31 March 2019

Pakistan Doesn’t Want Modi to Win


It was not particularly surprising when India boycotted the Pakistan Day celebrations at the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi last weekend. Just weeks before, an extraordinary duel in the air above disputed Kashmir brought the two sides unthinkably close to war.

The wounds from the skirmish have yet to heal. Pakistan has vacated border villages. Defense systems remain on high alert as the two countries continue to fire artillery across the Line of Control that divides Kashmir. Meanwhile, Pakistan and India’s nuclear arsenals—which together total roughly 300 warheads—are still pointed right at each other.

Since 2015, both states have avoided full-on conflict, partly by absorbing smaller but still bloody skirmishes along the Line of Control. But an active insurrection in Indian-occupied Kashmir has stoked cross-border tensions and provoked a heavy-handed crackdown by the Indian state. Islamabad, meanwhile, has urged continued talks and launched its own sweep of arrests and asset seizures against militant organizations.

Digital India: Technology to transform a connected nationMarch 2019 | Report

By Noshir Kaka, Anu Madgavkar, Alok Kshirsagar, Rajat Gupta, James Manyika, Kushe Bahl, and Shishir Gupta

Indian consumers have strongly embraced digital technologies. Now India’s companies must follow suit.

With more than half a billion internet subscribers, India is one of the largest and fastest-growing markets for digital consumers, but adoption is uneven among businesses. As digital capabilities improve and connectivity becomes omnipresent, technology is poised to quickly and radically change nearly every sector of India’s economy. That is likely to both create significant economic value and change the nature of work for tens of millions of Indians.

In Digital India: Technology to transform a connected nation (PDF–3MB), the McKinsey Global Institute highlights the rapid spread of digital technologies and their potential value to the Indian economy by 2025 if government and the private sector work together to create new digital ecosystems.

Netanyahu way or Helsinki?

Vappala Balachandran

When ISI Director-General Hamid Gul met RAW chief AK Verma in 1988, the first such meeting between the two spy agencies, he expressed the same fears about India as Gen Ayub Khan had made 35 years earlier. In 1953, Ayub Khan had made a theatrical offer to the US: ‘Our army can be your army if you want us.’ He was not authorised to make any such offer, as he was in Washington DC only to prepare for Governor-General Ghulam Mohammed’s visit. But this pleased Secretary of State John Foster Dulles who was disappointed with India not joining his anti-communist alliance, Middle East Defense Organization (MEDO). Pakistan was thus able to steal a march over India and get US security guarantees. 

Gul’s dialogue with Verma was equally jaunty by frankly admitting that Pakistan was backing terrorism as it was afraid of India’s size. He offered to stop supporting terrorism if India initiated adequate confidence-building measures (CBMs). He displayed flamboyance with his offer, pushing out a small group of the 1st battalion Sikh regiment that had crossed over to Pakistan. 

The India-China Rivalry Heats Up in South Asia

As the India-China rivalry for influence in Asia grows, India has begun to take a bolder stance. In 2016, at Bhutan's request, Indian forces entered the disputed Doklam territory in Bhutan to keep Chinese forces from building a road there. As the most serious conflict between India and China in decades, the standoff represented a shift in New Delhi’s posture toward Beijing, signaling India’s resolve to act more forcefully to counter Chinese influence and activities in South Asia. 

New Delhi’s bold decision to confront Chinese troops at Doklam—an area near India’s so-called tri-border with China and Bhutan—surprised and angered Beijing. While India may have succeeded in standing up to China in the short run, Doklam pushed China-India tensions, problematic under the best of circumstances, into a new, tenser stage.

Any military confrontation would be devastating to both countries, but a deep and long-standing political rift would be equally unsettling given the strategic anxieties in play. Sustained, long-term hostility of any kind would be harmful for India, China and the region at large. 

China Takes Rivalry With India to South Asia

Why the Taliban should be required to renounce al Qaeda in any deal with US


Last week, Afghanistan’s national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, launched into a broadside against Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief American diplomat responsible for negotiating with the Taliban. Addressing reporters in Washington, Mohib insinuated that Khalilzad is seeking to install himself as the “viceroy” of a new “caretaker government.” The State Department quickly issued a sharp rebuke, saying that any condemnation of Khalilzad was really a critique of its leader, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

While Mohib’s specific charge may have been hyperbole, it almost certainly wasn’t a slip of the tongue. Mohib has been around Washington for years, including as Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.S., so he knew how his words would be received. His harsh critique of Khalilzad reflects the Afghan government’s deep mistrust of the Trump administration’s plans. Everyone knows that President Donald Trump wants out of Afghanistan, and the Afghans know that the State Department’s dealings with the Taliban will not deliver “peace.” Instead, Khalilzad’s talks have further empowered the same jihadists America has been fighting for nearly two decades.

In U.S. pursuit of peace talks, perilous rift opens with Afghan leader

Phil Stewart, Jonathan Landay, Hamid Shalizi

FILE PHOTO: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan July 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail/File Photo

The feud threatens to undermine the already narrow chances for a peace accord that President Donald Trump hopes would end America’s longest war.

Current and former U.S. officials tell Reuters they believe Ghani is positioning himself to perhaps be a spoiler in still-fragile negotiations, angry that the Afghan government has been kept out of talks and worried about the implications for his presidency.

But from Ghani’s perspective, the negotiations themselves, led by U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, feel like a personal betrayal and a capitulation by the United States that could return the Taliban to power, Afghan officials say.

“Khalilzad wants to show that he is the champion of peace and President Ghani does not want to be the villain. The president believes he is being betrayed,” an Afghan government official said.

CO19049 | Why Balancing Towards China is not Effective: Understanding BRI’s Strategic Role

T.V. Paul

RSIS Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary and analysis of topical and contemporary issues. The authors’ views are their own and do not represent the official position of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the author(s) and RSIS. Please email to Mr Yang Razali Kassim, Editor RSIS Commentary at RSISPublications@ntu.edu.sg.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has usually been analysed for its economic and geopolitical importance. There is a third crucial function of BRI − the prevention of military as well as soft balancing coalitions against Beijing by smaller Asian states along with countries such as the US and India. BRI thus is a major instrument in the hands of China in its wedge strategy in the Indo-Pacific.

China's Twenty-First Century Difficulties

by Leland Lazarus John Brunetti

Tensions continue to simmer between China and its neighbors over the South China Sea. Just days ago, Vietnam accused a Chinese vessel for ramming a Vietnamese fishing boat. U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said the United States will continue freedom of navigation operations to prevent Beijing from turning the area into “a new Chinese province.” These examples demonstrate the twenty-first century difficulties for China to overtly assert control over the maritime arena as regional competitors seek to check ambitions. Instead, China must offer cooperative norms and economic incentives that are mutually beneficial for its neighbors so that they voluntarily accept Chinese leadership. Recent Chinese progress in the maritime arena—establishing maritime codes of conduct, supporting port improvement projects, and providing ships to other countries—is a modern example of this buy-in strategy.

Amid Thaw, Japan Is Seeing a Boom in Chinese Tourists

By Daniel Hurst

Japan is experiencing a boom in tourists from China. Official figures show the number of visitor arrivals from China increased four-fold over a five-year period, from 1.4 million in 2012 to 7.4 million in 2017. That means China has overtaken South Korea as the top source of visitors to Japan.

Ski resort regions like Niseko, in Japan’s northern Hokkaido prefecture, are witnessing the inflow. “What we are seeing is the greatest emerging market on earth start to mobilize,” said Colin Hackworth, representative director of Nihon Harmony Resorts, which is involved in running the Hanazono Niseko ski resort.

In Kutchan – a town near the Niseko ski resorts – Australians still dominate the international tourism market, logging 96,545 overnight stays in 2017, but this figure was slightly down on the previous year. At the same time, the town has recorded strong growth in visitors from Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States. The number of overnight stays by visitors from China, meanwhile, surged to 32,817 in 2017, up 74 percent from the previous year, according to data provided by a Kutchan town official during a recent press briefing.

The Man Who Took China to Space


Amid the escalating political and economic tensions across the Pacific, the 350,000 Chinese students in the United States are caught in the crossfire. The single biggest international student group in the world, many first came to the United States for its openness, but some now fear that America will soon slam its door on them as the trade war escalates. President Donald Trump’s administration sees Chinese students as potential perpetrators of espionage and intellectual property theft, and it has tightened restrictions for Chinese citizens at U.S. universities by shortening student visa durations for technology and mathematics students and intensifying visa scrutiny. White House senior advisor Stephen Miller even recommended a blanket visa ban on Chinese students.

The United States could be throwing away a huge pool of talent—and not for the first time. In the 1940s and 1950s, some of China’s most brilliant scholars sought a home in the United States only to be chased away. Perhaps the most representative case is that of Hsue-Shen Tsien (also rendered as Qian Xuesen), a Beijing-raised, California-trained scientist who co-founded NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL)—and created China’s space program when he was driven out of the United States. Many in the United States saw Tsien as China’s “evil genius”—an American-made Dr. Frankenstein who, as the 1999 Cox Report concluded, probably incorrectly, deliberately stole U.S. technologies for China’s missile development—but his exile from the United States was forced by a paranoid and xenophobic politics.

Why Was ISIS Successful?

By Kenneth M. Pollack

The following essay is adapted from 'Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness' by Kenneth M. Pollack, now available from Oxford University Press.

'Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness' explains how the politics, economics, and culture of the modern Arab world has shaped the military power of the Arab states. Overwhelmingly, the impact has been negative, producing the vast tableaux of misfortune that has been Arab military history since 1945 and right up to the present day. It is why Arab armed forces have so consistently underperformed, losing most of their wars despite any number of favorable material factors. It is also why their victories have been rare and typically modest, if not outright Pyrrhic. 

Oxford University Press

Yet in June 2014, ISIS—or Da’ish as it is referred to in Arabic—stunned the world by overrunning most of northern and western Iraq, seizing the massive city of Mosul, and causing five divisions of the Iraqi army to collapse. Much of its success was a product of the weakness of the Iraqi armed forces. However, some of it derived from Da’ish’s own exceptional performance. Indeed, Da’ish and Hizballah are the two most important Arab non-state militaries that demonstrated a clear superiority in their battlefield competence over the vast majority of Arab militaries since the Second World War. Understanding why they were exceptionally more successful is therefore a critical element in understanding how Arab society has shaped its armed forces during the modern era, and how the Middle Eastern military balance may change in the future.

Terrorist Use of Cryptocurrencies

by Cynthia Dion-Schwarz, David Manheim, Patrick B. Johnston

Are terrorist groups currently using cryptocurrencies to support their activities? If not, why? What properties of new and potential future cryptocurrencies would make them more viable for terrorist use? Given the key role of funding in supporting terrorist operations, counterterrorism finance (CTF) efforts often focus on tracking money and preventing financial transactions that might be used to support attacks and other terrorist activities. However, the success of these strategies in reducing terrorist access to official currencies has raised concerns that terrorist organizations might increase their use of such digital cryptocurrencies as Bitcoin to support their activities.

Current cryptocurrencies are not well matched with the totality of features that would be needed and desirable to terrorist groups but might be employed for selected financial activities. The authors' research shows that, should a single cryptocurrency emerge that provides widespread adoption, better anonymity, improved security, and that is subject to lax or inconsistent regulation, then the potential utility of this cryptocurrency, as well as the potential for its use by terrorist organizations, would increase. Regulation and oversight of cryptocurrencies, along with international cooperation between law enforcement and the intelligence community, would be important steps to prevent terrorist organizations from using cryptocurrencies to support their activities.

The Future of Urban Warfare in the Age of MegacitiesFocus stratégique, No. 88, March 2019

In recent years, cities like Aleppo, Sana’a, and Mosul have suffered siege warfare, aerial and artillery bombardments, and heavy street fighting. Major cities across Europe and Africa are being targeted by terrorist groups and “lone wolf attackers” inspired by ISIS. Even traditionally rural insurgents such as the Taliban and PKK are shifting to cities. In Latin America, where urban violence is fueled by organized crime and transnational drug trafficking, cities in Mexico and Brazil have some of the highest homicide rates in the world. This study traces the drivers behind this rise in urban violence and warfare, assesses the complex challenges military forces face in cities, and analyzes the key demographic, technological, and political developments that have shaped military operations in cities in the 21st century, and will likely characterize future urban conflicts.

Beyond the Hanoi Summit

The awkward and obviously unintentional collapse of the talks between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump on February 28 in Hanoi, Vietnam, is a setback only if one is seeking a sham deal that avoids the core issues. If we seek a genuine solution to the issue of North Korean nuclear arms, and even more important a reconfiguration of northeastern Asian political geography that will make the area far safer, then this is a welcome tossing aside of theatrical props and posturing that, if pursued tenaciously, will probably achieve its goal.

How should we score the second round in what now clearly will be a prolonged but substantial process?

First, the United States has lost nothing. North Korea remains an advanced nuclear state, whose possession of Tritium isotopes suggests thermonuclear ambitions.

Second, the walkout and Mr. Trump’s remarks that China’s leader Xi Jinping “could have been more helpful” puts China on the problem side, and not the solution side. Previous administrations and their Korean experts clung to the idea that if we could improve relations with China, sometimes by offering massive concessions, they might somehow step in and fix things for us. No, the Chinese proved adept at helping Kim develop his weapons while at the same time convincing Washington they might also help dismantle them.

The Lost Art of American Diplomacy

By William J. Burns

Diplomacy may be one of the world’s oldest professions, but it’s also one of the most misunderstood. It’s mostly a quiet endeavor, less swaggering than unrelenting, oftentimes operating in back channels, out of sight and out of mind. U.S. President Donald Trump’s disdain for professional diplomacy and its practitioners—along with his penchant for improvisational flirtations with authoritarian leaders such as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un—has put an unaccustomed spotlight on the profession. It has also underscored the significance of its renewal.

The neglect and distortion of American diplomacy is not a purely Trumpian invention. It has been an episodic feature of the United States’ approach to the world since the end of the Cold War. The Trump administration, however, has made the problem infinitely worse. There is never a good time for diplomatic malpractice, but the administration’s unilateral diplomatic disarmament is spectacularly mistimed, unfolding precisely at a moment when American diplomacy matters more than ever to American interests. The United States is no longer the only big kid on the geopolitical block, and no longer able get everything it wants on its own, or by force alone.

The Living Lessons of Vietnam


Three recent books about the Vietnam War shed fresh light on well-trodden ground, suggesting that America’s debacle a half-century ago still has much to teach us. But US foreign-policy doyens have shown an inability to heed the right lessons.

WINCHESTER, UK – “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam?” John Kerry, a decorated US Navy veteran, asked the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in April 1971. “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” It was a good question, and some of those involved in today’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere may be wondering the same thing.

Kerry, of course, went on to become a US senator himself, as well as a Democratic candidate for the US presidency in 2004, and served as Secretary of State during President Barack Obama’s second term. In the latter role, he endeavored obsessively, but ultimately in vain, to resolve the Middle East’s intractable conflicts and multiplying nightmares.

Agreements Establishing Confucius Institutes at U.S. Universities Are Similar, but Institute Operations Vary

What GAO Found According to the Chinese Language Council International, also referred to as Hanban, Confucius Institutes are intended to promote Chinese language and culture in foreign countries. Agreements between Hanban and U.S. colleges and universities (which GAO refers to as U.S. schools) to establish Confucius Institutes are generally similar to one another, though institute operations vary in practice. GAO reviewed 90 agreements and found they describe generally similar activities, funding, and management. For example, the institutes primarily receive funding from Hanban and the U.S. school, and do not receive direct U.S. federal funding. GAO also examined the agreements for language on application of school polices to the institutes, curriculum, and confidentiality, among other things. 

One-third of the agreements explicitly addressed how U.S. school policies apply to institutes, and a few addressed curriculum. Officials GAO interviewed at case study schools noted that U.S. school policies, including policies on matters such as curriculum, apply to institutes at their schools, though we found schools vary from one another in institute activities and use of resources, including teachers and teaching materials. While 42 of 90 agreements include language indicating that the document was confidential, some agreements were available online or are shared upon request. Some officials at schools that did not post agreements online said this was consistent with handling of other agreements.

What Happened in Hanoi?

Jessica T. Mathews

Shortly after the success of The Art of the Deal(1987) made Donald Trump a supposed expert on negotiation, he lobbied the George H.W. Bush administration to put him in charge of arms reduction talks with the Soviet Union. The position went instead to Richard Burt, an experienced diplomat and arms control expert. When the two men met at a New York social event, Trump pulled Burt aside to tell him what he would have done—and what Burt should do—to start off the negotiations. Greet the Soviets warmly, he said. Let the delegation get seated and open their papers. Then stand up, put your knuckles on the table, lean over, say “Fuck you,” and walk out of the room.

When I heard this story from Burt in 2016, it seemed further—if especially bizarre—evidence of Trump’s conviction that bluster and intimidation are universally effective. His interactions with North Korea over the past year, however, make clear that it’s more complicated than that. Trump thinks that what works is the unexpected. His goal is to put people off balance, which allows him, he believes, to get his way. This explains his otherwise baffling calls for US policy to be “unpredictable.” With North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the unexpected came in the form of Trump’s claim to have fallen “in love” and his showers of praise for Kim’s personality, his intelligence, his talents, his love of his people, and his leadership—all for a man who runs the poorest economy in all of Asia and the beastliest regime on the planet.

What the withdrawal agreement ‘separation’ actually means for Brexit

Tom Kibasi

So we now know that the third attempt at the meaningful vote will not take place this week. In its place, the government will instead hold a vote on the divorce deal only – the withdrawal agreement – setting aside the future partnership for now.

This is a desperate attempt to meet the European council’s conditions for offering an extension to 22 May. If the withdrawal agreement does not pass this week, the UK will almost certainly be required to participate in European parliament elections as a condition of an extension beyond 12 April. Passing the withdrawal agreement without the political declaration would meet the conditions of the European council for the extension, but would not satisfy the domestic ratification requirements which would require a further act of parliament.

Perspectives on Taiwan Insights from the 2018 Taiwan-U.S. Policy Program

Bonnie S. Glaser

The papers in this compendium were written by the 10 members of the 2018 CSIS Taiwan-U.S. Policy Program (TUPP) delegation. TUPP provides a much-needed opportunity for future leaders to gain a better understanding of Taiwan through first-hand exposure to its politics, culture, and history. Each participant was asked to reflect on his or her in-country experience and produce a short article analyzing a policy issue related to Taiwan. These papers are a testament to the powerful impact that follows first-hand exposure to Taiwan.

This report is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, the Global Taiwan Institute, and the London School of Economics Alumni Association. DOWNLOAD THE REPORT

The World's Third Pole Is Melting

By Dechen Palmo

The Tibetan plateau, which holds the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) ice sheet, is known as the world’s “Third Pole.” It holds the largest number of glaciers and snow after the Arctic and Antarctic. The Tibetan plateau has more than 46,000 glaciers, 14.5 percent of the world’s total. These glaciers give birth to Asia’s major river systems — the Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Salween, Mekong, Yangtze, and Yellow Rivers that provide lifelines to many countries and support a population of around 2 billion people.

But due to climate change, the Tibetan plateau’s glaciers are depleting faster than anywhere else on earth. The loss of Tibetan glaciers means the loss of livelihood for the people who are dependent on these rivers — over a quarter of the world’s total population.

Under the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), experts from different regions have come together to develop the first Hindu Kush Himalayan assessment report, which was released on January 5, 2019. The report corroborates a 2014 report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showing that as temperatures rise with climate change, at least one-third of the Hindu Kush Himalayan glaciers will be depleted by 2100, even if global warming is held at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

What Sri Lanka’s 2019 Budget Tells Us About Its Economic Health

By Umesh Moramudali

Following one of the most dramatic political crises in the recent history of South Asia, Sri Lanka’s government budget for 2019 was approved by the majority of the parliament on March 12. The 2019 budget was supposed to be presented to the parliament in November 2018, but President Maithripala Sirisena’s unexpected (and later overturned) decision to change prime ministers in October 2018 pushed back the budget. Later, a Vote of Account was passed by the parliament to provide finances until the budget could be presented in March.

The political turmoil, which surrounded the country with great uncertainty, took a toll on the economy. With the rising political instability in light of the fall 2018 constitutional crisis, three agencies downgraded Sri Lanka’s credit rating.

On top of that, economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2018 dipped down to 1.8 percent from 3.2 percent reported in 2017. Although the entire reduction of quarterly growth cannot be attributed to the political crisis, it is quite clear that a very significant portion of the slowdown was a result of the political instability. This resulted in the annual growth rate growing just slightly, reaching 3.2 percent in 2018 from 3.1 percent in 2017. Economic growth continues to be stagnant. This year expected growth is 3.5 percent, rising to 4.0 percent in 2020. Amid this outlook the government will seek to bring down Sri Lanka’s budget deficit to 4.4 of GDP in 2019 and 3.5 percent in 2020 to fulfill pledges made the IMF when the country obtained financial support to resolve a balance of payment crisis in 2015.

Budget Challenges

These are all the world's major religions in one map

Frank Jacobs

Devotees try to form a human pyramid to break a clay pot containing curd during the celebrations to mark the Hindu festival of Janmashtami in Mumbai August 10, 2012. Janmashtami, which marks the birthday of Hindu god Krishna, is being celebrated across the country today. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui (INDIA - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - GM2E88A1BFZ01A picture says more than a thousand words, and that goes for this world map as well. This map conveys not just the size but also the distribution of world religions, at both a global and national level.

Strictly speaking it's an infographic rather than a map, but you get the idea. The circles represent countries, their varying sizes reflect population sizes, and the slices in each circle indicate religious affiliation.

The result is both panoramic and detailed. In other words, this is the best, simplest map of world religions ever. Some quick takeaways:

Christianity (blue) dominates in the Americas, Europe and the southern half of Africa.

Islam (green) is the top religion in a string of countries from northern Africa through the Middle East to Indonesia.

Organising a Government for Cyber: The Creation of the UK’s National Cyber Security CentreRobert Hannigan

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen in February 2017. It was the first national cyber centre to bring together government, intelligence agencies and the private sector in one organisation, providing a unified source of advice, guidance and support on cyber security, including the management of cyber security incidents. In doing so, the NCSC has improved understanding of, and the response to, the most important cyber threats to the UK. 

Robert Hannigan was director GCHQ when the NCSC was created, and was closely involved before that in cyber and information security issues at a senior level in roles in the Foreign Office and Cabinet Office. In this Occasional Paper he provides a unique first-hand account of the development of the UK government’s approach to cyber security, and the creation of the NCSC. In that sense, this is not a traditional research paper, but a personal perspective from someone who has been closely involved in these issues, aimed at informing policymakers, practitioners and researchers. 



WIDESPREAD ADOPTION OF the web encryption scheme HTTPS has added a lot of green padlocks—and corresponding data protection—to the web. All of the popular sites you visit every day likely offer this defense, called Transport Layer Security, or TLS, which encrypts data between your browser and the web servers it communicates with to protect your travel plans, passwords, and embarrassing Google searches from prying eyes. But new findingsfrom researchers at Ca' Foscari University of Venice in Italy and Tu Wien in Austria indicate that a surprising number of encrypted sites still leave these connections exposed.

In analysis of the web's top 10,000 HTTPS sites—as ranked by Amazon-owned analytics company Alexa—the researchers found that 5.5 percent had potentially exploitable TLS vulnerabilities. These flaws were caused by a combination of issues in how sites implemented TLS encryption schemes and failures to patch known bugs, (of which there are many) in TLS and its predecessor, Secure Sockets Layer. But the worst thing about these flaws is they are subtle enough that the green padlock will still appear.

Andrew Marshall, Pentagon’s Threat Expert, Dies at 97

By Julian E. Barnes

WASHINGTON — Andrew Marshall, a Pentagon strategist who helped shape American military thinking on the Soviet Union, China and other global competitors for more than four decades, died on Tuesday in Alexandria, Va. He was 97.

His death was confirmed by Jaymie Durnan, his executor.

Mr. Marshall, as director of the Office of Net Assessment, was the secretive futurist of the Pentagon, a long-range thinker who both prodded and inspired secretaries of defense and high-level policymakers. Virtually unknown among the wider public, he came to be revered inside the Defense Department as a mysterious Yoda-like figure who embodied an exceptionally long institutional memory.

In the early 2000s, at a time when the Pentagon was focused on counterinsurgency and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr. Marshall urged officials to focus on the challenge of China — a view that many considered outdated. But today, national security officials are increasingly adopting Mr. Marshall’s view of China as a potential strategic adversary, an idea now at the heart of national defense strategy.

Through his many hires and generous Pentagon grants, estimated to total more than $400 million over four decades, Mr. Marshall trained a coterie of experts and strategists in Washington and beyond. One veteran of the office, Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, is now the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Another, Robert O. Work, was the deputy secretary of defense from 2014 to 2017.

Why the biggest and best struggle to grow

By Nicholas F. Lawler, Robert S. McNish, and Jean-Hugues J. Monier

The largest companies eventually find size itself an impediment to creating new value. They must recognize that not all forms of growth are equal.

The largest, most successful companies would seem to be ideally positioned to create value for their shareholders through growth. After all, they command leading market and channel positions in multiple industries and geographies; they employ deep benches of top management talent utilizing proven management processes; and they often have healthy balance sheets to fund the investments most likely to produce growth.

Yet after years of impressive top- and bottom-line growth that propelled them to the top of their markets, these companies eventually find they can no longer sustain their pace. Indeed, over the past 40 years North America's largest companies—those, say, with more than about $25 billion in market capitalization—have consistently underperformed the S&P 500,1 with only two short-lived exceptions.

Talk to senior executives at these organizations, however, and it is difficult to find many willing to back off from ambitious growth programs that are typically intended to double their company's share price over three to five years. Yet in all but the rarest of cases such aggressive targets are unreasonable as a way to motivate growth programs that create value for shareholders—and may even be risky, tempting executives to scale back value creating organic growth initiatives that may be small or long-term propositions, sometimes in favor of larger, nearer-term, but less reliable acquisitions.

The Pentagon is ‘Absolutely Unapologetic’ About Pursuing AI-Powered Weapons

By Jack Corrigan

Protecting the U.S. in the decades ahead will require the Pentagon to make “substantial, sustained” investments in military artificial intelligence, and critics need to realize it doesn’t take that task lightly, according to current and former Defense Department officials.

Efforts to expand the department’s use of AI systems have been met with public outcry among many in the tech and policy communities who worry the U.S will soon entrust machines to make life-and-death decisions on the battlefield. Last year, employee protests led Google to pull out an Air Force project that used machine-learning to sort through surveillance footage.

On Wednesday, officials said the Pentagon is going to great lengths to ensure any potential applications of AI adhere to strict ethical standards and international norms. Even if the U.S. military balks on deploying the tech, they warned, global adversaries like Russia and China certainly will not, and their ethical framework will likely be lacking.

Working in Non-Permissive Environments: Arming Civilians Isn’t the Answer

By Leon S. Waskin

USAID has long sought to develop an approach for the rapid deployment of its staff into high threat regions. One idea is to develop “Rapid Expeditionary Development – RED” teams. A heretofore obscure February 2018 report sponsored by USAID’s Global Development Laboratory outlines one possible configuration of the RED teams, and has recently drawn considerable attention, and generated considerable controversy, for its suggestion that in certain circumstances USAID employees should be trained in the use of and authorized to carry firearms.

Specifically, the report recommends that “to secure communities vulnerable to violent extremist radicalization and exploitation”, USAID personnel working in such areas be paired with military counterparts into two-person “RED Teams” that would “live and work in austere environments for extended periods of time and actively contribute to their own security and welfare.” RED team members, it adds euphemistically, “would be trained and authorized to conduct themselves as a force-multiplier able to contribute a full suite of security skills as needed.” In other words, they would carry guns and be expected to use them. This, the authors argue, is essential to allow USAID personnel in such vulnerable areas to function effectively and carry out their development mission alongside their military colleagues.

‘How Is Yoda?’: An Appreciation Of Andy Marshall


Last year while in Japan for a meeting with senior defense and military leaders, the question most often posed to me was, “How is Yoda?”

The questions were in reference to the nickname given to Andrew Marshall, arguably the foremost defense strategist of the past sixty years, who passed away this week at the age of 97. He is best known for his 42-year tenure as head of the Pentagon’s innocuously named Office of Net Assessment, the defense secretary’s private “think tank” that Marshall formed and led under every president from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama.

Marshall himself disliked being compared with the Star Wars character, but the name stuck, and for good reason. Like Yoda, Marshall was quiet and unassuming, and spoke sparingly. When he did, his observations could seem inscrutable to many who struggled in their efforts to plumb the depths of “net assessment,” a powerful strategic planning methodology Marshall developed and refined over the course of 60 years of public service.