30 August 2018

Japan-India Special Strategic Partnership Needs Added Special Robustness

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Perceptively missing and noticeable in the last one year is that the Japan-India Special Strategic & Global Partnership is progressing routinely without the fizz that should be attendant on it by two powerful Asian giants and pillars of Asian stability. This perceptiion arises from India positioning this ‘Vital Partnership’ in Indian prism of relations with China and Chinese sensitivities on India’s proximate strategic relations with Japan. Global and Asian geopolitics dictate that India should accord highest priority to add geopolitical robustness and strategic weight to solidify strategic linkages with Japan –a nation that noticeably stood by India during the Dokalam Standoff with China, in stark contrast to China which even till 2017 was indulging in military adventurism against India.

India and the geoeconomics of climate change: Global responsibility as strategic interest

Is a first version of a text that will be developed into a larger publication of an academic or policy-relevant character. The series includes publications aimed at larger audiences as well as expert audiences. As climate change progresses, it will have impacts on global politics, creating both new vulnerabilities and opportunities. Geoeconomics provides a useful analytical framework for the political implications of climate change as it shifts the focus from military force to economic means of exerting power.  This working paper looks at the geoeconomics of climate change in the case of India. It examines the ways in which India has used climate policies to gain leverage and contain threats regionally and globally. Due to its emerging power status and high vulnerability to climate impacts, India holds a key position in the global fight against climate change. 

India-Pakistan: Unclaimed Victories

August 28, 2018: The United States continues to cut military ties with Pakistan because of Pakistani refusal to shut down its support of Islamic terror groups that, in effect, do the bidding of the Pakistani military. The latest cuts include training for Pakistani officers in American military schools (alongside American and other foreign officers). Russia immediately stepped in and offered to replace the American training with equivalent Russian training. This is a major loss for Pakistan as their officers gained more useful instruction and more useful contacts (with American and other foreign officers) at the American senior schools.

Trump battles a sense of inertia in Afghanistan


A year after reversing course on a key campaign pledge and announcing that U.S. troops would stay in Afghanistan with a tweaked strategy, President Trump is faced with a war that has seen little progress since. Pentagon officials insist the strategy adopted by the Trump administration last summer is working, pointing to a three-day ceasefire earlier this year and backchannel talks with elements of the Taliban. But insurgents continue to be able to stage high-profile attacks, territorial control has remained largely unchanged and civilian deaths are hitting all-time highs 17 years into what has sometimes been called the “forever war” or “forgotten war.”

As Russia plans Afghan peace talks, Kabul questions Taliban's motives

By Pamela Constable

Kabul: Just over a week ago, Afghan and US officials hoped that after 17 years of war, the Taliban was starting down a road to peace. Despite a deadly four-day attack on the city of Ghazni, President Ashraf Ghani had offered the insurgents a second cease-fire since June, and Taliban leaders had hinted that they wanted to continue private talks held with US officials in July. Now, that optimism has all but collapsed. With the Taliban ignoring Ghani's truce offer and accepting an invitation for talks in Moscow instead, analysts said the momentum for direct negotiations has been derailed by international politics. And the intentions of insurgent leaders - who spout constant propaganda but remain invisible to the public - seem more inscrutable than ever.

Back in Power, Malaysia's Prime Minister Moves Away From China

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad will work to end his country's economic overreliance on China without leaning on the West as part of his Malay nationalist agenda. The government in Kuala Lumpur will look for alternative foreign partners to insulate itself from the intensifying competition between China and the United States. Japan will probably take on a more prominent role in Malaysia's economy and security as a result. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's first state visit to China since returning to office in May went a lot like the seven state visits he made there during his first stint in power. On the trip, which ended Aug. 21, Mahathir reaffirmed his policy toward China and agreed with Beijing on several important issues, such as accelerating regional free trade and advancing multilateral negotiations over the South China Sea. He also toured the eastern city of Hangzhou and clinched a deal with Chinese automaker Geely to allow Malaysia's national car brand, Proton, a legacy of his time as prime minister in the 1980s, to assemble and market its cars in China.

When Freedom of Expression Isn't Free: Journalism, Facebook, and Censorship in Bhutan

By Namgay Zam

On August 6, a Bhutanese journalist was sentenced to three months in prison for libel. The journalist had written a post on her personal Facebook account about a woman mistreating her 6-year-old stepdaughter. The post went viral, the police and other related agencies became involved. There were testimonies made in defense of the journalist by several parties, but the court found them to be “inadmissible.” The court verdict, besides meting out this punishment, asked the journalist to post an “apology statement” addressed to the “victim” – not the child, but the stepmother – on Facebook and to keep it for a month.

China—Not Russia—Elected Trump

by James Walker

While media and political attention are focused on Russian “meddling” in the 2016 election, attention should be sharply focused instead on the role of China in electing Trump. It is that concern that should inform American action today. China’s long-standing predatory trading policies have eaten America’s lunch, impacting most severely those who carry lunch buckets to work in America’s heartland. These predatory policies have included most prominently currency manipulation, unfair trading practices and, most damaging of all, intellectual property theft. The combination of these policies have hit the American manufacturing worker the hardest. Unemployment, decades of declining incomes and loss of dignity are the prices many of these workers have paid.

Chinese Communist Party Funds Washington Think Tanks

BY: Bill Gertz

China's Communist Party is intensifying covert influence operations in the United States that include funding Washington think tanks and coercing Chinese Americans, according to a congressional commission report. The influence operations are conducted by the United Front Work Department, a Central Committee organ that employs tens of thousands of operatives who seek to use both overt and covert operations to promote Communist Party policies. The Party's United Front strategy includes paying several Washington think tanks with the goal influencing their actions and adopting positions that support Beijing's policies.

China ‘developing electromagnetic rocket with greater fire range’

Liu Zhen

Programme’s lead scientist speaks of ‘substantial progress’ in devising a high-velocity rocket that can fly further from Tibet   China is developing the world’s first electromagnetic surface-to-surface rocket that offers greater fire range and could give its military an advantage in high-altitude regions like the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau, according to state media.  Details of the rocket system – such as its precise range and deployment schedule – remain unclear. But the programme’s lead scientist Han Junli told the state-run Science and Technology Daily that “substantial progress” had been made on the rocket. Conventional rockets rely on explosive powder for the initial push, but the new rockets will be launched using additional electromagnetic force, similar to the catapult launchers that China and the United States are developing for their next-generation aircraft carriers. The same technology is also used to develop rail guns.

Japan, Taiwan must re-evaluate how they’re intercepting Chinese threats

By: Dennis Blair 

On a recent trip to East Asia, the subject of steadily increasing Chinese maritime and air activityin the waters and airspace of Japan and Taiwan came up often. China’s navy and air force are growing in number and sophistication of platforms, and China has been sending ships and aircraft in increasing numbers through international waters around both Taiwan and Japan, through their Exclusive Economic Zones, Air Defense Identification Zones, contiguous zones, and even territorial waters and airspace. Both Japan and Taiwan interpret this Chinese activity as a threat, intercept every Chinese airplane or ship as it approaches these zones, and escort them throughout their flight or voyage. Both Taiwan and Japan publish the number and location of these Chinese activities as they occur and in statistical accounts every year.

The Problem With China's Powerful Air Force

By J. Tyler Lovell, Robert Farley

The Chinese defense industrial base is infamous for its tendency to “borrow” from foreign designs, particularly in the aerospace industry. Almost the entirety of China’s modern fighter fleet has either borrowed liberally from or directly copied foreign models. The J-10 was reputedly based on the Israeli IAI Lavi and by extension the United States’ General Dynamics F-16; the J-11 is a clone of the Russian Su-27; the JF-17 is a modern development of the Soviet MiG-21; the J-20 bears an uncanny resemblance to the F-22, and finally, the J-31 is widely believed to rely heavily on technology appropriated from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Appropriation saves China time and money on research and development, allowing it to modernize the PLAAF at a fraction of the cost of its competitors. However, the appropriation strategy remains constrained by bottleneck technologies due to lack of testing data and industrial ecology. This problem is starkly illustrated by China’s ongoing difficulty in producing a high-quality indigenous jet engine.

China’s Expansion Demands Bold Actions

By Pierce MacConaghy

U.S. strategy in the South China Sea is failing. Weak and ineffective policy has permitted Beijing to achieve near-complete dominance over the region—all without firing a single shot. When China dredged sand from the ocean and claimed 3,200 acres from the sea, the United States issued carefully worded statements. When Beijing transformed its reefs into military outposts complete with runways, underground bunkers, and missile shelters, the U.S. Navy conducted Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs)—sailing one or two ships by the islands. When China deployed electronic jammers, surface-to-air, and anti-ship missiles, the United States disinvited China from a naval exercise. Washington’s symbolic actions have done nothing to stem Beijing’s expansion.

China steps up courting of Africa ahead of summit


BEIJING -- China is expanding its influence campaign in Africa as it prepares to host a summit with leaders from the continent, ready to offer economic assistance as part of its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation is scheduled for Sept. 3 and Sept. 4 in Beijing, with leaders from more than 50 African countries expected to attend. The summit is aimed at bringing China and Africa closer and building a shared destiny, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a press briefing on Aug. 22. The forum will serve to create a new chapter connecting the Belt and Road initiative with Africa's development, Wang added, revealing plans to announce economic assistance.

How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port

By Maria Abi-Habib

HAMBANTOTA, Sri Lanka — Every time Sri Lanka’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, turned to his Chinese allies for loans and assistance with an ambitious port project, the answer was yes. Yes, though feasibility studies said the port wouldn’t work. Yes, though other frequent lenders like India had refused. Yes, though Sri Lanka’s debt was ballooning rapidly under Mr. Rajapaksa. Over years of construction and renegotiation with China Harbor Engineering Company, one of Beijing’s largest state-owned enterprises, the Hambantota Port Development Project distinguished itself mostly by failing, as predicted. With tens of thousands of ships passing by along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the port drew only 34 ships in 2012.

Burden-Sharing within NATO: Facts from Germany for the Current Debate

By Rachel Epstein, Donald Abenheim and Marc-André Walther

Professor Rachel Epstein’s interview with Professor Donald Abenheim of the Naval Postgraduate School and Lieutenant Colonel (General Staff) Marc-André Walther of the German Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Hamburg. 1. The President of the United States had some tough words for America’s NATO’s allies at the recent summit in Brussels. Is this sort of brinkmanship normal in the history of the Alliance? Burden sharing is often described by experts as the problem older than the alliance itself. The tasks of mutual aid and self-help for collective defense in Article III of the Washington Treaty lie entangled in the domestic politics among allies. In the present case, the 2% of GDP spending goal pivots on US and German internal policymaking. The last time alliance cohesion manifested itself with this vitriol was in the 2011 NATO air campaign in Libya, to say nothing of the Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz “New Europe/Old Europe” episode in 2002-2003 prelude to the Iraq War, where a divergence of policy and strategy tore open the wound in allied ministries and editorial pages left over from the 1999 NATO Kosovo campaign.

How Will ‘Defense Reform 2.0’ Change South Korea’s Defense?

By Sungyoung Jang

On July 27, South Korea’s Defense Minister Song Young-moo briefed President Moon Jae-in on “Defense Reform 2.0,” an expansive initiative to restructure and modernize Korea’s defense. The Ministry of National Defense (MND) has released seven proposals on specific agendas, most recently announcing plans to renovate military housing and facilities on August 16. The government is highly invested in military reform, but the array of modernization plans and restructuring raises questions about its financial feasibility and efficacy in improving Korea’s defense posture.

Russia’s Favorite Mercenaries

by Neil Hauer 

In Russia, journalism is far from the safest profession—even more so when the subject of investigation happens to be a private mercenary army engaged in multiple active conflicts abroad. On July 30, three Russian journalists were killedin the Central African Republic (CAR) while investigating a particularly dangerous topic: the Russian private military company Wagner, a mercenary outfit highly active in the Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts. At least two other Russian journalists have also suffered while researching Wagner, including Maxim Borodin, who suddenly fell to his death from a balcony in Yekaterinburg in April, and Denis Korotkov, a Saint Petersburg journalist forced into hiding after receiving death threats owing to his work on Wagner. There are now indications that Wagner forces may be present with both rebels and government forces in CAR. A unit of the group, filmed by the recently deceased journalists, was operating in rebel-held territory—contrary to Moscow’s assertions that Russian forces were present only to assist CAR authorities.

How Turkey Dumbed Itself Down


For most of the 2000s, Turkey was one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The country’s ambitions soared even higher than its achievements: Ankara openly aspired to be the world’s 10th-largest market with a $2 trillion economy, exports reaching $500 billion, and a per capita income of $25,000. Every buzzword that global financial elites invented for their favorite combination of high-potential emerging markets—such as Goldman Sachs’s MINT and the Economist Intelligence Unit’s CIVETS—had a T for Turkey.

How the U.S. Has ‘Learned a Lot’ About Russian Capabilities in Syria

by Aaron Mehta

As Russian and American forces have settled into Syria, analysts and experts have noticed a clear pattern from the Russian forces. Moscow is using Syria as both a test bed for its newest capabilities and as an opportunity to see American equipment such as the F-22 fighter jet up close. It’s a development that has raised concerns that Moscow may be gaining a military edge over the U.S. from its experiences in the region. The good news for America’s military? It’s doing the same thing. “Certainly, we’ve learned a lot about some of the capabilities that the Russians have brought to Syria,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the outgoing head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, has told Defense News. “Could we have learned more? There are probably some areas out there that we need to make sure we watch.

Russian Ground-Launched Non-strategic Nuclear Weapons

By Mark B. Schneider

Russia maintains the largest force of ground-launched non-strategic or tactical nuclear weapons in the world. Even more striking is the fact that essentially 100% of these weapons violate Russian arms control commitments. According to the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), “Russia continues to violate a series of arms control treaties and commitments, the most significant being the INF Treaty. In a broader context, Russia is either rejecting or avoiding its obligations and commitments under numerous agreements, including…the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives.”[1] The 1988 INF Treaty prohibits ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500-km and Russian commitments under the 1991-1992 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives include, among other things, the complete elimination of short-range ground-launched nuclear missiles of less than INF range, nuclear artillery and nuclear land-mines.[2] Russian now has a monopoly on these weapons because the U.S. honored its commitments to dismantle these weapons. In 2014, the Obama administration concluded, “…that the Russian Federation was in violation of its obligations under the INF Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles.”[3] This missile type is now operational.[4]

Iran and Syria sign deal for military cooperation

Syrian President Bashar al Assad meets with Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami in Damascus,Syria in this handout picture provided by Syrian Arab News Agency on August 26, 2018. Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami traveled to Damascus on Sunday for a two-day visit, meeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and senior military officials, Tasnim reported. Syrian President Bashar al Assad meets with Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami in Damascus,Syria in this handout picture provided by Syrian Arab News Agency on August 26, 2018. 

Israel Buys Rockets 'That Can Reach Anywhere in the Middle East'

Yaniv Kubovich 

The Defense Ministry signed a deal with Israel Military Industries for the purchase of the rockets, estimated to cost hundreds of millions of shekels. The new rockets have innovative technology that allow them high accuracy, the defense ministry said.  This purchase is the first since Lieberman instructed the Israel Defense Forces in February to establish a new force of ground-to-ground missiles with a range of up to 300 kilometers.

Information Warfare: A Lie Too Far In Iran

August 23, 2018: Since 2017 there have been more and more nationwide anti-government demonstrations in Iran, with Iranians calling for their leaders (Islamic clerics running a religious dictatorship) to quit and allow for a real democracy. The protestors call for an end to the corruption (the families of senior clerics live visibly luxurious lives) and the lies. This nationwide unrest has been brewing for some time. The clerics thought they had it fixed with the 2015 treaty that lifted the sanctions. They failed to note that when life did not improve, as long promised after the sanctions were lifted in 2015 more and more Iranians realized that their continued poverty made it clear that the government lies included far more than economic ones and promises to reduce corruption.

A Big Choice for Big Tech Share Data or Suffer the Consequences

By Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Thomas Ramge

Over the last two decades, a few technology giants have come to dominate digital markets. Google performs about nine out of every ten Internet searches worldwide. Facebook, the world’s leading social media platform, has well over two billion users. Together, the two companies have seized well over half of the online advertising market. Apple, originally a computer manufacturer, now runs the world’s largest mobile app store in terms of revenue, with about 80 percent of the market, and the second-largest music streaming business, approaching a third of the market. And Amazon captures close to every other dollar spent online in the United States. These companies are what the economist David Autor calls “superstar firms,” able to gain huge market shares and translate their market power into enormous profits.

Artificial Intelligence Is Now a Pentagon Priority. Will Silicon Valley Help?

By Cade Metz

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — In a May memo to President Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis implored him to create a national strategy for artificial intelligence. Mr. Mattis argued that the United States was not keeping pace with the ambitious plans of China and other countries. With a final flourish, he quoted a recent magazine article by Henry A. Kissinger, the former secretary of state, and called for a presidential commission capable of “inspiring a whole of country effort that will ensure the U.S. is a leader not just in matters of defense but in the broader ‘transformation of the human condition.’” Mr. Mattis included a copy of Mr. Kissinger’s article with his four-paragraph note.

The Future of Warfare is Irregular

by Seth Jones – The National Interest

Among the Trump administration’s most significant national security decisions has been the shift from counterterrorism to inter-state competition. The United States is increasingly engaging in global rivalry with “revisionist” states like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. To do this well, some U.S. policymakers have argued that the United States needs to develop capabilities to fight—and win—conventional and possibly even nuclear wars against these states if deterrence fails. As the National Defense Strategy argues, “The surest way to prevent war is to be prepared to win one. Doing so requires a competitive approach to force development and a consistent, multiyear investment to restore warfighting readiness and field a lethal force.”


Nilanthan Niruthan

For the first time in human history, we live in an age where there are no means to predict the technology dictating life a mere few years from now. Innovations in several fields like medicine, communication and information happen at such a rapid pace that the lifestyle of an average human being today is likely to be unrecognizable from that of someone a decade down the line. The most concerning implication of this phenomenon is in warfare, where policymakers today are already having to confront themselves with emerging technologies that will shake the very roots of how we wage war. The issue of biological enhancement is one of the biggest concerns. Many major powers in the international arena are rapidly developing means to give their soldiers capabilities that transcend human boundaries.

Why States are Turning to Proxy War

by Daniel Byman

The Syrian Civil War is the world’s bloodiest conflict, and much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Syria’s neighbors and the world’s major powers. So far, France, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the uae, the United Kingdom and of course the United States have all intervened—and this long list of countries excludes the dozens of other coalition members that back U.S. efforts or otherwise played smaller roles. These states have bombed their enemies in Syria, provided money, arms and training to allied government or rebel groups, offered a safe haven to fighters, pressed their preferred cause at international fora like the United Nations, and otherwise used their power to help a local group that acts as a proxy for their interests.

The International Army Games Are Decadent and Depraved


Belarus' crew on a T-72B3 battle tank competes in a final relay race of the tank biathlon competition at the International Army Games in Alabino, Moscow region, on Aug. 11. The familiar roar of the crowd on the bleachers as the home team surges to take the lead. The excited, inciting yammer of the commentator. The big screens showing details and stats. Just another sporting event. Only this time, the team comprises three Russian soldiers crewing a T-72B3 in the finals of the tank biathlon against rivals from China, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. Russia’s successful blending of sport, warfare, soft power, and spectacle is a high-octane form of public entertainment. But it’s also much more than that. It opens an important window into how the Kremlin sees its military force as its Swiss army knife, a tool for all occasions.