18 July 2018

In India, a Missing Key to a Temple’s Treasure Vault Ignites a Furor

By Kai Schultz and Suhasini Raj

PURI, India — A group of men in loincloths assembled outside a 12th-century temple on a hot April day in Puri, India, preparing to venture deep inside to a pitch-black vault where piles of gold and silver jewelry were stored under lock and key. To enter Jagannath Temple, dedicated to an important Hindu deity, the group of 16 archaeologists, Hindu priests and government officials had to pass through metal detectors. Their skimpy loincloths were required as a security measure along with oxygen masks in case the vault, unopened for more than three decades, lacked breathable air. Their instructions were simple: Check the structural integrity of the vault and ignore the millions of dollars’ worth of antiquities stashed inside.

When will India stop rewarding incompetence in the military?


In his seminal On the Psychology of Military Incompetence Norman Dixon poses the questions: "How, if they are so lacking in intelligence, do people become senior military commanders? And what is it about military organisations that they should attract, promote and ultimately tolerate those whose performance at the highest levels brings opprobrium on the organisations they represent?" Fortunately we have not had a major war in recent times to test the mettle of our commanders. But even in peacetime, many have, unfortunately, managed by their acts of omission and commission to bring opprobrium on our military.

CPEC And Pakistan-China Energy Cooperation – OpEd

By Venita Christopher*

The demands of global energy are substantially rising day by day in the 21st century, whereas the dependency on fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas have become a serious concern which is about 80% of the world’s primary source of energy. The concerns about fossil fuels are due to their ever rising prices and their negative impact on the environment due to the harmful emission of greenhouse gases. Therefore, in this context the reliance on nuclear power energy is considered by various countries, including Pakistan, as a good alternative option of energy supply, which is comparatively cheaper also.

War to a New Front, and ZTE Stays Alive

By David Stanton, Wenqing Zhao

Months of trade talks have proven unsuccessful at halting the escalating U.S.-China tech trade conflict, as the U.S. finally implemented its first wave of 25 percent tariffs against $34 billion in high-tech Chinese imports on July 6. Those tariffs cover 818 products selected by the Office of the United States Trade Representative following its investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 into China’s policies relating to technology transfer and intellectual property. The list includes many goods favored under the Chinese government’s “Made in China 2025” initiative. The tariffs do not yet include a second set of 284 products that the USTR has identified as particularly important to “Made in China 2025,” and which account for an additional $16 billion in annual imports. That second list is expected to go through additional notice and comment procedures before implementation, but may be overshadowed by the Trump administration’s threatened additional tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, including consumer goods.

New U.S.-China Tariffs Start Trade War

By John Corrigan

After months of verbal sparring with China over trade policies, the United States has thrown the first punch by officially levying tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods. U.S. customs officers started imposing the 25% tariffs at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 6, ending nearly a quarter-century of integration between the world’s two largest economies. Chinese authorities quickly fired back with tariffs on $34 billion worth of imported U.S. goods. “The United States violated [World Trade Organization] rules and launched the largest trade war in economic history to date," China's Ministry of Commerce said on Friday. “This kind of taxation is typical trade bullying, which is seriously jeopardizing the global industrial chain and value chain security, hindering the pace of global economic recovery, triggering global market turmoil and will affect more innocent multinational corporations, general enterprises and ordinary countries.” 

Xi Jinping’s Vision for Global Governance


The contrast between the disarray in the West, on open display at the NATO summit and at last month’s G7 meeting in Canada, and China’s mounting international self-confidence is growing clearer by the day. Last month, the Communist Party of China (CPC) concluded its Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs, the second since Xi Jinping became China’s undisputed ruler in 2012. These meetings are not everyday affairs. They are the clearest expression of how the leadership sees China’s place in the world, but they tell the world much about China as well.

China’s attitudes toward missile defense and its limitation

By Li Bin

A Chinese HQ-9 air defense missile launcher, pictured in 2009. If there were to be a new international agreement to limit certain aspects of missile defense, it could reduce suspicion and competition among the United States, Russia, China, and other relevant parties. But the types of missile defense limitations that might be of interest to China – including agreements on numbers of missile interceptors, on the non-weaponization of space, and on elimination of ground-based midcourse defenses – involve policy changes that the United States has opposed in recent years.

Chinese nuclear forces, 2018

By Hans M. Kristensen, Robert S. Norris

The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists, and Robert S. Norris, a senior fellow with the FAS. The Nuclear Notebook column has been published in the since 1987. This issue’s column examines China’s nuclear arsenal, which includes about 280 warheads for delivery by ballistic missiles and bombers. This stockpile is likely to grow further over the next decade.

Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras

By Paul Mozur
Source Link

ZHENGZHOU, China — In the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, a police officer wearing facial recognition glasses spotted a heroin smuggler at a train station. In Qingdao, a city famous for its German colonial heritage, cameras powered by artificial intelligence helped the police snatch two dozen criminal suspects in the midst of a big annual beer festival. In Wuhu, a fugitive murder suspect was identified by a camera as he bought food from a street vendor. With millions of cameras and billions of lines of code, China is building a high-tech authoritarian future. Beijing is embracing technologies like facial recognition and artificial intelligence to identify and track 1.4 billion people. It wants to assemble a vast and unprecedented national surveillance system, with crucial help from its thriving technology industry.

The Pros And Cons Of Iran’s Oil Threat

By Kaveh L. Afrasiabi

As the Iranian economy begins to feel the growing pain of American-led sanctions, the question of a proper counterstrategy to minimize the damage and to ensure the sustainability of Iran’s economic well-being looms large. There is no denying the existential threat to the Iranian economy posed by these sanctions that have already resulted in significant damages, reflected in the growing number of foreign energy and non-energy companies pulling out of Iran and most of Iran’s energy trade partners buckling under pressure and reducing their Iranian oil imports, irrespective of political statements to the contrary by various governments including India. The latter have sought to receive exemptions from Washington to no avail (so far) and, chances are, by late Fall we will witness a substantial decline in Iran’s oil exports, which can be only nominally remedied by resorting to the pre-JCPOA pattern of oil smuggling.

Trump and Putin’s unholy alliance could lead to war with Iran

Simon Tisdall

They were right to be worried. Within hours of arriving in Europe, Donald Trump was busy insulting America’s closest friends and threatening to dismember Nato. He publicly humiliated Theresa May and did his importunate best to force regime change in Westminster, before halfheartedly apologising. Now he takes his ugly brand of rogue-male politics to Helsinki for a meeting with his best buddy, prominent campaign supporter and fellow narcissist, Russia’s Vladimir Putin. This is an ominous, possibly watershed moment for Europe, full of fear and loathing.

A Conventional Arms Race

Yahel Arnon, Yoel Guzansky

While many are justifiably worried about a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and the regional and international agendas continue to focus on this issue, the region itself is at the height of a conventional arms race. The motivation behind the purchases is linked mainly to the fear of Iran, internal regional competition, and the desire of Arab countries, headed by the Gulf states, to acquire status and prestige for themselves. However, the quantity and quality of the weapons reaching the region could damage Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME).

Trends in Regional Empowerment

Japan’s Pivotal Role in the Emerging Indo-Pacific Order

Brahma Chellaney

The imperative in the Indo-Pacific region is to build a new strategic equilibrium pivoted on a stable balance of power. A constellation of likeminded states linked by interlocking strategic cooperation has become critical to help build such equilibrium. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is the author of the “free and open Indo-Pacific” concept that the US is now pushing. But Japan faces important strategic challenges. To secure itself against dangers that did not exist when its current national-security policies and laws were framed, Japan must bolster its security or risk coming under siege. US security interests will be better served by a more confident and secure Japan that assumes greater responsibility for its own defense and for regional security. The US must encourage Japan, which has not fired a single shot against an outside party since World War II, to undertake greater national-security reforms. Peace in Asia demands a proactive Japan.

Trump’s Protectionist Rube Goldberg Machine


The Trump administration is offering some countries a reprieve from US import tariffs in exchange for self-imposed export quotas, while allowing domestic producers to apply for tariff exemptions. Because this approach will weaken competition and cause delays, the predictable result will be higher costs and reduced quality control. To avoid the Trump administration’s 25% tariff on imported steel, some countries have agreed to accept export quotas on 59 varieties of steel products. At the same time, the administration has declared that US manufacturers that use steel as an input may apply for tariff exemptions from the Department of Commerce if they are unable to source the specialized products they need domestically.

We Need a Food Revolution


The Earth is 45 million centuries old, but this century is unique, because it is the first in which a species could destroy the entire basis of its own existence. Yet much of the world seems unbothered by this existential threat, refusing to build sustainable systems for survival. In 1984, I gathered the most successful musicians of the time to form a “supergroup” called Band Aid to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. The next year, an even larger grouping was formed for Live Aid, a major benefit concert and music-based fundraising initiative that continues to this day. At last month’s International Forum on Food and Nutrition, held by the Barilla Foundation, the enduring – and increasingly urgent – need for efforts to strengthen food security could not be more obvious.

Hybrid war: Russian contemporary political warfare

By Christopher S. Chivvis

Russia is waging a far-reaching political warfare effort against US interests in Europe and elsewhere, an effort facilitated by the Internet, cyber tools, cable news, and especially social media. This persistent political warfare effort largely eschews traditional military force; rather, it is focused on influencing the populations of targeted countries. Though the effects of Russian political warfare operations are hard to measure, they have likely had some effect on elections in France, the Netherlands, and elsewhere. Factors that make nations vulnerable to political warfare include physical proximity to Russia, high levels of corruption, contested politics, and cultural or historical affinities with Russia. 

Getting the most out of the Russia summit

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Following the Soviet Union’s collapse and a decade of economic turmoil, which reduced Russian regional and global influence, President Vladimir Putin embarked on a Russia resurgent strategy. Keenly aware that what most threatens his regime security are western ideals of liberty, freedom and democracy, Putin wants his brand of KGB authoritarianism to be perceived as equal in stature to the United States. The Kremlin devotes the lion’s share of its military and espionage resources to targeting its “Main Enemy” the United States, its NATO allies and aspiring NATO members. The Kremlin brazenly violated the territorial integrity of Georgia and Ukraine, launched a massive cyber attack against Estonia, meddled in the U.S. presidential and European elections, and reinvigorated its influence in Latin America and the Middle East. Russia’s cyber attacks on U.S. social media and networking sites were, in national security adviser John Bolton’s words, “an act of war” and the “political equivalent of 9/11,” according to Michael Morell, former acting director of the CIA. 

Work in an Age of Automation


As the machines working alongside humans continue to evolve, workers will need to adapt. That means that, instead of studying for two decades and working for the next four, workers will need to engage in continuous learning and adaptation, acquiring new skills and upgrading existing ones throughout their working lives. WASHINGTON, DC/PARIS – From truck drivers using GPS systems to nurses recording patients’ vital signs to train conductors checking tickets with hand-held devices, everybody nowadays needs some basic digital skills. Demand for digitally savvy workers has been rising quietly over the last decade or more, but that shift is now gathering pace, and it is transforming the entire labor market, not just the tech sector.

Myths of automation and their implications for military procurement

By Robert R. Hoffman, Nadine Sarter, Matthew Johnson, John K. Hawley

Several mythical beliefs surround military automation, including the belief that automation reduces manpower needs, that it requires less training for operators, and that it reduces errors. The unbridled enthusiasm for automation exhibited by some technologists – and, consequently, by some technology acquisition programs – extends to claims that computers will achieve and even surpass human-like reasoning capabilities. Such attitudes must be balanced by a recognition that automation’s reality rarely matches its promise. 

Garlin Gilchrist: Fighting fake news and the information apocalypse

By Dawn Stover

In this interview, Garlin Gilchrist II, executive director of the University of Michigan’s new Center for Social Media Responsibility, discusses potential tools for deterring the spread of fake news and rebuilding the public’s trust in reliable sources of news and information. Gilchrist describes how “deep fakes”—audio and video recordings that have been digitally manipulated to convince people that a politician or celebrity, for example, said something that he or she did not actually say, or did something that did not actually happen—could eventually lead to an “information apocalypse” in which fact becomes indistinguishable from fiction, and people give up trying to tell the difference.

Francine Prose: It’s Harder Than It Looks to Write Clearly

If we are hoping to communicate something—anything—nothing is more important than clarity. The dangers of not being clear are obvious. Is that driver approaching the intersection signaling right or left? Is the brain surgeon asking for a scalpel or a clamp? One could argue that the consequences of writing an unintelligible sentence are not nearly so drastic as a car wreck or a botched operation. But it’s a slippery slope. Which one of the rungs in the ladder were we warned to watch out for? Was it the basement or the bathtub that Auntie Em told us to take shelter in when the tornado hit Kansas? Explaining what it means to be clear should, in theory, be easy. But in fact it’s surprisingly difficult to define this deceptively obvious concept. The simplest definition may be best: To write clearly means that another person can understand what we mean. Someone (not us) can figure out what we are trying to say.

The quantified heart

Polina Aronson

In September 2017, a screenshot of a simple conversation went viral on the Russian-speaking segment of the internet. It showed the same phrase addressed to two conversational agents: the English-speaking Google Assistant, and the Russian-speaking Alisa, developed by the popular Russian search engine Yandex. The phrase was straightforward: ‘I feel sad.’ The responses to it, however, couldn’t be more different. ‘I wish I had arms so I could give you a hug,’ said Google. ‘No one said life was about having fun,’ replied Alisa.
Courtesy Google  This difference isn’t a mere quirk in the data. Instead, it’s likely to be the result of an elaborate and culturally sensitive process of teaching new technologies to understand human feelings. Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer just about the ability to calculate the quickest driving route from London to Bucharest, or to outplay Garry Kasparov at chess. Think next-level; think artificial emotional intelligence. 

More Recycling Won't Solve Plastic Pollution

By Matt Wilkins 

The only thing worse than being lied to is not knowing you’re being lied to. It’s true that plastic pollution is a huge problem, of planetary proportions. And it’s true we could all do more to reduce our plastic footprint. The lie is that blame for the plastic problem is wasteful consumers and that changing our individual habits will fix it. Recycling plastic is to saving the Earth what hammering a nail is to halting a falling skyscraper. You struggle to find a place to do it and feel pleased when you succeed. But your effort is wholly inadequate and distracts from the real problem of why the building is collapsing in the first place. The real problem is that single-use plastic—the very idea of producing plastic items like grocery bags, which we use for an average of 12 minutes but can persist in the environment for half a millennium—is an incredibly reckless abuse of technology. Encouraging individuals to recycle more will never solve the problem of a massive production of single-use plastic that should have been avoided in the first place.

NATO summit boosts cybersecurity amid uncertainty

By: Justin Lynch 
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Amid uncertainty over NATO member’s defense spending, energy deals with Russia and the very future of the alliance itself, combating Moscow’s campaign of digital war quietly emerged as an item of agreement for the 29-state body during a summit in Brussels. Consider: Few previous NATO meetings of world leaders have included so much discussion over cybersecurity. In a joint declaration, the word “cyber” appeared 26 times. In what appears to be a first for the alliance, leaders twice mentioned the threat of “disinformation campaigns,” that have spread chaos through western countries. The declaration devoted two sections to digital security.

Celebrate the Rule Breakers: Why Unsafe Thinking Leads to Innovation

Playing it safe no longer gets results in the business world, especially with so many startups seeking to disrupt the status quo. But innovative thinking can be tough for those unaccustomed to stepping outside their comfort zones. Jonah Sachs, founder and CEO of Free Range Studios, has assembled an instructive collection of stories about trailblazers who took it to the next level and found success. He joined the Knowledge@Wharton show, on Wharton Business Radio on SiriusXM channel 111, to talk about his book: Unsafe Thinking: How to be Nimble and Bold When You Need it Most.

Knowledge@Wharton: What is unsafe thinking?

Deterrence and its discontents

By Ulrich Kühn

What might Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, have found, had he lived long enough to study the 2018 US Nuclear Posture Review and its drafters? Anxiety about failure and death, fear of impotence, and an obsession with deterrence that obscures the ultimate question: “What is it that the United States wants in this world?” In this essay, the author uses psychoanalytic metaphors to explain why the United States does not currently have a long-term strategy for dealing with its most fundamental foreign policy challenges – and why it needs one, particularly as regards the global nuclear dilemma.

Why a space-based missile interceptor system is not viable

By Thomas G. Roberts

The United States has plans to develop two new missile defense programs in the space domain: a space-based sensor architecture and a space-based missile intercept layer. Both proposed systems rely on a network of satellites in low Earth orbit to offer full or partial coverage of the Earth’s surface, precisely tracking a missile during its flight in one case, or shooting it down entirely in the other. A space-based sensor system could expand current capabilities for monitoring missile launches and warrants further study. The deployment of a space-based missile intercept layer, however, would require launching hundreds or thousands of weapons into space – an expensive, inefficient, and provocative idea. The technical discussion surrounding space-based interceptors should be decoupled from that of space-based sensors – a much more plausible proposal. Despite decades of support from influential policymakers, the resources required to deploy space-based interceptors would be better spent on other layers of US missile defense.

Limitations on ballistic missile defense—past and possibly future

By George Lewis, Frank von Hippel

The ABM Treaty is unlikely to be revived any time soon. But it is possible that restraints on US deployment of ballistic missile defenses could make them seem less threatening to the effectiveness of Russia’s and China’s nuclear deterrents and set the stage for discussions about ways to preserve and even advance nuclear arms control. The proposed restraints are on systems designed to intercept warheads outside the atmosphere. Such systems are of little value in any case because they can be easily deceived by decoys and other countermeasures.

Limitations on ballistic missile defense—Past and possibly future

George Lewis, Frank von Hippel

The ABM Treaty is unlikely to be revived any time soon. But it is possible that restraints on US deployment of ballistic missile defenses could make them seem less threatening to the effectiveness of Russia’s and China’s nuclear deterrents and set the stage for discussions about ways to preserve and even advance nuclear arms control. The proposed restraints are on systems designed to intercept warheads outside the atmosphere. Such systems are of little value in any case because they can be easily deceived by decoys and other countermeasures. 

Introduction: The great missile defense dilemma

 By John Mecklin

Driven by varying (mis)perceptions of the motives and technological capabilities of their adversaries, major nuclear powers are pursuing their own versions of missile defenses – and a great variety of ways to defeat them through maneuverable missiles, decoys, and other missile defense penetration aids. In this issue, we look at this expensive and ineffective – yet potentially destabilizing – international pursuit of missile defense with the help of an extraordinary lineup of the world’s top missile defense experts: