28 August 2018

What’s Next for India’s New Space Ambitions?

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

On August 15, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in his Independence Day speech that India will undertake its first manned space mission by 2022. He promised that as India celebrates its 75th year of its independence, there will be an Indian astronaut aboard Gaganyaan, as the Indian manned space vehicle is named, “unfurl[ing] the Tricolor in space.” The feat would not be without significance for India. A successful mission will make India the fourth country to put humans into space. The only Indian who has been to space is Rakesh Sharma, an Indian Air Force pilot, who flew on a Soyuz T-11 for almost eight days in 1984.

Reshaping India-United States Defense Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

It is time for the United States to recognize that the Indian Ocean is the next front line of world geopolitics and the emerging arena for a new “great game.” China’s aggressive inroads into the Indian Ocean through military bases, port leasing, and predatory economics present an imminent strategic challenge, as these advances will result in an Indo-Pacific that is less free, less open, less secure, and less prosperous for the United States and India.
In the midst of a global power flux, revival of strategic competition, rampant regional rivalries, and concerns about the future of a liberal order, India and the United States are well positioned to shape the future together in ways that sustain the interests of both countries.

One year after Doklam standoff: Will Bhutan increase deployment to check activities of Chinese military?

The Standing Committee on external affairs, headed by Shashi Tharoor, former minister of state, was recently in the news. After several hearings on the Doklam episode, some of its conclusions were leaked to the media. Of course, one could ask: Are the MPs not under oath when they get confidential briefings? But it is perhaps too much to expect from some of the people’s representatives. Remember, on June 16 last year, Indian and Chinese troops faced each other for 73 days after India decided to stop the construction of a road on Bhutanese territory, near the tri-junction between India, China and Bhutan.

Chinese military

Will Tibet ever find her soul again? (forthcoming)

The first volume of the India Tibet Relations (1947-1962) left us soon after the signature of 17-Point Agreement in May 1951. The Tibetan delegates had no alternative but to accept that the “the Tibetan people shall return to the family of the Motherland of the People's Republic of China” and “drive out imperialist aggressive forces from Tibet.” (Article I) Ngabo Ngawang Jigme and his colleagues further agreed that “The local government of Tibet shall actively assist the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to enter Tibet and consolidate the national defenses.” (Article II) One can ask: who was this defence consolidation against?
Very few realized then that it could only be against India, as the Hindi-Chini-Bhai-Bhai honeymoon between Delhi and Beijing had just started; over the next months and years, the Indian officials posted on the Roof of the World would discover the true objectives of the Communists. But during the first months, nobody in Delhi or the Embassy in Beijing was ready to listen to them.

Trump’s Disastrous Plan to Increase Contracting in Afghanistan

By Noah Coburn

Troubling reports emerged last week that the Trump administration is continuing to consider moving to a strategy in Afghanistan more dependent on private security contractors. Reportedly encouraged by a proposal floated by Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, this would continue the process of replacing U.S. military personnel with private contractors paid to fight for the United States. There are already more U.S. Department of Defense contractors than members of the U.S. military in Afghanistan, and the continued privatization of warfare would allow increased opportunities for nepotism and corruption, lower accountability, and encourage human rights abuses through trafficking, all while making a peaceful end to the war less likely.

Outsourcing the Afghan War

By Daniel L. Davis

Last Friday, NBC News reported that President Trump is seriously considering allowing Erik Prince, founder of the discredited guns-for-hire Blackwater Corporation, to form a new mercenary group to replace the U.S. military and continue the war in Afghanistan. But continuing the war under any auspices is bad for American interests. The war should instead be ended as rapidly as possible. Prince belittled the Pentagon for trying to solve the Afghan problem with conventional troops—a criticism, incidentally, with which I partially agree—while arguing his plan to use a much smaller footprint focused on Special Operations forces would instead succeed. To buttress his claim, he repeatedly cited the success of the initial 2001-2002 military operation that featured small U.S. cells cooperating with local Afghan forces. His endorsement of such a plan exposes a remarkable lack of understanding of how different the strategic, operational, and tactical situation is today.

A Test for Privatization in Afghanistan

Gary Anderson

Erik Prince, the former CEO of Blackwater has been pushing the privatization of the Afghan war as an alternative to the present strategy of gradually completing the Afghanization of the war. This is obviously a very controversial proposal, but it is one that at least merits some consideration. There is one remote area of Afghanistan that might well serve as a laboratory for privatization - the provision of construction security for the Ring Road in the remote northwestern region. Completing of the road was the most wicked problem I faced in my time in country, and the situation has not improved since I left in 2012.

Re-shaping India-US Defense Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

By Hemant Krishan Singh and Richard M. Rossow

It is time for the United States to recognize that the Indian Ocean is the next front line of world geopolitics and the emerging arena for a new “great game.” China’s aggressive inroads into the Indian Ocean through military bases, port leasing, and predatory economics present an imminent strategic challenge, as these advances will result in an Indo-Pacific that is less free, less open, less secure, and less prosperous for the United States and India. In the midst of a global power flux, revival of strategic competition, rampant regional rivalries, and concerns about the future of a liberal order, India and the United States are well positioned to shape the future together in ways that sustain the interests of both countries.

How Real Is the Chinese Threat to the United States?

By Charles V. Peña

According to the Pentagon’s “Annual Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” the Chinese military “has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against U.S. and allied targets.” Media outlets have issued similar reports, though under slightly misleading headlines, that China is training pilots to strike the U.S. homeland. But given that the Trump administration’s new National Defense Strategy portrays China in menacing terms — wanting to re-shape the world consistent with its authoritarian model and achieve global preeminence — how worried should we be about this latest development in Chinese military capability?

China Wants More Chinese to Work in International Organizations

By Wei Liu

Being an international civil servant is the career dream of many young people around the world, and China is no exception. But how can a young, talented Chinese citizen find a job in an international organization? Traditionally, there were two channels. Let’s take an international organization within the UN system as example. If the Chinese job seeker lived outside mainland China, either working or studying, she, as a Chinese citizen, could apply for the job by following the normal application procedures and submitting her application directly to the target organization. After being hired, she would be an international civil servant with a Chinese passport. This channel is no different from that used by job seekers from most other countries.

The Chinese See Trade War as 'Existential,' and They're Right

Gordon Chang

“The U.S. and China are now in the most dangerous period in the past 40 years,” Lu Xiang of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told Bloomberg. “Mr. Trump put a knife on our neck. We will never surrender.” In Beijing, what Americans call a “trade war” is now considered an existential struggle, an attitude revealing fault lines in Chinese political circles. As a result, no one should expect a quick settlement of the dispute.

China ‘colonising smaller countries by lending them massive amounts of money they can never repay in bid for world domination’

By Gerard du Cann

CHINA is "colonising" smaller countries by lending them massive amounts of money they can never repay, it's been claimed. The country is accused of leveraging massive loans it holds over small states worldwide to snatch assets and increase its military footprint. 7Countries around the world owe huge sums to President Xi Jinping's China Developing countries from Pakistan to Djibouti, the Maldives to Fiji, all owe huge amounts to China. Already there are examples of defaulters being pressured into surrendering control of assets or allowing military bases on their land. Some are calling it "debt-trap diplomacy" or "debt colonialism" - offering enticing loans to countries unable to repay, and then demanding concessions when they default.

Online Propaganda Builds Islamic State Brand in the Face of Military Losses

by Sune Engel Rasmussen 

Islamic State has lost most of the territory it once held in Syria and Iraq. It is vying for survival with other, sometimes stronger, extremist groups. But one sphere where Islamic State still reigns supreme among terrorists is in cyberspace. The group’s vast online presence is a critical recruitment and marketing tool that has helped it build a brutish brand using propaganda and sometimes false claims. Maintaining the perception that Islamic State can shape the actions of loyalists has become all the more important as its territorial control, or self-declared caliphate, has almost completely collapsed. Last October, the group claimed to have inspired the Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, who killed 59 people attending a country-music concert. A month earlier, Islamic State said it had planted a bomb on a U.K.-bound flight that was held in Paris for what officials called a “direct security threat.” Authorities in both cases rebuffed the group’s assertions…

It's Time to Stop Talking About Terrorists As If They're Diabolical Geniuses

by Gregory D. Johnsen 

… He has been called al-Qaeda’s “master bombmaker” and an “evil genius.” He is the reason we pass through body scanners at the airport, and why laptops were banned on several international flights last year. In 2013, Time magazine labeled him “the most dangerous terrorist in the world,” and this week the United States said it is confident that he is now dead. But Asiri has been declared dead before. In 2011, the United States said that he was killed in the same drone strike that took out Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American radical imam; in 2013 he was said to be seriously wounded, and in 2014 he was dead again

Will ISIS Make Up For Lost Territory Virtually?

By Mark Pomerleau

Despite the physical gains made against ISIS over the past several months, one top military leader believes the group will try to “resurge” in the virtual space. “Although the physical caliphate significantly has been reduced, what we think that will cause them to do is increase that virtual caliphate,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, commander of Army Cyber Command, told reporters during a media roundtable in July. The military, and specifically the anti-ISIS cyber offensive called Joint Task Force-Ares he commands for U.S. Cyber Command, has not seen a reduction in business, Fogarty explained. Rather, the force has had to look globally to understand where ISIS is moving its operations as it loses its physical sanctuaries it once held in Iraq and Syria.

Report to Congress on Iran’s Threats, the Strait of Hormuz, and Oil Markets

Source Link

The following is the Aug. 6, 2018 Congressional Research Service Report, Iran’s Threats, the Strait of Hormuz, and Oil Markets: In Brief. The exchanges of threats between members of the governments of Iran and the United States, including the presidents of both countries, have again raised the specter of an interruption of shipping through the Strait of Hormuz (the Strait), a key waterway for the transit of oil and natural gas to world markets. In the first half of 2018, approximately 18 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and condensate, almost 4 million bpd of petroleum products, and over 300 million cubic meters per day in liquefied natural gas (LNG) exited the Strait. Iran accounted for about 10% of oil and 0% of the natural gas through the Strait. In a speech on July 22, Iranian President Rouhani stated, “We are the…guarantor of security of the waterway of the region throughout the history. Don’t play with the lion’s tail; you will regret it.”

The New Arab Order Power and Violence in Today's Middle East

By Marc Lynch

In 2011, millions of citizens across the Arab world took to the streets. Popular uprisings from Tunis to Cairo promised to topple autocracies and usher in democratic reforms. For a moment, it looked as if the old Middle Eastern order was coming to an end and a new and better one was taking its place. But things quickly fell apart. Some states collapsed under the pressure and devolved into civil war; others found ways to muddle through and regain control over their societies. Seven years later, those early hopes for a fundamental, positive shift in Middle Eastern politics appear to have been profoundly misplaced. 

The European Union: Divided on Brexit

September is approaching, and that means kids are returning to school, the leaves are changing in the Northern Hemisphere, and Europe is returning from vacation. There is much to be done, especially as it pertains to Brexit talks. Brussels announced this week that it expects to hold an emergency summit in November to wrap up talks. To mark this last sprint to the finish line, we’ve divided EU member states into three groups. The first is made of countries that have individual issues with the United Kingdom that necessitate separate negotiations or even, in the case of Ireland, a de facto veto on whatever deal is reached. The second group consists of countries that have broken ranks with the EU, including Denmark, which supports the agreement reached at Chequers, even though the EU does not, and Italy, which has criticized the EU for attempting to “swindle” London. Last are the majority of EU countries, which are thus far in lock step with Brussels on negotiations. 

Blockchain: Why U.S Technological and Financial Dominance is at Stake

by Scott Nelson

From a global monetary perspective, the emergence of cryptocurrency as a functioning measure of value globally will have broad implications for the Bretton Woods system. The past twelve months have proven to be a banner year for blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The technology became a household name and the subject of breathless news coverage. Capital formation through so-called initial coin offerings (ICOs) approached $16 billion, surpassing traditional venture capital. A rogue nation-state created its own cryptocurrency to avoid sanctions, and the price of Bitcoin increased by nearly 1,000 percent to become arguably the largest financial bubble in the history of human civilization.

Hocus pocus economics in Venezuela

NICOLÁS MADURO calls it “a really impressive magic formula”. His paquetazo rojo (big red package) features a new currency that lops five zeroes off the nearly worthless bolívar, a sharp increase in the price of fuel and a rise in the minimum wage of more than 3,000%. Forget magic. The president’s formula, even with some welcome new bits of realism, will almost certainly fail to rescue Venezuelans from their economic agony. Venezuela has the world’s worst-performing economy among countries not at war. GDP fell by more than a third between 2013 and 2017. Inflation could pass a million per cent this year, says the IMF. The country with the world’s largest oil reserves cannot import enough food and medicine. Water shortages and blackouts plague cities. More than 2m Venezuelans have fled, unsettling neighbours (see article).

The Death of the Nation-State Was Greatly Exaggerated


The demise of the Middle East’s state system was beyond question. Libya did not survive Barack Obama’s decision to unseat Muammar Gaddafi. The Islamic State was knocking on Baghdad’s doors, and Syria’s Assad controlled far less than one half of his country. That the old territorial order of nation-states in the heart of the Middle East—the map created by the British-French agreement to carve up the corpse of the Ottoman empire after its defeat in World War I—had become an artifact of history was taken for granted.

High Time for Europe to Wake Up

By Meghnad Desai

Western European countries were so elated by the Franco-German rapprochement after 1945 that they have the delusion of living in some sort of post-Kantian era of Universal Peace. Europe's military weakness has been obvious to everyone else except the leaders of the EU themselves. Europe's defense challenges will not come so much from Russia as from the Mediterranean and the Middle East. it will now have to spend serious money on defense. Donald Trump has been treated in Europe as a figure of fun and disrespect, if not one deserving outright contempt. The U.S. President is certainly determined on refashioning U.S. defense policy as well as the country’s trade policy. In pursuing those twin goals, he enjoys a level of popular support that extends well beyond his base in the Republican Party.

America Needs the Muhammad Ali Doctrine


Sonny Liston lies out for the count after being KO'd in the first round of his return title fight by world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, Lewiston, Maine, May 25, 1965. It’s tempting to spend all one’s time commenting on the acrid stench emanating from the Trump administration—which increasingly seems like something out of a Carl Hiaasen novel—but I’m going to resist the urge and focus on grand strategy instead. Last week, I wrote about the foreign-policy elite’s tendency to view influence as an end in itself, instead of seeing it simply as a means to accomplish some desired state of affairs. This week, I want to suggest that giving up influence and sticking somebody else with a costly burden can sometimes be the epitome of strategic wisdom.

Russia´s Return to the Middle East: Building Sandcastles?

The eleven essays in this publication explore how Russia has expanded its footprint in the Middle East and North Africa over the last decade, what is driving Moscow’s return to the region, the sustainability of this engagement and more. To do so, the essays focus on 1) Russia’s approaches to the Middle East in the military, arms sales, energy and economic spheres; 2) Russia’s relations with Syria, Israel, Turkey, Iran, North Africa and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); and 3) Moscow’s military campaign against the so-called Islamic State.


Russia Isn’t The Only US Foe That’s Learned To Exploit American Social Media


It’s not the endorsement Facebook, Twitter or Google wants.

But the U.S.’s geopolitical adversaries appear to be in agreement: Silicon Valley’s biggest social media companies provide some of the best tools for spreading propaganda. After months of attention paid to Russia’s influence campaign, Facebook revealed Tuesday that Iran has spent years surreptitiously promoting its interests through inauthentic accounts and pages. The effort, which started five years before Donald Trump was elected president, consisted of three campaigns that masked Iranian authorities as ordinary citizens, independent news organizations and civil society groups. Facebook said the fake Iranian accounts and pages garnered close to 1 million followers.

Hope Fades in South Africa

When South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, was sworn into office in February, there was hope that he would open a new chapter in South African politics and address some of the country’s structural economic problems. But that hope is beginning to fade. The government is reportedly considering providing a bailout worth 59 billion rand ($4.1 billion) to several South African state-owned enterprises, in addition to another proposed assistance program worth 43 billion rand. Unsurprisingly, this has raised concerns about the government’s financial position. Several SOEs, including the South African National Roads Agency, Eskom (an energy company that provides 90 percent of the country’s power) and South African Airways, have been struggling financially for years. The South African Post Office, which has recently taken over responsibility from the South Africa Social Security Agency for disbursing social security payments to 17 million citizens, may also need government assistance.

Implications of Web 3.0

A change is coming to the internet as we know it today. In fact, the shift may already be underway with the advent of cryptoassets. In Web 1.0 consumers accessed the web through dial-up modems and read information on static websites. Users, both consumer and enterprise alike, had to settle for read-only websites and subpar shopping cart experiences. While laughable today, it was the dawn of the information age. We have seen what information access can do to societies. The Gutenberg printing press produced books en masse and disseminated information at the speed physical distribution. With Web 1.0, information exchanged between two parties at the speed of 56 kbit/s, the bandwidth enabled by consumer grade modems at the time. An average 2 gigabyte film would take a little over 85 days to download back then. We’ve come a long way since. The internet today, broadly referred to as Web 2.0, allows users to interact with web services such as Facebook or Google from a range of devices including mobile phones, laptops, tablets, and home IoT devices. But even at the beginning of Web 2.0, user interfaces did not have the spit and polish of today’s services nor could you access your social media profile from a handheld device.

Intelligent Enterprise Unleashed

Five technology trends are upping the game and allowing companies to tap into the powerful potential of intelligent enterprise, creating new business opportunities and helping to change the world as we know it. Leading companies are improving the way we live with new products and services that will become indispensable in the future. Business is getting personal. Leaders must shift their mindsets and business models to focus on forging strong, trusted relationships with partners, customers, employees, governments, and more.

It’s A Big Deal: An Officer Grades The Army Staff College And Its Leadership


Editor’s note: The Long March will be closed for inventory the month of August. We regret any inconvenience this causes our loyal customers. In an effort to keep you reasonably content and focussed, we are offering re-runs of some of the best columns of the year. We value your custom and hope you will stick around for . . . the Long March. I have spent the past year being graded, evaluated, and assessed as a student at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC). After graduating and reflecting over the past year, I will now grade, evaluate, and assess CGSC. You will find that I am extremely candid and pride myself in speaking my mind. If you are offended by this, then I recommend you stop reading now.

What will the cyber training platform look like? Good question.

By: Mark Pomerleau  

There is currently no set vision for the keystone training range joint coming to cyberwarriors, and that’s OK, according to the Army. The Army was designated as the executive agent for all cyber mission force personnel across the joint force on a program known as the persistent cyber training environment, or PCTE. Contracts have been awarded on the first wave of prototypes for the Department of Defensive's Persistent Cyber Training Environment. PCTE will serve a critical need for CMF personnel, as they currently don’t have a place on par with facilities like the Army’s National Training Center where they can conduct individual training, collective training or mission rehearsal.