27 December 2018

China-US Contention Has Opened Up Space for Other Powers, Including India

Shivshankar Menon

This is the first article in a two-part series on the rise of China and its impact on world order, and India. Read the second part here.

We live in an amazing, paradoxical age – an age of contrasts, an age of extremes, and an age of rapid change. Never before in history has such a large proportion of humanity lived longer, healthier, more prosperous or more comfortable lives.

And yet, we have probably never had a stronger sense of standing on the brink of a precipice, of possible extinction and of the fragility of human life — by climate change or nuclear war or other violence. Global battle deaths are back up to the highest levels since the Cold War and the 68.5 million displaced persons around the globe in 2017 are at the levels of 1945-46 (after World War II and during the Chinese civil war).

The global prospect

Arms Race Against India May Completely Disintegrate Pakistan Like USSR – Experts

India-Pakistan Arms Race is on, but Pakistan appears to be making the same mistake that the USSR made against the US – getting involved in an arms race against an economically superior enemy. Can Pakistan really compete against an economic superpower and world’s fastest growing economy – India? Here is a report on Pakistan’s defence spendings.

The Pakistan government proposes to spike allocation for defence by a whopping 18 per cent to Rs1.1 trillion for the next fiscal year from the original estimate of Rs920bn for the outgoing financial year. The increase represents the highest growth in the defence budget in over a decade, as the allocation is 10.22pc greater than the revised estimate of Rs998m for the present financial year.

Cold Start: India seeks to upset Pakistani nuclear dominance


Every other year India’s Army Commanders Conference gathers to address the impact technology has on doctrine and organizational operations. This year marks significant achievement in the elimination of old distinctions of corps, division and brigades favoring an Integrated Battle Group (IBG) that seeks to harmonize a previously archaic posture into dynamic fighting redundancies that render Pakistan’s nuclear achievements in asymmetry vulnerable.

India seeks quickly to mobilize six battalions with new elements of close air support, artillery and close-combat armor. It seeks to dominate Pakistan with conventional unified arms. With IBG, Indian political strategy, doctrine and conventional means underwrite a new level of credible threat deterrence.

Smaller Military Presence In Afghanistan Will Likely Focus On Trump’s Favored Pentagon Mission: Counterterrorism

by Dan Lamothe 

U.S. military and Afghan officials grappled Friday with President Trump’s orderto pull nearly half of all American troops from Afghanistan, a move that will probably focus the war on one of the few military efforts the president says he cares about: counterterrorism.

The order to draw up withdrawal plans, issued during a White House meeting this week, would reduce the military presence from more than 14,000 troops to about 7,000, drastically scaling back Pentagon efforts to assist and support Afghan forces.

Afghan forces have suffered hundreds of fatalities per month this year, as a resurgent Taliban puts pressure on the Afghan government despite a marginally expanded Pentagon mission there 16 months ago.



Relations between the U.S. and China have entered a “dangerous period” and are “likely” to become worse, a Harvard University academic who specializes in foreign policy has said.

“We need a new strategic concept for the relationship between U.S. and China, because the old idea from an American perspective is that the strategic partnership has collapsed,” Graham Allison, a professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, told the South China Morning Post in comments published Thursday. “I think it is a dangerous period now...and it’s likely to get more dangerous if we don’t become more imaginative,” he warned.

China’s Next Generation Military Hardware Nears Completion

By Phenny Lynn Palec

For several years now, China has been quite busy investing in the modernization of its military weapons and hardware. China has thrown in massive amounts of investments towards this effort. Recently, military commentators and observers have noted that China's massive investments may finally see the light of day as the country readies itself to unveil new military weapons and hardware.

In the past few years, China has been quietly rolling out some of the key pieces of its military modernization project. Chief among these developments is the construction of the Chinese Type 001A carrier, this first carrier to be domestically built in China. Following its launch, the Type 001A has had three sea trials this year alone. China said that the carrier should be fully ready for deployment sometime next year.

The Stealth Superpower How China Hid Its Global Ambitions

By Oriana Skylar Mastro

“China will not, repeat, not repeat the old practice of a strong country seeking hegemony,” Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, said last September. It was a message that Chinese officials have been pushing ever since their country’s spectacular rise began. For decades, they have been at pains to downplay China’s power and reassure other countries—especially the United States—of its benign intentions. Jiang Zemin, China’s leader in the 1990s, called for mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, and cooperation in the country’s foreign relations. Under Hu Jintao, who took the reins of power in 2002, “peaceful development” became the phrase of the moment. The current president, Xi Jinping, insisted in September 2017 that China “lacks the gene” that drives great powers to seek hegemony.

It is easy to dismiss such protestations as simple deceit. In fact, however, Chinese leaders are telling the truth: Beijing truly does not want to replace Washington at the top of the international system. China has no interest in establishing a web of global alliances, sustaining a far-flung global military presence, sending troops thousands of miles from its borders, leading international institutions that would constrain its own behavior, or spreading its system of government abroad.

Brave new world with Chinese characteristics

By Yangyang Cheng

The YouTube video began with a young Chinese man in a light blue shirt, seated in what appeared to be a biology lab, speaking exuberantly into the camera in slow but clear English: “Two beautiful little Chinese girls, Lulu and Nana, came crying into this world as healthy as any other babies a few weeks ago.” It could have been an excited new father sharing the joy of birth. But as the video would soon reveal, Lulu and Nana are not “any other babies;” they are the world’s first genetically edited humans, born from fertilized eggs modified with CRISPR-cas9 technology.

At least that is what the man in the video and at the center of a storm of controversy—the Chinese scientist He Jiankui, who led the experiment—claims.

The reactions of the scientific community, He’s employers, the Chinese government, and the general public have not by any means matched the positive tone of He’s video. Since he announced his genetic experiment on November 26, criticism has been swift, strong, and nearly universal. Many scientific observers say He used poorly-understood technology, and used it shoddily, to experiment on and create real human beings, with unforeseeable consequences. He may also have relied on secrecy and lies to carry out his reckless plan.

The Future of Terrorism by Walter Laqueur and Christopher Wall

The Future of Terrorism by Walter Laqueur and Christopher Wall An account of the persistent allure of political violence to ‘purify society’ A man and his daughter flee Isis militants in Mosul, Iraq. When digging into the personal lives of terrorists, it is often hard to find any ideological conviction © Reuters Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save Save to myFT Review by Raffaello Pantucci DECEMBER 24, 2018 Print this page19 The lull in the tempo of terror attacks offers an appropriate moment to consider what might be coming. Terrorism of one sort or another, with a shifting definition, has been a feature of organised society since records began. Where it will go next — radical environmentalists, extreme Luddites, fanatical religious adherents, or some fringe ideology yet to materialise — is the great question for those who study terrorism. 

Resurgent Al-Qaeda Planning New Series Of Spectacular Attacks Against Airliners And Airports, Including Drone Strikes And Suicide Passengers, Warns U.S. Security Minister; After Gatwick Airport Incident — Will Drones Become The New Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)?

Just in time for Christmas. Leave it to the darker angels of our nature and the pathetic — the militant Islamists — to keep coming back like a bad hangover. I have written for the past several years that it is ‘easy’ to kill a person; but an idea/philosophy….not so much. I have repeatedly argued that the world needs a 21st century version of the Nuremberg War Crimes trials and put militant Islam on trial — much as we did Nazism in the immediate aftermath of WWII. Just as the Nuremberg War Crimes trials exposed the world to the true evil that Nazism comprised, and held accountable those that executed its tenants — we need to do the same today with militant Islam. That is the only way in my view to ‘kill’ this odious, evil philosophy and the pathetic malcontents who carry out its ‘ideals.’ I have an article that I wrote and posted on this blog back in 2015, “We Need A Judgment At Raqqa,” a take on the Hollywood film classic, Judgment At Nuremberg,” which is available on this blog, if you would like to read more. With that…….

Asia Bibi’s Case Reveals Islamists’ True Colors

Martha F. Lee

This past October, the Pakistani Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of Asia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani woman who had spent eight years on death row after being convicted of blasphemy. Following her acquittal, extremist groups across Pakistan, including the prominent Islamist movement Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), violently protested against the decision and called for Bibi to be executed. Islamists have reportedly been going “house to house” to track down her family.

After striking a deal with leading Islamist parties, the Pakistani government has prevented Bibi from leaving Pakistan. Now, her husband has appealed to the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. to provide the Bibi family with asylum. But while dozens of organizations across the United States have expressed their support for Bibi and the asylum request, there is one group that remains conspicuously silent: the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).

America’s Middle East Purgatory The Case for Doing Less

By Mara Karlin and Tamara Cofman Wittes

When U.S. President Donald Trump talks about the Middle East, he typically pairs bellicose threats against Iran and the Islamic State (or ISIS) with fulsome pledges of support for the United States’ regional partners, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. But the tough talk is misleading: there is little reason to think that Trump actually wants the United States to get more involved in the region.

He pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal but has shown no eagerness for a conflict with the Islamic Republic. He has continued U.S. President Barack Obama’s support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen but resisted calls for deeper military engagement there. Despite his promise of a “deal of the century,” a U.S. proposal on Arab-Israeli peace remains on the shelf. His support for an “Arab NATO,” a security alliance among Egypt, Jordan, and six Gulf states, has been stymied by deepening rifts among the Gulf countries. His vacillating approach toward Syria has led to confusion over the U.S. military’s mission there. The Defense Department has scaled back U.S. military capabilities in the Middle East in order to redirect resources to the increasing threats posed by China and Russia, leaving partners in the region wondering about Washington’s commitment to their security. For all the aggressive rhetoric, Trump’s Middle East policies have proved remarkably reserved. 

Opinion | For all his faults, it takes a Trump to trump the dragon

Sandipan Deb

Last Wednesday, US president Donald Trump signed a law imposing a visa ban on Chinese officials who deny Americans access to Tibet. As expected, this enraged China. While the Chinese foreign ministry warned of consequences, the National People’s Congress (NPC) issued a statement that the US act was against the basic norms of international relations and a gross interference in China’s domestic affairs. It said that China will take “forceful measures to resolutely safeguard its own interests”.

As everyone knows, most foreigners who seek to enter Tibet are routinely rejected, and those who do get in are forced to stay on strictly controlled official tours, where the true situation of the Tibetan people is hidden from them. And, China has never been open to any discussion on Tibet.

What would the US withdrawal from Syria mean for the region?

by Marwan Kabalan

On December 19, Donald Trump made a move that took almost everybody, including members of his own administration, off guard - he ordered a full, rapid withdrawal of over 2,000 US troops from Syria.

The president justified his decision by saying that the only reason US troops were in Syria was to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group, and now that this mission is accomplished, there is no reason for them to stay in the country.

Trump's unexpected announcement, which underlined the continued absence of a clear and coherent US strategy in Syria and the wider Middle East, is likely to mark the start of a new period of conflict in the region.

Infographic Of The Day: The Business Value Of The Blockchain

Blockchain can be an elusive concept. Its abstract nature leaves many wondering if this emerging technology is the global catalyst evangelists claim it to be.

But blockchain is more of a tool than a catalyst – not a one-size-fits-all, but a new foundation underpinning our everyday tasks. It offers industries a techno-driven facelift with its ability to increase productivity, ensure transparency, and reduce wasted time and paperwork.

Today’s graphic is inspired by a study from McKinsey. Their research combines industry-by-industry analysis, expert interviews, and more than 90 distinct use cases to make informed estimates about the projected business value of the blockchain.

Blockchain Adoption

Russia-Venezuela Economic Ties

Venezuela is looking for a little help from its friends. 

Earlier this month, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. According to Putin’s spokesman, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss ways that Russia could assist Venezuela financially. Venezuela has been in dire financial straits for years and has been looking for support from its allies after low oil prices and U.S. sanctions, among other things, brought its economy to the brink of collapse. Last year, Moscow offered Caracas a debt restructuring plan as Venezuela looked to be heading toward default. It’s not hard to see why Putin would want to help Maduro – as a major oil producer and target of U.S. sanctions itself, Russia, too, has been reaching out for support from friendly governments. 

Trump, Angry Over Mattis’s Rebuke, Considers Removing Him 2 Months Early

by Helene Cooper

WASHINGTON — President Trump, angry over days of news coverage characterizing the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as a rebuke of the president, has told administration officials that he is considering removing Mr. Mattis from his job by Jan. 1, two months before he had planned to depart.

Mr. Trump has told aides that he wants to name Patrick M. Shanahan, Mr. Mattis’s deputy, as the acting defense secretary while he searches for a permanent replacement.

The president, a notoriously mercurial leader, has been known to float ideas among his aides only to then change his mind. But aides said he was furious that Mr. Mattis’s resignation letter — in which he rebuked the president’s rejection of international allies and his failure to check authoritarian governments — had led to days of negative news coverage.

War & Military StrategyTrump Administration Can Congress Stop the Forever War?

By Denis McDonough

When the 116th Congress—including a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives—is sworn into office in a few weeks, there will be no shortage of pressing issues demanding the attention of legislators. These include perhaps the most solemn question facing any government: when and how to deploy the awesome power of the United States armed forces. 

Few matters are as complex or as consequential. And Congress should not be shy. The Constitution grants competing powers in the realm of foreign affairs to Congress and the president, with the expectation—even the demand—of aggressive oversight. Having served at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, I understand that many in the White House will see this congressional role as a nuisance. But they would be well advised to welcome it, because a full partnership with Congress on national security matters will improve both the policies and their execution, while also beginning to restore the American people’s trust in Washington. 

Mattis is out, and Blackwater is back: ‘We are coming’

Tara Copp

Blackwater USA took out a full page ad in the January/February 2019 issue of "Recoil" magazine with the company's logo and a message: "We are coming." 

This article has been edited to clarify that Constellis no longer trains forces at Camp Integrity and that Blackwater, if it returns, would not have a connection to Constellis.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is out.

Mattis' resignation comes amid news that President Donald Trump has directed the drawdown of 2,000 U.S. forces in Syria, and 7,000 U.S. forces from Afghanistan, a U.S. official confirmed to Military Times, a story first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

This month, in the January/February print issue of the gun and hunting magazine “Recoil," the former contractor security firm Blackwater USA published a full-page ad, in all black with a simple message: “We are coming.”

The Year in Multilateralism: Three Trends and One Surprise Stand Out in 2018

Richard Gowan

What happened in the multilateral system in 2018? Looking back over the year, it is possible to identify three strategic trends and a last-minute political surprise that may resonate in the future.

The big trends in multilateralism included a hardening of the Trump administration’s opposition to international cooperation, a concomitant increase in China’s efforts to influence bodies like the United Nations, and worrying signs of European splits over the value of internationalism. The surprise was an unexpected, and arguably almost accidental, revitalization of humanitarian politics over Yemen.

Let’s start with the trends. By the end of 2017, it was clear that the U.S. had taken an anti-internationalist turn under President Donald Trump. Yet, while Trump had already renounced the Paris climate change deal, his administration’s attacks on globalism were curiously haphazard. Many leading members of his team, including U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and then-National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, seemed quietly determined to limit the harm to multilateral institutions.

The Swiftly Closing Borders of Europe


GAP, FRANCE—In a wood-paneled courtroom in this small town in the French Alps, a local judge dealt a hefty setback last week to the European Union’s treasured principle of open borders, one that has underpinned the bloc. And to do it, she fell back on a law that dates back to one of the darkest periods in European history. 

In sentencing two immigrants’-rights activists to jail time and handing suspended sentences to five others, Isabelle Defarge, the judge, concluded a case that has pitted volunteers from a shelter for immigrants and asylum seekers against an anti-immigration group. To do so, she relied on a provision of French immigration law—based on a 1938 decree on “the policing of foreigners”—that makes it a crime to help a foreigner enter, circulate, or reside in France illegally. In the process, the case has come to symbolize a wider tension across the continent between advocates of open borders and far-right populists pushing countries to close in on themselves. 

How the European Union was stymied by phishing

By: Justin Lynch   

Chinese government hackers using basic phishing methods were able to infiltrate the European Union’s communication network, possibly for years, according to a Dec. 19 report by Area 1, a cybersecurity firm that specializes in anti-phishing activity.

Information about the alleged hack come as the European Union and other organizations have warned about the danger of spearphishing tactics.

The cyberattack was part of a broader hacking campaign by the Chinese government against the United Nations and the AFL-CIO, one of the United States' largest unions, according to the firm.

“Very little about cyberattacks is cutting-edge computer science,” the report said, concluding that “there is a high level of creativity in the diverse phishing lures used to gain access,” to a victims network.

A Strategy of Retreat in Syria, With Echoes of Obama

By David E. Sanger

WASHINGTON — President Trump has always taken a contrarian’s view of American military power: He wants to command the biggest, toughest forces on earth, and he wants to keep them at home.

The lessons that many in the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies learned in the post-9/11 era — that deployed forces are key to stopping terrorists before they reach American shores and vital to maintaining the alliances that keep the world safe — never resonated with Mr. Trump. He is far more engaged with the idea of using the military to secure the Mexican border than to counter Russia, Iran, North Korea and China.

Robotic warfare: training exercise breaches the future of conflict

By Andrew Tunnicliffe

Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are nothing new for many of the world’s militaries. But their use is growing, as an exercise in Germany earlier this year showcased. In the first of its kind exercise, robots were used to breach in a joint drill by US and British forces. First Lieutenant Cody Rothschild told US defence publication Stars & Stripes: “We did a robotic breach today, which has never been done before. This is a great step forward for the Army, and for robotics.”

The exercise involved remotely controlled robots clearing a path for forces, supported by M1A2 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The unmanned systems disabled landmines and built a land bridge enabling infantry to navigate a tank trench.

“Testing and exercises are a key to learning what works, and what does not. It is akin to the lessons of the Louisiana Maneuvers or Fleet Problem exercises of the last century,” says Peter W Singer. The multi-award winning author, scholar and political scientist is one of the world’s leading voices on warfare and defence. “The wargames were where the key insights of future battles were gained.”

Entire GCC Crumbles Like A Pack of Cards: 19 Banks Merge, Etihad Can't Pay Back Debt, Saudi Contractor Can't Pay Salaries, UAE/Saudi Halt 3 Projects of $243 Billion, $11 Billion Bail Out For Bahrain & Jordan

We have been warning our clients and investors about the complete collapse of GCC since 2015.

Thousands of businessmen across GCC have gone into turmoil ever since, property prices have collapsed and thousands are in jail or have run away or are involved in multiple litigation while Govt's are not making payments leading to freezing of thousands of business.

Trump is openly humiliating and challenging Saudi, Etihad is at the verge of a slow death like collapse and bailouts of large corporations and entire countries are in full swing.

Last week, we elaborated how bad things were in the UAE.


IMAGINE YOU’RE A burglar. You’ve decided to tackle a high-end luxury apartment, the kind of building with multiple Picassos in the penthouse. You could spend weeks or months casing the place, studying every resident’s schedule, analyzing the locks on all the doors. You could dig through trash for hints about which units have alarms, run through every permutation of what the codes might be. Or you could also just steal the super’s keys.

According to a Justice Department indictment Thursday, that is effectively what China has done to the rest of the world since 2014. That’s when the country’s elite APT10—short for “advanced persistent threat”—hacking group decided to target not just individual companies in its long-standing efforts to steal intellectual property, but instead focus on so-called managed service providers. They’re the businesses that provide IT infrastructure like data storage or password management. Compromise MSPs, and you have a much easier path into all these clients. They're the super.


James Long 

It is perhaps axiomatic, and thus seemingly unnecessary, to say that computers have transformed modern war. But they have in ways both large and small; they have, for example, become deeply integrated with the full range of Army operations—part of a broader convergence of domains and thus part of a pattern that has led to the development of the multi-domain battle concept. The problem, however, is that military technology training has failed to keep pace with rapidly growing capabilities. The result is that despite expanding digital footprints, most soldiers might as well be using typewriters, analog telephones, and chalkboards when it comes to the capabilities they bring to bear in pursuit of military objectives. Despite technology’s massive potential, waiting to be harnessed by members of the most advanced fighting force the world has ever seen, soldiers without basic computer programming skills cannot automate simple tasks, integrate data sources, or effectively leverage the unending flow of information. Since near-peer adversaries have access to the same computers and networked connectivity we do, if they train their soldiers to do these thing—automating tasks and integrating data sources in real time—they can overwhelm our operational tempo and gain a dominant strategic advantage. The key to preventing our rivals from outmaneuvering us digitally, and thereby enabling them to outmaneuver us on the battlefield, is empowering our soldiers to harness the power of the tools they already have. If we do not, we risk being on the wrong side of near-peer technology dominance.

The Problem

Beyond 386 Squadrons: AFWIC’s Four Futures For The Air Force


Air Force artwork of a future dogfight with lasers.

ARLINGTON: The Air Force’s new thinktank will study four different futures, only one of which is the official (and controversial) 386-squadron plan, Maj. Gen. Michael Fantini said. But first, said the director of the Air Force Warfighting Integration Capability, he needs to get enough people at AFWIC to do the work.

Air Force Sec. Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff David Goldfein created AFWIC last year under Maj. Gen. Clinton Crozier, whom Fantini recently replaced. The mission: to “design” the long-term future of the entire Air Force. That requires taking a multi-domain perspective that encompasses the service’s air, space, and cyberspace operations in a unified whole, then links them to the Army, Navy, and Marines — and ultimately to the allies, starting with “Five Eyes” partners like Britain and Australia, he said.

The Quiet Integrity Of James Mattis

by Kori Schake

Since Jim Mattis grounds himself in the classics, it seems fitting to mark his resignation with a passage from Epictetus: “Authentic freedom places demands on us.” The quiet integrity with which he has done his job modeled a stoicism rare in our febrile political climate and sadly lacking elsewhere in the Trump administration. Mattis’s resignation letter may have been his most important act as the United States’ 26th secretary of defense.

His resignation letter did two important things in these fraught times, as the president of the United States is corroding the norms that have defined our democracy: First, it made a strong case for the worldview that has dominated American foreign policy for the past 70 years, and second, it acknowledged that the elected president has a right to a Cabinet that works to advance the president’s objectives.

The General Who Preferred the Foxhole

Jim Mattis was a scholar of war, blunt, courageous and loyal to his troops. Our enemies will cheer his departure.

Mr. Nagl is a former Army officer.

Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense, during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on the Department of Defense on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC., in May.

I met Jim Mattis in Anbar Province, Iraq, in 2004. He was a major general, commanding the First Marine Division in a tough counterinsurgency fight. I was an Army major, serving in a tank battalion that the Army had provided to the Marines to give them extra firepower.