31 October 2018

Working to turn ambition into reality The politics and economics of India’s turn to renewable power

Rahul Tongia and Samantha Gross

This paper is fourth in a series from the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate. The paper's executive summary follows. View the full series here.

From India’s relatively small RE base, this target implies annual growth of 25 percent—a targeted buildout rate even faster than China’s, which is widely seen as the world’s leader in deploying RE. However, a set of political and economic contradictions are built into this ambitious plan. These contradictions reveal how policymaking and implementation work in India and why visions for change often don’t become reality.

At the center of India’s contradictions are two core facts.

After the Khashoggi Murder, Pakistan Shakes Down Weakened Saudi Prince for $6 Billion

Bruce Riedel

Pakistan has emerged as an apparent winner from the international outcry that followed a Saudi hit team’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul at the beginning of October. By rushing to stand by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, widely accused of ordering the execution, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan got a $6 billion aid package, which he desperately needs to salvage the Pakistani economy. There undoubtedly is more to the deal, including benefits for Saudi-backed terrorist groups in Pakistan.

Khan was elected in August as a populist who promised to shake up Pakistani politics and fight corruption. He was aided by the all-powerful army intelligence service, the ISI, which was determined to keep former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party from regaining power. Khan has long been a harsh critic of the United States and friendly to the Taliban.


Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.


On October 14, 2018, Security Forces(SFs) of Pakistan and Afghanistan exchanged fire along the border in the Tandah Dara Sarochahan area of Qilla Abdullah District in Balochistan Province.Afghan media claimed three Pakistani soldiers were killed in the clashes that lasted for several hours, although the Pakistan military denied this claim.Pakistani officials, however, confirmed the incident and claimed Afghan troops opened fire on Pakistani personnel who were erecting a fence along the border in the area. After the incident, Pakistani border authorities closed the Friendship Gate near Chaman, leaving thousands of people stranded on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border.

The Long Sino-American Trade War


If governments are going to engage in trade wars, they should have a clear and pragmatic vision of where they want to end up. Yet the trade war initiated by the Trump administration seems less like a tough negotiating tactic, and more like a guessing game.

MILAN – Some observers interpret the trade war that US President Donald Trump has initiated with China as a tough negotiating tactic, aimed at forcing the Chinese to comply with World Trade Organization rules and Western norms of doing business. Once China meets at least some of Trump’s demands, this view holds, mutually beneficial economic engagement will be restored. But there are many reasons to doubt such a benign scenario. The long China-US trade war is really a manifestation of a fundamental clash of systems.

Is China the Next AI Superpower?

The U.S. has long been seen as the global leader in innovation, including in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). China, in contrast, has been viewed as a technology copycat. This, however, may not be the case anymore. China may soon take the lead in AI, according to Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China and an AI expert. He said China’s national focus on AI, its large data pool and massive market, as well as the presence of hard-working and ambitious entrepreneurs could help it overtake the U.S.

Lee is the CEO of Sinovation Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm that seeks to develop the next generation of high-tech Chinese companies. He is the author of AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order. Lee was a recent guest on the Knowledge@Wharton radio show on Sirius XM, where he discussed these and other issues. (Listen to the podcast using the player above.) Next month, Lee is speaking at the AI Frontiers conference in San Jose, Calif., where Knowledge@Wharton is a media partner.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Beijing’s Nuclear Option

By Caitlin Talmadge

As China’s power has grown in recent years, so, too, has the risk of war with the United States. Under President Xi Jinping, China has increased its political and economic pressure on Taiwan and built military installationson coral reefs in the South China Sea, fueling Washington’s fears that Chinese expansionism will threaten U.S. allies and influence in the region. U.S. destroyers have transited the Taiwan Strait, to loud protests from Beijing. American policymakers have wondered aloud whether they should send an aircraft carrier through the strait as well. Chinese fighter jets have intercepted U.S. aircraft in the skies above the South China Sea. Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump has brought long-simmering economic disputes to a rolling boil.

A war between the two countries remains unlikely, but the prospect of a military confrontation—resulting, for example, from a Chinese campaign against Taiwan—no longer seems as implausible as it once did. And the odds of such a confrontation going nuclear are higher than most policymakers and analysts think.

Trump could revive the Cold War, but China has the power to change the dynamics of it

Over the past few days the shape of what many in Europe and the United States call a new Cold War has begun to emerge — with threats and nuclear weapons that resemble the old one, punctuated by new dynamics, in part because of the rise of a rich, expanding and Nationalist China.

The change was evident as President Donald Trump explained his decision to abandon a 31-year-old arms-control treaty with Russia — hinting he was ready to plunge into a new arms race with both Moscow and Beijing, and as the Justice Department filed charges, for the third time this year, against Russians accused of interfering in U.S. elections.

Botched Chinese railway project in Africa is a warning to belt and road investors

Eric Ng
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The planning behind many of China’s major infrastructure projects abroad has been “downright inadequate”, leading to huge financial losses, according to the head of the country’s state export credit insurer.

Wang Wen, of China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation, known as Sinosure, said Chinese developers and financiers of projects in developing nations supported by Beijing’s “Belt and Road Initiative” need to step up their risk management to avoid disaster.

He cited the mistakes of a major railway project in Africa that has cost Sinosure close to US$1 billion in losses, according to its chief economist.

Seeing Khashoggi's Fate as a Death Foretold

By Charles Glass

The killing of Jamal Khashoggi was a death foretold from the time his comments on Saudi Arabia's crown prince and effective ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, reached the royal court. Princes do not tolerate what they perceive to be insults, especially from commoners. In an absolute monarchy, the difference between criticism and treason does not pertain. Khashoggi, for years a loyal subject of the monarchy, dared to suggest that his country refrain from devastating its smaller neighbor, Yemen, and permit the kingdom's inhabitants a measure of freedom. That was enough for his liege lord to perceive him as an enemy of his person and of the state. The official Saudi line denies the crown prince's complicity in Khashoggi's death, but it would have been understood by members of the Saudi government that if Khashoggi continued, others would follow. The Western powers that have played a decisive role in the Saudi kingdom throughout the past century should not be shocked at what happened to Khashoggi. His death is one of many they have ignored since Abdulaziz Ibn Saud founded the kingdom in the Arabian Peninsula and named it for his family.

What’s Missing From the Saudis’ Khashoggi Story

Hassan Hassan
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Seventeen days after the disappearance of the U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, authorities in Riyadh finally confirmed his death. According to the Saudi version of what happened, Khashoggi died after a fistfight between him and several men at the consulate in Istanbul. Authorities announced the arrest of 18 Saudi nationals, as well as the dismissal of top officials, including an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The gaps in this story are as significant as the announcement itself.

Saudi authorities did not reveal the location of Khashoggi’s body, which lends credence to the narrative attributed to Turkish officials over the past two weeks. Even before Turkish authorities were allowed to search the consulate and the residence of the consul general, they suggested that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate. They reached this conclusion based on video footage that showed Khashoggi entered the building but never came out. In an interview with Bloomberg, the crown prince, widely known as MbS, insisted that Khashoggi left the consulate—but if that were true, the Saudis could have produced a body.

No Exit From the US-Saudi Relationship

Jacob L. Shapiro

The grisly murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi has cast a garish light on what is business as usual in the Middle East. In the U.S., many are aghast that their government is working with a country capable of such an act, and specifically with a leader (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) who could be so reckless and cruel. In Saudi Arabia, there is a degree of consternation as to why Khashoggi’s death has set off such a firestorm, considering Riyadh’s dutiful record as key U.S. ally in the region for decades, and even more so in the past two years. The simple fact is that Washington’s current strategy in the Middle East leaves the U.S. with only unsavory choices, and until that strategy changes, it’s stuck

Doomsday Delusions The Case for Optimism in a Pessimistic Age

By Steven Radelet

Anyone glancing at a newspaper these days finds a litany of woes: war, crime, disease, terrorism, and environmental disasters, all sandwiched between predictions of the coming collapse of market capitalism and liberal democracy. U.S. politicians on both the right, such as President Donald Trump, and the left, such as Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, warn that the United States and the world are sliding toward calamity. Pessimism rules the day.

The world does indeed face challenges. Yet by almost any measure, life for most people has been getting better in almost every way. Levels of war and conflict are near historic lows. People are living longer and healthier lives and are better educated than ever before. Incomes for most families are higher than at any time in history. One billion people around the world have been lifted out of extreme poverty in the last two decades, and although income inequality has worsened within many Western countries, across the globe, income is more equal than it has been in centuries. Far fewer people than ever go hungry, and the world now grows more food than it needs. Women have more opportunities, democracy has expanded, and basic human rights are more widely respected than ever before. Electricity, automobiles, the Internet, modern medicines, and simple conveniences have made most people’s lives far easier than their great-grandparents could have imagined. And after centuries of being largely confined to the West, since the 1980s, such benefits have spread across the world—not just to China and India but also to Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ghana, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Mozambique, Peru, South Africa, South Korea, and dozens of other countries. 

Japan Strives to Prune Its Agricultural Sector

The power of Japan's agricultural sector is waning, but the industry will continue to exert influence over decisions on trade for many years to come. Reformers have enjoyed mixed success in curbing the influence of the agricultural lobby, but the country is likely to creep toward continued liberalization in its trade deals. U.S.-Japan bilateral trade talks on farming could hit obstacles if Washington tries to push Tokyo to open up its agricultural sector to a degree that exceeds the level that Japan permitted in other recent trade deals.  Japanese lawmakers could make concessions on agriculture during trade talks with the United States if they decide that the health of the country's car industry is more important.

Trump Can’t Put ‘Maximum Pressure’ on Tehran and Keep Gas Prices Low


On Nov. 4, U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil exports will go back into force after they were suspended following the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Less than a month before that deadline, Iran’s oil sales are already tanking. The United States would like to see them fall further. In July, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid down a marker when he spoke at an event for Iranian dissidents. “Our focus is to work with countries importing Iranian crude oil to get imports as close to zero as possible by November 4th,” he said, before repeating “zero” for emphasis.

‘This Is an Existential Test of the Eurozone’


In an unprecedented move, the European Union this week rejected Italy’s 2019 draft budget, saying it posed a threat to Europe’s economic stability. The decision is part of a confrontation between the European Commission and the right-left coalition government in Rome consisting of the Northern League and Five Star Movement parties. Adam Tooze, an economic historian at Columbia University, believes the move could trigger a global economic crisis. Tooze is the author of the recent book Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World. What follows is his conversation with Foreign Policy.

Foreign Policy: Does the Italian budgetary crisis and the European Commission’s response surprise you in any way?

Counting the Dead in Europe’s Forgotten War


Since the conflict began between Ukraine and Russian-backed rebels more than four years ago, Alexander Hug has had a front seat to Europe’s forgotten war. In a conflict steeped in fake news and propaganda, Hug has helped lead the only independent international monitoring mission of the war as the principal deputy chief monitor of the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The civilian monitoring mission has some 700 observers on the ground in Ukraine. Each week, the observers document thousands of violations of the Minsk cease-fire agreements that were brokered in a bid to end the war.

During a recent trip to New York City, Hug sat down with Foreign Policy. He described the challenges of his job in Ukraine and the frustrations of witnessing a conflict that could be resolved quickly if only the two sides were willing.

Directed Energy Weapons: Can the Pentagon and Industry Deliver?

By Jon Harper

The Defense Department is looking to industry to help make lasers and other directed energy weapons a major part of the warfighter’s toolkit. But a number of hurdles remain before the systems can be fully fielded.

Officials envision a wide range of military applications for the technology, from missile defense to electronic warfare to blowing up vehicles and aircraft.

Conceptually “it’s hard to think of a mission that they couldn’t be applied to,” said Andrew Hunter, director of the defense-industrial initiatives group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

NATO Is Focusing on the Wrong Russian Threat in Eastern Europe

Michael Cecire 
This week, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton was in Moscow, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss, among other things, the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Announced by President Donald Trump last weekend, the move comes after repeated Russian violations of the treaty’s ban on developing and testing land-based intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles. 

Given the particular history of the INF Treaty—a late Cold War-era deal to ratchet down tensions over the deployment of nuclear-capable, mid-range missiles on both sides of the Iron Curtain—the Trump administration’s decision to torpedo the accord further focuses attention on potential scenarios for armed conflict with Russia. In particular, it calls into question NATO’s ability to deter and, if necessary, counter a Russian act of military aggression on a member state.

When to Call a Terrorist a Terrorist

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On Saturday, a shooter gunned down at least 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the single deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history. U.S. President Donald Trump declared it a “wicked act of mass murder.” As the country grieved, police arrested 46-year-old Robert Bowers, the apparent gunman, who had barricaded himself in the synagogue after a shootout with the police. Before the attack, Bowers had repeatedly posted vicious anti-Semitic slurs on Gab, a social media site popular with white nationalists. He was heard shouting, “All Jews must die,” as he entered the synagogue.

North Korea is using the internet ‘like a criminal syndicate’

By: Justin Lynch  

North Korea has long been known as a hermit kingdom, but it is learning to embrace the internet. The Asian country has “dramatically” changed its internet use patterns, according to a new report, which could make imposing sanctions and defending American networks more difficult. North Korea is using cyber operations to conduct low-level financial crimes and the country’s leaders are increasingly using the internet as a part of their daily life, according to an Oct. 25 report from Recorded Future, a threat intelligence firm. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is quick to embrace technology and then cast it aside, directing hacking operations along the way as he runs the country “like a criminal syndicate,” according to the Recorded Future report.

Russia Cannot Dictate Syrian Repatriation

by Justin Roy
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One day on an island in Greece, I met a family that opened my eyes to the dilemma that many dislocated Syrians face. They arrived the previous day and as they were waiting in line to be assigned housing, I struck up a conversation with the father. After the initial pleasantries, the conversation turned to his family’s history. They were from northern Syria, he said, and they had only left the country a month earlier. When I asked why he left Syria, he responded by saying, “I lived in one city when the war started. Assad bombed that one, so we fled to another city. Assad bombed that one too. Then we fled to another city, and then that one was overrun by ISIS.”

I remember him looking at me with an expression of utter exhaustion, the stress and despair of fleeing over and over again having taken its toll on him. With his gaze fixed on me, he asked in desperation, “Where else are we supposed to go?”

NSA official: new U.S. cyberwar policy isn't the 'Wild West'

By Derek B. Johnson

Rob Joyce, former White House cyber coordinator and a senior official at the National Security Agency, believes the new U.S. policy governing cyber warfare is more "thoughtful" than some of its critics might think. Joyce characterized the administration's new process as an update that adds needed authorities based on the assumption that cyberspace needs to be "a contested environment," he said Oct. 23 at a conference hosted by Palo Alto Networks. "There's the question of how often do you want everybody to get what I call free shots on goal?" said Joyce. "The ability to come in, at a time and place of their choosing, without contest, and rattle the doorknobs and probe the defenses and find out where you're strong and where you're weak."

Does ‘Mission Command’ Just Give Higher Leaders One More Hiding Place?


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Everyone talks about how admirable mission command is. Seldom is heard a discouraging word about it. So I was surprised to see this thought, expressed by a former Air Force officer who now works at Amazon: . . . a common perspective among junior leaders that “mission command” was effectively a way for mid-grade and senior leaders (who, this perspective holds, were traditionally micromanagers) to abdicate responsibility for failure or to hide their own lack of expertise. 

Cyber operators get first crack at training platform

By: Mark Pomerleau 

The Pentagon recently concluded the first limited assessment of its persistent cyber training environment (PCTE) with actual users, providing the team with valuable insights. The Army is running the PCTE on behalf of U.S. Cyber Command, which will eventually provide the platform for distributed individual and collective training purposes, as well as mission rehearsal. The joint cyber community currently doesn’t have an immersive training environment akin to the National Training Center for the Army. The Army has decided to take best practices from industry in agile software development, breaking the PCTE program into a series of innovation challenges and prototypes that will help to inform the eventual solution.

Contracts have been awarded on the first wave of prototypes for the Department of Defensive's Persistent Cyber Training Environment.


IN THE SPRING of 2016, an artificial intelligence system called AlphaGo defeated a world champion Go player in a match at the Four Seasons hotel in Seoul. In the US, this momentous news required some unpacking. Most Americans were unfamiliar with Go, an ancient Asian game that involves placing black and white stones on a wooden board. And the technology that had emerged victorious was even more foreign: a form of AI called machine learning, which uses large data sets to train a computer to recognize patterns and make its own strategic choices.

Still, the gist of the story was familiar enough. Computers had already mastered checkers and chess; now they had learned to dominate a still more complex game. Geeks cared, but most people didn’t. In the White House, Terah Lyons, one of Barack Obama’s science and technology policy advisers, remembers her team cheering on the fourth floor of the Eisenhower Executive Building. “We saw it as a win for technology,” she says. “The next day the rest of the White House forgot about it.”