20 June 2018

Why did Pakistan's F-16s refuse to engage the IAF's Mig-29s during the Kargil War?

With its powerful MiG-29s swatting away Pakistani F-16s, the Indian Air Force’s MiG-21, MiG-27 and Mirage-2000 jets were able to devastate Pakistani military positions with impunity during the 1999 conflict. India was minutes away from bombing Pakistan on June 13, 1999 during the Kargil War. The Indian Air Force had deployed 16 jet fighters, mostly MiGs, for carrying out attacks deep into enemy territory. MiG-29’s are air superiority fighters and are equipped/loaded for it while F-16’s are interceptors. Fundamentally different planes and interceptors don’t match well against air superiority fighters. Also, at the point in time, the India MiG’s were much better equipped and loaded for air confrontations when compared to the Pakistani Air Force.

Ideas for a Public Broadcaster in India

The recent Cobrapost revelations paint a dreary picture of Indian media. The willingness of several media houses to push a specific political agenda for money is a cause for concern. Given the struggle to stay afloat in a competitive market, it is difficult to see these groups making the ethical choice of refusing the money on offer. The picture on the other end of the spectrum is no less discouraging. The Prasar Bharati, the notionally autonomous institution that is supposed to act as a public broadcaster, has been dogged by controversies that showcase its susceptibility to pressure from the ruling government. I even wrote about this a year ago, stressing on the need to set up a Parliamentary Committee to oversee its operations.

India’s Tiny Declaration of Independence

Mihir Sharma

It was the most carefully examined little square of newsprint in recent Indian history. Last week, a small job ad appeared on the inside pages of some newspapers looking for candidates for the post of "joint secretary" in the Indian government. Within a few hours, the ad had gone viral: Opposition politicians had weighed in, Twitter was agog and hundreds of thousands of 40ish Indians wondered if they had one last, unexpected opportunity to make their parents proud.

Taliban Demonstrates Resilience With Afghan Spring Offensive

By: Animesh Roul

The Taliban’s notorious spring offensive, an annual war ritual launched this year on April 25, has resulted in a series of violent strikes across Afghanistan, demonstrating once again the resilience of the group. The Taliban claims to have carried out as many as 300 attacks on various targets in the first three days of its offensive alone (Voice of Jihad/Alemarah, April 29). Government sources meanwhile say the group had, by May 7, carried out more than 2,600 operations across the country, of which the Afghan armed forces foiled as many as 1,700 (Tolo News, May 7).

A CIA agent, North Korea and Pak. bomb

Kallol Bhattacherjee

When he met the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, U.S. President Donald Trump remarked that the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang could have been dealt with long ago. Indeed, 30 years ago, Richard Barlow, an officer with the CIA detected the nuclear supply chain that ultimately would travel from the U.S. to Pakistan and further to North Korea. For exposing this clandestine network, Mr. Barlow says he was victimised and made to live like a pauper in a motorhome.

Why Cashing in on Lithium in South America Won't Be Easy


Argentina, Bolivia and Chile will increase in importance as the global demand for lithium rises. Political, logistical and regulatory challenges will prevent the three countries from developing their lithium reserves to their full potential. Because of Chile's quotas and Argentina's shift in economic outlook, Chile is likely to benefit most from the larger global demand for lithium.

Avoiding World War III in Asia

Parag Khanna

World War II still hasn’t ended, yet World War III already looms. When China and Japan agreed to normalize relations in 1945, it was stipulated that the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands (a string of uninhabited rocks equidistant from Japan, China and Taiwan) would not be militarized and the dispute would be put off for future generations. That future is here. The recent discovery of large oil and gas reserves under the islands has heated up the situation dramatically, with military budgets surging, and warships, coast guards and fighter jets scrambling to assert control over the commons.

America Wasn't Tough Enough on China's ZTE—Here's How to Make It Right

Grant Newsham

The Trump Administration has been better than its predecessors when it comes to Asia. However, the chance to reign in ZTE has been misplayed, and such opportunities come along infrequently. The United States Commerce Department has granted Chinese telecom company, ZTE, a reprieve from a seven-year ban on using U.S.-made parts—a bad that was effectively a corporate death sentence. However, ZTE remains on probation and has to do a few things. These include; paying a $1 billion fine and placing $400 million in escrow—money forfeited in the event of future misbehavior; replacing ZTE’s board and management within thirty days; and installing a U.S.-selected compliance team for ten years.

Trump’s focus on China trade: Right target, wrong approach

Ryan Hass

In assailing China’s unfair trade practices, President Trump has aimed his fire at a potent political symbol. Both progressive supporters of Bernie Sanders and conservative stalwarts of President Trump believe China deserves blame for job losses and wage stagnation. Trump is on firm footing in arguing that China’s unfair policies advantage Chinese firms over U.S. competitors. There is public support for breaking some crockery to fix these problems, even if that means enduring some short-term pain for long-term gain. Despite looming tariff threats, equity markets have climbed and the unemployment rate has fallen. In other words, it is understandable why Trump believes there is a solid case for confronting China now on its trade practices. But there is a smart way and a self-defeating way to address the challenge and, at the moment, Trump is pursuing the latter.

Russia, China Are Outmaneuvering US: Generals Recommend New Authorities, Doctrine


China and Russia are outmaneuvering the US, using aggressive actions that fall short of war, a group of generals and admirals have concluded. To counter them, the US needs new ways to use its military without shooting, concludes a newly released report on the Quantico conclave. The US military will need new legal authorities and new concepts of operation for all domains — land, sea, air, space, and cyberspaceFrom Little Green Men in Crimea to fortified artificial islands in the South China Sea, from online meddling with US elections to global information operations and to industrial-scale cyber espionage, America’s adversaries have found ways to achieve their objectives and undermine the West without triggering a US military response, operating in what’s come to be called “the grey zone.” No less a figure than Defense Secretary Jim Mattis took on the topic in his National Defense Strategy and in this morning’s graduation address to the Naval Academy.

China’s Eating Up US Drone Market; U.S. Troops At Risk


U.S. forces are at increasing risk as China and other nations sell more armed drones to anyone with the money to pay for them, and restrictive U.S. export policies may be making the situation worse, says a new report delivered to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The RAND Corp. report says that drones produced by unfriendly nations will pose a “growing threat to U.S. and allied military operations,” in the near future, as China, Russia, and Iran recognize the power of unmanned platforms, making it certain that in future conflicts, “U.S. forces will have to cope with adversaries equipped with different types and sizes of UAVs, both armed and unarmed.”

Expanding the Intellectual Capital on Challenges: China

Paul Morris

In western civilization, the classics of military strategy are often cited but rarely read. In contrast, Luo Guanzhong’s classic Three Kingdoms forms a subconscious foundation for the masses in eastern civilization to discuss strategy. Historical figures such as Cao Cao, Liu Bei, and the great strategist Kongming resonate more than most contemporary figures today. The Three Kingdoms is considered one of the four classics of Chinese literature with widespread availability in print, DVD, audio, cartoon, video games, and film.[1] In 2008, the film Red Cliff (the most well-known battle in the Three Kingdoms) broke box office records for the highest grossing film in China. On par with the significance of the Napoleonic and Peloponnesian Wars, the Three Kingdoms documents the fall of the Han Dynasty and one of the most significant battles in Chinese history.

Just the Fear of a Trade War Is Straining the Global Economy

By Peter S. Goodman, Ian Austen and Elisabeth Malkin

LONDON — Only a few months ago, the global economy appeared to be humming, with all major nations growing in unison. Now, the world’s fortunes are imperiled by an unfolding trade war. As the Trump administration imposes tariffs on allies and rivals alike, provoking broad retaliation, global commerce is suffering disruption, flashing signs of strains that could hamper economic growth. The latest escalation came on Friday, when President Trump announced fresh tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods, prompting swift retribution from Beijing. As the conflict broadens, shipments are slowing at ports and airfreight terminals around the world. Prices for crucial raw materials are rising. At factories from Germany to Mexico, orders are being cut and investments delayed. American farmers are losing sales as trading partners hit back with duties of their own.

How Many Countries Are There in the World in 2018?

This Partner Perspective, originally published in 2011, was updated in January 2018. With the permission of Political Geography Now, we have also included supplementary graphics and photographs curated by Stratfor's Creative Department. Interested in learning more about where the countries listed below are heading this year? Check out our 2018 Annual Forecast.

The United States Economy Is Doing Well—Here's Why

Samuel Rines
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Attempting to parse the U.S. economy is not a simple task due to often competing or contradictory data points. Often, it is useful to take a step back and reassess where the U.S. economy currently sits, and what that means about the potential future of the economy. However, it does not take long to understand the current state of the U.S. economy this time around. While it is highly volatile, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s GDPNow tracker puts U.S. gross domestic product growth at a 4.5 percent quarterly annualized increase. This is a significant acceleration from the previous sub-three percent first quarter. Can this estimate be trusted? Probably not. After all, the GDPNow indicator projected the relatively disappointing first quarter to grow at more than five percent in February.

Alexis Tsipras Deserves the Nobel Peace Prize

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The two leaders who deserve the Nobel Peace Prize did not meet this week in Singapore. Instead, they will meet Sunday on the banks of a clear, freshwater lake that borders Greece, Macedonia, and Albania. Prime Ministers Alexis Tsipras of Greece and Zoran Zaev of Macedonia — a country on track to be known formally as North Macedonia — will sign an agreement to resolve the bitter decades-long conflict over Macedonia’s name.

Angela Merkel’s political near-death experience in Bavarian brawl


BERLIN — After years of cautious sparring, Angela Merkel’s standoff with her party’s Bavarian partners over refugee policy escalated into a bare-knuckled brawl on Thursday, threatening both the stability of Germany’s grand coalition and the conservative bloc that has been the bedrock of its political establishment for decades. Merkel’s refusal to endorse a plan by her Bavarian interior minister to turn back some refugees at the German border set the stage for a showdown that, barring a last-minute compromise, could bring down her government.

Russian Air-Delivered Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons

By Mark B. Schneider
Before starting a discussion of Russian non-strategic or tactical air-delivered nuclear weapons, it is important for the reader to understand that these weapons do not exist in isolation. They are part of what amounts to a Russian non-strategic nuclear Triad composed of: 1) ground-based nuclear capable short- to intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles; 2) a sea-based force of nuclear-capable cruise missiles carried on both surface ships and submarines; and 3) an air-delivered non-strategic nuclear force of Backfire bombers and a variety of long-range fighter aircraft which carry both nuclear bombs and nuclear-capable ballistic and cruise missiles. Russia’s non-strategic nuclear Triad has the same resilience, flexibility, survivability, and defense penetration ability of Russia’s better known strategic Triad. Only Russia, and apparently China, have a non-strategic nuclear Triad. Russia is secretive about its non-strategic nuclear capabilities, particularly its low-yield weapons; hence, it is unlikely that the picture derived from open sources is complete.

Army Troops Train for Urban Conflict in Europe

By Vivienne Machi

PARIS — The Army must train and prepare for urban combat in Europe as the possibility of state-on-state warfare reemerges, a top commander said June 14. The service is “working assiduously” on generating unit and headquarters readiness to fight large-scale conventional combat operations and maintain a strategic advantage on the ground, Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli said at the Eurosatory air and land defense conference outside Paris. Cavoli assumed the role of U.S. Army Europe commander in January. Army troops are also training for a possible conflict in urban environments, he noted.

Should the U.S. intelligence community be more open about cyber operations?

Do American intelligence communities need to rethink secrecy when it comes to cyber warfare? It's something New York Times national security correspondent and best-selling author David Sanger suggests in his new book, "The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age."  "The classifications surrounding cyber is one of the biggest reasons that we've got a continued threat. It's one of the first weapons that was ever developed by the intelligence community, and they're naturally secretive, and I understand that. And they don't want to reveal the ways they defend ourselves and do offense," Sanger said Friday on "CBS This Morning."  "But it gets into a big problem, and the big problem is that if you don't begin to talk about your capabilities, if you don't talk about what you may do in return, you've created no deterrence at all."

State's New Cyber Reports Miss the Point Entirely

David Fidler

On May 31, the State Department released summaries of reports on deterrence and international engagement in cyberspace. In Executive Order 13800, President Donald J. Trump instructed federal agencies to produce a report on “options for deterring adversaries.” The order also instructed the secretary of state, coordinating with other federal agencies, to submit a report “documenting an engagement strategy for international cooperation in cybersecurity.” With U.S. cyber policy facing serious challenges and questions about the Trump administration's approach to cyber threats rife, these reports provided the administration with an opportunity to formulate strategies to improve cyber engagement and deterrence. However, the summaries suggest the reports fail to acknowledge the crisis that U.S. cyber policy faces and recycle ideas that have been around for years. The administration's behavior also raises doubts that it is willing and able to implement what the reports recommend. 

America's Strength: Teaching International Military Students

Jean Dagher
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Interactions between allies and partner nations require a common language, shared understanding and mutual trust. Furthermore, interoperabilitybetween militaries has become more important to accomplish unified efforts and achieve the military objectives of collaborating coalitions. The United States invites international military students from various countries to study all aspects of the profession funded through security assistance programs such as the International Military Education and Training program. This whole effort contributes to the United States’ strategic objectives outlined in its latestNational Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy.


The U.S. famously spends far more money on its military than any other country, splurging a whopping $610 billion every year. This number dwarfs other countries’ military spending—to get some context, you should know that the combined spend of the next seven highest countries is less than that. Nevertheless, the amount the U.S. spends on defense has fallen from its height in 2010 when it reached $768 billion. In 2017, the world as a whole spent $1.74 trillion on its military, up 1.1 percent.

Gen. Milley is right: The US Army is on the mend

By: Dan Goure  
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Last month, in an appearance before the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley provided a notably upbeat assessment of the state of his service. “The Army is on the mend. I can report out to you today, after two and a half years as the chief of staff of the Army, we are in significantly better shape than we were just a short time ago. And that is through the generosity of this Congress and the American people,” he said. 

Machine Strategists & the Future of Military Operations

By Thomas Keelan

What do drunk Google searches and war have in common? They’re both chaotic, incoherent and occasionally regrettable. They are also both more effectively solved by machine learning. Modern technology has made military strategy more complicated than ever – just look at China’s recent installation of cruise missiles on its artificial islands in the South China Sea. It’s becoming harder and harder for humans to keep up. Far away from the “tactical edge” of soldiers and weapons, smart algorithms like Google’s RankBrain will soon be needed to analyze the mountains of data and invent new military strategies.