26 October 2018

Progress paradoxes in China, India, and the US: A tale of growing but unhappy countries

Carol Graham and Sergio Pinto

What we know depends on what we measure. Traditional income-based metrics, such as GDP and poverty headcounts, tell a story of unprecedented economic development, as seen by improvements in longevity, health, and literacy. Yet, well-being metrics, which are based on large-scale surveys of individuals around the world and assess their daily moods, satisfaction with life, and meaning and purpose in life, among other things, provide a very different picture of what is happening to people within and across countries—stories that economic numbers often do not tell. Deep poverty and frustration persist in the most fragile countries, and income inequality and unhappiness are increasing in some of the richest ones. Remarkably, some of the most worrisome trends are in countries with rapid economic growth and falling poverty.



Robert Cassidy 

Its grammar, indeed, may be its own, but not its logic. If that is so, then war cannot be divorced from political life; and whenever this occurs in our thinking about war, the many links that connect the two elements are destroyed and we are left with something pointless and devoid of sense. 

Since war is not an act of senseless passion but is controlled by its political object, the value of this object must determine the sacrifices to be made for it in magnitude and also in duration. Once the expenditure of effort exceeds the value of the political object, the object must be renounced and peace must follow.

– Carl von Clausewitz

China's natural Allies -Pakistan and North Korea in Economic Distress

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Pakistan and North Korea long maintained by me as China’s only ‘Natural Allies’ are in an acute economic distress. China may have built-up Pakistan and North Korea as nuclear weapons states with missiles arsenal, however seemingly, has not contributed anything to buttress their economic strengths and resilience leaving them open to stray away from China’s orbit.

Perceptionaly, Pakistan seems locked into a concubinage strategic relationship with China and North Korea in a strategic bondage with China. Both Pakistan and North Korea have thrived on their dubious disruptive reputation encouraged by the Chinese supplied nuclear weapons and missiles arsenal. However, their ‘disruptive card’ overplayed for decades and which facilitated US permissiveness of their disruptive propensities does not scare the United States any longer.

The Trump Administration’s Pakistan Strategy: History Repeating Itself?

In his first tweet of 2018, President Donald Trump rebuked Pakistan for its “lies and deceit” in its partnership with the United States over the last decade and a half, accusing the country of harboring militants within its borders that undermine U.S. operations in Afghanistan. The tweet highlighted issues within the administration’s 2017 Afghanistan and South Asia Strategy as well as longstanding concerns within the U.S. government over Pakistan’s reliability as a security partner. Through both private and public channels and across U.S. administrations, Washington has noted its concerns of Islamabad playing a “double game” of partnering with the United States while simultaneously supporting anti-U.S. militants. Pakistan, on the other hand, holds up the loss of over 60,000 lives and $126 billion in damages due to terrorist attacks as the price it has paid for allying with the United States since it first launched its post-9/11 War on Terror.

The True 'Pivot to Asia' Is Here

by J. Michael Cole
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After years of ad hoc and flaccid engagement with the Indo-Pacific region, the United States is finally back, and the effects are already being felt.

For far too long, a resurgent China was allowed to create facts on the ground and at sea which challenged the regional, rules-based order that had underpinned the international system since the end of World War II. Despite the Obama administration’s talk about a “pivot” and “rebalance” to Asia, Washington was largely disengaged from a region that, during the same period, had continued to gain in importance. Unopposed but by a handful of small states, China was able in 2013 to unilaterally declare an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, and later on to “occupy” almost all of the disputed South China Sea and militarize its presence there. By the time the world finally awakened, it was too late: a new status quo had been created at sea, one which even an international court ruling had been incapable of reversing.

Be Afraid? Be Very Afraid?—Why the United States Needs a Counterstrategy to China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Although rhetorically grounded under the rubric of a “win-win” philosophy, Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) poses a significant long-term strategic threat to U.S. interests that now spans across the globe. Now in its fifth year of implementation, there is enough evidence to suggest that BRI is much more than a liberal economic development plan. That analysis indicates that BRI could be more analogous to a neo-colonialist and imperialisticChina, under the guise of an economic plan. The fact of the matter is that BRI is part of Xi Jinping’s grand nationalistic strategy to ensure that he and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) remain in power. BRI provides Xi with the means to pursue “[t]he great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and help China’s ambitions of regional, if not global, hegemony.

The Quad Needs Broadening to Balance China—And Now's the Time to Do It

by Derek Grossman
Keeping strategic waterways throughout the Indo-Pacific region “free and open”—a key Trump administration objective—is getting harder. China continues to militarize the South China Sea and bully neighbors that have competing maritime claims. Successive U.S. administrations have tried to use regional forums, especially the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to push back against Beijing's excesses, largely without success. The Trump administration's resurrection of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue offers some hope. Known as “the Quad,” it is an informal dialogue among four democratic countries—the United States, Australia, Japan, and India—that quietly coordinate security policy and military activities with China in mind. The Quad fell apart in 2008, however, because of shifting domestic politics in Japan and cold feet among the other three. Even in its revised form, though, if steps aren't taken to broaden the group, it's in danger of failing to achieve its core mission.

At the Dawn of Belt and Road China in the Developing World

by Andrew Scobell

Research Questions

What is China's political and diplomatic, economic, and military engagement with the Developing World, region by region?

What states in each region does China consider pivotal to its security and external relations?

What are the consequences of the Chinese strategy toward the Developing World for the United States?

Why a Sino-American Cold War Won’t Happen


Rather than a superpower standoff, the world is more likely to be heading toward an international system led by four powers. In this scenario, the US, China, Russia, and Germany dominate their respective regions while seeking the upper hand in international negotiations. It is often said that the US and China – superpowers at economic, geopolitical, and ideological loggerheads – are heading toward a new cold war. And the rhetoric – at least from one side – has come to resemble that of Winston Churchill’s 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech, one of the inaugural events of the Cold War. Just this month, US Vice President Mike Pence accused China of predatory economic practices, military aggression against the United States, and attempts to undermine US President Donald Trump.

The End of America’s China Fantasy


Over the last couple of years, the China-policy debate in the US has begun to reflect more realism, with a growing number of voices recognizing China’s ambition to supplant its American benefactor as the leading global superpower. But is it too late to rein in America's main geopolitical rival? A long-overdue shift in America’s China policy is underway. After decades of “constructive engagement” – an approach that has facilitated China’s rise, even as the country has violated international rules and norms – the United States is now seeking active and concrete counter-measures. But is it too late to rein in a country that has emerged, with US help, as America’s main geopolitical rival?

Jamal Khashoggi Had Skin in the Game. The Crown Prince’s Cheerleaders Didn’t.


Over the past few weeks, Jamal Khashoggi has been valorized and cherished. In the aftermath of the dissident Saudi journalist’s murder, pundits writing on the Arab world and the wider region have remembered others who were even more outspoken and critical than he was. And they have been regarded as heroes, particularly those who have pushed for fundamental freedoms and rights, irrespective of whether such freedoms are ridden roughshod over by Saudis or Iranians, Emiratis or Qataris, Egyptians or Turks.


by Declan Walsh
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The Khashoggi crisis has called attention to a largely overlooked Saudi-led war in Yemen. On a rare trip to the front line, we found Yemenis fighting and dying in a war that has gone nowhere.

Go here for the NYT Multimedia presentation.


by Michael R. Gordon
Army chief of staff Gen. Ray Odierno issued the marching orders in the fall of 2013. Some of the Army’s brightest officers would draft an unvarnished history of its performance in the Iraq WarA towering officer who served 55 months in Iraq, Gen. Odierno told the team the Army hadn’t produced a proper study of its role in the Vietnam War and had to spend the first years in Iraq relearning lessons. This time, he said, the team would research before memories faded and publish a history while the lessons were most relevant. It would be unclassified, he said, to stimulate discussion about the intervention—one that deepened the U.S.’s Mideast role and cost more than 4,400 American lives. He arranged for 30,000 pages of documents to be declassified. For nearly three years, the team studied those papers and conducted more than 100 interviews.

The Khashoggi Tragedy and U.S. Strategic Interests in the Gulf: Finding the Right Solution

By Anthony H. Cordesman

It is hard to think of a more pointless tragedy than the Saudi murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Killing a decent man for making legitimate criticisms and justifiable calls for reform has wasted a meaningful life for no apparent reason and has done immense harm to U.S. and Saudi relations in the process. It has deeply compromised U.S. faith in Saudi Arabia's leadership in the worst possible way, and it threatens to divide the U.S. and Saudi Arabia at time when both nations need to improve their strategic cooperation to bring stability to the Gulf region and deal with Iran. At this point, there is no way to avoid a long and painful effort to determine all the facts surrounding Khashoggi's death and establish the level of responsibility for all of the Saudis involved. Anything approaching a cover-up will simply create a climate of suspicion and distrust that will last for years. It is one thing to try to ignore some of the details in a failed operation against a violent terrorist or a hostile intelligence operative, but there is no way to make people forget what must be one of the most stupid and cruel intelligence blunders on record.

Trump’s Plan to Leave a Major Arms Treaty With Russia Might Actually Be About China


President Donald Trump’s proposal to pull out of a major U.S. arms control agreement with Russia is not just about Moscow, or nuclear weapons. The move also clears a path to boost America’s conventional forces in China’s backyard, according to arms control experts as well as current and former administration officials.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed in 1987 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, prohibits the use of nuclear and conventional missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km (300 to 3,400 miles). But since China has never been a signatory, it has been able to build up a vast arsenal of conventional weapons that now threaten freedom of navigation in the region, such as the DF-21 “carrier killer,” experts say.

Space stations could launch NUCLEAR attacks on Earth in 30 years - shock MoD report


This report makes clear that we are living in a world becoming rapidly more dangerous, with intensifying challenges from state aggressors who flout the rules, terrorists who want to harm our way of life and the technological race with our adversaries.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson

The MoD have been alerted to the devastating prospect of a “space-based weapons systems” with nuclear capabilities as early as 2050.

A report called the ‘Future Starts Today’ outlines the “critical point” the world has reached in relation to warfare.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson acknowledged the “dangerous” state of the world.

After Putin’s Visit, Russia’s Footprint in Uzbekistan Is Set to Grow

By: Umida Hashimova

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to Uzbekistan, on October 19, resulted in more signed agreements, worth larger sums of money, than any other bilateral meeting the Central Asian republic’s President Shavkat Mirziyaev had held to date. A number of long-term and short-term strategic projects, the largest of them an $11 billion nuclear power plant, along with momentous agreements between the two countries’ institutions of higher learning will collectively have a long-lasting impact on Uzbekistan’s future development.

GAO targets DoD cyber vulnerability

By Alan Cameron

In a 50-page report to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, the government’s General Accounting Office (GAO) finds that U.S. weapons systems are, almost across the board, highly vulnerable to cyber-attack. Furthermore, the Department of Defense (DoD) has gotten off to “a late start” in prioritizing cybersecurity, and has only “a nascent understanding” of how to develop more protected weapons systems. The October 2018 report, “Weapons Systems Cybersecurity,” is subtitled “DoD Just Beginning to Grapple with Scale of Vulnerabilities.” [Image above: Figure 2 from the GAO report: Embedded Software and Information Technology Systems Are Pervasive in Weapon Systems, represented via Fictitious Weapon System for Classification Reasons). Source: GAO analysis of Department of Defense information, GAO-19-128.]

Cyber Saturday—Facebook's 'War Room' Is a Marketing Ploy


In response to mounting criticism from consumers, citizens, and lawmakers, Facebook is pursuing a public relations blitz. The media giant wants to change people’s perceptions about how it is handling the scourge of misinformation and concomitant threat to elections presented by its websites and apps. Enter the “war room.” Facebook invited journalists from a number of publications—Fortuneincluded—to visit a cramped conference room on the company’s Menlo Park campus inside which a squad of 20-or-so employees is tasked with valiantly defending democracy around the globe—from the U.S., to Brazil, and beyond. The walls and desks are cluttered with video screens and computer monitors. Around them, Facebook’s freedom fighters huddle, clattering away on their keyboards, stemming a tide of malicious, politically-motivated influence campaigns.

Olympic-Caliber Cybersecurity

by Cynthia Dion-Schwarz

Research Questions

What does the cybersecurity threat landscape of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics look like?

What lessons can be learned from previous Olympic Games?

Which actors pose a cybersecurity threat to Tokyo 2020, and what policy options can help planners mitigate these risks?

The Olympic Games are a target-rich environment for cyberattackers, drawing athletes, attendees, and media coverage from around the world. Japan's vision to become the most advanced urban technology metropolis in the world underpinned its bid to host the 2020 Olympics, but an increasing dependence on technology with each successive Olympic Games signals a shift toward an unpredictable, complex, and contested cyber threat environment. More than ever, security planners must consider the cybersecurity threat landscape if they are to effectively mitigate threats, apportion limited resources, and host a resilient, safe, and secure Olympic Games.

Intentional Bias Is Another Way Artificial Intelligence Could Hurt Us

by Douglas Yeung
The conversation about unconscious bias in artificial intelligence often focuses on algorithms that unintentionally cause disproportionate harm to entire swaths of society—those that wrongly predict black defendants will commit future crimes, for example, or facial-recognition technologies developed mainly by using photos of white men that do a poor job of identifying women and people with darker skin. But the problem could run much deeper than that. Society should be on guard for another twist: the possibility that nefarious actors could seek to attack artificial intelligence systems by deliberately introducing bias into them, smuggled inside the data that helps those systems learn. This could introduce a worrisome new dimension to cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns or the proliferation of fake news.

The MDMP Actually Provides Flexibility — You Just Have to Know How To Do It


Maj. Jamie Schwandt’s recent articleThe Military Decision-Making Process Is An Inflexible Mess. Here’s How To Fix It” advocates abandoning the Army’s current planning process, but provides no actual alternative. When he does attempt to interject concepts, he advocates a dangerous disregard for detail, coordination, and understanding planning. His examples do nothing to support his point and in some cases call into question his understanding of operational planning. He takes us on a tour of successful World War II commanders, as proofs that MDMP is not viable, and finally settles on the magic of the OODA loop. Ultimately, it is his own inflexibility of position regarding MDMP that prevents him from viewing it as a vital tool (among many) that enables many of the concepts he seeks to replace it with.


by General David Petraeus 
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The growing “judicialisation” of conflict should concern Britain, just as it concerns me. “Lawfare”, as it’s also known, has resulted in many British soldiers being accused in court, sometimes decades after the events in question have taken place. The problem is increasing friction between the two main legal frameworks within which military operations take place. On the one hand, under the Geneva Convention (which codified the law of armed conflict) lethal force is allowed as a matter of first resort against a clearly identified enemy. On the other hand, under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), lethal force is to be used only as a last resort and only in exceptional circumstances.

What Goes Around Comes Around

I attended a dinner last week where the topic of the United States-Canada-Mexico Trade Agreement (USMCA) came up, with the central question focused on the significance of the agreement. One guest put it in the “did no harm” category—a lot of constructive tweaks on digital trade, intellectual property, state-owned enterprises, and other “upgrades” I’ve discussed in previous columns, and compromises on most of the more unsettling administration demands like a sunset clause. However, others, including me, offered a more ominous interpretation—USMCA, along with some other initiatives, essentially heralds a return to managed trade, albeit a soft one, at least so far.

Lessons from Others for Future U.S. Army Operations in and Through the Information Environment

by Christopher Paul

Research Questions

What information-related practices or capabilities have U.S. allies employed effectively, and which could the U.S. Army adopt?

What information-related practices or capabilities have adversaries or potential adversaries used effectively, and which of these could the Army adopt?

What are adversaries or potential adversaries doing in the information environment that the Army cannot consider doing because of ethical or legal constraints, and which of these should it be most prepared to counter?