20 December 2018

How India Is Navigating Global Trade Agreement Trends

By Divesh Kaul

The advancement of the global trading system, as proponents of multilateralism stress, rests on fair competition, increased transparency, improved technical assistance to developing countries, and gradual reduction of trade barriers. Yet around the world, national policies seemingly fueled on populism are contesting multilateralism and engendering protectionism. The concerns of unemployment, growing inequality, and economic stagnation have contributed in creating a disillusion about economic globalization. This is not just a recent trend; the Financial Crisis of 2008 stirred the “deglobalization” narrative a decade ago, accompanied by inward-looking tactics and shrinking economic interdependence.

The recent advent of the so-called U.S.-China “trade war” and the bizarre display of nationalist economics comes across as yet another manifestation of protectionism in disguise. The U.S.-led trade war started with the unilateral impositions of increased tariffs (which China retaliating in kind). Trade commentators argue that such acts may lead the world back to mercantilism, even comparing the move to the Hawley and Smoot Tariff Act of 1930 that helped trigger the Global Depression during the 1930s.

The Future of Global Stability: The World of Work in Developing Countries India Case Study

Romina Bandura, Casey Sword

The CSIS Project on Prosperity and Development (PPD) would like to share four country case studies as part of a recent CSIS project on The Future of Global Stability: The World of Work in Developing Countries. This project also launched a microsite containing a short video, and a two-volume report.

CSIS prepared four country case studies in Brazil, India, Kazakhstan, and Nigeria, conducting a deep dive analysis of their labor markets. The case studies analyze the current world of work in each country and the trends looming on the horizon.

In less than five years, India will be the most populous nation in the world; in addition, while many Asian countries are aging, India is projected to be the youngest country in the world by 2020. There is concern that the Indian economy is not creating enough “good jobs” to satisfy the appetites of its aspiring youth. The largest part of the labor force in India is informal, young, and underemployed, with low wages and unmet aspirations.

The Taliban’s Battle Plan

By Michael Semple

Zalmay Khalilzad, the United States’ envoy for Afghan reconciliation, has breathed new life into attempts to conduct peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Having met with Taliban representatives in Qatar and lobbied leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Khalilzad now says he is “cautiously optimistic” about reaching a peace deal by April of next year.

Yet as far as Taliban leaders are concerned, the group has little reason to commit to a peace process: it is on a winning streak. The Taliban control key Afghan highways and are conducting targeted assassinations across the country. They have made important territorial gains and now have complete or partial control over some 250 of about 400 districts.

The Afghan government should not be sidelined in peace talks

by Safiullah Taye

At last month's Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan, it was clear that the presidential elections were less than five months away. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani put a lot of effort into making sure he appeared to be the right man for his job.

He took the opportunity to read out a list of achievements in the areas of security, women's rights, justice and the anti-corruption effort. As usual, international donors applauded the achievements, re-affirmed their support for the Afghan government, and pledged more military and humanitarian aid.

But President Ghani did not stop there. He alsoannounced a "roadmap to peace" his administration had prepared in order to launch peace talks with the Taliban. As part of that plan, he announced the formation of a 12-members team, headed by presidential chief of staff Salam Rahimi, to engage in directnegotiations with the Taliban. Ghani made it clear that the peace process has to be "Afghan-owned and Afghan-led", implying his administration cannot be excluded from the process.

Taliban Appear Ready to Discuss Peace Talks, Except With Afghan Officials

By Mujib Mashal

KABUL, Afghanistan — Representatives from the Taliban, the United States and several Asian countries gathered in the United Arab Emirates on Monday for what officials cautiously described as important meetings that could lead to formal talks to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan.

The optimism fostered by months of urgent American diplomacy was dampened by the Taliban’s apparent refusal to meet with a delegation of the Afghan government, although Afghan officials said late Monday that they had not given up hope that the two sides would talk.

The Taliban said in a statement on Sunday that they would meet representatives of the United States as well as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates. Those countries, American allies that have varying levels of influence over the Taliban, have been at the center of a Trump administration push to help shape the peace process.

The Amazing Ways Facial Recognition AIs Are Used In China

“The country on the cutting edge of facial recognition technology and the amazing ways it can be put to use is definitely China. While the Chinese government and many of the country’s current systems, large population (more than 1.3 billion citizens) and centralized identity data bases might make adopting facial recognition technology easier than in Europe or the United States, Chinese-based technology companies are also leaders in investing and building useful innovations to find new ways to profit from the use of computer vision. Unlike your fingerprint, your faceprint can be scanned at a distance. Your individual faceprint is a unique code that is applicable to you. It’s created by measuring distances between points on your face such as the width of your nose or the distance between your eyes. These various points are called ‘nodal points’ and about 80 of them are used to create your faceprint. Once a faceprint is made, it is run through identity databases to connect the face to a name in the database. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security began its quest to build the world’s most extensive facial recognition database in 2015. The error rates of the technology can be as low as 0.8 percent; eight out of 1,000 scans could be misidentified.”

Would the US Really Lose a War With China and Russia?

By Franz-Stefan Gady

One of the first things one learns as an infantry platoon leader is that he who tries to secure everything with his soldiers on the battlefield usually ends up securing nothing. Unfortunately for U.S. national security, this old maxim appears to have been forgotten at the strategic and political level by some of America’s brightest minds in the defense community as evidenced in a recent report.

The November 2018 study Providing for the Common Defense, issued by the National Defense Strategy Commission, a congressionally-mandated blue-ribbon panel led by former U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman and retired U.S. Navy Admiral Gary Roughead, recommends that the United States should spend more on its armed forces and reinforce its global military presence lest Washington be confronted by a national security emergency at a period when the nation is at a “greater risk than at any time in decades.”

China’s Crisis of Overconfidence

By David Bandurski

Exactly 40 years ago, on December 18, 1978, the Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) opened in Beijing. The event marked the formal kick-off of the country’s “reform and opening” policy, and the beginning of its extraordinary rise as a global economic power. The changes set in motion by the meeting would prove dramatic, and as China sought to chart a new course and escape the cycle of violence and hardship that had prevailed through the Mao Zedong era, one of the most revolutionary changes was the embrace of new ideas.

Forty years on, China is an economic juggernaut aspiring to become a world leader in technological innovation. But China’s leaders seem in danger of forgetting one of the most crucial lessons emerging from the pre-reform period and the calamity of the Cultural Revolution  —  that the country can only move forward if it rejects the fatuous and self-aggrandizing language of power, and embraces the open exchange of ideas and information.

How America’s Foreign Policy Establishment Got China Wrong

by James Curran

CHINA HAS begun to assert a grand vision of its own for a new world. Speaking at the Communist Party’s nineteenth Congress last October, President Xi Jinping presented his country’s authoritarian system as a “new option for other countries,” representing “Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach to solving the problems of mankind.”

When President Donald Trump took the oath of office, the People’s Daily editorialized that “Western-style democracy used to be a recognized power in history to drive social development. But now it has reached its limits.” That kind of rhetoric, though bombastic, is increasingly a hallmark of what some call a pragmatic form of Chinese authoritarianism.

China Confronts Its Eternal Dilemma

Christopher Balding

China’s top leaders meet this week in Beijing to set economic policy objectives for the coming year. The central question is whether they will do what they want or what the country needs.

Clear evidence has emerged in the past couple of months that the Chinese economy is slowing to an uncomfortable degree. That’s raised expectations that the leadership will opt for significant stimulus at the Central Economic Work Conference, which Bloomberg News reported will be held from Dec. 19-21.

China's economy has slowed to a point where significant stimulus may be needed

Ryan Hass On Taiwan: The calm before the storm?

Taiwan’s recent election results have become a bit of a Rorschach test — what people see reflects what they want to see. For Beijing, the results reflect a popular repudiation of President Tsai’s (蔡英文) policies, including her approach to cross-Strait relations. Many in the KMT reached a similar conclusion and feel validated in their conviction that settling down cross-Strait tensions is a prerequisite to solving Taiwan’s other challenges. For many in the DPP, the results carry a different lesson, namely that pushing through too many reforms too fast and without sufficient regard for their social impact is politically damaging. In the lead-up to Taiwan’s presidential election over the next 13 months, these divergent narratives could lead each actor in different directions.

Beijing’s proximate goal during this period appears to be to undermine public confidence in President Tsai’s ability to administer Taiwan effectively. Beijing wants to diminish the possibility that Taiwan’s voters will re-elect Tsai. To do so, Beijing likely will amplify discontent, including by spreading disinformation. Beijing also will seek to bypass Taipei and reach out directly to local governments with mainland-friendly leaders to show that such an orientation leads to material benefits for its peoples. They will seek to attract support from Taiwan businessmen and Taiwan’s youth by highlighting the economic opportunities that can be unlocked by a more open attitude toward the mainland. At the same time, Beijing almost certainly will maintain a hard line against President Tsai and her administration, including by intensifying military pressure against Taiwan and further squeezing Taiwan’s international space. Overall, Beijing’s hard-soft approach likely will get both harder and softer in the coming months, as Beijing seeks to sharpen the contrast for Taiwan voters between the risks of moving away from and the benefits of moving closer to the mainland.


By John McLaughlin

There is no way to prevent China from becoming the world’s largest economy. This is not my conclusion. It belongs to one of America’s most respected economists, former Clinton administration Treasury Secretary and Harvard President Lawrence Summers, and I have no reason to doubt it. But hearing it got me thinking again about our strategy toward China — and mainly, whether we are preparing our foreign policy tool kit for the special challenges of operating in the world that Summers predicts.

It’s no secret that China is a rising power. But there is a reassuring school of thought that the U.S. retains certain advantages likely to continue giving us an edge in global competition. We are blessed with abundant natural resources, a strong education system, an attractive culture, innovative entrepreneurs and favorable demographics (unlike China’s aging population). Moreover, China is struggling to free its economy from dependence on cheap exports, and it angers most of its trading partners with intellectual property theft, hacking episodes, limiting the rights of foreign investors and subsidizing its large state industries to the disadvantage of competitors.

The NSA and China feuded in cyberspace in 2014. Will they again?

By: Justin Lynch   

Leaders from the United States and China accused each other of a prolonged hacking spree, then agreed to limit cyberattacks, but cyber tensions between the two countries are ramping up again, according to exports and U.S. officials.

The Trump administration is accusing the Chinese government of masterminding a slew of state-sponsored cyberattacks against private sector and defense firms. American officials describe the hacks as an effort to gobble up sensitive defense information and valuable intellectual property.

“China’s strategy is the same: rob, replicate and replace,” John Demers, the U.S. Department of Justice’s assistant attorney general, told lawmakers Dec. 12. “Rob the American company of its intellectual property, replicate the technology, and replace the American company in the Chinese market and, one day, the global market.”

Those tensions could expand as the White House is planning another round of indictments on Chinese hackers, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. The feud follows a recently surfaced hack on the hotel chain Marriott, which was allegedly carried out by Chinese intelligence officials. The campaign apparently began in 2014 and has affected some 500 million people.

The Reason Why Iran Won't Become an Energy Superpower

by Omid Shokri Kalehsar 

In recent years, the Turkmen government has refused to toe the line of the United States and Europe, continuing gas sales to Iran, despite misunderstandings over costs affecting the economic relations of both countries. These issues must be ironed out once and for all if any increase in ties is to be realized at a time when Iran desperately needs allies in the region.

According to 2017 figures, the volume of trade between Iran and Turkmenistan has already grown to a value of $1.7 billion. Mahmoud Vazei, the Iranian president’s chief of staff, has set out the goal of pushing this to an overall value of $60 billion. The roadmap to achieve this goal requires boosting ties across every industry, improving trade, transport and engineering service links. Oil products, petrochemicals, electricity, textile products and light industry are the most important export items Turkmenistan is equipped to provide to Iran. Thus, Turkmenistan is Iran’s strongest partner in Central Asia and the Caucasus, despite a decline in trade over recent years.

Syria Will Be Won By Strength of Arms, Not Words

by Daniel R. DePetris 

Last week, Staffan de Mistura—the exhausted but ever jovial UN special envoy to the Syrian conflict—delivered what could be his very last press stakeout as the secretary-general’s special envoy to the Syrian conflict. Asked whether he felt optimistic about the future of the Syrian peace talks, de Mistura didn’t give a definitive answer. Instead, he relied upon an old adage that he has used throughout his nearly four-and-a-half years as the UN’s point man: “What I can say [is] I am determined...to leave no stone unturned until the very last hour of my tenure.”

In a few weeks, that tenure is coming to a close. And to de Mistura’s disappointment, the four-plus years of dogged diplomacy hasn’t produced very much—if anything—for a Syria ravaged by civil war. The fact the violence in Syria is slowly decreasing and the front-lines are now stabilizing has less to do with the UN peace process and more to do with the blunt reality that Bashar al-Assad has won the conflict through brute force and unforgiving siege warfare.

The Trouble With Trump's New Africa Strategy

By Zhang Chao

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton recently unveiled the Trump administration’s new Africa strategy in a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation. In addition to announcing a new approach of engaging with African development, the most headline-grabbing part of Bolton’s remarks is his accusation against China for “predatory practices” on the continent. Bolton mentioned China 17 times through the speech, during which he enumerated Chinese “sins” in Africa and declared that the overriding target of the U.S. strategy is to counter Chinese influence across the continent.

Combative as Bolton’s words are, the speech contains nothing novel. Before Bolton, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence had pointed the finger against Chinese aid and investment in front of a group of business and political leaders at the APEC CEO summit just a few weeks ago. On that occasion Pence used language similar to Bolton’s to denounce Chinese funding, calling it opaque, poor quality, and a source of debt.

No Country for Old Men? Demography’s Impact on the Global Economy

William Alan Reinsch

A version of this article was originally published by the Stimson Center on November 3, 2016.

The holidays bring to the column world something well-known to the TV world—reruns. This piece first appeared in November 2016 when I was at the Stimson Center. It is still timely, although I have updated it a bit. It will be followed by two other golden oldies and then a return to our regularly scheduled programming.

One of the relatively untold stories of economic policy is the decisive role demography plays in how countries grow and prosper—or not. While there is plenty of scholarly work on the subject, it rarely makes the headlines because its effects are long-term, and it is relatively immutable.

Patterns in Russian-American Relations

Donald Trump is the only President of the United States since the collapse of the Soviet Union who has been unable to “reset” the U.S. relationship with Russia. While the Clinton, Bush, and Obama resets didn’t last, they provided periods of respite in the historically tense ties and allowed both sides to achieve important policy goals. Ironically, Trump’s affinity for Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, is the main reason for his inability to put the relationship on a more stable footing. Suspicious of his motivations and put off by his chaotic leadership style, Trump’s own administration and the U.S. Congress are essentially running U.S. policy on Russia themselves, with the president’s role reduced to endorsing their decisions. Despite being endowed with the bully pulpit of the presidency and an itchy Twitter finger, Trump is a loud but often inconsequential bystander to the process of managing the U.S.-Russia relationship.

Keir Giles of Chatham House has argued that Russia’s relationship with the West moves through predictable stages: euphoria, pragmatism, disillusionment, crisis, reset. This pattern had held true—with minor variations—in the post-Cold war era. That is, until recently. But the current crisis in the relationship, which dates to Russia’s early 2014 seizure of Crimea and support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine, shows no signs of abating. With no reset in the cards and both sides nursing grievances and looking for ways to punish the other, the U.S.-Russia relationship looks set to be stuck in crisis mode for the foreseeable future.

The Earth’s Shell Has Cracked, and We’re Drifting on the Pieces

By Natalie Angier

The theory of plate tectonics is one of the great scientific advances of our age, right up there with Darwin’s theory of evolution and Einstein’s theory of relativity.

The idea that Earth’s outer shell is broken up into giant puzzle pieces, or plates, all gliding atop a kind of conveyor belt of hot, weak rock — here rising up from the underlying mantle, there plunging back into it — explains much about the structure and behavior of our home planet: the mountains and ocean canyons, the earthquakes and volcanoes, the very composition of the air we breathe.

Yet success is no guarantee against a midlife crisis, and so it is that half a century after the basic mechanisms of plate tectonics were first elucidated, geologists are confronting surprising gaps in their understanding of a concept that is truly the bedrock of their profession.


THERE’S A MEME on Instagram, circulated by a group called “Born Liberal.” A fist holds a cluster of strings, reaching down into people with television sets for heads. The text declares: “The People Believe What the Media Tells Them They Believe: George Orwell.” The quote is surely false, but it’s also perfect in a way. “Born Liberal” was a creation of the Internet Research Agency, the Russian propaganda wing that might as well be part of Oceania. In other words, we live in a time when American democratic debate is being influenced by liars spreading memes about our inability to understand the truth.

Poor Security Could Leave U.S. Defenseless Against Missile Attacks

By Heather Kuldell

The Defense Department’s inconsistent security practices leave technical data about the nation’s missile defense system vulnerable to inside and outside threats, according to the agency auditor.

The ballistic missile defense system is designed to detect and intercept incoming missiles before they hit their intended targets. The system is made up of many elements, some run by the government and others by cleared contractors. The Defense Department keeps the system’s technical information—such as engineering data, algorithms and source codes—on its classified networks.

“The disclosure of technical details could allow U.S. adversaries to circumvent [ballistic missile defense system] capabilities, leaving the United States vulnerable to deadly missile attacks,” the Defense Department Office of Inspector General said in an audit.

Preventive Priorities Survey: 2019

Paul B. Stares

U.S. foreign policy experts assess the likelihood and impact of thirty potential crises or conflicts around the world in the coming year in CFR’s annual survey.

General John W. Vessey Senior Fellow for Conflict Prevention and Director of the Center for Preventive Action

Each year since 2008, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action (CPA) has asked foreign policy experts to rank thirty ongoing or potential conflicts based on their likelihood of occurring or escalating in the next year and their potential impact on U.S. national interests.

The GPS Wars Are Here


The problem first hit during Russia’s September 2017 Zapad military exercise in its western regions, near the Baltic states. Then it happened again in October during NATO’s Trident Juncture exercise, held in Norway. GPS signals across far northern Norway and Finland failed. Civilian airplanes were forced to navigate manually, and ordinary citizens could no longer trust their smartphones.

During NATO’s Trident Juncture exercise in October, the Norwegian airline Wideroe reported a loss of GPS signal in airplanes flying in the north of the country. At the same time, Finland’s Air Navigation Services, a government aviation authority, issued a similar warning to the country’s airlines. In both places, somebody was jamming GPS systems. Several months earlier, the airport in the French city of Nantes had experienced similar disruptions. The ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) used to assist aircraft during takeoff and landing repeatedly failed, without a detectable mechanical cause.



THERE’S A MEME on Instagram, circulated by a group called “Born Liberal.” A fist holds a cluster of strings, reaching down into people with television sets for heads. The text declares: “The People Believe What the Media Tells Them They Believe: George Orwell.” The quote is surely false, but it’s also perfect in a way. “Born Liberal” was a creation of the Internet Research Agency, the Russian propaganda wing that might as well be part of Oceania. In other words, we live in a time when American democratic debate is being influenced by liars spreading memes about our inability to understand the truth.

Poor Security Could Leave U.S. Defenseless Against Missile Attacks


The Defense Department’s inconsistent security practices leave technical data about the nation’s missile defense system vulnerable to inside and outside threats, according to the agency auditor.

The ballistic missile defense system is designed to detect and intercept incoming missiles before they hit their intended targets. The system is made up of many elements, some run by the government and others by cleared contractors. The Defense Department keeps the system’s technical information—such as engineering data, algorithms and source codes—on its classified networks.

“The disclosure of technical details could allow U.S. adversaries to circumvent [ballistic missile defense system] capabilities, leaving the United States vulnerable to deadly missile attacks,” the Defense Department Office of Inspector General said in an audit.

Failing Upwards: How America’s Military Leaders Can Learn from Their Mistakes

by Dominic Tierney

SECRETARY OF Defense James Mattis reportedly said: “I don’t lose any sleep at night over the potential for failure. I cannot even spell the word.” To paraphrase Trotsky, American generals may not be interested in failure, but failure is interested in them. In recent decades, the United States has suffered a number of stalemates and defeats in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite the recurrent experience of military fiascos, there is a puzzling discrepancy in how U.S. officials think about past versus future loss. When leaders learn from historical cases, debacles often loom large and powerfully shape policy. But when officials plan prospective operations, they tend to neglect the possibility of disaster. As a result, military planners focus too much on avoiding a repeat of prior reversals, and not enough on the possibility that the new strategy will itself unravel.

One solution is to take inspiration from the business realm, where the school of “intelligent failure” encourages a healthier relationship with loss. By adopting the right set of tools, the military can become more adaptable and resilient.


Nathan Jennings, Amos Fox and Adam Taliaferro 

The most decisive act of judgement which the Statesmen and General exercises is rightly to understand the War in which he engages.

— Carl von Clausewitz

In August 1945, when America initiated the atomic age, the dominant character of land war between great powers transitioned from operational maneuver to positional defense. Now, almost a century later, the US Army is mistakenly structuring for offensive clashes of mass and scale reminiscent of 1944 while competitors like Russia and China have adapted to twenty-first-century reality. This new paradigm—which favors fait accompli acquisitions, projection from sovereign sanctuary, and indirect proxy wars—combines incremental military actions with weaponized political, informational, and economic agendas under the protection of nuclear-fires complexes to advance territorial influence. The Army’s failure to conceptualize these features of the future battlefield is a dangerous mistake.

What’s Wrong With FM 3-0? Lots


Tom note: Here is the second entry in our 10 Long March posts for 2018, the 9th most-read item of the year, which originally ran on May 10, 2018. These posts are selected based on what’s called ‘total engaged minutes’ (the total number of time spent reading and commenting on an article) rather than page views, which the T&P editors see as a better reflection of Long March reader interest and community. Thanks to all of you for reading, and for commenting–which is an important part of this column. 

It appears as though we have decided that insurgents are no longer a threat and we would rather fight a near-peer enemy. In the new Army field manual, FM 3-0 Operations, the U.S. Army has apparently decided to forget past lessons learned. FM 3-0 signals a shift in military strategy and a focus back to large-scale ground combat operations against near-peer threats, where belligerents possess technology and capabilities similar to the U.S. military. Essentially, we no longer want to do the “Vietnam or Iraq thing” again. 

How Peter Jackson Made WWIFootage Seem Astonishingly New

By Mekado Murphy

As the director of elaborate fantasy epics like the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” trilogies, Peter Jackson has become known for meticulous attention to detail. Now he has put the same amount of care into making a documentary.

With “They Shall Not Grow Old,” Jackson has applied new technology to century-old World War I footage to create a vivid, you-are-there feeling that puts real faces front and center and allows us to hear their stories in their own words.

The documentary, which will screen nationwide Dec. 17 and Dec. 27,concentrates on the experiences of British soldiers as revealed in footage from the archives of the Imperial War Museum. Jackson and his team have digitally restored the footage, adjusted its frame rate, colorized it and converted it to 3-D. They chose not to add a host or title cards. Instead, veterans of the war “narrate” — that is, the filmmakers culled their commentary from hundreds of hours of BBC interviews recorded in the 1960s and ’70s.

The result is a transformation that is nothing less than visually astonishing.

Faculty opposed to Israel are at the forefront of BDS

by Alexander H. Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The on-campus boycott, divest, and sanctions movement (BDS) has benefited greatly from the normalizing of anti-Semitism in the US and around the world. The American university is now in many instances a toxic environment for both students and faculty who have an open mind about Israel. Those faculty who risk their jobs, tenure, and grant funding to speak openly on Israel’s behalf need support now more than ever.

With the normalizing of anti-Semitism comes the normalizing of BDS. Professors and academics who support and advocate for BDS feel empowered and emboldened by the belief that their actions respond to the policies of current White House. Moreover, Israel is seen today as a right-wing issue, especially on campuses dominated completely by the political and cultural left. This allows every anti-Israel voice to be treated as normal and moral.