2 August 2018

A long-term strategy to reduce crude imports

Akhil Bansal

The oil industry has been witnessing significant turmoil and uncertainty in recent months. The primary benchmark for international oil prices, the Brent crude, reached a level ($80.49 per barrel) in May that was not seen since 2014. Histrionics around the US sanctions on Iran have also affected sentiments considerably. In recent weeks, tariffs imposed by the Donald Trump administration and the increasing production from Saudi Arabia and Libya have caused abatement of prices. However, with the global economy in a better position now than in the last few years and the oil supply glut disappearing, crude price might not fall sharply over the near term, as it did before. High oil prices is a double whammy for India: it would not only widen the country’s trade deficit but also impose a fiscal burden on account of fertilizer, kerosene and LPG subsidies.

Pakistan, the United States, and the IMF

With the Pakistani elections in the rearview mirror, one thing is clear—the economy remains a longstanding mess. In view of mounting economic stresses, it has been conventional wisdom for over a year that Pakistan will need to embrace the IMF immediately after the elections. According to IMF data, the fund has had 21 programs with Pakistan since 1958, 14 of which since 1980. Suffice it to say, overall this has not been a healthy relationship. While the fund may have helped maintain a semblance of macroeconomic stability, the IMF’s involvement, along with the World Bank and others, has surely not helped Pakistan break out of a low-growth trap. 

Book Review Roundtable: America’s Hot and Cold Relationship with Its Counterterrorism Partners

By Derek Chollet

1. Introduction: A Timely Assessment of U.S. Counterterrorism Partnerships

With many Americans — led by the current occupant of the White House — questioning the value of global partnerships and talking as though the United States would be better off going it alone, there is no better time to assess the role other countries play in achieving U.S. counterterrorism objectives. Anyone who has been involved in crafting U.S. counterterrorism policy inside the government knows the essential importance of these relationships. But they also are soberly aware of how troubling they can be.


“In order for things to remain the same, everything must change” – Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa Here’s the problem: the winning party, the Election Commission and other institutions involved in last week’s national polls say there is nothing wrong in the way the results were announced, and that the outcome of the electoral exercise is the will of the people. They say it’s fair play. Those affected by the unprecedented delay in poll results announcements and almost surreal developments in vote counting and tabulation, among other things, cry brazen foul play. They allege that the umpire’s thumb and finger both were at work in ensuring the PTI’s victory (and their loss). So while Imran Khan wants to make government at the centre and in Punjab, the broad coalition of parties (PML-N, MMA, ANP, PPP, PSP, MQM, and the rest) wants to expand their protest and question the very foundation on which the PTI’s victory stands.

Returning Uighur Fighters and China’s National Security Dilemma

By: Joseph Hope

In early 2017, CCP Secretary General President Xi Jinping announced his desire to build a “Great Wall of Iron” to apparently promote security and peace in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinhua, March 10, 2017). This is likely a continuation Beijing’s focus on implementing strict security measures in the region since deadly 2009 riots in the region’s capital city of Urumqi. However, it also comes at the same time that China faces a new challenge in the form of Syrian-trained Uighurs potentially returning to Xinjiang (China Brief, September 21, 2017). Western nations also face challenges with radicalized fighters returning to their home countries, as IS is gradually eliminated and the war in Syria winds down. China’s returning fighter challenge, however, is also linked with the al-Qaeda affiliated Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) which has been active in Syria and had as many as several thousand Chinese Uighur members (South China Morning Post, December 12, 2017). The Islamist radicalization of some of these fighters while abroad has also helped build links of solidarity between them and the broader global Islamic terror community.

Taiwan’s Emerging Push for “Cyber Autonomy”

By: Philip Hsu

On May 11, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed the Cybersecurity Management Law, Taiwan’s first national cybersecurity law (iThome, May 22). This law, which mandates cybersecurity requirements for Taiwan’s government agencies and operators of critical infrastructures, represents the latest initiative in the Tsai administration’s push for cyber security under the policy “Cyber Security is National Security.” As part of this push, the administration is also working to develop Taiwan’s indigenous cybersecurity industry through a policy of “cyber autonomy” (资安自主).

The Belt and Road Initiative: A Road to China’s World Cup Dreams?

By: Emily Weinstein

Since its inception at a 2013 speech in Kazakhstan, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping has touted his Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a platform for “peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit,” through economic and cultural exchange. (State Council Information Office, May 4, 2016). Sports tourism, especially that surrounding soccer, has been an important albeit lesser-known component of BRI. Chinese media have argued that the sports industry is growing into one of China’s most dynamic sectors, as Chinese entities have begun to invest heavily in international teams, arenas, and events (Xinhua, April 2, 2016).

China’s Belt and Road Makes Inroads in Africa

By Shannon Tiezzi

Everywhere Chinese leaders go, the Belt and Road follows – in speeches, if nothing else, but also often in investment agreements and even formal diplomatic documents. That was the case last week as well, when Chinese President Xi Jinping took a four-country tour of Africa, stopping in Senegal, Rwanda, South Africa (where he also attended the BRICS summit), and Mauritius. According to the summary of Xi’s trip from Chinese state news agency Xinhua, “the signing of cooperation documents regarding the Belt and Road Initiative” was a “key achievement” of Xi’s trip. Xi’s first stop in Africa, Senegal, saw the signing of an official cooperation document on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the first time a country on Africa’s west coast has officially joined the project. The document formalizes pre-existing cooperation on infrastructure; as South China Morning Post reported, “In Senegal, Chinese loans have financed a highway linking the capital Dakar to Touba, its second main city, and part of an industrial park on the Dakar peninsula.”

More on Li's Visit to Tibet

"Tibetans shall be happy in the land of Tibet, and Chinese in the land of China" says the Treaty of 821 The Two Voices of China? Remember after the Two Meetings in March, China decided to unify its Voice. A document of the State Council released on March 21, announced that Beijing had decided to form the world’s largest media group called Voice of China.
It was to combine the existing China Central Television, China National Radio, and China Radio International under one unified umbrella and name.  The Publicity Department was to manage it with the responsibility to “promote the Party theory and guidelines, organize major publicity and coverage, guide social hot topics, strengthen international communication capabilities, and publish positive news on China.”  

Li Keqian on The Roof of the World

Li Keqian on The Roof of the World
China Tibet Online reported that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Southern Tibet on July 25. Apparently Li went directly to Nyingchi (Nyingtri) prefecture (City) bordering Arunachal Pradesh. He visited a village (Shiga village) in Mailing County in Nyingchi City; it is a new village inhabited by Monpas. According to the press release, the inhabitants of this ‘Monpa’ village have been relocated from 'impoverished areas'.
The ‘impoverished’ region is located next door is Metok Dzong (County).  Poverty alleviation  The Premier went to the new house of a Tibetan named Kunsang. He sat with the ‘migrant’ family and talked to the six members of the household about their daily life.

We can't ignore Tibetan turmoil

Take the case of Sogyal Rinpoche, the Tibetan lama who wrote The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (and sold three million copies); he guided an organisation called Rigpa, which has more than 100 centres in 40 countries around the world. Lerab Ling, in the Hérault department of France, was the jewel on his crown; it was visited by VIPs and stars including Carla Bruni Sarkozy and French ministers. For years, rumours had been circulating about Sogyal’s (mis)behaviour, but last year, his ‘Crazy Wisdom’ caught up with the Buddhist teacher, particularly the way he used women for his pleasure, as well as his eccentric food habits; he had ultimately to retire from Rigpa’s leadership and go into ‘retreat’.

China’s debt threat: time to rein in the lending boom

Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save Save to myFT Martin Wolf in London JULY 25, 2018 Print this page157 “If something can’t go on forever, it will stop.” This statement by Herbert Stein, chairman of the US council of economic advisers under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, tells us that debt cannot grow faster than an economy forever. That is going to be true for China, too. What we do not know is when and how it will end. Will it be sooner or later? Will it be easy to cope with or will it be devastating? The manageability of China’s enormous domestic debts will be of great importance, not just for China, but for the many economies whose exports depend on it. We cannot yet know how the debt surge will end. but we do know how it started. 

Is Islamic State Making Plans for a Comeback in Iraq?

By: Rafid Jaboori

Dozens of people have been killed in a series of attacks launched by Islamic State (IS) in locations north of Baghdad over the past few months, prompting fears that the terrorist group is reconstituting itself in parts of Iraq (al-Hadath, March 28; al-Sumaria, July 1). IS has lost all of its urban strongholds in Iraq, including Mosul, which it occupied in June 2014 and which was reclaimed by Iraqi forces last year with significant U.S. support. However, the recent surge in IS activity indicates that the group is now pursuing its old hit-and-run tactics in Iraq, and serves to illustrate how IS could exploit the divisions that remain among Iraqi factions. 

Shia Anger and a Resurgent IS

Pompeo's Indo-Pacific Speech: Geoeconomics on a Shoestring

By Ankit Panda

Monday was supposed to be a big day for the United States’ Indo-Pacific economic strategy. Ahead of a trip to Southeast Asia, where he will visit Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a break from North Korea diplomacy to show the Indo-Pacific region that the United States was thinking strategically about the geoeconomic future of the region. In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Indo-Pacific Business Forum, Pompeo outlined what is effectively the United States’ alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative: the beginning of an attempt by the United States to add economic ballast to its calls to maintain a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Why the US Needs to Smarten Up to Keep Its Edge on China

By Ankit Panda

Speaking earlier this month at the Aspen Security Forum, Christopher Wray, the director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, was frank on his thoughts about China as an intelligence threat to the United States. “[China] represents the broadest, most challenging, most significant threat we face as a country,” Wray said, clarifying that he was speaking from a counter-intelligence perspective. The director justified that assessment by noting that Chinese espionage efforts in the United States manifested themselves in a “whole of state effort”.



The next war in the Middle East could be fought over water as Iraq, Syria and Turkey scramble to assert claims to two vital rivers that run through the region, according to a new report. Nabil al-Samman, a Syrian expert on international waters, made the case for an upcoming "water war" in an article published Friday by Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. The article defines the term as being used to refer in the Mediterranean to "the use of water as a weapon in order to control its sources, or the diversion of water as a commercial commodity controlled by powerful upstream states for political ends." The piece outlines a decades-long history of difficult relations and devastating conflicts that have set the stage for a potential upcoming crisis between Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

EUISS Yearbook of European Security (YES) 2018

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This YES edi­tion re­views the ac­tors, poli­cies and in­sti­tu­tions that un­der­pinned the EU’s for­eign and se­cu­rity poli­cies in 2017. These in­clude de­tails about the or­ga­ni­za­tional as­pects of the Eu­ro­pean Ex­ter­nal Ac­tion Ser­vice (EEAS), EU part­ners, re­stric­tive mea­sures, ge­o­graphic in­stru­ments, CSDP mis­sions and op­er­a­tions, EU agen­cies and bod­ies and the Eu­ro­pean De­fence Tech­no­log­i­cal and In­dus­trial Base. The vol­ume also pro­vides: 1) an overview of the work pro­grams of the pres­i­den­cies of the Coun­cil of the EU as they re­late to for­eign, se­cu­rity and de­fense pol­icy; 2) nar­ra­tives of the EU’s en­gage­ment with se­lect coun­tries and re­gions in its south­ern and east­ern neigh­bor­hoods and the wider world; 3) an overview of new EU de­fense ini­tia­tives such as Per­ma­nent Struc­tured Co­op­er­a­tion; 4) a re­view of Eu­ro­pean se­cu­rity in light of cy­ber­se­cu­rity, and more.

Washington Should Not Forget Oman

by Luke Coffey

Whether it is the civil wars in Syria and Yemen, the fight against ISIS, Iranian aggression or the rift in Gulf relations, there is plenty happening in the Middle East to keep U.S. policymakers busy. However, with all the noise coming from the region, America should not ignore its relationship with the Sultanate of Oman. Oman is a relatively small oil-producing kingdom with one of the Arab world’s smallest populations. It is also one of the oldest countries in the region. Because of its strategic location on the southeastern section of the Arabian Peninsula and the Strait of Hormuz, Oman and the United States share many of the same challenges in the Middle East.

Must Read: A Psychological Profile of Donald Trump - The Scary Version

Bandy X. Lee and Tony Schwartz

Why is President Donald Trump behaving in ways that seem ever more irrational, impulsive, self-destructive, dangerous and cruel? Many Americans have been shocked by Trump’s behavior, most recently by his taking the side of a known enemy in Vladimir Putin and Russia over his own intelligence community. It isn’t possible to reliably diagnose any individual from a distance, but it is reasonable to flag clear, observable signs of impairment and to make inferences based on repetitive patterns of behavior. There is a significant difference between diagnosing a specific disorder and analyzing the meaning of the qualities Trump exhibits, such as paranoia, grandiosity, lack of empathy and pathological deceit. Trump’s behavior, we believe, is the predictable outgrowth of this psychological disposition, exacerbated by the stress of the intensifying criminal investigations he faces.

The Decline and Fall of the American Empire

Tyler Cowen

So what would the decline of America look like? I don’t ask the question because I think it’s happening (yet?), but because even the most inveterate optimist should be interested in the dangers, if only to ward them off. Here’s the cleanest tale of hypothetical decline I could come up with, keeping away from the more partisan or hysterical scenarios, or those involving a catastrophic deus ex machina. Imagine that the United States gets through the presidency of Donald Trump without a crippling constitutional crisis. Still, the shrill public debate — which will continue well past Trump’s time in office — will continue to prove unequal to the task of addressing the nation’s most pressing problems.

GAO Report on National Security Risks of Foreign Investment in the U.S.

The following is the July 2018 Governement Accountability Office report, Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States: Action Needed to Address Evolving National Security Concerns Facing the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense (DOD) faces challenges identifying and addressing evolving national security concerns posed by some foreign investments in the United States.

WhatsApp, Fake News? The Internet and Risks of Misinformation in India

By Krzysztof Iwanek

The two worst things one has to bear with on Indian WhatsApp are fake news and good morning messages. Although I am not a frequent user, I was not spared. I have, for instance, once received a ridiculous message from Indian users claiming that Japan is the only country in the world where there are no mosques, no Muslims and no Arabic is taught. The underlying idea was that one of the most developed and organized countries keeps its status partially thanks to the fact that it has no Muslim minority and does not promote Islam. That’s not simply somebody’s mistake or an innocent good morning message. There was a vicious agenda behind creating such a message, an agenda unknowingly spread later both by those who believe it ideologically as well as those who likely meant no harm but did not bother to check the authenticity of the message.

Busting The Green Door: Army SIGINT Refocuses On Russia & China


CAPITOL HILL: The Army has a new, two-pronged strategy for Signals Intelligence, its top intelligence official said at a recent forum here. First, SIGINT forces must continue their post-9/11 evolution from a secretive, insular priesthood to a hands-on helper for frontline troops. At the same time, SIGINT must scale up the “precision” techniques developed to track insurgents‘ and terrorists‘ transmissions so it can tackle much bigger and more sophisticated adversaries like Russia and ChinaInstead of pinpointing terrorist leaders for drone strikes or commando raids, SIGINT may be finding electronic weak points in enemy networks that US cyber and electronic warfare teams can then hack or jam.

Capitalism needs a welfare state to survive

IN THE mythologies of both left and right, the welfare state is a work of socialism. Yet the intellectual tradition it owes most to is liberalism. The architect of its British version, William Beveridge, did not want to use the power of the state for its own sake. The point was to give people the security to pursue the lives they chose. And liberal reformers believed that by insuring people against some risks of creative destruction, welfare states would bolster democratic support for free markets.

The Darker Shade of Gray: A New War Unlike Any Other

In its September 1999 Phase I report New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century, the United States Commission on National Security in the 21st Century (better known as the Hart-Rudman Commission) darkly concluded that “Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers.” Two years later, the United States suffered catastrophic terrorist attacks resulting in the deaths of nearly 3,000 U.S. citizens. Ultimately, Hart-Rudman was about challenging what was then contemporary U.S. national security bias and convention, forcing U.S. decisionmakers to fundamentally reconsider how core U.S. interests would be threatened in the coming decade. Unfortunately, key aspects of their message fell on deaf ears or failed to penetrate institutional predispositions about consequential threats. The United States and its leadership were simply lulled by post-Cold War primacy into profound vulnerability.

The AI that protects DoD networks from zero-day exploits

By: Justin Lynch 

The National Security Agency is set to transfer a program that guards against malware to the Defense Information Systems Agency, according to a spokeswoman for the agency. The Sharkseer program protects the Department of Defense’s networks by using artificial intelligence to scan incoming traffic for vulnerabilities, according to program slides. Because the Sharkseer program’s primary purpose is to protect the Department of Defense’s networks, it “better aligns” with the DISA mission, Natalie Pittore, a spokeswoman for the NSA told Fifth Domain. The transition from NSA to DISA was laid out in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that lawmakers in Congress negotiated July 23, although the hand-off appears to have been long planned. Top NSA officials have identified the program as “among the highest priority cybersecurity initiatives” for several years, according to congressional records.

A report by the UK Parliament raises disturbing questions about Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and Russia’s relationship with the leaders of the Brexit movement

Carole Cadwalladr

A report by the digital, culture, media and sport select committee demands more internet regulation 

The report offers a wide-ranging, informed and sustained critique that carries with it the full weight of parliament. The verdict is withering: Facebook failed. It “obfuscated”, refused to investigate how its platform was abused by the Russian government until forced by pressure from Senate committees and, in the most damning section, it aided and abetted the incitement of racial hatred in Burma, noting that even the company’s chief technical officer, Mike Schroepfer, called this “awful”.

The case for rebuilding the U.S. military

By Dakota L. Wood 

Stakes were high in the Cold War era. The specter of nuclear war loomed ever-present. Back then, America had the troops, the equipment and the powerful allies needed to confront Soviet expansionism on multiple fronts, while keeping lesser threats at bay. Today, the U.S. military is one-third smaller, and though it wields more advanced weaponry, it must operate in a world that holds no less danger and poses threats that are far more complex. Rather than account for just one superpower, the U.S. military must now account for at least four regional powers — Russia, China, Iran and North Korea — as well as international terrorist organizations. Our armed forces have done that, even as they’ve waged wars in the Middle East and South Asia.

The Stupidly Easy Way to Win World War III: 'Cut the Cables'

by Steve Weintz

If, however, you wish to practice hybrid warfare—disruption and degradation with little overt engagement—then the ability to cut submarine cables at will and at depth gives you a very powerful weapon. Cut up undersea hydrophone networks and you deafen your adversary. Cut Internet cables and you have the ultimate denial-of-service cyber weapon.­ When a July 2015 undersea tremor triggered a rockslide between the islands of Saipan and Tinian in the Northern Marianas Islands, it cut the only fiber-optic cable connecting the archipelago to the global network. Air traffic control grounded flights, automated teller machines shut down, web and phone connections broke.

Targeting the future of the DoD’s controversial Project Maven initiative

By: Kelsey Atherton 

Bob Work, in his last months as deputy secretary of defense, wanted everything in place so that the Pentagon could share in the sweeping advances in data processing already enjoyed by the thriving tech sector. A memo dated April 26, 2017, established an “Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team,” a.k.a. “Project Maven.” Within a year, the details of Google’s role in that program, disseminated internally among its employees and then shared with the public, would call into question the specific rationale of the task and the greater question of how the tech community should go about building algorithms for war, if at all.