3 September 2018

India’s Island Diplomacy: Building an Indian Ocean Security Architecture

By Arunima Gupta

With global power dynamics shifting from West to East, regional powers, namely China and India, have shifted focus to an ocean-based approach in determining geostrategies and foreign relations. The Indian Ocean, which facilitates a significant share of world trade and serves as an economic lifeline for over 2 billion people, has become a geopolitical hotbed. The Straits of Malacca in the east and Hormuz in the west are some of the most strategic choke points in this region, which hosts 64 percent of the world’s oil trade and movement of half of the world’s carrier ships. The availability of 40 percent of the world’s offshore petroleum, mineral deposits, and extremely diverse marine ecosystem, further makes the Indian Ocean region (IOR) important for economic and geopolitical interests.

Addressing FATF's concerns is in Pakistan's own best interest: Finance Minister Asad Umar

Newly appointed Finance Minister Asad Umar on Friday told the Senate that addressing the deficiencies identified by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is in Pakistan's own best interest, and that he views the issue as "more an opportunity than a challenge". In June 2018, the FATF — an international terrorism financing watchdog — had demoted Pakistan to its grey list, putting the country just one step away from its dreaded blacklist, which brings with it international sanctions and economic repercussions among other things.The finance minister, while briefing the Senate over the issue today, alleviated the house's concerns, saying: "We have even been on the grey list twice. It is not like this would suddenly result in trade or banking sanctions for us. But it clearly also is a negative signal, especially for a country that has such a severe current account deficit. So you obviously want to avoid this.

Farcical Elections in Maldives with a Tyrant in-charge!

By R.M. Panda

A tyrant President who has put in every possible contestant in jail or driven into exile- a person accused of many corruption cases involving millions of dollars- one who has mocked the human rights of the nation, controlling all the administrative apparatus to silence his political opponents, is set to contest the next General Elections for President in Maldives. Can any-one expect a fair election and that too when even the Press is muzzled? Is there any need either to predict the Winner?

Using Police as a political Tool

The Crackdown on Uighurs Has Been China’s Worst-Kept Secret for Years

Benjamin Wilhelm

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR’s newsletter and engagement editor, Benjamin Wilhelm, curates the top news and analysis from China written by the experts who follow it.
The repression of China’s Uighur ethnic minority has been Beijing’s worst-kept secret for years. There have been plenty of reports of crackdowns in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China, with this 2012 briefing from WPR just one example. More recently, details of an emerging surveillance state in Xinjiang have been filling Western media outlets. But despite the available information, China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims has largely remained off the international agenda. ...

Strategic implications of China’s Belt and Road Initiative too big to ignore

James Bowen

Now five years into its existence, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) appears to be attracting both new supporters and opponents on a daily basis. Included among the former is Papua New Guinea, which in June joined more than 70 countries Beijing already counts as formal participants in a plan whose centrepiece is potentially trillions of dollars’ worth of new infrastructure investment. In the latter category it now seems safe to locate the governments of Australia, the United States and Japan, which last month backed their often oblique but persistent criticisms of the plan by launching their own Indo-Pacific infrastructure drive.

Aso to visit Beijing for finance dialogue

Wednesday, August 29, 22:14The finance ministers of Japan and China will meet in Beijing to discuss strengthening financial cooperation. The first finance dialogue between the 2 countries to be held in a year is to take place on Friday. Taro Aso will travel to Beijing the day before. Aso and top officials of his ministry are expected to hold talks with their Chinese counterparts, led by Finance Minister Liu Kun.  The 2 sides will likely discuss resumption of a currency swap line during a financial crisis. The facility expired 5 years ago.

How a Tweet Made Enemies of Saudi Arabia and Canada: Applying the Hofstede Theory to Geopolitics

By Ryan Bohl

One way to understand Saudi Arabia and Canada's recent diplomatic dispute is to apply the Hofstede cultural dimensions theory. These cultural dimensions describe national values that contribute to economic, political and diplomatic actions. Even strategic allies are not immune to these occasional disputes, as all states face a permanent pressure to defend their national values.  Over the past few weeks, a single tweet by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has spiraled into a massive diplomatic clash between Canada and Saudi Arabia. In the Aug. 2 tweet, Freeland calls for the release of two jailed Saudi activists, Raif and Samar Badawi. Canadian officials over the years have often expressed public concern about Saudi Arabia's approach to human rights, but although the Saudi government has typically brushed off the critiques with no action, this one tweet at this one time has prompted Riyadh to respond with a range of harsh diplomatic and economic measures.

The Kurds Once Again Face American Abandonment


Once again, a Kurdish ally of the United States has no idea where it stands with Washington. Since 2014, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) has received arms and military advice from the United States, and proved instrumental in the campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. But with the Trump administration signaling its intention to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, the YPG suddenly faces an uncertain future. Hedging its bets, the YPG has twice sent a delegation to Damascus over the past month to start negotiations over a possible transition in northeast Syria. But the regime, on the verge of victory in Syria’s seven-year civil war, has proven inflexible. 

The Return of U.S. Sanctions on Iran: What to Know

Source Link

The United States has reimposed sanctions on Iran that it lifted just two years ago. President Donald J. Trump withdrew from the multilateral deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), for “disastrous flaws” that he said posed a security threat. The return of U.S. sanctions is intended to restrain Iran’s behavior beyond nuclear controls but runs the risk of reviving a program to develop atomic weapons, experts say.

What's Happening?

Wars killed 5 million African children over 20 years, says study

Children were deprived of clean water and basic healthcare in armed conflicts, leading to preventable deaths, a study showed. Conflicts accounted for seven percent of all child deaths in Africa. A new study published on Friday found that as many as five million children in Africa under the age of five died as a result of armed conflict between 1995 and 2015. Approximately three million of them were infants aged 12 months or younger. The research was carried out by scientists and published in The Lancet medical journal. The analysis showed that children died from preventable diseases, as armed conflict deprived them of access to clean water and basic healthcare.

ISIS Makes a Comeback—as Trump Opts to Stay in Syria

By Robin Wright

In April, President Trump vowed to bring American troops home from Syria. “I want to get out,” he said during a press conference. The United States had spent trillions of dollars in the Middle East over the past seventeen years, he complained. “We get nothing—nothing out of it.” He called it “a horrible thing.” The United States had been “very successful against isis,” he said, “but sometimes it’s time to come back home.” By then, ninety-five per cent of the isis pseudo-caliphate in Syria and Iraq—once the size of Indiana—had been liberated. U.S. officials claimed that tens of thousands of isis fighters had been killed; a residual force, no more than three thousand strong, was isolated in two small pockets of Syria near the Iraqi border. The goal was to get the two thousand U.S. troops, pivotal in providing strategy and intelligence to the Syrian rebels fighting isis, out in the early fall.

Turkey Looks for Ways Around the U.S. Sanctions on Iran

As it reinstates sanctions on Iran, the United States will try to close loopholes in the measures that Tehran has previously exploited to make it more difficult for other countries such as Turkey to continue trading with the Islamic republic. The currency and debt crises facing the Turkish economy will make banks and companies reluctant to risk defying the measures and incurring the associated costs. The Turkish administration's desire to challenge the United States on sanctions and tariffs won't outweigh these concerns for most firms and financial institutions. 

Brazil's Farming Lobby Wields Its Growing Power

Brazil's farm lobby will continue to expand its political influence, and upcoming elections are unlikely to diminish its power. The economic importance of the country's agricultural sector will continue to grow over the next decade. Because agriculture is Brazil's main trade offensive interest, the farm lobby will push Brasilia to pursue trade liberalization and to open up export markets as part of new trade deals.  Agriculture is big business in Brazil. From sugar to coffee, to soybeans and everything in between, the country's farming sector has become a juggernaut on the world stage over the past 40 years. And the sector's political clout inside Brazil has grown along with it, unlike its counterparts in the United States and European Union. Today, the country's farm lobby backs close to half of the lower house's deputies, representing a level of support that is unlikely to change no matter who emerges as the victor in general elections in October. With such power inside and outside Congress, the lobby is well-placed to dictate Brazil's domestic agricultural policies — and, increasingly, even some of its foreign ones.

The Unconstrained Presidency Checks and Balances Eroded Long Before Trump

By James Goldgeier and Elizabeth N. Saunders

In the age of Donald Trump, it often feels as though one individual has the power to chart the United States’ course in the world all by himself. Since taking office as U.S. president, Trump has made a series of unilateral decisions with enormous consequences. He walked away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris agreement on climate change, and the Iran nuclear deal. He imposed tariffs on Canada, China, Mexico, and the European Union. In June, he single-handedly upended the G-7 summit by insulting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and withdrawing the United States from the group’s joint communiqué. In July, his European travels produced more diplomatic fireworks, with a NATO summit in Brussels that raised questions about his commitment to the organization—before his deferential press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Bioterrorism: Fear accidents more than attacks

Rebecca L. Brown

Experts and politicians have long stoked fears of a biological terrorist attack. But in the 17 years since the coordinated terrorist attacks of 9/11, no bioterrorist attack has come to fruition. Terrorists have tried to launch biological attacks, but their attempts have been plagued with failures. In fact, terrorists are more likely to cause a local epidemic by accident than to succeed in launching a sophisticated biological attack. Governments and the public should still be concerned about bioterrorism. But considering the risk that terrorists will accidentally cause a dangerous outbreak, government spending should focus more heavily on public health.

The SDF's Post-American Future Why the Syrian Kurds Must Make a Deal With Assad

By Aaron S
Source Link

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed militia led by the Kurdish-majority People’s Protection Units (YPG), is now involved in a high-stakes geopolitical standoff involving the world’s two strongest military powers, Russia and the United States. The SDF has spearheaded the U.S. war against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria, but as that war has slowed down following the near territorial defeat of ISIS, hard questions about the group’s future have been brought into focus. The SDF must now consider how to prepare for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces, the likely victory of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s civil war, and continued antagonism with neighboring Turkey. And although the answers to these questions have yet to be determined, the basic fact is that the SDF, surrounded by hostile adversaries, has a real interest in reaching a modus vivendi with the Assad regime.

Russia secretly finances news outlets in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia as part of information warfare

Skype logs and other documents obtained by BuzzFeed News offer a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the Kremlin’s propaganda machine. REUTERS The Russian government discreetly funded a group of seemingly independent news websites in Eastern Europe to pump out stories dictated to them by the Kremlin, BuzzFeed News and its reporting partners can reveal. Russian state media created secret companies in order to bankroll websites in the Baltic states — a key battleground between Russia and the West — and elsewhere in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to Buzzfeed. The scheme has only come to light through Skype chats and documents obtained by BuzzFeed News, Estonian newspaper Postimees, and investigative journalism outlet Re:Baltica via freedom of information laws, as part of a criminal probe into the individual who was Moscow’s man on the ground in Estonia. The Skype logs and other files, obtained from computers seized by investigators, reveal the secrets and obfuscating tactics used by Russia as it tries to influence public opinion and push Kremlin talking points. 

he Nuclear Power Plant of the Future May Be Floating Near Russia

By Andrew E. Kramer

MURMANSK, Russia — Along the shore of Kola Bay in the far northwest of Russia lie bases for the country’s nuclear submarines and icebreakers. Low, rocky hills descend to an industrial waterfront of docks, cranes and railway tracks. Out on the bay, submarines have for decades stalked the azure waters, traveling between their port and the ocean depths.Here, Russia is conducting an experiment with nuclear power, one that backers say is a leading-edge feat of engineering but that critics call reckless. The country is unveiling a floating nuclear power plant. Tied to a wharf in the city of Murmansk, the Akademik Lomonosov rocks gently in the waves. The buoyant facility, made of two miniature reactors of a type used previously on submarines, is for now the only one of its kind.

Planning for the Post-Trump Wreckage


Donald Trump speaks during an event to announces a grant for drug-free communities support program, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 29, 2018. One of the many unfortunate consequences of U.S. President Donald Trump’s cavalier, corrupt, and capricious handling of foreign policy is that it discourages farsighted thinking about the global agenda. Even worse, it is gradually undermining the institutional capacity the United States will need to deal with that agenda. To a first approximation, the people who are most alarmed by his actions (and I include myself among them) are spending a lot of their time circling the wagons and trying to minimize the damage that he and his minions do while in office. They are like parents trying frantically to corral a rambunctious toddler (hat tip to Dan Drezner) who is running amok through a china shop: All the attention is on saving as much of the crockery as possible, and nobody has any time to think about what they’ll do once the kid has finished smashing things.

Power in the International Trading System

By Evita Schmieg for Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP)

Evita Schmieg contends that a spiral of protectionism threatens to expose the limits of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) ability to protect against abuses and prevent trade wars. Further, the reason for this is astonishing: The US Trump administration asserts that the existing rules – which the Americans played a leading role in writing – disadvantage the US. So is there anything to this claim? And how should the EU respond to the current US trade policy approach? Here are Schmieg’s answers to these questions and more. The international trading system is in flux. A spiral of protectionism threatens to expose the limits of the WTO’s ability to protect against abuses and prevent trade wars. And the reason for this is astonishing: The US Administration believes that the existing rules – which the Americans themselves played a leading role in writing – disadvantage the United States. Currently the Trump Administration is working hard to dismantle the system.

Europe Wants to Defend Itself? Good Luck With That

Hal Brands

Hal Brands is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the Henry Kissinger Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. His newest book is "American Grand Strategy 
In 1776, the New World declared independence from the old. Today, it is the Old World that is declaring independence from the new. French president Emmanuel Macron has become the latest European leader to issue a declaration of strategic independence from Donald Trump’s America. Asserting that Europe can “no longer rely” on Washington for its security, he argued that “it is up to us today to take our responsibility and guarantee our own security, and thus have European sovereignty.”

Good Fences Make Good Politics Immigration and the Future of the West

By Eric Kaufmann

The rise of right-wing populism in the West is the story of our time. In the United States and western Europe, recent years have seen antiestablishment parties and candidates win unprecedented electoral victories by casting themselves as defenders of their nations against the twin threats posed by foreigners and a corrupt elite. The two major shocks to the international order in recent years—Brexitand the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president—were both manifestations of this larger trend.

It is time to teach colonial history in British schools

by Ruqaya Izzidien

The British curriculum dedicates plenty of attention to the violence of others - in Nazi Germany or during the American Civil War - and goes into great detail on a few events in medieval and pre-Victorian English history, like the Plague, the Great Fire of London, and the reign of Henry VIII. But a British school would not teach you anything about the brutality of British colonialism. We were told nothing of the concentration camps the British army ran during the Boer War, the Bengal famine of 1943 or the massacres of Kenyans in the 1950sIn school, I heard nothing of the many crimes the British perpetrated against my Iraqi ancestors. No textbook ever mentioned that Winston Churchill, so deeply venerated as a hero and a brilliant statesman, openly endorsed a chemical attack on Iraqi civilians when they demanded independence from Britain.

John Maynard Keynes: The Best Economist Since 1899?

Written by Frank Li

In a previous post (Milton Friedman: A Man of the Past?), I concluded that Milton Friedman, an extreme advocator of "free market" and individualism, is mostly an economist of the past. In this post, I will highlight John Maynard Keynes, a balanced advocator of both "free market" and "managed market", as the best economist since 1899.

1. Who is John Maynard Keynes?

Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia - John Maynard Keynes.
John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes[2] CB FBA (/keɪnz/ KAYNZ; 5 June 1883 - 21 April 1946), was a British economist whose ideas fundamentally changed the theory and practice of macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments. He built on and greatly refined earlier work on the causes of business cycles, and was one of the most influential economists of the 20th century and the founder of modern macroeconomic theory.[3][4][5][6] His ideas are the basis for the school of thought known as Keynesian economics, and its various offshoots.

Francis Fukuyama Postpones the End of History

By Louis Menand

In February, 1989, Francis Fukuyama gave a talk on international relations at the University of Chicago. Fukuyama was thirty-six years old, and on his way from a job at the rand Corporation, in Santa Monica, where he had worked as an expert on Soviet foreign policy, to a post as the deputy director of policy planning at the State Department, in Washington. It was a good moment for talking about international relations, and a good moment for Soviet experts especially, because, two months earlier, on December 7, 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev had announced, in a speech at the United Nations, that the Soviet Union would no longer intervene in the affairs of its Eastern European satellite states. Those nations could now become democratic. It was the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

Lessons for the EU from the Austro-Hungarian Empire

A GOLDEN late-summer light filters through the windows of the Café Landtmann. Bow-tied waiters move among towering hot-house plants. Officials huddle around a table. They are fretting about fragmentation: Europe’s north is peeling away from its south; easterners feel like second-class citizens; outside powers are trying to divide and rule. This might be a scene from the final days of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918. In fact it is today, 100 years later. For once more the spectre of European fragmentation haunts Vienna.

From The Information Age To The Era Of Intellectual Laziness

The minds of children need room to breathe, to be inspired by vision, and the health-bringing balm of many perspectives. They need exercise, play, and relaxation; in short, they need a sound body and spirit to have a sound mind. Rather than spending their magical years entombed in cram-school dungeons that prepare them for impossibly difficult tests, children need old-fashioned schools where every day they can learn something new in classrooms that echo with laughter and joy! Unfortunately, it’s government policy to make sure schools are anything but the kind of places Breslin envisioned for students. By emphasizing standardized testing that evaluates how many predetermined facts a student can memorize rather than their capacity to conduct research and pursue their own lines of inquiry, America has created a citizenry increasingly predisposed to simply accept whatever they read uncritically. Now it is paying dearly for following that path.

How Rocket-Makers Ensure 3D-Printed Parts are Strong Enough for Space


Some people are skeptical about 3D printing machines like rockets. Their view is that hardware made by precisely spraying hot metal into shape can’t possibly be as strong as hardware assembled using fusion welding. Still, cost-efficiency means most aerospace companies do make use of additive manufacturing in their supply chain. Relativity Space, a Los Angeles start-up, makes more use than most, and has promised to build almost an entire rocket with a large, custom-made 3D printer. Relativity Space CEO Tim Ellis says his printer has passed an industrial standard for welding called AWSD17.1 Class A, which has stringent rules for quality. ”That’s the standard you would use for fracture-critical, mission critical parts that cannot fail,” he says. Ellis gave Quartz a rare look inside the process.

John McCain and the Meaning of Courage

By H. R. McMaster

Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian philosopher of war, wrote in the early nineteenth century that “courage is of two kinds: first, physical courage, or courage in the presence of danger; and next, moral courage, or courage before responsibility.” The late U.S. Senator John McCain demonstrated both types. His physical courage was apparent during the 23 combat missions he flew over North Vietnam, especially the last of these, when he was shot down over Hanoi, severely wounded, and captured by the North Vietnamese. During his captivity over the next five and a half years, more than two of which he spent in solitary confinement, he demonstrated not only physical but also moral courage while enduring the worst possible forms of torture. Perhaps his most courageous act as a prisoner of war came when he refused to accept early release, in order to remain with his fellow Americans and deny the North Vietnamese a propaganda victory.

What's So "Cryptic" About Trading Cryptocurrencies?

Turns out, the "crypto" part of the name originally signified the encrypted nature of digital assets and their anonymous owners. But it's proven foretelling, as cryptocurrencies have become synonymous with a cryptic impenetrability the likes of which no modern mainstream financial market -- especially not one so fervently embraced -- has known. Even the experts are stumped by the exact logistics involved in cryptocurrencies, as these recent opinions suggest: "[Cryptocurrencies] are volatile by nature and thus don't follow traditional rules and conventions." (May 22 Coindiary.net) "The public's fascination with cryptocurrencies is tied to a sort of mystery, like the mystery of the value of money itself, consisting in the new money's connection to advanced science. (May 21 The Guardian)