3 October 2018

For India’s Impending Fossil Fuel Crisis, Wind And Solar Power Alone Won’t Suffice – OpEd

By N. S. Venkataraman

Ministers in Government of India have been repeatedly stating on various occasions that reducing India’s dependence on fossil fuel ( such as coal ,natural gas, petrol/diesel ) is the prime focus area of the government’s policy and initiatives. During the last Paris climate conference, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced target of building power capacity to the level of 175,000 MW based on renewable resources.

Commendable efforts towards solar and wind power

There is no doubt that Government of India has been very earnest in boosting power generation based on renewable resources such as wind and solar. In the last four and half years, after Mr. Modi became the Prime Minister of India, installed capacity of solar power in the country has increased from 1500 MW to around 25,000 MW. In the same way, the wind power capacity has also been increased which have now reached the capacity of around 32,500 MW. The power generation capacity from other renewable sources such as biomass, small hydro power have also been stepped up to around 15,000 MW.

F-35B Stealth Fighter Bombs Ground Target in Afghanistan

By Franz-Stefan Gady

A F-35B, the U.S. Marine Corps’ short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the supersonic fifth-generation F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, has conducted its first-ever strike in Afghanistan on September 27.

Yesterday’s strike marks the combat debut of the F-35B as a close-support aircraft. According to CNN, the target was a “fixed Taliban” position. “During this mission, the F-35B conducted an air strike in support of ground clearance operations, and the strike was deemed successful by the ground force commander,” U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement.

CENTCOM neither revealed the exact number of aircraft involved in the strike nor the munitions used, although a video released by the U.S. military shows what appears to be a satellite-guided 1,000-pound Guided Bomb Unit-32 (GBU-32) Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) weapon fitted on an external weapon pod of the aircraft.

The Last 2 Sikhs in the Taliban’s Heartland

By Franz J. Marty

LASHKAR GAH, HELMAND, AFGHANISTAN – Like many other Afghans, Satnam Singh rides on a bicycle to work in his hometown of Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern Afghan province of Helmand; that’s what he was doing on one day in early summer 2018.

“But that day, a man on a motorcycle deliberately hit me and I fell,” Satnam recounts. The reason that he got knocked over was apparently because the style of his turban clearly shows that he belongs to Afghanistan’s Sikh minority, members of a religion that has its center in India and Pakistan.

The incident might be small, but the seemingly never-ending nature of such harassment is – together with more serious threats and the dire economic situation – one of the main reasons that almost all Sikhs have left Lashkar Gah. In fact, as of summer 2018, only two Sikhs remain in Helmand, which is considered the Taliban’s heartland. The province is where U.S. and British forces suffered the highest casualties during the long Afghan war’s latest ongoing chapter, which started with the U.S.-led intervention after 9/11.

Pak's Offer to India By Imran Khan's Regime is Determined by International Optics-Compulsions

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Contextually in September 2018 Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s peace dialogue offer to India is more determined by compulsions of international optics where Pakistan is globally isolated because of its use of Islamic Jihadi terrorism as State-policy and Pakistan’s dire financial straits arising from funding of terrorist affiliates.

Pakistan’s peace dialogue offers become meaningful and credible only when Pakistan demonstrates proven and sustainable pattern over an appreciable span of time on complete cessation of Pakistan Army’s terrorism operations against India.

Since Pakistan is fixated on use of terrorism as an instrument of state-policy and India remains firm that Pakistani terrorism strategies cannot go hand in hand with peace dialogue offers, this irreconcilability will continue to obstruct India to respond positively to Pakistan’s international-optics determined peace dialogue offers.

The Maldives has another shot at democracy – but it needs help

JJ Robinson
The international community has a rare second chance to help the Maldives make a peaceful democratic transition, after the shock ousting of its authoritarian leader in Sunday’s election.

The opposition’s unassailable lead in the provisional results surprised everyone, not least the sitting president, Abdulla Yameen. Over five years he had jailed or forced into exile the entire opposition leadership and seized control of state institutions, including the judiciary and elections commission. Many of the commission’s staff were Yameen loyalists, seen cheering at his rallies. The elections commissioner himself had previously been secretary general of Yameen’s own political party. Mohamed Nasheed, deposed in a coup in 2012 and the opposition’s first choice of candidate, was barred from contesting following a spurious conviction for terrorism. Foreign journalists, meanwhile, found themselves suddenly blocked from entering the famous tourism hotspot by byzantine new visa procedures.

China’s Yuan Devaluation Is A Big Mistake – OpEd

By Daniel Lacalle*

I find it amusing to read some analysts stating that the Chinese government’s stealth yuan devaluation has offset the impact of tariffs.

A 10% tariff hurts a small part of the economy. However, a 10% devaluation hurts all Chinese citizens equally and massively.

The yuan devaluation is not a tool for exports. Devaluations are a form of price control and a disguised reduction of salaries. As such, they hurt more than what they aim to protect.

The China Tariff Mess


The cost to US consumers and firms imposed by tariffs on Chinese imports is not large relative to the gain that would be achieved if the US succeeds in persuading China to stop illegally taking US firms’ technology. But the Trump administration should state that this is the goal, and that the tariffs will be removed when it is met.

CAMBRIDGE – The most frequent questions that I get when I speak to non-economists concern the tariffs that the United States is levying on imports from China. Why is President Donald Trump’s administration doing this? Aren’t the tariffs a tax on the goods purchased by American consumers? Why does Trump think the US can “win” a trade war with China? How do the Chinese respond to the current tariffs and threats of more? And so on.

Chinese Rush To Global Power Status Brews Ripples Of Tensions – Analysis

China’s continued military modernization as its economy expanded and muscle-flexing in its neighborhood brewed concerns that China was buying time to play a more militaristic role in world politics. It is becoming evident that Beijing’s ambitions were inherent in the paramount communist leader Deng Xiaoping’s famous saying that it was necessary to hide capacities and gain time.

While Deng helped China accumulate more strength by his maverick leadership, necessary reforms and engendering a benign image of China, the succeeding regimes began to use that power in the direction to fulfill Beijing’s regional and global ambitions. China’s ambitious foreign policy objectives are no more hidden and President Xi Jinping not only declared his intentions to turn Beijing into a global power as he announced his vision to make China a leading nation in terms of national power and global impact by 2050 at the 19th National Congress of the Communist party, his ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) is unambiguously a step in this direction.

The Future of CPEC: Enter Saudi Arabia?

By Umair Jamal

The Pakistani government recently claimed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may become the third major partner in the Beijing-funded, Belt and Road-linked, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)consisting of major infrastructure projects inside Pakistan. The announcement has come after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Riyadh where he reportedly asked for the Kingdom’s financial assistance to shore up the country’s foreign reserves.

The idea of a third party joining the China-backed infrastructure initiative in Pakistan is not new: A number of other countries including Iran and the United States were also made similar offers by Islamabad. While Washington and Tehran didn’t join the project, Riyadh’s announcement of support to become part of the CPEC has emerged as an interesting case.

Saudi Arabia is at its least stable in 50 years

Bruce Riedel

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shakes hands with guests during the Saudi-United Arab Emirates Summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 6, 2018. 

The stability of Saudi Arabia is becoming more fragile as the young crown prince’s judgment and competence are increasingly in doubt. Mohammed bin Salman has a track record of impulsive and reckless decisions at home and abroad that calls into question the kingdom’s future.

For the last half century the stability of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has never been seriously in doubt. After King Faisal removed his incompetent and corrupt brother Saud from the throne in 1964, the line of succession has been clear and uncontested. Under Faisal’s rule the economy grew, especially when his 1973 oil embargo jacked prices up significantly. His assassination did not disrupt the stability nor did the 1979 takeover of the great mosque in Mecca by a handful of fanatics. Early in this century the kingdom faced a determined assault by Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda but the efficient security services, led by Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, turned back the threat.

The Immortal Regiment: The Pride And Prejudice Of Russia – Analysis

By Mira Milosevich-Juaristi*

The March of the Immortal Regiment has been celebrated each year since 2012 in hundreds of Russian cities and many others beyond Russia.

The March of the Immortal Regime is a performance, a massive parade that has been celebrated in major cities both inside and outside Russia every 9 May (Victory Day, the Russian equivalent of VE day, which is 8 May in other countries) since 2012. The participants carry placards with black and white photographs of women and men who died or were wounded in the Second World War. The photographs are accompanied by flowers, Russian flags and even the old red Soviet flag with the hammer and sickle. In the front line of the procession a group of people carry an enormous banner with the following words: Bessmertniy Polk (‘The Immortal Regiment’).

Fragility Of Middle East Alliances Becomes Ever More Apparent – Analysis

By James M. Dorsey

Three recent developments lay bare the fragility of Middle Eastern alliances and a rebalancing of their priorities: the Russian-Turkish compromise on an assault on the rebel-held Syrian region of Idlib, the fate of troubled Abu Dhabi airline Ettihad, and battles over reconstruction of Syria.

These developments highlight the fact that competition among Middle Eastern rivals and ultimate power within the region’s various alliances is increasingly as much economic and commercial as it is military and geopolitical. Battles are fought as much on geopolitical fronts as they are on economic and cultural battlefields such as soccer.

As a result, the fault lines of various alliances across the greater Middle East, a region that stretches from North Africa to north-western China, are coming to the fore.

The EU’s laudable Asia Connectivity Strategy

The European Union (EU) has put forward a plan for enhancing connectivity within Asia, and has been dubbed as the Asia Connectivity Strategy.

The EU does not want to give an impression that the Asia Connectivity Strategy (ACS) is a counter to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Yet, senior officials of the EU, while commenting on the broad aims and objectives of the project, have categorically stated that the primary goal of the Asia Connectivity Strategy is enhancing connectivity (physical and digital) while also ensuring that local communities benefit from such a project, and that environmental and social norms are not flouted (this is a clear allusion to the shortcomings of the BRI). There are no clear details with regard to the budget, and other modalities of the project (EU member countries are likely to give a go ahead for this project, before the Asia-Europe Meeting in October 2018). The EU has categorically stated that it would like to ensure that the ACS is economically sustainable.

American Sovereignty Is Safe From the UN

By Bruce Jones

The United States has less reason to worry about its sovereignty than any other country in the world. No other country enjoys as much freedom from external interference—military, economic, or diplomatic. Which is why other national leaders find it perplexing that U.S. presidents addressing the United Nations invariably find it necessary to proclaim yet again that they will never allow any arrogation of U.S. sovereignty. 

“We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy,” U.S. President Donald Trump declared this week in his second UN General Assembly speech. “America is governed by Americans.” He was hardly the first U.S. president to make the point. George H. W. Bush put it positively in his 1991 address to the General Assembly, seeing international institutions as an asset in service of an international order “in which no nation must surrender one iota of its own sovereignty.” George W. Bush had a UN ambassador—John Bolton, now Trump’s national security adviser—famous for his fierce defense of sovereignty. Even Barack Obama, despite his reputation for openness to global cooperation and multilateralism, strongly defended U.S. sovereignty in his 2013 address at the UN: “Different nations will not agree on the need for action in every instance, and the principle of sovereignty is at the center of our international order.” 

The World America Made—and Trump Wants to Unmake


The U.S.-led global order created peace and prosperity for millions. So why are the president’s critics teaming up with him to tear it apart?

The liberal world order is taking a beating these days, and not just at the hands of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. In recent months a bevy of American political scientists from the progressive left to the libertarian right has launched attacks on the very idea of the liberal order, as well as on the conduct of American foreign policy over the past seven decades. These critics argue that the liberal order was a “myth,” a cover for American hegemony and “imperialism.” To the degree there was an order, it was characterized by “coercion, violence, and instability,” and also by hypocrisy. The United States did not always support democracy, but often backed dictatorships, and in the name of shaping a “putatively liberal order,” it often “upended, stretched, or broke liberal rules.” The celebrated achievements of the liberal order, they therefore claim, are either overblown—the “long peace” was due to the Cold War balance of nuclear terror not the American-led order, Graham Allison argues, for instance. Or the order’s benefits are outweighed by its many failures—Vietnam, Iraq, McCarthyism—and by the costs of sustaining it. Indeed, if the liberal order is failing today, they argue, it has been “complicit in its own undoing.” In this, at least, the critics sound much like the president—he, too, believes the liberal order has been a bad deal for Americans.

The Complicated Geopolitics of U.S. Oil Sanctions on Iran

by Amy Myers Jaffe

It is often said, perhaps with some hyperbole, that Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers was the best hope for conflict resolution in the Middle East. Its architect John Kerry argues instead that the 2015 deal’s limited parameter of closing Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapon is sufficient on the merits. The Trump administration is taking a different view, focusing on Iran’s escalating threats to U.S. allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Those threats, which have included missile, drone, and cyberattacks on Saudi oil facilities, are looming large over the global economy because they are squarely influencing the volatility of the price of oil. One could argue that the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Iranian deal, referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has injected an even higher degree of risk into oil markets, where traders now feel that the chances of Mideast conflict resolution are lower.

Profit Sharing Now


NEW YORK – At the British Labour Party’s annual conference in Liverpool this month, the shadow chancellor of the exchequer, John McDonnell, proposed a profit-sharing scheme that would grant workers equity in the firms where they are employed. McDonnell raised this idea in what was decidedly a political speech; and policy experts and economists have reacted skeptically. While a poorly executed profit-sharing program could do serious damage, that is no reason to reject the idea altogether. It is in fact a good sign that the idea is being publicly defended by a political leader.

Many mainstream economists, from Martin Weitzman and Richard B. Freeman to Joseph E. Stiglitz, Debraj Ray, and Kalle Moene have proposed variants of the concept. And with many advanced economies at a critical juncture, with unconscionable levels of inequality threatening to shred the very fabric of democratic politics, “equity for the poor” is an economic principle whose time has come.

The Committee to Save the World Order

By Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay

The order that has structured international politics since the end of World War II is fracturing. Many of the culprits are obvious. Revisionist powers, such as China and Russia, want to reshape global rules to their own advantage. Emerging powers, such as Brazil and India, embrace the perks of great-power status but shun the responsibilities that come with it. Rejectionist powers, such as Iran and North Korea, defy rules set by others. Meanwhile, international institutions, such as the UN, struggle to address problems that multiply faster than they can be resolved.

The newest culprit, however, is a surprise: the United States, the very country that championed the order’s creation. Seventy years after U.S. President Harry Truman sketched the blueprint for a rules-based international order to prevent the dog-eat-dog geopolitical competition that triggered World War II, U.S. President Donald Trump has upended it. He has raised doubts about Washington’s security commitments to its allies, challenged the fundamentals of the global trading regime, abandoned the promotion of freedom and democracy as defining features of U.S. foreign policy, and abdicated global leadership. 

The Next Pandemic Will Be Arriving Shortly

By Lisa Monaco, Vin Gupta

There are plenty of security threats that could keep a former homeland security advisor awake. There is the possibility of a terrorist attack, a cyber-cataclysm, or any number of natural disasters—all threats that are capable of visiting destruction on entire communities in a matter of hours. Right at the top of that list is the threat of a deadly pandemic—an outbreak of infectious disease that rapidly crosses international borders.

In January 2017, while one of us was serving as a homeland security advisor to outgoing President Barack Obama, a deadly pandemic was among the scenarios that the outgoing and incoming U.S. Cabinet officials discussed in a daylong exercise that focused on honing interagency coordination and rapid federal response to potential crises. The exercise is an important element of the preparations during transitions between administrations, and it seemed things were off to a good start with a commitment to continuity and a focus on biodefense, preparedness, and the Global Health Security Agenda—an initiative begun by the Obama administration to help build health security capacity in the most critically at-risk countries around the world and to prevent the spread of infectious disease. But that commitment was short-lived.

While We Were Planning: Unexpected Developments in International Politics

What could a political thaw between Iran and Saudi Arabia mean for how we understand the Middle East? Could Turkey leave NATO in the near future? What would happen if security-related EU databases were successfully hacked; if South Korea were to arm itself with nuclear weapons; or if an American woman were to head the United Nations? In an effort to prepare for the unexpected, the articles in this publication examine what could happen if these scenarios were to become a reality. Two essays also review the accuracy of prediction pieces written in 2013 on the UK’s possible withdrawal from the EU as well as the battery revolution in power supplies.

Why countries print money outside their borders

By Christopher Giles

Last week, the Liberian government announced it had lost $104m (£79m).

This wasn't through any bad investment decision or some accounting fraud, the money - in cash - had literally gone missing.

The banknotes had been ordered by Liberia's central bank from printers overseas and had disappeared after passing through the country's main port and airport. The government is now investigating.

Meanwhile, last month Indians expressed outrage on social media about printing money.

A report in the South China Morning Post claimed the state-owned China Banknote Printing and Minting Corporation had won a contract to print Indian rupees, prompting concerns about national security.

Will AI Help Create More Jobs? – Analysis

By Sandip Sen

In 2009, Martin Ford, the author of The New York Times best seller, ‘The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future’ predicted the loss of millions of jobs held by assembly line workers, cab drivers and retail store employees to automation driven by AI. In 2015 he wrote the award winning book ‘Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future’. At a conference in 2016, he said, “I wrote that self-driving cars might happen one day, and within six months of that book being published, we already had such a vehicle on the road,” he said. “It’s possible that taxi drivers and truck drivers will soon be out of work.’’

How Dirty Money Disappears Into the Black Hole of Cryptocurrency

By Justin Scheck and Shane Shifflett

A North Korean agent, a stolen-credit-card peddler and the mastermind of an $80 million Ponzi scheme had a common problem. They needed to launder their dirty money.

They found a common solution in ShapeShift AG, an online exchange backed by established American venture-capital firms that lets people anonymously trade bitcoin, which police can track, for other digital currencies that can’t be followed.

Since bitcoin was introduced nearly 10 years ago, law-enforcement authorities have worried the technology could ease money laundering. Now a new breed of cryptocurrency intermediary is giving fresh urgency to those fears, operating in plain view with scant policing and often allowing users to engage in anonymous transactions.

Facebook Was Hacked. 3 Things You Should Do After the Breach.

By Brian X. Chen

The social networking giant said attackers had exploited a weakness that enabled them to hijack the accounts of nearly 50 million users. Here are some tips for securing your account. 

Facebook said its engineers discovered a security weakness this week that could let attackers hijack people’s accounts. The vulnerability, which the company said had been fixed, affected nearly 50 million accounts.

Facebook said in a web post that the security issue was related to the “View As” feature, which allows people to see a preview of what their profile looks like to other people, like specific friends. Hackers exploited a weakness in the tool to gain access to digital keys that let people access Facebook from a personal device without having to re-enter a password.The keys could then be used to take over people’s accounts, the company said.

Diplomacy and Defense in Cyber Space

By Merle Maigre

The strength of our society rests on the strength of our IT. In a world where everything is connected—phones, cars, houses, electric grids, supermarkets, hospitals, financial systems and satellites—everything can be disrupted, if not destroyed. For several years, cyber threats have featured at the top of the risk assessments of government ministers, diplomats, intelligence officials and military leaders. What is missing in these debates is a grand strategic vision. Cyber diplomacy and cyber defense should become the bread and butter of our foreign and security policy debates.

Cyber Norms and International Law

International law is often misleadingly dismissed as window dressing on realpolitik. But that approach understates the importance of international agreements in maintaining peace and security. For liberal democracies that respect the rule of law, international law shapes governments’ activities. At difficult and unstable times, it is even more important that our like-minded countries demonstrate commitments to international law and the values that it represents.

Space Exploration: Why India Must Go It Alone

by Chaitanya Giri

At the inauguration of the Bengaluru Space Expo 2018, on 6 September, France’s space agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), also a major sponsor of the expo, announced its thumping support for India’s Human Spaceflight Programme (IHSP), also known as Gaganyaan. CNES president Jean-Yves Le Gall agreed, proactively, to share with New Delhi his agency’s considerable know-how on human life-support systems, particularly space medicine, astronaut health-monitoring, life support, radiation protection, space debris protection, and personal hygiene systems.

The French support for India’s ambitious new programme is not surprising. After all, Paris has, for years, been a major exporter and service provider across all major strategic technology systems, be it aerospace, missile, submarine, nuclear, satellite and space launch systems. With this announcement, France has offered itself as a major exporter of its human spaceflight research and development (R&D) ecosystem, a business CNES has a specific expertise in, having developed it with French technology companies and research institutions.

To Go Boldly Where Many Have Gone Before

by Anand Ranganathan and Sheetal Ranganathan

It is in India’s interest for ISRO to replicate Mangalyaan’s success with Gaganyaan’s human mission by 2022, and prepare for the next milestone: an Indian crew on the moon.

Against the setting November sun of 1963, a streak of dense vapour pierced through the coconut tree-lined silhouette of the Thumba seashore in Kerala.

Transported in parts by bicycles and bullock carts to the launch site, assembled lovingly by hand for the countdown, unknown to all but a few, what went up was India's first rocket. What it left in its wake was a trail that redefined our modern history.

India had catapulted into space age.

Future battlefields: how the wars of tomorrow will be fought

By Sean Cameron 

It is often said that nothing ages quite so quickly as yesterday’s vision of tomorrow.

In the mid-20th century, consumed by the aftermath of two world wars, the public was sold a chrome-plated vision of the future, a world at peace, and a world of spaceships, jetpacks and laser beams. 

While spaceships are as far away now as they were when sci-fi movies first gripped audiences in the 1950, elsewhere we've seen unrelenting technological progress – but we've also come to accept that war will be with us for a long time to come.

And right now no field of technology promises quite so many outlandish and futuristic ideas as defense, from railguns and ray guns to hypersonic missiles to killer robots. So what will the weapons and wars of the future look like?
Let’s play a game

UK And US Now Overtly Honor Al Qaeda – OpEd

By Eric Zuesse*

The United Kingdom is resettling Al Qaeda’s Syrian medical unit, called the “White Helmets,” as “refugees” in UK. The White Helmets organization is funded by UK’s MI6 and America’s CIA, and is headed by Raed Saleh, who was prohibited from visiting the US because he’s a terrorist. These jihadists won’t just have UK honors (and they already have: a Hollywood Oscar-winning ‘documentary’ full of lies about how ‘heroic’ the White Helmets are), but, presumably, they’ll also obtain UK citizenship.

“The Syria White Helmets Exposed as US UK Agents” is a 4-minute video about them. It’s an entirely accurate representation regarding their personnel and funding-sources. It even shows Al Qaeda in Syria executing a civilian; and, then, White Helmets — this ‘humanitarian organization’ — collecting his corpse just seconds later, as part of their ‘heroic’ work, for the US-and-allied invaders of Syria. The invading nations use Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch to train and lead ‘our’ boots-on-the-ground fighters to overthrow Syria’s secular, non-sectarian, Government, which is headed by the secular Shiite Bashar al-Assad. These US-Saudi-Israeli-allied proxy fundamentalist-Sunni-jihadist boots-on-the-ground do the actual dirty-work of killing people for their sponsoring aristocracies. 

Can International Humanitarian Law Restrain Armed Groups? Lessons from NGO Work on Anti-Personnel Landmines

By Margarita Konaev, Tanisha Fazal

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), more armed groups have emerged in the last seven years than in the previous 70. This increase, driven in part by the factionalization and splintering of more mature groups, presents a serious challenge for humanitarian organizations that work with these non-state actors to ensure respect for the laws of war. This issue is a particularly tricky one in the realm of civil wars, because much of what is considered to be the core of codified international humanitarian law (IHL) was originally written to govern wars between states, not within them. And while both states and armed non-state groups are technically bound by IHL, only states can formally become parties to treaties such as the 1949 Geneva Conventions.