5 December 2018


Stephen B. Young

Perhaps Clausewitz has misdirected our attention away from what is war in all but name.

He defined war as “a continuation of politics by other means” linking war with political objectives. But what if kinetic violence to break the will of an enemy is systematically organized but has no conventional political objective? Would it still be war? Its objectives might well be to control people and territory; to provide unquestioned order for a community; to regulate behaviors.

Consider the case of Mexico. From 2007 to 2014, 164,000 Mexicans died violently, more than the 103,000 civilians killed in Iraq and Afghanistan during those years. In 2016 Mexico surpassed Iraq and Afghanistan to become, after Syria, the world’s second deadliest war zone, according to the Annual Armed Conflict Survey of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Afghan government’s negotiating position completely at odds with Taliban’s


Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani laid out the government’s conditions for peace with the Taliban, and not surprisingly, its demands are completely at odds with those of the Taliban. Ghani called for negotiations that are driven by Afghans, which is the opposite of what is actually occurring today.

Ghani outlined his government’s roadmap for negotiations today during the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan.

“We seek a peace agreement in which the Afghan Taliban would be included in a democratic and inclusive society, Ghani said, according to TOLONews. The peace agreement would include “the following tenets” [note, the following bullet points are quoted directly from TOLONews]:

China Deserves its Economic Success


SHANGHAI – In the 1940s, the British historian Arnold J. Toynbee predicted that the United States and the Soviet Union would remain the world’s only two great powers. Not even China and India – with their “ancient civilizations” and “vast populations, territories, and resources” – would be able to “exert their latent strength” in the ensuing decades.

Toynbee was right about the ensuing decades, but wrong about two places: the Soviet Union collapsed, and now China has become the world’s second-largest economy and a leading global player. But, at a time of powerful economic headwinds and a new cold war with the US, will China continue its rise, or go the way of the Soviet Union?

To answer that question, it is first worth noting that China is not an enemy of the US, and the new Sino-American cold war is not rooted in a military standoff, much less ideological conflict. Rather, it reflects US President Donald Trump’s rejection of China’s economic rise and, more generally, of open policies.

The 3 Things Trump and Xi Must Focus on at the G20

Ted Galen Carpenter

The much-anticipated bilateral session between President Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping at the G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires has created a rather unique situation. There appears to be more attention to that “sideline” encounter than to the G-20 event itself. The prevailing assumption is that thebilateral encounter is more significant, and may represent the last opportunity to head off a full-blown trade war between the United States and China that threatens to derail the global economy.

There is no question that the trade issue is important, and that both countries have engaged in dangerous posturing by implementing escalating rounds of tariffs. However, there are two problems with focusing so heavily on the trade issue as the central topic for discussion between the two leaders. First, the bilateral economic relationship is extremely complex, involving not only obvious issues such as tariffs, but related matters including China’s currency policies and Beijing’s stance regarding intellectual property rights. Although a summit meeting might result in modest progress on such differences, a true breakthrough on those issues is unlikely from a single meeting, no matter how high level. Observers may be investing too much hope in the outcome of the summit despite the growing trade confrontation between the two economic giants.

Unhappy Voters Shake Up the Ruling Party in Taiwan

In its 2018 Annual Forecast, Stratfor noted that Taiwan would become a source of contention between Washington and Beijing in their growing great power competition. Throughout the year, China has intensified its military pressure on and the diplomatic isolation of Taiwan, and the United States has responded by increasing its support for Taipei. These deteriorating cross-strait relations served as a backdrop for local elections — traditionally seen as a referendum on the ruling government and as a bellwether for the next general election.

The Real China Challenge: Managing Its Decline

By Bret Stephens

In 2009, The Economist wrote about an up-and-coming global power: Brazil. Its economy, the magazine suggested, would soon overtake that of France or the U.K. as the world’s fifth largest. São Paulo would be the world’s fifth-richest city. Vast new reserves of offshore oil would provide an added boost, complemented by the country’s robust and sophisticated manufacturing sector.

To illustrate the point, the magazine’s cover featured a picture of Rio de Janeiro’s “Christ the Redeemer” statue taking off from its mountaintop as if it were a rocket.

The rocket never reached orbit. Brazil’s economy is now limping its way out of the worst recession in its history. The murder rate — 175 people per day in 2017 — is at a record high. One former president is in jail, another was impeached. The incoming president is an admirer of the country’s old military dictatorship, only he thinks it should have killed the people it tortured.

Chinese Influence & American Interests: Promoting Constructive Vigilance

Larry Diamond

For three and a half decades following the end of the Maoist era, China adhered to Deng Xiaoping’s policies of “reform and opening to the outside world” and “peaceful development.” After Deng retired as paramount leader, these principles continued to guide China’s international behavior in the leadership eras of Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. Admonishing Chinese to “keep your heads down and bide your time,” these Party leaders sought to emphasize that China’s rapid economic development and its accession to “great power” status need not be threatening to either the existing global order or the interests of its Asian neighbors. However, since Party general secretary Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, the situation has changed. Under his leadership, China has significantly expanded the more assertive set of policies initiated by his predecessor Hu Jintao. These policies not only seek to redefine China’s place in the world as a global player, but they also have put forward the notion of a “China option” that is claimed to be a more efficient developmental model than liberal democracy.

America Can Do More with Japan to Shape China's Impact

by Elliot Silverberg

The twenty-first century seems destined to be an Asian century with China’s growing hegemony. For the foreseeable future, therefore, the U.S.-Japan alliance will continue to be a fulcrum of U.S. foreign policy in advancing democratic norms, economic prosperity, and multilateral cooperation around the world.

Japan has been a reliable partner of the United States since 1945, and the U.S.-Japan alliance continues to inform Tokyo’s strategic vision for responsible governance, open markets, and global institutions. However, the gap in U.S.-Japan Cold War relations has widened since the Soviet Union’s collapse, China’s rise to great power status, and North Korea’s development of a credible nuclear deterrent.

The Next Phase of the Syrian Conflict Could Be the Most Damaging

The battle between the government and rebels is winding down as Damascus gains the upper hand and the Islamic State collapses, but there will be a greater risk of clashes among intervening states in 2019.

The United States, Russia, Turkey, Iran and Israel could all become embroiled in a clash with one of the other countries involved in Syria. 

While all these countries will work to minimize the chances of escalating the conflict due to the inherent dangers of a greater war, they cannot eliminate the risks entirely.

Editor's Note: This assessment is part of a series of analyses supporting Stratfor's upcoming 2019 Annual Forecast. These assessments are designed to provide more context and in-depth analysis on key developments in the coming year.

Showdown Over the Sea of Azov

A controversial Russian bridge over the Kerch Strait has escalated tensions around the Crimean Peninsula.

Last weekend, three Ukrainian naval ships were traveling from Odessa, on the coast of the Black Sea, to Mariupol, on the coast of the Sea of Azov, when the Russian coast guard opened fire on and seized the vessels. Ukraine said three sailors were injured in the incident; Russia said it was three. According to Kiev, Russia’s actions violated a 2003 treaty that gave both countries access to the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, where the ships were intercepted. Russia, however, said the vessels were maneuvering dangerously and needed to be stopped.

The Kerch Strait is a narrow passageway between the eastern tip of Crimea and the Russian mainland. To access the Sea of Azov, on which two critical Ukrainian ports are located, vessels need to pass through this waterway. Though both Ukraine and Russia have a right by treaty to patrol this area, Russia began construction of a controversial bridge connecting the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed in 2014, to the Russian mainland via the Kerch Strait. The bridge, which spans 12 miles (19 kilometers), was opened only six months ago. At just 108 feet (33 meters) high, it has restricted access to the Sea of Azov for some Ukrainian ships. Indeed, Kiev and Washington have accused the Russians of using the bridge to try to block maritime traffic and further destabilize Ukraine.

Strategic Implications of Russia and Ukraine’s Naval Clash on November 25

Ihor Kabanenko

Russian Coast Guard assets rammed a Ukrainian naval tugboat, on November 25, and then opened fire on it and two accompanying Gurza-class gunboats, which were sailing from Odesa to Mariupol (see EDM, Blackseanews.net, November 26). Subsequently, Russian personnel forcibly boarded the vessels, resulting in injuries to six Ukrainian sailors. The damaged Ukrainian naval ships were seized by the Russians and directed to the port of Kerch, in occupied Crimea. The Ukrainian crews remain in Russian custody (5.ua, November 26). The Russian side fired upon the Ukrainian ships in Black Sea international waters, off the southeastern coast of Crimea (Pravda.com.ua, November 28).

The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine qualified this naval clash as an act of military aggression and made the decision to implement Martial Law across the country (Rnbo.gov.ua, November 26). It was approved, albeit in more limited form, by the Verkhovna Rada (national parliament) of Ukraine on November 26. Martial Law will enter into force for a period of 30 days in ten Ukrainian oblasts: five that border on Russian territory, two adjacent to Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria (which hosts a Russian military presence), and three oblasts along the Black Sea and Sea of Azov coasts (Interfax, November 27).

The New 'Buy American' Movement

by Michael O'Hanlon 

How can an American consumer who is interested in supporting and shoring up U.S. manufacturing figure out what to buy? The good old days of looking for the “Made in America” tag never really worked very well except for when a person was shopping for clothes at a store, and those tags are pretty much over in this era of global supply chains. A recent Wall Street Journal article also documents the current deficiencies of this label as a guide to consumers, since it is often used fraudulently. Nor does it suffice to look for a name like General Electric or General Motors or Chevy, rather than Fiat or Mercedes or Honda, since the headquarters and home country of a given company may not tell a person much about where its factories are located and who works inside them.

Going forward, the U.S. government should fund and maintain an online database where consumers can seek information about domestic content on a plethora of different brands for many different types of goods. It might also include the foreign content of a product with specificity about the country of origin for those consumers who are not insistent on buying American goods all the time but who prefer to purchase goods produced largely in allied countries with shared labor and/or environmental standards.

Carrying the Lessons Learned About Trump Into 2019

By Reva Goujon

U.S. President Donald Trump may be unorthodox in his methods, but he is still largely reacting to the impersonal forces driving the great power competition in the international system.

The president's tactics, however, not only can deviate from U.S. grand strategy but also directly undermine it in some critical cases. This puts middle powers in an especially awkward position in trying to balance among the United States, China and Russia.

Even as Congress and the military establishment have been significant institutional checks on executive policy, personality and ideology remain potent forces shaping policy in the Trump era.

Closely tracking the rise and fall of enablers and inhibitors surrounding the president has proved just as important as having a structural framework to make sense of the daily scuttlebutt.

5 Times America Used Military Force (And It Backfired)

by Daniel R. DePetris 

The United States of America has been and continues to be the most powerful nation on the planet. Its $19 trillion economy is the envy of the world; the professionalization of its armed forces is second to none; and its system of alliances and partners (while sometimes strained in the era of Donald Trump) extends from the farthest corners of the Western Hemisphere to the waters of the Persian Gulf.

Even superpowers, however, make mistakes that can lead to strategic blunders and reputational damage. The United States is no exception.

Just because policymakers in Washington have the world’s most technologically sophisticated and dedicated military at their disposal doesn’t mean it should always be used when a crisis generates. Indeed, contemporary history has repeatedly shown that deploying America’s hard power without a clear and achievable objective guiding the strategy is a prelude to mission creep, strategic distraction and wasteful spending.

In the Balance: The Future of America’s National Security and Innovation Ecosystem

By Robert D. Williams 

As the G20 summit in Buenos Aires gets underway, speculation continues to mountover whether U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping can achieve a breakthrough that would put a floor under U.S.-China trade tensions and the ever-deteriorating bilateral relationship. But a potentially more consequential discussion has already started in Washington that deserves more attention than it has received to date. This conversation, playing out in the ordinarily-mundane context of public comments on a Commerce Department advance notice of proposed rulemaking, carries significant implications not only for U.S.-China relations but for the broader future of U.S. national security and America’s economic competitiveness. The question boils down to whether the United States can figure out a way to protect strategically sensitive emerging technologies without undermining the economic ecosystem that gives rise to those technologies. It’s an innovation-security conundrum that implicates the very foundations of American economic and military power—and it’s not at all clear how this is going to turn out.

Mattis Slams Putin; Says No ‘Smoking Gun’ on Khashoggi Murder


REAGAN DEFENSE FORUM: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis accused Russia of trying to influence the 2018 midterm elections and accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being “duplicitous” in violating international treaties.

The secretary’s statements come one day after President Trump chatted on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina with Putin, this after Trump cancelled a planned longer meeting between the two. Trump had cited Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian navy ships in the Sea of Azov. 

“There is no doubt the relationship [between the US and Russia] has worsened,” Mattis said, adding that Moscow “tried again to muck around in our elections this last month.”

He also accused Putin of being a “slow learner” due to his failure to grapple with the fact that his moves are leading NATO to rearm, with the alliance spending tens of billions more on defense to meet the Russian threat.

Aiming without arming: Explaining free riding among East Asian allies

Zack Cooper

David Kang’s American Grand Strategy and East Asian Security is centered around a confounding puzzle: Why aren’t East Asian states spending more on their militaries? Kang’s explanation, in short, is that “few countries fear for their survival”. This argument is original and counter-intuitive. If correct, it would overturn the conventional wisdom that the security situation in East Asia is deteriorating.

American Grand Strategy and East Asian Security will be required reading for many students of contemporary politics in Asia, but in this reviewer’s opinion, Kang’s main argument is unpersuasive. Kang makes a convincing case that few East Asian states are building up their militaries, but this does not imply that regional states are comfortable with the emerging security situation. Instead, East Asian states are aiming without arming (to paraphrase Stephen Cohen and Sunil Dasgupta). In other words, most East Asian leaders are worried about China’s rise, but avoiding substantial increases in military spending.

Brazil's Next President Is Looking to Shake Up Mercosur

Brazil's new government will try to spur economic growth by pressing the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) to lower its import tariffs and to do away with restrictions that prohibit bloc members from signing bilateral trade agreements. 

A presidential election in Argentina means Mercosur has a narrow window of opportunity for altering the bloc's trade policy. A populist victory at the polls will add uncertainty to the negotiations.

If Argentina ends up delaying a charter charge, Brazil could threaten to leave the bloc as a pressure tactic.

Katowice Climate Summit: What to Watch

Amy Myers Jaffe

The conference in Poland will be a major test of the world’s collective political will to fight global warming. Following through on promises made in Paris will not be easy.

The global summit in Katowice, Poland, early next month will be the most significant gathering on climate change since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Delegates from 197 signatory countries will be under tremendous pressure to turn their governments’ pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into verifiable actions. The proceedings—formally known as the Twenty-Fourth Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—come just weeks after a startling UN report warned that the catastrophic effects of climate change are likely to hit much sooner than thought unless governments take extraordinary collective action.

Is Chechnya Finally Going to Control Its Own Oil Reserves—and Thus Its Destiny?

Paul Goble

In one pivotal scene in David Lean’s 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia, Thomas. E. Lawrence asks the British general in Cairo, Sir Edmund Allenby, to provide the Arab revolt with artillery. The general’s political advisor says that if he gives the Arabs artillery, he will have effectively given them independence. In that case, Allenby says, he cannot do it. That dramatized exchange springs to mind after Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, said in Grozny on October 28 that his republic is on the brink of acquiring a 100 percent stake in a petrochemical extraction company. That state acquisition will crucially allow the Chechens to pump, process and sell oil on their own (RBC, October 28).

NATO Readies for Cyber Threats on Russian Doorstep

By Natalia Drozdiak and Ott Ummelas

In a small Estonian town about 30 miles from the Russian border, NATO is playing out fictional scenarios where allied networks and civilian systems are under online assault.

A three-day annual exercise, dubbed Cyber Coalition, is pulling together officials from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its partners in Estonia, which suffered what’s widely believed to be the first state-sponsored cyber assault on another country in 2007 amid a row with Russia over relocating a Soviet-era monument.

Multinational service members work in the Operation Centre as part of Exercise Cyber Coalition.

Drawing inspiration from current events and active threats, the simulations test officials’ real-time responses to incidents, including social media-fueled riots, network breaches resulting in poisoned water supplies and derailed trains and the encryption of classified files.

“It’s hard to imagine a conflict in the near future that wouldn’t include a cyber dimension,” said Chelsey Slack, deputy head of NATO’s cyber-defense unit. “So we need to be ready to address that.”

Principles for a More Informed Exceptional Access Debate

By Ian Levy, Crispin Robinson 

This is part of a series of essays from the Crypto 2018 Workshop on Encryption and Surveillance.

In any discussion of cyber security, details matter.

Unfortunately, it’s the details that are missing from the discussion around lawful access to commodity end-to-end encrypted services and devices (often called the “going dark” problem). Without details, the problem is debated as a purely academic abstraction concerning security, liberty, and the role of government. 

There is a better way that doesn’t involve, on one side, various governments, and on the other side lawyers, philosophers, and vendors’ PR departments continuing to shout at each other. If we can get all parties to look at some actual detail, some practices and proposals—without asking anyone to compromise on things they fundamentally believe in—we might get somewhere.

Perspectives on Encryption and Surveillance

By Daniel J. Weitzner

In August 2018, the leading international academic conference on cryptography hosted a Workshop on Encryption and Surveillance. The workshop explored both legal and technical aspects of the ongoing debate over the impact of strong encryption and law enforcement surveillance capabilities. The workshop was co-chaired by Tim Edgar (Brown University), Joan Feigenbaum (Yale University), and me. As we described it at the time:

The public-policy debate over encryption has focused primarily on the use of encryption to protect the confidentiality of communications and stored data. For those who fear unrestrained government surveillance, encryption is an obvious technical response. Governments around the world are asking whether the increasing use of encryption is a problem or essential to meeting growing security threats. On the one hand, the worry is that law enforcement and security agencies are increasingly "going dark." At the same time, forcing "exceptional-access" features into existing security protocols creates additional security risk. A variety of technical and administrative measures have been proposed to address law-enforcement and privacy concerns. Cryptographic-computing techniques (such as search on encrypted data) can enable intelligence collection with better privacy guarantees, and expanded accountability measures can increase confidence in the rule of law. This workshop will examine how encryption and related technologies pose both challenges and opportunities for surveillance and reform of surveillance.

Microsoft Catches Up With Old Rival Apple

Fueled by reports of lackluster iPhone demand and fears of a general downturn in the smartphone market, Apple's share price has been spiraling downwards in recent weeks. Since the beginning of November, the company's share price dropped by more than 18 percent, shaving $200+ billion off the company's market capitalization.

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Less than four months after becoming the first trillion-dollar company in U.S. corporate history in August, Apple even lost the unofficial title of being the world’s most valuable company for a brief period on Wednesday. And it was Microsoft of all companies that dethroned the Cupertino-based tech giant.

Apple had overtaken its old foe in terms of market capitalization in 2010, when Microsoft was struggling with slow PC sales and Apple was riding a wave of success in the wake of the iPhone’s launch in 2007. In recent years however, under the leadership of Satya Nadella, Microsoft successfully pivoted, reducing its dependency on Windows and becoming a leading player in the growing market for cloud solutions.

Agencies Will Soon Have a Cyber Hygiene Score—And Will Know Where They Rank

Source Link

The AWARE score will be based on data from agencies’ continuous monitoring tools and will give the Homeland Security Department a holistic view of the government’s cybersecurity posture.

Soon, federal agencies will have a clear idea of how they are doing on basic cybersecurity and be able to compare their posture to other agencies across the government.

The Homeland Security Department’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program, or CDM, is providing agencies with a sophisticated suite of cybersecurity tools. As those tools are put in place, the associated sensors are sending data to a centralized dashboard, giving Homeland Security and agencies a holistic view of cybersecurity throughout the federal enterprise.


Fred Brown

“The fighting, the direction, even the planning of the battles occupies in the whole seconds only to the hours of labor involved in the preparation & execution of marches.”

– Montgomery C. Meigs, US Army Quartermaster General, 1861–1882

Before taking command of an airborne infantry battalion’s forward support company, the company’s second-in-command revealed its soldiers had not qualified on their weapons systems in over a year. In a matter of days, our brigade would become the nation’s Global Response Force and my supported battalion would be the brigade’s first unit to respond to unknown crises across the globe. I was aware of the battalion’s maintenance backlogs, the newly fielded (but untouched) capabilities sets and mission command systems, and the company’s previous struggles to perform the simplest sustainment tasks; but over-simplified criticisms of previous leaders and management did not suffice to explain the full scope of the problems. These problems stemmed from four common dilemmas that young logisticians supporting tactical formations must confront daily.

Mediation in Armed Conflict, 1946-2012

This graphic contrasts the number of conflicts that occurred between 1946 and 2012 with the amount of mediation that took place over the same period in both active-conflict and post-conflict states. To find out more about mediation in armed conflict, see Jonas Baumann and Govinda Clayton’s recent addition to our CSS Analyses in Security Policy series here. For more graphics on peace and conflict, see the CSS’ collection of graphs and charts on the subject here.

MDC2 Wargame: EXCLUSIVE First Look – ‘Conflict Anywhere Will Be Conflict Everywhere’


PENTAGON: For the first time, the Air Force has run a wargame trying to decide how best to build the structure for Multi-Domain Command & Control. A central objective is figuring out how to manage data flows coming from all over the world from every domain: air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace.

What could the catchphrase for MDC2 was coined during the war-game: “Conflict Anywhere Will Be Conflict Everywhere”

Three different teams built three different structures to see which would be optimal. The final results weren’t in when I interviewed Brig. Gen. Salty Saltzman in his Pentagon office, but he outlined the basic conclusions he’s drawn.

Missiles, Fighter Jets And Much More: How China Just Showed Off Its Military Muscles

Wendell Minnick

TAIPEI – Think tanks normally do not put the fear of God in you, but a new report from the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) does the job.

The report, “AirShow China 2018: ‘China Dream,’ Air Power and Deterrence,” demonstrates that China’s defense modernization and industrial efforts are “underscoring the role the sector has in President Xi Jinping’s broader nationalist vision of turning China into a great power.”

Officially known as the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition, held in the southeastern city of Zhuhai in early November, it is now the biggest military airshow in the region, bar none.

Authored by Meia Nouwens, an IISS policy wonk, and Douglas Barrie, the IISS Senior Fellow for Military Aerospace, the report indicates that China is pushing the envelope on all fronts, no pun intended.

How Yemen's civil war went cyber

The conflict tearing Yemen apart is a human catastrophe and a geopolitical mess. It's also providing a look at how today's shooting wars spill over into digital conflict, even in the poorer corners of the world, as two presentations at Wednesday's CyberwarCon in Washington, D.C., elucidated.

The backdrop: Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, currently control the capital city of Sanaa — and with it the main internet service in the country, YemenNet. President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's government, backed by the Saudis, control much of the rest of the country, save for a few territories controlled by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The Hadi government launched its own internet service in its territory, AdenNet.

By gaining control of YemenNet, the Houthis gained control of the “.ye” domain — the Yemeni equivalent of “.com.” At the conference, threat intelligence firm Recorded Future noted that the Houthis used that control to take over national websites and declare themselves the official government.