15 June 2018

Modi-Xi informal meeting: Equidistant from two super powers

By Ajit Ranade

Just over a month ago Prime Minister Modi went to Wuhan for an informal bilateral two-day meeting with President Xi Jinping. This was supposedly at the invitation of the Chinese President. In fact Xi said to Modi that in his five years, he had moved out of the capital to meet a foreign leader only twice, and on both occasions it was to meet with the Indian Prime Minister. Many sceptical analysts wondered what the tangible achievements of the Wuhan summit were, although they overlooked the announcement of joint projects in Afghanistan and the initiative to have direct dialogue between military leaders of the two countries. Coming after the Doklam standoff, the Wuhan visit is a distinct signal of not just thawing of relations, but of the intention for closer engagement. Later this month, PM Modi is expected to participate in the multilateral meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Qingdao. That would be his fifth visit to China since he became PM.

India's Struggle to Become a Global Power Player

Todd Royal

New Delhi needs to understand the strength it possesses and begin acting like a world power. India isn’t a member of the UN Security Council or the G-7. That needs to change. One way India can achieve that goal is if the Modi government and diplomatic corps press for a larger role in world affairs to balance China and Pakistan. China, in particular, “has increasingly asserted its regional posture,” which is a threat to India and upsets the balance of power in Southeast Asia and Central Asia. Also, India should shed its emerging power title and become a “major global player.” India has resources and strength it doesn’t seem to understand. It currently has “the world’s third-largest military personnel, fifth-largest defense budget, and seventh-largest economy.” Furthermore, in the not-so-distant-future, India will overtake China and have the largest population in the world—that isyoung, intelligent and motivated to shed religious and caste systems—which have held the country back from advancing upwards for decades.

Chinese attacks on contractors ‘a phenomenon’ on the rise

By: Justin Lynch

Amid a double-barrel recognition of the rise of China’s military might by Congress and the U.S. Army, the Chinese attacks on American contractors appear set to continue. Along with it, U.S. secrets could slip away. On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the Chinese government compromised computers of a Navy contractor in early 2018, hacking “massive amounts of highly sensitive data related to undersea warfare.” By targeting a contractor who works for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I., the Chinese hackers stole secret details related to a supersonic anti-ship missile, according to the Post. When aggregated, the report said, the information could be considered classified. The contractor was not named.

China’s Master Plan: A Global Military Threat

By Hal Brands

I wrote a column recently about how a longstanding assumption of America’s China policy — that economic integration between the two countries is an unalloyed good — has now been overtaken by events. But this isn’t the only area in which China’s rise is forcing a re-evaluation of old beliefs. Now, as the first in a series of columns on this phenomenon that Bloomberg Opinion will publish in the coming days, I’ll delve into another issue with enormous implications for U.S.-China relations and American interests: the rise of China as a more globally oriented military power. For years, most experts believed that China’s military challenge to the U.S. was regional in nature — that it was confined to the Western Pacific. After decades of tacitly free-riding on America’s global power-projection capabilities, however, Beijing now is seeking the capabilities that will allow it to project its own military power well outside its regional neighborhood.

The World According to Trump and Xi


The world’s leading democracy, the United States, is looking increasingly like the world’s biggest and oldest surviving autocracy, China. By pursuing aggressively unilateral policies that flout broad global consensus, President Donald Trump effectively justifies his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping’s longtime defiance of international law, exacerbating already serious risks to the rules-based world order. China is aggressively pursuing its territorial claims in the South China Sea – including by militarizing disputed areas and pushing its borders far out into international waters – despite an international arbitral ruling invalidating them. Moreover, the country has weaponized transborder river flows and used trade as an instrument of geo-economic coercion against countries that refuse to toe its line.

Doklam exemplifies China’s broader recidivism in Himalayas

Brahma Chellaney

The first anniversary of the Doklam standoff calls for reflection on China’s strategy of territorial revisionism and India’s response. The Doklam Plateau, like the South China Sea, illustrates how China operates in the threshold between peace and war. Just as China has made creeping but transformative encroachments in the South China Sea without firing a single shot, it has incrementally but fundamentally changed the status quo in Doklam in its favour since ending the 73-day troop standoff with India.

ZTE’s Near-Collapse May Be China’s Sputnik Moment

By Li Yuan
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HONG KONG — Once derided as a technology backwater and copycat, China is justifiably proud of its technology boom. Its people zip around the country on high-speed trains. They can buy, and pay for, just about anything with their smartphones. For Chinese traveling abroad, the rest of the world can seem slow and antiquated. Now, that progress has been cast into doubt, and even some of the smartest people in the technology world are asking how they got it so wrong. 
The Trump administration gave ZTE, which employs 75,000 people and is the world’s No. 4 maker of telecom gear, a stay of execution on Thursday. ZTE, which had violated American sanctions, agreed to pay a $1 billion fine and to allow monitors to set up shop in its headquarters. In return, the company — once a symbol of China’s progress and engineering know-how— will be allowed to buy the American-made microchips, software and other tools it needs to survive.

China Grows Anxious About Taiwan Reunification

Tensions between China and Taiwan have reached a decade high, but Beijing is unlikely to take military action unless Taipei declares independence. The changing strategic picture in the region and increased tension between Washington and Beijing will only boost Taiwan's importance in the coming decade. A younger, more independence-minded Taiwanese generation could clash with China's goal of achieving national reunification. China has played a long game of carrot-and-stick with Taiwan, alternating between military threats and economic sweeteners, but the clock may be ticking down to a confrontation.

Taiwanese think tank floats South China Sea base plan for US troops

Lawrence Chung

A Taiwanese think tank has called on Taipei to lease part of a Taiwan-controlled islet to the US military, a highly explosive move certain to infuriate Beijing and escalate tensions in the South China Sea if realised. The bold proposal by some experts of an unnamed pro-independence think tank calls for the Pentagon to set up a base on Taiping Island for humanitarian and rescue operations, according to local news media. Taiping, the biggest islet in the Spratly chain, is technically controlled by Taiwan, though an international arbitration tribunal has ruled that it is merely a land formation over which no claimants are entitled to claim sovereignty.

Forget the G7. A summit happening in China is what really matters

by Rishi Iyengar and Jethro Mullen 

The first meeting — the G7 summit in Quebec — includes most of the world's biggest economies, and they're likely to clash over trade, worry about oil prices and debate the risk of an emerging market slump. But the attendees at the second are likely to have a bigger influence over the future of global growth. The two-day summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Qingdao, which starts on Saturday, will feature the leaders of the world's two fastest growing major economies, India and China. India will attend as a full member of the organization for the first time. Initially established as a regional security grouping, conversations among the SCO nations — China, Russia, India, Pakistan and four Central Asian countries — have increasingly focused on trade.

'Economic powerhouse'

Can The GCC Survive The Qatar Crisis?

by Derek Davison 

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the diplomatic crisis surrounding Qatar and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It was on June 5, 2017, that four nations—Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt—cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar and declared an air, sea, and land blockade against the Gulf state. The internationally recognized government of Yemen as well as the Maldives also joined in the blockade, and since then Comoros and Mauritania have joined as well, while a small number of other nations have downgraded their diplomatic ties with Qatar without severing them entirely. The rationale behind the blockade is murky. The Saudis and Emiratis made several demands of Qatar over its alleged support for terrorists, its Al Jazeera news network, and its friendly relations with Iran. However, subsequent events suggest strongly that the Saudis aimed to engineer the ouster of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Fears of New Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen After Attack on Port

By Margaret Coker

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The world’s worst humanitarian disastercould be about to get even worse. The main port, which millions of Yemenis rely on for food and other supplies, was invaded early Wednesday by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates The attack, following several days of failed diplomacy, seemed aimed at tipping the balance in Yemen’s long-running civil war against the Houthi rebels, who control the port, Hudaydah, and armed forces loyal to the Saudis and Emiratis. But any sustained fighting could deepen what is already a catastrophic humanitarian situation.

How Do You Measure Success Against Jihadists?

By Scott Stewart

Measuring success against a militant organization requires understanding the group's objectives and how far it has progressed toward achieving them, as well as the types of warfare it is capable of waging. Instead of gauging a group's strength through the number of terrorist attacks, it is necessary to examine the quality of the assaults and determine how they fit into the group's other operations. Defeating a group requires more than victory on the physical battlefield; it also needs progress in the much more difficult ideological realm.

Diplomacy as a Work of Art

By George Friedman

The past week has been filled with stories about diplomacy. The G-7 summit in Canada last week was focused on U.S. President Donald Trump’s undiplomatic behavior. The Singapore summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was seen as a possible diplomatic breakthrough. These events have caused me to ask some important questions: What is diplomacy, what is the role of diplomats, and where do the rituals of diplomatic behavior come from? An Offer You Can’t Refuse At the simplest level, diplomacy is the process whereby nations conduct business with each other, and diplomats, like lawyers, represent their clients – the governments and leaders of the countries they serve – in pursuing their interests. But this is only a basic description. In reality, much of diplomacy involves relatively mundane meetings on matters of little importance and of no interest to the leadership. In these meetings, diplomats have a great deal of power, and many of the mundane matters can turn out to be far more important than they appear.

Trump's G-7 Mistake is Clear

Claude Barfield

Let’s face it, the G7 Summit is no longer—as it was when it begun decades ago—made up of the world’s leading economies. (One—Italy—is heading for basket case status). Nonetheless, for the United States and the vestigial “free world”, these nations still symbolize the endurance of democratic values and—at least until the advent of Donald Trump—the belief that free markets and rule-based competition will lead to greater economic growth and higher living standards for both developed and developing nations. That is why President Trump’s belief that our trading partners have treated the US “unfairly” and that open trade and investment have wiped out American jobs is so destructive.

At G7 Summit, Trump Takes a Wrecking Ball to the West

“Sobering and a bit depressing.” That was German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s verdict of Donald J. Trump’s latest temper tantrum, which blew apart this weekend’s G7 summit. The president had just disavowed the group’s arduously negotiated communique after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had the temerity to declare that his country would “not be pushed around” by the United States. Trump decided to prove him wrong. Whether one considers Trump a nationalist patriot or a petulant ignoramus, his fit of pique proved one thing. He is destined to be one of America’s most consequential foreign policy presidents. Fewer than seventeen months into his administration, Trump has already shaken the foundations of international order. He has abdicated U.S. global leadership, which he believes has bled the United States dry, and he has sidelined multilateral institutions (from NATO to the WTO), which he perceives constrain U.S. freedom of action. The G7 summit suggests he is just getting started. He seems prepared to abandon the transatlantic relationship, and even the concept of “the West,” as pillars of U.S. global engagement.

The challenge of America’s new extraterritorial sanctions


How to navigate America’s new extraterritorial sanctions targeting Iran has become an important diplomatic test for Japan and a number of other important democracies concerned about U.S. President Donald Trump’s pursuit of aggressive unilateralism. Many of these countries have already taken an economic hit, in the form of higher oil-import bills, from Trump’s unilateral pullout from the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran. The United States has also imposed extraterritorial sanctions to punish the Kremlin for its alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The new Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAASTA, which came into effect on Jan. 29, seeks to stop other countries from making “significant” defense transactions with Russia, a leading arms exporter.

The Trump-Kim Summit: What It Means and What Happens Next

Trump and Kim signed a declaration outlining the next steps of the relationship between their two countries, leaving the details for lower-level officials to pencil in later. The most notable developments from the summit are that the United States plans to halt military exercises with South Korea and that Washington is prepared to accept a more phased approach to North Korean denuclearization. With many thorny details to work out, there is still plenty of room for the U.S.-North Korea dialogue to break down. But the events of the summit make it hard for the United States to justify any future return to a strategy of applying maximum pressure. 

North Korea Is Following the Saddam Hussein Playbook


Twenty years ago, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan flew to Baghdad on what appeared to be a hopeless mission to persuade Saddam Hussein to grant U.N. weapons inspectors access to sensitive sites, and thus avert an impending war. (I was part of the press contingent.) The negotiations were tortuous, but Annan ultimately got Saddam to agree to everything that Washington and other capitals had demanded. In the aftermath, Annan was exhausted, euphoric, quietly proud of his own work. The U.N. Security Council accepted the deal, and the inspectors returned to work.

Russia’s Real Target Is US Alliances & Ukraine, Not Elections: CIA Veterans


"I don’t think that Vladimir Putin, who I think is a realist, wants to destroy us or our democracy, (though) they did meddle… and they will do it again if they can," Bearden said. "They will continue to stir the pot, (but) I think they’re as amazed by what we’re doing to ourselves as perhaps we are.” A BMP infantry fighting vehicle stands in front of a Ukrainian flag.  CENTER FOR THE NATIONAL INTEREST: Vladimir Putin’s Russia is not targeting America’s elections but its alliances, three ex-CIA experts said here, and Russia’s chances of doing so look better than ever. Interference in US elections is probably retaliation for American support of pro-democracy movements in places the Kremlin really cares about, especially Ukraine, which they are desperate to keep out of NATO.

No One Can Stop Trump

Updated | One nightmare scenario goes like this: Donald Trump emerges from his White House bedroom in the middle of the night, cellphone in hand, enraged by the latest taunt from North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. He spots the military aide sitting in the corridor with a black valise in his lap. It’s called the nuclear football. “I’m gonna take care of this son of a bitch once and for all,” Trump growls. “Big-time. Gimme the codes.” The aide cracks open the valise and hands the president a loose-leaf binder with a colorful menu of Armageddon options. They range from total annihilation plans for Russia and China down to a variety of strikes tailored to North Korea.

Art of the Deal

In early 2012, a few months after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il was buried in an elaborate state ­funeral, I found myself in the Pyongyang office of a man named James Kim. He’s an evangelical Christian, a veteran of the Korean War and a former political prisoner in North Korea. He is also the founder of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which is how he met Kim Jong Il. As we spoke, James talked about attending the funeral and how he encountered the Dear Leader’s son, a portly 29-year-old named Kim Jong Un.

DHS experts warn it's a "matter of time" before hackers hit commercial airliners

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Cybersecurity experts working for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a sobering warning about the vulnerability of commercial airliners to hackers. The same group of experts hacked a Boeing 757, and now CBS News is learning more about the government's ongoing efforts to learn about the vulnerabilities. In a presentation in January, researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory warned it is "a matter of time before a cybersecurity breach on an airline occurs," according to 119 pages of heavily redacted documents provided by DHS to CBS News. That assessment came after a DHS decision to launch "nose to tail" tests of a Boeing 757 for hacking weak spots. The documents, which were first reported by the website Motherboard, show DHS planned to begin developing mitigation efforts to protect against cyberattacks in 2017.

Why Do We Care So Much About Privacy?

By Louis Menand

The reason you’ve been receiving a steady stream of privacy-policy updates from online services, some of which you may have forgotten you ever subscribed to, is that the European Union just enacted the General Data Protection Regulation, which gives users greater control over the information that online companies collect about them. Since the Internet is a global medium, many companies now need to adhere to the E.U. regulation. How many of us are going to take the time to scroll through the new policies and change our data settings, though? We sign up to get the service, but we don’t give much thought to who might be storing our clicks or what they’re doing with our personal information. It is weird, at first, when our devices seem to “know” where we live or how old we are or what books we like or which brand of toothpaste we use. Then we grow to expect this familiarity, and even to like it. It makes the online world seem customized for us, and it cuts down on the time we need to map the route home or order something new to read. The machine anticipates what we want.

Here’s How Google Pitched AI Tools to Special Operators Last Month


Even as the company drew back from its work on Project Maven, a sales team was going full steam ahead at a big SOF conference. Not long before Google announced it would end one part of its AI work for the U.S. military, the company’s Cloud team was pitching artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to members of the U.S. special operations community, the soldiers very much at the front lines of combat in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa. The pitches were part of Google’s sales work at the SOFICconvention, which draws special operators from around the world to Tampa, Florida, each May. A document distributed at a May 24 sales presentation touts Google Cloud and associated AIcapabilities as useful for some of special operations forces’ most important work. Defense One obtained a copy of the document.