23 June 2018

3 new Tibet airports near border pose threat

Claude Arpi

India should not fall back into a “Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai” mood, even if a “reset” of bilateral relations is necessary. On June 9, the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the Tibetan Autonomous Region’s (TAR) government announced that Tibet will soon have three new airports. A communiqué said: “Construction of three airports, all above the altitude of 3,900 metres, should begin in 2019.” Xinhua, the Chinese official news agency, gave the rationale: “Tourist travel will be more convenient and economic development in Tibet’s agricultural and pastoral areas will also be assisted.” The announcement came during a conference on Civil Aviation System Supporting Tibet Airport Construction Development held in Lhasa a day earlier.

Thirsty Days Ahead: Pakistan’s Looming Water Crisis

By Muhammad Mohsin Raza

Pakistan is currently facing an acute water shortage that is likely to wreck havoc in the country in the coming years. Recently, the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) highlighted a grave water shortagein the Indus Basin irrigation system (IBIS), the world’s largest contiguous irrigation system, for the summer cropping season. The timing of the crisis is critical and had delayed the sowing of the country’s main cash crops, including cotton. Experts believe the authorities were aware of the approaching acute water shortage because of shortages during the winter cropping season.

Mapping Taliban Control in Afghanistan

by Bill Roggio & Alexandra Gutowski

Description: For nearly two decades the government of Afghanistan, with the help of U.S. and coalition forces, has been battling for control of the country against the ever-present threat of the Afghan Taliban. FDD’s Long War Journal has been tracking the Taliban’s attempts to gain control of territory since NATO ended its military mission in Afghanistan and switched to an “advise and assist” role in June 2014. Districts have been retaken (by both sides) only to be lost shortly thereafter, largely resulting in the conflict’s current relative stalemate. However, since the U.S. drawdown of peak forces in 2011, the Taliban has unquestionably been resurgent.

Inching For A Trade War: Worst Is Yet To Come – Analysis

By Kaewkamol Pitakdumrongkit*

Although the prospect of a trade war between US and other economies looms large, the actual confrontation could still be evaded. But even if a trade war does not occur, the world is not off the hook as the US is having another tool in the pipeline which may in the future be wielded against friends and foes alike. Few other things are making headlines as much as a potential trade war after President Donald Trump declared that the United States would impose tariffs on steel and aluminium from Canada, Mexico, the European Union (EU) and China. Such a move unsurprisingly has created uproar around the world.

China is building its new Silk Road in space, too

Echo Huang

Half a century ago, China launched its first satellite, the very first objectto be sent into space by the Communist party-ruled country. Now, satellites have become a central part in China’s ambitious globe-spanning infrastructure push. The Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of China’s leader Xi Jinping, aims to build trillions of dollars of infrastructure from Asia to Africa to Europe, and along sea routes too. Involving roughly 70 countries so far, it entails massive spending (and lending) by China on railroads, ports and energy projects, highways—and, increasingly, satellite launches. China has been exporting satellites for over a decade, but it’s become easier to think of them as “infrastructure” in recent years as capabilities increased without costs going up, according to Blaine Curcio, founder of Orbital Gateway Consulting, a Hong Kong-based satellite market research firm. Apart from providing critical time-keeping and weather forecasts, satellite internet service has become much more viable.

China-North Korea Relations After the Trump-Kim Summit

By Xie Tao

One way to describe the historic Trump-Kim summit is to twist the famous line of Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the moon. The unprecedented meeting represents “one giant leap for both Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, one small step for peace on the Korean Peninsula.” It is one giant leap for the two leaders, because merely half a year ago they were exchanging a barrage of nuclear threats and personal insults. It would have been dismissed as a wild fantasy if anybody had suggested back then that the two antagonists would meet in person, with handshakes and smiling faces under the global spotlight.

Putin on the Ritz in China

By Nicholas Trickett

Over the last few years it’s become commonplace for Russia watchers and political scientists to compare Vladimir Putin to Leonid Brezhnev. Both leaders held power over the course of an entire generation and, now for Putin, share the misfortune of having overseen deepening economic and social stagnation. After Putin issued decrees naming his new presidential administration, Carnegie Moscow fellow Alexander Gabuev quipped on Twitter that since 80 percent of the team wasn’t changing, “it’s brezhnevization, but with more advanced medical services for the top leadership.”

China Data Indicates Broad Slowing Of Economy

Unlike events that happen in Las Vegas that has prompted the slogan, “anything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, things that happen in China do not stay in China. This is obvious from the huge amount of wealth fleeing the country over the last few years. Chinese money and wealth flowing across porous borders can be seen in soaring house prices in Vancouver and most of Australia; however, the subject we want to focus on at this time has to do with recent data from China indicating a broad slowdown in activity. Data recently released points to the slowest investment growth in over 22 years which is a clear indication that regulatory crackdowns in the banking sector are starting to filter through to the broader economy.

Growth In China Is Expected To Slow 

Are Countries Prepared for the Increasing Threat of Engineered Bioweapons?

Ranu S. Dhillon Devabhaktuni Srikrishna David Beier

Amid current outbreaks of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nipah virus in India, an even scarier threat looms. Last year, researchers recreated an extinct smallpox-like virus with DNA bought online for just $100,000 and published how they did it. Their feat heightens concerns that rogue regimes and terrorists could similarly modify or engineer pathogens and use them as weapons. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter warned that such biological artillery might come to rival the destructive power of nuclear arms. If a highly contagious agent were released in a major city, it could spread far and wide and kill thousands before it is even clear what is happening. Responding effectively to such threats will require a paradigm shift towards approaches that are faster and more agile and decentralized than what exists now.

Is Europe Prepared for a New Wave of Migrants?

The European migrant crisis that erupted in 2015 caught the Continent completely off guard.
It divided the EU into two camps: those that willingly took in migrants and agreed to Brussels' quota system, and those that did not. The former includes Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to champion an open-door policy to European migration. The latter includes countries such as Hungary and Italy. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban campaigned on the threat that refugees would overrun his country if he were not elected, and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has denounced illegal migrants living in Italy as a “social time bomb.” Anti-immigration politicians have been able to expand their power bases by tapping into the concern that migrants are exploiting Europe’s generous social programs.

Trump Doesn't Need a Grand Strategy

By Ionut Popescu

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.” 

Limiting Foreign Investment to Protect U.S. Economic Security: Business Implications

By John Taishu Pitt

On May 23, 2018, legislation to reform the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) was passed in the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee. There has been broad bipartisan support for the proposed legislation which would reform CFIUS to expand its jurisdiction. While many support the reform to fill the gap in oversight pertaining to foreign direct investment (FDI) into important U.S. sectors, others have raised the broader concern that the increased restrictions may send the world a message that the U.S. is closed for business — especially in light of the Trump administration’s increased unilateral protectionism.

Why Moderates Support Extreme Groups It's Not About Ideology

By Barbara F. Walter

One of the big surprises since the end of the Cold War has been the growth of radical Islamist groups, especially those that adhere to Salafi jihadism, an ultraconservative reform movement that seeks to establish a transnational caliphate based on sharia law. These organizations reject democracy and believe violence and terrorism are justified in pursuit of their goals. Before 1990, there was only a handful of active Salafi jihadist groups. By 2013, there were 49.

Belarus and Russia Have Become Frenemies

by Yuri Tsarik

On 4 June, Russian veterinary and food inspectors announced a temporary ban on imports of Belarusian milk and dairy products in retail containers larger than 2.5 litres, effective 6 June. This initiated yet another dispute in Belarusian-Russian relations, which have been deteriorating following Belarus’s refusal to participate in the Kremlin’s foreign policy adventurism. Moscow is reviewing its policy towards Belarus, while Minsk is trying to work out an adequate response to the new Russian strategy.

In Moscow’s arms

Blockchain beyond the hype: What is the strategic business value?

By Brant Carson, Giulio Romanelli, Patricia Walsh, and Askhat Zhumaev

Companies can determine whether they should invest in blockchain by focusing on specific use cases and their market position. Speculation on the value of blockchain is rife, with Bitcoin—the first and most infamous application of blockchain—grabbing headlines for its rocketing price and volatility. That the focus of blockchain is wrapped up with Bitcoin is not surprising given that its market value surged from less than $20 billion to more than $200 billion over the course of 2017.1Yet Bitcoin is only the first application of blockchain technology that has captured the attention of government and industry.

It’s time to rein in the data barons

by Martin Giles

When Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress earlier this year to discuss how the now-defunct political-data company Cambridge Analytica acquired data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge or consent, one of the few pointed questions came from Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina. “Who’s your biggest competitor?” Graham demanded. After Zuckerberg replied that Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft all had some overlap with various Facebook products, Graham chafed at the answer.

Keeping America first in quantum computing means avoiding these five big mistakes

by Martin Giles

Two separate pieces of legislation being floated in Congress would boost federal spending on quantum research and encourage more public-private partnerships in the field. A big focus of the legislative proposals is on quantum computing, which could eventually produce machines that make today’s most powerful supercomputer seem like an abacus. Unlike conventional machines, which process data in bits that represent either 0 or 1, quantum computers harness quantum bits, or qubits, which can represent both values simultaneously. While adding a few extra bits to a classical computer makes a modest difference in its capability, adding a few qubits increases a quantum machine’s computational power exponentially.

Trump's 'Space Force' Motivated By Russian, Chinese Threats To Critical U.S. Orbital System

Loren Thompson 

If you thought President Trump was just musing when he publicly broached the subject of a U.S. "space force" in recent months, guess again. On Monday, he disclosed at a meeting of the National Space Council in Washington, D.C. that he is directing the establishment of a sixth military branch to address operations in space. And he didn't mince words about what he had in mind: "We are going to have a Space Force. An Air Force and a Space Force. Separate, but equal."

An Assessment of Information Warfare as a Cybersecurity Issue

By Justin Sherman, Anastasios Arampatzis, Paul Cobaugh

Justin Sherman is a sophomore at Duke University double-majoring in Computer Science and Political Science, focused on cybersecurity, cyberwarfare, and cyber governance. Justin conducts technical security research through Duke’s Computer Science Department; he conducts technology policy research through Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy; and he’s a Cyber Researcher at a Department of Defense-backed, industry-intelligence-academia group at North Carolina State University focused on cyber and national security – through which he works with the U.S. defense and intelligence communities on issues of cybersecurity, cyber policy, and national cyber strategy. Justin is also a regular contributor to numerous industry blogs and policy journals.

Cyber Security in the Cloud: One or Multiple Cloud Service Providers?

By William Schneider Jr.

The inconsistent security protocols across the federal government's decentralized IT architecture have made its entire information system a particularly inviting target for attacks by adversary states and rogue insiders. There are compelling reasons for federal departments and agencies to move from a decentralized, ad hoc IT architecture to a cloud-based architecture. Decentralized systems are especially prone to computer-hygiene gremlins, such as when users' fail to apply software security updates consistently and practice poor password discipline. Such lapses present a low bar for hackers trying to propagate cyber malware or steal data. This hygiene problem is largely absent from centrally administered cloud-based architectures. Enforced uniformity of security practices among all users of the cloud creates a preferable outcome from a security perspective. 

Former NATO Commander Envisions New Cyber Branch of Military

By Adam Janofsky

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Retired U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis said Tuesday that there should be a new branch of the military that focuses exclusively on defending the public and private sectors against cyberthreats. Cyberattacks carried out by nation states such as Russia and North Korea increasingly are sophisticated and brash, said Mr. Stavridis, the current dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. A dedicated cybersecurity unit would help critical infrastructure operators, for example, prevent and respond to attacks that could cause widespread destruction, he said, speaking at the Gartner Security and Risk Management Conference here.

Why Hackers Aren’t Afraid of Us

By David E. Sanger

WASHINGTON — Ask finance ministers and central bankers around the world about their worst nightmare and the answer is almost always the same: Sometime soon the North Koreans or the Russians will improve on the two huge cyberattacks they pulled off last year. One temporarily crippled the British health care system and the other devastated Ukraine before rippling across the world, disrupting shipping and shutting factories — a billion-dollar cyberattack the White House called “the most destructive and costly in history.” The fact that no intelligence agency saw either attack coming — and that countries were so fumbling in their responses — led a group of finance ministers to simulate a similar attack that shut down financial markets and froze global transactions. By several accounts, it quickly spun into farce: No one wanted to admit how much damage could be done or how helpless they would be to deter it.

Training Cyberspace Maneuver

Andrew Schoka

The principle of maneuver in military operations has dominated strategic military thinking for over two thousand years. Foundational to the understanding of maneuver theory is the concept of warfighting domains, the fundamental environments in which military forces engage in warfare. As the development of ships heralded the introduction of the ocean as a warfighting domain, maneuver theory evolved to incorporate the employment of naval forces. Likewise, the development of aviation necessitated the inclusion of the atmosphere as a warfighting domain and brought about the consideration of aerial assets into maneuver thinking. Space followed, presenting a highly technical domain to be considered within the context of military operations. Maneuver theory has now evolved to consider the first man-and-machine-made domain, in which cyberspace, as an artificial information domain, overlaps, intersects, and engages with the four other warfighting domains. The unique nature of the cyberspace warfighting domain presents a host of distinct challenges and considerations to maneuver thinking, requiring a change to the approach of training maneuver warfare principles for military cyberspace leaders.

In Germany, Politics Recollects History

By George Friedman

Throughout her 13 years in Germany’s highest office, Chancellor Angela Merkel has been the linchpin of German politics. Given Germany’s pre-eminence in the European Union, she is arguably the linchpin of European politics, too, having shepherded her country through crisis after crisis. From the 2008 financial crisis came an economic crisis, which in turn led to a social crisis and then, finally, a political crisis. The European Union, once a beacon of cooperation and progress, is rife with political parties that oppose many of the things the EU embodies – transnationalism, technocratic elite, etc.

The U.S. Army Culture is French!

Donald E. Vandergriff

When taken in its entirety, the American Army had a simple and extremely consistent intellectual framework for war and the battlefield from its inception in 1814 through its replacement in 1940-1941. This intellectual framework provided the Army with a consensus on the nature of war, of organization, and of technology, so that for over a century the American Army had a distinctive way of war. This way of war was, at its heart, based on the elements and intellectual framework of the French Combat Method.[i]