6 July 2018

Is India winning the battle against extreme poverty?

India is perhaps no longer home to the highest number of people living in extreme poverty. Researchers at Brookings Institution say Nigeria had 87 million people living in extreme poverty in May 2018, compared to 73 million in India. They predict that the Indian number is expected to drop to around 20 million over the next four years. The World Bank defines a person as extremely poor if she is living on less than 1.90 international dollars a day, which are adjusted for inflation as well as price differences between countries.

Kashmir - An Analysis of Recent Developments

C D Sahay

In a series of swift and surprise moves, on June 19, 2018, the BJP leadership in New Delhi decided to withdraw from the ruling coalition with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); Chief Minister Mahbooba Mufti submitted her resignation to the Governor; National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah declined to stake claim, and the Governor, as expected, recommended to the Centre, imposition of Governor’s rule in the state which was formalised on June 20. The Governor moved-in quickly to appoint two Advisors and a new Chief Secretary.

How Diego Garcia Can Play a Pivotal Role in America's Relationship with India

by Mark E. Rosen

The small island of Diego Garcia (DGAR) in the Indian Island is not a place that the U.S. Media knows or talks about even though it is arguably one of the most important pieces of real estate in DOD’ strategic arsenal. It is isolated in the middle of the Indian Ocean and that isolation enables it to have security from onlookers or foreign navies that would monitor challenge its activities. DGAR is closed to outsiders and that gives the U.S. military a great deal of freedom to preposition military equipment and use it as a staging area for military operations. As Tom Friedman has often said, the world is getting hotter and more crowded and these isolated little pieces of real estate cannot be replicated by the DOD. Given that, U.S. policymakers need to wake up to the challenges facing continued U.S. military presence on DGAR and take actions to shore-up its basis for remaining there— a long-term lease with the United Kingdom. That fifty-year lease commenced in 1966 and expired in 2016. The UK extended the United States’ lease to the DGAR facility in 2016 until 2036.

An Empire and its nervous periphery

Claude Arpi 

China has been expanding its boundaries to fulfil its dream of becoming the world’s most powerful nation. But the picture is not rosy. Resentment among the best of China’s friends is growing. Since the new Emperor sat on the throne in Beijing in 2012, the Middle Kingdom has steadily extended its influence in the periphery of the Empire. The CPC proclaims today: “The great rejuvenation of Chinese nation is an unstoppable historical trend that won’t be diverted by the will of any individual country or person.” The CPC has a dream: For its 100 years in 2049, it wants China to be the most powerful nation in the world. But if one looks at the Empire’s neighbourhood, all is not rosy and resentment has been created everywhere, even amongst China’s best ‘friends’.

Telcogeopolitics: West vs. China in 5G race


LONDON — In smoke-filled conference halls and nondescript hotels from Brussels to Busan, South Korea, a yearslong battle has been underway for control over the future of the mobile world. More than 600 government officials and telecoms executives agreed in June to a first round of global standards for so-called 5G telecommunications infrastructure, or the next generation of mobile networks, at a ballroom on the outskirts of San Diego, California. (A second round will be negotiated by the end of 2019.) The agreement — a much-needed step to enable smartphones, mobile devices and, eventually, autonomous cars to work anywhere in the world — cannot be overstated.

China’s strategic investments in Europe: The case of maritime ports


In September 2017 Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, proposed a new EU framework for screening foreign direct investments (FDI), arguing that ‘if a foreign, state-owned, company wants to purchase a European harbour, part of our energy infrastructure or a defence technology firm, this should only happen in transparency, with scrutiny and debate’. This proposal sparked a large debate in Europe over whether the EU should have the power to vet FDI and how this would work in practice. Earlier this year, European leaders called on the Council and the European Parliament to make further progress on this topic. The Council accordingly agreed on June 13th 2018 to start negotiations with the European Parliament, in the hope of reaching an agreement before the next elections.

What’s Next for China’s 16+1 Platform in Central and Eastern Europe?

By Alicja Bachulska

Sofia, Bulgaria hosted the annual China-CEEC think tank conference on June 29 under the theme of “Advancing 16+1 Cooperation Platform – the Way Ahead.” The conference was part of the official calendar of events of the 7th CEEC-China 16+1 Summit that will take place in the Bulgarian capital on July 7. The 16+1 was established in 2012 as a multilateral platform facilitating cooperation between China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC). In recent years, the platform’s summits have attracted a lot of attention, especially in Western Europe. The intensifying level of engagement between the 16 countries in the CEE region and China has considerably alarmed Brussels and Berlin. Many Western European observers and policymakers have raised concerns about the potential risks of growing Chinese presence in Eastern Europe, claiming that Beijing’s major interest in engaging with the region is a part of its long-term strategy to undermine EU unity. This is by no means a new perspective, as these kinds of concerns have been raised multiple times since the platform’s establishment.

Trump's Tariffs Could Crush China's Ambitions

by Gordon G. Chang

President Donald Trump on Wednesday handed a reprieve to ravenous Chinese acquirers looking for U.S. tech companies by issuing a statement that he will not put in place across-the-board rules blocking certain investments from China. On May 29, the White House in a statement promised by June 30 to “implement specific investment restrictions” barring Chinese parties from acquiring “industrially significant technology.” Instead of using authority granted by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 to issue such investment restrictions, the president on Wednesday endorsed legislation, now working its way through Congress, expanding the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. CFIUS, as the Treasury-led interagency body is known, can block certain acquisitions of U.S. businesses by foreign parties.

Trump Has Blocked the World's Biggest Mobile Network Operator From the U.S. on National Security Grounds


The world’s biggest mobile network operator, China Mobile, probably won’t get to enter the U.S. market after the Trump administration moved to block it on national security grounds.
China Mobile (CHL, +0.00%) is a state-owned enterprise with almost 900 million subscribers, and there is currently no shortage of distrust in the U.S. regarding Chinese companies with ties to the state, particularly in the telecommunications arena. American lawmakers have, for example, described the phone-makers Huawei and ZTE (ZTCOY, +5.08%) as “a severe national security threat.”

China isn’t playing tech catch up – it’s leapfrog and it may get dirty

By Tom Holland, m.scmp.comView OriginalJuly 1st, 2018

The editor of China’s Science and Technology Daily caused a stir last month when he described “the large gap in science and technology between China and developed countries in the West, including the US” and spoke of the obstacles China faces in catching up with more technologically advanced nations. It goes against the narrative of technological achievement trumpeted by Beijing, but he was right about how far China lags behind the US. If you were to believe much of the media coverage, you would think that China was already a world-beater in technology. Endless news stories recount how China now turns out more graduate engineers each year than any Western country, publishes more scientific research papers and files more patent applications.

How China's state-backed companies fell behind

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG -- In August 2017, the lumbering telecom operator China Unicom was selected as a test case for Beijing's latest attempt to reform some of its state-controlled companies. It was a prime candidate for overhaul. China Unicom's former chairman, Chang Xiaobing, was found guilty of taking bribes and sentenced in May to six years in prison. And by some important financial measures, China Unicom's performance has been catatonic. Its return on equity -- a key indicator of overall efficiency as well as a yardstick of how much net profit a company returns to shareholders -- has been below 1% in recent years, compared to a global industry average of about 19.5%, according to an analysis of QUICK-FactSet data on 47 telecom operators.

The EU and NATO and Trump — Oh My!


It is no secret that U.S. President Donald Trump has an instinctive animus against the European Union and NATO. He supported the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, reportedly advised French President Emmanuel Macron that his country should leave the union too, and last week falsely claimed that the EU was created “to take advantage of the United States.” (This last statement raises an obvious question: Does Trump know any history at all? The answer appears to be no.) He has long complained that NATO’s European members aren’t paying enough for defense and has offered only tepid support for the mutual defense clause that is at the heart of the NATO treaty.

London’s Brexit time bomb is about to blow


The most fundamental Brexit truth right now is this: Unless there is a concession from Brussels over the next few months, a full-blown political crisis in the U.K. is inevitable. That is the reality facing Theresa May as she prepares for the most important Cabinet meeting of her premiership at her Chequers country retreat on Friday, where she hopes to forge a consensus on the government’s preferred future relationship with the EU after Brexit, which could form the basis of a breakthrough in the negotiations with Brussels. All signs suggest it will involve a lot of British give. But without any EU take it will be pointless.

WTO Faces Existential Threat in Times of Trump

By Martin Hesse

Roberto Azevedo, the director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), is enjoying the moment. Outside, in front of the neo-classical Centre William Rappard, the headquarters of the WTO, Lake Geneva is glittering in the spring sun, while inside, Azevedo is not facing a particularly challenging start to his day. His agenda calls for him to open the Natural Disasters and Trade Symposium - a routine duty. Azevedo shows up in the conference hall 10 minutes late, shakes hands and chats briefly with colleagues. He is met with goodwill on all sides - which has become a rarity for the guardian of free trade in these turbulent times.

America’s new B61-12 nuclear gravity bombs are set to enter service in 2020 and already cost nearly twice their literal weight in gold

Joseph Trevithick

The U.S. Air Force, in cooperation with the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, has completed the first end-to-end qualification flight tests of the new B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb on the B-2 bomber. This milestone comes amid continued concerns about the weapon’s cost, including the recent announcement that the Pentagon’s top internal watchdog has started its own audit of the program. On June 29, 2018, the National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, revealed the two successful test flights in an official press release. A B-2A Spirit stealth bomber from the Air Force’s 419th Test and Evaluation Squadron, situated at Edwards Air Force Base in California, had dropped the weapons, which did not carry live nuclear warheads, on the Tonopah Test Range on June 9, 2018.

Ex-Trump Adviser McMaster to Take on ‘Infected’ National Security Discourse

By Dion Nissenbaum

WASHINGTON—H.R. McMaster, pushed out in April as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, is joining Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, where he hopes to develop bipartisan national security ideas. Mr. McMaster, who struggled to retain influence in the fractious White House, said, as a senior fellow, he hopes his work can influence national security policy as the U.S. works to combat rising threats from rivals such as Russia and China. “Our discourse about national security has become infected by this severe form of political polarization, and it’s regrettable because I do think some really excellent work has happened across the last year-and-a-half to help frame some of the most significant strategic challenges and to craft strategic approaches to advance and protect our interests,” he said in his first major interview since leaving the White House.

NATO matters, and Trump's trashing of it is dangerous

By Mark Hertling

Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling is a national security, intelligence and terrorism analyst for CNN. He served for 37 years in the Army, including three years in combat, and retired as commanding general of US Army Europe and the 7th Army. He is the author of "Growing Physician Leaders." The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. (CNN)On July 11 and 12, NATO members will come together for their first summit since meeting in Warsaw in 2016. They were primed to discuss the strategic direction of the alliance and ambitious subjects like enhancing capabilities to fight terrorism, addressing cyber and hybrid attacks on national institutions, building a greater Black Sea presence, and further strengthening the transatlantic bond.

Wargaming and Deterrence Options: Signalling a Low-Yield Response

By Adam Cabot

When wargaming a Russian attack on the Baltic states, the Rand Corporation, demonstrated that current NATO forces in Europe are an insufficient deterrent. Findings indicated that if Russia was to attack the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia, the longest length of time it would take their forces to reach the outskirts of Tallinn and Riga is 60 hours. RAND found that a NATO force of about seven brigades, including three heavy armored brigades supported by air power and adequate land-based fire support would be necessary to prevent a rapid defeat until more forces can arrive in Europe. This, they argued would be the necessary conventional force required to deter a Russian attack.

Lessons from the America-Japan Trade War of the 1980s

by John Hemmings James Amedeo

The current wisdom is that there are no winners in trade wars. This message is inherent in nearly all coverage on the United States President Trump administration's tariffs campaign on China, the European Union, and Japan. However, is this really true? History tells us that sometimes, there are winners in trade wars—all it takes is for one side to blink first. In the 1980s and 1990s, the White House was faced with a powerful Asian economic power that manipulated its currency, subsidized its companies, and erected stiff non-tariff barriers to imports. Washington's response was to put 100% tariffs on electronics, force voluntary restrictions on the aggressor's auto, steel, and machine industries, and adopt laws that restricted the country's steel, lumber, and sugar industries. But this wasn't a nascent People's Republic of China (PRC), it was the U.S. treaty-ally, Japan.

War On Coal Is Becoming War On Natural Gas

Is the reliability of our nation’s electric power grid threatened by the market-driven retirement of nuclear power facilities? Despite the wealth of evidence to the contrary, the answer according to a new report by the Nuclear Energy Institute, is “yes.” NEI’s paper, “The Impact of Fuel Supply Security on Grid Resilience,” claims that one of the most significant risks to grid resiliency is an over-reliance on cheap natural gas as a fuel source, specifically in the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland (PJM) Mid-Atlantic area.


Wars of None: AI, Big Data, and the Future of Insurgency

By Chris Meserole, 

Editor’s Note: The rapid pace of technological innovation is changing the nature of warfare, and futurists are busy spinning out scenarios of a U.S.-China clash in twenty years involving nano-technology and fully autonomous weapons systems. Yet how will new technologies shape insurgency and counterinsurgency, which conjures up images of guerrillas hiding in Vietnam’s jungles? My Brookings colleague Chris Meserole looks at two of the latest books on the subject and assesses how the balance between rebels and government may tilt.

Cyber Command moves closer to a major new weapon

by Mark Pomerleau

The Air Force issued a formal proposal earlier this month for the Department of Defense’s long-awaited cyber weapon system, known as the Unified Platform, sources tell Fifth Domain. DoD officials have said the Unified Platform is one of U.S. Cyber Command’s largest and most critical acquisition programs to date. Industry officials have said it is necessary to conduct cyber operations and is critical to national security. Just as sailors rely on an aircraft carrier, pilots need airplanes or soldiers need tanks, cyber warriors require a system to which they launch their attacks. Pentagon leaders have said the Unified Platform will house offensive and defensive tools, allow for command and control, situational awareness and planning.

‘Deepfake’ videos: The next battlefront in cyber war

Deb Riechmann

WASHINGTON – Hey, did my congressman really say that? Is that really President Donald Trump on that video, or am I being duped? New technology on the internet lets anyone make videos of real people appearing to say things they’ve never said. Republicans and Democrats predict this high-tech way of putting words in someone’s mouth will become the latest weapon in disinformation wars against the United States and other Western democracies. We’re not talking about lip-syncing videos. This technology uses facial mapping and artificial intelligence to produce videos that appear so genuine it’s hard to spot the phonies. Lawmakers and intelligence officials worry that the bogus videos – called deepfakes – could be used to threaten national security or interfere in elections.

The View From Olympus: The Crying Child

Author: William S. Lind

In its quest to swamp native-born Americans in a sea of third world immigrants, the Left last week deployed one of its most powerful weapons: a crying child. You have all seen the photo: the illegal immigrant, the Border Patrol officer and the small child bawling. At that sight, we are all supposed to dissolve into tears ourselves and do something, anything so the child does not cry. This is the sort of drivel one gets in a feminized society. Facts and reason are to yield to feelings. It matters not that this day and every day somewhere around a billion children cry. If thirty seconds later the officer handed the brat a sucker and the tears turned to smiles, there was no picture of that. A feminized society indulges in a culture of emotion, of pathos, of weakness.


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NICOLE CAMARILLO WAS touring the Army base at Fort Meade, Maryland, in early 2017 when a young captain—I’ll call him Matt, due to the sensitivity of his position—crossed her path. I’ve got to talk to that kid, Camarillo remembers thinking. Just weeks before, she’d seen Matt deliver a presentation on a tool he was developing to counter enemy drone strikes in the Middle East. The technology, he explained, was being developed on a “shoestring budget.” That caught Camarillo’s attention. As executive director of talent strategy at the US Army Cyber Command, a relatively new branch of the Army, Camarillo’s job is to persuade top employees in Silicon Valley that they should sacrifice their stock options and six-figure salaries and apply their technological know-how in the Army instead. The idea that someone with Matt’s skills was scrounging to develop tools that could mean life or death for soldiers hardly boded well for her program.