19 August 2018

The Modi Phenomenon and the Remaking of India

Brahma Chellaney

In the four years that he has been in office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has animated domestic politics in India and the country’s foreign policy by departing often from conventional methods and shibboleths. A key question is whether the Modi era will mark a defining moment for India, just as the 1990s were for China and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s return as prime minister has been for Japan. The answer to that question is still not clear. What is clear, however, is that Modi’s ascension to power has clearly changed Indian politics and diplomacy.

India’s Place in the New World Order

Anirudh Kanisetti

Over the last two weeks, US President Donald Trump has claimed thattraditional allies such as the EU are “foes”, barely averted a trade war, and has insisted that the US will put its own interests first. What such actions mean for a world order which was underpinned by American economic and military might is not clear. Already, as the global economic centre of gravity shifts towards Eurasia[1], countries like China are subverting international norms to national interest. This has led to speculation[2] about the New World Order that may emerge. This phrase tends to enter popular discourse in periods of international turmoil. In the aftermath of WWI, for example, American President Woodrow Wilson outlined Fourteen Points for a “new world”[3]. It is increasingly obvious that we live in a similarly pivotal period. It’s worth asking, then, what kind of new world order will we see, and what would it mean for India?

Planning for the Future

New trouble for India: China occupies North Doklam, with armoured vehicles & 7 helipads


New visuals show PLA deployment is close to last year’s face-off point and hasn’t thinned down as Indian Army chief Gen. Rawat claimed last week.

Need to focus on state government finances

Rajani Sinha

The widening of the fiscal deficit has re-emerged as a cause of concern for the Indian economy. There is a fear that the Central government could overshoot its fiscal deficit target for FY19 as goods and services tax (GST) revenue has been falling short of target and there could be increased expenditure commitment in a pre-election year. Also worrying are the finances of state governments. As per a recent Reserve Bank of India (RBI) report on state government finances, the consolidated fiscal deficit of the state governments in FY18 was 3.1%, against the budget estimate of 2.7%.

Opinion: Did Trump forget his own Afghanistan strategy?

This month, a year ago, US President Donald Trump announced his administration’s Afghanistan strategy in a speech in Arlington, Virginia. Trump admitted that his initial instinct was to pull out of what was already by then a 16-year-old war. However, he understood that an immediate withdrawal would not provide “an honourable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made”. Trump decided to commit the US to the battle without the Barack Obama-style withdrawal timelines. Even as his speech was being widely pilloried in Washington, there was also a view, notably in India, that Trump’s strategy deserved a fair chance.

Taliban Fighters Rout Afghan Security Forces Across Country


Any illusions that the Taliban were interested in negotiating a peaceful settlement with the Afghan government and its international partners have been dashed by four days of grueling fighting across the country, during which the Taliban have reportedly occupied Ghazni city and wiped out up to 100 Afghan commandos in a demoralizing blow to Afghan security forces. Since August 10, the U.S. military has launched at least 24 airstrikes from B-1 bombers, A-10 Thunderbolt II attack craft, AH-64 Apache helicopters, and MQ-9 Reaper drones to support Afghan troops and police fighting to retake Ghazni, killing more than 140 Taliban fighters, Resolute Support spokesman Army Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell told Task & Purpose

Why Sushma Swaraj Is Wrong On The ‘Rising Hindu Count’ In Bangladesh

by Shantanu Guha Neogi

Persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh is not a new phenomenon. Rather, it could be truly said that neither Bangladesh, nor India, nor even the international community care about their plight seriously enough to warrant a public conversation in recent times. Yes, there are some noble and courageous people from both countries and the outside world working with genuine concern to draw the attention of the international community to the fate of Bangladeshi Hindus, but the world at large, and not to forget certain vested interests, is indeed working overtime to ‘cleanse Bangladesh of unfaithfuls.’ On 19 July 2018, when Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj declared in Parliament that the number of Hindus in Bangladesh had increased by 1 per cent, she did so by accepting Bangladesh government records as axiomatic.

Maldives: A crisis in paradise

Bruce Riedel

The Maldives are the central part of a chain of islands that begins on the west coast of India with the Lakshadweep Islands and ends deep in the Indian Ocean at the Chagos Archipelago, including the major American military base at Diego Garcia. The Republic of the Maldives is comprised of almost 1,200 islands spread out over 35,000 square miles. It’s the lowest country in the world, with an average height of less than five feet above sea level. Some islands have become home to high-end expensive hotels, and over one hundred islands are resorts. Of its roughly 418,000 people, a majority are Muslims.

Globalization with Chinese Characteristics


The Trump administration’s “America First” policies have done more than disqualify the United States from global leadership. They have also created space for other countries to re-shape the international system to their liking. US President Donald Trump’s erratic unilateralism represents nothing less than abdication of global economic and political leadership. Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, his rejection of the Iran nuclear deal, his tariff war, and his frequent attacks on allies and embrace of adversaries have rapidly turned the United States into an unreliable partner in upholding the international order. But the administration’s “America First” policies have done more than disqualify the US from global leadership. They have also created space for other countries to re-shape the international system to their liking. The influence of China, in particular, is likely to be enhanced.

This is why China could collapse like the Soviet Union

Source Link

China’s dying labour-force boom, like the Soviet Union’s in the 1970s, may not revive even with Silk Road project’s heavy investments.

What causes empires to fall?

According to one influential view, it’s ultimately a question of investment. Great powers are the nations that best harness their economic potential to build up military strength. When they become over-extended, the splurge of spending to sustain a strategic edge leaves more productive parts of the economy starved of capital, leading to inevitable decline. That should be a worrying prospect for China, a would-be great power whose current phase of growth is associated with an increasingly aggressive military posture and a tsunami of capital spending in its strategic neighborhood.

Burying ‘One Child’ Limits, China Pushes Women to Have More Babies

By Steven Lee Myers and Olivia Mitchell Ryan
Source Link

BEIJING — For decades, China harshly restricted the number of babies that women could have. Now it is encouraging them to have more. It is not going well. Almost three years after easing its “one child” policy and allowing couples to have two children, the government has begun to acknowledge that its efforts to raise the country’s birthrate are faltering because parents are deciding against having more children. Officials are now scrambling to devise ways to stimulate a baby boom, worried that a looming demographic crisis could imperil economic growth — and undercut the ruling Communist Party and its leader, Xi Jinping.

Trump’s Trade War Is Rattling China’s Leaders

By Keith Bradsher and Steven Lee Myers
Source Link

BEIJING — China’s leaders have sought to project confidence in the face of President Trump’s tariffs and trade threats. But as it becomes clear that a protracted trade war with the United States may be unavoidable, there are growing signs of unease inside the Communist political establishment. In recent days, officials from the Commerce Ministry, the police and other agencies have summoned exporters to ask about plans to lay off workers or shift supply chains to other countries. With stocks slumping and the currency dropping 9 percent against the dollar since mid-April, censors have been deleting a torrent of criticism online, some of it directed at President Xi Jinping’s leadership. State news outlets, by contrast, have sought to promote the official line, with the authorities restricting the use of the phrase “trade war.”

Xi Jinping Thought Is Facing a Harsh Reality Check


Rumors were racing everywhere I went in Beijing this July. Had a secret coup toppled the government? Was the Chinese economy on the verge of collapse? Had popular discontent, triggered by U.S. tariffs, reached the point of explosion? One deeper question lurked beneath these others: Had Xi Jinping—China’s top leader, who presents himself as all but omnipotent—overstepped his limits thanks to overconfidence in the inevitability of China’s rise? At the center of this question are not simply the facts that fill headlines about China under Xi. The “personality cult” that Xi has built up since coming to power in 2013 is extraordinarily visible—on posters, on websites, in competitions to read the president’s work with the most sincerity—and some observers criticize it as reminiscent of the Mao era’s fervid devotion to the “Great Helmsman.” The intensified repression that Xi has overseen across China, especially in the western province of Xinjiang, which has become an unprecedented “digital police state,” has been condemned around the world.

Turkey's Economy Takes a Tumble. What's Next?

After recent elections, the biggest challenge for the Turkish government was stabilizing the worrisome economy. But poor U.S.-Turkey relations and investor uncertainty about Turkey's ability to stabilize its volatile economy have pushed its currency, the lira, to an all-time low. Its crash is pressing on the country's dollar-denominated debt and raising questions about whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will temper his political moves to allow room for economic stabilization.

What Happened?

Iran Is Throwing a Tantrum but Wants a Deal


Even in its afterlife, the Iran nuclear deal continues to polarize. Those who supported the agreement proclaim loudly that Iran will never negotiate any adjustment to it, while its opponents argue U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of it will produce a better deal. Trump himself seems to believe a better deal is possible, having recently offered to talk to the Iranians without preconditions. On Monday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei indicated he disagrees, declaring: “I ban holding any talks with America. … America never remains loyal to its promises.” Khamenei’s ban came after Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, had already insisted: “The Iranian people will never allow their officials to meet and negotiate with the Great Satan, we are not North Korea.”

Terrorism: U.S. Strategy and the Trends in Its “Wars” on Terrorism

By Anthony H. Cordesman 

The United States has now been at war in Afghanistan for some seventeen years and been fighting another major war in Iraq for fifteen years. It has been active in Somalia far longer and has spread its operations to deal with terrorist or extremist threats in a wide range of conflicts in North and Sub-Saharan in Africa, South Asia, and South East Asia. In case after case, the U.S. has moved far beyond counterterrorism to counterinsurgency, and from the temporary deployment of small anti-terrorism forces to a near "permanent" military presence. The line between counterterrorism and counterinsurgency has become so blurred that there is no significant difference. 

The Turning Point of 2008


At first glance, the Georgian war ten years ago this month and the global financial crisis that erupted the following month seem unrelated. But this is to neglect the deeper currents driving the confrontation in the Caucasus. Ten years ago this week, Russian tanks halted a few hours’ march short of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. That short war in the Caucasus brought down the curtain on nearly two decades of post-Cold War Western hegemony in Europe. Encouraged by US President George W. Bush’s administration, Georgia had initiated NATO membership talks, impelling Russian President Vladimir Putin to defend the red line he had drawn the previous year. Russia, Putin announced at the Munich Security Conference in February 2007, would regard any further eastward expansion of Western institutions as an act of aggression.

The security strategies of the US, China, Russia and the EU: Living in different worlds

This report analyzes and compares the security strategies of four major international actors: the United States, China, Russia and the European Union. The rules-based liberal international order is increasingly under strain due to tightening geopolitical competition and the decline of the Western hegemony. In this context, the report explores the conceptions of the four major powers with regard to the world order, the self-defined position of each actor in it, and their possible aspirations to change the existing order. Furthermore, the report analyzes how each strategy defines security threats and risks, as well as ways to address these threats. The report highlights the ongoing rapid change of global structures and instruments of power as a challenge addressed in all four strategies. Increased competition is visible not only in the field of military power, but also in economic relations and at the level of values. While the US strategy defines Russia and China as key adversaries whose increasing influence is to be contained, both Russia and China correspondingly aim at building a counterweight to the US power in a multipolar world. Among the four actors, only the EU maintains a strong commitment to the rules-based order and explicitly rejects a worldview centred around zero-sum rivalry between great powers.

How higher-education institutions can transform themselves using advanced analytics

By Mark Krawitz, Jonathan Law, and Sacha Litman

Many college and university leaders remain unsure of how to incorporate analytics into their operations. What really works? Leaders in most higher-education institutions generally understand that using advanced analytics can significantly transform the way they work by enabling new ways to engage current and prospective students, increase student enrollment, improve student retention and completion rates, and even boost faculty productivity and research. However, many leaders of colleges and universities remain unsure of how to incorporate analytics into their operations and achieve intended outcomes and improvements. What really works? Is it a commitment to new talent, technologies, or operating models? Or all of the above?

Why Hitting the Gas on Car Tariffs Could Stall Everyone

The United States will continue to threaten tariffs on the imports of automobiles in an attempt to gain leverage in critical trade negotiations, although it's possible that Washington will eventually enact such tariffs. Mexico and Canada might escape strong measures since they would also inflict domestic harm due to the nature of NAFTA integration, but Washington will strive to extract concessions from the two countries by threatening such measures. Germany and the European Union — which has little overall integration with the U.S. auto market — are most likely to face tariffs, even if Brussels has sought to escape the measures by offering a trade deal to the United States. At moderate risk of tariffs, Japan and especially South Korea will hope to avoid U.S. measures by highlighting their automakers' investments in the United States.

Russia wants universities to design robots for war

By: Kelsey Atherton   
Building robots is a skill, and one that Russia’s Ministry of Defense wants more Russians to have. To that end, the Russian newspaper Izvestia reported Aug. 3 that the Ministry of Defense had completed work on a federal educational standard for “Robotics for Military and Special Purposes,” teaching students at both civilian and military universities how to design new robots. This includes, at the military institutions, robots designed for combat. “Russian Ministry of Defense already has a center for unmanned aerial vehicle training ― it’s the 924th Center, outside of Moscow ― and it’s been operating for about five years at this point and is dedicated to teaching soldiers and officers the operation of various UAVs,” says Samuel Bendett, a research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses. “These academic programs will involve all manner of unmanned military systems, unlike the 924th center, which only deals with UAVs. According to the development standards described here, after several years military students will be able to graduate as engineers, unlike those military students in the 924th center which get an operator certificate after a few months.”

Battlefield Internet A Plan for Securing Cyberspace

By Michèle Flournoy and Michael Sulmeyer

Cyberspace has been recognized as a new arena for competition among states ever since it came into existence. In the United States, there have long been warnings of a “cyber–Pearl Harbor”—a massive digital attack that could cripple the country’s critical infrastructure without a single shot being fired. Presidential commissions, military task force reports, and congressional investigations have been calling attention to such a risk for decades. In 1984, the Reagan administration warned of the “significant security challenges” of the coming information age. And just this year, Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, said of such threats, “the lights are blinking red.

The key to the intelligence in the future

By: Mark Pomerleau

If the Department of Defense’s intelligence operations are going to be successful in the future, the intelligence community must move from a descriptive model, in which analysts offer details on an event, to a predictive model, in which analysts describe what may happen, top defense leaders said Aug. 13. “The ultimate goal of intelligence is not just to win wars. As President Eisenhower said, the only way to win the next war is to prevent it,” Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said during an Aug.13 keynote presentation at the DoDIIS conference in Omaha, Nebraska. The key challenge for intelligence operations today is to determine the indicators of an event that could take place and what is being missed, Ashley added. He noted the intelligence community has to move past descriptive intelligence — how high, how fast, how far — and be more predictive.

How could artificial intelligence help the intelligence community?

By: Mark Pomerleau   
Defense leaders have long discussed how artificial intelligence and machine learning can help provide an advantage by fusing data faster than humans are physically capable. But these emerging technologies may also help the intelligence community address another challenge: linguists.
The National Security Agency is looking to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to fill the gaps in linguists, who are needed to translate materials and understand intercepted communications of adversaries across the world. Gen. Paul Nakasone, director of NSA, speaking at a dinner hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance Aug. 9, said he sees a role for AI and machine learning in filling this gap.

Rapid Equipping Force to deliver new electronic warfare platforms

By: Mark Pomerleau
Sgt. Jessie Albert, an electronic warfare specialist assigned to 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, trains on the Wolfhound Radio Direction Finding System at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, on April 11, 2018. The electronic warfare specialists use direction finding to gain a line-of-bearing to the target. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division) Army Forces Command will receive a new fleet of tactical vehicles specifically outfitted for electronic warfare this fall. As part of the Army’s efforts to restore electronic warfare capability and respond to capability gaps, the service’s Rapid Equipping Force will provide Army Forces Command with what’s known as Electronic Warfare Tactical Vehicles. The vehicles will be self-contained and independent, a notice from the REF stated. Soldiers inside the vehicle would operate the advanced EW system, which was developed in response to a battlefield need to sense and jam enemy communications and networks.

The internet of battlefield things will depend on modernized networks

By: Adam Stone
Military planners envision a future battlefield defined by the internet of things, one in which smart devices, soldier-worn sensors and unmanned aircraft produce a nonstop torrent of actionable data. In this near-future war space, “current, commonly available, interconnected ‘things’ will exist in the battlefield and be increasingly intelligent, obfuscated, and pervasive,” according to Army documents. Experts, however, put a caveat on that vision. The IoT landscape cannot come to fruition without robust, modernized networks. The promised wellspring of new ISR data “requires connectivity and security,” said Mike Leff, vice president for global defense at AT&T Public Sector. “You need a robust network to give you that competitive advantage on the battlefield.”


IF, LIKE MOST people, you thought Google stopped tracking your location once you turned off Location History in your account settings, you were wrong. According to an AP investigation published Monday, even if you disable Location History, the search giant still tracks you every time you open Google Maps, get certain automatic weather updates, or search for things in your browser. There's a way to stop it—but it takes some digging. The problem affects anyone with an Android phone and iPhone users running Google Maps on their devices, according to the AP report, which researchers at Princeton University verified. That's more than two billion people. The Google support page for managing and deleting your Location History says that once you turn it off, "the places you go are no longer stored. When you turn off Location History for your Google Account, it's off for all devices associated with that Google Account." The AP's investigation found that's not true. In fact, turning off your Location History only stops Google from creating a timeline of your location that you can view. Some apps will still track you and store time-stamped location data from your devices.

Reimagining fiduciaries in the digital economy

Vivan Sharan Sidharth Deb

The making of techno-commercial laws in India is often devoid of strong conceptual underpinnings. This is partly because the starting point for all legal drafting in the country is similar—we want to get the best of all worlds without any hint of compromise. Consequently, we end up with muddled outcomes that serve niche interest groups and confuse the rest. Additionally, as lawmakers pretend to be acutely attuned to local market realities, they also tend to characterize unclear outcomes as necessary instances of Indian exceptionalism. An aspirational India, with all its structural infirmities, often forgives them. However, the digital economy is less forgiving. Bad laws will be put to test and found wanting in much shorter feedback cycles.


The U.S. military victory over Japanese Imperial forces on August 14, 1945, signified the end of the bloodiest conflict in modern history. It also ushered in a historic shift in global power, creating a growing and lasting U.S. military presence in Asia that has continued to this day—but not without its opponents. Only days after the world's first atomic bomb attacks killed up to 250,000 people in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan officially surrendered to the U.S. and fellow Allied powers, including the Soviet Union and the U.K, ending World War II. The event was known as V-J Day and is officially commemorated in the U.S. on September 2, the date in which the surrender document was signed. The Empire of Japan was then dismantled and, for the first time in the country's history, Japan was occupied by a foreign power.

How the data revolution is changing Special Operations Command

By: Mark Pomerleau

To stay competitive amid a data revolution, Special Operations Command is changing the way it fills intelligence gaps and verifies information, the organization’s leader said. In the past, officials from the command collected data from classified and exquisite sensors and then filled in potential holes with information found in the open source, Gen. Raymond Thomas, the head of the command, said during an August 13 keynote at the DoDIIS conference in Omaha, Nebraska. No more. Now, Thomas described, intelligence will begin with open source and then officials will fill in the gaps with information from classified channels.