4 October 2018

COMCASA and the Future of India's Defense Industrial Base

By Robert Farley

Ankit Panda offers a concise summary of what the COMCASA agreement, which ensures cooperation on communications technology and policy, means for the future of U.S.-India relations. It clears up one of the last big roadblocks for U.S.-Indian interoperability, making arms transfers easier and paving the way for improved cooperation on innovation and production. The U.S. Department of Defense has also suggested that India (along with Indonesia and Vietnam) will not be sanctioned under CAATSA for purchasing Russian military equipment.

The closer relationship between the United States and India has big implications for the future of India’s defense industrial base (DIB). India is adopting a technology-management model that resembles that of the United States in some ways, even though the structure of the Indian DIB remains radically different.

India’s Coal Imports Are An Economic Reality, And Why Coal Sector Efficiency Gains Since 2014 Should Be Acknowledged

by Aashish Chandorkar

Coal sector reform and fine-tuning of CIL operations are key, while imports for the economy as a whole are not going away anytime soon.

Despite robust economic growth, low inflation and strong consumption, India is lately facing macroeconomic headwinds. The crude is on a boil, the US-China trade war has created global uncertainty, the rupee is rebalancing itself after a long period of stability, and the trade deficit has been widening in the financial year 2018-19.

While a lot of factors are global and impact emerging markets other than India too in general, trade imbalance is one area where questions have been asked of the Narendra Modi government. In August 2018, Indian imports topped $45 billion, growing 25 per cent in dollar terms and 36 per cent in rupee terms over August 2017.

Parliamentary Elections Loom in Afghanistan

By Catherine Putz

Afghans are scheduled to head to the polls on October 20 to cast ballots in elections for the lower house of parliament and district councils. The election, originally slated for 2015, is more than three years late, and with less than a month to go, it is beset with crises big and small.

Not one to shy away from eating my own words, I did not think Afghanistan would manage to hold elections this year. Last December, when Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced that parliamentary and district council elections on July 7, 2018, I concluded by writing “It would seem impossible for Afghanistan to manage an election as soon as next summer, but further delay pushes the image of even a nascent democracy in the country into the realm of true absurdity.”

The Maldives’ New Government: Mission Impossible?

By Sudha Ramachandran

Just days after Maldivians poured into the streets of the Maldivian capital, Male, to celebrate the defeat of the archipelago’s autocratic President Abdulla Yameen in the September 23 presidential elections, the mood in the country turned somewhat somber. After initially conceding defeat to joint opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Yameen appeared to be preparing to subvert the election verdict to hold on to power.

Such fears gathered momentum with the Election Commission dragging its feet on announcing the final results. Besides, Yameen was reported to be planning to challenge the verdict in the Maldives’ High Court and had apparently instructed loyal police officers to prepare reports backing up his claim that the election was rigged in his opponent’s favor.

“People were understandably nervous, and on the edge, as to whether President Yameen would relinquish power without trying something through the courts [to negate the election result],” Dr. Farah Faisal, former Maldivian ambassador to the United Kingdom told The Diplomat.

A photomontage shows a businessman against a backdrop depicting the digital age.

Taiwanese electronic firms are still more advanced than mainland China's in developing most cutting-edge technologies, but they are increasingly linked to mainland supply chains.

This integration could help Beijing move up the production value chains, compromising Taiwan's competitive advantage.

U.S.-China trade tensions will likely increase production costs and push Taiwanese-owned, low-end manufacturing companies to move away from China and into Southeast Asian states.

Though Taiwan will continue to struggle to form regional, multilateral free trade agreements, it could see more success pursuing bilateral deals with the mainland's biggest rivals.

The impact of Chinese students in the US, charted and mapped

The Financial Times reports today that earlier this year Stephen Miller, president Trump’s hard-line advisor, had tried to convince the president to ban all Chinese students from entering the US.

It’s the latest point of tension between the two countries that has intensified in recent months. A Chinese national was arrested by US officials last week on suspicion he was spying for China while in the US on a student visa. President Trump has voiced concern that Chinese students are acting as spies, according to news reports. And of course, the US and China are currently engaged in a trade war.

Any change in the US’s treatment of Chinese students could have drastic effects on US colleges and universities. Chinese nationals make up the largest group of international students in the US. They account for roughly 30% of all foreign students. There were about 340,000 of them in July 2018.

Donald Trump’s new NAFTA is the blueprint for his trade war with China

By Tim Fernholz

The revised free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, christened USMCA, has big implications for Donald Trump’s trade war with China. Both the US and China have leveled taxes on billions of dollars of each other’s imports as they jockey for economic power.

Now that Trump has found his way to agree with one set of allies, some hope he will move forward to unify a trade bloc against China through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global deal that includes both Canada and Mexico.

“The USMCA looks to be the trade pact formerly known as NAFTA plus 10-20%,” tweeted Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “Hope it becomes a precedent for TPP. I suggest the US-Pacific Trade Agreement (USPTA). What matters is that the US joins it; doing so would bolster our strategic position vis-a-vis China and our economy.”

U.S.-China relations: Is it time to end the engagement?

Intensive engagement with China, which has been a foundation of U.S. policy since President Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit, is under attack by critics of U.S. policy who seek to disengage the two countries. China’s growing strength, its perceived challenge to U.S. global leadership, its economic mercantilism, and other actions that are seen as threatening have persuaded many American policymakers and analysts that engagement no longer serves U.S. interest as we head into a period of intense rivalry. The Trump administration, legislators, and corporate and academic institutions are in the process of abandoning long-standing cooperative arrangements and programs affecting trade, investment, students on American campuses, funding of academic programs, media, and military interaction.

Principles for managing U.S.-China competition

Donald Trump and Xi Jinping both have praised their relationships with each other and expressed support for the healthy development of U.S.-China relations. Despite these positive public comments, the relationship has deteriorated further and faster than at any point since the establishment of official ties in 1979. Each country blames the other for the downturn and believes the other bears responsibility for reversing the negative trajectory. Barring presidential-level intervention to change course, the relationship likely will continue to deteriorate and, in so doing, increase the risk of future confrontation or conflict.

Enmity is not preordained. Another choice would be for both leaders to work together and establish principles for managing U.S.-China rivalry. Such an effort would not seek to stifle competition, but rather to build guardrails around the relationship so that competition could occur within accepted bounds. This, in turn, would create conditions more conducive for both sides candidly to address concerns about the actions of the other.

Avoiding war: Containment, competition, and cooperation in U.S.-China relations

The most pivotal question in geopolitical affairs is whether and how the United States will exercise its military power to impose costs on China for seeking to assert military dominance in East and Southeast Asia. But this central question is one among many regarding how the United States and China will navigate each other’s changing roles in international affairs, particularly as Chinese President Xi Jinping gives greater expression to China’s ambitions to be a premier global power. On November 1, 2017, Brookings Vice President and Director of Foreign Policy Bruce Jones convened seven Brookings scholars and affiliates—David Dollar, Ryan Hass, Robert Kagan, Cheng Li, Kenneth Lieberthal, Mira Rapp-Hooper, and Jonathan Stromseth—to discuss the future of U.S.-China relations. The edited transcript below reflects their assessments of China’s current and future posture, and the American debate about how to respond.

Flying High: Japan Strengthens African Ties

By Arran Elcoate

The inauguration of Tanzania’s first overpass on September 27 serves to honor more than Patrick Mfugale, the talented head of Tanzania’s road agency after whom it is named. A prominently placed plaque also heralds the new roadway as “a token of friendship between Japan and the United Republic of Tanzania.” It’s timely reminder that, amid agitation about Chinese investments in Africa, Japan is also vying for influence on the continent.

The roots of significant Japanese interest in Africa can be traced to the end of the Cold War when Japan moved to fill the void left by the great powers. What followed was the first Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), a powerful statement of Japan’s commitment to the African continent which in turn prompted similar conferences by other “middle powers” including China, India, Singapore, and Turkey.

Russian Naval Infantry Stretches Its Muscles in the Baltic

Source Link 
By: Jörgen Elfving

On September 14, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported on a landing exercise in Kaliningrad Oblast—Russia’s Baltic exclave, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania (Mil.ru, September 14). The exercise apparently involved up to 25 surface ships, boats and supply vessels of the Baltic Fleet, over 30 planes and drones, more than 30 BTR-82A armored personnel carriers and some 1,500 troops. These drills were evidently an important part of a comprehensive naval exercise that might have started already on September 4 (Mil.ru, September 4, 13). The participating Naval Infantry personnel were deposited on the shore from large landing ships the Alexander Shabalin, Korolyov and Minsk as well as a number of amphibious landing craft, including the Michman Lermontov, Lieutenant Rimsky-Korsakovand Denis Davydov. Corvettes, missile boats, attack aircraft and attack helicopters supported the practiced landing form the sea and air. Prior to this, a similar exercise, but on a smaller scale—possibly a rehearsal for the forthcoming maneuvers—was reported on September 9 (Mil.ru, September 9).

North and South Korea’s New Military Agreement

By Sukjoon Yoon

At the Pyongyang summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, held from September 18-20, 2018, a declaration was signed by the ranking military officials of the two Koreas. This agreement is intended to prevent military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula. Specifically it establishes buffer zones, based on the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) (a.k.a. the Armistice Line) on land, and on the Northern Limit Line (NLL) at sea. Optimists see the agreement as a useful step toward better relations; pessimists see it as a step too far, given the continuing military tensions on the Korean Peninsula. A balanced appraisal suggests that it is too soon to decide.

NATO Ops Center Goes 24/7 To Counter Russians: Gen. Scaparrotti


NATO is dusting off Cold War concepts such as deterrence, rapid reinforcement and battle readiness as it faces a Russian destabilization campaign. Our contributor James Kitfield is traveling with Gen. James Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, as the Marine general attends the NATO summit in Warsaw. Kitfield spoke with Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, about the Russian threat in the former Soviet and Russian vassal state. One of James’ cab drivers described Warsaw as a speed bump between Berlin and Moscow, just to put everything in perspective. Scaparrotti wasn’t quite as vivid, but he made clear in unequivocal terms that Russia is America’s top threat. — the editors

Assessment of Russia’s Cyber Relations With the U.S. And Its Allies

Summary: Russia frequently employs offensive cyber operations to further its foreign policy and strategic goals. Prevalent targets of Russian activity include the United States and its allies, most recently culminating in attacks on Western national elections by using cyber-enabled information operations. Notably, these information operations have yielded national security implications and the need for proactive measures to deter further Russian offenses.

Text: The United States and its allies are increasingly at risk from Russian offensive cyber operations (OCOs). Based on the definition of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, OCOs are operations which aim “to project power in or through cyberspace[1].” Russia utilizes OCOs to further their desired strategic end state: to be perceived as a great power in a polycentric world order and to wield greater influence in international affairs. Russia uses a variety of means to achieve this end state, with cyber tools now becoming more frequently employed.

How to make Russia back off in the Middle East

By Daniel Shapiro

For the first time in decades, Israel finds itself on the receiving end of Russian threats. The tensions follow the downing last week of a Russian Ilyushin IL-20 military aircraft, and the deaths of its 15 crew members, by Syrian air-defense batteries responding to Israeli airstrikes on Iranian weapons shipments in Syria.

A crisis like this one cries out for US diplomacy to help manage it. So far, there’s no sign of it.

Two things have facilitated Israel’s campaign against Iranian weapons in Syria: the careful, professional approach of the Israeli Air Force, which hits its intended targets and avoids collateral damage; and Israel’s deft management of its relationship with Russia, since the Russian military deployed to Syria in 2015.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu works well with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the two countries’ air forces maintain a deconfliction channel to prevent accidents.

America's Military Is Losing Its Counterinsurgency Operations Capabilities

Ever wonder why or how the U.S. military forgets how to do counterinsurgency and stability operations? We are witnessing the process happen in real time.

There is a common pattern within military organizations, especially the U.S. military. They train for conventional operations against near-peer adversaries but are asked to engage in counterinsurgency (COIN) and stability operations instead. American soldiers spend significant amounts in blood and treasure learning how to conduct those operations, and then forget those lessons as soon as the conflict winds down. A common example is the U.S. “discovery” of COIN doctrine during the War on Terror. The U.S. military’s “new” doctrine on COIN (FM 3-24) was lauded as a revolutionary moment. With the “new” doctrine in hand, the U.S. military could now effectively win its unconventional wars. However, comparison reveals the new COIN doctrine is strikingly similar to that developed during the Vietnam War. Why does the U.S. Military forget how to conduct the types of conflict it is more often engaged in?

Shale Oil Propels U.S. Crude Export Increase

Crude oil exports from the U.S. are rising, reaching 2.2 million barrels per day (mb/d) in June 2018, triple the 2016 average and the highest ever for the nation. More than 90 percent of crude exports this year have originated on the Gulf Coast, generating jobs, capital and income for ports in Houston and Corpus Christi.

Such exports were at a trickle before Congress lifted a federal crude oil export ban that had been in place since 1975. The change, which took effect in December 2015, allows U.S. producers to sell oil directly to the global market at a time when shale oil production is high and rising

US car makers can’t win Trump’s trade war

By Michael J. Coren

There’s no such thing as an “American” car anymore. Thanks to globalization, almost every car sold and built in the US is an amalgam of parts from a supply chain stretching from Bangkok, Thailand, to Smyrna, Tennessee.

As a result, US president Donald Trump’s ongoing trade war with China and Europe, and his administration’s contentious renegotiation of the NAFTA free trade agreement with partners to the north and south, is putting enormous pressure on American car companies. In August, China slapped a second round of tariffs on automobiles produced in the United States. At least a quarter million automobiles expected to be imported into China’s car market, the world’s largest, will now be far more expensive.

What Sort of World Are We Headed for?


Lately, international relations hands such as Patrick Porter, Graham Allison, Thomas Wright, Robert Kagan, Rebecca Lissner, Mira Rapp-Hooper, yours truly, and a host of others have been caught up in a lively discussion about the current world order. Much of the debate has centered around whether that order was, is, or will be “liberal.” IR theory mavens out there could spend several days sifting through the various contributions and pondering who makes the better case. But to be honest, I’m not entirely convinced it would be worth your time.

Why? Well, for starters, I’ve never fully understood what “world order” means. Plenty of authors use the term—the statesman Henry Kissinger even wrote a fat doorstop of a bookwith that ponderous title—and I confess that I’ve used it myself on occasion. Yet it remains a vague and fuzzy concept on which there is little consensus.

A Path to De-Globalization?

This week, the Simon Chair held an event on the potential impact of recent reforms to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, better known as CFIUS. The event featured a keynote from Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over CFIUS. In his comments, the Chairman underscored the importance of foreign investment to the health of the U.S. economy. He also highlighted his Committee’s efforts to “ensure that the law could not be abused as a potential tool of industrial policy, protectionism or economic control.”

A No-Deal Brexit Will Destroy the British Economy

By Simon Tilford

A country should theoretically be able to leave the European Union without wrenching economic dislocation and without doing long-lasting damage to relations with its closest neighbors. And that might still happen. British Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU’s leaders could still negotiate a deal that limits the economic damage and preserves strong political ties.

But it’s increasingly possible that they won’t—largely because Britain continues to demand a privileged relationship with the EU that Brussels will not, and probably cannot, agree to. That leaves the country on a path toward a no-deal divorce, which could also cost the United Kingdom its unity in addition to its economic health.

At present, trade between Britain and the rest of the EU is seamless. There are no checks at borders or tariffs, and London-based firms can buy goods and components from suppliers based in Belgium as easily as they do from those in Birmingham. Seamless trade means that U.K. manufacturers are embedded in a web of pan-European, just-in-time supply chains.

Give Today's Children A Chance

World leaders are gathering at the United Nations to discuss how to deliver on development for all that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable - “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The long road towards development

The world has achieved a tremendous amount in the past five decades on the development front. Since 1990 alone, over a billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty. Never before in human history have we witnessed progress on this scale. It reflects a combination of important economic reforms that led to robust economic growth in most of the developing world and the concerted efforts of the international community to support countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, agreed in 2000.

Blockchain and AI: A winning combo

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain is the current craze right now. Why is AI important? Which AI Blockchain projects are there — and which of these will you need to focus on?

In this article expect a concise list of the most noteworthy AI Blockchain projects currently out there. The goal of this article is not to advertise what makes these projects great, instead its to compile a short list of which cryptocurrency projects employ AI technology.

Why Blockchain and AI technology?

In the past we have seen a hype cycle ensue around several concepts in the cryptosphere. For example, following the huge success of Dash we have seen a tremendous demand for Masternode-based cryptocurrencies as the promise of passive income was too big to ignore. Another popular feature was anonymity as we saw coins like Monero (XMR) and Verge (XVG) rise to tremendous heights as well. For the next hype cycle it is expected that AI will take charge as investors will turn their eye towards this winning combo instead.

What Do the Trump Administration’s Changes to PPD-20 Mean for U.S. Offensive Cyber Operations?

The White House has reportedly made it easier for U.S. Cyber Command to conduct offensive cyber operations, leading some observers to fret that it will create undue risks of escalation. Those concerns might be overblown. 

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Donald J. Trump administration removed some of the restrictions governing the approval process for offensive cyberattacks conducted against U.S. adversaries under Presidential Policy Directive 20 (PPD-20). With the elevation of U.S. Cyber Command to a unified combatant command in May 2018—on par with the Pentagon’s other combatant commands—the logic behind the reported revisions was that the commander of Cyber Command should have authority to take action comparable to that of other combatant command commanders.

Even If You Hate Zuckerberg Now, You’ll Love Him Later


A certain distaste for Facebook’s chief Mark Zuckerberg underlies much of the recent reaction to the company’s annus horribilis. Just last week, the company announced a data breach affecting 50 million people, right on the heels of Instagram’s prominent founders leaving Facebook. Whether it’s a hack or a corporate battle, Zuckerberg does not get the benefit of the doubt, let alone the awe and reverence afforded to comparable company-creating CEOs like Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos. Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t mention Zuckerberg’s 14-year-old messages about his first 4,000 users: “they ‘trust me’” as proof of his venality.

In opposition to Zuckerberg, Instagram’s Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and WhatsApp’s Brian Acton and Jan Koum, who left before them, somehow become deeply sympathetic characters in their struggles to protect their beloved products. This is despite all of them having made at least hundreds of millions of dollars selling to and working for Facebook.

Yantra-Vigyaan Advaita: The Non-Dualism Of Science And Technology

by Ranajay Ghosh and Aloke Kumar

India’s future lies in envisioning an era of big tech — technological goals so audacious that they inspire awe and stir the youth to rise up to the challenge.

Along with the moon mission, India must launch even bigger and outlandish big tech goals like reaching Venus, zero-emission megacities, and eliminating one vector-borne disease a year.

“It is impossible to construct an engine which will work in a complete cycle, and produce no effect except the raising of a weight and cooling of a heat reservoir.” The reader may not be faulted for concluding that this is one of those perfunctory disclaimers in an automobile, refrigerator, or a pump-repair manual. Perhaps written uninspiringly by a dreary mechanic plodding through a listless day at work. In that case, you may be surprised to learn that this single statement is pivotal to explaining profound conundrums such as why time seems to only move forward, how even black holes can emit radiation, the nature of life itself, and why it is extremely unlikely that Humpty Dumpty will spontaneously come together after the fall.

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.

The Army’s Body Armor May Be Too Heavy For Soldiers In Combat, Report Finds

Source Link 

The U.S. Army should authorize commanders to allow combat troops to leave the service’s heavy, over-designed body armor behind on certain missions to increase physical performance, according to a new report from the Center for a New American Security.

“Body armor provides increasingly advanced protection, but at a cost in soldier performance,” according to “The Soldier’s Heavy Load,” part of the “Super Soldiers” series of reports that Army Research Laboratory commissioned CNAS to conduct looking at soldier survivability.

“Increased soldier load not only slows movement and increases fatigue, but also has been experimentally demonstrated to decrease situational awareness and shooting response times,” the report added.

Want Better Peacekeeping Ops? Add Women

Women are routinely underrepresented in peacekeeping operations, even though their participation has been shown to improve mission effectiveness and advance stability.

The Donald J. Trump administration is seeking to make UNpeacekeeping more efficient and effective. As part of its reform efforts, the administration should increase women’s representation in peacekeeping operations. Women are routinely underrepresented in peacekeeping operations, even though their participation has been shown to improve mission effectiveness and advance stability. Countries around the world deploy women to the United Nations at levels far lower than they are represented in domestic security forces. To address this gap, the U.S. government should support a financial premium given by the United Nations to police- and troop-contributing countries to increase the training and deployment of female peacekeepers.

Infographic Of The Day: Manufacturing In America

Manufacturing plays a major role in the U.S. economy with 11.6 million employees producing goods that we consume domestically or export abroad.