9 August 2018

The sobering arithmetic of a two-front war


As India’s relations with both China and Pakistan continue to deteriorate, the country’s policy-makers must contemplate the unpleasant possibility of a 'two-front' war with both countries.[1] Whether or not such a war would be overtly collusive between China and Pakistan – that is, whether they would pre-plan a joint attack on India or it would be a case of strategic opportunism – it is clear to many in positions of authority that the Indian military remains fundamentally unprepared for such a challenge.[2] But it can also be argued that a two-front force ratio (ratio of Pakistani and fraction of Chinese inventories to India’s) has evolved and varied considerably over time, as China continues to rapidly modernise and numerically increase its military (through significant increases in defence spending[3]) while Indian military preparedness flounders.

China courted Afghan Taliban in secret meetings

China courted Afghan Taliban in secret meetings Like the US, Beijing has talked to militants in a bid to end long-running conflict Taliban militants on the outskirts of Jalalabad in Afghanistan. Beijing is making a concerted push to engage with the Islamist group © AFP Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save Save to myFT Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad, Kiran Stacey in New Delhi and Emily Feng in Beijing AUGUST 6, 2018 Print this page10 Chinese officials have met the Afghan Taliban several times in the past year, figures in the Pakistan government told the Financial Times, as Beijing seeks to play an important role in ending the 17-year conflict in Afghanistan. People involved in facilitating the talks said Beijing had made a concerted push to engage with the Taliban, going as far as inviting senior members of the Islamist group to China. 

After Iran and North Korea; Now Hold Pakistan’s Feet to the Fire

by Francesca Silvestri

Over the past year, nuclear non-proliferation diplomacy has succumbed to divergent pressures, including: - global moves via the United Nations and led by the United States to halt North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons (and missile systems to deliver them) - multilateral disagreement over the best way frustrate Iran’s acquisition of the same things - American insouciance about nuclear proliferation in South Asia, which many nuclear weapons specialists in the United States, UK and EU see as arguably the most dangerous of all proliferation hotspots The mutually inconsistent approaches outlined above reflect the erratic and, from a European viewpoint, incoherent and spasmodic interventions by President Donald Trump. These approaches include Trump’s ballyhooed summitry with Kim Jong-un, capturing the limelight (but apparently not much else). The current occupant of the White House has also pulled America out of the Joint Common Plan of Action (JCPOA) with which the International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran is compliant.

Why an Attack by Grassroots Jihadists in Tajikistan Matters

By Scott Stewart

The July 29 attack on a group of cyclists was clearly conducted by grassroots jihadists and not by a professional terrorist cadre. Despite its proximity to Afghanistan, Tajikistan has managed — with Russian assistance — to keep the jihadist threat in check. Beneath its relative stability, Tajikistan is significantly divided, and it will be important to watch for signs of increasing radicalization, specifically among younger members of the population.

A Visit to the Dalai Lama’s Birthplace

By Tim Robertson

On July 6, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, celebrated his 83rd birthday in Ladakh, the Himalayan region in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. On the other side of the world’s highest mountain range sits Lhasa, the Tibetan capital that he fled in 1959 during the Tibetan Uprising. The Dalai Lama has never been allowed to return. His has been a life lived in exile. But even Lhasa, home to the Jokhang Temple and Potala Palace, was a world away from the place where Tenzin Gyato was born.

Are We Ready If China Suddenly Collapsed?

by Peter Mattis

If Washington is concerned that the CCP is approaching its twilight, then asserting a moral stake in China’s development requires nothing less than a substantial effort to understand China’s political landscape beyond day-to-day policy-making concerns and to influence Chinese leaders before they pull the trigger on their citizens again. Without advance preparation, U.S. and other international leaders will find the prospects of an unstable China distressing, possibly with the view that it is “too big to fail.” They may even watch from the sidelines as in 1989, not knowing the best course of action or how to influence the decisions of Chinese leaders. This may not be wrong, but such a momentous decision should not be left to ignorance, preexisting mental images or scattered information collected as a crisis breaks.

A better way to repel China in the South China Sea


Two US Air Force B-1B bombers fly over the South China Sea while operating with the destroyer USS Sterett. China’s incremental approach toward its goal of complete control over the South China Sea has so far avoided any serious repercussions. That should change unless the United States and its allies are willing to accept Chinese domination over the strategically and economically important waterway. To be sure, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines against China’s Nine Dash Line claim in 2016. And, yes, the United States has made intermittent Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) sailing through the contested area, purposefully traversing within 12 nautical miles of Beijing’s artificially-created islets.

China and Nepal reach across the Himalayan divide


Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s visit to China last month was closely watched by both domestic and international observers. Oli’s visit was a continuation of his groundbreaking trip to China during his first tenure as prime minister in 2016, during which a transit transport agreement between the two countries was signed. Such an agreement should have been inked a long time ago, but the economic embargo imposed by India in 2015 forced Nepal to examine its options. It was regarded as a historic step as landlocked Nepal had such an arrangement only with India until then.

China’s influence on digital privacy could be global

China’s digital privacy practices have sounded alarms in the West for years. Recent headlines about China highlight the growing use of facial recognition surveillance, the rise of the controversial social credit systemand the development of other privacy-invasive technologies, including brain-scanning helmets that some employers use to try to evaluate how hard employees are working. It’s easy to distance ourselves from these accounts, but there’s a reason we should care about privacy in China. Its rapidly advancing technology industries and massive consumer market are already influencing norms around the world. China will likely impact the way privacy is understood and protected.

China is Waging a Maritime Insurgency in the South China Sea. It's Time for the United States to Counter It.

by Patrick M. Cronin 

The United States’ present approach to countering China’s continued creeping aggression in the South China Sea has failed. The U.S. Navy is not achieving it long-term political objectives of using Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) to substantively change China’s revisionist attitudes and belligerent behavior in the region, or to uphold the rule of international law. However, our failure thus far is not final. While the cancerous expansion of Chinese terrestrial outposts and coercive maritime presence in the South China Sea is now considerably more advanced from when U.S. FONOPs began, there is still time to retrieve the situation before the regional and international communities either politically recognize China’s ill-gotten gains or capitulate to its continental conception of sovereignty over ocean areas. Staging a recovery requires that we come to a new understanding of the core nature of the threat, reexamine our current efforts to discern their effect on the decisive center of gravity, and apply learning from our own not-too-distant history to craft new strategies and operational concepts that will capture the initiative and more effectively achieve our just aim of upholding freedom of the sea and the rule of law in the international sphere.

The Dangerous Myth The U.S. Is Winning The Trade War With China

Harry G. Broadman

In recent days there’s been a spate of high-profile press headlines and news stories pointing to seeming evidence that the U.S. is winning the trade war with China. Two examples on the economic side suffice: “China Loses Status as World's Second-Largest Stock Market Amid Trade War with U.S.,” which focused on the fall of the total value of Chinese equity shares being traded compared to those on Japan’s stock market, and “The Chinese Economy Starts to Feel Impact of U.S. Tariffs,” which, in part, pointed to slowing growth of China’s economy.

China begins testing electronic warfare assets in South China Sea: report

As the US and China plunge into a trade war, Beijing is apparently preparing for a different type of warfare that some fear may be on the horizon. Following news earlier this year that China installed military jamming equipment on contested islands in the South China Sea, CNBC reported on Thursday they have begun testing it out. China is “quietly testing” the electronic warfare assets, the report said, citing sources who have seen US intelligence reports. According to the assessments, this is the first known use of the equipment. In April, The Wall Street Journal quoted a US Defense Department official as saying that “China has deployed military jamming equipment to its Spratley Island Outposts,” as part of what the US describes as an aggressive military buildup in the disputed territory.

Protecting America's Technology Industry From China

By Scott Kennedy

A month into U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade war with China, the conflict has generated only a flurry of rhetoric and threats, but further escalation looms. Both sides are close to implementing tariffs on another $16 billion worth of goods, and the United States looks prepared to impose tariffs on a further $200 billion worth as early as the end of August. So far, investors seem to see these tensions as temporary and believe that they won’t damage the overall U.S. economy. The stock market has barely budged, and futures prices for steel and agricultural goods caught up in the conflict show that traders expect prices to return to more normal levels within the next six to nine months.

Monitoring Illicit Arms Flows: The Role of UN Peacekeeping Operations

By Holger Anders 
Holder Andes contends that UN peacekeeping operations (PKOs) could make a significantly greater contribution to the monitoring of illicit arms flows. To highlight how, and address why so few PKOs take advantage of their potential capacity in this area, Andes reviews 1) the mandates of such operations; 2) their relations with UN panels of experts on embargo monitoring; and 3) their approaches to monitoring. He also presents case studies of the PKOs in Côte d’Ivoire and Mali, which have extensive experience in this field. This article was originally published by the Small Arms Survey on June 2018. Image courtesy of UN Photo/Nektarios Markogiannis/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).


Trump administration coordinating with Facebook to combat disinformation

By: Justin Lynch

The White House and Facebook are working together to counter foreign influence operations, but research suggests social media sites need to be more aggressive in taking false content off their platforms. The Department of Homeland Security hosted a conference call Aug. 6 with state election officials and Facebook, according to a statement. The conference call included a discussion of disinformation tactics used online and was part of the Trump administration’s plan to work with the private sector to protect elections. “Strengthening collaboration between social media companies and federal, state, and local governments is critical to preventing foreign interference in our democratic processes, including elections,” Christopher Krebs, under secretary at Homeland Security, said in the release.

The Agriculture Industry Is Losing Its Voice in American Politics

As agriculture's contribution to overall employment declines in large part because of farm consolidation and mechanization, the political influence of agriculture lobbies will also continue to decrease. The U.S. government will become less protective of its agricultural sector in the long term, making it more vulnerable to market forces. As agriculture's political power continues to wane, farming subsidies and protections could face cuts. As members of the U.S. Congress debate the 2018 Farm Bill, which outlines funding for the agriculture industry and food supplement programs, they are focusing less on the needs of U.S. farmers and more on the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). And though Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced $12 billion in emergency aid for U.S. farmershit by retaliatory tariffs, producers are struggling more and more to succeed financially and to influence politicians on policies that directly affect the industry. The overshadowing of traditional support mechanisms in the Farm Bill, which controls government aid for U.S. producers, is one sign of the agriculture lobby's waning influence.

Explaining the Hype Around Hypersonic Weapons

Countries around the world are in the process of developing hypersonic weapons technology, and the United States and China are leading the pack. With the technology needed for hypersonic missiles growing ever more feasible and accessible, we anticipate that both countries will have mature designs in the near future. The new missiles will be much faster than any current cruise missiles, and they will be extremely hard to detect. As the world adjusts to this evolving weaponry, the way countries approach offensive arms development and preemptive strikes is set to change dramatically.

Nuclear Constraints and Concepts of Future Warfare

By Zachary L. Morris

The United States Army and the Russian Army view each other as potential future adversaries. General Mark Milley, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, has spoken extensively about the threat Russia poses and its adversarial nature.[1] Likewise, the 2014 “Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation” also identifies the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as the primary threat to Russia.[2] While the U.S. and Russian militaries view each other in an adversarial way, both have developed different conclusions about future warfare based on the current environment and the constraining impact of nuclear weapons. The U.S. Army has returned to emphasizing large-scale operations against near-peer threats like Russia, as outlined in its recently updated doctrine in Field Manual 3-0: Operations.

Hot but not bothered: Major media are ignoring the climate crisis

By Dawn Stover

Heat waves continue to wash over the globe, breaking records and threatening lives. This year is on track to rank among the four hottest years on record—together with 2015, 2016, and 2017. Buildings and roads in the United Kingdom are literally melting. In Japan, 116 people died and more than 30,000 were taken to hospitals by ambulance because of the heat wave in July. Along with the scorching heat, deadly wildfires are dominating much of the news cycle. Fires have raged in places as widespread as the American West, Greece, and the Arctic. More than 10,000 firefighters are battling the Carr Fire in California, which has killed six people and burned more than 100,000 acres and is still growing. In a July 29 tweet, writer Alex Steffen wrote that “the pyrocumulus [fire] cloud “is to this generation what the mushroom cloud was to Boomers.”

The Spread Of Ideas And Innovation

Globalization has accelerated the spread of knowledge and technology across borders. This has helped to increase productivity and potential growth in many countries and at the global level. Technological progress is the key factor behind the improvements in incomes and standards of living. But technology tends to spread at different speeds across countries. Our Chart of the Week shows how knowledge has flowed across countries and regions. To trace knowledge flows, a recent IMF study uses the extent to which countries cite patented innovations from the technology leaders as prior knowledge in their own patent applications. Globalization has accelerated the spread of knowledge and technology across borders.

DARPA Prototypes New AI-Enabled "Breakthrough" Cyberattack "Hunting" Technology

By Kris Osborn

DARPA and BAE Systems are prototyping a new AI-empowered cybersecurity technology to fight new waves of highly sophisticated cyberattacks specifically engineered to circumvent the best existing defenses. The program, called Cyber Hunting at Scale (CHASE), uses computer automation, advanced algorithms and a new caliber of processing speed to track large volumes of data in real-time, enabling human cyber hunters to find advanced attacks otherwise hidden or buried within massive amounts of incoming data. DARPA information explains the technology as “adaptive data collection” able to conduct real-time investigations by sifting through enormous amounts of information not “trackable” by human defenders.

Turn Off Your Fitbit, Garmin, Apple Watch GPS NOW!


For years, cell phones have been banned from many offices in the Pentagon, not to mention any Secure Compartmentalized Information Facility (SCIF). The reason was simple: anything that can transmit and has a microphone can be used to record and send information. If it’s got a camera, then photographs or video can be taken as well. Today, the threat is less obvious. It comes from those Apple Watches, Garmins, Fitbits, custom smartwatches and other remote sensors that track your location and share it with remote databases. “These geolocation capabilities can expose personal information, locations, routines, and numbers of DoD personnel, and potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission,” says Shanahan’s memo, which was released by the Pentagon press office too ensure everyone sees it.


Wordpress-powered websites publish more than 77 million posts each week. The New York Times runs about 150 stories every day. (Here at WIRED, it's more like 15 or 20.) Last year, 687.2 million books were sold in the United States—and that's just print versions, not e-books. Speaking of which: even as Amazon opens more stores, independent bookstores continue to thrive, despite the fact that a quarter of adults haven't cracked a cover in a year. Words are everywhere. Not all of them are the best words, granted, but we're awash in them like at no other point in our history. They're in our books and our e-readers, in our newspapers and magazines, on our laptop and phone screens.

Homeland Security announces new first response cyber center

By: Justin Lynch 

In the face of increasing cyberattacks, the Department of Homeland Security is creating a new center to share threat information with private companies and kicking off a 90 day sprint to identify the country’s digital “crown jewels" that may be especially vulnerable, the agency’s secretary said July 31.
The National Risk Management Center is expected to provide a centralized home where firms and local agencies can turn for cybersecurity solutions. “The next major attack is more likely to reach us online than on an airplane,” said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. She added that “intruders are in our systems” and “everyone and everything is now a target.”

Army Boosts Electronic Warfare Numbers, Training, Role


AUSA: The Army is giving its electronic warfare force more troops, more training, and a more prominent role in combat headquarters, senior officers said here Thursday, pushing back on criticisms that the service neglects EW even as Russia and China pull ahead. The number of EW troops has increased from 813 (both officers and enlisted)in 2015 to 940 today and growing. While just a fraction of the formidable Russian EW force, that’s still a 15 percent increase in three years, remarkable at a time when the Army as a whole shrunk by four percent. What’s more, it reverses a stark decline in previous years when the Army decided to get rid of EW specialists because it no longer needed to jam radio-controlled roadside bombs in Iraq.