20 March 2019

Nobel-winner Paul Krugman warns India story could end with mass unemployment

krugmanPaul Krugman, the American economist who won a Nobel Prize in 2008, has warned that India could end up with huge mass unemployment if it does not grow its manufacturing sector. 

"There is this concept called artificial intelligence that you should be wary of. In future, while diagnosis may be outsourced to a doctor in India, it could also go to a firm based on artificial intelligence. Things like this could be a cause for worry for Indian services sector," Krugman said while speaking at a News 18 event. 

"Japan is no longer a superpower because its working-age population declined, and China is looking the same. In Asia, India could take the lead but only if it also develops its manufacturing sector, not only the services one,” he said. 

“India’s lack in the manufacturing sector could work against it, as it doesn't have the jobs essential to sustain the projected growth in demography. You have to find jobs for people,” he said. 

Mobile data: Why India has the world's cheapest

India's plummeting data prices have hit a new low. In fact, according to a recent BBC report, the country has the cheapest mobile broadband prices in the world.

The BBC report, citing a UK-based price comparison site, said that 1 gigabyte (GB) of mobile data cost $0.26 in India (£0.20), compared with $12.37 in the US, $6.66 in the UK, and a global average of $8.53.

But many Indian users said they were actually paying less than $0.10 a GB. Customers in the US and UK too said they were paying less than what the survey reported.

Whatever the true cost, what is clear is that mobile data in India is many times cheaper than elsewhere. But it might not last: some said India's low prices were a transient phase as big operators fought for new customers.

Masood Azhar and China Veto: What PM Modi can do now

The proposal to list Azhar was initiated by the US and the UK among other members of the UN Security Council. But China has once again disturbed the whole process, making it the fourth time in the last few years that China put a technical hold on the listing of Masood Azhar. An interesting facet of this is that China has never openly supported him. They cannot and to date, China has never said that Azhar is not a terrorist. So, what exactly has China done? India sent evidence to all UNSC members, and even the US was convinced. But China reiterated that there was not enough evidence - a technical snag.

Last Thursday, at midnight, the UNSC meeting took place and before that on Wednesday I got an opportunity to speak to Union Minister Sushma Swaraj at an event at Teen Murti in Delhi. I found that she was not expecting China's support in that meeting.

China humiliated India because of these 5 fatal follies of Modi Doctrine

What is more overpowering, fear or love? You should be asking a psychologist. What a political columnist can do, on the other hand, is to collect hard facts, sift them from fantasy and propaganda, and provoke an important debate. Trolling, we take in our stride.

Earlier this week, China delivered a nasty kick to India’s shin by blocking Pakistan’s Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar’s designation as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council.

Not only did China block it for the fourth time, much inspired commentary in Chinese state or party-controlled media held out admonitions for India. The rudest was a commentator in the Communist Party-owned Global Times who, with pictures of angry BJP workers in the background, accused Narendra Modi of exploiting the situation for his election campaign, and concluding with a final insult: China is India’s friend, not a hostage to its nationalism.

With this, China redefined the ‘Wuhan Spirit’ to mean that if my troops aren’t squatting on your territory in the run-up to your elections, I have kept my part of the deal. For the rest, old rules apply.


By Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv 

Conflicts, both in Afghanistan as well as at home, will continue to have both a complex civilian and military character

When the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) finally closed shop in Afghanistan in 2014, many participating nations professed a weariness with complex, civil-military, out-of-area operations. These operations demanded close, often awkward, relationships of cooperation, co-existence, and confrontation between different civil and military actors, including local civilians. Amid the withdrawal, many militaries and their defense departments seemed to express a collective sigh of relief, talking about a ‘return’ to strictly military priorities and operations. The focus shifted to ‘near area’ operations and security concerns at home. However two related problems remain:

It is very difficult to claim Afghanistan can be characterized as a success story as a functioning state for and with its people. Given the enormous effort, the outcome is nothing short of a disaster. We need more self-reflection as to why that is.

The civilian role in conflict is still sorely neglected – a perilous oversight for both understanding what happened in past operations but also for future conflict scenarios. There is a lot to learn from the civil-military relationships in Afghanistan.

Use the IMF route to tighten the screws on Pakistan

Brahma Chellaney

The subcontinent’s military crisis is anything but over. Pakistan’s military generals fear another surprise Indian strike, which explains why much of Pakistan’s airspace is still closed to commercial traffic: Most international overflights remain barred, while domestic flights must stick to a narrow western corridor close to Iran and Afghanistan. Pakistan’s armed forces are on full operational alert, with combat air patrols continuing and the army beefing up deployments along the India frontier.

Yet, emboldened by China’s support, Pakistan is ignoring international calls to take concrete, irrevocable steps against the terrorist groups that operate openly from its territory. Indeed, Pakistan has yet to take the first credible step, which is to declare a policy — embraced by the chief of army staff (COAS) and the chairman joint chiefs of staff committee (CJCSC) — to deny sanctuary and financing to all terrorist groups.

The COAS remains Pakistan’s effective ruler. Imran Khan is not just one of Pakistan’s weakest prime ministers ever but also has shown himself to be the military’s willing puppet. Even while announcing the Indian pilot’s release as a “peace gesture”, Khan denied Pakistan is cultivating terror groups but justified terrorist attacks and suggested Pulwama was an Indian conspiracy.

Amid peace talks, what’s next for Afghanistan?

Adam Twardowski

For over 17 years, the United States has expended considerable blood and treasure to deny safe haven to extremist groups in Afghanistan. Despite this, the Afghan government struggles to assert its authority over the entirety of the country’s territory, while the Taliban—which governed Afghanistan at the time of the 9/11 attacks—remains a potent force that will be part of any negotiated political settlement in the future. Meanwhile, the United States stands on the precipice of significant changes to its longest war. President Trump has ordered the Department of Defense to present him with options to reduce U.S. forces in Afghanistan, which could dramatically alter the country’s future and risk undermining the United States’ hard-fought gains there.

O’Hanlon began by asking Hadley about the state of U.S. policy in Afghanistan today. Hadley pointed out that by many objective measures—education, longevity, the inclusion of women into the economy, health care—there has been progress on the ground. But Afghanistan still has significant governance issues, he said, which translates into challenges with providing services that meet the needs and expectations of the Afghan people.

Trump envoy is selling out Afghanistan in Taliban peace talks: senior Afghan official

By Dan De Luce

A top Afghan government official on Thursday blasted the Trump administration's peace talks with the Taliban, accusing a U.S. presidential envoy of shutting out the Kabul government and betraying the trust of a close ally.

"We don't know what's going on. We don't have the kind of transparency that we should have," Hamdullah Mohib, Afghan national security adviser, told reporters during a visit to Washington.

Asked if President Donald Trump's envoy for reconciliation in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, was consulting the Afghan government on his talks with the Taliban insurgents, Mohib said: "No. We get bits and pieces of information."

China may soon run its first annual current-account deficit in decades

The implications will be profound

That china sells more to the world than it buys from it can seem like an immutable feature of the economic landscape. Every year for a quarter of a century China has run a current-account surplus (roughly speaking, the sum of its trade balance and net income from foreign investments). This surplus has been blamed for various evils including the decline of Western manufacturing and the flooding of America’s bond market with the excess savings that fuelled the subprime housing bubble.

The South China Sea Dispute Takes On New Urgency

The danger of territorial disputes in the South China Sea is growing as China’s navy expands rapidly and the U.S. response wavers. Find out more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR).

With China’s aggressive posture in the South China Sea undermining the popular narrative of its peaceful rise, many experts correctly point to the dual tides of nationalism and militarization as drivers of hostile behavior. But leaning too heavily on these explanations conceals a third factor behind the South China Sea conflict: Beijing’s burgeoning demand for energy.

Already the world’s largest energy consumer, China will only need more in the coming years to maintain sustained urbanization and industrialization. As more people move into cities and China’s economic output rapidly expands, its energy consumption will increase by nearly 50 percent through 2035, accounting for a quarter of all global consumption.

China is eyeing unfettered access to the South China Sea to meet all this demand. Currently, 86 percent of China’s maritime oil imports, as well as more than half of its maritime gas, pass through the South China Sea. Moreover, the South China Sea itself reportedly holds 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of gas. By claiming islands in the South China Sea as sovereign territory, China establishes its right to all oil and gas resources there.

A Mass Murder of, and for, the Internet

By Kevin Roose

Before entering a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, the site of one of the deadliest mass murders in the country’s history, a gunman paused to endorse a YouTube star in a video that appeared to capture the shooting.

“Remember, lads, subscribe to PewDiePie,” he said.

To an untrained eye, this would have seemed like a bizarre detour.

But the people watching the video stream recognized it as something entirely different: a meme.

Like many of the things done before the attack on Friday — like the posting of a 74-page manifesto that named a specific internet figure — the PewDiePie endorsement served two purposes. For followers of the killer’s videostream, it was a kind of satirical Easter egg. “Subscribe to PewDiePie,” which began as a grass-roots online attempt to keep the popular YouTube entertainer from being dethroned as the site’s most-followed account, has morphed into a kind of all-purpose cultural bat signal for the young and internet-absorbed.

The US In Iraq And The New Offensives In The Region – Analysis

By Giancarlo Elia Valori

Over the last few days, particularly on March 6, new US troops arrived in Iraq. They in fact arrived in the Iraqi area of Al Anbar, leaving from bases located in both Israel and Jordan, particularly from the Mowaffaq Salti and H-4 air bases.

Nevertheless the US troops – quickly attacked by the Iraqi Shiites – probably arrived also from other bases outside Iraq.

Those US forces had the primary goal of quickly crushing an operation of Shiite brigades connected to Iran, but coordinated by the People’s Mobilization Forces that, albeit linked to Iran, are the political and military axis of the major groups elected to Parliament.

Moreover, last year, it was exactly the Iraqi legislative Assembly that adopted legislation making the Shiite militias an essential and official asset of the Iraqi political system.

What Next? Islamic State After The ‘Caliphate’ – Analysis

By Romain Quivooij*

The ongoing battle for Baghouz, a hamlet reported as the last stronghold of IS in Eastern Syria, marks the conclusion of the military campaign launched by the United States and its partners against the insurgent organisation. Ousted from the towns and villages it used to control, IS has lost a great deal of soldiers, commanders, and, more importantly, the momentum that was initially associated with its expansion.

This development raises questions about the impact of the ‘Caliphate moment’ on the strategies and tactics favoured by IS, not to mention its ideological approach and the ways it communicates online.

Turning Point & Lessons Learned

Iran Is Mastering the Final Frontier


In mid-January and early February, Iran attempted two satellite launches intended for environmental monitoring purposes. The Payam (Message) and Doosti (Friendship) ascended aboard Iranian-made satellite launch vehicles (SLVs). Both launches failed to place the satellites into orbit. The United States nevertheless protested the space launches—mostly because the SLVs used the same base technology as multistage intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

In an anticipatory tweet on Jan. 3, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had warned that “The launch will advance [Iran’s] missile program. US, France, UK & Germany have already stated this is in defiance of [United Nations Security Council Resolution] 2231. We won’t stand by while the regime threatens international security.” The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has even reportedly revived a Bush-era secret program to sabotage Iran’s missile and space program by planting “faulty parts and materials into Iran’s aerospace supply chains.”

Yet the national-security significance of Iran’s space program far surpasses its implications for ICBMs. Iran’s growing presence in outer space, especially when combined with its growing capabilities in cyberspace, strengthens all aspects of its hard power.

Global Energy Perspective 2019

Energy systems around the world are going through rapid transitions that affect many aspects of our lives. The continuation and acceleration of these shifts will bring important changes to the way we fuel our cars, heat our homes, and power our industries in the coming decades. Our Reference Case provides our consensus view on how energy demand will evolve.

Is the Risk of Ethnic Conflict Growing in Ukraine?

By Elise Giuliano

The Ukrainian presidential election is only weeks away, and its outcome is highly uncertain. President Petro Poroshenko is lagging in the pollsbehind Volodymyr Zelensky, a television actor whose only political experience consists of playing the president of Ukraine in a sitcom. The country will head to the polls while still at war in its eastern region of Donbas, where in 2014, local separatists forcibly seized government buildings and declared people’s republics in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk. Since then, the conflict has taken on elements of both a civil war and an interstate conflict, with Russia arming separatist combatants and sponsoring the breakaway regions. Violence is muted but steady: the number of deaths recently reached 13,000, one-quarter of them civilian.

Unsurprisingly, Ukraine’s leading presidential candidates are all running on platforms resisting Russia. The choice is logical given popular anger over President Vladimir Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and continued interference in Donbas. But Poroshenko differs from other candidates in that he couches his anti-Russian message in a national identity incorporating elements of Ukrainian ethnicity. Whereas his campaign slogan in 2014 was “A New Way of Living,” his current slogan is “Army! Language! Faith!”

What would happen if America left Europe to fend for itself?

Why, a strategist from Mars might wonder, do Europeans doubt their ability to defend themselves against Russia without American help? The total gdp of nato’s European members is more than ten times that of Russia, which has an economy about the size of Spain’s. They spend three-and-a-half times as much on defence as Russia, which has lately had to cut its budget sharply because of a broader squeeze on its economy. True, Russia has 13 times as many nuclear warheads as western Europe has, but surely Britain and France, the two nuclear powers, have more than enough to deter an attack?

For decades Europeans did not need to worry about the Martian’s question, because America’s commitment to their defence was not in doubt. That has changed. “The times when we could unconditionally rely on others are past,” Angela Merkel told the European Parliament in November. She echoed the call of France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, for “a true European army”. In January the two leaders signed a treaty between France and Germany which includes a mutual-security pledge similar to nato’s Article 5 (as well as Article 42.7 of the European Union’s Lisbon treaty).

Bouteflika May Have Stepped Aside, but the Generals Really Running Algeria Won’t

Francisco Serrano

In any other country, the news that peaceful demonstrations had forced the incumbent president to drop his unpopular re-election bid would have been a startling announcement. But given Algeria’s political system, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s move to withdraw his candidacy for a fifth presidential term and postpone April’s elections, made public on Monday, was welcomed by protesters as only a good start.

Amid a growing protest movement, Algerians are being cautious about Bouteflika’s announcement because of what they call le pouvoir—the shadowy “power” that rules Algeria, made up of an assortment of aging army generals, secret service operatives and party apparatchiks. For decades, they have wielded control from behind the scenes, choosing presidential candidates, rigging elections, dividing opposition movements and using repression when needed. Every important decision is taken behind closed doors. In a way, no one really knows who rules Algeria.

Bouteflika May Have Stepped Aside, but the Generals Really Running Algeria Won’t

Francisco Serrano

In any other country, the news that peaceful demonstrations had forced the incumbent president to drop his unpopular re-election bid would have been a startling announcement. But given Algeria’s political system, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s move to withdraw his candidacy for a fifth presidential term and postpone April’s elections, made public on Monday, was welcomed by protesters as only a good start.

Amid a growing protest movement, Algerians are being cautious about Bouteflika’s announcement because of what they call le pouvoir—the shadowy “power” that rules Algeria, made up of an assortment of aging army generals, secret service operatives and party apparatchiks. For decades, they have wielded control from behind the scenes, choosing presidential candidates, rigging elections, dividing opposition movements and using repression when needed. Every important decision is taken behind closed doors. In a way, no one really knows who rules Algeria.

The New Zealand Attack and the Global Challenge of Far-Right Extremism

The March 15 terrorist attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, is symptomatic of a rising trend in right-wing extremism. Far-right attacks across the globe have increased because of immigration fears, far-right utilization of social media, and the inter-connectedness of extremist networks around the globe.

The March 2019 terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, was appalling. The perpetrator, believed to be a 28-year-old Australian named Brenton Tarrant, gunned down at least 49 people at two mosques in central Christchurch. In a manifesto released prior to the attack, the gunman raged about the low birthrates of whites, the mass immigration of foreigners, and the higher fertility rates of immigrants. The rambling 74-page manifesto concluded that “this crisis of mass immigration and sub-replacement fertility is an assault on the European people that, if not combated, will ultimately result in the complete racial and cultural replacement of the European people.”i

Sadly, Christchurch is not an isolated attack. Terrorist attacks by far-right adherents have risen significantly over the past decade. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of far-right attacks in the United States was five or fewer per year. The number of attacks then rose to 14 in 2012, and eventually jumped to 31 in 2017.ii

Data and assessments from SECOND SIGHT can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

Ajit Kumar Singh

The Colour Terror

At a time when the international community was focusing on the issue of a series of deadly ‘lone wolf’ attacks across the globe by the Islamic State, ignoring the rise of ‘White Nationalism’ against ‘Islamist invaders’, a white man, identified as Brenton Tarrant, in his late 20s carried out the deadliest attack ever witnessed in New Zealand. Tarrant killed 49 Muslim worshippers at two separate mosques - Al-Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque – in Christchurch. New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed that 41 people were killed at Al-Noor Mosque while another seven were killed at Linwood Mosque. One person died at a hospital. 42 people, including a four-year-old child, were reported injured. Several others, including nine Indian citizens, are missing.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admitted that “this can now only be described as a terrorist attack". She also noted “it is clear, this is one of New Zealand's darkest days”. New Zealand never before in its history had witnessed a terror attack of this scale. Indeed, as per reports, New Zealand's terror threat level has been lifted to high for the first time in its history, following the attack.

Trumpism Comes to Brazil

By Roberto Simon and Brian Winter

It was early fall in southern Florida, and a standing-room-only crowd of about 300 gathered at a steakhouse to see a right-wing presidential candidate whom most experts were dismissing as too radical, divisive, and inexperienced to win office.

The candidate was not Donald Trump but Jair Bolsonaro, a retired Brazilian army captain and longtime member of congress whose tough talk about corruption, praise for Brazil’s former military dictatorship, and promises to give police “carte blanche” to kill drug traffickers and other suspected criminals were, by October 2017, already beginning to propel him upward in polls. Many in the crowd had themselves fled Brazil’s spiraling violence and the worst recession in its modern history, which had caused the economy to shrink nearly ten percent on a per capita basis from 2014 to 2017. The 300,000-strong diaspora in Florida, like many of their relatives back home, were hungry for the most anti-establishment figure they could find.

Bolsonaro took the stage 40 minutes late and delivered a speech unlike that of any significant Brazilian presidential candidate in recent memory. He defended the legacy of Brazil’s dictatorship, vowed to protect the country from communists and “thieves,” and slammed “fake news” back home. “What I’m saying there [in Brazil] is very similar to Trump here,” Bolsonaro concluded. “If I’m elected, you can be sure Trump will have a great ally in the Southern Hemisphere.” And then, as the crowd chanted “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!,” Bolsonaro turned around and saluted a TV image of a waving American flag.

SPECIAL REPORT: The Race for Quantum Resistant Cryptography

By Stew Magnuson

This is part 3 of a 3-part special report on quantum technology.

A little known technological race is occurring in the realm of computer sciences and it could have an enormous impact for those who rely on encrypted communications, experts say.

Technologists fear that a high-capacity quantum computer will be able to quickly and easily bust through modern-day encryption, thereby exposing top secret data and information for all the world to see.

Computers that rely on photons, neutrons, protons and electrons — collectively known as qubits — to do calculations rather than ones and zeroes are predicted to be vastly more powerful than even today’s supercomputers. Development of such computers is underway, with the United States and China both working to create the next-generation machines.

Why Is The NIST Framework Important?

Alarice Rajagopal

Special guest Ben Brooks, Special Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Veteran and current Vice President of Cyber Security consulting firm Beryllium joined George Rettas, president and CEO of Task Force 7 Radio and Task Force 7 Technologies, in episode #75 on Monday night.

Co-hosts Tom Pageler Chief Security Officer of BitGo, Inc. and Andy Bonillo, Global Head of Information Security for AIG, also joined the lineup to talk about the importance of the NIST Framework, what gaps need to be filled to defend against the ever increasing sophistication of cyber attacks, the security of cloud infrastructures, and the impact of artificial intelligence on the cyber security industry.

Brooks also gave his opinion on whether or not the United States is in a Cyber War, what the average person can do strengthen their personal cyber security posture, and why skills and experiences learned from the military translate so well to the cyber security industry.

How Globalization and Robotics Speed Up Job Losses

The twin trends of globalization and robotics — or globotics — will usher in a period of unprecedented disruption that could displace workers at the fastest pace in history, argues Richard Baldwin, international economics professor at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, in his new book, The Globotics Upheaval: Globalization, Robotics and the Future of Work.

Like factory workers who lost their jobs to automation, white-collar and service workers are now in danger of being displaced en masse, said Baldwin, also editor-in-chief of policy website VoxEU.org. He recently joined the Knowledge@Wharton radio show on SiriusXM to discuss this trend and how workers can protect themselves.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Knowledge@Wharton: If automation first diminished blue-collar jobs, wasn’t it inevitable that technology would affect white-collar jobs?

Artificial Intelligence and Frontier Technologies for Open Educational Resources

The Artificial Intelligence and Frontier Technologies for Open Educational Resources (OER) workshop was part of the ‘Learning and Skills sessions’ held during UNESCO’s Mobile Learning 2019 (5 March 2019, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris), which focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI). The workshop presented the latest developments on how AI and frontier technologies can be used to share, use and develop OER, within the framework of the Ljubljana OER Action Plan and the current Draft UNESCO OER Recommendation.

The session highlighted how the fact that technologies have a significant potential to accelerate progress and support the development of inclusive Knowledge Societies based on human rights and the achievement of gender equality and empowerment. From this perspective Open Educational Resources (OER) – learning materials available on an open license which can be shared, modified and developed – is critical for progress towards the achievement of all 17 Sustainable development goals, and in particular Quality education (Goal 4), Gender equality (Goal 5), Reduced inequalities within and across countries (Goal 10) and Partnerships for goals (Goal 17).

Army Cyber to Become an Information Warfare Command

By Kimberly Underwood 

The Army is transforming its Cyber Command to meet the challenges of a multidomain battlefield. Just over eight years old, the command, located at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, will evolve by 2028 into something possibly called the Army Information Warfare Operations Command, which will fully incorporate cyber, electronic warfare and information operations.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, USA, commanding general, Army Cyber Command, made the announcement to Army Signal leaders and industry at AFCEA’s 2019 Army Signal Conference in Springfield, Virginia, on March 13. “That is the big idea and that's what we're moving toward rapidly,” he said.

The plan involves the move of the Army’s information-related operations out of Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, to Ft. Gordon by May or June of 2020, the commander said.

Gen. Fogarty acknowledged that the naming convention was still evolving. “I'm absolutely aware that information operations or information warfare is a very loaded term,” he said.

The United States’ allies—in particular the United Kingdom and Australia—are “in the same place as we are” in adding information-related capabilities, and are referring to it as “influence maneuver,” Gen. Fogarty clarified. “But I’m not sure that is the term we want to use, although we are open minded. So I describe it as the Army Information Warfare Operations Command, but that is a descriptive name [for now].”


MONDAY NIGHT, A suicide bomber took the lives of at least 22 people—including an 8-year-old girl—at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. Almost instantly, images and video of the devastating attack overtook Twitter timelines and Facebook News Feeds. As natural and understandable a response to horrific events as that might be, it also threatens to amplify the chaos that terrorists intend.

Terrorists have always sought attention, and the age of social media has enabled them to find it with unprecedented breadth. They use social networks to recruit, to inspire, and to connect, but they also rely on social media bystanders—everyday, regular people—to spread the impacts of their terror further than they could themselves, and to confuse authorities with misinformation. That amplification encourages more terrorism, inspires copycats, and turns the perpetrators into martyrs. It also traumatizes the families of the murdered victims, as well as the public at large.

Really Best Military Advice

By Tadd Sholtis

Last month, the RAND Corporation issued a report intended to help the Department of Defense “understand the current character of interservice competition and how service culture impacts the ways in which the military services posture themselves to secure institutional relevance.” DoD’s Office of Net Assessment sponsored the study, whose authors somehow concluded that the department’s premier strategists needed someone to read Carl Builder’s Masks of War for them.

Builder’s 30-year-old RAND study found that each service’s distinct character and culture inform its strategic outlook and make it resistant to rational changes or compromises that challenge that outlook. Builder and the RAND analysts who dusted off his thinking are right to emphasize the importance of culture. But culture alone cannot explain why our military services have trouble with change today.

When the unit of analysis is a branch of the military, everything that informs service culture—history and myth, tribes and traditions—clearly informs service decisions. For example, because the modern Marine Corps was forged in the carnage of battles where help from other services was lacking, organic fire support for Marine units is now a service mantra. This is how the Navy’s Army ends up with its own Air Force, among other peculiarities of America’s selectively joint fighting force.

What NATO is doing to keep abreast of new challenges

For an idea of what the alliance will be dealing with in the years to come, head to Norfolk, Virginia. It is home to Allied Command Transformation (act), one of nato’s two strategic commands, the other being its operational one with its headquarters at Mons, in Belgium. Since 2009 French generals have been at the helm of act, a reward for France’s return to nato’s integrated military structure; the most recent American in charge was James Mattis, seen by some in Europe as nato’s saviour as defence secretary for the first two years of Mr Trump’s presidency.

What makes act interesting is its focus on the future. Its job is to shape nato’s response to emerging demands as the world changes. That includes devising “minimum capability requirements” for new technology. It also involves getting out a crystal ball to divine big global trends and their military implications decades ahead. General André Lanata, the current supreme allied commander transformation (sact), says his command “is one of the motors of adaptation for nato”.