25 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 economicscomes 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.

India’s Big Defense Acquisition Challenge

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Occasional concerns about corrupt defense deals are merely the symptoms of broader structural issues that need to be addressed. 

Accusations about corruption in defense deals are once again roiling in Indian politics. This time, the charges pertain to India’s decision to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from France. Questions have been raised about why the deal was abruptly changed from 126 fighter jets, many of which would have built under license in India, to just 36, which are being bought as fly-aways.

Irrespective of the veracity of the charges, it is clear that opposition parties will use the issue in the upcoming general elections in mid-2019. The case illustrates the broken nature of India’s defense acquisition process, but even more importantly, it demonstrates that the Indian political system and governing institutional mechanisms have not come up with a way to adjudicate these issues outside of the political arena. The consequence is that Indian defense acquisitions are likely to continue to suffer for the foreseeable future.

What Would A U.S. Troop Reduction In Afghanistan Mean?

By Frud Bezhan

U.S. President Donald Trump’s reported plans to withdraw around 7,000 troops from Afghanistan, roughly half the remaining U.S. military presence there, has prompted much discussion about the impact the drawdown could have on the country.

Analysts interviewed by RFE/RL warn that a partial withdrawal would further degrade security, jeopardize possible peace talks with the Taliban aimed at ending its 17-year insurgency, and strain Washington’s relationship with the Western-backed government in Kabul.

'Exacerbate The Conflict'

The war in Afghanistan isn’t a ‘stalemate.’ The U.S. has lost


With the sole exception of Vietnam, the ongoing Afghanistan war represents the greatest failure in U.S. military history. Today, all but a few diehards understand that Vietnam was a debacle of epic proportions. With Afghanistan, it’s different: In both political and military circles, the urge to dodge the truth remains strong.

This may explain, at least in part, why the present commander in chief has yet to visit the war zone. For a president with an aversion to accepting responsibility, traveling to Afghanistan would call attention to a situation he prefers to ignore. After all, Donald Trump campaigned against the war and vowed if elected to end it forthwith. Once in office, however, he caved in to advisors urging him not only to continue the war but even to dispatch a contingent of reinforcements. Steering clear of Afghanistan allows Trump to sustain the pretense that the war is not actually his.

If only by default, it becomes incumbent on the military itself to explain what’s going on. With the Afghanistan war in its 18th year, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, characterized the war as a “stalemate” last month. Other high-ranking officers regularly use the same term.

What happens next after China’s alleged theft of American business secrets

By: Justin Lynch  
Source Link

The Department of Justice indicted two hackers associated with the Chinese based ATP-10 group on Dec. 20 for conspiracy to commit computer intrusions against at least 45 organizations in the U.S. and worldwide, sparking calls for the U.S. to be more aggressive in cyberspace.

The focus of the hacking spree was an apparent attempt to steal American trade secrets for the benefit of Chinese firms, with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Goddard Space Center and seven companies involved in the aviation, space and satellite industry among the targets. More than 100,000 Navy personnel were also victims, with names, social security numbers, and other personal details stolen, according to the indictment against the two alleged Chinese hackers, Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong.

Chinese government carrying out global cyberwarfare campaign, UK says

Kim Sengupta

Britain and its western allies have accused the Chinese government of carrying out an extensive campaign of industrial espionage through cyberwarfare.

A group known as APT 10, it is claimed, is acting on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of State Security to carry out a “malicious” offensive targeting intellectual property and sensitive commercial data in Europe, Asia and the US.

The British government said that the Chinese security establishment is not upholding the commitments Beijing made directly to the UK in a 2015 bilateral agreement.

It is also inconsistent, it says, with G20 commitments that no country should conduct or support information and communications technology-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information.

How Europe Will Try to Dodge the US–China Standoff in 2019

Dr Robin Niblett CMG

The year 2018 will go down as the moment when the United States explicitly shifted from viewing China an awkward counterpart to a strategic competitor.

From the release of the National Security Strategy at the end of 2017 through Vice President Mike Pence’s speech on 4 October, to the administration’s imposition of 10 per cent tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese exports and its global campaign against Chinese tech giant Huawei, the Trump administration has made clear that it sees China as the number one threat to US interests and its longstanding global pre-eminence.

Importantly, their view is widely shared among both Republican and Democratic members of Congress, senior former officials in the Barack Obama and George W Bush administrations, labour unions and much of the US military.

Xi Walks the Line Between Reform and Revolution

By Phillip Orchard

China celebrated the 40th anniversary of its reform and opening era on Tuesday. Hopes were high that President Xi Jinping would use the occasion to prepare the Communist Party of China, and the public, for the painful market reforms that the U.S. administration, foreign investors and Chinese economists are demanding. After all, economic pressure has mountedfrom inside and out over the past few months, exposing shortcomings in China’s state-directed financial system. International opinion about the threat posed by Chinese economic policies has changed and now could cut China off from the foreign capital and technology that fueled its rise. Besides, Beijing has been taking small steps to ease international pressure and sustain its trade truce with the U.S. by, for example, lifting foreign ownership caps in some sectors. Senior officials, including Premier Li Keqiang, repeatedly pledged more such measures in the weeks leading up to the event.

In his much-anticipated speech commemorating the anniversary, however, Xi didn’t sound like a chastened leader under withering pressure to return to the liberalization Deng Xiaoping set in motion in 1978. Instead, his core message was defiant: The CPC is the reason for China’s success, and its tight control – over the economy and whatever else it deems necessary – will be the country’s salvation. Reform and opening, Xi made clear, will mean only what the party needs it to mean. Chinese stock markets plummeted even as the president spoke. But beneath its bravado, the speech underscored the deeper reality that Xi and the country he leads are trapped between conflicting and unforgiving demands. When forced to choose between bad options, the CPC will pick the one that poses the least risk to its power.

Analysis: The Islamic State hasn’t been defeated


The Islamic State’s “Harvest of the Soldiers” includes statistics on the number of operations around the globe, including in Sham (Syria).

President Donald Trump tweeted earlier today, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” The tweet was accompanied by news reports saying that the president has ordered, or is considering ordering, a full withdrawal of American forces from Syria. 

But has the Islamic State (ISIS) been “defeated” in Syria? The short answer is no.

Defeating ISIS: Separating Fact from Fiction


Donald Trump’s precipitous decision to withdraw American troops from Syria has shocked advisers inside and even allies outside his administration. Lindsey Graham called Trump’s declaration that we have “defeated” ISIS in Syria “fake news.” Graham followed up with a blistering appearance on CNN, where he indicated that Trump’s decision was contrary to sound military advice. Even his most staunch allies, men such as Mike Huckabee, were alarmed:

I want troops home too, but leaving Syria abruptly is betrayal to Kurds who have sacrificed and shed blood for Americans and it leaves Syrian Christians as sitting ducks. Please @realDonaldTrump re-think this! Your friends and supporters hope you reconsider.

Why Trump Is Right to Withdraw Troops

by Doug Bandow

Donald Trump has announced that he is bringing home America’s troops from Syria just two years after he was elected president. His plan to end one of America’s many wars prompted a mob to gather outside the White House, pitchforks at the ready.

The mob wasn’t made up of angry farmers or workers. Instead, the feverish crowd constituted Washington’s war party: ivory tower think-tankers, editorialists promoting perpetual war, wannabe commanders-in-chief eager to launch their next democracy crusade, and politicians who collected draft deferments when their lives were on the line—but who now see the need for the United States to “exercise leadership.”

The cacophonous criticism of the president’s decision within the Beltway may be the best evidence of his wisdom. Syria is not America’s war. Washington’s security interests always were minimal. The humanitarian tragedy in the country has been overwhelming, but it is beyond America’s ability to fix it.

Daily Memo: Syria After the US, Putin’s Year in Review, North Korea Talks

All the news worth knowing today.

Fallout from the Syria withdrawal. Nothing that happens in Syria happens in isolation. Washington’s decision to remove its troops will be felt throughout the region, perhaps nowhere more so than in Israel. Washington’s help in the fight against Iran is an important component of U.S.-Israel relations, one that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would rather not lose. To that end, he spoke to President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who he said confirmed that the U.S. will continue to influence the outcome in Syria and aid Israel through other means. It’s unclear exactly how the U.S. will do so, but it is clear that Israel is already trying to figure out how much risk the U.S. may have put it in – Israeli fighter jets have already been spotted in Lebanese airspace near the Syrian border.

Others are anticipating changes as well. The Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by the U.S. but dominated by the Kurds, warned that the withdrawal will lead to a jihadist revival. A leading Kurdish politician hinted that they may need to reconsider their alliances. The French government said the fight against terrorism was, in fact, not over and that its troops would remain in Syria accordingly. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that the U.S. has the potential to usher in a political settlement in Syria but remained skeptical until seeing more action.

From the IRA to the Islamic State: The Evolving Terrorism Threat in Europe

Europe faces a significant threat from terrorism, particularly from Islamic extremists and far-right groups. Europe’s challenges with terrorism have largely gone unnoticed in the United States, whose strategy documents like the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Defense Strategy have shifted away from counterterrorism and toward competition with state competitors like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. In addition, Europe’s increasingly aggressive approach to terrorists—including prosecuting individuals for planning to travel abroad to join terrorist groups, censoring extremist Internet material, punishing Internet companies that fail to remove extremist material, and improving intelligence cooperation—have also largely gone unnoticed in the United States. This report takes a renewed look at Europe and compiles new data on the threat to Europe. It also examines the counterterrorism response by European governments, especially the United Kingdom and France.

The Coming Franco-German Bust-Up


The partnership at the center of European integration is unraveling just when Euroskeptic forces are coming together. If French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel cannot start rebuilding the political center, next year's European Parliament election will produce the biggest victory yet for anti-EU populists.

BERLIN – The politics of Brexit is descending into chaos. The European Union is fragmenting into northern, southern, eastern, and western tribes. And now the Franco-German marriage at the center of the European project is in danger of falling apart.

Decision Time for Europe


After muddling through a series of profound crises over the past decade, the EU now finds itself confronted with a political meltdown in Britain, a potential trade war with the US, and mounting security threats on its periphery. To address these and other challenges, Europe will have to make decisions it would rather continue to postpone.

STOCKHOLM – Say what you will against the European Union, but it does not lack ambitions or plans for realizing them. Almost immediately after the June 2016 Brexit referendum, the EU’s 27 other member states agreed to the “Bratislava Roadmap,” charting the course for a future without the United Kingdom. One year later, EU leaders reconvened in Tallinn and adopted a “Leaders’ Agenda” to “guide EU action up until the European Parliament elections in May 2019.” And now, the EU is preparing for a summit in Sibiu, Romania, that same month, where these blueprints will be finalized.

U.S. Troops Out of Syria: Islamic State, Al-qaeda and Trump’s Base All Win

By Michael Shoebridge

When he announced his decision to remove the 2,000 US troops in Syria, US President Donald Trump tweeted, ‘We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.’

The revelation that he kept US troops in Syria just to counter Islamic State is interesting—because it seems to show that delivering on his campaign promise to his base to bring US troops home has overridden America’s other interests there.

Trump seems unconvinced that the US ground presence in Syria is important as part of a broader strategy for countering Iran’s agenda in the Middle East, countering Russian influence, containing Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad—or even protecting the Kurdish forces in Syria who have been long-term US partners.

The Secretary Of Reassurance Has Resigned: Farewell To Mattis

Even before Trump was sworn in as president, the announcement that he would pick Mattis as his Secretary of Defense was met with delighted relief “from the right, from the left, and from overseas.” Within hours, both the British and Norwegian defense ministers — coincidentally attending a conference in the US — were praising Mattis from the podium at the Reagan Library in California.

But the question has swirled since the day his nomination was confirmed by the Senate: “How long will Mattis last?”

We now know the answer. After trying to change President Trump’s mind over ending the US mission in Syria and withdrawing half of the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis handed the president his resignation on Thursday.



Rob Reiner tweeted against President Donald Trump on Thursday in a series of heated messages about the Republican leader’s recent decisions and rumored personal life. The actor, best known for his role in All In The Family, began with a tweet alleging Trump is committing Treason by “aiding the enemy” in the fight against ISIS.

“Donald Trump is committing Treason against The United States of America. He is aiding and abetting the enemy in The War against Isis and The Cyberwar against Russia,” he said. “He has turned the world’s oldest Democracy into a wholly owned subsidiary of Vladimir Putin. GOP, WAKE UP!”

Trump announced Wednesday he’s pulling U.S. troops from Syria in a video posted on his Twitter account. Russian President Vladimir Putin applauded the decision.

Joe Biden: The Western Hemisphere Needs U.S. Leadership


During my eight years as vice president, leading U.S. engagement with our partners throughout the Western Hemisphere was among the most rewarding challenges in my portfolio. Initially, progress was slow. Trust between the United States and our neighbors was at a low, driven by disagreements over the war in Iraq, the aftershocks of a great recession, a widening rift over the United States’ long-standing Cuba policy, and an overall sense in the region that we had simply lost interest.

By the time President Obama and I left the White House, we had established a new foundation of cooperation for our region built around shared responsibility, respect and partnership. It included a broader and deeper relationship with Mexico, a global agenda for cooperation with Brazil, reinvigorated engagement with Central America, post-earthquake reconstruction in Haiti, restored diplomatic ties with Cuba, support for Colombia’s historic peace process, improved energy security in the Caribbean, expanded trade and collaborative relations with countries throughout the region.

Trump’s ‘Stunning’ About-Face on Syria


In an unexpected decision that blindsided his own senior officials and signaled a concession to Turkey, U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested he is preparing to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, a move that experts said will seriously undermine America’s already weak hand in the war-torn nation.

For Trump, it was the latest instance of conducting policy by tweet without forewarning, and it came even as key officials such as Syria special envoy James Jeffrey were signaling that U.S. policy was to stay in the country. Only the day before, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino told reporters that U.S. forces were there “to ensure the enduring defeat of [the Islamic State]. We’ve made significant progress recently in the campaign, but the job is not yet done.”

What just happened? 5 themes from the COP24 climate talks in Poland

The outcomes from a challenging two weeks of negotiations at this year’s climate conference (the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, aka COP24) were better than expected. Katowice, a proud coal town in the south of Poland, was not the most promising backdrop for a conversation that many hoped would be about raising ambition and recognising the urgency of phasing out fossil fuels. But the Polish Presidency managed to get the result at the heart of this year’s conference: agreement on the all-important ‘Rule Book’ that will allow governments to move ahead with implementing the Paris Agreement.

Here are a few reflections on the two-week process.

A solid foundation


Nathan Jennings

Since the close of the Second World War the United States has retained a significant ground force presence in Europe to defend against Russian aggression. While laudable during the halcyon days of the Soviet Empire, it is past time for this anachronistic policy to end. Europe now has the unrealized economic and political capacity to overmatch a weakened Moscow that can only provoke with economic and informational warfare while accosting weak states along its borders.[1] In the 21st century, the United States Army should accordingly adopt a more dynamic strategy for how it contributes to European security and would join a potential, though improbable, NATO war to defeat Russia. 

A modernized approach could reimagine America’s military role in Europe, as once criticized by Dwight Eisenhower, where it is not “carrying practically the whole weight of the strategic deterrence force.”[2] More specifically, it would remove permanent US ground forces while empowering allies to create integrated area denial defenses at scale. It does not mean, however, reducing diplomatic engagement, withdrawing from NATO, ending multi-national exercises, or endangering commercial access. Instead, American landpower should enable Europeans—whose combined annual expenditure of 226 billion dollars on defense spending dwarfs Russia’s 47 billion—to organize and unify to counter aggression.[3]

New Strategy, New Opportunities

The Biggest Emerging Market Debt Problem Is in America


A decade after the subprime bubble burst, a new one seems to be taking its place in the market for corporate collateralized loan obligations. A world economy geared toward increasing the supply of financial assets has hooked market participants and policymakers alike into a global game of Whac-A-Mole.

CAMBRIDGE – A recurrent topic in the financial press for much of 2018 has been the rising risks in the emerging market (EM) asset class. Emerging economies are, of course, a very diverse group. But the yields on their sovereign bonds have climbed markedly, as capital inflows to these markets have dwindled amid a general perception of deteriorating conditions.

How DoD is getting serious about artificial intelligence

By: Mark Pomerleau
Source Link

Pentagon leaders have tapped Air Force Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan to serve as the head of a new center that will focus on the use of artificial intelligence in the Department of Defense, multiple officials confirmed to C4ISRNET.

Shanahan’s move to JAIC was first reported by Defense One.

The appointment is part of a series of moves by the Department of Defense to get serious about the broader adoption of artificial intelligence as competitors make significant investments in the technology.

Despite several efforts to use advanced algorithms and AI throughout the department, the Pentagon is creating the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) to synchronize these efforts and accelerate the delivery of AI capabilities.

Here are 3 alternative visions for the future of work

In early 2019 leaders of business and government will be meeting to address the challenges presented by technology and changing workforce dynamics. Many governments see the future of industry - Industry 4.0 - as involving a generational change in skills and needing a new vision of the security that comes with full-time employment. For the corporate sector, leadership will need to balance the promise of automation and advanced data with the financial health of the workforce. It’s a challenging future. But it’s not a dark one, by any means.

The Industry 4.0 that Davos attendees will address is, at its core, an issue of workforce transformation, not workforce displacement. It is defined by the intersection of longer lifetimes, new technology, evolving employment models and financial dynamics. Governments and the private sector must proactively manage, not blindly accept, these dynamics. Industry 4.0 demands a vision that includes financial health, workforce security and new opportunities for workers of all demographic segments and skill levels.

First hint of near-room-temperature superconductor tantalizes physicists

Davide Castelvecchi

Physicists think they have achieved one of the most coveted goals of their discipline: creating a superconducting material that works at near-room temperature.

The evidence is still preliminary and comes with a major caveat. So far, the material has been made only under pressures of about 200 gigapascals — or two million atmospheres.

But if confirmed, the feat would be the first example of superconductivity above 0˚C, and some physicists say that the work could be a milestone in the study of superconductivity, which researchers hope will one day make the generation, transmission and use of electricity vastly more efficient.
‘Long-held dream’

Israel: Does Elbit’s Rise Mean IAI’s Downfall?


The balance of power in Israel’s arms industry, long dominated by state-owned firms, is rapidly shifting to the private sector. Elbit System’s recently completed acquisition of state-owned Israeli Military Industries (IMI) for US $495 million is just the latest victory in a long-running war. It’s a contest in which the publicly traded Elbit has repeatedly outmaneuvered state-owned rivals that must run every decision past the Israeli government.

No one is more worried than the longtime national champion, Israeli Aerospace Industries. “Before I took office,” IAI chairman Harel Locker said at a recent conference, “I held endless meetings, I read endless documents, and in a very short time (I) realized that if the company did not change, it could collapse within a few years.”

“There is politicization and regulation,” Locker lamented. “IAI has strong markets, but there is no strategy, no growth and profit targets, and with the new FMF (Foreign Military Financing) agreement with the US , the possibility of converting US dollars into local currency will disappear.”


“I really feel like…someone is watching me,” goes the words to the 1997 hit song by the late Michael Jackson. Between that classic, and the single by the musical group, The Police, “Every Breath You Take, Every Step You Take, Every Move You Make – I’ll Be Watching You,” — life really is…..imitating, or catching up with art. I have written many times about how really difficult it is to hide, and stay hidden these days — short of dropping off-the-grid, and living a remote, spartan, low-profile existence. For the overwhelming vast majority of us, going completely off-the-grid, and living a mostly disconnected life — is a life we do not find attractive, or worth living. But, as with most things in life, being connected, and on-the-grid, comes at a price; and, some unwanted baggage. 

As I have written many times on this blog, it is very, very hard to stay hidden. Unless you go completely off-the-grid, and good luck with that, chances are you will be found — if someone is determined to find you. Now comes word that turning off FaceBook location tracking — doesn’t stop the social media giant from continuing to track your location. Kashmir Hill posted a December 18, 2018 article on the technology and security website, GIZMODO, described just how insidious and invasive that FaceBook’s personal tracking software is. He makes this argument and warning very real by describing what recently happened to Aleksandra Korolova — after she “turned off location history in her FaceBook app; and also telling her iPhone that she “Never” wants the app to get her location.” Ms. Korolova also “doesn’t “check in” to places, and doesn’t list her current city on her profile,” 

Mattis’ 2017 Message To Troops Is Worth Remembering: ‘Just Hold The Line’


Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has resigned from his post — leaving many to freak out about what’s to come in the defense world — but a message he personally delivered last year to troops under his command is worth heeding before he departs in February.

“You just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other, being friendly to one another; what Americans owe to one another,” Mattis said in 2017.

Mattis’ resignation comes on a the heels of a disagreement with President Donald Trump over the latter’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria — the consequences of which are unclear, though there’s speculation that ISIS may not be as “defeated” as the Trump administration claims, and that the U.S. military’s departure from the country will leave our local allies vulnerable and create further instability, out of which some new fresh hell will emerge.

Pentagon F-35 vs A-10 Close Air Support Evaluation Hits Next Phase

By Kris Osborn - Warrior Maven

The Pentagon-led F-35 vs. A-10 Close Air Support assessment is nearing its next phase of evaluation, following an initial “first wave” of tests in July of this year -- designed to test which of the two aircraft might be best suited to confront heavy enemy fire when performing high-risk CAS missions.

“Mission performance is under evaluation,” Vice Adm. Mat Winter, Program Executive Officer, F-35 program, told reporters earlier this year.

Pre- Initial Operational Test & Evaluation test phases, are currently underway at Edwards AFB and Naval Air Station China Lake, officials said.

“Mission performance is being evaluated in the presence of a robust set of ground threats and, to ensure a fair and comparable evaluation of each system’s performance, both aircraft are allowed to configure their best weapons loadouts and employ their best tactics for the mission scenario” a statement from the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation said.