10 January 2019

Citizen's Amendment Bill and the Need for a Refugee Policy

Amb Satish Chandra, Vice Chairman, VIF

Today's interaction will see most dwelling on the Citizen's Amendment Bill (CAB) and going into its fine details and its pros and cons. I would, however, like to avail of this opportunity to underline two points.

First, that the Prime Minister is spot on in pointing out that it constitutes a move to rectify the mistakes of partition and second that it is animated by India's ethos and rooted in its historical experience.

The mistake committed by the Congress government at the time of partition was to believe that the minorities in Pakistan, inclusive of East Pakistan, would be able to live there in safety and security. The holocaust of 1947 which saw the largest mass migration known to mankind and the subsequent squeezing out of the minorities from East and West Pakistan proved them wrong. In 1947, as many as 7.5 million Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India, around 5 million from West Pakistan and around 2.5 million from East Pakistan. While the bulk of these minorities were driven out of West Pakistan by 1951, those from East Pakistan and later Bangladesh faced with persecution came to India over a longer time span. The steady minority migration from the area of East Pakistan is borne out by decrease of the Hindu population there from 27% in 1947 to 22% in 1951 to 13.5% in 1974 and to about 9% in 2011.

Opinion: Why Modi deserves another chance

The Bharatiya Janata Party's decisive electoral defeat in its bastion, the Hindi heartland, has come as a boon and a life-saver for a near terminal Opposition and injected a much-needed bolus of adrenaline into its adversaries, both political and ideological.

However, in their haste to capitalise on the moment and exploit the BJP's discomfiture to the hilt, Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi's detractors are embarking on a dangerous and dubious path of vile disinformation and reckless populism that does not augur well for the country.

The shrill, high decibel campaign emanating from these disparate entities reeks of negativism and skullduggery; a blatant attempt at obfuscation that takes recourse to hyped up incidents of intolerance, exaggerated projections of gloom and doom and outright falsehoods to create an overall impression of despondency.

This 'Remove Modi' crusade needs to be countered and called out for what it is, so that the nation gets a legitimate perspective prior to May 2019.

36 Things India Has Done for Afghanistan

By Krzysztof Iwanek

“I get along very well with India, Prime Minister Modi. But… he is constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan. […] That’s like […] five hours of what we spent [in Afghanistan].[…] I don’t know who is using it.” So declared U.S. President Donald Trump on January 3, 2019.

That was just one spoonful in a jar of errors and disrespectful opinions that the president recently served in his statements on Afghanistan. Trump also claimed that the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan to fight terrorists, that the USSR collapsed because of the failed Afghan war, and that countries like India do not do enough for the mountainous country. None of this is true.

The thing is: India has actually helped Afghanistan in a number of ways ever since the Taliban were pushed out of power in 2001. A part of a much broader assistance included building many objects. But, to my knowledge, a library was not one of them.

How Iran and Pakistan Matter for a Post-US Withdrawal Afghan Landscape

By Adam Weinstein

Strained relations with Pakistan and zero channels of communication with Iran isolate U.S. foreign policy ahead of negotiations with the Taliban and an imminent U.S. troop drawdown. Washington’s newfound acceptance of the Taliban as one of many stakeholders in a political settlement must be matched by a recognition that landlocked Afghanistan will rely on relations with its neighbors after a U.S. departure.

Four conditions arose soon after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan that set the stage for a potential political settlement to the conflict. First, a robust U.S. bombing campaign routed the Taliban out of major Afghan cities including Kabul and Jalalabad. Second, U.S. special operations coupled with the bombing campaign killed or captured many transnational terrorists using the country as refuge. Others were pushed southward where Pakistani intelligence focused on terrorists from outside the region but largely ignored the Taliban. Third, Iran offered its assistance to the U.S. under the leadership of President Khatami and with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s blessing. Lastly, Pakistan’s General Pervez Musharraf and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) appeared ready to facilitate a political solution that would offer the Taliban an ultimatum: participate politically in the new Afghanistan to survive or resist and be killed.

There is No Military Victory in Afghanistan

by Gil Barndollar

Donald Trump wants to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. In July he decided to begin negotiations with the Taliban and he is now considering plans to withdraw seven thousand troops, half of the U.S. force in the country. The president is right to seek an end to this lost war, but we should be under no illusions about the potential outcomes of an American withdrawal.

We are not making progress in pacifying Afghanistan. Taliban forces control or contest a greater portion of the country than at any time since 2002—nearly 60 percent, by somereckonings . Their urban terrorism makes a mockery of Kabul’s supposed “ring of steel.” Even Afghanistan’s most ruthless warlords are not safe. First Vice President Rashid Dostum, an Uzbek infamous for his cruelty, lost nine members of his security detail to a suicide bomb last summer. Abdul Raziq, a Pashtun border patrol commander renowned for being brave, merciless and effective, was killed in an October attack, with the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Austin Scott Miller, just feet away. The Trump administration’s vaunted new strategy has only seen tangible growth in one metric: the number of bombs dropped on Afghanistan.

No Smiles Across the Taiwan Strait


A little over three years ago, Ma Ying-jeou, then the president of Taiwan, and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at a summit of sorts in Singapore. In preparation for the historic event on Nov. 7, 2015, both sides hammered out in excruciating detail the anticipated ins and outs of the encounter to avoid political traps. Ma and Xi addressed each other not as leaders of different countries but as “Mister,” or xiansheng. In doing so, Xi did not have to recognize Ma as “president,” a term—like other official positions—always referred to in quotation marks in mainland rhetoric. Beijing, after all, argues that Taiwan is not a country at all, but merely a renegade province. After the leaders exchanged pleasantries and sipped Maotai liquor together, peace appeared to be finally within reach. But the lasting image of Ma and Xi shaking hands paradoxically revealed the true limitations of negotiations across the Taiwan Strait.

China is hacking America’s secrets. Can legislation stop it?

By: Justin Lynch  

Amid growing tension between the United States and China over cyberattacks, lawmakers are proposing legislation to protect critical American technology from being stolen by hackers. The legislation is part of a broader focus by the United States government to combat the Chinese hacking and boost American cybersecurity.

Sens. Marco Rubio R-Fla., and Mark Warner, D-Va., introduced a bill Jan. 4 that aims to combat the pilfering of information from American companies and officials. The proposed legislation would create a new office in the White House that tackles the theft of state-sponsored technology and secures the American supply chain through a new national strategy and promotion of better cyber hygiene.

The Strategic Consequences of a US-China Rift on Intellectual Property

By Robert Farley

The United States and China do not share a common view of the state of intellectual property protection in China. For its part, China believes that it has taken great strides, in a very short period of time, to stand up an IP regulatory regime that (imperfectly) protects both domestic and foreign IP. This regulatory regime already supports what has become a remarkably innovative domestic economy, one that produces the most intellectual property of any country in the world.

But it appears that the issue has become less “does China steal?” (which it most assuredly does) and more “what are the strategic consequences of allowing China to access the most innovative technologies in the global economy?” And this is not a problem that the Chinese government can resolve by updating and improving its IP regime. Consequently, it’s an open question whether such steps as a new law to prevent forced technology transfer will actually matter to the United States. One of the most serious complaints about China involves Beijing’s strategy of investing in U.S. technology startups, a technique that secures access to intellectual property while also preventing the United States (because of Department of Defense contracting rules) from acquiring that IP. This problem isn’t caused by lax Chinese IP protection; it’s caused by DoD contracting regulations.

Why Africa loves China

by Mehari Taddele Maru 

At the September 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing, African Union Chairperson and Rwandan President Paul Kagamelauded the Chinese aid and investment strategy in Africa as a source of "deep transformation". Kagame argued that the cooperation between China and Africa is based on mutual respect and is for the benefit of both partners. This sentiment is perhaps shared by most African heads of states and governments if their attendance of the summit is anything to go by.

However, despite the African leadership's embrace of China as a valued partner, the view that Beijing is a "predatory" actor in Africa, attempting to recolonise the continent is also ubiquitous in foreign policy circles, media narratives and academia.
Africa sees China differently than the West

The China-Africa relationship is currently being interpreted through two diametrically opposed perceptions.

How the State Is Co-Opting Religion in China

By Ian Johnson

The message reached me in early December via Signal, an encrypted messaging service that many Chinese use to bypass the closely monitored social media app WeChat. The day that many of us had feared was upon us: China’s best-known pastor, Wang Yi, and 100 of his followers had been detained. Their church of 500 members was closed—very likely forever.

In the two years since my last Foreign Affairs piece about religion in China (“China’s Great Awakening,” March/April 2017), such stories have become common. Churches closed, crosses removed, mosques demolished, Muslims sent to internment camps—the list of state-organized measures against religion in China has been growing. Seen against a backdrop of measures to limit nongovernmental organizations, tighten ideology, and lift term limits on President Xi Jinping, it’s easy to think that religion in China is being crushed by a strong state, diminishing in importance as a new powerful leader takes firm control of the country.

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.

The Future Financial War with China

Michael B. Greenwald 

The detention of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wangzhou last month has electrified Sino-American tensions, making 2019 a portentous year for debt markets. Her employer, Huawei, has been the target of China hawks’ ire dating back to the early 2010s, amid scandals tied to sanctions evasion in Iran and possible concerns about espionage. Yet in the buzz about its ties to the People’s Liberation Army, the company’s deep and extensive dollar exposures have received little coverage.

Though not publicly traded, Huawei has raised more than $9 billion from dollar debt markets through both loans and bonds. Its current crisis has sent its financial partners rushing for the exits, with Standard Chartered and HSBC freezing future deals, and Citi paying close attention to future developments.

In an era of financial warfare waged by sanctions and suspicious transaction reports, global banks are becoming increasingly risk averse for fear of being caught in the U.S. Treasury’s crosshairs. Banks are right to be afraid of doing business with Huawei; Washington banned key Russian firms from dollar financing immediately after the Crimea annexation.

Is Taiwan's Military Really Ready to Take on China?

by James Holmes

Chinese president Xi Jinping issued his latest threat to Taiwan during what the BBC artfully calls “a speech marking 40 years since the start of improving ties” between the communist-ruled mainland and the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan. Xi exhorted Taiwanese to accept that they “must and will be” unified with the mainland. Sheesh. If forty years of improving ties culminate in threats to wipe out your negotiating partner’s political existence, I’d shudder to think how forty years of deteriorating ties across the Taiwan Strait would have turned out.

But Xi’s remarks do warrant taking stock of Taiwan’s defense afresh. To measure the adequacy of Taiwan’s defense, first, survey its overall strategic posture and then the state of its land, air and sea power. If the ROC armed forces are sufficient to discharge the tasks entrusted to them by the political leadership in Taipei, then the island is in sound shape to uphold its independence. If Taipei has assigned the military more to do than it can reasonably do, then trouble looms: missions must be cut or capabilities expanded until ends and means are in sync.

I was special envoy to fight the Islamic State. Our gains are now at risk.

John R. Allen

In the absence of U.S. global leadership and, where necessary, its forces, along with a real, long-term alternative to the terrorists’ allure as a regional and global actor, the gains made these past three years against ISIS remain fragile and incomplete, and could easily unravel, writes John R. Allen. This piece originally appeared in the Washington Post.

Four years ago, just before President Barack Obama appointed me his special envoy to the coalition fighting the so-called Islamic State, I laid out a set of ideas for how to defeat and ultimately destroy the terrorist group. Because the Islamic State was a regional and global problem, posing an imminent threat to the United States, it was clear that its defeat would require an international coalition.

I recommended that this coalition, once formed, be tasked with halting the group’s forward momentum, empowering indigenous forces to be the final and lasting agents of the Islamic State’s defeat, and coordinating much-needed stabilization efforts once the fighting had subsided. I believed then, and remained convinced after taking on the role of special envoy, that only through a comprehensive and multilateral approach could the Islamic State be truly eliminated from the world stage.

The United States Can't Rely on Turkey to Defeat ISIS

by Colin P. Clarke and Ahmet S. Yayla

President Donald Trump's plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria means that the United States is relying on Turkey to shoulder the burden of countering the Islamic State. This move will provide the terrorist group with an opportunity to revive itself at a critical stage in the fight.

Trump claims exiting Syria has been his plan all along. Still, many U.S. policymakers, including those in Congress, were caught by surprise—especially given the September assertion by Trump's national security advisor, John Bolton, that U.S. troops would remain in Syria until the Iranians left.

When Trump announced his surprising about-face on what had been the closest thing Washington had to a Syria policy—the presence of 2,000 or so U.S. troops and support for Kurdish militia forces—he did so after a conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Shortly after the phone call, Trump tweeted, “Now ISIS is largely defeated and other local countries, including Turkey, should be able to easily take care of whatever remains.” He went on to add that the Turkish leader “has very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria.”

2018 was Earth's fourth-warmest year, EU scientists find

The Copernicus Climate Service (C3S), an EU-funded program, has concluded that 2018 was Earth's 4th-warmest year on record — with the past 4 years serving as the hottest years the planet has seen since instrument records began in 1880 (and likely well before that).

The big picture: With U.S. science agencies hobbled by the partial government shutdown, the new findings are the first to provide a global perspective on 2018's temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions. While they're in line with projections, they still underscore how severe the climate change problem is becoming.

Show less 

‘Global Zero’ Double Standard For Nuclear Weapons


“Ivy King” nuclear test, 1952.

In the coming clash between President Trump’s $750 billion defense budget and House Democrats’ desire to cut Pentagon spending, especially on nuclear weapons, there will be tremendous fiscal pressure to shortchange the almost $30 billion annual cost to modernize America’s strategic deterrent. The ideological cover for such penny-wise, pound-foolish cuts is the so-called Global Zero movement to eliminate all nuclear weapons.

But in reality, the global-zero idealists practice a dangerous double standard: They push the US to unilaterally cut its nuclear arsenal even as they ignore or excuse nuclear buildups by Russia, China, North Korea, and (under the table) Iran. Even if they were consistent, their pursuit of zero nuclear weapons would still make no sense when none of the nine existing nuclear powers has any interest in completely disarming.


BITCOIN TURNED 10 this month, and what a ride it’s been—initial obscurity; the kind of exponential price spike last seen by Dutch tulip peddlers; the rise of imitators based on its underlying blockchain technology; and, in the past year, a steep, steady decline in price. The old joke about the lifecycle of a Hollywood star applied to Silicon Valley: What is Bitcoin? Get me Bitcoin! Get me a Bitcoin type! What is Bitcoin?

The decade since the project’s pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, mined the “genesis block” of bitcoins offers more than a parable of faddishness. With its focus on wealth creation (of early adopters) and institutional destruction (of centralized banks, in particular), Bitcoin provides direct access to the character of Silicon Valley. If you think companies like Facebook and Google are about manipulating the public to make money without concern for the damage done to society, then the Bitcoin story should be your urtext.

Europe’s Future Is Up to Us


As 2019 begins, many in the Europe Union are no doubt feeling a sense of despair in the face of mounting environmental, economic, and political threats. But by focusing on four key priorities in the coming year, EU leaders could start to put the European project back on track.

BRUSSELS – Not far from my Brussels office, there is a large fresco with the inscription, “The Future Is Europe.” Once a deeply held truth among most Europeans, this belief is being increasingly challenged today.

Of course, pessimism comes easy nowadays. While the damaging effects of climate change are playing out before our eyes, the United States’ choice of unilateralism, the rise of China, and escalating geopolitical tensions elsewhere are posing new challenges to European prosperity and security. So, too, does the spread of disinformation and terrorist attacks in the heart of our cities, as we saw again this Christmas season in Strasbourg, France. 

Where Have All the Safe Havens Gone?


SANTA BARBARA – With equities slumping, exchange-rate volatility increasing, and political risks intensifying, financial markets around the world have hit a rough patch. During times like these, international investors generally grow cautious and prioritize safety over returns, so money flees to “safe havens” that can provide secure, liquid investment-grade assets on a sufficiently large scale. But there are no obvious safe havens today. For the first time in living memory, investors lack a quiet port where they can find shelter from the storm.

Historically, the safe haven par excellence was the United States, in the form of Treasury bonds backed by the “full faith and credit” of the US government. As one investment strategist put it back in 2012, “When people are worried, all road lead to Treasuries.”

The bursting of the US real-estate bubble in 2007 offers a case in point. No one doubted that the US was the epicenter of the global financial crisis. But rather than flee the US, capital actually flooded into it. In the last three months of 2008, net purchases of US assets reached a half-trillion dollars – three times more than that of the preceding nine months combined.

RCEP Negotiations and the Implications for the United States

by Takashi Terada

Takashi Terada (Doshisha University) examines recent progress toward concluding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and considers how the agreement could affect the United States in the context of its ongoing trade war with China.

Amid the ongoing trade war between China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies, there has been a quiet but growing effort to establish the world’s largest economic trade sphere in Asia. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, which is a free trade agreement (FTA) involving sixteen countries—the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand—has emerged as another mega FTA alongside the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), also known as the TPP-11, which is set to become effective on December 30, 2018. RCEP represents 50% of the world’s population and 32% of the global GDP. Mutual trade among current members accounts for 28% of world trade.

The US Role in the Syrian Civil War

A look at the evolution of the conflict, and the United States’ involvement in it.

Meet Russia's S-500 Air Defense System: The Ultimate F-35 Killer?

by Mark Episkopos

2019 is on track to be a big year for Russian surface-to-air missile systems. From the new S-350 “ Vityaz” to additional S-300V4 brigades, scores of modernized Russian artillery systems are poised to enter into military service over the coming months.

But the elephant in the room, Russia’s upcoming S-500 “Triumfator-M” missile system, remains conspicuously absent.

The much-vaunted next generation of Russian missile defense, the S-500 boasts a host of best-in-class performance features. The Triumfator is purportedly able to engage anti-ballistic missiles at six hundred kilometers, an improvement of two hundred km over the already-formidable S-400. The S-500’s range is matched by its no less impressive ability to track and intercept up to ten missile warheads flying at a speed of over 4 miles a second, as previously outlines by a National Interest report citing Russian state news.

France In Free Fall

by Guy Millière

French officials evidently understand that the terrorists are engaged in a long war and that it will be difficult to stop them; so they seem to have given in. These officials are no doubt aware that young French Muslims are being radicalized in increasing numbers. The response, however, has been to strengthen Muslim institutions in France. 

At the time President Macron was speaking, one of his emissaries was in Morocco to sign the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which defines immigration as “beneficial” for the host countries. Under it, signatory states pledge to “strengthen migrant-inclusive service delivery systems.” 

A group of retired generals published an open letter, saying that signing the Global Compact was a further step towards “the abandonment of national sovereignty” and noted that “80% of the French population think that immigration must be halted or regulated drastically”. 

The US Role in the Syrian Civil War

A look at the evolution of the conflict, and the United States’ involvement in it. 

Are defense contractors investing enough in quantum computing?

By: Justin Lynch   

Quantum computing is expected to make existing forms of cybersecurity obsolete, but the coming revolution has not jolted researchers and defense firms to fully invest in the technology, according to the intelligence community, experts and industry officials.

Quantum computing needs strong collaboration between theory and practice, said Christopher Monroe, professor of physics at the University of Maryland and the head of IonQ, a quantum computer manufacturer.

“There is not so much a gap between the U.S. and China as there is between academic eggheads [who] are used to quantum and industry who build things,” said Monroe. “The more interesting development so far has not been from defense contractors, but companies like Google, Intel, Microsoft and IBM — the big computing behemoths,” Monroe said.

Pentagon Seeks a List of Ethical Principles for Using AI in War


An advisory board is drafting guidelines that may help shape worldwide norms for military artificial intelligence — and woo Silicon Valley to defense work.

U.S. defense officials have asked the Defense Innovation Board for a set of ethical principles in the use of artificial intelligence in warfare. The principles are intended to guide a military whose interest in AI is accelerating — witness the new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center — and to reassure potential partners in Silicon Valley about how their AI products will be used.

Today, the primary document laying out what the military can and can’t do with AI is a 2012 doctrine that says a human being must have veto power over any action an autonomous system might take in combat. It’s brief, just four pages, and doesn’t touch on any of the uses of AI for decision support, predictive analytics, etc. where players like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and others are making fast strides in commercial environments.

For 5G stake Huawei willing to bend backwards

Surajeet Das Gupta

In a bid to allay fears that Indian national security could be at risk, Huawei India has said it is willing to place its software code (source code) in an escrow with the government.

"In 2010, we were the only equipment company which offered to place the software code of the equipment in an escrow to the Indian government, when similar questions on security were raised. We are willing to do the same again for 5G so that there are no apprehensions," says CEO Jay Chen.

Telecom experts say control over the software codes helps a government to check at any time whether there have been any security breaches in the network or whether any spyware has been installed or embedded.

If Apple Is In Trouble, We Are All In The Same Basket – OpEd

By Frank Kane*

If, as many predict, the world is in for an economic recession in 2019, we will probably be able to pinpoint its beginning with unusual precision.

At 6 p.m. eastern standard time on Jan. 2, Apple, the iPhone and computer manufacturer, shocked Wall Street with a warning that revenues would be down for the current year. It was the first time in 16 years that Apple had forecast a fall in revenues.

Apple shares crashed 10 percent on opening the following day, prompting a similar fall in US equity indices that reverberated around the world over the next 24 hours. The malaise that had afflicted global stock markets in the final quarter of 2018 seems destined to continue into 2019.

Four big questions for cybersecurity in 2019

By: Justin Lynch

In the past year, the Trump administration announced it would take more offensive hacking operations against foreign countries, the Department of Justice announcedsweeping indictments against Chinese hackers and the U.S. intelligence community reported that foreign countries continued to interfere in American elections.

So what comes next? Here are four overarching questions for the cybersecurity community in 2019:

What will the new Pentagon chief do with expanded cyber powers?

Germany whacked by big data hack


BERLIN — Germany is scrambling to identify who is behind a major hack that exposed data on hundreds of politicians, journalists, comedians and activists.

In a "countdown" to Christmas, hackers used a Twitter account to leak details of private emails, Facebook messages, cell phone numbers and photographs on an almost daily basis over a four-week period starting in early December.

The data dump included information about Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as members of the national parliament, regional state parliaments, the European Parliament and local officials. Among political parties, only the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) appears not to be affected.