26 September 2018

Six quintessentials without which India cannot become a super power

By Virender Kapoor

If India wants to be a super power, it may be well worth an effort to have a nodal agency to correct our national attitude. Sounds weird, but this is most urgent and important.

"God gives you nuts but does not crack them for you" - German proverb

Today, Indians are hoping like never before that the country is on the verge of a great turnaround. They are pegging their faith to their new leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been able to motivate the nation with a promise to deliver good governance. The world is looking at us with awe, probably and partially convinced that "Yes, They Can". Several factors are tilted in our favour for this to happen.

Pakistan Trudges Along a Familiar Economic Path

Elevated energy prices and the lack of internationally competitive exports will continue to drive Pakistan's high import bill and trade deficit.

Spending cuts targeting development will narrow the budget deficit but at the cost of slowing growth and increasing unemployment.

New Prime Minister Imran Khan's great challenge will be to balance his impassioned populism with a pragmatism required to govern Pakistan.

As Prime Minister Imran Khan tries to set a new direction for Pakistani politics, his administration is urgently seeking to resolve the country's most serious macroeconomic challenge: boosting its dwindling foreign exchange reserves. As of Sept. 7, the State Bank of Pakistan's net reserves remained beneath $10 billion. That's less than the three-month import cover recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), fueling speculation that Khan will turn to the U.S.-based organization for a bailout. Indeed, Finance Minister Asad Umar has unveiled a series of measures targeting the widening budget deficit ahead of an IMF delegation visit to Islamabad on Sept. 27. These measures include cutting more than $2 billion in planned development spending, doubling the tax rate on the highest income earners to 30 percent and hiking tariffs on 5,000 nonessential imports.

A Winning Strategy for Afghanistan

Stephen B. Yo

The United States intelligence agencies and military commands can’t agree on whether to be “cautiously optimistic” or “cautiously pessimistic” on prospects for Afghanistan.

What both do agree on, however, is that the United States and its Afghan partners have not defeated the Taliban either on the battlefield or by bringing them to negotiated terms of living in peace with other Afghans.

The reasons for our failure are simple to understand but unacceptable for a great power.

First was the eager rush to forget our Vietnam experience – even the successful CORDS counterinsurgency program in the villages of South Vietnam after 1968.

The Coming of Pakistan-China ‘Entente Cordiale 2.0’

By Abdur Rehman Shah

With China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) coming under increasing global scrutiny, major aspects of the country’s international role, investments, and activities have drawn a lively debate. From Sri Lanka to Malaysia, questions are being raised as to how the “project of the century” is shaping the economies of host countries. It is within this context that the Pakistan-China relationship has become a subject of newfound interest. After all, the “flagship project” of the BRI is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

CPEC has led to a major transformation in Pakistan-China ties. A relationship that was fundamentally defined by close diplomatic and strategic cooperation is swiftly molding into a geoeconomic collaboration, but with China holding an asymmetric position. The broader contours of this relationship can be categorized into three periods: the beginning from 1949-1962; “Entente Cordiale 1.0” from 1963-2012 and “Entente Cordiale 2.0” from 2013 onward. While giving an overview of Entente Cordiale 1.0 this article focuses primarily on the changing dynamics of the Pakistan-China relationship since 2013, under Entente Cordiale 2.0. It argues that the latest stage is more comprehensive but simultaneously more liable to challenges and risks. Unlike the previous stage, when bilateral ties were related to specific fields of cooperation and accordingly dealt with by precise state-to-state level entities — i.e. diplomats, incumbent governments, and security institutions — Entente Cordiale 2.0 is broader in scope and more open to public debate.

How Asian companies are navigating the trade war


HONG KONG -- Every time American lawmakers tried to crack down on cheap Chinese aluminum over the last decade, the leaders of China Zhongwang Holdings seemed to find a way to keep their products flowing into the U.S.

When Washington imposed "anti-dumping" rules on the aluminum it produced for window and door frames in 2009, the company began exporting another product that wasn't covered by the regulations. After the U.S. clamped down on Chinese metal producers again in 2016, the company bought Germany's Aluminiumwerk Unna and began shipping products to America from there.

Financial markets must wake up to the damage and havoc wreaked by this US-China trade war

Anthony Rowley

The global economic expansion of recent times “may now have peaked” with growth becoming slower and less broad-based, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said in its latest Interim Economic Outlook. If that does not give financial markets pause for thought, then the OECD’s comments about what is behind this slowdown certainly should.

Global trade growth slowed in the first half of 2018 to 3 per cent, from 5 per cent a year earlier. Trade tensions are already having adverse affects on confidence and investment plans, the September 20 report noted. And that was even before the US and China began announcing reciprocal trade assaults on each other.

Make no mistake, this is bad news. It was a pickup in world trade growth in the second half of 2016 that reversed what International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde and others had up to then described as a dreary post-2008 financial crisis period in which global growth had been “too low for too long.”

China’s debt rises to $2.58 trillion

China’s spiralling debt, a major concern for the slowing down of its economy, has risen to USD 2.58 trillion, a media report said Sunday.

The country’s top legislative body has decided that the upper limit for local government debt this year should be 21 trillion yuan.

China’s local government debt balance stood at 17.66 trillion yuan (USD 2.58 trillion) by the end of August, but it remained within the official limit, state-run Xinhua news agency reported, quoting the Ministry of Finance as saying.

Regarded as the “hidden debt”, the steady rise of the local government debt worries economists and regulators though the country’s overall government debt fell last year to 36.2 per cent of its GDP, lower than the level of the most advanced economies.

A Chinese Company Reshaping the World Leaves a Troubled Trail

Sheridan Prasso

Christopher Fernando knows the price of rapacious development. It has eaten his kitchen.

Only the sink remains along what was once an outer wall of Fernando’s seafront home on the west coast of Sri Lanka, about 20 miles north of Colombo. Part of his thatched-roof house where the 55-year-old fisherman has lived for three decades suddenly washed away last year. The dredger he blames, like a mythological sea monster ceaselessly sucking the sea bed, is visible in the distance as he speaks. Waves used to wash sand in, he says, but now they only wash it out, tearing away the shoreline—a charge government officials deny. “From the taking of sand,” Fernando says, “everything is being destroyed.”

Are Xi Jinping’s demands for Communist Party loyalty a bigger threat to China than Donald Trump’s trade war?

In a meeting room in one government ministry in Beijing, officials stacked up piles of papers across a long meeting table to prepare a submission to Xi’s ruling Communist Party. The documents, painstakingly compiled from materials detailing party-government interactions over the last five years, were designed to demonstrate that the ministry had followed the party’s instructions, according to two people involved in the process.

The exercise came as part of Xi’s bid to consolidate power in the nation of 1.4 billion people, where he is now China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong. It is part of a wider campaign announced in March to revamp the government – both in Beijing and administrations in far-reaching provinces – to ensure it obeys the party’s wishes.

China’s Sea Control Is a Done Deal, ‘Short of War With the U.S.’

Source Link
By Hannah Beech

NEAR MISCHIEF REEF, South China Sea — As the United States Navy reconnaissance plane banked low near Mischief Reef in the South China Sea early this month, a Chinese warning crackled on the radio.

“U.S. military aircraft,” came the challenge, delivered in English in a harsh staccato. “You have violated our China sovereignty and infringed on our security and our rights. You need to leave immediately and keep far out.”

Aboard the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, flying in what is widely considered to be international airspace, Lt. Dyanna Coughlin scanned a live camera feed showing the dramatic evolution of Mischief Reef.

Trump Has Put the U.S. and China on the Cusp of a New Cold War

By Mark Landler

WASHINGTON — President Trump is confident that the United States is winning its trade war with China. But on both sides of the Pacific, a bleaker recognition is taking hold: The world’s two largest economies are in the opening stages of a new economic Cold War, one that could persist well after Mr. Trump is out of office.

“This thing will last long,” Jack Ma, the billionaire chairman of Alibaba Group, warned a meeting of investors on Tuesday in Hangzhou, China. “If you want a short-term solution, there is no solution.”

Mr. Trump intensified his trade fight this week, imposing tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and threatening to tax nearly all imports from China if it dared to retaliate. His position has bewildered, frustrated and provoked Beijing, which has responded with its own levies on American goods.

Jack Ma’s American Dream Runs Up Against China First

By Pete Sweeney

Jack Ma’s American dream has woken up to a bitter reality. Alibaba’s retiring founder rescinded a promise to create 1 million jobs in the United States. He blamed tariff tensions between the United States and China, but his $420 billion company has not given foreigners a level playing field on his international e-commerce site. Like any exporter, Mr. Ma’s public championing of free trade blends enlightenment with self-interest.

Alibaba.com was originally built to connect small Chinese wholesale manufacturers to overseas buyers. As domestic consumption boomed, however, the export operation was eclipsed by Taobao, Alibaba’s eBay-like marketplace, and the complementary Tmall, which hosts stores for bigger retailers. When Mr. Ma met Donald Trump in January 2017 before his inauguration, the Alibaba chairman vowed that 1 million small American businesses would gain access over five years and lead to a similar number of jobs, helping rebalance trade in the process.

The Future Is in Africa, and China Knows It

Noah Smith

Some Western observers worry that this represents a new form of colonialism. Given the continent’s history with European conquerors and rich countries trying to cheaply exploit its natural resources, that suspicion is understandable. But although China can sometimes be predatory — for example, when uneconomical projects saddle African companies or governments with unpayable debt — the new African investment bears little resemblance to the colonialism of old.

Colonialism, and the pseudo-colonial exploitation that sometimes followed independence, was mostly about extracting natural resources (and sometimes slave labor). Although securing access to natural resources is surely one of China’s goals, its investments in Africa go beyond extractive industries. The sectors receiving the most Chinese money have been business services, wholesale and retail, import and export, construction, transportation, storage and postal services, with mineral products coming in fifth. In Ethiopia, China is pouring money into garment manufacturing — the traditional first step on the road to industrialization.

Ending the Curse in the DRC: A Game of Thrones, Mines and Militias

Erik Grossman

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been in a continuous state of violence since its independence in 1960. For most, the problems of the DRC are multifaceted. These problems include weak democratic traditions and political representation, poor infrastructure, low standards of living, rampant corrupt, and the famed resource curse. Further, few explanations have been as pervasive as the argument that historical tribal enmities are the true scourge in the Congo. Ethnicity and identity however, are often exploited by warlords to increase recruitment and feign legitimacy, rather than a driving factor. This has been rightly referred to by Wendy Isaacs-Martin, an African scholar and professor with the University of South Africa, as "opportunistic associations of convenience”.

Trump's cyber strategy: what they are saying

By Derek B. Johnson 

The Trump administration's new cyber strategy is meant to clarify the roles of different federal agencies in a new, more-aggressive posture to combat and deter nation-state hacking groups.

The reaction to the rollout was largely positive across the political spectrum, even as Democrats and Republicans acknowledged much of the actual strategy contains little that is new or different from the strategies proposed (though not necessarily implemented) by past administrations.

A statement from Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) indicates there may still be some work left to do hashing out the various roles played by different agencies. Ratcliffe said the House Homeland Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection subcommittee he chairs will collaborate with the White House to "define DHS' specific role in its implementation" to "most effectively address our top cyber priorities both foreign and domestic."

Stop Fighting a War Against a Tactic

Abigail Gage

The United States is engaged in an unusual global war, fighting a tactic rather than an enemy nation. Unlike traditional warfare, it is possible that this war between the US and terrorist networks will not produce a clear winner. The US and its allies have been involved in military engagements over the past decade and a half, costing the US taxpayer an estimated $1.5 to $5.6 trillion dollars. The longer the US remains embroiled in this armed conflict, the less likely it is that such a war ends favorably from an American perspective. While US defense strategy will need to include counter-terrorism efforts for decades to come, it is time to end the war by beginning to reframe the narrative behind the Global War on Terror (GWOT).

The Bolivian Insurgency of 1966-1967: Che Guevara’s Final Failure

Christopher Rodriguez

On October 9th, 1967 at 1:45 PM, Colonel Joaquin Zetenento announced to the world that Che Guevara was dead.[i]Many were surprised to hear the news – and it was even more surprising that he died in Bolivia of all places. Questions began to swirl around his death while world leaders began to take sides concerning his legacy. Some, such as Cuba’s Fidel Castro, publicly mourned his death and vowed to continue Guevara’s vision of global revolution. Others, such as U.S. President Lyndon Johnson, made no such public statements but quietly celebrated the demise of what they saw as a global pest. But the public question remained, what happened to Che Guevara in Bolivia?

Managing the new threat landscape Adapting the tools of international peace and security

In 2018, we face an international security environment measurably worse than that of a mere five years earlier. Increased war-related violence accompanies an international order under challenge and rent by tensions. Global conflict deaths peaked in 2014 at magnitudes second only to the Rwandan genocide during the post-Cold War period. Proxy wars in Ukraine and Syria are reminiscent of the great-power-fueled conflicts of the Cold War.

However, this does not signal a universally more unstable world. Rather, violent conflict is concentrated in specific regions and reflects specific challenges. Four key features of today’s security environment, and one key emerging threat, deserve closer attention from the U.N. and other international actors.

Cuba’s Stalled Revolution

By Richard E. Feinberg and Ted Piccone

For Cuba, 2018 marks the end of an era. For the first time in almost six decades, the country’s president is no longer a Castro—neither the late guerilla fighter, revolutionary caudillo, and international icon Fidel, nor his lower-profile brother Raúl, who succeeded Fidel as president in 2008. This April, the mantle was instead passed to former vice-president Miguel Díaz-Canel, a younger post-revolutionary politician who raised paradoxical hopes of both continuity and change.

Yet for those who imagined that the post-Castro era would quickly bring major reforms, Díaz-Canel’s tenure so far has been sorely disappointing. Five months in, progress in the country has come either slowly or not at all. The island’s economy continues to decline, just as it has since the collapse of the Soviet Union nearly 30 years ago, and this despite the carefully calibrated reforms Raul Castro instituted in 2011. Investment rates are alarmingly low, foreign exchange scarce, and shortages of consumer goods widespread. Many discontented Cubans, especially educated youth, continue to emigrate in search of higher living standards and better career choices, depleting the current and future workforce.

Huawei executive says unified, objective security standard needed to take politics out of 5G roll-out

Li Tao

All countries need to recognise the importance of setting better common standards, adopting ­industry best practice and implementing risk-mitigation procedures to ensure that there is an objective basis for choosing technology vendors, said Andy Purdy, chief security officer of Huawei USA, in a video interview from this week’s Singapore International Cyber event.

Taking politics out of the decision-making process is vital “so there’s an open, objective, and transparent basis for trust, so that the users can trust it, the government can trust it, and the vendors can know what the requirements are”, he said.

Recently, Huawei and ZTE Corp, Chinese providers that have both invested heavily in research and development of next-generation networks, were excluded from building Australia’s 5G infrastructure after Canberra laid out new rules in August, citing national security concerns.

Trump Has a New Weapon to Cause ‘the Cyber’ Mayhem


The White House took a first step this week to fulfill President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to launch “crippling, crippling” cyberattacks on adversaries to protect U.S. computer systems, unveiling a new strategy that will allow the United States to take the offensive in cyberspace. But experts warn that the new cyber strategy risks exposing the United States to blowback and turning the internet into a Wild West of hacking operations.

In rolling out the administration’s new “National Cyber Strategy,” National Security Advisor John Bolton said that Trump had removed restrictions on the use of offensive cyber-operations and replaced them with a more permissive legal regime that gives the Defense Department and other agencies greater authority to penetrate foreign networks to deter hacks on U.S. systems.

Machine Learning Confronts the Elephant in the Room

A visual prank exposes an Achilles’ heel of computer vision systems: Unlike humans, they can’t do a double take.

Score one for the human brain. In a new study, computer scientists found that artificial intelligence systems fail a vision test a child could accomplish with ease.

“It’s a clever and important study that reminds us that ‘deep learning’ isn’t really that deep,” said Gary Marcus, a neuroscientist at New York University who was not affiliated with the work.

The result takes place in the field of computer vision, where artificial intelligence systems attempt to detect and categorize objects. They might try to find all the pedestrians in a street scene, or just distinguish a bird from a bicycle (which is a notoriously difficult task). The stakes are high: As computers take over critical tasks like automated surveillance and autonomous driving, we’ll want their visual processing to be at least as good as the human eyes they’re replacing.

How the UK’s £250m cyber force will wage war on terrorists

According to The Times, experts are being brought in from the military, security services and the cyber security industry to tackle the rising online threat from terrorist groups including Islamic State and from nations such as Russia and Iran. 

The 2,000-strong unit will “quadruple the number of personnel in offensive cyber-roles and marks a step change in the nation’s ability to disrupt and destroy computer networks and internet-connected devices”, the newspaper reports.

“The MoD and GCHQ have a long and proud history of working together,” a government spokesperson told IT Pro. “We are both committed to continuing to invest in this area, given the real threats the UK faces.”

5 things to know about the future of jobs

The future of work is increasingly becoming today’s reality for millions of workers and companies around the world. The findings of our latest Future of Jobs Reportlook at the trends expected in the 2018-2022 period in 20 economies and 12 industry sectors. Here is what you need to know to be ready:

1. Automation, robotization and digitization look different across different industries

High-speed mobile internet, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and cloud technology are set to spearhead companies’ adoption of new technologies between 2018 and 2022. Many will also look to machine learning and augmented and virtual reality for considerable business investment. By contrast, investment in the kind of robotic technologies imagined in movies and popular fiction will remain somewhat more niche over the period – but is nevertheless picking up pace. Stationary robots are likely to be the most widely adopted by 2022 – but different industries have distinct use cases and preferences.

Machines will create 58 million more jobs than they displace by 2022, World Economic Forum says

By Hamza Shaban

In the next four years, more than 75 million jobs may be lost as companies shift to more automation, according to new estimates by the World Economic Forum. But the projections have an upside: 133 million new jobs will emerge during that period, as businesses develop a new division of labor between people and machines.

The Future of Jobs Report arrives as the rising tide of automation is expected to displace millions of American workers in the long term and as corporations, educational institutions and elected officials grapple with a global technological shift that may leave many people behind. The report, published Monday, envisions massive changes in the worldwide workforce as businesses expand the use of artificial intelligence and automation in their operations. Machines account for 29 percent of the total hours worked in major industries, compared with 71 percent performed by people. By 2022, however, the report predicts that 42 percent of task hours will be performed by machines and 58 percent by people.

The Coming Crime Wars

By Robert Muggah, John P. Sullivan

Wars are on the rebound. There are twice as many civil conflicts today, for example, as there were in 2001. And the number of nonstate armed groups participating in the bloodshed is multiplying. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), roughly half of today’s wars involve between three and nine opposing groups. Just over 20 percent involve more than 10 competing blocs. In a handful, including ongoing conflicts in Libya and Syria, hundreds of armed groups vie for control. For the most part, these warring factions are themselves highly fragmented, and today’s warriors are just as likely to be affiliated with drug cartels, mafia groups, criminal gangs, militias, and terrorist organizations as with armies or organized rebel factions.

Magic Leap is Bidding on an Army Combat Contract

Joshua Brustein

Magic Leap Inc. is pushing to land a contract with the U.S. Army to build augmented-reality devices for soldiers to use on combat missions, according to government documents and interviews with people familiar with the process. The contract, which could eventually lead to the military purchasing over 100,000 headsets as part of a program whose total cost could exceed $500 million, is intended to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy,” according to an Army description of the program. A large government contract could alter the course of the highest-profile startup working on augmented reality, at a time when prospects to produce a consumer device remain uncertain. 

Why History Matters: Making Junior Leaders More Effective

Tyler Fox

With posters on Mission Command adorning virtually every classroom at the US Army’s Command and General Staff College, and with its prominence as one of the pillars of the Army’s Operational Concept, the term Mission Command has become a buzzword.[i] One of the concept’s true benefits relies on quality personnel, and developing those leaders through the proper use of historical case studies can help to not only make military history engaging but also useful in everyday duties for even a young officer or a non-commissioned officer, and contribute to developing quality personnel.

Comparing The Costs Of Submarine Maintenance At Public And Private Shipyards

Recently, several Navy attack submarines have been delayed in receiving maintenance at public shipyards. As a result, they have missed deployments or had shortened deployments. CBO was asked by the House Armed Services Committee to compare the maintenance costs at public and private shipyards.

CBO’s analysis focused on the most common type of overhaul, the Docking Selected Restricted Availability (DSRA), for SSN-688 class submarines. CBO found that no matter which method it used to calculate costs, private shipyards were less expensive, on average, than public shipyards for DSRA overhauls. The methodology and findings in this slide deck will be more thoroughly documented in a forthcoming CBO report.

Data vs. knowledge: Why only the wise understand the difference


You are leaking data, and absorbing it, says Yale historian Timothy Snyder. But for whose benefit?

Timothy Snyder is the Levin Professor of History at Yale University and the author of On Tyranny, Black Earth, and Bloodlands. His work has received the literature award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Hannah Arendt Prize, and the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

Timothy Snyder:I think that history is a way of dealing with data. One of the things I’m really struck by when I give lectures in Silicon Valley, for example, or when I talk to people who are doing things—that I’m very impressed by, and I’m not going to say that I completely understand them—but one of the things I’m struck by is a certain kind of naïveté that data automatically produces knowledge, which it doesn’t at all.