11 April 2019

The Rohingya Crisis

by Eleanor Albert and Andrew Chatzky


Discriminatory policies of Myanmar’s government since the late 1970s have compelled hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya to flee their homes in the predominantly Buddhist country. Most have crossed by land into Bangladesh, while others have taken to the sea to reach Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Beginning in 2017, renewed violence, including reported rape, murder, and arson, triggered an exodus of Rohingya amid charges of ethnic cleansing against Myanmar’s security forces. Those forces claim they are carrying out a campaign to reinstate stability in the western region of Myanmar, but international pressure on the country’s elected leaders to rein in violence continues to rise.
Who are the Rohingya?

The Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim minority who practice a Sufi-inflected variation of Sunni Islam. There are an estimated 3.5 million Rohingya dispersed worldwide. Before August 2017, the majority of the estimated one million Rohingya in Myanmar resided in Rakhine State, where they accounted for nearly a third of the population. They differ from Myanmar’s dominant Buddhist groups ethnically, linguistically, and religiously.

India’s February 2019 Strike in Pakistani Territory: A Jus ad Bellum Analysis

By Laya Maheshwari 

On Feb. 14, a suicide bombing in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir killed more than 40 members of Indian paramilitary forces—the deadliest terrorist attack in Kashmir’s history. Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a terrorist group based in Pakistan and rumored to have “close ties” to its spy agency, claimed credit for the bombing. JeM’s continued existence has long been a pressure point in India-Pakistan relations, and this latest incident was no different. The attack set off an escalating chain of aerial attacks, first by India and then by Pakistan, that culminated in an Indian pilot being held captive as a prisoner of war by Pakistan for two days. India’s initial attack in Pakistani territory, on Feb. 26, was followed by a statement by the Indian foreign secretary, which described the attack as a “non-military preemptive strike” conducted in self-defense against JeM.

India justified its attack as an act of self-defense against JeM, without attributing the group’s actions to Pakistan. It listed a series of terrorist attacks the group had conducted in India in the past and hinted at “[c]redible intelligence” that another attack would take place in the near future, necessitating India’s action in light of Pakistan’s unwillingness to tackle terrorist groups active on its soil. India’s statement raises multiple questions in jus ad bellum: whether a state has a right to self-defense against a nonstate actor when the latter’s conduct has not been attributed to another state, what qualifies as an “imminent” armed attack, and whether India is explicitly endorsing the unable-or-unwilling test for the use of force in self-defense.

Afghanistan’s Future Cannot be secured by sidelining India:

By Dr Subhash Kapila

US Special Envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad skipping India as he cavorts across other regional capitals from Islamabad to Amman to broker a peace settlement with Taliban raises crucial questions whether it is the US deliberate policy to side-line India from Afghan peace process or is it the personal proclivity of Khalilzad reported to be tilted in Pakistan’s favour.

When it comes to securing a peaceful future for Afghanistan, it needs to be noted that the incumbent Afghanistan Government in Kabul headed by President Ghani and India are on the same page. Afghanistan’s successive Governments have displayed unreserved strategic trust in India’s benign record of its genuine reconstruction efforts and involvement in rebuilding Afghanistan war-ravaged infrastructure damaged by Afghan Taliban and Pakistan-affiliated terrorist groups. This is superimposed on layers of ancient civilsational ties between India and Afghanistan pre-dating inception of Pakistan.

Pointed out in my last paper was Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s devious plot of suggesting an Interim Government in Kabul to enable break of deadlock in US-Taliban dialogue at Doha. It was highlighted that it was Pakistan PMs insidious attempt to gain a backdoor entry for its protégé, the Afghan Taliban, in the governing structure in place in Kabul---something which the Taliban could not secure by decades of their terrorism strikes against US Forces and the Kabul Government.

China and Pakistan Have Struck a Devil’s Bargain With Militants


The tense standoff between India and Pakistan has gotten tenser with a surprising move by China. On March 14, China blocked a United Nations effort to designate as a terrorist Masood Azhar, a militant group leader who had brought the two South Asian nuclear rivals to the brink of war. Azhar is the founder and leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which took credit for the Feb. 14 suicide attack in India-administered Kashmir that sparked the recent India-Pakistan crisis.

It might seem strange for China to coddle a militant group that is threatening its $60 billion investment in Pakistan. However, there is a possibility that the Afghan Taliban, not JeM, may have provided the initial push for the attack. By giving diplomatic cover to JeM, China is safeguarding its economic interests in the region and propping its regional ally (Pakistan), which is pressuring the Afghan Taliban to negotiate with Kabul.

Pakistan has been playing a critical role in the U.S.-Taliban peace talks. Their success would mean U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, where China has big plans. Last year, Beijing decided to expand the flagship project of its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative—the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure-building plan—into Afghan territory, with the support of Kabul.

Economic interdependence vs. war with China

Dr Christina Lin

On Saturday at Peking University’s Yenching Global Symposium in Beijing, former US deputy assistant secretary of state Susan Shirk warned that Washington’s current policy of decoupling the US and Chinese economies could be “apocalyptic,” and exaggeration of the China threat “could turn into a McCarthyite1 Red Scare” that damages American interests. Shirk said, “Right now there is a herding instinct in the US that is taking us off the cliff with various forms of overreaction to China as a security threat, an intelligence threat, a spy threat, a technological threat, an influence threat” that could lead to de-globalization. Instead of decoupling the two economies, she recommended that the US should engage in “smart competition”2 to maintain a robust innovation ecosystem and maintain a technological competitive edge over China. 

Indeed, the present US posture toward China is one of hostility and blanket opposition to all Chinese-led initiatives, even when allies see benefits in participation. As observed by former US ambassador to China Chas Freeman,3 while the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is seen by the US as a military-strategic challenge, the European Union is “treating it as an economic issue that they need to be cautious about.” Washington is on a risky path, and the cold-war mentality toward the second-largest economy in the world and largest trading partner for many countries may indeed become a self-fulfilling prophesy of a cold war turning hot.  

US-China Clash Regarding The Regime For Passage Through The Taiwan Strait – Analysis

By Mark J. Valencia

On March 31 two People’s Liberation Army Air Force fighter jets deliberately crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and, despite repeated warnings from Taipei’s military, flew 43 nautical miles into Taiwan’s airspace. This was the first such crossing in nearly two decades and was probably response to the increasing US political support for the DPP/Tsai Ing-wen government in the face of Beijing’s more assertive posture toward Taipei. But it was also likely a manifestation of a creeping clash of legal positions between Beijing and the U.S. regarding the regime for passage of warships and warplanes through the Strait. This legal controversy has potentially dangerous practical implications.

The median line has existed since 1955 when it was declared by General Benjamin Davis, then the Commander of the US 13th Air Force then based in Taipei, as part of the ‘rules of engagement’. There was no formal agreement and Beijing has not officially recognized it because in its view Taipei is an inalienable part of its territory. Nevertheless the median line has in practice served to separate the two sides and their military activities.

Global Silence on China’s Gulag


In the absence of international censure, China has stepped up its systematic persecution of Muslims, under the dubious pretense that it is fighting "terrorism" and protecting its economic interests. But more than just an attack on human rights, the crackdown is representative of President Xi Jinping's totalitarian ambitions.

NEW DELHI – For more than two years, China has waged a campaign of unparalleled repression against its Islamic minorities, incarcerating an estimated one-sixth of the adult Muslim population of the Xinjiang region at one point or another. Yet, with the exception of a recent tweet from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling on China to “end its repression,” the international community has remained largely mute. 

In its reliance on mass detention, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has followed the Soviet Union’s example. But China’s concentration camps and detention centers are far larger and more technologically advanced than their Soviet precursors, and their purpose is to indoctrinate not just political dissidents, but an entire community of faith.

How a Massive Naval Blockade Could Bring China To Its Knees In a War

by Sean Mirski

Despite considerable challenges, a naval blockade is both operationally and strategically possible, albeit only within certain limits.

The mounting challenge presented by China’s military modernization has led the United States to review existing military strategies and to conceptualize new ones, as illustrated by the ongoing debate over AirSea Battle (ASB), a new concept of operations put forward by the Department of Defense. But in the universe of possible strategies, the idea of a naval blockade deserves greater scrutiny. By prosecuting a naval blockade, the United States would leverage China’s intense dependence on foreign trade—particularly oil—to debilitate the Chinese state. A carefully organized blockade could thus serve as a powerful instrument of American military power that contributes to overcoming the pressing challenge of China’s formidable anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) system. A blockade could also be easily paired with alternate military strategies, including those based on ASB.

What Iraq Has to Gain, and Lose, by Resurrecting a Border Deal With Iran

Iraq's recent agreement to share the Shatt al-Arab waterway with Iran stands as a testament to the new level of political closeness between the historically hostile neighbors. But in addition to the diplomatic symbolism, Iraq knows it needs Iran's help to develop and clean the river and, in turn, help mitigate the blowback from its water crisis and ongoing unrest in Basra. However, by deepening ties with its controversial neighbor, Baghdad risks further complicating its delicate relations with Iran's regional and Western enemies.

In early March, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Iraq for his first-ever official state visit. The trip seemed to underline a newfangled closeness between the two countries, with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi's announcement that he and Rouhani had signed several agreements to cooperate on issues such as border security and economic development. But the two sides' decision to return to a 44-year-old border demarcation deal garnered the most attention in Iraq because of its immense historical and cultural significance.

Iraq: Basra Pushes for Autonomy

Although Iraq is a fairly diverse country with three broad groupings – Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds – the country's Shiite contingent is easily the largest. But Iraqi Shiites are deeply internally divided. Currently, many in the Shiite-dominated province of Basra are pushing for increased autonomy and calling for more local investment and development due to the province's energy wealth. But the Iraqi government — also predominantly Shiite — is unlikely to support this goal, since its economic health relies on Basra's resources.

The Iraqi province of Basra produces roughly the same amount of oil as the entirety of the neighboring country of Kuwait. But it has little control over its own revenue, since the Iraqi federal government, which pulls the country's purse strings, is located in Baghdad. This economic reality has on multiple occasions prompted Basrawis to push for increased autonomy and greater control over their region's oil wealth. And on April 1 the Basra Provincial Council launched another significant attempt to do so by voting, unanimously, to become an autonomous region of Iraq under the country's constitution. The move could trigger a clause in the Iraqi Constitution that would allow the province to become a region through a referendum. If the council's efforts are successful, Iraq's economic capital would obtain a status similar to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. But Baghdad won't accept Basra's push easily.

Lessons of the War in Ukraine for Western Military Strategy

By Niklas Masuhr

When Russian intervention forces occupied the Crimean peninsula in February 2014 in a coup de main, NATO was still committed in Afghanistan. After more than ten years of counterinsurgency and stabilization operations, the crisis in Ukraine triggered a reorientation towards its original purposes of defense and deterrence. During the same year, at the NATO summit in Wales, it was decided to enhance the speed and capability with which NATO forces could respond to a crisis. The subsequent Warsaw summit in 2016 added rotating multinational contingents in its eastern member states in order to signal the entire alliance’s commitment to their defense. Below these adaptations at the level of NATO, national armed forces are being reformed and rearranged because of the shift in threat perception. This analysis focuses on the military forces of the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. The tactics and capabilities Russia has brought to bear in eastern Ukraine in particular serve as the benchmark according to which these Western forces are being shaped.

Stable or Still Cause for Concern? Understanding the Global Economy's Mixed Signals


The global economy is looking less gloomy than it did only weeks ago. It still may not have the stamina to extend a recovery that’s showing signs of age.

A number of recent developments are stoking optimism. The Federal Reserve hit pause on interest-rate hikes and other central banks delivered stimulus. Trade negotiations between the U.S. and China appear to be inching toward an end to the trade war. And key gauges of factory strength in China and the U.S. strengthened in March, allaying worries those economies were hitting a weak patch.

Investors like what they see. Global stocks have surged nearly 14% this year, according to the MSCI world equities index. The rally has erased much of the fear that gripped markets in December, when stocks plunged almost 8% and analysts speculated the global economy might be on the precipice of a recession.

“We do think that global growth is on track for a soft landing, supported by the positive dynamics of Chinese growth,” said Cui Li, head of macro research at CCB International Holdings Ltd. in Hong Kong.

America Is Wide Open for Foreign Influence


Ever since the Treaty of Westphalia, the idea of territorial sovereignty has been central to how most of us think about international politics and foreign policy. Although a huge amount of activity occurs across state borders, one of the chief tasks of any government is to defend the nation’s territory and make sure—to the extent it can—that outsiders are not in position to interfere in harmful ways. But for all the effort and expense devoted to keeping harmful influences out, sometimes countries wind up locking and bolting the windows while leaving the front door wide open.

Take the mighty United States, for example. It has a vast Department of Homeland Security, whose job is to defend its borders from international terrorism, illegal migration, drug smuggling, customs violations, and other dangers. The United States has intelligence agencies monitoring dangerous developments all over the world to keep them from harming Americans at home. It has spent trillions of dollars on a sophisticated nuclear arsenal designed to deter a hostile country from attacking the U.S. homeland directly, and it’s spent additional hundreds of billions of dollars pursuing the holy grail of missile defense. Americans now worry about cyberthreats of various kinds, including the possibility that foreign powers like Russia might be interfering in U.S. elections or sowing division and false information via social media. And then there’s President Donald Trump’s obsession with that southern wall, which he declares is necessary to keep the Republican base riled up—oops, sorry, I meant to say “is necessary to protect us from impoverished refugees or other undesirables.”

The WTO Protects Its Power in a Landmark National Security Case

A WTO panel has ruled that Moscow was within its rights to block Kiev's access to Russian rail transit over national security concerns, marking the first such decision in the body's history. But while the panel cleared Russia in this instance, it also stated that it has jurisdiction to decide such cases, implying that countries will have less leeway to cite national security concerns to impose protectionist policies. This makes it less likely that the WTO will side with the Trump administration on its steel and aluminum tariffs or that the United States will cease blocking appointments to the organization's appellate body, which hears panel appeals.

For 25 years, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has not had to rule on a major national security case; now, however, it has — and that could set a precedent for all future national security-related cases, including trade disputes launched by U.S. President Donald Trump. On April 5, a WTO panel ruled in Russia's favor that it had the right, under GATT Article XXI, to suspend certain trade concessions to Ukraine that are related to access to Russia's rail networks. In its ruling, the WTO argued that there has been an emergency in international relations between Russia and Ukraine since 2014, meaning Moscow did have the right to sever Kiev's access to the transport links. The decision, however, is not yet final, as Ukraine can appeal the decision to the WTO's appellate body.

Can Change UK Break Up the British Two-Party System?

By Anand Menon and Alan Wager

The historian Richard Hofstadter once observed that “third parties are like bees: once they have stung, they die.” The United Kingdom has just got itself a new party, Change UK. And in some polls, the new outfit comes in third place behind the Conservatives and Labour. The question is, who will feel the sting?

On February 20, seven MPs left the Labour Party. Another joined them that evening. The next day, three MPs announced that they were crossing the floor from the governing Conservative Party to join what was then called The Independent Group. In March, the group turned itself into a political party, Change UK. The new band had an early success when Labour announced that it would (hesitantly) back a second referendum on EU membership, one of The Independent Group’s main demands. But it has now been six weeks since the TIGs announced themselves as a new political force. Defections have dried up. If the issue that led most of them to leave their old parties in the first place—Brexit—reaches some form of resolution, that might draw Change UK’s sting without anyone else getting hurt. 

Cutting U.S. Aid to Central America Is No Way to Address Immigration

Max Radwin 

President Donald Trump announced late last month that he is cutting off $450 million in U.S. aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, delivering on a previous threat amid news that another migrant caravan was forming in Central America. The move has drawn significant criticism, even from within Trump’s administration. The aid is largely used for social, economic and governance development programs that many consider to be an effective, long-term solution to underlying issues—such as violence, poverty and corruption—that are driving people out of their home countries and toward the United States. 

How Western Economies Can Avoid the Japan Trap


With the return of Europe's economic doldrums and signs of a coming growth slowdown in the United States, advanced economies could be at risk of falling into the same kind of long-term rut that has captured Japan. To avoid that outcome, policymakers must recognize and address the deeper structural forces at work.

NEW YORK – Not too long ago, the conventional wisdom held that “Japanification” could never happen in Western economies. Leading US economists argued that if the combined threat of weak growth, disinflation, and perpetually low interest rates ever materialized, policymakers would have the tools to deal with it. They had no problem lecturing the Japanese about the need for bold measures to pull their country out of a decades-old rut. Japanification was regarded as the avoidable consequence of poor policymaking, not as an inevitability. 

And yet the specter of Japanification now looms over the West. After the 2008 financial crisis, the recoveries in both Europe and the United States were more sluggish and less inclusive than the majority of policymakers, politicians, and economists expected. And, more recently, hopes for achieving “escape velocity” out of the “new normal” of low growth and persistent disinflationary pressure have been dashed in Europe and Japan, and some worry that they may be receding in the US.

Inside The European Debate On Islamic Immigration – OpEd

By Kishore Jayabalan*

There is no more sensitive issue for European politicians than that of Islamic immigration. The fact of mass immigration from Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia is plain to see, but all but the most nationalist speak in general terms about “migration” and “integration.” Those who raise the religious dimension usually refer to European “values” rather than Christianity. The dictates of one of those values, multiculturalism, make it impossible to judge Islamic culture as such.

Is this state of affairs beginning to change? I’ve just returned from a conference in Budapest, officially sponsored by the Mathias Corvinus Collegium but clearly supported by the Hungarian government headed by Viktor Orbán. It was an unusual event because every one of the 60-some speakers was, to varying degrees and for different reasons, skeptical about mass immigration. One panel even dared to ask “Is Sharia law irreconcilable with democracy?” (The answer was yes, but Daniel Pipes and Ayaan Hirsi Ali went to great lengths to separate political Islamists from religious Muslims.) Some of us took a field trip to the 170-kilometer-long fence and asylum-processing center at the Hungarian-Serbian border. It was as politically incorrect as an academic conference can be.

Italy’s Economic Crisis And The OECD Warnings – Analysis

By Giancarlo Elia Valori*

At the Columbia University in New York I have recently met many young, skilful and well-trained Italians, who are very worried about the future of their country.

Currently the Italian Statistics Institute (ISTAT) tells us that the cost of training multiplied by the number of Italian researchers abroad amounts to over one billion euros a year.

Every year approximately 3,000 researchers leave Italy for other countries – the well-known “brain drain”. We lose 16.2% of researchers trained in Italy, but we succeed in attracting only 3% of scientists from other countries.

The reasons which underlie this situation are the following: old-fashioned universities, exam-rigging, corruption and nepotism, never-ending public competitions and ridiculous salaries.

The “brain drain reversal scheme” started by the government back in 2001, has convinced only 488 researchers to come back to Italy, of whom less than a quarter decided to prolong their stay in Italy for the following four years.

What’s Driving the Global Slowdown?


Faced with an increasingly synchronized global slowdown, policymakers must use a judicious mix of monetary and fiscal measures and recommit to broader reforms of product, labor, and financial markets. How well they respond to these challenges will shape the course of the world economy for years to come.

ITHACA – The drumbeat of warnings about a looming worldwide recession is growing ever louder. According to the latest Brookings-Financial TimesTIGER indexes, which track the global economic recovery, growth momentum is declining in virtually all of the world’s major economies. And what this portends in the longer term is ominous, especially given the limited macroeconomic policy options for stimulating growth. 

The current slowdown is mainly the result of weak business and consumer sentiment, geopolitical uncertainties, and trade tensions. These factors have dampened corporate investment and could hurt future growth prospects, too. If the downturn persists, current high levels of public debt and low interest rates will limit the ability of policymakers in large advanced economies to provide significant fiscal or monetary stimulus. Other, less conventional monetary-policy measures, meanwhile, would come with significant risks and uncertain payoffs.

America, You’re Not Listening to Us


Russia’s ambassador: We’re ready for urgently needed security dialogue — when our U.S. counterparts are ready to engage in good faith.

You can’t have a conversation if one party won’t listen to the other.

Looking back on the discussions at the annual International Nuclear Policy Conference, hosted last month in Washington, D.C, by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, we have a strong feeling that all reasonable U.S. experts recognize an urgent lack of dialogue between Russia and the United States on key international security issues. As a result of this vacuum created in recent years, the number of unresolved problems continues to multiply — and therefore, so does the potential for conflict and the risks for global stability. 

What the Brexit Mess Means for America

by Paul R. Pillar

Donald Trump Jr. has taken to the op-ed pages to lecture the British about how they should have taken his father’s “advice” on handling the Brexit issue. A more instructive cross-Atlantic comparison would examine how the state of political parties in the United Kingdom and the United States figures prominently in current problems in each country, but in opposite ways.

A breakdown of formerly strong party discipline in Britain has much to do with the current mess over Brexit. Former Prime Minister David Cameron’s blunder of holding a referendum on the subject three years ago was an effort to manage restive members of his own Conservative Party who opposed continued membership in the European Union. In recent days, Brexiteers in that same party have furnished many of the nays in crushing defeats in the House of Commons of Prime Minister Theresa May’s government. Even some ministers have voted against their own government, in a parliamentary spectacle that would have been almost unthinkable in Britain just a few years ago.

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Free Trade: A Key To A Rising Standard Of Living – OpEd

By Jacob G. Hornberger*

Trade is a key to a rising standard of living in society, especially for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

In every exchange, both sides benefit from their own individual subjective perspective. That’s because at the moment of the trade, they are both giving up something they value less for something they value more. Thus, trade enables people to improve their standard of living. The greater the ability of people to trade, the better off they are.

A simple example: Suppose John has 10 apples and George has 10 oranges. John would like some oranges and George would like some apples. They decide to enter into a trade. What would be a “fair” trade? 5 apples for 5 oranges? We can’t say that. It is impossible to say what would be “fair.” That’s because trades are always based on the subjective valuations of the traders. It depends on how much value that each of the traders places on what he is giving up and on what he is getting in exchange.

What happens if hackers target an Army base?

By: Mark Pomerleau  

The Department of Defense’s cyber teams have typically defended IP-based networks, but now leaders are requiring a sharper focus on other networks that power installations.

Army Cyber Command recently reorganized its list of priorities for some of its cyber protection teams. Defending industrial control systems (ICS) and supervisory control and data acquisition, known as SCADA, is one of the organization’s five priorities for defensive cyber operations.

In other words, the Army wants its high-end cyber teams — that focus on threat actors, defending and incident response — to better protect all the utilities that support military installations from cyberattacks.

Some believe the Department of Defense should move away from typical information network defense and expand its coverage to include industrial control and data acquisition systems more extensively.