a former spymaster still legally sanctioned by the United States—as they said goodbye on the White House lawn. Trump and Kim Yong Chol chitchatted through interpreters. They smiled broadly. They posed for a round of photographs. After Trump gave him a final pat on the shoulder and a hearty thank you, the North Korean departed in a motorcade of black Chevrolet S.U.V.s. With that, the summit with North Korea was back on, for June 12th, in Singapore. Trump appeared elated as he walked toward the cordoned-off area where reporters waited for him to make an announcement.

Opinion: There’s more to the Google military AI project than we’ve been told


Google, a company whose motto used to be “don’t be evil,” has had its ethics questioned lately over its insistence on developing AI for the Pentagon. If you’re among the many people who don’t understand why, against the grain, the Mountain View company would risk such damage to its reputation, you’re not alone. It’s not the money. According to a report from Gizmodo, Google is getting around $9 million. Sure, for most of us that would set us up for life, but let’s not forget that Google is worth nearly a trillion dollars. It can afford to skip a project that doesn’t suit its ethical makeup. And it certainly isn’t the prestige, you don’t hear many pundits calling on big tech companies to more deeply involve themselves with the military.

Why A ‘Human In The Loop’ Can’t Control AI: Richard Danzig

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CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: How do you stop a Terminator scenariobefore it starts? Real US robots won’t take over like the fictional SkyNet, Pentagon officials promise, because a human being will always be “in the loop,” possessing the final say on whether or not to use lethal force.
But by the time the decision comes before that human operator, it’s probably too late, warns Richard Danzig. In a new report, the respected ex-Navy Secretary argues that we need to design in safeguards from the start. “In the design of the machine, we ought to recognize we can’t rely on the human as much as we’d like to think,” Danzig said: We need to design the machine from the start with an eye on what could go wrong.

How free software tools fit into the modern cyber theater

By: Meredith Rutland Bauer  

When Boston was inundated with ransomware attacks in 2016, the local FBI office was at a loss for solutions when business owners called in a panic. The FBI already had their hands full with terrorism investigations and lacked the manpower to track down the culprits. Federal agents basically told the business owners to give in. Joseph Bonavolonta, a then-assistant special agent in charge at FBI’s cyber and counterintelligence program in Boston, told attendees at a 2015 cybersecurity summit that his office was overwhelmed with ransomware reports. “To be honest, we often advise people just to pay the ransom,” he said at the conference, according to SecurityLedger.com.

Solutions for situational awareness – battlefield innovations

By Berenice Baker

Situational awareness solutions allow soldiers to make effective use of varied information in a battlefield context. New technology offers innovative methods of bringing visual, night vision, geographical and enemy location data together in an overlaid 3D visual and audio augmented reality format, so it can be accessed and acted on in real time. Army Technology investigates groundbreaking innovations saving lives by making this sensor fusion information readily available to soldiers on frontlines.

Why Argentina's Leader Is in for a Tough 2019

Argentina’s request for a standby loan from the International Monetary Fund will force the country to carry out tighter fiscal measures, such as reducing the transfer of funds to the provinces. As a result of his decision to negotiate a deal with the IMF, President Mauricio Macri will have a more difficult time gaining congressional support for economic and labor reforms. Although divisions persist in Argentina’s political opposition, worsening economic conditions will encourage Macri's rivals in the next quarter, hurting the president's chances of winning re-election in 2019.


Lee Fang
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FOLLOWING THE REVELATION in March that Google had secretly signed an agreement with the Pentagon to provide cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology for drone warfare, the company faced an internal revolt. About a dozen Google employees have resigned in protest and thousands have signed a petition calling for an end to the contract. The endeavor, code-named Project Maven by the military, is designed to help drone operators recognize images captured on the battlefield. Google has sought to quash the internal dissent in conversations with employees. Diane Greene, the chief executive of Google’s cloud business unit, speaking at a company town hall meeting following the revelations, claimed that the contract was “only” for $9 million, according to the New York Times, a relatively minor project for such a large company.

Trump Tariffs Roil Markets, Complicate New Push For Foreign Military Sales

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WASHINGTON The significant tariffs slapped on imported steel and aluminium by the Trump administration on Thursday — despite overwhelming opposition from the Pentagon, defense industry, and Republican lawmakers — take effect today. It is still unclear what the fallout will be, but the targets are most of America’s closest allies. Canada, Mexico, and the European Union are pushing back, as the U.S. defense industry braces for what comes next. “We understand the focus on fair trade that’s driving some of these actions, but we are on record and our position hasn’t changed that we have concerns about tariffs for a number of reasons,” Eric Fanning, head of defense industry group Aerospace Industries Association told reporters on Thursday. It is unclear what impact they will have on the global supply chain “and what that can mean for our companies,” he added. “Certainly what escalation might mean in terms of retaliation.”

Army to Pursue ‘With Urgency’ Autonomous Systems Strategy

By Connie Lee

Following the release of a document that outlines the Army’s vision for autonomous systems, the service is now looking at ways to make that vision a reality. The service last year released the “Robotics and Autonomous Systems Strategy,” a document that stated its intention to pursue these capabilities “with urgency.” The strategy outlines the Army’s five capability objectives, which include: increasing situational awareness; lightening soldiers’ physical and cognitive workloads; sustaining the force with increased distribution, throughput and efficiency; facilitating movement and maneuver; and protecting the force. Maj. Mike Dvorak, robotics branch chief at the Army Capabilities Integration Center, said the service is now working on an execution strategy that will “lay [out] the specific details of how we’re going to get the capabilities.” The document is being produced by the Maneuver Center of Excellence and ARCIC, he said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Ground Robotics Capabilities Conference in Springfield, Virginia.