14 November 2018

India and Iran: A Sanctioned Waiver Amid a Wave of Sanctions

By Krzysztof Iwanek

“Our objective is to starve the Iranian regime of the revenue it uses to fund violent and destabilizing activities,” declared U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, briefing the press just as the United States was to hit Iran with sanctions on November 5.

Yet, as it turned out, eight countries were granted a waiver from U.S. sanctions when it comes to their oil imports from Iran. This means they may continue to purchase Iranian crude and not be pressed with sanctions from Washington because of this. The eight lucky nations include China and India, the two biggest buyers of Tehran’s crude. This adds yet another question mark on the feasibility of the goal to “starve” the Iranian regime of revenue.

New Delhi has reasons to sigh with relief, but hardly to cheer. The toughening of Washington’s attitude towards Tehran will make many aspects of India-Iran relations volatile.

China poised to become Pakistan’s new strategic benefactor


The United States’ top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, visited Pakistan this month, along with the chairman the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford. This was the first high-level visit by US officials to the country after the new government in Pakistan assumed office. However, this visit failed to restore normalcy in bilateral relations.

Pakistan-US relations started deteriorating after President Donald Trump assumed office. In a New Year’s tweet, Trump blamed Pakistan for reciprocating $33 billion in US aid with deceit and lies. He threatened to cut down the aid to Pakistan and has made good his claim. Just a few days before Pompeo’s visit, the US announced it would cut $300 million in military aid to Pakistan.

The U.S. Drone War in Pakistan Revisited

By Asfandyar Mir 

Editor’s Note: The armed drone has become the emblem of U.S. counterterrorism, but critics charge that it leads to high numbers of civilian casualties and a popular backlash in places like Pakistan. Asfandyar Mir, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford, argues that the drone campaign has proven highly effective at degrading (though not ending) al-Qaeda and other groups in Pakistan. He lays out conditions under which a drone campaign would be effective elsewhere, noting the importance of intelligence and the need for a rapid-response capacity.

Complementary Engagement: An American-Led Response To Rising Regional Rivals – Analysis

By Stephan J. Pikner*

After 17 years of the war on terror, the United States and its allies stand today at a grand strategic inflection point. As America concentrated on Iraq, Afghanistan, and countering violent extremism across the globe, regional powers such as China, Russia, and Iran dramatically expanded their ambitions and capabilities. Starting with the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia, and accelerated by the global financial crisis of 2008–2009, this resurgence of great power assertiveness has been met with a certain weariness by the West. While American allies and supporters of the rules-based international order have—in many cases belatedly—woken up to the threat of systemic upheaval, the lack of a shared organizing principle has limited the free world’s response. Emerging rivals have historically focused minds and opened wallets, but today America’s military is hamstrung by competing visions and priorities.

Xinjiang: Life During a People's War on Terror

By Ruth Ingram

The whistle bursts came loud and furious. With no time to shut up shop, two young women in high heels grabbed their infants with one hand, their oversized baseball bats and shields with the other, and slung their handbags round their necks. Tin helmets bobbing and bullet proof vests sliding off their shoulders, they tottered toward their compatriots in the main square and formed a circle of shields facing outward at the entrance to the market. Ducking down behind their weaponry and waiting for the all clear, they looked the invisible enemy in the eye. Another false alarm.

But bad news. Amina, who had been breastfeeding her child when the alarm was sounded, was late. She had let them down and they would have to repeat the exercise, but this time under the eagle eye of an army major, detailed in for just these eventualities. Things looked bad for this little battalion.

What Does Iran Really Think of China?

By Mahmoud Pargoo

Sino-Iranian relations have often been described with the cliché of “2,000 years of friendship, cooperation, and trade” by statesmen of both countries. In his latest speech on October 17, Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, urged Iranians to “look eastward” where countries “are moving in the direction of growth” rather than the United States and Europe. However, this relationship often has been influenced by considerations of third parties — once the Soviet Union and the United States, and later the U.S. alone.

Iran initiated diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China in 1971, only after the United States broke the ice with Beijing. Like Washington, Tehran’s motive was partly to have leverage against the Soviet Union. Later on, in 1972, Iranian Empress Farah and Prime Minister Amir-Abbas Hoveyda visited Beijing as a gesture of goodwill. The relationship reached its climax when Hua Guofeng, then-China’s premier and chairman of the Communist Party of China, visited Tehran in August 1978 — only months before the outbreak of the Islamic revolution in Iran. This visit was received warmly by the Shah, who paid homage to his guest’s loyalty by stating, “Mr. Hua Guofeng visited me, at a time when the Iranian crisis was reaching its peak, I had the impression that the Chinese alone were in favor of a strong Iran.”

‘This Is a Reality, Not a Threat’

by Robert H. Latiff

The Reign of George VI, 1900–1925, published anonymously in London in 1763, makes for intriguing reading today. Twentieth-century France still groans under the despotism of the Bourbons. America is still a British colony. “Germany” still means the sprawling commonwealth of the Holy Roman Empire. As the reign of George VI opens, the British go to war with France and Russia and defeat them both. But after a Franco-Russian invasion of Germany, the war reignites in 1917. The British invade and subdue France, deposing the Bourbons. After conquering Mexico and the Philippine Islands, the Duke of Devonshire enters Spain, and a general peace treaty is signed in Paris on November 1, 1920.

China: The imperial legacy

Dan Blumenthal

It is now evident that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) seeks to revise the balance of power in East Asia and eventually become the region’s hegemon. Over the past decade, Beijing has accelerated its military modernization program, aggressively pressed its maritime claims in the South and East China Seas, coerced and isolated Taiwan, and continued to challenge the United States for control of what is known as “the first island chain”: countries and islets from Japan to parts of Indonesia that to China appear as a potentially linked fence locking it out of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

This chapter explores the four features of the PRC’s revisionism: first, that China’s rise is actually a resurgence to power or, as Party General Secretary Xi Jinping has put it, a “national rejuvenation.” Second, that China seeks a new order based on this imperial Sinosphere, both in its physical boundaries and its worldview. Third, that though China must often behave in accord with the norms and historic patterns of a “normal” nation-state, its dominant personality is that of an empire. Lastly, I look into the constraints on China’s global ambitions, in particular its embrace of the global economic order.

Is China Fueling an East Asian Arms Race?

By Scott N. Romaniuk and Tobias Burgers

Over the past several decades China has invested heavily in its military technology development and firepower. Its recent military modernization has meant a deep transformation of its offensive and defensive capabilities, and has led to China becoming a formidable military actor on both regional and international stages. China’s 2015 military expenditure was $204 billion, $215 billion for 2016, $228 billion for 2017, and is expected to grow by another 8 percent for the following year. By the end of the decade, China is expected to raise its defense budget to approximately $260 billion.

China’s changing national security environment and soft rivalry with other states, foremost the United States, has led to spending surges that fuel concerns across Southeast and East Asia. China’s nontransparent spending has raised concerns about the military balance in the region and the potential for states responding with increasingly antagonistic dispositions rather than restrained or defensive postures.

China Is Beating the US in the Rare-Earths Game


How to view China’s recent threat to limit domestic production of rare earths, those 16 elements that make our cellphones and smart bombs work? It’s the latest move in a game that began before the United States realized it was even playing, that has grown more complex than U.S. leaders realize, and that is nearing a very unfortunate ending.

The game began in earnest in 1980, when the United States made two moves that gave its opponent an advantage it has never relinquished. One was industrial: Molycorp, then the country’s largest rare earth mining and processing company, began transferring its processing technology to China (as detailed by Boston University professor Julie Michelle Klinger in Rare Earth Frontiers). The other was regulatory: although rare earths are most easily and cheaply obtained as a byproduct of mining for other minerals, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1980 more or less inadvertently placed this activity under the same regulations as mining nuclear fuel. Within a decade and a half, all U.S. producers of heavy rare earths shut down. Today, China gets most of its rare earths as a no-cost byproduct of iron ore mining, while the U.S.runs one expensive, low-value specialty mine: the Mountain Pass operation in California.

A Speech by Mike Pence and the Sum of All Chinese Fears

By George Friedman

The Chinese are looking for any hint that Washington is escalating the conflict with Beijing.

I have spent the last few days in Beijing, attending meetings and dinners. The single most striking thing I have encountered is the response to a speech U.S. Vice President Mike Pence delivered at the Hudson Institute in October. Many people interpreted the speech as an indication that the United States has decided to significantly deepen its dispute with China, moving from economic issues to a general confrontation some likened to a new Cold War. There was also an expectation that, during a meeting scheduled between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump at the G-20 summit later this month, some paths to accommodation might emerge.

I was surprised by the idea that the U.S.-China dispute is deepening. From my point of view, it was already deep, considering their many issues over trade and the South China Sea. I found Pence’s speech unexceptional. It criticized China on grounds the Chinese have heard many times before and ended with several paragraphs on the need for accommodation and hope that both sides will work toward this end. The Chinese were reading the speech with meticulous care, isolating certain sentences and words that were interpreted to mean that the U.S. intended to enter into a new Cold War.

U.S. and China Are Playing ‘Game of Chicken’ in South China Sea

By Jane Perlez and Steven Lee Myers

HONOLULU — From a distance, the Chinese warship warned the American destroyer that it was on a “dangerous course” in the South China Sea. Then it raced up alongside, getting perilously close. For a few tense minutes, a collision seemed imminent.

The American vessel, the Decatur, blasted its whistle. The Chinese took no notice. Instead, the crew prepared to throw overboard large, shock-absorbing fenders to protect their ship. They were “trying to push us out of the way,” one of the American sailors said.

Only a sharp starboard turn by the Decatur avoided a disaster in the calm equatorial waters that early morning in September — one that could have badly damaged both vessels, killed members of both crews and thrust two nuclear powers into an international crisis, according to a senior American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the encounter in detail.

Explaining the Proliferation of China’s Drones

By Henrik Paulsson

China’s overt offshore military presence has grown in recent years. These activities vary, ranging from operating the first Chinese overseas military facility in Djibouti to conducting patrols in the Indian Ocean. However, China has long used its extensive arms industry as a way to gain footholds – even if just through minor links. Their sales of drones are a clear example of this.

Most armed drones today are built by the United States, China, and Israel. The United States mostly sells to NATO allies, increasing the interoperability and common supply chains within the alliance. U.S. sales to India are an attempt at supplanting Russia’s influence – part of the larger U.S. focus on Asia, including countering China. Israeli provision of drones to India are part of a larger defense cooperation between the two, while their exports to Azerbaijan provides a presence just north of the largest regional rival, Iran.

The Chinese Connection

Remarks by Henry M. Paulson, Jr., on the United States and China at a Crossroads

November 7, 2018—Singapore—Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Paulson Institute Chairman and 74th Secretary of the Treasury, today addressed the Bloomberg New Economy Forum, during which he focused on the growing tension between the United States and China and the risk of an Economic Iron Curtain forming in the global economy if the two countries do not move past their disputes toward a workable consensus. Below are Secretary Paulson’s prepared remarks.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you.

And let me also thank my good friend Mike Bloomberg and the organizers of this new forum.

And a very special thank you to the government and people of Singapore—for playing host, of course, but, above all, for recognizing the importance of having a candid and forward-looking conversation now.

And Ladies and Gentlemen, it is especially important to do so now because we have arrived at an unusually delicate moment in time.

We are meeting here in Singapore at a moment of change, challenge, and potentially even crisis:

It is a moment of change in the global economy — as world-changing innovations are being developed but against the backdrop of unprecedented political pressure on cross-national supply chains.

China’s Beating the US to Market on Combat Drones, By Copying US Technology


The mockup of China’s CH-7 combat drone unveiled at Zhuhai Airshow this week looks a lot like one the U.S. Navy was developing — until it dropped the project, allowing China to position itself to beat the U.S. and other allies in fielding a long-range, high-altitude combat drone. That’s despite the fact that—in the words of one expert—the United States had a “ten-year head start.”

If the CH-7 makes its first flight next year and stays on track, it “will be the sole option for buyers wanting to field stealth combat drones” in 2022, crowed China Daily, citing “sources.” It will also be the sole option for buyers looking to purchase an aircraft carrier-capable combat drone (according to China’s state-run Global Times) that looks like the X-47B, an experimental drone that U.S. weapons-maker Northrop Grumman developed for the Navy.

China has a huge debt problem. How bad is it?

by Alec Macfarlane

China's massive debt burden is back in focus.

Credit rating agency Moody's downgraded China this week, warning that the country's financial health is suffering from rising debt and slowing economic growth. It's the first time the agency has cut China's rating in nearly three decades.

Fears about debt levels in the world's second-largest economy have been flagged before. The International Monetary Fund pushed Beijing to "urgently address" the issue last year.

So just how bad is China's debt problem? Here are the key things to know:

The problem has been years in the making

Are You Buying Oil from Saudi Arabia?


At first, Saudi officials said that Khashoggi had left the consulate. But with the Turkish government revealing lurid details of the murder, they finally acknowledged that he had died, claiming that his death was an unintended consequence of a fight. And now, after Turkish officials provided evidence to CIA Director Gina Haspel, Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has said there are indications that Khashoggi’s death was premeditated. According to Istanbul’s chief prosecutor, Irfan Fidan, Khashoggi was strangled almost immediately after he entered the consulate, and his body was dismembered.

In the wake of Khashoggi’s death, Germany halted its arms sales to the Saudis and called on its allies to do the same. Government officials from several countries, including the United States, pulled out of a major investment meeting held in Riyadh. So, too, did a number of corporate executives, including the chief executives of JP Morgan and BlackRock.

War Never Changes: An Alternative Practical Model Of War – Analysis

By Ryan Kastrukoff*


In his treatise On War, penned in the early-19th Century, the Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz commented that the “…degree of force that must be used against the enemy depends on the scale of political demands on either side.”1 This underpins the theory that will be advanced herein. Each belligerent in war exerts themselves to a degree and in a manner defined by their intentions. Furthermore, the motivations that have the greatest effect are those of the soldiers and populace that are called upon to support the war. These motivations can be categorized and placed upon a spectrum, and they define the level of exertion the belligerent is willing to undertake. War never changes because what motivates people to wage war does not change. By understanding these motivations, we can determine the leverage points required to cease hostilities sooner, and in so doing, hopefully reduce the negative consequences of war.

The Cold, Hard Facts Behind NATO’s Show Of Strength In The Arctic – Analysis

By Zaid M. Belbagi*

In late October, NATO launched Trident Juncture 18, its largest military exercise in years. It included about 50,000 troops from 31 countries, including all 29 members of the alliance.

This two-week exercise, which took place in and around Norway and concluded on Nov. 7, comes at an important time. It follows soon after Russia’s sprawling Vostok-2018 exercise along its eastern borders in September, which showed off how well the different branches of the Russian armed forces can coordinate operations. By staging the exercise in direct cooperation with Chinese military contingents, Russia signaled that the two superpowers are developing a closer strategic relationship.

As the most newsworthy exercise in a generation, Trident Juncture is an opportunity for NATO to showcase its own military prowess, which is especially important considering the increased tensions between the alliance and Russia since Moscow seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

The Rise of Far-Right Extremism in the United States

The Issue

Right-wing extremism in the United States appears to be growing. The number of terrorist attacks by far-right perpetrators rose over the past decade, doubling between 2016 and 2017. The recent pipe bombs and the October 27, 2018, synagogue attack in Pittsburgh are symptomatic of this trend. U.S. federal and local agencies need to quickly double down to counter this threat. There has also been a rise in far-right attacks in Europe, jumping 43 percent between 2016 and 2017.

The threat from right-wing terrorism in the United States—and Europe—appears to be rising. Of particular concern are white supremacists and anti-government extremists, such as militia groups and so-called sovereign citizens interested in plotting attacks against government, racial, religious, and political targets in the United States.1 The October 27, 2018, Pittsburgh synagogue shooting by Robert Bowers, and the arrest a day earlier of Cesar Sayoc who sent pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, appear to be the most recent manifestations of this trend. Both perpetrators were far-right extremists. Although violent left-wing groups and individuals also present a threat, far-right-networks appear to be better armed and larger. There also is a continuing threat from extremists inspired by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. But the number of attacks from right-wing extremists since 2014 has been greater than attacks from Islamic extremists. 2

The Bogus Backlash to Globalization

By Charles Kenny

The last two years have seen an outbreak of self-abnegation among former advocates of globalization, who wonder if their cosmopolitan views on migration and free trade might have helped deliver the White House to U.S. President Donald Trump. In turn, longtime critics of globalization on the left have crowed at this apparent admission of defeat. Both camps have suggested that the backlash Trump represents is understandable and that internationalists should do more to accommodate an electorate that has turned against global engagement.

Yet both camps misunderstand Trump’s electoral success. The voters who were won over by his antiglobalist message were not legitimate victims of globalization. Many, if not most, were and are older white supporters of patriarchy who resent people with dark skin, especially those from other countries. Although it might be inexpedient to call this group deplorable, a program of appeasement toward their views is wrong—economically, politically, and morally. Globalization has been an overwhelmingly positive force for the United States and the rest of the world. Instead of apologizing for themselves, it is time for internationalists to take the fight to an aging minority of nativists and wall builders.

Here’s How Iran Will Try to Evade US Sanctions


U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s oil industry have gone into effect. Tehran is already turning to some old tricks. Front companies, barter deals, oil transfers on the high seas: These are just some of the methods that Iran could employ to keep its economy limping on after American sanctions targeting the country’s oil industry went into effect at midnight on Monday.

Iran has plenty of experience here, having already been subject to stringent international sanctions over its nuclear industry, which choked its economy. That changed in July 2015, when it signed a deal―the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action―with major world powers, including the United States. That accord has legal standing and the imprimatur of the United Nations.

Industry Tests Unhackable Network? Stops Supercomputer Denial of Service Attacks

By Kris Osborn - Warrior Maven

Industry innovators and academia are collaborating on an emerging cybersecurity technology which, after millions of attempted intrusions, has not yet been hacked, developers claim.

Developers at Secure Transport Technology (STT) have tested a self-contained network which, according to its makers, stopped an attempted Denial of Service attack, stopping 2.0 Terabytes of attempted intrusions per second.

The network, called STTarx, relies upon patented technology engineered to identify and thwart a full range of attacks. During a test at Troy University in Alabama, the network was successful in stopping a Denial of Service attack using millions of automated and AI-enabled cyber attacks, developers said. While its makers choose to avoid the term “unhackable,” they do say the system has, thus far, stopped all cyberattack tests, including those launched by high-speed supercomputers. “A hacker will constantly send probes, and it is usually an automated process. What was a laborious process of hacking is now a matter of simply pushing a button, using software. Over time, hackers will gain enough information that they will be able to enter,” Curt Massey, CEO of STarx-maker STT - Secure Transport Technology, told Warrior in an interview.

Big Data Used To Predict The Future

Technology is taking giant leaps and bounds, and with it, the information with which society operates daily. Nevertheless, the volume of data needs to be organized, analyzed and crossed to predict certain patterns. This is one of the main functions of what is known as ‘Big Data’, the 21st century crystal ball capable of predicting the response to a specific medical treatment, the workings of a smart building and even the behavior of the Sun based on certain variables.

Researcher in the KIDS research group from the University of Cordoba’s Department of Computer Science and Numerical Analysis were able to improve the models that predict several variables simultaneously based on the same set of input variables, thus reducing the size of data necessary for the forecast to be exact. One example of this is a method that predicts several parameters related to soil quality based on a set of variables such as crops planted, tillage and the use of pesticides.

Bank of England stages day of war games to combat cyber-attacks

Angela Monaghan

The Bank of England (BoE) is staging a day-long war gaming exercise on Friday designed to test the resilience of the financial system in the event of a major cyber-attack.

Up to 40 firms are taking part in the voluntary exercise, alongside the BoE, the Treasury, City regulator the Financial Conduct Authority and UK Finance, the industry trade body.

It is the latest in a series of simulated attacks hosted by the BoE every couple of years in an attempt to identify any weaknesses in the response of banks and other financial institutions to a major cyber-attack. The ability of firms and organisations to communicate with each other during such an attack will also be tested.

“The exercise will help authorities and firms identify improvements to our collective response arrangements, improving the resilience of the sector as a whole,” the BoE said.

Sundar Pichai of Google: ‘Technology Doesn’t Solve Humanity’s Problems’

By David Gelles

Google is facing more challenges today than at any time in its 20-year history. Employees are outraged over sexual harassment. Executives are under scrutiny for an effort to secretly make a censored version of its search product for China. Google will shut down its social network next year after a security vulnerability was discovered. Political and social debates, including one over building military-grade artificial intelligence, are roiling the work force.

Yet the man responsible for leading Google through this minefield is not one of the company’s founders — Larry Page and Sergey Brin — or even Eric Schmidt, the company’s former chief executive and chairman, who was ushered aside last year. Instead, the man in charge of arguably the most influential company in the world is Sundar Pichai, a soft-spoken engineer who grew up in Chennai, India.

Mr. Pichai was a voracious reader as a boy, and attended the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, then Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where he received advanced degrees. After stints at Applied Materials and McKinsey, he joined Google in 2004.

The US Military Just Publicly Dumped Russian Government Malware Online

Usually it’s the Russians that dump its enemies’ files. This week, US Cyber Command (CYBERCOM), a part of the military tasked with hacking and cybersecurity focused missions, started publicly releasing unclassified samples of adversaries’ malware it has discovered. CYBERCOM says the move is to improve information sharing among the cybersecurity community, but in some ways it could be seen as a signal to those who hack US systems: we may release your tools to the wider world.

“This is intended to be an enduring and ongoing information sharing effort, and it is not focused on any particular adversary,” Joseph R. Holstead, acting director of public affairs at CYBERCOM told Motherboard in an email.

On Friday, CYBERCOM uploaded multiple files to VirusTotal, a Google-owned search engine and repository for malware. Once uploaded, VirusTotal users can download the malware, see which anti-virus or cybersecurity products likely detect it, and see links to other pieces of malicious code.

Military Review : The professional journal of the US Army

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While Africa may not be the first region that people think about when it comes to the modern security environment that emphasizes near-peer competition and the challenges, complexity, and potential for crises, they do exist more there than in any other region of the world. While some of the challenges in Africa also exist elsewhere, the scale to which the crises may spread is greater in this region due to various characteristics of that expansive, underdeveloped, and often misunderstood continent. The key to overcoming these challenges is an emphasis on strengthening partnerships with our long-standing allies and with our developing partners. The aim should be to turn our partners of today into our allies of tomorrow. To understand how the Army can better prepare for conflict in this region, we must first gain an understanding of the challenges in the region.

Convenient Demonologies: Stopping Migrant Caravans – OpEd

By Binoy Kampmark

President Donald J. Trump has been engaged with berating human caravans, a spectacle that might have been odd in another era. At first instance, it all seems fundamentally anachronistic, a sort of history in reverse. It was, after all, the caravan packed with invasive pioneers that gave the United States its distinct frontier identity, moving with relentless, exterminating purpose in ultimately closing it.

On October 19, some 7,000 Central American migrants, mostly from Honduras and Guatemala, made an attempt to cross the bridge between Guatemala and Mexico. “Una necesidad nos obliga,” came the justification of a 20-year old man to the Washington Post. The ultimate destination for most: the United States.

Today’s Armies Are Still Fighting World War I

James Stavridis

A hundred years ago today, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the First World War in Europe ended. It had cost tens of millions of lives, utterly destroyed the existing political order, and paved the way for the rise of fascism and a repeat performance of global conflict in the form of World War II. 

Barbara Tuchman, in her peerless book on the outbreak of the war, "The Guns of August," said, “Nothing so comforts the military mind as the maxim of a great but dead general.” In the end, those long-dead generals passed along not only a few comforting maxims, but also a new way of war. Over the course of four years, warfare fundamentally shifted -- the echoes of that conflict continue to resonate for today’s warriors.

What changed following the "Great War?” How do the lessons of that conflict continue to influence the way today's armies fight?