16 April 2019

2019 Lok Sabha election: Will PM Modi be rewarded for his vision or punished for his miscalculations?

Raj Chengappa 

Every Indian leader who occupied the spartan corner office in the prime minister's wing in Delhi's South Block after Jawaharlal Nehru, has looked to emulate him.

Even Narendra Modi, though he may be loath to admit it in public. Modi's ideological moorings in the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have seen him spout venom against India's first prime minister and trash his achievements.

Yet, more than Indira Gandhi, it is Nehru's exalted status as the builder of modern India that every prime minister after him, including Modi, aspires to surpass. Do a Google search using the words 'Nehru' and 'books'.

Apart from the list of 50-odd books that he authored, including compilations of his speeches, it will throw up a thousand books written about him and his legacy. Such has been Nehru's prominence in the Indian mindspace.

How the Hans met the Hindus.


China has 55 distinct ethnic groups such as Tibetan, Uighur, Manchu, Zhuang, Mongol, Kazakh and Tujia. But its diversity is swamped by 1.2 billion Han Chinese who comprise 92% of the population. Han Chinese are the majority in every province, region or municipality except for the autonomous regions of Xinjiang (41%) and Tibet (6%). Xinjiang and Tibet occupy 1.6 and 1.2 million square kilometers respectively of China’s 9.6 million square kilometers, and are its two biggest regions. The minority homelands are mostly at its extremities and the empire quite literally holds on to them by its claws.

Mao Zedong is quoted to have said in a 1956 speech published in the fifth volume of his selected works: “We say China is a country vast in territory, rich in resources and large in population. As a matter of fact, it is the Han nationality whose population is large and the minority nationalities whose territory is vast and whose resources are rich.”

This mentality is at the core of the problem. The problem being clash between the struggles to preserve identities, protect geography and conserve resources with the attitudes and wants of the majority. Is it any different in India where the Adivasi’s are battling to keep their homelands, identity and natural wealth? China’s solution to this is typical. It makes them Han. Like it did to the Manchu’s, who till the early years of the last century ruled China. Today there are only eighteen Manchu language speakers left in China. Not all of China’s nationalities are willing to undergo such transfusion without resistance. The Tibetans and Uighurs are among the most notable.

Preventing Catastrophe in Afghanistan


This brief presents a summary of key historical events in Afghanistan since 1989 and outlines a possible worst-case scenario following a U.S. and allied withdrawal from the country. The United States, Afghanistan, and its allies must work together in search for greater Afghan self-reliance, security, and stability in order to avoid a catastrophic scenario. Only then will Afghanistan be able to free itself of foreign presences and embark on its own journey to prosperity and self-reliance.


A complete and sudden U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan would be a recipe for disaster. Pulling the plug on U.S. troops, civilian presence, foreign aid, and security assistance could lead other NATO countries to do the same, encourage the Taliban to abandon peace talks, and ultimately lead to civil war. The Afghan forces could disintegrate, leading thousands of soldiers trained and equipped by the United States to side with the Taliban, the Islamic State, al-Qaeda or others. Drug production would exponentially increase, and terror organizations would gain significant ground. Civilians would be stripped of their social and political freedoms and flee the violence, adding to the millions of Afghan refugees and other migrants dispersed around the world.

Taliban Announce Spring Offensive, Even as Peace Talks Gain Momentum

By Mujib Mashal

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban announced the beginning of their spring offensive on Friday, even as the United Nations lifted travel bans on 11 of their senior leaders to facilitate peace talks with the United States.

The announcements were a sign that though the peace talks are gaining momentum, with an Afghan delegation expected to meet with insurgents soon, fighting is likely to intensify all over the country.

Violence has gotten worse in recent weeks as the weather has warmed across Afghanistan, with each side killing dozens of the other’s forcesevery day. Last month, the government pre-empted the Taliban by announcing its own spring military offensive, amid Afghan leaders’ frustration over having been left out of the talks aimed at setting terms for an American troop withdrawal.

Afghanistan's Taliban Bans ICRC, WHO Relief Work

Ayaz Gul

The Taliban says it has temporarily stopped the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) from carrying out relief work in the areas it controls in Afghanistan and it has revoked security guarantees for their staff.

The Islamist insurgent group alleged in a statement that it has found WHO staff involved in “some suspicious activities” during vaccination campaigns, and that the ICRC failed to practically implement pledges given to the Taliban. The statement did not elaborate.

“Until further orders, operations of the two organizations have been halted in areas controlled by the Islamic Emirate (the Taliban), and Mujahideen will not be a responsible for the protection for the heads of these organizations,” the Taliban said.

Red Cross to begin dialogue

Taliban: UN Suspends Sanctions Against Senior Leaders

Ayaz Gul

The Taliban disclosed Thursday that the United Nations has temporarily removed sanctions against its senior leaders who are negotiating a deal with the United States for ending the 18-year-old war in Afghanistan. 

The disclosure by the insurgent group comes as the American reconciliation envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, and his team are expected to enter a new round of meetings with Taliban interlocutors in Qatar this month. Both sides say the dialogue, which started late last summer, has made steady progress. 

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told VOA that the names of all 14 members on their negotiating team and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who heads the group's informal "political office" in Doha, Qatar, have been taken off the U.N. blacklist. Those on the list are subject to financial sanctions, a travel ban and an arms embargo by all member nations. 

There was no immediate U.N. or U.S. reaction to the announcement by the Taliban, nor has the Afghan government commented.

Trump, Normally Cozy With Despots, Takes a Hard Line With Cambodia’s Hun Sen

Charles Dunst 

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—In December, nearly 40 men stepped off a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-chartered plane onto a humid tarmac on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, the capital of their unfamiliar homeland. It was the first time many of them, who were born in refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines to parents fleeing the Khmer Rouge regime, and who grew up in the United States, had ever set foot in Cambodia. Others fled the country as children, with their only memories of Cambodia being the horrors of the Khmer Rouge. 

The overwhelming majority of these Cambodian deportees came to the U.S. legally as refugees and lived in the country as permanent residents, holding green cards. They became deportable after being convicted of an aggravated felony, including attempted murder and drug trafficking, or two misdemeanors, including marijuana possession and petty theft—convictions that invalidate one’s U.S. green card. These deportations have continued largely unabated since 2002, with more than 700 people sent back to Cambodia in that time. But the Trump administration has increased these removals at an unprecedented rate, deporting around 130 last year, a record number.

Why China Would Surely Lose a War Against America

by Harry J. Kazianis 

The global economy would likely face ruin— that’s what happens when the world’s biggest economic powers start shooting at each other. Thankfully the chances are remote it will ever happen. Yet, the threat of such a conflict remains thanks to the many different pressure points in the U.S.-China relationship. Forget the challenge of ISIS, Ukraine, Syria or whatever the flavor of the moment is. The U.S.-China relationship— and whether it remains peaceful or not— is the most important challenge of our time. Period.

The US drops the largest ever non-nuclear weapon on Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.

Several days ago I examined in a short piece on these digital pages how China could do great damage to U.S. and allied military forces in a war. Thanks to over twenty years of large scale investments, the PRC has gone from being a third-rate military that could project very little offensive punch to arguably the second most powerful military machine on the planet. And with an emphasis on weapons systems that embrace anti-access/area-denial military doctrine (A2/AD), China seems to be developing the tools it needs if war with America did ever come to pass. Beijing’s motto these days: be prepared.

(This first appeared in 2015.)

China to use 5G technology to tackle flow of refugees, smuggled goods over North Korean border

Minnie Chan

A North Korean official stands guard on a rural road. China expects a rise in the number of refugees crossing the border this summer amid a severe food shortage. Photo: AP

A Chinese border patrol unit plans to use 5G technology to help stem the flow of refugees from North Korea and smuggled goods between the two countries, according to mainland Chinese media.

The unit in Tonghua, Jilin province, signed an agreement with China Mobile – the largest wireless network operator – on March 23 to build the country’s first 5G checkpoint at Unbong, or Yunfeng Reservoir in Chinese, Legal Dailyreported.

“Jilin is one of the pilot provinces for 5G network transmission in China … [so it has] seized the opportunity to sign a strategic cooperation agreement with the Tonghua branch of China Mobile,” according to the report.

Will China’s ‘16+1’ Format Divide Europe?

On April 11-12, 2019, Croatia will host the eighth summit between China and Central and Eastern European countries—the flagship gathering of China’s “16+1 format.” The summit takes place just weeks after the European Commission labeled China a “systemic rival” and economic competitor and a day after Premier Li Keqiang of China participates in the China-EU leaders' meeting in Brussels. As the summit commences, here are some key issues to consider.

Q1: What is China’s “16+1” Format?

A1: The 16+1 format, also called the China-CEEC (Central and Eastern European Countries) summit, is a Chinese initiated-platform initiated in 2012 to expand cooperation between Beijing and a group of 11 EU member states and 5 Balkan countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Although the initiative predates the formal announcement of China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI), the 16+1 summit is widely seen as an extension of the BRI. The three priority areas that China has identified for increasing cooperation under the 16+1 include infrastructure, advanced technologies, and green technologies. Although the grouping gives the outward impression of multilateralism, it is mainly a forum for China to strike bilateral deals.

Will China’s ‘16+1’ Format Divide Europe?

On April 11-12, 2019, Croatia will host the eighth summit between China and Central and Eastern European countries—the flagship gathering of China’s “16+1 format.” The summit takes place just weeks after the European Commission labeled China a “systemic rival” and economic competitor and a day after Premier Li Keqiang of China participates in the China-EU leaders' meeting in Brussels. As the summit commences, here are some key issues to consider.

Q1: What is China’s “16+1” Format?

A1: The 16+1 format, also called the China-CEEC (Central and Eastern European Countries) summit, is a Chinese initiated-platform initiated in 2012 to expand cooperation between Beijing and a group of 11 EU member states and 5 Balkan countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Although the initiative predates the formal announcement of China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI), the 16+1 summit is widely seen as an extension of the BRI. The three priority areas that China has identified for increasing cooperation under the 16+1 include infrastructure, advanced technologies, and green technologies. Although the grouping gives the outward impression of multilateralism, it is mainly a forum for China to strike bilateral deals.

Q2: What does the investment activity look like under the initiative?

China’s Crackdown on Uighurs in Xinjiang

by Lindsay Maizland

Human rights organizations, UN officials, and many foreign governments are urging China to stop the crackdown. But Chinese officials maintain that what they call vocational training centers do not infringe on Uighurs’ human rights. They have refused to share information about the detention centers, however, and prevent journalists and foreign investigators from examining them.

When did mass detentions of Muslims start?

Some eight hundred thousand to two million Uighurs and other Muslims, including ethnic Kazakhs and Uzbeks, have been detained since April 2017, according to experts and government officials [PDF]. Outside of the camps, the eleven million Uighurs living in Xinjiang have continued to suffer from a decades-long crackdown by Chinese authorities.

Most people in the camps have never been charged with crimes and have no legal avenues to challenge their detentions. The detainees seem to have been targeted for a variety of reasons, according to media reports, including traveling to or contacting people from any of the twenty-six countries China considers sensitive, such as Turkey and Afghanistan; attending services at mosques; and sending texts containing Quranic verses. Often, their only crime is being Muslim, human rights groups say, adding that many Uighurs have been labeled as extremists simply for practicing their religion.

How Israel Limited Online Deception During Its Election

By Adam Entous

Earlier this year, Hanan Melcer, the chairman of Israel’s Central Elections Committee and a veteran justice on the Supreme Court, summoned representatives from major U.S. social-media and technology companies for talks about the role he expected them to play in curbing online deception during the country’s election, which took place on Tuesday. Facebook and Google sent representatives to meet with Melcer in person. Twitter executives, who weren’t in the country, arranged for a conference call. “You say you’ve learned from 2016,” Melcer told them, according to a government official who was present. “Prove it!”

When Melcer, two years ago, assumed his role overseeing the election, he expected that covert influence campaigns by foreign adversaries, similar to Russia’s alleged interference during the 2016 U.S. Presidential race, could be his biggest challenge. But, as Melcer and his colleagues looked more closely into the issues they could face, they realized that the problem was broader than foreign interference. Russia’s campaign in the United States demonstrated that fake personas on social media could influence events. In Israel and elsewhere, political parties and their allies realized that they could use similar techniques to spread anonymous messages on the Internet and on social media to promote their candidates and undermine their rivals.

Russia Develops Niche Military Capabilities for 21st-Century Warfare

By Roger McDermott

Senior Russian officials have publicly rebuked to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) ongoing (April 5–12) naval exercise in the Black Sea—Sea Shield 2019. The large-scale multinational exercise will involve warships from Romania, Bulgaria, Canada, Greece, the Netherlands and Turkey. In addition, NATO countries will conduct joint exercises in the region with military forces from Georgia and Ukraine. Moscow appears to be watching these developments with some level of concern (see EDM, April 8). Illustratively, Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Russian Security Council, has pointed to the naval exercise as supposed proof that Kyiv is preparing “fresh provocations.” While there are certainly tensions between Russia and NATO in the Black Sea region, it is also worthwhile to note the growing level of confidence in Moscow about niche military capabilities being developed for the Russian navy, the Military-Maritime Fleet (Voyenno-Morskoy Flot—VMF) (Gazeta.ru, April 5).

An important illustration of this confidence, and the nature of the niche capabilities currently being built into the VMF was recently set out in an article in Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer by Captain 1st Rank (ret.) Vadim Kulinchenko, a submariner veteran. Kulinchenko was responding to an earlier article in this publication, released in late February, that had set out a series of arguments in support of the idea that naval warfare in the 21st century will be dominated by aircraft carriers and clearly Russia would be left lagging behind. Kulinchenko retorts by suggesting that it is worth thinking about cheaper but still effective alternatives to aircraft carriers. First, he stresses multi-purpose submarines such as Project 971 Bars; though Russia’s future plans to strengthen submarine capability are less clear. Second, he proposes to further develop the numbers and quality of surface ships of limited displacement—mainly frigates and corvettes. This is aimed to provide for effective strikes against the enemy. Finally, Kulinchenko highlights aviation speed coupled with stealth technology. The author considers that, when combined, these three elements will protect the maritime interests of the Russian Federation and constitute a serious threat to foreign aircraft carriers (Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer, April 2; Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer, February 26).

Russian Battlefield Awareness and Information Dominance: Improved Capabilities and Future Challenges

Jeff Edmonds and Samuel Bendett

The Russian military is developing the doctrine and capabilities for gaining and contesting battlefield awareness that will pose a significant challenge to U.S. forces in any future conflict with Russia. The military’s focus on information dominance extends from a broader belief among Russian leadership that information confrontation is one of the fundamental ways in which states compete. While the Russian military has always been adept at bringing tremendous firepower to bear during combat operations, it has also been a brawler, needing to get in contact with its opponent before being able to fight. 

Taking a hint from U.S. technological advances and combat operations, Russian military thinkers have developed concepts they believe form the basis of modern warfare. One of the most important ones to develop is mastering information and seeking information dominance in the battlespace. The Russian military had made great strides in its ability to see, integrate, think, and decide faster on the modern battlefield. In any potential future conflict with Russia, U.S. and NATO forces will have to contend with a force that has vastly improved its situational awareness and ability to contest the awareness of its adversaries.


Economics Sure, but Don’t Forget Ethics with Artificial Intelligence

Richard Kuzma and Tom Wester

The widening rift between the Pentagon and Silicon Valley endangers national security in an era when global powers are embracing strategic military-technical competition. As countries race to harness the next potentially offsetting technology, artificial intelligence, the implications of relinquishing their competitive edge could drastically change the landscape of the next conflict. The Pentagon has struggled—and continues to struggle—to make a solid business case for technology vendors to sell their products to the Defense Department. This is made especially urgent by Russia and China’s increasing artificial intelligence capabilities and newly created national strategies. While making the economic case to Silicon Valley is critical, building a lasting relationship will necessitate embracing the ethical questions surrounding the development and employment of artificial intelligence on the battlefield. Ultimately, this requires more soul-searching on the part of both military leaders and technologists.

It is hard to overstate the importance of ethics in discussions of artificial intelligence cooperation between the military and private sector. Google chose not to renew a Department of Defense contract with Project Maven—a Defense Department project using artificial intelligence for drone targeting—when thousands of employees protested the company’s involvement. Thousands of artificial intelligence researchers followed their letter by signing a pledge to not build autonomous weapons. Computer science students from Stanford and other top-tier universities, a primary talent pipeline for tech companies, wrote a letter to Google’s chief executive officer saying they would not interview with Google if it did not drop its Maven contract. 

The IMF Paints a Less Robust Economic Picture for 2019

As Stratfor laid out in its annual and second-quarter forecasts, while the global economy is cooling, it is not necessarily heading toward recession. In its latest World Economic Outlook released April 9, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded its estimates of expected annual growth for most countries in 2019. The IMF now expects the global economy to grow by 3.2 percent, down 0.3 percentage points from its January estimate. The change in expectations was driven by slowing economies in the developed world.

Sudan's President Finds Himself on Shaky Ground

In the heart of Khartoum, momentum is growing against Sudan's strongman. The ongoing protests to oust President Omar al Bashir are not only unprecedented in scale and duration, but also in attracting the support of some regular army units. On April 8, soldiers stationed near the protests engaged in clashes with other security forces aiming to crack down on demonstrators. On the morning of April 9, security forces ended a brief lull by renewing their attempt to disperse protesters, only to provoke similar resistance by regular army forces, resulting in fresh firefights. Amid these divisions in the military, the police have also ordered a halt to interventions against protesters.

The Big Picture

Since December 2018, Sudan has been witnessing sustained protests. While the demonstrations initially focused on economic grievances such as fuel and food shortages and increasing prices, the movement has developed into a direct challenge to the rule of President Omar al Bashir. Most recently, protesters have begun tailoring their appeal to the country's security forces in an effort to tip the balance against al Bashir.

The Syrian Civil War Is Coming to an End

by Howard J. Shatz

In late March, after a four-year, American-backed operation, coalition forces finally drove the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) from its final patch of territory in Syria.

The bigger challenge, however, will be ending the ongoing civil war and rebuilding Syria to bring home millions of refugees and internally displaced people. This means creating a state that can provide safety, security, and opportunity that forestalls further rebellion and devastation.

It's a daunting task, unlikely to happen anytime soon. The nature of Syria's government and the likely shape of any war accords portend an empty peace, if not a frozen conflict, and years of further suffering, potentially fomenting further conflict in the region and providing a continued haven for terrorists.

The cost of the Syrian civil war has been immense. Almost half a million people have been killed, half the population has been displaced, and the cumulative loss to the gross domestic product from 2011 through the end of 2016 has been estimated by the World Bank to total $226 billion. As yet, there have been no definitive estimates of the cost of reconstruction, although the Syrian government wishfully has mentioned $400 billion.

Is Belarus Putin’s Next Land Grab?


Lukashenko was referring to Russia.

In March 2014, Russia responded to the ousting of pro-Russia Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych by annexing Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. The seizing of Crimea provoked widespread condemnation from the international community along with a wave of ongoing sanctions against Russia. Since then, NATO has redoubled its military presence in Eastern Europe, particularly in the Baltic states where, as in Crimea, a large ethnically Russia population could provide enough context for another land grab. The last few months, however, have raised the question of whether they may be focusing on the wrong places. In February, NATO’s general secretary, Anders Rasmussen, warned of a “repetition of the Ukrainian scenario” not in the Baltics, but in Belarus.

As Lukashenko is known for dramatic outbursts, his speech—which might have caused an international incident coming from any other leader—was baldly reported on the national news wire and quickly forgotten about. Ten months later, the president’s words do not sound quite as absurd as they did back in June. While Lukashenko has accused Putin’s government of trying to topple him many times in recent years, the prospect of Russian annexation, one way or another, no longer seems the stuff of conspiracy theories. In December 2018, at the meeting of the Belarus-Russia Union State Council of Ministers, Russian prime minister Dmitri Medvedev broached the topic, suggesting integrating the two countries via a joint judiciary and customs service, a common currency and, above all, a Union State constitution. The notion of deeper integration between Russia and Belarus has been bandied around since the mid-2000s. But Medvedev this time was not proffering a suggestion, but an implicit ultimatum: Russia is contemplating changes to its oil industry regulations, which would force Belarus to start buying Russian oil at non-subsidized rates—a blow that Minsk estimates will cost them around $10 billion by 2024. The message was clear: Either unite, or suffer an economic disaster. 

How The Times Thinks About Privacy

By A. G. Sulzberger

Over the past few years The New York Times has reported aggressively on the erosion of digital privacy, bringing information to light about the exploitation of personal data that Facebook amassed on its users, about companies buying and selling children’s data, and about phone apps secretly tracking users’ every movement. That reporting helped spur global debate about how society should protect privacy in digital spaces.

Yet all of this journalism was paid for, in part, by The Times’s engaging in the type of collecting, using and sharing of reader data that we sometimes report on. As with a politician railing against high drug prices while accepting campaign donations from big pharma, a news organization cannot talk about privacy on the internet without skeptical readers immediately, and rightly, examining its own practices for signs of hypocrisy. So, as we kick off The Privacy Project, I wanted to share a bit about how The Times itself approaches reader data and privacy.

Why Was The Homeland Security Department Created?

Stuart Anderson

President George W. Bush signs the Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2004 and introduces Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge at the Department of Homeland Security, October 1, 2003. The $30 billion spending bill was the first-ever for the new department. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) GETTY

Was the Department of Homeland Security created to stop asylum seekers from poor countries? It is a reasonable question, given recent events.

For more than a year, Central American families crossing the U.S. border in search of asylum or work have dominated the time and attention of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its leadership. The recent series of firings and resignations at DHS, including the departure of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, is a direct result of the president and other administration officials trying to stop Central American asylum seekers from coming to the United States.

Information, Disinformation and Misinformation:

by Chris F

A New Character of Conflict in the Twenty-First Century?

“The character of politics and warfare is evolving rapidly, driven by the pervasiveness of information and the rate of technological change. Our competitors have become masters at exploiting the seams between peace and war. As I said here in January, what constitutes a weapon in this ‘grey zone’, below the threshold of conventional war, no longer has to go ‘bang’.”

In a speech in December 2018, the UK Chief of the Defence Staff acknowledged that the prevalence of information, in many forms, has changed the character of conflict. Four years earlier the Commander of Joint Forces Command, released a paper entitled “Warfare In The Information Age”, which highlighted how the Information Age was affecting warfare. Warfare has always required information, in the form of command and control or to support a commander’s understanding or even to liaise with an adversary. Vice Admiral Cebrowski stated that “for nearly 200 years, the tools and tactics of how we fight have evolved with military technology”. Technology underpins the information age; however military forces need to understand how the information environment has changed the character of conflict. There are three examples of how information has fundamentally changed the character of conflict. First, how a state actor has used the information environment (Russia). Secondly, how a non-state actor was able to galvanise power and resources from information (Daesh). Thirdly, the power of the citizen hacktivist or online investigative journalist (Bellingcat).

#Reviewing A New Conception of War

Dan Grazier

On the otherwise quiet Monday morning of March 6, 1989, a revolution occurred in the private office at the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ home when General Al Gray affixed his signature to a document. Until that moment, the Marine Corps thought about warfare in terms of the firepower and attrition doctrine that had characterized its operations in World War II, Korea, and the worst parts of Vietnam. With the stroke of a pen, General Gray made maneuver warfare the official doctrine of the Marine Corps. The document in question was no mere memo or Marine Corps Order, but the draft of Fleet Marine Force Manual-1 Warfighting, the Marine Corps’ capstone doctrinal publication. This momentous event took place without ceremony and was witnessed only by Captain John Schmitt, the document’s principal author, and the Commandant’s numerous Labrador Retrievers.

As is always the case with revolutionary documents, the story neither began nor ended with the signature. This one was based on the idea that victory is achieved not through merely physically destroying the enemy in a tit-for-tat exchange, but by defeating him first in the mental and moral dimensions of war.

Future War: Preparing for the New Global Battlefield.

Robert H. Latiff.

Civilian and military leaders have sought the ability to anticipate the nature of future conflicts and prepare for them for millennia. Robert H. Latiff, a retired United States Air Force Major General, gives us his vision of future war in his recent book Future War: Preparing for the New Global Battlefield. In a concise volume, he presents his assessment of where the U.S. military is now, the challenges ahead, and the way forward. Latiff is comfortable imagining a complicated ethical future of engineered soldiers and autonomous weapons while critiquing the political roots of persistent defense issues. His work is not simply an overview of emerging technology but a look at the coming changes in the character of warfare he believes these technologies will bring. He uses technology as a starting point for discussing the ethical and political limitations of the current state of the civilian and uniformed military civilian leadership at the national level.

Latiff boasts a resume that makes him uniquely qualified to write about the impact of emerging technologies on war. He has a doctorate in engineering from Notre Dame and served in the Army as an infantry officer before transferring services. In the Air Force, he oversaw projects relating to high technology and reconnaissance, starting during the Star Wars program and finishing his service at the National Reconnaissance Office. Far from toeing the party line in Future War, Latiff takes numerous shots at the decision of American political and civilian leadership. In the introduction, he writes, “Too often we have been dragged by our political leaders into conflicts—in Libya for instance—with too little analysis of the future ramifications,” a reference to the 2011 NATO intervention.[1] Later, in a chapter that begins with lines from David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest, he continues to write with what can only be disdain for America’s current leadership “…if jingoistic or ill-informed politicians speaking platitudes and clichés are the only decision makers, we may find ourselves in wars we should not wage and we cannot win.”[2] Later, he references the “stunning display of dishonesty by our leaders” that led to the Iraq War in 2003.[3]