25 July 2018

India Is the Weakest Link in the Quad


Japanese Rear Admiral Hiroshi Yamamura (L), US Rear Admiral William Byrne (R) and HCS Bisht, vice admiral of the Indian Navy, pose for photographers during the inauguration of joint naval exercises with the United States and India in Chennai on July 10, 2017. Since the Trump administration’s announcement that it seeks a “free and open” Indo-Pacific, observers have spilled much ink on the revival of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, to achieve this objective. The Quad—an informal consultative mechanism comprising the United States, Australia, Japan, and India—is quietly opposed to China’s continued militarization of and attempts to control strategic waterways throughout the region, namely the South China Sea. The group met most recently last November, and again in June, after 10 years of inactivity.

India's Telecom Commission Adopts Strict Net Neutrality Regulations

By Aman Thakker

On Wednesday, June 11, Telecommunications Secretary and Chairwoman of the Telecommunications Commission Aruna Sundararajan announced that the “Telecom Commission approved net neutrality as recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).” The adoption of these rules, and the decision to amend license agreements to be subject to these rules, is a welcome regulatory step. TRAI’s recommendations, published last year, would ban “any form of discrimination or interference” with data, including “blocking, degrading, slowing down, or granting preferential speeds or treatment to any content,” and have been described as among the world’s strictest net neutrality regulations. However, the rules also do create some exceptions for two specific kinds of services and technologies, including “critical Internet of Things services” as well as “specialized services” such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), autonomous vehicle development, and remote surgery.

Amid the Election Fanfare, How Are Pakistan’s Minorities Faring?

By Ben Francis

Soon Pakistanis will go to the polls in a general election that will define the next period in the country’s history. Among the traditional campaign fodder of economic debate, international relations, and social and cultural issues, one topic has been conspicuously absent from the public discourse: the role of minorities in 21st century Pakistan and the issues they face. Religious minorities in Pakistan often face a range of difficulties in accessing the same rights and opportunities as communities that are part of the Muslim majority. As religion and nationalism have become increasingly intertwined in the ongoing debates seeking to define the national narrative, minority voices have often struggled to be heard.

Why the Pakistan Army Is Vying to Influence Next Week’s General Elections

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

In his interview on the BBC show HARDtalk, Chief Executive Officer of Dawn Group of Publication Haroon Hameed was asked by the host Stephen Sackur to provide “evidence” for his claims that the Pakistan Army is trying to manipulate the upcoming general elections. Hameed alluded to the Pakistani intelligence agencies’ social media strategy, with trolls and bots dedicated to drive home the Army’s narrative. But he chose not to speak of more tangible evidence of how the military establishment is influencing opinion-making in the country in its bid to ensure that the politicians that it backs come to power.

We’re Going To Keep Blowing It In Afghanistan Until We Begin To Hold Our Senior Leaders Accountable


When I question and challenge our policy and strategy I acknowledge that our tactical level units have performed admirably, but our policymakers and senior general officers, as well as flag officers, have failed them. Good tactics never fix bad strategy. I have challenged our policy and strategy while on active duty, so I feel justified in continuing to explain the obvious to many who know and try to educate those that do not. I have published several articles, appeared on both TV and radio news programs, commented in news articles, and corresponded via email with active duty and retired officers, non-commissioned officers, and senior civilians in an attempt to communicate, contribute, and explain what we are doing and what we need to do in the hope that someone in a position to make change will move forward and make it happen. 


By Zamlha Tempa Gyaltsen*

China’s latest white paper ‘Ecological Progress on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau’ begins with a brazen lie that “the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government have always valued ecological progress. In fact, the infamous slogan ‘Man must conquer nature’ was declared by the founding father of the CPC Mao Zedong. In his opening speech at the National Conference of the CPC (March 21, 1955), Mao stated that ‘there is a way of conquering even Nature as an enemy”. He further stated that “even the high mountains must bow, and even the rivers must yield”. Such attitude towards nature by CPC and its call to develop at all cost has plunged China into as one of the most polluted regions on earth.



Two weeks ago Abacus examined the extent to which China lags behind the world’s advanced economies in technological innovation, and looked at Beijing’s aim of closing the gap and taking the lead in key emerging technologies. But setting ambitious targets is one thing; achieving them is another thing altogether. So this week, it may be interesting to detail how Beijing has gone about chasing its dream of technological ascendancy, the tools – and weapons – at its disposal and its chances of success. Bundled together as “Made in China 2025”, Beijing’s technology policy has mostly been portrayed by outside observers as an import substitution plan. It is certainly that. For example, in electronics, Beijing wants to sever the dependence of China’s manufacturers on semiconductors shipped in from abroad, by developing high-end chip manufacturers of its own.

Where Are the Chinese People's Liberation Army's Guided Bombs?

By Rick Joe

Chinese air-to-ground capabilities have experienced a significant leap in quality and quantity since the late 1990s. The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF) strike aircraft of that era had mostly consisted of light, short-ranged Q-5 attack aircraft and aged H-6 bombers, with limited precision strike and stand-off strike capabilities. Today, the fleet consists of a large number of new H-6K cruise missile carriers and hundreds of JH-7/A and multirole strike capable Flankers. These new platforms offer substantially greater range, speed, payload capacity, as well as greater complexity of payload with the ability to deploy guided stand-off weapons (SOWs) and precision guided direct attack munitions (DAMs).

Iraq's Water Crisis Gives the Public One More Reason to Protest

Water shortages will plague Iraq throughout the summer, causing a decline in agricultural production and a greater risk of social unrest in the southern part of the country. Political gridlock in Baghdad will impede progress on water management, while fighting over water at the provincial level will influence discourse at the federal level. Turkey will focus on maintaining and advancing its own strategy in Iraq without making any substantial changes over its water use.

The Big Picture

The National Intelligence Director Issued a Warning About a Cyber 9/11-Like Cyberattack But what would that look like?

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Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. In 2013, when I was in graduate school studying cybersecurity policy, the Atlantic Council, a think tank in Washington, launched its annual Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge. Born out of fears of a coming “Cyber 9/11” or “Digital Pearl Harbor,” the competition asks students to come up with hypothetical response recommendations (hence the day-after title) tackling a fictional cyber catastrophe. I’ve participated in that event many times over the years—both as a student and later as a faculty coach—so I’ve read through a number of different scenarios explicitly designed to be cyber Sept. 11 equivalents, ranging from widespread malware attacks directed at U.S. oil refineries to massive bots of Internet of Things devices deployed to shut down power plants, trains, and shipping companies.

Why Has Russia Invited the Taliban to Moscow?

By Samuel Ramani

On July 16, 2018, the Russian President’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, announced that the Russian government would invite Taliban representatives to a Moscow-format meeting on Afghanistan before the end of the summer. Kabulov justified Moscow’s decision to hold talks with the Taliban by stating that the Taliban controls “more than half of Afghanistan’s territory,” and, therefore, must be included in an eventual Afghan peace settlement. Although the Moscow format’s exclusion of the United States limits its ability to exert influence over the trajectory of the Afghanistan conflict, the upcoming talks advance Russia’s interests in Afghanistan in three critical ways. First, Russia will use the talks to demonstrate its potential to act as an effective mediator between the Taliban and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government. Showcasing the constructive nature of Russia’s involvement in Afghanistan is of vital importance for Russian policymakers, as Russia has been accused of arming the Taliban by the United States and Afghan officials. 

North Korea: We Asked 9 of the World’s Leading Experts What Happens Next

by Mitchell Blatt 

After a heavily choreographed summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12, 2018, talks between the two countries appear to have hit roadblocks one month later. Kim refused to meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he visited North Korea in early July, and North Korea accused the American side of having a “gangster-like mindset.” On July 12, North Korean officials didn’t show up at a scheduled meeting at the DMZ to discuss returning the remains of U.S. troops. However, the meeting took place on Sunday, July 15 instead.

America’s Past Three Decades of Prosperity Were Fueled by Debt And now it's time to pay.

by Samuel Rines 

Income inequality is a long four-letter word, and not without reason. But America’s economic boom of the 1990s and early 2000s might never have happened without it. (Or, if it did, it would have looked and felt much different.) Why? The desire to “keep up with the Joneses” is an impulse exacerbated by income inequality, and it plays an integral role in economic behavior. Research conducted by Robert Frank shows people tend to judge their own relative well-being in comparison to those closest to them in proximity, and those directly above them economically. For those in the middle class, keeping up with the Joneses’ means attempting to match the gains of the upper-middle class. Frank coins this phenomenon “expenditure cascades.”

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.

UK criticises security of Huawei products

A UK government report into Huawei's broadband and mobile infrastructure equipment has concluded that it has "only limited assurance" that the kit poses no threat to national security The investigation revealed shortcomings in the Chinese firm's engineering processes, which it said "have exposed new risks in UK telecoms networks". It added that "significant work" was required to tackle the issues. In response, Huawei acknowledged there were "some areas for improvement". A spokesman for the firm added: "We are grateful for this feedback and are committed to addressing these issues. "Cyber-security remains Huawei's top priority, and we will continue to actively improve our engineering processes and risk management systems."

Tariffs on U.S. Soy Will Strengthen Brazil's Hand in the Chinese Market

In the short term, China remains in a stronger position than the United States in terms of the soy market, with numerous alternative suppliers and substitutes for U.S. product available. Still, the large share of the Chinese market held by U.S. soybean exporters means that Beijing likely will be unable to shut off all U.S. soy imports. Tariffs will accelerate an existing trend that has led to increasing Brazilian soy exports to China. U.S. farmers could soon start to feel the sting of the White House's trade battles, especially as the fallout from its skirmishes with China begins to hit. Tariffs imposed by Beijing in retaliation for those slapped on Chinese goods by the United States include a 25 percent levy on soybeans, a key import. The world's second-largest economy is also its largest soybean importer, but China appears well positioned to weather the higher prices that tariffs have brought. In the end, higher prices for U.S. soybeans could accelerate changes already occurring in the Chinese market, eroding U.S. market share and spurring China to further increase domestic production of the crop.

Trump Is Coming Off as Putin’s Poodle, But That Actually Undermines Russia’s Main Goal


The broad consensus among U.S. and Western commentators is that Vladimir Putin “owned” Donald Trump at the U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki this week. Trump echoed Russian talking points on meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, disowned his own intelligence community, and abstained from even the slightest criticism of his Russian counterpart—a marked contrast from his fierce attacks on America’s close allies in London and Brussels last week. So, score one for Putin.

How to rescue the WTO

THE headquarters of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), on the banks of Lake Geneva, once belonged to the League of Nations. That ill-fated body was crippled by American isolationism. The building’s occupant today is also at the mercy of decisions taken in Washington. President Donald Trump has circumvented the WTO to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, including those from America’s allies. Complaining of unfair treatment, the administration is blocking nominations to seats on the WTO’s appellate body, which could leave it unable to hear cases after 2019. Most ominously, America is embroiled in a trade war with China. Both sides have imposed tariffs on goods worth tens of billions of dollars and are threatening worse.

Henry Kissinger: ‘We are in a very, very grave period’

Henry Kissinger: ‘We are in a very, very grave period’ The grand consigliere of American diplomacy talks about Putin, the new world order — and the meaning of Trump Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save Save to myFT Edward Luce YESTERDAY Print this page421 It was not hard to entice Henry Kissinger to meet for lunch. Though he is 95, and moves very slowly, the grand consigliere of American diplomacy is keen to talk. He hops on and off planes to see the likes of Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping with as much zeal as when he played the global chess game as Richard Nixon’s diplomatic maestro. He loves to be in the thick of things. 

What Helsinki agreements? This is not normal

Steven Pifer

During my 27 years as a Foreign Service officer, I was present at a number of summit meetings between U.S. and Soviet or Russian leaders, during both Republican and Democratic administrations. Some summits went well. Some went poorly. In every case, however, the American public knew very quickly—usually within hours—what agreements their president had reached with his Soviet or Russian counterpart. Three days now have passed since Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin met in Helsinki. Russian officials are talking about agreements coming out of that meeting, but Americans have no idea what was agreed. This is not normal. What we do know about Helsinki largely comes from the joint Trump-Putin press briefing, perhaps the most embarrassing post-summit press conference performance ever by an American president. The presidents described the topics they discussed but offered no detail on any agreements.

Qingdao and Europe's Return to Asia

Parag Khanna

I’m in Qingdao, China, this week, a Qing dynasty stronghold that was ceded to Germany and used as a Pacific base for the German imperial navy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today it is still home a famous German brewery, and just two weeks ago played host to the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. As both Germany and China sign new trade and investment agreements to deepen their ties and hedge against Trump’s erratic economic policy, it is important to remember the many ways in which China seeks inspiration from Germany: Marxist and Communist ideas of course emerged from 19th century Germany, and Germany is the standard-bearer for late 20th century industrial capitalism and social democracy. The EU-Japan free trade agreement is another recent example of how Europe is returning to Asia not as colonizers but economic partners and investors. The EU is China’s largest trading partner, and European trade with Asia is $300 billion greater annually than EU-US trade.

Trump’s Vision & NATO’s Future: Streamline The Alliance For Modern War


President Trump’s harsh words for Germany set the tone for a tense NATO summit — but America’s allies now know they have no right to assume the US will keep cutting fat checks to cover the cost of Europe’s defense. However, it would be wrong for Europeans to conclude that President Trump wants to withdraw all US forces from Europe. The President simply wants the US military to be NATO’s security guarantor of last resort, not NATO’s “first responder.”

The Next Cyber Battleground

Rob Knake

ROB KNAKE is the Whitney H. Shepardson Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Senior Research Scientist at Northeastern University’s Global Resilience Institute. He was Director of Cyber Policy at the National Security Council from 2011 to 2015. “The digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned starkly last week. Most commentators took his declaration that “the warning lights are blinking red” as a reference to state-sponsored Russian hackers interfering in the upcoming midterm elections, as they did in the 2016 presidential election [1]. But to focus on election interference may be to fight the last war, fixating on past attacks while missing the most acute vulnerabilities now. There’s reason to think that the real cyberthreat from Russia today is an attack on critical infrastructure in the United States—including one on the power grid that would turn off the lights for millions of Americans.

Military Intelligence, Fake Online Personas, Fake Local News: How Russia Targeted US Elections – EU vs DISINFORMATION

The first indictment focused on the actions conducted by the above mentioned St Petersburg “troll factory” and thereby mainly found that the goal of the operationwas to sow discord in the political system, and address divisive issues via groups and pages falsely claiming to represent US activists. The most recent indictmentshows how the simultaneous hacking of data took place and how Russian military intelligence officers created false online personas and websites in order to stage the release of stolen election-related documents, falsely claiming their activities were the work of ‘American hacktivists’.


A menacing swarm of inexpensive unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) surveil and threaten U.S. soldiers on the battlefield. The commander on the ground wonders: do I expend limited (and expensive) rounds from high-end air defense systems to engage the UAVs? What if they’re a decoy for a more serious threat? And what if the enemy has more of these cheap UAVs in reserve? One answer to this dilemma: Directed Energy weapons – high-energy laser and high-power microwave systems – which boast extremely deep magazines at a low cost per shot.

Pentagon Wants Industry to be Smart on Cyber, But No Plan Yet


FARNBOROUGH AIR SHOW Despite a series of high-profile hacks targeting US defense contractors, the Pentagon still doesn’t have a workable plan to convince companies they work with to harden their cyber defenses. “Because of a couple of recent events, we realized that that is not good enough,” Kevin Fahey, the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, told reporters here. Fahey said Monday afternoon that companies often self-report on whether they meet federal contracting regulations. Given the constant attacks on defense contractors from state and non-state hackers, the Pentagon is looking for ways to clamp down.

Pentagon Rolls Out Major Cyber, AI Strategies This Summer


A DISA schematic of the Department of Defense Information Networks (DoDIN).

How the Rise of Cryptocurrencies Is Shaping the Cyber Crime Landscape: The Growth of Miners

by Randi Eitzman, Kimberly Goody, Bryon Wolcott, Jeremy Kennelly

Cyber criminals tend to favor cryptocurrencies because they provide a certain level of anonymity and can be easily monetized. This interest has increased in recent years, stemming far beyond the desire to simply use cryptocurrencies as a method of payment for illicit tools and services. Many actors have also attempted to capitalize on the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies, and subsequent rising price, by conducting various operations aimed at them. These operations include malicious cryptocurrency mining (also referred to as cryptojacking), the collection of cryptocurrency wallet credentials, extortion activity, and the targeting of cryptocurrency exchanges.

The Army wants to build a better signals intelligence force

By: Mark Pomerleau  

The Army’s top intelligence official signed the service’s new signals intelligence strategy July 16, a move that defense leaders believe leaves the Army better situated to better fight despite electronic warfare and cyber attacks. The new strategy ensures "our readiness to provide timely and relevant SIGINT-support [and meet] the commander’s information needs in a large scale combat operation against a sophisticated adversary,” Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, said July 18 during an event on Capitol Hill hosted by the Association of Old Crows. Officials say the integration of SIGINT, electronic warfare and cyber is critical from a material, organization and doctrinal perspective.

Cyber, EW, signals and space mean realigning the Army’s force structure

By: Mark Pomerleau 
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US. Army soldiers Sgt. Devon Cloud and Sgt. First Class Joseph Wambach, members of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division Tactical Electronic Warfare Team, are accompanied by civilian contractor Don Behr as they use an integrated system of sensors to survey the electro-magnetic spectrum and identify frequencies of interest at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, Calif., on Jan. 15, 2017. The Army is undertaking several initiatives to reorganize itself to integrate emerging technologies, capabilities and concepts within formations and maneuver units. The first is the introduction of cyber and electromagnetic activities (CEMA) cells within all operational units.