2 November 2018

Can Bhutan's New Government Avoid Doklam 2.0?

By Sudha Ramachandran

Bhutan’s voters have given the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) a strong mandate in the country’s recently concluded general election. A relatively new party, the DNT won 30 of the 47 seats in Bhutan’s National Assembly (NA) and will form the new government.

Its victory is noteworthy; the party is forming the government on its debut in Parliament.

The new government faces several daunting tasks ahead. Inequality is rising as is unemployment; 10.6 percent of Bhutanese youth are unemployed. Foreign debt, which was 108.6 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as of 2017, is growing, much of it being owed to India.

‘Britain Would Collapse If It Tried to Pay Back the Money it Drained From India’

Britain would collapse if it tried to pay back the money it drained from India, eminent economist Utsa Patnaik said at a conference at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi on Wednesday.

Delivering the inaugural lecture at the three-day Sam Moyo Memorial Conference on “Land and Labour Questions in the Global South”, Utsa Patnaik said that the estimated drain from India to Britain over the period from 1765 to 1938 was a whopping 9.184 trillion pounds, several times the size of the UK’s GDP today. Patnaik, who is Professor Emerita at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning (CESP), JNU, said that the policies followed by Britain during its colonial rule in India were so disastrous that per capita food grains availability in India declined drastically from 197.3 kg per year in 1909-14 to 136.8 kg per year in 1946.

The U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan: The Perils of Withdrawal

Recent events in Afghanistan have reenergized those in favor of a U.S. military withdrawal. “Let someone else take up the burden,” urged one opinion piece in Slate. Another in the UK-based Guardian newspaper bluntly noted: “It’s time for America to end its war in Afghanistan.” Some media reports have also suggested that U.S. negotiators in Doha, Qatarhave agreed to discuss the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan as part of a negotiated settlement with the Taliban.

Yet without a political settlement, which is still a longshot, a U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan would have serious risks. Chief among them would be the resurgence of terrorism and the deterioration of human rights—including women’s rights—that come with a Taliban victory.

Imran Khan inherits an economy on the edge


ISLAMABAD -- The uncertainty of an election in Pakistan tends to give the markets a prolonged case of the jitters. As the country prepared to vote in 2013, the rupee fell sharply, leading Pakistan to turn to the People's Bank of China for help. After China transferred almost $600 million into the depleted coffers of the Pakistani central bank, the sell-off abated. Fast forward five years to the eve of the national elections this summer, which ushered former cricket star Imran Khan into office. China stepped in once again, extending its currency swap agreement with Pakistan and raising its line of credit, and another pre-election sell-off of the rupee was halted.

"The swap was our secret weapon" in 2013, recalls the then-head of the State Bank of Pakistan, Yaseen Anwar. "I brought in so much money to shore up the defense of the rupee."

Why Sun Tzu Isn't Working for China Anymore

by Christopher MacDonald
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What does an insecure authoritarian regime do when it believes it is being undermined from within and encircled from without by its most potent foe, and threatened with extinction? For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the early 1990s, convinced that the planet’s sole superpower was out to get it, the reflex was to turn for guidance to the Warring States period of Chinese history.

The Warring States period (fifth century to 221 BC) saw China’s first great flourishing of written culture and ideas, along with rapid technological progress and burgeoning material wealth, all amid a frenzy of interstate competition and conquest. It was when the foundations of the modern Chinese state were laid: China’s first centralized, authoritarian, densely populated land empire was forged on the scorched ruins of the warring states. And it was the period when the region’s deep strategic template for geopolitical competition was laid down, a template which persists to the present day.

China’s Game Of Chess And Romance In Central Asia – OpEd

By Wajih Ullah*

In the 19th century Central Asia was the region called “Great Game,” the contest between British Empire who settled their footprints in India and the Imperial Russia. The game of dominance continued for many years due to abundant of natural resources in the form of oil, gas and hydrocarbons, which shifted the “Great Game” into the “New Great Game”. Later, the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991 led to creation of many independently states, most important five central Asian states namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

China's new Silk Road OBOR (One Road One Belt) project

By Subrata Majumder

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is feared to be a cobweb for debt trapped small and weaker nations. It woos small and weaker nations with loans in the name of infrastructure development and when their debt are not paid, it captures their land and resources. It violates the global norms for development loan, while leaving little room for debt relief. So far, eight countries have fallen prey to debt trap. They are Djibouti, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao, Maldives, Mongolia, Pakistan and Montenegro, according to a study by Centre for Global Development.

Is China Losing the Opportunity to Lead?

By Robert Dujarric

The Chinese Communist Party should rejoice: it potential rivals are struggling. In the United States, President Donald Trump and the Republican Party devote their energies to trashing international institutions which anchor America’s hegemony. They look down on science. They seek to make America white, male, and Christian again to end its role as a universal nation. In Europe, Brexit, the fall of Rome to xenophobic populists, the entry of radicals with Nazi roots into the Austrian cabinet, the weakening of the German chancellor, and other ailments cripple the EU and NATO. Washington’s rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), pressure for a protectionist bilateral trade deal, assaults on KORUS and NAFTA, and Trump’s soft spot for Chairman Kim are stabs in the back that enfeeble Japanese power.

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.”

The miraculous quality of China’s achievements makes what is happening in the country today especially tragic—and alarming. Under the guise of fighting corruption, President Xi Jinping is methodically dismantling virtually every one of the reforms that made China’s spectacular growth possible over the last four decades. In the place of a flawed but highly successful system, he is erecting a colossal cult of personality focused on him alone, concentrating more power in his hands than has any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.

Beijing will play the long game on the renminbi

Beijing will play the long game on the renminbi Xi Jinping has underestimated Trump and aggressive change in US attitudes towards China DIANA CHOYLEVA Add to myFT Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save Save to myFT Diana Choyleva 14 HOURS AGO Print this page12 An ugly start to the week for Chinese stocks will leave plenty of investors wondering how Beijing might respond both to the market’s woes and a slowing economy. But concern that China might resort to a big one-off devaluation of the renminbi to boost growth should be dismissed. Such a provocative move would give US President Donald Trump an excuse to redouble his efforts to contain China’s economic rise. His opposite number, Xi Jinping, will not take the bait. Mr Trump must have been tempted to order the US Treasury to recast its criteria so it could have named China a currency manipulator, after it let the renminbi depreciate roughly 10 per cent against the dollar over the past six months as the US imposed tariffs on Chinese imports. 

China’s Military Sends More Scholars Abroad, at Times Without Schools’ Knowledge

By Kate O’Keeffe and Melissa Korn

Scientists from China’s military are significantly expanding research collaboration with scholars from the U.S. and other technologically advanced countries, at times obscuring their affiliation from their hosts, according to a new research report and interviews with academics.

The People’s Liberation Army has sponsored more than 2,500 military scientists and engineers to study abroad over the past decade, according to research by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. ASPI is a nonpartisan think tank that was created in 2001 by the Australian government, which is engaged in a sharp debate about Chinese Communist Party interference in its domestic affairs. The volume of peer-reviewed articles produced by PLA scientists working with academics outside China grew nearly eight times during the same period, from 95 in 2007 to 734 last year, the report says.

A Startling Speech in China

George Friedman 

The idea that China’s economic surge was due to conditions unique to the country has long been a core concept of Chinese ideology and policy. But in a speech published last week on Peking University’s website, prominent Chinese economist Zhang Weiying argued that China’s growth was not the result of a special “Chinese model” of development. In fact, he asserted that there is no such thing as a Chinese model and that the concept itself widens the divide between China and the West and generates hostility toward Beijing.

Chinese President Orders Military Command Overseeing The South China Sea To Prepare For War


China’s commander-in-chief has ordered the military command overseeing the contested South China Sea to “concentrate preparations for fighting a war,” according to the South China Morning Post.

Chinese President Xi Jinping inspected the Southern Theater Command Thursday, again stressing the need build a force that can “fight and win wars” in the modern age.

“We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war,” he explained, adding that the command has a “heavy military responsibility” to “take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly.”

The Saudi Arabian Model: Blueprints For Murder And Purchasing Arms – OpEd

By Binoy Kampmark

t reads like a swaying narrative of retreat. A man’s body is subjected to a gruesome anatomical fate, his parts separated by a specially appointed saw doctor – an expert in the rapid autopsy – overseen by a distinctly large number of individuals. Surveillance cameras had improbably failed that day. We are not sure where, along the line, the torturers began their devilish task: the diligent beating punctuated by questions, followed by the severing of fingers, or perhaps a skipping of any formalities. One Turkish investigator sniffing around the Saudi consulate in Istanbul saw such handiwork “like a Tarantino film.”

The result was clear enough: the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi went into the Saudi embassy on October 2 and never came out alive. (Even an attempt of the gathered crew of death to procure a Khashoggi double was noted.)

The long, painful end of Angela Merkel


BERLIN — How the mighty have fallen. Angela Merkel, the eternal chancellor of Germany, the uncrowned queen of Europe, took refuge Monday from her party’s catastrophic showing in state elections in Hesse in a tactical retreat.

Merkel’s calculus in assuming responsibility for her party’s dismal result — announcing that she would not seek reelection as chairwoman of the CDU, nor run again for the chancellorship — seems obvious: Pull back and dig in until the end of her fourth term.

But whether she clings on to the chancellorship until the end of her term in 2021 or is taken down by party rivals before then, the Merkel era is over.

Her Christian Democratic Party (CDU) lost 11 percentage points in Hesse, a cosmic drop by German standards, coming in at 27 percent. The party’s fate in the national opinion polls sharpens the disaster: The most recent survey gives the CDU and its Bavarian sister party CSU 25 percent nationwide. It is a precipitous decline. The union, as the tandem is known, used to score in the mid to high forties, once even above 50 percent.

How the Global Financial Crisis Turned Into the European Debt Crisis

Discover how the Global Financial Crisis began, why it continued and spread, and where we are now, when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR). 

For several years after the Global Financial Crisis, the global economy remained fragile and vulnerable to shocks. Looking back at how the crisis unfolded over time can help you understand the different causes and effects of its various episodes—in particular, how the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and subsequent 2011 European debt crisis occurred due to two different types of “toxic assets.”  

World leaders at the G-20 Summit, Hangzhou, China, Sept. 4, 2016 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan). 

In 2008, it was short-term lending between banks—in many ways the lifeblood of the global financial system—which seized on fears that foolish investments in valueless mortgage-backed securities might cause a loan partner to collapse. The U.S. Treasury recognized that in order to get credit flowing again, that bad debt had to be cut out of the system. Enter the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which essentially took a massive chunk of private debt and made it public. This crisis caused lending to become tight and more restricted. In 2008, the epicenter was in a single country, the U.S, but its impact spread rapidly.

New Russian owl drone will hunt tanks in northern warfare

By: Kelsey Atherton   

Without needing to accommodate a human on board, drones are bound only by the laws of aerodynamics. That means shapes familiar and strange, from palm-sized rafts that resemble miniature helicopters to tube-launched boxes with wings that transition into fixed-wing vehicles in flight. One exciting frontier for drone body shape is biomimicry, masking the outward appearance of the robot by giving it a form that resembles an animal. Consider, if you will, a Russian drone, built to resemble an owl.

This owl-shaped drone comes from the Zhukovsky/Gagarin Air Force Academy. It’s not the first such bird-imitating drone from the Academy, which also made a falcon-shaped drone. For greater realism, that falcon drone can play prerecorded falcon sounds. (Beyond Russia, there’s a rich field of drones that look like birds, used for everything from advertising sunscreen to scaring birds away from airports and even spy drones for other militaries.)

Professor Evstafiev: Russia not ready to turn East

Turning in the Eastern direction did not work out as Russia was absolutely not ready for it, according to Dmitry Evstafiev, professor of the Faculty of Communications, Media and Design at the Higher School of Economics. 

“Many experts are saying that turning East did not work out or not as expected or not in the right direction. I think it is true. Russia can’t bite more than it could chew both in terms of economic development and in terms of redirecting its logistics towards the East,” Dmitry Evstafiev commented. 

He added that Russia was completely unprepared for changing the direction. 

“We had to face such world economy giants as China, Japan and ASEAN. We have no chances against them,” the expert noted. 

Evstafiev stressed that before turning East, Russia should have developed major system-wide projects that could be in demand. 

Why is Democracy Faltering?

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While technological progress has brought important gains, it has also left many segments of the population feeling vulnerable, anxious, and angry, fueling a crisis of democratic legitimacy. Though it is not immediately clear how we can confront this crisis, it is clear that business as usual won't cut it.

NEW YORK – Jair Bolsonaro, the frontrunner for the Brazilian presidency, is a far-right, gun-loving, media-baiting hyper-nationalist. The fact that he would be right at home among many of today’s global leaders – including the leaders of some of the world’s major democracies – should worry us all. This compels us to address the question: Why is democracy faltering?

Pentagon’s big audit will inspect for cybersecurity flaws, comptroller says

By: Joe Gould  

WASHINGTON — Pentagon Comptroller David Norquist warned government contractors Monday that the first agencywide financial audit might reveal “a laundry list” of cybersecurity problems. Auditors will examine the massive agency’s business systems and cybersecurity procedures to determine whether a hacker can breach them, Norquist told an industry audience at the Vision Federal Market Forecast Conference. “If you fielded one of those systems that is vulnerable to cyber intrusions, that is filled with errors in the way it is set up, we need to talk,” Norquist said, "because you’re one of the reasons we’re not passing the audit, and we need you to fix it.”

The audit will bring tough conversations and business opportunities for innovators, Norquist said.

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.

Realigning the Stars

Lisa M. Harrington

Does the G/FO position meet the structure and organization criteria for a G/FO requirement?

Does the G/FO position meet the position-by-position criteria for a G/FO requirement?

Was the G/FO position identified during the forced-choice exercise as a priority three- or four-star requirement (relative to other positions)?

Would elimination of this G/FO position potentially worsen the health of the position pyramid?

How does integration of the results of these four approaches present opportunities to eliminate, downgrade, or convert (to civilian) G/FO positions?

Why organizations need to plan for worst-case cyber scenarios

By: Michael Figueroa 

In this Tuesday, July 31, 2018, photo, an FBI employee works in a computer forensics lab at the FBI field office in New Orleans. More than 20 people working for the FBI headquarters in Louisiana are working on cybersecurity. They include experts working at forensics labs, doing forensics on computer hard drives and developing techniques for analyzing computer memories in efforts to fight and find intruders, according to the special agent in charge of the FBI's New Orleans field office. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

On Sept. 13, Massachusetts’ Merrimack Valley was rocked by a series of gas line explosions leaving one person dead and many injured. In the towns of Lawrence and Andover, houses were destroyed and thousands of people left without gas heading into the New England winter. As clean-up began from the tragedy, there was chatter in local cybersecurity circles that the devastation could have been the result of a cyberattack.

About 10 percent of flag officer positions can be replaced by lower grades, study says

By Scott Maucione 

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Congress thinks there are too many generals and flag officers holding positions in the Defense Department.

It’s something the 2017 defense authorization act directly addressed by telling DoD to reduce the number of general and flag officer billets by 110 by 2022.

Now, a new RAND study commissioned by the Pentagon finds there are just about that many general and flag officers that are unneeded.

The study revealed that after looking at the requirements for general and flag officer positions, about 132 of the 615 positions didn’t meet the need for such a high ranking official.

Inside the Pentagon’s struggle to build a cyber force

By: Justin Lynch   

The Pentagon is taking new steps to build cyber talent in the U.S. military, but experts suggest the armed forces have structural problems that prevent them from becoming a digitally cohesive unit. Current and former U.S. military officials also tell Fifth Domain that recruiting enough cyber forces is a struggle for the Pentagon. The U.S. Air Force’s cyber warfare operations is only 46 percent filled, according to a 2016 Air Force Research Institute report, the most recent year available. The Pentagon is hoping to hire 8,300 cyber positions starting this year, Brig. Gen. Dennis Crall told lawmakers Sept. 26.

“It’s difficult to recruit competent quality that we’re looking for in every part of the country. In some cases, it’s due to high-demand, low-density assets," Crall said. “There’s just really a strict competition. In other place, they just don’t exist, writ large, where we need them.”

Pacific Engagement

by Stephen Watts

How can security cooperation (SC) planning and evaluation processes be improved to link strategic and tactical goals for SC activities?

Security cooperation (SC) events should forge strong relationships with U.S. partners, help develop partners' military capabilities and ability to operate with U.S. forces, and facilitate access to foreign countries in the event of a contingency. This report examines U.S. Army SC processes in the Pacific Command area of responsibility to forge stronger links between strategic and tactical levels in the planning and execution of SC activities. Researchers developed a framework to link tactical- and operational-level SC activities with strategic goals and found ways to identify information requirements for units executing SC activities and improve evaluations. Researchers found that planning for SC events could be improved by providing additional clarity in the orders process and strengthened knowledge management to aid tactical planners. SC evaluations at the strategic level could be improved through better specifications of the linkages between SC events and expected outcomes and at the tactical level through process improvements in the conduct and dissemination of after-action reports.

Counterterrorism evaluation Taking stock and looking ahead

by Jacopo Bellasio, Joanna Hofman, Antonia Ward, Fook Nederveen, Anna Knack, Arya Sofia Meranto, Stijn Hoorens

Research Questions

What is meant by counterterrorism policy in the Netherlands and other countries? And what different types of counterterrorism and preventing and countering violent extremism measures, policies and interventions can be distinguished in the Netherlands and abroad? What evaluations of counterterrorism and preventing and countering violent extremism policies have been conducted over the last five years in the Netherlands and abroad? What can be said about counterterrorism and preventing and countering violent extremism evaluations characteristics? What are the differences and similarities between the identified evaluations of counterterrorism and preventing and countering violent extremism policies? What does the evaluation literature say about quality criteria for evaluations? To what extent do the identified counterterrorism and preventing and countering violent extremism evaluations meet these quality criteria?

Maintaining Information Dominance in Complex Environments

Authored by Dr. John A. S. Ardis, Dr. Shima D. Keene.

There are many risks to the U.S. Army’s command and control (C2) operations and to its intelligence and information warfare (IW) capabilities. The challenges include: significant uncertainty; sudden unexpected events; high noise and clutter levels in intelligence pictures; basic and complex deceptions exercised through a variety of channels; the actions of hidden malign actors; and novel forms of attack on U.S. and allied command, control, communications, computers, information/intelligence, surveillance, targeting acquisition, and reconnaissance (C4ISTAR) systems.

If the U.S. Army is to secure and maintain information dominance in all environments, it must exploit complexity and uncertainty in the battlespace and not simply seek to overcome it. Innovation requires that new ideas are considered, and that old ideas should be robustly challenged. To achieve and maintain information dominance, the U.S. Army will also require a significant injection of innovation, a robust and resilient C2 and intelligence capability, novel technologies and an accelerated information operations capability development program that is broad, deep, sustained and well-coordinated. Furthermore, once information dominance is achieved, maintaining it will demand continuous change and development.

NATO Is in the Middle of an Expensive and Dangerous Military Exercise. Here’s Why Those War Games Are Worth It


I was in Naples, Italy, recently and spent time with the Commander of NATO’s Joint Force Command, Admiral Jamie Foggo. A tall, forceful nuclear submarine commander, he is currently deployed to Norway, leading the largest military exercises in the Alliance’s post-Cold War history. Over 50,000 troops, hundreds of aircraft and dozens of warships under his command are spread out around northern Europe as part of Exercise Trident Juncture.

In addition to the 29 NATO countries, both Sweden and Finland will have significant roles. And, another non-NATO nation has a role too: while the adversary in the exercise is “fictional,” it is clearly modeled on Russia.

The exercises run for two weeks, ending on Nov. 7, and are centered on defending NATO territory from a predatory invasion. Of note, there will be a U.S. Carrier Strike Group centered on the nuclear carrier U.S.S. Harry S. Truman operating in the harsh late-fall waters of the Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom “gap,” the body of water that NATO would have to control to cut off Russian naval forces in the event of a war. It all has a very “Tom Clancyis back” feel to it.

Silent Partners: Organized Crime, Irregular Groups, and Nation-States

The U.S. Army increasingly faces adversaries that are difficult to define. The threat landscape is further complicated by the silent partnership between criminal organizations, irregular groups, and nation-states. This collaboration, whatever its exact nature, is problematic, because it confounds understanding of the adversary, making existing countermeasures less effective, and thus directly challenging U.S. national security interests. Military action taken without full appreciation of the dynamics of the nature of these relationships is likely to be ineffective at best or suffer unintended consequences. This monograph provides a comprehensive assessment of the threat to U.S. national security interests posed by the silent partners, as well as how the vulnerabilities of the relationships could be exploited to the advantage of the U.S. Army.