17 October 2018

Gandhi for the Post-Truth Age

By Pankaj Mishra

In 2015, in South Africa, where Mohandas Gandhi lived from 1893 to 1914, a statue of him was defaced by protesters. The following year, the University of Ghana agreed to remove Gandhi’s statue from its campus, after an online campaign with the (misspelled) hashtag #Ghandimustfall charged the Indian leader with racism against black Africans. Compared with other recent targets of political iconoclasts—stalwarts of the Confederacy and Cecil Rhodes—Gandhi seems an unlikely symbol of racial arrogance. Nelson Mandela claimed that Gandhi’s tactics offered “the best hope for future race relations”; Martin Luther King, Jr., held Gandhi up as a model; decades before that, black activists such as Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., and Benjamin Mays were enthralled by the phenomenon of an Indian leading people of color in the campaign against British colonialism in India. Yet Gandhi’s legacy is no longer secure even in his own country. The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, cites V. D. Savarkar, a far-right Hindu supremacist who was accused of involvement in Gandhi’s assassination, in 1948, as his ideological mentor. A portrait of Savarkar, who loathed Gandhi for being too soft on minorities, hangs in the Indian Parliament building.

Pakistan’s Failing Economy Arises From Oversized Army Budget – Analysis

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Pakistan in 2018 has ended up as a ‘Economically Failed State’ chiefly due to massive appropriations by Pakistan Army GHQ in Rawalpindi with no questions dare asked nor accountability called for by Pakistan’s elected/nominated Prime Ministers sitting in Islamabad. Pakistan’s gullible populace is sedated by Pakistan Army hierarchy that this is required to face Pakistan’s threats emanating from both flanks. Afghanistan and India over the decades have not posed any military threat to Pakistan or threatened it as such. It is the Pakistan Army flush with ‘black money’ diverted from Pakistan’s national exchequer has financed and trained Islamic Jihadi terrorist monsters inflicting terror and suicide bombings in Afghanistan and India.

Robot War in the South China Sea?

by Lyle J. Goldstein

As technology advances relentlessly, the real prospect of robot wars is apparently almost upon us. The 2015 book Ghost Fleet , written by Peter Singer and August Cole, lays out a vision of a future war between China and the United States, and the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in that hypothetical military conflict is not small. Drones of various types not only carry out surveillance in this novel but also play crucial roles in communications, logistics, as well as in high-intensity combat. In one memorable vignette, two American unmanned surface vehicles “following an algorithm developed from research done on the way sand tiger sharks cooperated in their hunting” successfully prosecute a Chinese nuclear submarine. Strategists familiar with the U.S. Navy’s Sea Hunter program know that this ambition is not especially far-fetched. Yet, what if that book understates China’s ambitions to apply AI to the future battlefield, and to undersea warfare, in particular? Such a conclusion could be plausibly drawn from recent revelations in the South China Morning Post.

Gordon Chang: China's Rise (and America's Fall) Just Won't Happen. Here's Why.

by Gordon G. Chang

“This geopolitical recession is something really simple—it’s the end of the U.S.-led global order,” Ian Bremmer, head of risk advisors Eurasia Group, told the ANZ Finance & Treasury Forum in Singapore this week. Bremmer’s message plays well, and not just to those attending financial conferences. Most American policymakers, for instance, have bought into his “declinist” predictions about China’s rise and America’s fall. At least two—and maybe all three—of President Donald Trump’s immediate predecessors accepted the premise of eventual Chinese dominance. For a long time, those predictions were generally accepted. Most recently, however, there are even more reasons to challenge the assumptions underpinning the narrative of declinism.

Are Trump and Xi on the brink of a new Cold War?

by Steven Jiang and Ben Westcott

Beijing, China (CNN)There is growing realization -- and fear -- among Chinese officials in Beijing that US President Donald Trump could be serious in his promise to upend the types of bilateral relations they have become accustomed to in the past few decades. It is a shock for Beijing to realize that reports about an administration-wide policy initiative countering China are more than mere Washington hearsay. Since June, United States and China's diplomatic ties have deteriorated rapidly across a range of fronts, not just trade but also military and politics. It may not be the start of the next Cold War, at least not yet, but relations between the two sides have been plunged into an unprecedented deep chill.

China's Belt and Road tempts states, but comes with risks

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NUSA DUA, Bali: China's massive "Belt and Road Initiative" building push may create debt risks but is also responding to major infrastructure gaps in Asia and could boost global trade, World Bank officials say. The relatively upbeat assessment of a sometimes controversial programme comes despite the debt crisis now faced by Pakistan, a recipient of massive Chinese loans. China launched the ambitious plan in 2013 under President Xi Jinping, seeking to link Asia, Europe and Africa with a network of ports, highways and railways. It has dispersed tens of billions of dollars in loans, often to highly indebted countries, sparking criticism of Beijing for everything from "debt entrapment" to excluding local labour from projects funded by the plan.

China’s “nuclear option” in the US trade war would be economic suicide

By Gwynn Guilford 

Tensions between the US and China just keep rising. Last week, for example, US vice president Mike Pence made a speech laying out the Trump administration’s case for an all-out economic confrontation with China, beyond its current tariffs on Chinese goods. But does the White House have the upper hand? A recent New York Times column by Andrew Ross Sorkin points out that China does have a “nuclear option” in its arsenal: US Treasuries. This scenario would involve ”the Chinese, the biggest holder of United States foreign debt with more than $1 trillion, publicly taking a step back from buying United States Treasuries—or worse, dumping what they own in the open market.”

Five lessons ignored in the Trump administration’s new counterterrorism strategy

Eric Rosand

Some aspects are noteworthy, such as the inclusion of domestic terrorism, the focus on strengthening counterterrorism partnerships with countries around the globe, the emphasis on intervention and rehabilitation and reintegration programs, and the pledge to work with civil society and other local actors. However, the strategy is light on details on the “how”—it offering no insight on, for example, the division of labor among the dozens of relevant U.S. government departments and agencies, and says little about the comparative advantages of possible foreign government and multilateral partners. As such, it falls short in a number of important ways. Although the strategy reflects one of the important lessons of the past 17 years of counterterrorism practice—that military and intelligence operations, in isolation, do not end terrorist movements and that complementary (and enhanced) civilian-led efforts are required—it gives short shrift to a number of equally important ones.

The Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi and a Crown Prince’s False Promise

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen

The disappearance of the prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has focused much attention in Washington, D.C., where Khashoggi had been living in self-imposed exile, on the stream of bad news coming out of Saudi Arabia in recent months. Ever since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman returned from a month-long trip abroad in March and April, with stops in Egypt, the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Spain, a succession of developments have cast serious doubt on the credibility of the reform narrative the crown prince and his entourage were so energetically pushing, to often eager applause.

How Europe can stop African migration

Europe pledged to spend €6 billion in Turkey to keep refugees on the other side of the border. Some have suggested spending a similar amount in Africa. POLITICO asked Europe’s leading migration experts and policymakers: If the EU had €6 billion to spend on managing migration from Africa, how and where should the bloc spend it? Think beyond the money Dimitris Avramopoulos is European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship. Europe’s engagement with third countries is not about money. Those who think you can put a figure on a relationship woefully underestimate the significance and intricacy of such partnerships.

Brexit will weaken Europe, isolate Britain and fuel global tensions

By Ian Bremmer

Leave aside the particulars of this month's Brexit drama — Theresa May's dance moves, Boris Johnson's attacks on May's plan, and the latest warnings from European capitals — it's time to brace for Brexit. Let's focus on the few geopolitical certainties we know will follow the UK's exit from the European Union, on whatever terms it comes. Start across the Atlantic. Brexit won't do the "special relationship" between the US and Europe any favors. An EU without the UK is a much weaker partner for Washington when US-EU interests align and a much weaker foil when those interests collide. Yes, many of the issues currently dividing the US from Europe have been a long time coming — differences over Russia policy, NATO funding and Middle East adventurism have strained US-European relations before. But Brexit undermines the transatlantic alliance across the board because Brexit challenges will divert Brussels' overall energy and attention away from working with Washington to help bridge their divides.

Could An Artificial Intelligence Be Considered A Person Under The Law?

by Roman V. Yampolskiy,

Humans aren’t the only people in society - at least according to the law. In the U.S., corporations have been given rights of free speech and religion. Some natural features also have person-like rights. But both of those required changes to the legal system. A new argument has laid a path for artificial intelligence systems to be recognized as people too - without any legislation, court rulings or other revisions to existing law. Legal scholar Shawn Bayer has shown that anyone can confer legal personhood on a computer system, by putting it in control of a limited liability corporation in the U.S. If that maneuver is upheld in courts, artificial intelligence systems would be able to own property, sue, hire lawyers and enjoy freedom of speech and other protections under the law. In my view, human rights and dignity would suffer as a result.
The corporate loophole

US-Israel Relations: A Return of Agency

U.S. and Israeli interests have diverged since the Cold War ended, but they are now bending back toward a similar path. 

From March to November 2017, Gallup conducted an annual worldwide opinion poll on the leadership of the United States. Some like the direction the U.S. is heading, some don’t, but in four of the 134 countries surveyed the U.S. approval rating rose by a whopping 10 percent compared to the previous year – Liberia, Macedonia, Belarus and Israel. That Israel was included attests to how starkly U.S.-Israel relations have changed under the administration of Donald Trump. Before he became president, bilateral ties seemed on the verge of collapse. In 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Washington to lambast President Barack Obama in front of the U.S. Congress, practically begging the government not to move forward with the Iran nuclear deal – a plea that ultimately fell on deaf ears.

How Would the United States Cope If It Lost the Next War?

Steven Metz

Last week, I argued that while the U.S. military, the Pentagon and most national security experts expect that the United States will always win the wars it is forced to fight, America could in fact lose one if an astute enemy capitalizes on the nation’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities. I sketched out three ways that might happen: if an enemy found a way to drag out a war past the limits of American patience; if a nuclear-armed enemy invaded another nation and then dug in; or if an adversary used what security experts call “gray zone” aggression to present the United States with a fait accompli. But there are three other ways America could lose its next war, all of which expose how the country has become weaker politically despite its military dominance. The first scenario might be if an adversary found a way to exploit geopolitics to its advantage. In today’s security environment, the United States is likely to fight a war far from home via long-range force projection—think the mostly air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or the 2003 invasion of Iraq. America is more adroit at this kind of mobilization than any nation in history and constantly getting better. ... 

A Europeanized NATO? The Alliance Contemplates the Turmp Era and Beyond

By Sten Rynning

When asked about President Donald Trump’s July 2018 visit to Europe, Henry Kissinger presciently noted, “I think Trump may be one of those figures in history who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretenses.” In other words, for all the uproar surrounding the president’s personality, something bigger is going on, and Trump has come to personify it. Perhaps the biggest challenge is, therefore, to put words to this shifting ground and imagine its potential consequences.

The EU Can’t Avoid U.S. Sanctions on Iran

By Elizabeth Rosenberg
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Late last month, the European Union and China announced that they intended to set up a special global payments system to allow companies to continue to trade with Iran despite U.S. sanctions. Some of the sanctions are already in place, but the bulk will to go into effect in November, thanks to the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year. The announcement marks a small but notable step toward the fragmentation of the global economic order. Friends and foes of the United States were already seeking paths away from the traditional, dollar-dominated financial system. The Trump administration’s policy on Iran provided additional incentive to those who strive to undermine U.S. economic primacy and the effectiveness of U.S. economic statecraft. Washington should take note of the danger. In May, U.S. President Donald Trump delivered on his promise to leave the Iran deal, also known as the JCPOA, and reimpose unilateral, aggressive economic sanctions on Iran. The most forceful of these measures will snap into place on November 4, dropping an axe on Iran’s core banking institutions, oil sales, and conduits to the global financial system. The measures will prevent Iran from using the prevalent global payment system. They will also cause most of the international businesses that buy Iranian oil and conduct other commercial transactions with Iran to cease such activity.

Will America Shape Its Grand Strategy Around China or Russia?


Late last week, as most of America’s political class was transfixed by the denouement of the Kavanaugh confirmation battle, Vice President Mike Pence gave a wide-ranging address on the U.S. relationship with China, and why the Trump administration is committed to opposing its expansionist designs. For the most part, it was a familiar litany of complaints about China’s efforts to coerce its neighbors in the western Pacific, its trade abuses, its hostility to religious freedom, and its support of unsavory regimes around the world. Yet halfway through his remarks, the vice president shifted his emphasis, turning from all the various ways the Chinese party-state was acting in the world outside America’s borders to how it was seeking to influence political and cultural life inside them.

Global Governance to Combat Illicit Financial Flows

As the volume of legitimate cross-border financial transactions and investment has grown in recent decades, so too have illicit financial flows (IFFs or dirty money). IFFs derive from and sustain a variety of crimes, from drug trafficking, terrorism, and sanctions-busting to bribery, corruption, and tax evasion. These IFFs impose large, though hard to measure, costs on national and global welfare. IFFs and their predicate crimes thwart broader national and international goals by undermining rule of law, threatening financial stability, hindering economic development, and reducing international security.

The Prophets of Cryptocurrency Survey the Boom and Bust

By Nick Paumgarten
Not long ago, I was in Montreal for a cryptocurrency conference. My hotel, on the top floor of a big building downtown, had a roof garden with a koi pond. One morning, as I had coffee and a bagel in this garden, I watched a pair of ducks feeding on a mound of pellets that someone had left for them at the pond’s edge. Every few seconds, they dipped their beaks to drink, and, in the process, spilled undigested pellets into the water. A few koi idled there, poking at the surface for the scraps. The longer I watched, the more I wondered if the ducks were deliberately feeding the fish. Was such a thing possible? I asked the breakfast attendant, a ruddy Quebecer. He smiled and said, “No, but it is what I tell the children.”

The problems transparency creates for cyber operations

By: Mark Pomerleau

The United States is doubling down on a cyber deterrence philosophy that focuses on building coalitions and clearly communicates that malicious activity will lead to consequences. The U.S. government is trying to craft an approach to thwart the daily barrage of cyber intrusions across a wide range of sectors and the recently released national cyber strategy describes a cyber deterrence initiative that will build a “coalition and develop tailored strategies to ensure adversaries understand the consequences of their malicious cyber behavior.”

How to protect jets, missiles and ships from cyberattacks

By: Justin Lynch
Hackers pierced the weapon system’s terminal, giving them the ability to feed operators false commands or spoof logistics. But instead, the intruders opted to display a taunting message across the screen, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. They chose a time-tested instruction.

"Insert two quarters to continue operating.”

In this case, the the hackers in question were red-team testers discovering vulnerabilities in Pentagon weapons systems under development. The prank was just one example that was included in a 50-page report that that underscored just how susceptible American military weapons are to cyberattacks. The report did not name the particular weapon system that offered arcade style instruction, but it fit the description of a drone.

The answer to battlefield logistics problems could be IoT

By: Adam Stone   

Soldiers assigned to 101st Sustainment Brigade "Lifeliners," 101st Airborne Division, assist in response and recovery missions, Sept. 19 at Burgaw, North Carolina. Fort Campbell Soldiers are deployed to N.C. this week to support U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) efforts in assisting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other agencies as requested during the Army response to Hurricane Florence. "It is an honor as Americans to be called upon to help other Americans," said Eagle 6 Maj. Gen. Andrew P. Poppas, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) commander and Resolute Support deputy chief of staff operations. "The fact that the 101st Airborne Division's sustainment brigade can support the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission mission in Afghanistan while simultaneously deploying forces from Fort Campbell to assist hurricane relief efforts speaks to the flexibility and capability of the U.S. Army and the world's only Air Assault division." 

Defence Blogging: Why, When and How.

by Sir Humphrey

UK defence blogging is growing in strength and popularity, and the Wavell Room has been instrumental in helping push both acceptance and legitimacy of the role of the British Military Blogger as an entity that can communicate the role of the Armed Forces, debate thorny issues and show loyal dissent to encourage debate about how things could be done differently. But blogging is not easy or straightforward though, and for every blog that succeeds, many fail. I want to use this article to set out what has worked for me, and my thoughts on what anyone thinking of blogging needs to consider.

Why do you want to blog?

Many people toy with the idea of doing a blog, often setting it up and putting an article or two up, then run dry of ideas. The internet is awash with abandoned blogs that promised much but never delivered. Before even starting a blog up, ask yourself what is it you want to blog for, and for how long do you want to do it? Ask yourself the fundamental question – what am I trying to communicate here and why? Can you explain to yourself why you want to commit your own time to writing articles and who you think may read them? Why do you want to do this?

In Pacific, US Army Shifts Training from Disaster Relief to War


The change reflects Trump’s defense strategy and rising threats from China and North Korea. Not long ago, U.S. Army forces in the Pacific spent most of their training time preparing for humanitarian relief missions, evacuations from natural disasters, and efforts to build up allied security forces. Not anymore. Since President Donald Trump has come to office, the administration has issued a new National Security Strategy focused on the persistent potential for military conflict with China and North Korea. The Army has shifted gears accordingly. “It’s dramatically different,” said Maj. Gen. Charlie Flynn, who manages the service’s strategy and plans as the service’s assistant deputy chief of staff. In the 1990s and 2000s, exercises in the Pacific were more “discreet, out-and-back operations” that “were kind of focused on disaster assistance, humanitarian relief, and it was really more for the ‘security cooperation’ part of it; much less so for interoperability,’” he said. “It’s vastly different today.”

Egypt Goes on an Arms Spending Spree

Over the past five years, Egypt has drastically increased its arms imports, making it the third largest destination for weapons in the world.v Military necessity does not adequately explain the major increase in arms purchases. Egypt has pursued the arms buildup to bolster regional influence and global prestige and to lessen its dependence on the United States. The buildup has come at a significant cost to military efficiency, because the types of weaponry differ widely throughout the armed forces. Ultimately, such expenditures are unsustainable due to Egypt's economic realities.