22 October 2018

In its sixth decade, R&AW needs to look at the world outside terrorism

By Anand Arni

The Research & Analysis Wing, the department I served in for 37 years, is 50. It came into being on September 21, 1968, following a realisation that intelligence had been inadequate during the 1962 Indo-China conflict. This year is also the 100th year of the birth of its first chief, the legendary R N Kao. It was one of the first such post-Independence structures created for a specific need, much like the nuclear establishment and ISRO. It owes much to the vision of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who recognised that a modern state needed an agency for external intelligence.

Opinion | Time to renew India’s plan to combat climate change

Narayan Ramachandran

The recently released report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) mandated by the 2015 Paris Agreement says that “by 2100, global sea-level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with 2 degrees Celsius. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared with at least once per decade with 2 degrees Celsius. Coral reefs may survive with 10-30% probability in the 1.5 degrees Celsius case while being virtually eliminated in the other scenario”. The report contrasts the difference in impact between a 1.5°C and 2°C rise in temperature above pre-industrial levels with the ultimate objective of convincing countries to limit the temperature rise through concerted action on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)-mitigation, climate change adaptation and financing mechanisms for climate change resilience.

For Afghanistan, Parliamentary Elections Are Another Step on the Rocky Road to Democracy

The disagreements arising from this year's parliamentary elections will complicate Afghanistan's presidential election in 2019 and hinder the deepening of democracy in the country. The Taliban will reject the elections and their outcomes as part of their strategy of painting the government as a foreign-backed entity. The halting progress on electoral reforms in the short term means the "ethnicization" of Afghan politics will endure and lead to the same kind of gridlock characterizing the National Unity Government. Success in Afghan elections will be incremental and can best be gauged by a decline in fraud from one election to the next.

Are the United States and China Really Entering a ‘New Cold War’?

By Ankit Panda

The Diplomat‘s Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) and Prashanth Parameswaran (@TheAsianist) are joined by Shannon Tiezzi, The Diplomat’s editor in chief, to discuss meaning of a recent speech on U.S.-China competition by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

SinoTech: Pence Calls Out China’s Intellectual Property Practices and Bloomberg Report on Spy Chips Draws Backlash

By Rachel Brown, Wenqing Zhao

In a major speech on U.S.-China relations on Oct. 4, Vice President Mike Pence accused the Chinese government of “employing a whole-of-government approach ... to advance its influence and benefit its interests in the United States.” As part of this approach, Pence claimed, China had “directed its bureaucrats and businesses to obtain American intellectual property ... by any means necessary.” The Trump administration, he warned, would “not stand down” in the face of Chinese aggression and had “adopted a new approach to China” to counter Beijing’s efforts.

How Realistic Fake Video Threatens Democracies


Disinformation and distrust online are set to take a turn for the worse. Rapid advances in deep-learning algorithms to synthesize video and audio content have made possible the production of “deep fakes”—highly realistic and difficult-to-detect depictions of real people doing or saying things they never said or did. As this technology spreads, the ability to produce bogus yet credible video and audio content will come within the reach of an ever-larger array of governments, nonstate actors, and individuals. As a result, the ability to advance lies using hyperrealistic, fake evidence is poised for a great leap forward. The array of potential harms that deep fakes could entail is stunning. A well-timed and thoughtfully scripted deep fake or series of deep fakes could tip an election, spark violence in a city primed for civil unrest, bolster insurgent narratives about an enemy’s supposed atrocities, or exacerbate political divisions in a society. The opportunities for the sabotage of rivals are legion—for example, sinking a trade deal by slipping to a foreign leader a deep fake purporting to reveal the insulting true beliefs or intentions of U.S. officials.

I Mastered Xi Jinping Thought, and I Have the Certificate to Prove It


Classes in Marxism have long been compulsory in Chinese universities, normally welcomed by tired students as an excellent chance to catch up on their rest. But now students and workers alike are suffering a new imposition: the need to study Xi Jinping Thought. The ideas of Xi, China’s most personally powerful leader since Mao Zedong, are increasingly mandatory and have even been enshrined in the country’s ever-changing constitution. From the outside, Xi Jinping Thought might seem like authoritarian banality mixed with a growing personality cult. That’s why I was so excited to learn this August of a new course offering on the edX website, a U.S.-based learning platform: Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism With Chinese Characteristics for a New Era—the official full name of Xi Jinping Thought. The instructor was none other than the Tsinghua University professor Hu Angang, known for his close links to senior government leaders and his claims that China has already overtaken the United States as the primary global superpower. Who could be better to explain the intricacies of the new era? I determined that I was not only going to take the course—I was going to ace it.

Chinese Anti-Submarine Warfare: Aviation Platforms, Strategy, and Doctrine

By Rick Joe

This is the second piece in a two part article evaluating the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). The first piece documented the PLAN’s significant recent growth in capable ASW surface combatants, with many of those warships equipped with capable organic ASW sensor suites including variable depth sonar (VDS) and towed array sonar systems (TASS). Frigates (FFGs) and destroyers (DDGs) also have organic ASW weapons, such as vertically launched missile/rocket launched torpedo systems. This piece will consider the rotary and fixed wing ASW capabilities the PLAN currently has and their trajectory, as well as briefly describing some of the other specialized ASW assets that the PLAN is developing. Finally, all of the aforementioned systems and platforms will be brought together to consider what an overall PLAN ASW strategy may look like.

China’s new diplomacy in Europe has a name: broken porcelain

David Bandurski

Two days after Sweden’s election in September, a bizarre statement appeared in English on the website of the Chinese embassy in Stockholm. A “small handful of Swedish forces, media and individuals”, it said, had made “unwarranted claims” of Chinese interference in the Swedish vote. These were “groundless accusations”, and a “malicious attack and smear against China”. The strangest thing of all: no one in Sweden  had the slightest inkling what the statement referred to.

China’s Great Leap Backward


In the last 40 years, China has racked up a long list of remarkable accomplishments. Between 1978 and 2013, the Chinese economy grew by an average rate of 10 percent a year, producing a tenfold increase in average adult income. All that growth helped some 800 million people lift themselves out of poverty; along the way, China also reduced its infant mortality rate by 85 percent and raised life expectancy by 11 years. What made these achievements all the more striking is that the Chinese government accomplished them while remaining politically repressive—something that historical precedent and political theory suggest is very, very difficult. No wonder, then, that the China scholar Orville Schell describes this record as “one of the most startling miracles of economic development in world history.”

Confronting Iran The Trump Administration’s Strategy

By Michael R. Pompeo

The end of the Cold War forced new thinking among policymakers and analysts about the greatest challenges to U.S. national security. The emergence of al Qaeda, cybercriminals, and other dangerous entities affirmed the threat of nonstate actors. But equally daunting has been the resurgence of outlaw regimes—rogue states that defy international norms, fail to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and act against the security of the American people, U.S. allies and partners, and the rest of the world.

Chief among these outlaw regimes are North Korea and Iran. Their transgressions against international peace are many, but both nations are most notorious for having spent decades pursuing nuclear weapons programs in violation of international prohibitions. Despite Washington’s best efforts at diplomacy, Pyongyang hoodwinked U.S. policymakers with a string of broken arms control agreements going back to the George H. W. Bush administration. North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs continued apace, to the point where after Donald Trump was elected, President Barack Obama told him that this would be his greatest national security challenge. With Iran, likewise, the deal that the Obama administration struck in 2015—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA—failed to end the country’s nuclear ambitions. In fact, because Iran knew that the Obama administration would prioritize preserving the deal over everything else, the JCPOA created a sense of impunity on the part of the regime, allowing it to increase its support for malign activity. The deal has also given Tehran piles of money, which the supreme leader has used to sponsor all types of terrorism throughout the Middle East (with few consequences in response) and which have boosted the economic fortunes of a regime that remains bent on exporting its revolution abroad and imposing it at home. 

MEF Reveals Islamic Relief under Investigation; Congress Demands Answers

PHILADELPHIA – October 18, 2018 – Following the Middle East Forum’s exposé of a possible criminal investigation into Islamic Relief, the recipient of at least $700,000 in U.S. taxpayer funding, seven members of Congress have demanded answers from the federal government. Islamic Relief is the largest Islamic charity in the West, with branches in more than 20 countries. Founded by students affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, it has received at least $80 million from Western governments and international bodies. Citing an “extensive report by the Middle East Forum,” representatives Ted Budd, Chuck Fleischmann, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar, Debbie Lesko, Barry Loudermilk, and Walter Jones issued a letter to the directors of the FBI, IRS, and Office of Personnel Management (OPM):

The Khashoggi Affair: Back to the Future


From the abuses of the male guardianship in Saudi Arabia to arrest and torture of dissenters in Egypt and the jailing of environmentalists and journalists in Iran, the Middle East is rife with human rights abuses. Nor is this something new. Authoritarian regimes in the Arab world, both monarchical and republican, since their independence from colonial powers have routinely used repressive measures to keep their opposition at bay and their broader population quiescent. Saddam Hussein notoriously put down a Kurdish rebellion in Halabja in 1988, gassing 5,000 people during the larger campaign of al-Anfal which reportedly killed over 50,000 Kurds. Syria, even before Assad’s bloody war against his opposition in 2011, routinely jailed, tortured, and killed opposition figures; and had no compunctions against tracking them into neighboring countries, particularly Lebanon, in order to do so. 

For Most Americans, US Defense And Foreign Affairs Take Place In Parallel Universe – OpEd

By Robert Higgs

Americans have a unique advantage (or disadvantage, depending on how one looks at it) in experiencing their nation’s defense and foreign affairs, namely, that for the great majority such affairs take place “over there” somewhere, often in a place they can’t locate on a map and about which they know approximately nothing. They don’t have to smell the smoke and the decomposing bodies. They don’t have to hide in holes while their homes are demolished by bombs, rockets, and artillery. Because they have so little first-hand experience, they are vulnerable to being bamboozled by what their leaders tell them about what’s going on halfway around the world.

The Russia Problem: What Businesses Can Learn From Cyberwarfare

Stu Sjouwerman

As someone who has built IT security companies from the ground up and dealt with the growing issue of malware for well over 15 years now, the last thing I expected when I started my current company is that I would have to become somewhat of a Kremlinologist. KnowBe4 helps organizations manage the problem of social engineering, and Russia has been one of the major sources of these types of attacks on organizations and governments. To illustrate this problem, we can look at the letter that U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (OR) recently sent to Senate leadership complaining about Russian cyberattacks and his plan to introduce legislation to help combat them. And the U.S. isn't alone in dealing with these attacks.

Trump Faces the Khashoggi Affair

by Paul R. Pillar

The disappearance and probable death of Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of the Saudi regime is forcing itself onto Donald Trump’s decision plate in ways that not much else has during the presidency of Trump, who is a master in the art of deflecting national attention. As he contemplates his choices, his urges are pushing him in a direction contrary to what would be the most appropriate U.S. policy response. If one steps outside the Trump administration’s way of depicting the Middle East and looks beyond the sword-dancing and orb-gazing of Trump’s unforgiving relationship with the flattery-bestowing Saudis, then the Khashoggi matter, though certainly outrageous, can be seen as part of a larger pattern of the rule of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). That pattern has included numerous excesses both foreign and domestic. MbS’s message of domestic reform is badly marred by his harsh intolerance of any dissent or potential challenges to his power. The regime’s pattern of breaking the standards of legitimate international behavior has included kidnapping the prime minister of Lebanon and, above all, an indiscriminate air war in Yemen that is more responsible than anything else for turning that country into a humanitarian disaster. The Trump administration’s determination to overlook this pattern was recently highlighted by its profoundly dishonest certification that Saudi Arabia is taking care in its Yemeni war to minimize harm to civilians.

America's Electric Grid Is a Matter of National Security

by Kelly Ayotte Charles Hernick

You are not alone when you experience that sinking feeling when your smartphone battery is low; “ Nomofobia” is actually a new field of medical research. However, the far more serious problem that consumers like you face is assuring the reliability of the grid that ultimately supplies electricity to your charger—along with power for more and more of the daily products you use as everything is digitized and electrified. In fact, it is a matter of national security. It will take a new generation of advanced energy solutions to reduce the magnitude and duration of disruptive events—whether malicious attacks or natural disasters. The vulnerabilities of our electric grid are well documented. In 2017, the Council on Foreign Relations released a report on the vulnerability of the U.S. power grid, noting the electrical system’s central role to the economy and in the smooth functioning of society.

A US-UK trade deal built on trust would set an example to the world

By Matt Kilcoyne

Well, we’re technically third if you take it in order of the letters released today by Robert E. Lighthizer, the US Trade Representative, to the House of Representatives and the Senate informing them of the President’s intention to start trade talks. The UK joins the EU and Japan as the countries and trade blocs of highest priority. The UK explicitly from when we leave the European Union and regain our powers to negotiate trade currently pooled in the Common Commercial Policy. This is a big moment. Our largest single country trade partner (the EU as a bloc obviously has the larger share) is telling us that they want to reduce the barriers to trade our producers face, and that they want us to reduce the barriers we have put up with our European counterparts for consumers to import what they want.

Why the Developing World Started Gaining on the West

By Noah Smith

Basic growth theory says that developing countries should grow faster than rich ones. One reason is that capital has diminishing returns -- as you build more offices, more houses, more cars and machine tools and computers -- the economic benefit of building yet more of those things goes down, even as the cost of maintaining them goes up. Second, poor countries can grow fast by copying technology and business practices from rich countries, which is almost always cheaper and easier than inventing new technologies and business practices from scratch.

Britain Isn’t Just Losing Brexit. Europe Is Winning It


Only a few days after Airbus announced it may be leaving Britain, the country’s top diplomat delivered one of his more undiplomatic remarks: “Fuck business,” Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said. That was four months ago, in the heat of Brexit’s uncertain summer—a day before Amazon’s U.K. chief warned of “civil unrest,” two weeks before Johnson resigned in protest, and a month before the European Union rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s preliminary proposal. In the four months since, even as public opinion has grown more split and as prodding from hard-linershas continued, some of this uncertainty has gone away. Just last week, the EU’s top Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, declared a deal “within reach,” and it appears that 30 Labour Party members of Parliament will now throw their support behind May to pass some final proposal. Nevertheless, with the recent announcement that BlackRock and JPMorgan Chase will join Bank of America and Citigroup in redirecting thousands of employees to the continent, it is clear that the bleeding of business from Britain goes on.

MoD Secrets Exposed In Multiple Data Breaches – Report

Tom Jowitt

Sensitive data belonging to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been compromised on multiple occasions by outside forces. This is the finding after Sky News managed to obtain heavily redacted reports which revealed that the MoD and its partners failed to protect military and defence data in 37 incidents in 2017. Last month the government confirmed it was planning to expand the UK’s offensive cyber-war capabilities by approximately fourfold with a new cyber warfare unit, amidst increased threats from the likes of Russia, North Korea and Iran.

IBM Takes Cybersecurity Training on the Road

By Stacy Cowley

Two years ago, IBM opened one of the nation’s first commercial cybersecurity ranges in Cambridge, Mass., to let companies practice responding to simulated cyberattacks. It describes the experience as “a game of Clue mixed with a Disney roller-coaster ride.” In a windowless bunker packed with a data center, wall-to-wall monitors, atmospheric controls, dozens of work stations and a functional TV studio, participants have about four hours to investigate and respond to a fictional data breach. It’s like an escape room for security nerds. The experience proved so popular — about 2,000 people, including chief executives and entire corporate boards, have played IBM’s game, which has an eight-month waiting list — that IBM decided to build a second range.

But this time, it’s going mobile.

What’s driving NATO’s boost in cyber operations

By: Justin Lynch

A soldier of the Polish Army sits in a tank as a NATO flag flies behind during the NATO Noble Jump military exercises of the VJTF forces on June 18, 2015 in Zagan, Poland. The VJTF, the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, is NATO's response to Russia's annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Troops from Germany, Norway, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania and Belgium were among those taking part today. During the NATO summit in July, when President Donald Trump chastised world leaders and called into question the American commitment to other members, fears swirled that the transatlantic partnership might become an afterthought for U.S. officials. Instead, the 29-member alliance - including the United States - has begun implementing an agreement from that summit to deter state-sponsored cyberattacks.

The Pentagon’s $2 billion gamble on artificial intelligence

by Jamie McIntyre

It’s the chilling plot line to every science fiction movie about robots in the future: Once they start thinking for themselves, humanity is doomed. Think of the HAL 9000 in "2001: A Space Odyssey," or the replicants in "Blade Runner," or the hosts in "Westworld." These days the Pentagon is doing a lot of thinking about the nascent scientific field of artificial intelligence, also known as “machine learning,” developing computer algorithms that will allow cars to drive themselves, robots to perform surgery, and even weapons to kill autonomously.

The End of Scandinavian Non-Alignment


Massive NATO exercises in Norway this fall will include forces from two key non-NATO countries: Sweden and Finland. With no time to waste, Scandinavia is finally breaking fully with the Cold-War era doctrine of neutrality, and embracing a more prudent and proactive defense policy. STOCKHOLM – Having debarked from ports in western Sweden, military convoys from various NATO countries are crowding Swedish streets and prompting the police to issue traffic warnings. They are on their way to Norway, where some 50,000 soldiers, airmen, and seamen will come together for NATO’s largest military exercise in years. The operation – “Trident Juncture” – has a clear goal: to demonstrate the alliance’s ability to defend Norway against a foreign aggressor.

Pentagon Criticized for ‘Spray and Pray’ Approach to Innovation


A prominent tech leader with strong ties to the U.S. Department of Defense says the Pentagon needs to overhaul its investment strategy if it hopes to keep pace with China in integrating artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies into its defense systems. Trae Stephens, a partner at the venture capital firm Founders Fund and the chairman of the tech company Anduril Industries, said the Pentagon tends to make small investments in a large number of commercial tech projects, a strategy he calls “spray and pray.” “Let’s say you have a $100 million innovation fund. Right now the basic U.S. strategy is: We will write 400 $250,000 checks because we don’t want to be in the business of picking winners,” Stephens said in a recent interview with Foreign Policy.

AI will impact 100% of jobs, professions, and industries, says IBM's Ginni Rometty

By Alison DeNisco Rayome 

Businesses have entered the most rapid period of technological change in history, and artificial intelligence (AI) is on the cusp of revolutionizing the entire workforce, Ginni Rometty, chairman, president, and CEO of IBM, said in a keynote address at the 2018 Gartner Symposium/IT Expo in Orlando on Tuesday. "The pace is unabated," Rometty said. "You have to change the way you work, because this isn't going to stop." IBM's work with Watson in particular "starts with a fundamental belief that it's going to change 100% of jobs, 100% of industries, and 100% of professions," Rometty said. "We try to focus on AI for business. It's different than consumer AI."

We’re almost out of time: The alarming IPCC climate report and what to do next

Nathan Hultman

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a shocking report “Global Warming of 1.5°C.” An equally accurate but more evocative title could have been “We’re almost out of time.” It is shocking, not because those working on the science are surprised by the messages (indeed they are all based on existing and published science), but because in aggregate the message is extraordinary and alarming. The diversity and severity of impacts from climate change read like a narrative we might see in a Hollywood movie, but are in fact, and disconcertingly, the clear-eyed projections of where we are heading in reality, barring massive economic mobilization and rapid transition to cleaner technologies.

NATO cyber command to be fully operational in 2023

Robin Emmott

MONS, Belgium (Reuters) - A new NATO military command center to deter computer hackers should be fully staffed in 2023 and able to mount its own cyber attacks but the alliance is still grappling with ground rules for doing so, a senior general said on Tuesday. FILE PHOTO: Military specialists work during the NATO Cyber Coalition exercise in Tartu, Estonia, November 29, 2017. While NATO does not have its own cyber weapons, the U.S.-led alliance established an operations center on Aug. 31 at its military hub in Belgium. The United States, Britain, Estonia and other allies have since offered their cyber capabilities. “This is an emerging domain and the threat is growing,” said Major General Wolfgang Renner, a German air force commander who oversees the new cyber operations center, or CYOC, in Mons. “We have to be prepared, to be able to execute operations in cyberspace. We have already gone beyond protection and prevention,” he told Reuters during a NATO cyber conference.

Why is Germany beefing up its military?

Jonathan Marcus

In the face of new challenges, Germany is recommitting itself to the Nato alliance. But what will playing a more central military role mean to a country that has often been accused of reluctance about its armed forces? It was an unseasonably mild morning as the Sun rose slowly over the training range at Pabrade in Lithuania. This is effectively Nato's eastern front. Belarus is just a few kilometres away, with Russia beyond. Lurking just outside the perimeter wire loom several Leopard battle tanks of a German armoured battalion. So what are the Germans doing here and what is the significance of this deployment for Berlin and for the Atlantic alliance as a whole?