11 September 2018

India Inches Closer to the U.S.

Because New Delhi must compensate for its military imbalance against China, it will strengthen its defense partnership with the United States despite issues of contention such as India's reliance on Iranian oil and Russian arms. If New Delhi continues to deepen its defense partnership with the United States, it will need to reassess its adherence to strategic autonomy, possibly leading to a fundamental shift in the conduct of India's foreign policy.
New Delhi will aim to encourage technology transfers from key defense suppliers in support of indigenous production.India will increase its purchase of U.S. weapons systems for diversification, particularly after signing a key defense agreement with the United States.

Imran Khan's Party Asks Minority Pakistan Economist to Quit

By Faseeh Mangi and Chris Kay

Pakistan’s government asked an economist from a persecuted and minority Muslim sect to step down from an adviser role days after it defended his appointment in the face of criticism from a hard-line Islamist party. Atif Mian, a professor at Princeton University, was asked to resign from the 18-member Economic Advisory Council, Pakistan Senator Faisal Javed Khan, a member of Imran Khan’s ruling Movement for Justice party, said Friday on Twitter. A replacement will be announced later, he said. “For the sake of the stability of the government of Pakistan, I have resigned from the Economic Advisory Council, as the government was facing a lot of adverse pressure regarding my appointment from the Mullahs (Muslim clerics) and their supporters,” Mian said on Twitter.

Nepal: PM Oli Continues to Disappoint:

In his disappointment over Oli’s style and content of governance, one Analyst has pointed out perhaps rightly that- with six months out of power, former PM Deuba’s misrule and bad Governance are fading in public memory with the performance of K.P.Oli’s Government. Though many of the accusations against Oli are not justified, it looks that the Nepalese Media has been persistently denigrating Oli’s performance. Perhaps it is the arrogant style of Oli that puts off the Press.

Oli is being accused of -

Xi Jinping and China-North Korea Relations

By Adam Cathcart

In the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), tension has always existed between principles of collective leadership and the tendency toward personality cult. As we observe an important Chinese delegation in Pyongyang during the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DRPK) 70th anniversary, Xi Jinping may be absent, but it is his personal imprint on China’s foreign affairs that bears watching. How deep does his control of the CCP run, how much trust does he place in his colleagues, and why might these things matter for his North Korean counterparts?

China’s Gig Economy is Driving Close to the Edge

In the 1980s, free-marketeers, wielding pagers and zipping around the streets of China’s biggest cities in minibuses, boldly navigated the emergent gray zones of a novel economic frontier of “reform and opening.” In the 1990s and into the new millennium, a flood of migrant workers, braving semi-legal status and the contempt of city dwellers, left their provincial homes and poured into urban factories, becoming the human engine driving China’s continued growth. Now, in 2018, it is the millions of truck drivers, food delivery couriers, livestreamers, and freelancers—many still migrants—piecing together their livelihoods in China’s booming gig economy who are on the cutting edge of the country’s economic growth. Like their predecessors, these new economic pioneers highlight the tensions between engineering and sustaining growth in the world’s second-largest economy and maintaining ideological and political control over 1.4 billion people. Those tensions are manifesting in strikes and protests across the country, led by workers fed up with being at the bottom of the pile.

The South China Sea Dispute Takes On New Urgency

The danger of territorial disputes in the South China Sea is growing as China’s navy expands rapidly and the U.S. response wavers. Find out more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR). With China’s aggressive posture in the South China Sea undermining the popular narrative of its peaceful rise, many experts correctly point to the dual tides of nationalism and militarization as drivers of hostile behavior. But leaning too heavily on these explanations conceals a third factor behind the South China Sea conflict: Beijing’s burgeoning demand for energy.

Qatar, the ‘Israel Lobby,’ and the Secret List of 250 with Influence

by Seth Frantzman

In 2017 the Gulf emirate of Qatar, home to a large US military base, found itself suddenly isolated by its neighbor Saudi Arabia and Riyadh’s allies in the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Doha was worried about losing allies in Washington, especially in the Trump administration. So it set about recruiting lobbyists and allies who provided it with a list of 250 “Trump influencers,” according to a new article. At the same time people in Qatar were concerned that a documentary Al Jazeera had made in 2017, featuring footage from an undercover investigator supposedly exposing the “Israel lobby,” might be used against Al Jazeera to force it to register as a “foreign agent.” Now bits of that documentary have been leaked at the same time as the list of 250 influencers has come to light. Taken together the two incidents are embarrassing for the emirate and also show the lengths it went to in the US to find favor in Washington.

A decade after the global financial crisis: What has (and hasn’t) changed?

By Susan Lund, Asheet Mehta, James Manyika, and Diana Goldshtein

In the early 2000s, US real estate seemed irresistible, and a heady run-up in prices led consumers, banks, and investors alike to load up on debt. Exotic financial instruments designed to diffuse the risks instead magnified and obscured them as they attracted investors from around the globe. Cracks appeared in 2007 when US home prices began to decline, eventually causing the collapse of two large hedge funds loaded up with subprime mortgage securities. Yet as the summer of 2008 waned, few imagined that Lehman Brothers was about to go under—let alone that it would set off a global liquidity crisis. The damage ultimately set off the first global recession since World War II and planted the seeds of a sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone. Millions of households lost their jobs, their homes, and their savings.


Ronald Sprang
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Operational art provides the bridge between tactical actions and strategic objectives. It involves a systematic and deliberate campaign planning process for major operations in a theater of war.[i] Since the beginning of the industrial age and the advent of large conscript armies, there has been a need to link tactical actions to strategic objectives. Russian operational art began in the 1920’s and has evolved to today’s New Type Warfare and the concept of Reflexive Control. Russian operational art began under Aleksandr Svechin during the 1920’s. He defined operational art as the conceptual linkage between strategy and tactics, where commanders link successes tactically with operational bounds to strategic objectives.[ii] Svechin proposed a strategy of attrition as an option outside of destruction in a decisive battle. The goal of attrition is to gradually deplete the enemy’s capability to wage war over a successive series of tactical engagements. “The operations of a strategy of attrition are not so much direct stages toward the achievement of an ultimate goal as they are stages in the deployment of material superiority, which would ultimately deprive the enemy of means for successful resistance.”[iii]

Russia’s Private Military Companies in Ukraine Are an Opportunity for Kiev

Russia’s use of private military companies (PMCs) in Ukraine is clever, but it won’t get the Kremlin the results it wants partly because of changes in the contracting environment due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine rested in part on the private soldiers of Wagner Group, the best-known Russian PMC. And like the Wagner deployment to Syria, using PMCs in Ukraine is a useful short-run move, that creates a battlefield opportunity for Russia’s foes. The most visible vector of Russia’s seizure of Crimea and incursion into Eastern Ukraine was the “little green men,” Russian airborne or special forces troops in unmarked uniforms, but the PMCs were also “first in” and performed tasks ranging from infantry and artillery actions to reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering, to providing bodyguards for VIPs, similar to the Blackwater operatives who guarded the American ambassador in Iraq, and eventually graduating to assassinating unruly pro-Russia militia commanders. Or the assassinations may have been related to business disputes over the sharing of seized businesses, including factories and coal mines.

America Is Committing War Crimes and Doesn’t Even Know Why


By any reasonable assessment, the U.S. government should have stopped providing direct military support to the Saudi Arabia-led air campaign in Yemen on the day after it started. Washington’s participation began on March 26, 2015, when a White House spokesperson announced, “President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to [Gulf Cooperation Council]-led military operations.” On March 26, toward the end of a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) asked U.S. Central Command commander Gen. Lloyd Austin what the ultimate goal of the GCC air campaign in Yemen was, and for the general to estimate its likelihood of success.

America Needs the Muhammad Ali Doctrine


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.

The Forgotten History of the Financial Crisis

By Adam Tooze

"September and October of 2008 was the worst financial crisis in global history, including the Great Depression.” Ben Bernanke, then the chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, made this remarkable claim in November 2009, just one year after the meltdown. Looking back today, a decade after the crisis, there is every reason to agree with Bernanke’s assessment: 2008 should serve as a warning of the scale and speed with which global financial crises can unfold in the twenty-first century. 

The Greek Financial Crisis May Be Over, but Greece, and the Eurozone, Will Never Be the Same

After three consecutive bailout programs, the Greek economy is growing again. But structural problems, ranging from state bureaucracy to tax evasion, remain extant.
Greece's massive debt, which currently stands at above 180 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), will be a national burden for decades. Greece also faces the long-term consequences of mass emigration and a subsequent brain drain, which will make it harder for the country's economy to recover.

Why Russia and China Are Expanding Their Roles in Afghanistan

The shared threat of an Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan will drive Pakistan and Russia into a closer partnership as Moscow strengthens its leverage over the Afghan negotiations. Pakistan's national security imperatives mean it will always choose to promote a sympathetic government in Kabul, even if this choice means relations with the United States deteriorate.
China's expanding diplomatic and economic profile make it likely that Beijing will establish a limited and localized military presence in Afghanistan. Editor's Note: This assessment is part of a series of analyses supporting Stratfor's upcoming 2018 Fourth-Quarter Forecast. These assessments are designed to provide more context and in-depth analysis on key developments in the coming quarter.

Trump Seems to Be Writing Off African Security, but Will It Matter to the U.S.?

Steven Metz 
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It is often hard to figure out precisely what President Donald Trump’s security strategy is. He seldom talks about U.S. national interests and priorities other than trade. His broad regional policies are vague or missing altogether. This is particularly true for Africa. Nearly halfway through his term, Trump has made no speeches on Africa, has not visited the continent, and was slow to appoint an assistant secretary of state for African affairs, America’s key policy coordinator for that part of the world. All this suggests that after 50 years of modest involvement in African security, the United States may be writing the continent off. 

Brand New Left, Same Old Problems

By Suzanne Berger

Globalization’s friends are fast defecting. Some economists who once extolled the virtues of free trade and the free flow of capital now point out that globalization has brought smaller gains than were once claimed, while destroying working-class jobs and communities. The American public’s views of foreign trade have grown more positive as the U.S. economy has recovered from the Great Recession, but in 2014, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center, only 20 percent of Americans thought that trade created new jobs, and just 17 percent believed that it raised wages. A populist anti-trade backlash is in full swing.

Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist Has a Breakthrough Idea

By David Streitfeld

“Antitrust Dilemma.” “The Antitrust Impulse.” “Antitrust in an Expanding Economy.” Shelf after shelf of volumes ignored for decades. There are a dozen fat tomes with transcripts of the congressional hearings on monopoly power in 1949, when the world was in ruins and the Soviets on the march. Lawmakers believed economic concentration would make America more vulnerable. At the end of the antitrust stacks is a table near the window. “This is my command post,” said Lina Khan. It’s nothing, really. A few books are piled up haphazardly next to a bottle with water and another with tea. Ms. Khan was in Dallas quite a bit over the last year, refining an argument about monopoly power that takes aim at one of the most admired, secretive and feared companies of our era: Amazon.

DARPA, Army & Team Platypus: Big Boosts For Artificial Intelligence

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Aerospace Corporation’s “Team Platypus” won $100,000 grand prize in an Army competition to apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to electronic warfare. WASHINGTON: This afternoon, DARPA announced a five-year, $2 billion “AI Next” program to invest in artificial intelligence, with 2019 AI spending alone jumping 25 percent to $400 million. It’s all part of a big Pentagon push to compete with ChinaThe vision is for future weapons and sensors, robots and satellites, to work together in a global “mosaic,” DARPA director Steven Walker told reporters. Rather than rely on slow-moving humans to coordinate the myriad systems, he said, you’re “building enough AI into the machines so that they can actually communicate and network (with each other) at machine speed in real time.”

Artificial Intelligence – A Counterintelligence Perspective: Part II

By Jim Baker 

In the first part of this series on the counterintelligence implications of artificial intelligence (AI), I discussed AI and counterintelligence at a high level and described some features of each that I think are particularly relevant to understanding the intersection between the two fields. That general discussion leads naturally to one particular counterintelligence question related to AI: How do we identify, understand and protect our most valuable AI assets? To do that, it is important to remember that AI systems operate as part of a much larger digital ecosystem. My focus here is on AI assets in general rather than particular applications of AI. Obviously, certain AI systems, such as those used in military, intelligence and critical-infrastructure settings, require special attention from a counterintelligence perspective, but I won’t focus on those specifically in this post.

Senate Hearing on Social Media and Foreign Influence Operations: Progress, But There’s A Long Way to Go

By Evelyn Douek 

Wednesday’s hearing before the Senate intelligence committee on “Foreign Influence Operations’ Use of Social Media Platforms” was, as Chairman Richard Burr called it, the “capstone” of the committee’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Committee members focused on what had been learned and what had changed over the course of the investigation, presaging future action in broad terms only. As a result, the hearing was much less dramatic than any of the committee’s previous three hearings on the matter—there were no stunning revelations about the extent of activity of foreign actors on the platforms, and the bulk of the day’s media coverage on the Hill focused on confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. But the lack of fireworks does not mean the hearing was not productive. It provided useful—if largely sound-bite-free—insight into how the lawmakers and tech companies are coming to grips with the new challenges that online platforms pose for democracies.

We trained an algorithm to detect cancer in just two hours

By Dave Gershgorn, Luke Oakden-Rayner, Thomas Wilburn, Leon Chen

Doctors across the world are beginning to rely on artificial intelligence algorithms to help accelerate diagnostics and treatment plans, with the goal of making more time to see more patients, with greater precision. We all can understand—at least conceptually—what it takes to be a doctor: years of medical school lectures attended, stacks of textbooks and journals read, countless hours of on-the-job residencies. But the way AI has learned the medical arts is less intuitive. In order to get more clarity on how algorithms learn these patterns, and what pitfalls might still lurk within the technology, Quartz partnered with Leon Chen, co-founder of medical AI startup MD.ai, and radiologist Luke Oakden-Rayner, to train two algorithms and understand how it matches with a medical professional as it learns. One detects the presence of tumorous nodules, and the second gauges the potential of it being malignant.

Don’t @ me, bro: the need for social media on the battlefield

By: Adam Stone  

Army engineers want to use Facebook and Twitter on the front lines. Believe it and retweet it. The engineers say commanders could benefit from having a finer understanding of the social media landscape in a conflict zone. “Social media is a new channel that offers massive amounts of information,” said Reginald Hobbs, branch chief of the multilingual computing and analytics groups at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. “In the past people would be consumers of information. Social media makes people producers of information, and the Army can leverage that.” In their search to turn social information into a tactical tool, Army scientists recently wrote a paper on “social sensing” accepted for publication by the IEEE Computer Society. Still in its infancy, the science here faces some challenges: The volume of information is vast, and it’s largely unstructured. But researchers say they are making headway.

BA apologizes after 380,000 customers hit in cyber attack

Paul Sandle
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LONDON (Reuters) - British Airways apologized on Friday after the credit card details of hundreds of thousands of its customers were stolen over a two-week period in the most serious attack on its website and app. The airline discovered on Wednesday that bookings made between Aug. 21 and Sept. 5 had been infiltrated in a “very sophisticated, malicious criminal” attack, BA Chairman and Chief Executive Alex Cruz said. It immediately contacted customers when the extent of the breach became clear. Around 380,000 card payments were compromised, the airline said, with hackers obtaining names, street and email addresses, credit card numbers, expiry dates and security codes - sufficient information to steal from accounts.


L. Burton Brender
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One of the hardest things a leader will ever have to do is accurately assess the performance and potential of his or her workers. Often, leaders have so much on their plate that really observing their people is a challenge, and it doesn’t help that there are false signals out there that can fool even the wisest of supervisors. These fallacies can make people who are less competent, and less scrupulous, appear better than they are. To be on guard against them, leaders must constantly assess themselves when meting out rewards, promotions, and punishment. Falling for a leadership fallacy can see the wrong person advanced and drive the right people away.

Can the US military still innovate quickly?

By: Daniel Cebul   
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WASHINGTON — In the era of great power competition, the speed at which competing militaries are capable to innovate and evolve could determine who would win in a war. In light of the need for speed, military innovation experts at the Defense News Conference tackled the question of whether the Department of Defense can still move quickly to develop new technologies and capabilities. While the conversation surrounding innovation tends to revolve around the development of new technology, other organizational changes are arguably more important for military innovation. Col. Liam Collins, director of the Modern War Institute, said that while new technologies play a role, they are not the driving force of innovation.


Ryan Leach and David Danford 
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Yesterday, ML Cavanaugh offered a hearty endorsement of American generalship. He argued that “successful commanders must always travel a dark road of despair to get to the dawn that attends strategic gains. From Pershing to Petraeus, the natural optimism required for this difficult path is a large part of what has made America’s top supreme commanders effective and victorious.” He concluded that America was “better off with generals imbued with the right touch of ‘indefatigable optimism.’ Because without this trait, America would be doomed to defeat after defeat—indeed, the country likely wouldn’t even exist.”

It’s Not the Size of Your Defense Budget, It’s How You Use It

By Sim Tack

At the NATO summit in Brussels that took place on July 11-12, the emphasis of discussions was once again on US President Trump’s accusations against European NATO partners that they are not spending enough of their financial resources on defense budgets. These accusations weren’t new, of course, though the persistent repetition of demands by the US administration for other NATO members to spend more on defense, and the latest demands of defense budgets being increased to 4% of GDP throughout NATO, have caused this rhetoric to also start shaping the debates on the future of defense in several European countries.

France and Italy Each Go Their Own Way on Libya

The competition among European powers in Libya will continue to undermine attempts to solve the country's underlying political crises. The rise of far-right parties in Italy will force Rome to deepen its involvement in Libya as it seeks to reduce migrant flows and protect its economic interests — both of which center on western Libya. French President Emmanuel Macron's quest to reassert Paris' international role and the consequences of Libyan insecurity to France's former African colonies will oblige Paris to continue backing a strong military force in Libya through a figure such as Khalifa Hifter. Because France and Italy both view Libya as a natural sphere of influence, their conflicting goals will compound the competition over the country.

Why U.N. Peacekeeping Operations Must Not Become Counterterrorism Missions

Larry Attree, Jordan Street

From Bosnia to Rwanda, United Nations peacekeepers have always faced tough choices that come with operating in complex, dangerous environments. Today, the climate is no less challenging. Record fatalities and injuries for U.N. personnel have increased pressure from some quarters to embolden U.N. peacekeeping operations and political missions with stronger, more aggressive mandates. But recent decisions made by the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, such as a mandate to support a regional, non-U.N. counterterrorism unit in Mali, the G5 Sahel Joint Force, risk plunging blue helmets into the quicksand of unwinnable wars. This short-term thinking poses considerable long-term risks that could destroy U.N. peacekeeping as we know it.