24 August 2018

Who defends the defenders?

by Arun Prakash

On India’s 72nd Independence Day, while all and sundry were paying saccharine tributes to the armed forces, a development that will have a deep and long-lasting impact on the morale, cohesion, and integrity of India’s military, went unnoticed. In an unprecedented and hitherto inconceivable step, 356 serving officers and jawans of the Indian army filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking relief for officers and troops serving on counter-insurgency duties from “persecution and prosecution” for performing their “bona fide duties carried out in good faith”. The very notion of proud Indian soldiers, ranging in rank from serving brigadier to rifleman, seeking the protection of the courts in the discharge of their duties represents a national shame. This development has several far-reaching and serious implications, not only for the military and its leadership, but also for the Indian state, which appears to have, yet again, failed in its responsibilities vis-à-vis the military as well as governance.

Opinion | Revisiting India’s national defence doctrines

Kunal Singh

This month, 19 years ago, the then national security adviser Brajesh Mishra released India’s draft nuclear doctrine prepared by the National Security Advisory Board. The draft was not endorsed by the government of India, but it became the basis for the official doctrine whose summarized version was released in 2003. In 2018, the nuclear doctrine is facing a full-blown crisis, almost entirely of India’s own making. One the one hand, serving and retired policymakers at the highest levels of nuclear decision-making and defence establishment have gone about questioning the key pillars of the doctrine. On the other, despite major changes in the strategic environment, the onward march of the technological forces and the questions raised about the continued relevance of the concepts outlined in the doctrine, the government has refused to undertake a review of the doctrine.

The Push to Privatize the Afghan War

Erik Prince

Blackwater Founder Erik Prince is making a renewed public push to privatize the U.S. war in Afghanistan. The current CEO and Founder of Frontier Services Group, (a security, aviation and logistics company primarily doing business in Africa) has reportedly gotten the attention of the President, despite the fact that current military officials are not said to be in favor. Speaking to ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, National Security Advisor John Bolton said “I’m always open to new ideas,” but put the ultimately decision squarely in the lap of the President. “I’m not going to comment on what the thinking is,” he told ABC. “That’ll ultimately be the president’s decision.” Prince’s latest effort comes as most analysts agree the security situation in Afghanistan is in a state of decline. There were multiple deadly attacks across the country last week, including intense fighting in the provincial capital of Ghazni and Afghan Commando Units, considered the elite of the Afghan Military reportedly suffered heavy losses.

The Conflicting Assessments of the Trends in Combat in Afghanistan: 2014-2018

By Anthony H. Cordesman

The fighting in Ghazni has highlighted the fact that the U.S. has now entered its seventeenth year of war in Afghanistan and that there is no clear end to the war in sight. At present, there seems to be little prospect that a combination of Afghan government, U.S., and allied forces can defeat the Taliban and other insurgent and terrorist forces, or will be defeated by them. The conflict has become a war of attrition which can drag on indefinitely and can only be ended through some form of peace negotiation, U.S. withdrawal, or the collapse of either the Afghan government or threat forces – a transition from a war of attrition to a war of exhaustion by one side.

Don’t Let Erik Prince Anywhere Near The War In Afghanistan


With more than $700 billion spent (and at least $15.5 billion outright wasted) on America’s long war in Afghanistan, it’s easy to understand why President Donald Trump might pursue unusual options to finally bring the 17-year-old conflict to a close. Allowing Erik Prince to take over the war effort should not be one of them. NBC News reported on Friday that Prince, founder of notorious private security company Blackwater and brother of current Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is once again pushing to effectively privatize the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan. Prince’s plan to take over the Forever War isn’t new. In July 2017, the New York Times reported that Prince originally developed a proposal alongside defense contractor DynCorp International CEO Stephen Feinberg for the Pentagon to rely exclusively on private contractors “at the behest” of erstwhile Trump consigliere Stephen Bannon and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Pakistan’s Economic Turmoil Threatens China’s Ambitions


“There’s no rationale for IMF tax dollars—and associated with that, American dollars that are part of the IMF funding—for those to go to bail out Chinese bondholders or China itself” warned U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about a potential IMF bailout of Pakistan, which Islamabad has contemplated requesting as it stares down another balance of payments crisis. Pompeo’s brash remarks on July 30 captured the concerns of Americans across the political spectrum about China’s increasingly assertive behavior throughout Asia. They also reflected the United States’ exhaustion with Pakistan.

The United States' Perpetual War in Afghanistan

By Tanisha M. Fazal and Sarah Kreps

In October, the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan will turn 17. The human and material costs of what has become the United States’ longest-ever war are colossal. More than 2,000 U.S. military personnel have been killed and over 20,000 have been injured. The UN estimates that nearly 20,000 Afghan civilians have been killed and another 50,000 injured since 2009 alone. The United States has spent some $877 billion on the war. The Trump administration’s recent initiative to seek direct peace talks with the Taliban—a first since the start of the war in 2001—highlights that Washington is actively looking for new ways to wind down its involvement in the conflict. But why has the U.S. intervention lasted so long in the first place?

One Belt, Many Headaches

By Phillip Orchard

As Beijing planned it, Pakistan was to be the centerpiece of its sprawling Belt and Road Initiative. Centered on what’s being called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China has pledged backing for some $62 billion in port, road, rail and other projects along a 1,700-mile (2,700-kilometer) belt connecting a deep-water port at Gwadar to Kashgar in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang. CPEC embodies Belt and Road’s grandest strategic and economic ambitions. If successful, it would open a critical trading route to the Indian Ocean, allowing China to bypass chokepoints in the Pacific. It would help modernize underdeveloped economies in remote, restive regions of China, expand China’s commercial influence, pull Pakistan more firmly into its orbit, and counterbalance India’s warming military relationship with the U.S. and its allies. 

China shifts to Iranian tankers ahead of oil import ban: report

China, the world’s largest importer of Iranian oil, is preparing for the United States to enforce sanctions reimposed on Tehran, and has shifted crude-oil cargoes to Iranian tankers, according to a report from Reuters on Monday. The oil that will now be shipped by National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) represents nearly all of China’s crude-oil imports from the country. The Donald Trump administration has warned that it is prepared to slap sanctions on China should it refuse to cut shipments. According to data from Thompson Reuters Eikon, all shipments of Iranian oil to China were carried by NITC in July, and the imports grew from the month before to 23.8 million barrels a day from 19.8 million.

Simon Draper: China’s mysterious Belt and Road Initiative


People take pictures in front of a “Golden Bridge on Silk Road” installation, set up ahead of the Belt and Road Forum in China in 2017. OPINION: If you’ve hosted any visitors from China lately, you may have felt like they were talking a mysterious new language. Conversations with Chinese guests have been increasingly peppered with the phrase the “belt and road initiative”, often shortened to BRI. The belt and road Initiative isn’t particularly new; it’s been around since 2013. And it isn’t likely to go away. It’s in the Communist Party of China’s constitution. But five years later, it’s still not getting much traction as a concept here in New Zealand. We know this because the Asia New Zealand Foundation added a question about the belt and road to the latest instalment in our Perceptions of Asia tracking survey.

Principles for managing U.S.-China competition

Ryan Hass

Enmity is not preordained. Another choice would be for both leaders to work together and establish principles for managing U.S.-China rivalry. Such an effort would not seek to stifle competition, but rather to build guardrails around the relationship so that competition could occur within accepted bounds. This, in turn, would create conditions more conducive for both sides candidly to address concerns about the actions of the other.

The World Is Turning Away China’s Cash

Shira Ovide

At the risk of understatement, it is complicated to be a Chinese company with global ambitions. The tariff tiff with the U.S. has made business challenging. China’s government tends to whipsaw between support and censure for homegrown companies embarking on asset-buying binges outside of China. And, more than ever, China’s companies are finding barriers thrown up in the developed world to their potential investments in everything from semiconductors to money transfer services.

‘We Cannot Afford This’: Malaysia Pushes Back Against China’s Vision

By Hannah Beech

KUANTAN, Malaysia — In the world’s most vital maritime chokepoint, through which much of Asian trade passes, a Chinese power company is investing in a deepwater port large enough to host an aircraft carrier. Another state-owned Chinese company is revamping a harbor along the fiercely contested South China Sea. Nearby, a rail network mostly financed by a Chinese government bank is being built to speed Chinese goods along a new Silk Road. And a Chinese developer is creating four artificial islands that could become home to nearly three-quarters of a million people and are being heavily marketed to Chinese citizens.

Soviet Collapse Echoes in China’s Belt and Road

David Fickling

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 overextended, 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.

People's Republic

When China Rules the Web Technology in Service of the State

By Adam Segal

For almost five decades, the United States has guided the growth of the Internet. From its origins as a small Pentagon program to its status as a global platform that connects more than half of the world’s population and tens of billions of devices, the Internet has long been an American project. Yet today, the United States has ceded leadership in cyberspace to China. Chinese President Xi Jinping has outlined his plans to turn China into a “cyber-superpower.” Already, more people in China have access to the Internet than in any other country, but Xi has grander plans. Through domestic regulations, technological innovation, and foreign policy, China aims to build an “impregnable” cyberdefense system, give itself a greater voice in Internet governance, foster more world-class companies, and lead the globe in advanced technologies.

Assessment of the North Korean Cyberattack on Sony Pictures

Summary: The 2014 North Korean cyberattack on Sony Pictures shocked the world into realizing that a North Korean cyber threat truly existed. Prior to 2014, what little information existed on North Korea’s cyber capabilities was largely dismissed, citing poor domestic conditions as rationale for cyber ineptitude. However, the impressive nature of the Sony attack was instrumental in changing global understanding of Kim Jong-un and his regime’s daring nature. Text: On November 24, 2014 Sony employees discovered a massive cyber breach after an image of a red skull appeared on computer screens company-wide, displaying a warning that threatened to reveal the company’s secrets. That same day, more than 7,000 employees turned on their computers to find gruesome images of the severed head of Sony’s chief executive, Michael Lynton[1]. These discoveries forced the company to shut down all computer systems, including those in international offices, until the incident was further investigated. What was first deemed nothing more than a nuisance was later revealed as a breach of international proportions. Since this incident, the world has noted the increasing prevalence of large-scale digital attacks and the dangers they pose to both private and public sector entities.

Counterterrorism Conversations

With the shift in national security priorities to near-peer competitors like China and Russia, and with the Islamic State’s (IS) loss of most of its territory in Iraq and Syria, policymakers do not discuss terrorism as frequently as they once did. While there has been a change of emphasis, there are a few conversations on terrorism that policymakers still should have with the public. This commentary suggests four topics for those necessary conversations. 

1) Terrorists almost certainly will strike the United States again. 

Making plans for a new world order

Henry Kissinger was recently asked if Donald Trump could not unintentionally become the force behind the birth of a new western order. His answer: It would be ironic but not impossible. Instead of narrowing our view across the Atlantic to the ever-changing whims of the American President, we should adopt the idea that this could be the start of something new. We can’t not hear what’s going on across the Atlantic every day via Twitter. But a tunnel view into the Oval Office distracts from the fact that America is more than Trump. “Checks and balances” work, as US courts and Congress demonstrate almost daily. The Americans are debating politics with new passion. That too is America in 2018.

Why Japan Truly Failed at Pearl Harbor (And What China May Learn From It)

by James Holmes

In short, this is a rival who seems to have learned from Yamamoto: don’t jab a sleeping giant, and if you do, don’t steel his resolve. Let him slumber until it’s late in the contest, and you may prevail. China may have learned the true lessons of Pearl Harbor. Let’s do the same—and get ready. In short, this is a rival who seems to have learned from Yamamoto: don’t jab a sleeping giant, and if you do, don’t steel his resolve. Let him slumber until it’s late in the contest, and you may prevail. China may have learned the true lessons of Pearl Harbor. Let’s do the same—and get ready. If we do, those who fell here seventy-five years ago will have rendered good service once again. As we afford our hallowed forebears the remembrance they deserve, let’s also try to learn from what transpired here seventy-five years ago, and see what it tells us about America’s future as an Asia-Pacific sea power.


Drew Shepler


In a 2013 article, Russian General Valery Gerasimov published an article, “The Value of Science Is in the Foresight: New Challenges Demand Rethinking the Forms and Methods of Carrying out Combat Operations.” Western media frequently cite this article as laying out a new Russian-specific method of hybrid warfare.[i] Labeled the “Gerasimov Doctrine” or Russian Hybrid Warfare, Western discourse has subsequently focused on debating whether “Gerasimov’s ideas represent old or new ways of war.”[ii][iii] This discourse has contributed to decision-making paralysis, as policymakers struggle to find appropriate responses for a “new type of warfare.” According to Dr. Damien Van Puyvelde, “when any threat or use of force is defined as hybrid, the term loses its value and confuses instead of clarifying.”[iv] Despite the fact that Russian hybrid actions caught the United States (U.S.) off guard, Russian hybrid warfare doctrine is not particularly innovative and is comparable to U.S. military unconventional warfare (UW) doctrine.[v] Instead of continuing to focus on defining the nature of Russian Hybrid Warfare, policymakers in the U.S. should recognize that U.S. military doctrine has already defined the principles of Russian Hybrid Warfare in U.S. UW doctrine and they should now focus on implementing a strategy of counter-unconventional warfare.

America’s Anxiety of Influence


Earlier this week, David Ignatius at the Washington Post published an interesting column ruing the decline of U.S. “influence” in the Middle East. His central theme is that U.S. “disengagement” from the region is allowing local actors to chart their own courses, and that many of them are now making bad decisions. In his view, the prospects for positive change in the region are receding and that we will all be worse off as a result. It’s a thoughtful column and worth reading. It’s also a revealing one, because it rests on one of those unspoken assumptions that are articles of faith in the U.S. foreign-policy community. Specifically, it suggests that U.S. influence is always a good thing and that its diminution (whether by accident or by design) is something to mourn. But if you’ve been paying attention to the results of U.S. policy over the past quarter-century—especially in the Middle East but also in some other places—that position may not be the hill you want to die defending.

After the Bitcoin Boom: Hard Lessons for Cryptocurrency Investors

By Nathaniel Popper and Su-Hyun Lee 

SAN FRANCISCO — Pete Roberts of Nottingham, England, was one of the many risk-takers who threw their savings into cryptocurrencies when prices were going through the roof last winter. Now, eight months later, the $23,000 he invested in several digital tokens is worth about $4,000, and he is clearheaded about what happened. “I got too caught up in the fear of missing out and trying to make a quick buck,” he said last week. “The losses have pretty much left me financially ruined.” Mr. Roberts, 28, has a lot of company. After the latest round of big price drops, many cryptocurrencies have given back all of the enormous gains they experienced last winter. The value of all outstanding digital tokens has fallen by about $600 billion, or 75 percent, since the peak in January, according to data from the website coinmarketcap.com.

No Encryption, No-Fly Rule,’ Proposed For Small Satellites

“Small satellites that have propulsion systems, but don’t have encrypted commanding systems, pose a small — but. real threat of being hacked and endangering other satellites,” according to a new report by a team of researchers from Stanford, Yale, and the University of Colorado. Jeff Foust, in an August 9, 2018 article he posted on SpaceNews.com, provided details of the recently completed study. Mr. Foust wrote that “the research by a team of graduate students, presented at the AIAA/Utah State University Conference on Small Satellites held on August 9, “recommended the space industry take steps to prevent the launch of such satellites to avoid an incident to lead to “regulatory over-reaction” by government agencies.” “We would propose a policy that, for those cubesats, and smallsats that have propulsion, the industry adopt a ‘no encryption, no-fly rule,’ said Andrew Kurzrok of Yale University.

Former head of NSA unsure about Trump’s cyber plan

By: Justin Lynch 
Source Link

The White House has not had a centralized cybersecurity strategy since John Bolton joined the Trump administration in March, Michael Hayden, the former head of the National Security Agency told Fifth Domain. Hayden said that since Bolton arrived at the White House in March, he’s "just not sure what the direction is.” “In the Bush administration and the Obama administration, I could point to something to say this is the American cyber plan and then I could argue about it. I can’t do that here yet," Hayden said. Hayden has been a regular critic of the Trump administration. Earlier this month, he signed a letter with other former intelligence officials criticizing Trump for revoking and threatening to take away security clearances from outspoken critics.

Applying Long War Theory to Insurgencies

By Scott Stewart

In contrast to conventional Western military strategists, insurgent commanders seek to prolong battles to ultimately wear down stronger opponents. There are strong parallels between what the Islamic State is currently experiencing and the situation it faced when it was a largely guerrilla movement in 2010. The Taliban might make overtures regarding negotiations, but they are unlikely to truly pursue talks because they believe they can outlast the Americans in Afghanistan.