16 May 2019

Why the Melting of the Hindu Kush and Himalayan Glaciers Matters

By Nishtha Chugh

In the last century, human migration in South Asia, the world’s most populous and most densely populated region, was largely caused by geopolitics, wars, socioeconomic constraints and environmental disasters. By the end of this century, however, climate change will have become the single biggest driver behind an unprecedented scale of migration and displacement across the Indian subcontinent, potentially with destabilizing effects. Already vulnerable to natural disasters, South Asia could be left grappling with millions of “climate refugees,” regional conflicts, and militarized contests over precious resources like food and water.

This grim forewarning is grounded in the latest report assessing the health of the Hindu Kush and Himalayan (HKH) glaciers amid rising global temperatures. The landmark research predicts the mountain chain stretching from Pakistan to Myanmar will lose two-thirds of its ice fields by 2100 if global greenhouse gas emissions are not drastically curbed. Even with collective international effort to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the glaciers will still have shrunk by 36 percent by the end of this century. The study, authored by 210 scientists from 22 countries over five years, warns that the loss of ice at this scale will have serious consequences for up to 2 billion people living across the region, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Sixth round of Taliban-U.S. peace talks end

KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. and Taliban negotiators wrapped up their sixth round of peace talks on Thursday with “some progress” made on a draft agreement for when foreign troops might withdraw from Afghanistan, a Taliban official said.

The talks, in which the United States has also sought assurances the Taliban will not allow militant groups to use Afghanistan to stage attacks, began on April 30 in Qatar’s capital Doha.

About 17,000 foreign troops are based in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to help local forces.

The United States has been pushing the Taliban to agree to a ceasefire and to talk with Afghanistan’s government, which the militant group considers a U.S. puppet regime.

“The 6th round of talks ... ended, with some progress made on the draft agreement prepared in the last round of talks,” tweeted Muhammad Sohail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha

“In general, this round was positive and constructive. Both sides listened to each other with care and patience,” he added.

Two Alliances in Afghanistan

David T. Zabecki

In the early 1920s Major General Fox Conner formulated a short set of guidelines that would shape the strategic thinking of some of the U.S. Army’s senior-most leaders during World War II. Conner, who was General John J. Pershing’s Chief of Operations G-3 during World War I, was one of America’s most important defense thinkers. During their time in France and immediately after the war, Conner was an early mentor to both George C. Marshall and George S. Patton, Jr. While assigned as a brigade commander in the Panama Canal Zone after the war, Conner drew-up his warfighting guidelines for his latest protégé, his executive officer, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower. Conner had three basic rules for when and how the United States should go to war: Never fight unless you have to; Never fight for long; and never fight alone. How do Conner’s rules apply to America’s involvement in Afghanistan since 2001?

The first point is difficult to evaluate, because the situation has changed over the past eighteen years. Going directly after Al Qaeda in the heart of its sanctuary immediately after the most catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil was the right and just thing to do. Al Qaeda, however, was not indigenous to Afghanistan. The organization essentially was formed by Egyptians and Saudi Arabian, many of whom were originally focused on overthrowing their own governments. Osama Bin Laden used Sudan as his operating base for several years in the early and mid-1990s. It was only in 1996, when the Sudanese government kicked Al-Qaeda out, that the center of operations moved to Afghanistan, where an indigenous Islamic militant group called the Taliban captured the capital city Kabul.

Russia’s Growing Engagement with Pakistan: Should India be worried?

Achal Malhotra
Source Link

Recent media reports reveal the possibility of a deal between Russia and Pakistan on the supply of Pantsir – S1 air defence missiles/gun system and T-90 Tanks to Pakistan. The Pantsir-S1 is designed for air defence of small military, administrative and industrial installations against enemy aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and precision guided weapons. The T-90 is a main battle tank.

The reports appear against the backdrop of the Indian air strikes (in the last week of February, 2019) at Balakote – inside Pakistan territory – to destroy the alleged terrorist training camps of Pakistan-based and UN-proscribed terrorist outfit – Jaish-e-Mohammed – which had earlier claimed responsibility for the deadly terrorist attack in Pulwama in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir on 14th February, 2019, killing 40 officers of the Central Reserve Police Force. The proposed acquisition is therefore being seen in the context of Pakistan’s desire to strengthen its defence and combat capacities against a possible attack from India and Russia’s willingness to support Pakistan in this context. This is a plausible assessment, but there is, however, a larger picture.

Sri Lanka's Easter Attacks: Dismantling Myths to Prevent the Next Attack

by Jonah Blank

This commentary originally appeared in the opinion section of FoxNews.com.

On Easter Sunday, a nation that had already seen far too much violence was subjected to even more. Almost simultaneously, suicide bombers hit three churches and three hotels across Sri Lanka, killing more than 250 people and wounding another 500. Before this tragedy slides into the pile of events too far away from America to generate continued attention, it is worth dismantling a few myths that might prevent better preparation for similar attacks in the future.

The first misconception is that the attacks are a continuation of Sri Lanka's civil war. Yes, the bombings took place in this small, tortured island. Yes, the victims and the likely perpetrators were mostly local. But the audience for, and ambitions of, this assault were almost certainly global.

Even before responsibility was claimed by ISIS, this violence had no obvious connection to the quarter-century of insurgency, war crimes, and terrorism that afflicted the nation between 1983 and 2009.

Terrorist Attacks on Houses of Worship: A Vicious Cycle Goes Global

By Scott Stewart

Attacks against houses of worship are a pernicious and persistent threat that has long targeted diverse faiths and involved a variety of attackers. Calls for retribution and the copycat phenomenon could create a vicious cycle of violence, potentially spawning attacks against houses of worship worldwide. Retribution — which could occur locally and globally — for the Easter attacks that hit Sri Lanka will help determine the extent to which this is coming to pass.

A 19-year-old man with a semi-automatic rifle burst through the front door of the Chabad of Poway on April 27 in Southern California, opening fire on worshipers celebrating the final day of Passover in the synagogue. After firing several rounds, his rifle jammed, providing a member of the congregation an opportunity to rush him and chase him out of the synagogue to his car. A second member of the congregation, an armed off-duty U.S. Border Patrol officer, opened fire as the shooter fled, striking his car. Police apprehended the suspect shortly after he left the synagogue, where he had killed one person and wounded three others, including the rabbi. Had his rifle not malfunctioned, the casualty count undoubtedly would have been greater. The Poway shooter had written a manifesto in which he also confessed to setting a fire at Dar-ul-Arqam mosque in Escondido, California.

China, Russia and the return of the civilisational state


The 20th century marked the downfall of empire and the triumph of the nation state. National self-determination became the prime test of state legitimacy, rather than dynastic inheritance or imperial rule. After the Cold War, the dominant elites in the West assumed that the nation-state model had defeated all rival forms of political organisation. The worldwide spread of liberal values would create an era of Western hegemony. It would be a new global order based on sovereign states enforced by Western-dominated international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation.

But today we are witnessing the end of the liberal world order and the rise of the civilisational state, which claims to represent not merely a nation or territory but an exceptional civilisation. In China and Russia the ruling classes reject Western liberalism and the expansion of a global market society. They define their countries as distinctive civilisations with their own unique cultural values and political institutions. The ascent of civilisational states is not just changing the global balance of power. It is also transforming post-Cold War geopolitics away from liberal universalism towards cultural exceptionalism.

Chinese Hacker Crew Stole NSA Cyber Weapons In 2016—A Year Before They Were Leaked Online

Thomas Brewster

A Chinese group of hackers managed to get hold of cyber weapons from the U.S. National Security Agency's arsenal of digital weapons and were using them as far back as 2016.

Researchers at American cybersecurity giant Symantec claimed in a reportreleased Tuesday that a group dubbed Buckeye had used a pair of tools called "Bemstour" and "DoublePulsar," which exploited weaknesses in Microsoft Windows, back in March 2016. Symantec didn't name Buckeye as a Chinese espionage unit, but U.S. government and private industry have previously tied the group to China's intelligence apparatus.

A year later, a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers started releasing versions of tools from a cyber-espionage operator called the Equation Group, which was swiftly revealed to be the NSA. The identity and provenance of the Shadow Brokers remains a mystery.

Tank Wars Are Coming: How the U.S. Army Plans to Fight Russia or China

While naturally focused upon what would be needed in a massive, full-scale land war scenario — the new doctrine also explores contingencies, scenarios and strategies needed to assess circumstances short of armed combat, Creed explained.

The U.S. Army will release a new combat “FM 3.0 Operations” doctrine designed to better position the service for the prospect of large-scale, mechanized warfare against technologically advanced near-peer rivals — such as Russia or China — able to substantially challenge U.S. military technological superiority.

An explosion at an underground coal mine in southwest Turkey kills 301 miners.

The Royal Flying Corps, the forerunner of the Royal Air Force, is established in the United Kingdom.

The new “Operations” doctrine, to be unveiled in a matter of days at the Association of the United States Army Annual Convention, is intended as a supplement or adjustment to the Army’s current “FM 3.0 Full Spectrum” Field Manual, a doctrine which first emerged more than several years ago.

Why Further U.S.-China Economic War Seems Certain

by Alan Tonelson

Ever since President Donald Trump started hiking tariffs on imports from China in the middle of last year, speculation has abounded that his main aim wasn't creating leverage for securing a favorable trade agreement with Beijing, but, rather, spurring a process of decoupling the two economies. As widely noted, disengagement represented a logical economic aim, given the president's conviction that China had been “raping” America on trade. And less commerce with China would reduce U.S. dependence on a country his administration warned was an increasingly powerful and aggressive strategic rival.

With Chinese negotiators back in Washington, DC for a last-ditch effort to keep months-long trade talks on track and prevent the steep tariff increases threatened by Mr. Trump last weekend, the end game sought by the president remains a puzzle. But a new set of official U.S. trade figures issued Thursday morning sent an unmistakable message about the evolution of the bilateral economic relationship: Disengagement is underway, by many measures it's accelerating, and the reasons point to further decoupling however the current and future bilateral negotiations turn out.

Tariffs on China are no substitute for a trade deal

David Dollar

In a special episode of Dollar and Sense, Senior Fellow David Dollar provides an update on the state of U.S.-China trade talks following the latest round of negotiations in Washington this week. Dollar explains recent escalations and the new tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, what to anticipate as negotiations move forward, and new research on the impact tariffs have on U.S. firms and the economy.

China’s New Carrier Shows Beijing Is Done Playing Defense


New commercial satellite photos published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington show what is almost certainly the early stages of construction of China’s third aircraft carrier.

This new vessel will be a major leap in capability compared to the two ships the Chinese navy has sailed so far—and it represents the evolution of Chinese carrier aviation from an adapted Soviet model to a Western-style fleet, one that speaks to China’s ambition to be the leading strategic power in Asia.

Like many facets of China’s modernization, its carrier program is a process of copying, adaptation, and innovation. The copying part came first. China bought the Varyag, a half-finished Soviet-era vessel from the Ukraine—little more than rusting hulk, really—and built a respectable midsize ship, the Liaoning, which is now evolving from a training vessel to one with some operational capabilities. China got the blueprints for the ship from the Ukraine, too, but it didn’t just finish the ship as the old Soviet Navy intended—it adapted and innovated.

The Significance of China’s Second Indigenous Aircraft Carrier

By Robert Farley

As Ankit Panda reported yesterday, firm evidence has now emerged regarding the construction of China’s second indigenous aircraft carrier. Provisionally dubbed the Type 002, the new carrier will likely displace in the 85,000 ton range, and operate aircraft in CATOBAR configuration. The propulsion system remains uncertain, although analysts at CSIS have guessed conventional; China has never constructed a nuclear-powered surface warship.

This construction represents the rapid pace of China’s efforts at carrier construction. Dalian shipyard laid down the Type 001A in 2013, completing the ship last year (she has yet to enter full service). Given the progress on Type 002, it is clear that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) decided it did not need to wait for experience with Type 001A before starting the design and construction process of the new carrier. This is perhaps a touch surprising, given that Type 002 is larger and will have a much different configuration than her predecessor.

Global Implications Of China’s 2019 Government Work Report – Analysis

By Lucio Blanco Pitlo III

Last March 5, Premier Li Keqiang delivered China’s 2019 Government Work Report. It was a comprehensive report that outlined the country’s achievements the past year and laid out the tasks and targets for this year. While a great deal of the report focused on the home front, China’s increasing role in global economic, security and governance means that domestic reforms will have implications beyond its borders. The 16,000 plus-word document also devoted passages on China’s major country diplomacy, the country’s hosting of regional forums and Beijing’s determination to pursue the Belt and Road Initiative despite criticisms and implementation challenges. 

Opportunities despite slowdown

The slowdown in China’s economy will continue this year with GDP growth set at 6-6.5 percent. The country will also reduce energy consumption. This will have global reverberations in the energy and commodities markets. Last year, the country’s economy only grew by 6.6 percent, the lowest since 1990. As a major consumer of fuel, minerals, agricultural produce and other raw materials, weaker Chinese demand will affect many countries and companies which had built up their production and expansion plans based on China’s stellar growth for decades.

Huawei Heads South The Battle Over 5G Comes to Latin America

By Oliver Stuenkel

The U.S. government is on the warpath against Huawei. For months, the Trump administration has pressured its allies in Europe to exclude the Chinese technology firm from their 5G telecom systems, insisting that Huawei’s products may pose a security threat to Western countries. So far, these warnings have fallen on deaf ears.

Now the campaign against Huawei has reached a new frontier: Latin America. Mexico and Argentina plan to initiate the region’s first 5G networks in 2020; Brazil is expected to follow the next year. As in Europe, the Trump administration is working hard to convince these states not to rely on 5G equipment made in China. But, as in Europe, Washington risks overplaying its hand.

Brazil is a case in point. When Jair Bolsonaro, recently elected president, visited his U.S. counterpart in the White House in March to establish stronger bilateral ties, Donald Trump laid out what he expected from Brazil to make the new friendship last. Brazil, Trump told Bolsonaro, would need to become a trusted ally in limiting Chinese influence in Latin America. Crucial to this effort, the U.S. government warned, would be curbing the spread of Huawei technology in the region’s next-generation 5G networks. The Chinese tech company has already opened an Internet of Things lab in São Paulo state and plans to build a smartphone assembly plant in Brazil later this year.

China’s Expanding Influence in Europe and Eurasia

Stephanie Segal, deputy director and senior fellow, Simon Chair in Political Economy, testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment on “China’s Expanding Influence in Europe and Eurasia.”

Stephen Sloan Seminar: Assessing the Future of Domestic and International Terrorism

Robert J. Bunker

The Stephen Sloan Seminar was held 28 March 2019 at the Oklahoma City University School of Law, Oklahoma City, OK. The conference co-sponsored by The Murrah Center for Homeland Security Law and Policy at Oklahoma City University (OCU) School of Law and The Center for Intelligence and National Security at the University of Oklahoma (OU). It honors the groundbreaking contributions of Dr. Stephen Sloan to the field of counterterrorism over 40 years (a pioneer of the academic study of terrorism in the 1970s and author/co-author of 13 books) and brings together experts in counterterrorism analysis, policy, and national security law. The event had 50 attendees from academia, government, law enforcement, and the private security industry. A day prior to the event, a special archival tour of the holdings of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum was provided to the attendees. 

A Confrontation from Hell


CANBERRA – Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power once called genocidal wars “a problem from hell.” As US President Donald Trump’s administration ratchets up tensions with Iran, the world must now reckon with the prospect of a “confrontation from hell” between the two countries.

For now, both the United States and Iran say they do not want a war. Yet, step by inexorable step, they are moving onto a collision course. The US has significantly stepped up its military deployment in Iran’s neighborhood, dispatching the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East to warn the Iranian regime against taking any threatening actions. Iran’s leaders, meanwhile, have decried the move as psychological warfare and regard it as a provocation aimed at drawing their country into a military conflict.

Since he took office, Trump has been relentless in his depiction of Iran as the source of all evil – including international terrorism – in the region and beyond. He has reversed his predecessor Barack Obama’s policy of engagement and is exerting maximum pressure on the Iranian regime with three objectives in mind.

What Are Europe’s Top Three Challenges? Not Brexit, Not Migration, Not Populism.


It’s not that these issues do not matter, but the attention devoted to them is all out of proportion. Meanwhile, three changes are going to upend the way we work and live and revolutionize the relationship between the state and the individual. These are climate change, aging populations, and digital revolutions—the “Big 3,” as we call them in a new Carnegie Europe report.

Their effects are going to require Europeans to adapt in ways that we are only beginning to understand. The Big 3 will also have a domino effect. For example, if climate change makes parts of Europe uninhabitable, or if automation causes upheaval in labor markets, migration both within and into Europe will likely go up. The EU needs to do all it can to manage the transitions, which have already begun.


Europe Faces a Continentwide Vote With National Implications

May 23-26 elections for the European Parliament will help determine the European Union's future policy direction and appointments to key institutions like the European Commission.  In countries like Italy and Germany, the elections will test the popularity and stability of awkward government alliances, potentially resulting in renewed political uncertainty. 
The elections will also have political repercussions in countries from Belgium to Romania, as they will coincide with national, regional and municipal elections, as well as referendums. 

Europeans will go to the ballot box later this month for a Continental vote that will also have big effects at home. Between May 23 and May 26, all members of the European Union will hold polls to elect lawmakers for the European Parliament. And while the elections will nominally focus on Continental issues, the votes will also have far-reaching domestic political repercussions. In some cases, they could seal the fate of fragile political coalitions. In others, they will coincide with regional and municipal elections, along with referendums. Whatever the case, the elections will alter the political landscape in some of the bloc's movers and shakers.

Is OPEC Playing a Losing Hand?

Oil prices have taken a momentary pause from their 2019 tear. Brent crude now stands around $70 a barrel, reflecting a near 40 percent increase since the start of the new year. Resilient demand growth, a temporary leveling in U.S. production, strong Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries-plus (OPEC+) compliance, and disruptions in Venezuela converged to bring the market into a supply deficit since February . The supply side, in particular, saw a dramatic reversal of course with OPEC production falling by nearly 3 million barrels per day (b/d) from November 2018 to March 2019. OPEC+ is now 126 percent compliant with its production agreement, attaining conformity as it did during the 2017-2018 curtailment. At first glance, this bodes well for the group’s ability to influence the market. However, a close look at the data and a consideration of U.S. driven dynamics, show a different reality: the group’s hand looks weak, but several factors outside of their control may just continue to play out in their favor.

The Current Cut

In December 2018, OPEC+ agreed to collectively cut 1.2 million b/d from the market from January through June 2019. This followed a significant ramp-up in supply commencing in June 2018 when the group decided to relax individual quotas and return to the overall rate of conformity of the previous agreement on the back of rising prices. However, that decision in part caused the market to fall out of balance again and instigated this new round of cuts. As shown in the graph below, the cohort achieved full compliance with the new agreement in March, by collectively reducing production by 1.5 million b/d from October 2018 levels (the baseline for the curtailment).

Why Gaza hasn’t erupted into all-out war

Daniel L. Byman

A ceasefire on Monday ended one of the worst rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas since 2014. Four Israelis and more than 20 Palestinians died in two days of conflict, which followed a violent demonstration along the border fence that separates Israel and the Gaza Strip and the shooting of two Israeli soldiers. Palestinian militant groups fired almost 700 missiles into Israel, most of which landed harmlessly—but several struck homes or other targets in Israel.

Israel bombed hundreds of targets in Gaza, striking Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad facilities and killing a military commander it claimed had links to Iran, resuming a practice of targeted killings it had put on pause. As always, responsibility for civilian dead is hotly disputed, but the Palestinians count two pregnant women and two infants among the dead.

The latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas illustrates not only the constant potential for conflict in Gaza but also—perhaps more counterintuitively—why the combustible situation there has not exploded into outright war. Some Israeli citizens this week called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to escalate the fight, and some militants welcome a broader clash. But both sides have reasons for restraint. Hamas leaders recognize their own military, political and diplomatic weakness; a longer war would achieve little and leave Gaza in even worse shape. And Israel, for its part, recognizes that a weak extremist regime in Gaza is better than the collapse of order in the strip or the rise of an even more radical group there. As Israeli security analyst Gabi Siboni pointed out, “If Israel collapses the Hamas regime, what comes after? Every alternative is awful.”

A Global Gas Strategy for the United States

Natural gas, unlike oil, has never been a major strategic preoccupation for U.S. foreign policy. The country was historically a net gas importer, but self-sufficiency was relatively high, and imports came mostly from Canada, raising few geopolitical or energy security concerns. In the 2000s, the United States was worried that it might become reliant on liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports, but that moment passed quickly. If the United States ever had a grand strategy vis-à-vis global gas, it could be summarized simply. In Europe, the United States wanted diversity of supply, which meant access to non-Russian gas; and in Asia, it wanted liquidity, meaning a relaxation of rigid contract terms and a move away from oil indexation as the pricing mechanism for LNG.

But the growth in U.S. gas supply, and now exports, has created a new reality. The United States is a major global gas player—by far the largest producer in the world, and quite possibly, in the 2020s, the largest LNG exporter. Yet this change has not produced a new grand strategy. So far, the instinct is to promote U.S. LNG exports—selling gas abroad is the number one priority, especially for the Trump administration. This is a logical place to start, but it is not enough, especially since the push is mostly in the form of advocacy, rather than accompanied by a serious policy agenda or toolkit to support exports or gas consumption. More than ever, the United States needs a new global gas strategy.
Clean Up at Home

A Big Choice for Big Tech

By Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Thomas Ramge

Over the last two decades, a few technology giants have come to dominate digital markets. Google performs about nine out of every ten Internet searches worldwide. Facebook, the world’s leading social media platform, has well over two billion users. Together, the two companies have seized well over half of the online advertising market. Apple, originally a computer manufacturer, now runs the world’s largest mobile app store in terms of revenue, with about 80 percent of the market, and the second-largest music streaming business, approaching a third of the market. And Amazon captures close to every other dollar spent online in the United States. These companies are what the economist David Autor calls “superstar firms,” able to gain huge market shares and translate their market power into enormous profits.

Their success has brought tremendous benefits to users—and grave dangers to societies and economies. Each company hoards the information it collects and uses centralized systems to run its huge businesses. That hoarding has hampered innovation and allowed the companies to abuse user data, and their centralized systems leave online markets vulnerable to unexpected shocks, posing risks to the wider economy.

It’s Time to Break Up Facebook

By Chris Hughes

The last time I saw Mark Zuckerberg was in the summer of 2017, several months before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. We met at Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., office and drove to his house, in a quiet, leafy neighborhood. We spent an hour or two together while his toddler daughter cruised around. We talked politics mostly, a little about Facebook, a bit about our families. When the shadows grew long, I had to head out. I hugged his wife, Priscilla, and said goodbye to Mark.

Since then, Mark’s personal reputation and the reputation of Facebook have taken a nose-dive. The company’s mistakes — the sloppy privacy practices that dropped tens of millions of users’ data into a political consulting firm’s lap; the slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news; and the unbounded drive to capture ever more of our time and attention — dominate the headlines. It’s been 15 years since I co-founded Facebook at Harvard, and I haven’t worked at the company in a decade. But I feel a sense of anger and responsibility.

The Art of Unraveling the Deal

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran marked the one-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action(JCPOA)—with another blow to the agreement. While not withdrawing fully from the JCPOA, President Rouhani announced that Iran would no longer comply with its commitment under the agreement to limit its low-enriched uranium and heavy water stockpiles. In addition, he issued a 60-day ultimatum to the rest of the JCPOA signatories to reject U.S. unilateral sanctions against Iran and allow the country to “reap our benefits” promised by the deal. If the ultimatum is not met, Iran has threatened, in essence, to breathe life back into its nuclear program by restarting higher levels of uranium enrichment and resuming the construction of the unfinished Arak heavy water nuclear reactor. Such a step would bring about a definitive end to the hard-fought agreement, leaving Iran unchecked, uninhibited, and unpredictable—and thus a greater threat to the United States, its partners, and its allies.
The Doomed Deal

The landmark JCPOA was adopted in October 2015 and implemented in January 2016, the culmination of multiple years’ worth of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). The deal focused primarily on Iran’s nuclear program, including provisions that essentially would put a temporary hold on the program until 2025. These provisions restrict what little uranium Iran is allowed to enrich at low levels, unsuitable for nuclear weapons, and also restrict stockpiles of low-enriched uranium to 300 kilograms and heavy water reserves to 130 metric tons, requiring Iran to sell or store the rest abroad. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified Iranian compliance with these provisions to date. In return for Iranian compliance, the P5+1—primarily the United States—and the United Nations would relieve Iran of significant economic sanctions, including those that had previously targeted its nuclear program and its petroleum and banking sectors.

Why Is H.R. McMaster Pleading For More War?

by James Joyner

Retired Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster contends that support for the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan, which is now in its eighteenth year, is being undermined by a “defeatist narrative that’s inaccurate, and doesn’t reflect what’s at stake.” Instead, Americans should see the fight as an “insurance policy” against the collapse of a friendly Afghan government and its replacement by enemies of the United States.

Before becoming President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, McMaster was perhaps best known in policy circles for his 1999 book Dereliction of Duty, a sharp critique of American political and military leaders during the Vietnam War, arguing that it “lost in Washington . . . even before the first American units were deployed.”

Ironically, McMaster is resurrecting two tropes from that era which sustained an unwinnable fight and then shifted blame for our failure to the domino and stabbed-in-the-back theories.

Facebook enlists conservative help to resist privacy rules


Facebook asked conservative groups for help last week in heading off European-style privacy rules, just as CEO Mark Zuckerberg prepared to apologize to Congress for his company's data scandal.

The company's outreach comes as the European Union is preparing to enforce strict new privacy rules that take effect in late May. Among other things, the EU’s rules allow regulators to impose fines as high as 4 percent of a company’s global revenues for serious violations.

The emailed invitation to a sit-down to discuss the policy, obtained by POLITICO, also shows how Facebook is seeking an unlikely alliance with conservatives, who frequently accuse the the social network of bias against their views but oppose most forms of government regulation. The email did not disclose the recipients but came from Facebook's liaison to conservative organizations.

Hamas Cyber Attack and Israel’s Armed Response

By Seth Cropsey

As part of a larger operation that Israel conducted in response to rocket attacks from Gaza the first weekend in May, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) thwarted a Hamas cyber offensive against Israeli targets. Israel’s response did not stop at using digital means to turn back Hamas’ cyber assault. The IDF targeted and demolished a building where the Hamas cyber operatives worked. “Hamas no longer has cyber capabilities after our strike,” said IDF spokesperson Brigadier General Ronen Manelis, a statement that indicates Israel’s concerns in responding to Hamas included the terror organization’s use of cyber-warfare. 

According to the commander of the IDF’s Cyber Division, Hamas’ cyberattack occurred on Saturday, May 4 and was aimed at harming the quality of life of Israeli citizens. This could mean anything: from attacking critical civilian infrastructure to interrupting secure communications, to interfering with ongoing military operations to theft to espionage. There’s a wide range of possible Hamas targets and no sensible reason for the IDF to specify where the enemy might have succeeded or even come close to succeeding.

But it’s clear that Israel’s ability to answer cyber offensives had been planned thoughtfully and was coordinated across military/civilian lines. The cyber operation that countered Hamas was a joint effort of Unit 8200 of IDF’s Military Intelligence, the IDF’s Teleprocessing Directorate, and the Shin Bet security service.

CYBERCOM’s Out-of-Network Operations: What Has and Has Not Changed Over the Past Year?

By Robert Chesney 

Air Force Cyber Command (Source: U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

I’d like to draw attention to Mark Pomerleau’s interesting piece at Fifth Domain examining the operational impact at CYBERCOM of several recent developments, including National Security Presidential Memorandum 13 (NSPM 13), doctrinal/policy innovations under the headings of “persistent engagement” and “defending forward,” and new/clarified authorities associated with the most-recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). I’ve written at length (e.g., here and here) about several of these developments before. Mark’s article is a handy glimpse behind the curtain regarding how things are coming along in light of those changes. Two things stood out to me:

1. The tempo and nature of out-of-network operations

It appears the collective impact of these changes has made a significant difference in the nature and tempo of CYBERCOM’s operations outside the Department of Defense (DOD) Information Network.