10 June 2019

Tennis : French Open Finals

In the French Open finals it was business as usual. Nadal grinding down Thiem with his relentless game. Rafa easily won the first set at 3.

Second set was going with serve. But Thiem could take only one yes only one point in Nadal's first five service games. Serving at 5 - 6 Rafa played an exquisite drop volley on his back hand side. In fact all through the match Rafa's volleying was out of the world. Out of nowhere unforced error from Rafa and winner from Thiem brought a break and set point which Thiem duly converted. Set all, game on.

Rafa came out like a raging bull, pulverized Thiem to win the third set at 1.

In the fourth set Rafa was leading three love. In a now or never scene Thiem down at love 30, played some big booming serve and outstanding ground shots managed to hold serve.

But he is just delaying the inevitability. Rafa is leading 4-1 in fourth set. It is matter of time before Rafa gets his 12th title. King of clay has won the fourth set at 1 and the French Open title.

Problem is there is no new balls. Only players who can give trouble to Rafa, not necessarily winning are those 30 plus warhorses Novac, Stan or Roger.

Old balls are holding on. All 30 plus. The GOAT at 37 plus.
Njoy till they hang up.Except possibly Tsitsipas there is nobody who can hold a candle to these Mohicans.

We all want new guns. Sadly they cannot match the dedication discipline and work ethics of these galectos.

People like me can take heart from these aging superstars, but what about youngstars.

There lies the problem. Throne will not be vacated, has to be won!


I am now bored to see the same three faces winning all the grand slams. Stan the Man and Andy Murray got three each in between but both of them are out with injuries. Stan is on his way to come back.

If Thiem wins it will be such a change. He has all the credentials to do that. He has beaten Rafa in clay like last year.

But Rafa is the greatest clay court player the planet has ever seen. He has won 11 titles here. He owns this piece of land at Ronald Garros.

This year Rafa was beaten in clay by the merculian Italian, the Greek Tsitsipas and Thiem. But will anybody bet against Rafa for the French Open title. I doubt.

Remember. Last year finals. Rafa just ate up Thiem. The way Nadal is devouring his opponents, I am afraid we are going to see another one sided finals.

My heart is with Thiem but my brain is with Rafa.

Unless some miracle happens. Look at the ladies half. All new faces coming up to the top. Men's tennis requires young guns. New balls please. Except Tsitsipas nobody is in the horizon to challenge the three aging superstars. Old balls still reign supreme.

That is why winning by Thiem is so important.

Alas, if that could happen!

What Does the New 2+2 Dialogue Mean for the India-Japan Relationship?

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

India and Japan have agreed to hold a two-plus-two dialogue between the defense and foreign ministers of the two countries. This will take place ahead of the summit-level meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe later in the year.

The decision is no doubt a significant one, both within India-Japan relations and Indian foreign policy more generally. So far, India had engaged in such a dialogue format at this level only with the United States, the inaugural edition of which was held in September last year. But India’s new foreign minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar,and his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, took the decision to set this new mechanism up during a recent telephone conversation.

With U.S.’s tough posture, Jaishankar has his task cut out

Suhasini Haidar

The latest decision by U.S. to withdraw GSP status is just one of a slew of announcements that will give Modi government cause for worry.

United States President Donald Trump’s announcement that Washington will withdraw the GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) trade status given to India 30 years ago came hours after former diplomat S. Jaishankar assumed office as External Affairs Minister, pointing to the fact that the immediate challenges before him will come from the U.S., and its “great power rivalry” with Russia and China.

While Mr. Trump’s decision, based on what he called India’s inability to assure the U.S. “that it will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets”, is a continuation of the new tariffs and trade war he is now waging with China, it is just one of the slew of U.S. announcements in the past week that will give the Modi government cause for worry.

Trade ties with U.S.

Afghanistan’s Other War

By Ezzatullah Mehrdad

IClick, an online shopping company, based in Kabul, optimistically followed news on the peace talks between the United States and the Taliban group. The peace talks raised hopes for the end of the violence in Afghanistan — and the growth of iClick and other startups. But criminals, rather than terrorists, are now ruining hopes of business growth.

Every day, iClick receives dozens of orders for clothes and shoes to be delivered to the front doors of customers across Kabul city. But not all of the “customers” are buyers.

Hasebullah Nazari, 19-year old delivery person working for iClick, was supposed to deliver a pair shoes and return back safely. It sounds like a simple task – but not in Afghanistan’s capital. When Nazari arrived on a busy street in eastern Kabul the customer appeared, along with his friends. They circled Nazari and demanded that he hand over his smartphone and motorcycle. Nazari resisted. The customer then pulled out a knife and stabbed Nazari.

Impasse In Afghanistan – OpEd

By Neville Teller

Certain areas of the world, simply on account of their geographical location, seem destined to be perpetual trouble spots. One such unhappy country is Afghanistan. Because of its position plumb in the middle of central Asia, Afghanistan is a prize that has been fought over and won by foreign occupiers many times in its long history. Its domestic story is equally turbulent, with warring tribes battling it out over the centuries for power and control. In 2019 the basic pattern persists.

Britain gained control over Afghanistan in the 19th century as part of its imperial expansion, but after it granted India independence in 1947 the political dynamic in central Asia changed. Afghanistan became a client state of the Soviet Union, and when a military coup by the hard-line Islamist Mujahadeen seemed about to remove the country from the Soviet sphere of influence, the USSR invaded.

Soviet forces were soon mired in continuous and unproductive guerrilla warfare, and in 1989 the USSR admitted defeat and withdrew. But the turbulence had left its legacy – first, the jihadist group al-Qaeda, set up by Osama bin Laden, and then the rise of the hard-line Islamist organization calling itself the Taliban. From the mid-1990s until 2001 the Taliban ruled Pashtun areas straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan, imposing an oppressively strict version of Sharia on the population.

The Secret Profits Behind China's Rare Earth Metals Threat

by Peter Krauth

China's latest ploy in the trade war could be to limit its supply of rare earth metals to the United States. But that's an opportunity for investors too.

China has found its tariffs are having limited effects on the United States. The U.S. had $539 billion worth of imports from China in 2018, compared to $120.3 billion in exports to China. That means China can't match American tariffs.

But China has a few more weapons in its arsenal, and it might be desperate enough to use them. That's why we're taking the China rare earths threat so seriously.

Rare earth metals is one sector where the United States is acutely dependent on China. These are 17 elements crucial to the "green economy" including technology, energy, healthcare, transportation, and even national security.

Vietnam Can’t Be the Next China

By Bennett Murray

The good news is in for Vietnam. Last week the Ministry of Planning and Investment announced that foreign direct investment in the country increased by nearly 70 percent year-on-year in the first five months of 2019, the highest such increase since 2015. Much of that is thanks to U.S.-China trade tensions that have left U.S. firms and others much less certain about investing in the mainland. While Vietnam has been steadily poaching investment from its northern neighbor for years, businesspeople themselves have mentioned the discord between Beijing and Washington as a reason for moving south. Optimism for future growth is omnipresent, with one Quartz article going so far to describe Vietnam as a “a kind of China in waiting.”

But while Vietnam will likely continue to thrive as it attracts a greater share of high-value manufacturing—Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturing giant, may even begin producing iPhones in the country—even the most optimistic outcomes come with important caveats. An investment surge comes with numerous short-term impacts, with new factories raising real estate prices while taxing Vietnam’s improving but nonetheless inferior infrastructure. Demand for skilled workers will also outpace supply if growth moves too fast.

These problems will not stop Vietnam’s rise. As one of the world’s fastest-developing countries, its infrastructure will catch up and the quality of its labor force will increase. And while rising land prices may turn away some investors, those least likely to be bothered will be the higher-value industries that Vietnam so desperately wants to attract as part of the so-called Industrial Revolution 4.0. But Vietnam, the world’s 15th-largest country at around 95 million people, simply can never fill China’s gigantic boots in the global supply chain.



A new report has warned that the Chinese military is close to achieving technological parity with the U.S., as part of a deliberate and long-term plan for Beijing to develop the world's dominant military force.

The report—written by former deputy defense secretary Robert Work and his former special assistant Greg Grant—was published by the Center for a New American Security. It warns that the long period of American global military dominance may be coming to an end as China rises.

"The Chinese People's Liberation Army has been patiently stalking the U.S. military for two decades," the report explains. "It has studied the preferred American way of war and devised a strategy to exploit its weaknesses and offset its strengths—particularly its military-technological strengths."

The country now "appears increasingly close to achieving technological parity with U.S. operational systems and has a plan to achieve technological superiority," the authors added.

The Huawei Affair – Analysis

By Giancarlo Elia Valori*

As the experts of the sector say, all the advanced communication lines and networks are “non-deterministic”.

This means that, when built and completed, they are a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts and is not predictable in its results, given the functions of the parts taken separately.

The complication of the Web is related to the number of the parts composing it and to the number of relations, namely “nodes”, which are present in the elements that make it up.

This is not a phenomenon that can be corrected or controlled. It is a purely mathematical and inevitable effect of the Web and of the interaction between its nodes.

The Communication Assistance for the Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) is a US regulation obliging those who maintain the Networks to keep sound security mechanisms that are defined – together with those who produce them – in specific FBI directories.

US-Made Drones Monitor South China Sea

By Imran Vittachi

The United States is selling more drones to the Philippines, which will be used in part to monitor the Chinese presence in the disputed South China Sea, Filipino sources said Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) last week announced an order for 34 ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles on behalf of the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam at a total price tag of U.S. $47.9 million.

The Philippines already acquired six ScanEagle drones in 2018 after receiving intelligence support from the U.S. in defeating Islamic State militants who took over the southern city of Marawi for five months in 2017.

The intel assistance helped erode an anti-U.S. posture taken by President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, a senior Philippine defense source told BenarNews.

At Brookings, Gen. Joseph Dunford comments on threats from Russia, China, North Korea, and beyond

Adam Twardowski

During his distinguished tenure as 19th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—the nation’s highest-ranking military officer—General Joseph Dunford has been a key force at the center of America’s defense policy. He has helped redirect U.S. strategic attention to the challenges posed by great power competition, while also remaining vigilant against threats from the Korean Peninsula to the Persian Gulf and broader Middle East, and addressing rapidly evolving military technologies as well as other challenges.

O’Hanlon opened by asking General Dunford to assess the international security environment, and how it has evolved since he assumed his current position in 2015. Dunford said that since 2015, Russia has intensified its operations in the Donbas, intervened in the Syrian conflict, conducted an attempted assassination operation in the United Kingdom, and then interfered in the U.S. elections while modernizing its nuclear enterprise. China has become more aggressive in the South China Sea on top of the current economic friction, while North Korea remains as uncertain as ever.

Russia's Falling Out With Kabul

By Samuel Ramani

On May 27, a delegation of Afghan politicians, led by former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, and representatives of the Taliban’s Qatar office congregated in Moscow to celebrate 100 years of Russia-Afghanistan diplomatic relations. After a series of discussions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged the swift withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and called for the intensification of intra-Afghan dialogue in pursuit of peace.

Although this summit reaffirmed Russia’s desire to play an influential role in the resolution of the war in Afghanistan, the event sparked controversy in Kabul as no representatives of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government were present in the audience. The absence of Ghani’s representatives at the talks was unsurprising to close followers of Russian policy in Afghanistan, as Moscow’s relationship with the internationally recognized Afghan government has worsened in recent months. This deterioration was caused by Ghani’s frustration with Russia’s bypassing of the Afghan government in peace negotiations and Moscow’s increased openness to the Taliban playing a major role in shaping Afghanistan’s political future.

US, Iran Plan ‘Oil For Goods’ Deal To Ease Sanctions

By Suadad Al-Salhy

Iranian and US officials are in the early stages of negotiating an agreement to allow Tehran to sell limited quantities of oil in exchange for goods, Iraqi sources have told Arab News. 

Iraq will be the transit point for both the oil exports and the import of goods, according to officials in Baghdad familiar with the talks. 

Washington’s stated policy is for sanctions to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero, and US government sources denied to Arab News that there was a deal to permit limited sales. However, a senior Iraqi official familiar with what he described as “ongoing talks” said the deal was “a goodwill gesture offered by the Americans to calm the escalation between the two countries, although it is still in its preliminary stages.” 

Iran arms, equips and controls dozens of armed factions in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, whose activities are a serious threat to the US and its allies in the region. One of the aims of US economic sanctions is to prevent Tehran from funding these groups.

Russia’s Military Scientists and Future Warfare

By Roger McDermott

Since the reform and modernization of Russia’s Armed Forces was initiated in late 2008, the General Staff leadership has been persistent in its appeals to the military scientific community to meet the challenges stemming from these complex processes. An essential ingredient in this public discussion is the focus on future warfare as part of the national defense strategy, to encourage greater attention to strategic foresight. The chief of the Russian General Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov, has pressed this issue heavily in his public speeches and articles, since his appointment in November 2012. This past March, Gerasimov outlined a new doctrine of limited actions that conceptualizes Russia’s approaches to warfare beyond its borders—particularly, as witnessed in Syria. Gerasimov also once more raised the issue of future warfare (see EDM, March 6). These views offer insights into how Russian defense specialists see future warfare and, consequently, some of the factors driving Moscow’s strategic posture.

In November 2018, Colonel General (ret.) Leonty Shevtsov authored a review article in Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer examining a monograph by General Aleksandr Vladimirov. The second edition of Vladimirov’s book, Osnovy Obshchey Teorii Voyny (The Basics of the General Theory of War), was examined in detail. In one section of the review, Vladimirov’s use of Soviet and Russian military theorists is outlined, many of whom are also frequently referred to in Gerasimov’s speeches (see EDM, March 12). In particular, Vladimirov based much of his thinking about modern warfare on Aleksandr Svechin, Andrei Snesarev and Yevgeny Messner. He refers to Snesarev: “The solution to the question of the future of war—positive or negative—remains a matter of faith, not a scientifically proven fact.” He also notes that Messner had forecast, “We must stop thinking that war is when people fight, and peace when they are not fighting. You can be in war without fighting” (Voyenno Promyshlennyy Kuryer, November 28, 2018).

Europe’s Silent Majority Speaks Out


What voters said in last month's European Parliament election is that they want to preserve the values on which the European Union was founded. But can Europe's leaders carry out the radical institutional reforms that voters also want?

LONDON – Last month’s elections to the European Parliamentproduced better results than one could have expected, and for a simple reason: the silent pro-European majority has spoken. What they said is that they want to preserve the values on which the European Union was founded, but that they also want radical changes in the way the EU functions. Their main concern is climate change.

This favors the pro-European parties, especially the Greens. The anti-European parties, which cannot be expected to do anything constructive, failed to make the gains that they expected. Nor can they form the united front that they would need in order to become more influential.

One of the institutions that needs to be changed is the Spitzenkandidat system. It is supposed to provide a form of indirect selection of the EU leadership. In fact, as Franklin Dehousse has explained in a brilliant but pessimistic article in the EU Observer, it is worse than no democratic selection at all. Each member state has real political parties, but their trans-European combination produces artificial constructs that serve no purpose other than to promote the personal ambitions of their leaders.

Xi’s Visit To Russia: Beginning Of A New Era? – Analysis

By Chris Cheang

President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Russia predictably focused on raising the level of the bilateral relationship, judging by the contents of the joint press statements of both residents on 5 June 2019. President Xi was also guest of honour at the annual St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on 6-8 June.

The accent on the bilateral relationship was to be expected. Since Russia’s “pivot” to the East became obvious in the wake of the annexation of the Crimea in 2014, the strengthening of Russo-Chinese relations has been Putin’s objective to balance links with the European Union and the United States and to break-out of the isolation that the West has been trying to impose on Russia.
Why China Looks to Russia

For China, Russia is important as a source of energy and military hardware, and a much-needed geopolitical balance to the US. The trade war with the US might also see China having to look more closely to the Russian market or to move production facilities to Russia.

The European Slide Toward Irrelevance


The EU elections confirmed what has already been evident for some time: Europe’s geopolitical impotence.

Elections for the European parliament, regardless of the results, are always a celebration of the EU project. Blue flags with the 12 golden stars are omnipresent when a “European electorate” casts its vote in what is considered the largest election in the world outside India. But the most recent elections are important for a different reason: They are part of a longer trend that is pushing Europe toward global irrelevance.

Two election results in particular are striking, not because of their novelty but because they demonstrate the resilience of certain political forces that are leading to Europe’s withdrawal from the...


Ben Baker

In 2007, UK and coalition forces in the southeastern Iraqi city of Basra faced a series of tactical challenges. Those challenges—like the ones US forces would confront that year and the next further north in Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood—offer insight into some universal and enduring characteristics of urban military operations. In fact, the situations in Basra and Baghdad shared a number of characteristics, not least of which was that both the UK forces in the south and the Americans in the capital, along with their Iraqi partner forces, were battling Shia militias that, at various times, dramatically ratcheted up their levels of violent activity.

In Basra, many lessons were learned—or relearned—the hard way, and they are at risk of being forgotten. The fighting in that city highlights five interrelated tactical considerations that should inform the way practitioners think about and plan for the contemporary urban fight:

1. the physical impact of the urban environment;
2. the complex and diverse nature of urban operations;
3. the impacts of war among urban environments’ people and places;
4. the criticality and challenge of sustainment and resilience;
5. and finally, the nature of the urban multi-actor fight.

America is an empire, not a nation

Matthew Walther

Every time some tinpot nationalist Euro-huckster wins a meaningless election — a local council seat or control of a given country's delegation in the European Parliament — we are told that we are witnessing the rise of a movement. This Nationalist International is, we are told, both dangerous and unstoppable. The latter at any rate looks increasingly true.

Where students of the new nationalism err, I think, is lumping Matteo Salvini and Marine le Pen and Nigel Farage in with Donald Trump. There are, one admits, certain incidental similarities between the leaders of the European far right and our president. But these are mostly confined to such questions as who are their mutual enemies — i.e., the cultural and social elite of their respective countries — and in some cases with rhetorical style. What all the former have in common is something that Trump utterly lacks: that is, a political program that could accurately be described as nationalist.

There is a vast amount of commentary on the subject of so-called American nationalism, both pro and contra. But both sides are begging the question by debating the merits of a concept they have willed into existence together.

Huawei’s PR Campaign Comes Straight From the Party’s Playbook

By Matt Schrader

The recent announcement that U.S. companies will need licenses to sell to Chinese telecommunications provider Huawei may amount to an economic declaration of war against Beijing’s technological champion. China has already taken its own measures such as the announcement of an “unreliable entities” list. But it will also fight back using a frequently underrated weapon: its growing ability to shape opinion globally.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is applying—with increasing frequency and effectiveness—many of the techniques it uses to manage its domestic information space to the world outside China’s borders. By marrying China’s economic heft and an increasing presence in the world of corporate thought leadership with homegrown information warfare, the CCP has forged a formidable global apparatus for shaping the conversation on China, from the Davos elite to grassroots social media. Nowhere has the growing power and sophistication of this apparatus been more apparent than in the recent trans-Atlantic debate on Huawei.

After years of lagging behind the international community, will the US begin to rein in ‘big tech’?

Clara Hendrickson

While Europe has become the de facto regulator of American tech companies, U.S. enforcers may be ready to join their peers across the Atlantic. Following negotiations between the federal agencies charged with antitrust enforcement, reports this week reveal the Department of Justice may soon investigate Apple and Google while the Federal Trade Commission may open a probe into Amazon and Facebook. On June 3, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), the Chairman of the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, announced its own investigation into large tech companies. Over the next year and a half, the subcommittee plans to hold hearings, demand testimony from tech executives, and seek internal documents from companies with an intention to issue recommendations to modernize antitrust enforcement and pressure the Department of Justice and the FTC to investigate any discovered wrongdoing.

For the time being, very little is known about the specific anticompetitive conduct the investigations might examine. The last major antitrust case brought against a tech company was the Department of Justice’s investigation of Microsoft in 1992. It wasn’t until 1998 when the suit finally went to trial, and a settlement came three years later. If that case is any indication, it could be a decade or more until any investigation into the four largest American tech companies is complete.

Russian Oil Chief Says US Sanctions Aimed At Helping Output From Texas

(RFE/RL) — The head of Russia’s largest state-owned oil company has claimed the United States is using sanctions against energy-producing countries to find markets for growing output from Texas.

Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin made the comments on June 6 at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, a major investors conference being held in the northern Russian city.

“The continued increased in Texas production may require a new sanctions victim and the victim could be any oil-producing country,” Sechin said.

Sechin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, referred to the U.S. decision in 2015 to lift a four-decade ban on oil exports as U.S. domestic oil production surged with shale oil and gas technologies.

U.S. sanctions “would not have been possible”’ without the end to the oil export ban, Sechin said.

Why Economics Must Go Digital


Mainstream economics has largely failed to keep up with the rapid pace of digital transformation, and it is struggling to find practical ways to address the growing power of dominant tech companies. If economists want to remain relevant, they must rethink some of their discipline's basic assumptions.

CAMBRIDGE – One of the biggest concerns about today’s tech giants is their market power. At least outside China, Google, Facebook, and Amazon dominate online search, social media, and online retail, respectively. And yet economists have largely failed to address these concerns in a coherent way. To help governments and regulators as they struggle to address this market concentration, we must make economics itself more relevant to the digital age.

Digital markets often become highly concentrated, with one dominant firm, because larger players enjoy significant returns to scale. For example, digital platforms incur large upfront development costs, but benefit from low marginal costs once the software is written. They gain from network effects, whereby the more users a platform has, the more all users benefit. And data generation plays a self-reinforcing role: more data improves the service, which brings in more users, which generates more data. To put it bluntly, a digital platform is either large or dead.

The US Economy’s Dirty Secret


Relatively strong US growth amid sluggishness elsewhere is not what economics textbooks would predict. But persistently low interest rates and weak inflation bring multiple benefits to American firms and consumers, while the adverse impact of the global slowdown on US exports should not be overstated.

SAN DIEGO – There is a dirty little secret in economics today: the United States has benefited – and continues to benefit – from the global slump. The US economy is humming along, even while protesters in the United Kingdom hurl milkshakes at Brexiteers, French President Emmanuel Macron confronts nihilist yellow-vested marchers, and Chinese tech firms such as Huawei fear being frozen out of foreign markets.

Last year, the US economy grew by 2.9%, while the eurozone expanded by just 1.8%, giving President Donald Trump even more confidence in his confrontational style. But relatively strong US growth amid sluggishness elsewhere is not what economics textbooks would predict. Whatever happened to the tightly integrated world economy that the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have been advocating – and more recently extolling – since World War II?

The US economy is in a temporary but potent phase in which weakness abroad lifts spirits at home. But this economic euphoria has nothing to do with Trump-era spite and malice, and much to do with interest rates.

Threat From Iran Is Not Military, But Cyber War – OpEd

By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

The Iranian regime has ratcheted up its threats against the US and its rivals in the Middle East. A senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander last month warned that the American military presence in the Gulf is a target. Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the IRGC’s aerospace division, said: “An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6,000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past, but now it is a target and the threats have switched to opportunities.”

Gen. Morteza Qorbani, an adviser to Iran’s military command, followed this up by warning of the secret weapons it claims to possess. “America is sending two warships to the region. If they commit the slightest stupidity, we will send these ships to the bottom of the sea along with their crew and planes using two missiles or two new secret weapons,” he said.



DESPITE RUMORS OF a pending Department of Justice antitrust investigation, Google continues to expand. Today the company's cloud computing division announced that it will pay $2.6 billion for the business intelligence/analytics company Looker. It's the first big purchase made by new Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, who joined the company from Oracle in November.

It might seem odd that Google, the world's biggest data cruncher, needs to buy a business data analysis product. But IDC analyst Dan Vesset says Looker fills a hole in Google's current portfolio. Google's own public-facing analytics tools are either developer-focused offerings, like its cloud-based artificial intelligence tools, or specialized tools like Google Analytics, which is for analyzing web traffic. It also has a few database management tools and storage services. "But Google didn't really have a front-end tool that lets business analysts slice and dice data," Vesset says—at least not one that was useful for large organizations. In that sense, Looker doesn’t compete with Google's existing services, but rather with products from companies like Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, and IBM. Amazon, the largest provider of cloud computing services, has its own business intelligence service called QuickSight.

What Does Rise Of Asia’s Space Forces Mean? – OpEd

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

While US President Donald Trump’s release of Space Policy Directive-4 in February that enables the establishment of the US Space Force received much focus in the way of headlines, this was hardly the first time that a military has set up a special branch for space operations. Indeed, there is a need to focus much more on what the significance of these moves means for Asian security and the implications of efforts to create space commands and forces.

First, the place to start is to acknowledge that several countries are establishing such special units. The US space force is only the latest and so others are doing it as well. China established the Strategic Support Force (PLASSF) in 2015, integrating the PLA space, cyber and electronic warfare capabilities, a key institutional innovation. Russia made similar institutional innovations with the Russian Space Forces in 2011 as part of the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces meant for military space-related activities. India, similarly, appears also to be on the way to creating such a special space command.

Second, it is important to keep in mind that even though it sounds like a fighting force, the space force is mostly aimed to bring about greater integration of functions and the better coordination among different agencies involved. There is a need to pay greater attention to the details of these bureaucratic changes and innovations.

Hate Speech on Social Media: Global Comparisons

Zachary Laub

Violence attributed to online hate speech has increased worldwide. Societies confronting the trend must deal with questions of free speech and censorship on widely used tech platforms.

A mounting number of attacks on immigrants and other minorities has raised new concerns about the connection between inflammatory speech online and violent acts, as well as the role of corporations and the state in policing speech. Analysts say trends in hate crimes around the world echo changes in the political climate, and that social media can magnify discord. At their most extreme, rumors and invective disseminated online have contributed to violence ranging from lynchings to ethnic cleansing.

The response has been uneven, and the task of deciding what to censor, and how, has largely fallen to the handful of corporations that control the platforms on which much of the world now communicates. But these companies are constrained by domestic laws. In liberal democracies, these laws can serve to defuse discrimination and head off violence against minorities. But such laws can also be used to suppress minorities and dissidents.
How widespread is the problem?

Three 'New Rules' Worth Considering for the Internet

by Daniel M. Gerstein

In a recent commentary, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg argues for new internet regulation starting in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy, and data portability. He also advocates that government and regulators “need a more active role” in this process. This call to action should be welcome news as the importance of the internet to nearly all aspects of people's daily lives seems indisputable. However, Zuckerberg's new rules could be expanded, as part of the follow-on discussion he calls for, to include several other necessary areas: security-by-design, net worthiness and updated internet business models.

Security-by-design should be an equal priority with functionality for network connected devices, systems and services which comprise the Internet of Things (PDF) (IoT). One estimate suggests that the number of connected devices will reach 125 billion by 2030, and will increase 50% annually in the next 15 years. Each component on the IoT represents a possible insecurity and point of entry into the system. The Department of Homeland Security has developed strategic principles (PDF) for securing the IoT. The first principle is to “incorporate security at the design phase.” This seems highly prudent and very timely, given the anticipated growth of the internet.

The Hyper-Enabled Operator

Alex MacCalman, Jeff Grubb, Joe Register and Mike McGuire


Recent technological, socio-economic, and geopolitical trends, coupled with the reemergence of great power competition, complicate the future environment in which U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) must operate. SOF professionals will need to operate not only across traditional physical domains such as land, air, and sea but also in the virtual and cognitive domains. In particular, achieving cognitive dominance over adversaries will be essential to the success of future SOF missions. 

Future innovations require a change in how the U.S. seeks military advantage through technology. Since the end of WWII, the U.S. relied on the development of advanced military-specific equipment, such as nuclear weapons, precision guided munitions, and stealth technology to deter or defeat adversaries. These technologies generally targeted physical objectives with kinetic effects and were, at least initially, beyond the capabilities of adversaries’ research and industrial bases to reproduce. In contrast, competition, as defined by the 2018 National Defense Strategy, will be explicitly multi-domain, with the U.S. and competitors simultaneously operating in not only physical domains, but virtual and cognitive domains as well.[i] Operating in the virtual domain involves seeking advantages in computer generated environments or cyberspace.[ii] Operating within the cognitive domain involves influencing the minds of potential competitors and populations.[iii] SOF must simultaneously dominate the physical, cognitive, and virtual domains in order to present multiple dilemmas that will achieve our desired outcome. Not only must we adopt our doctrine to operate in the multi-domain environment we must also advance technologies that will enable our newly defined doctrinal concepts.

Tajik Military Increasingly Part of Russian Army in All But Name

By: Paul Goble

Tajikistan’s military, according to Moscow-based defense analyst Vladimir Mukhin, “today represents a small outpost of the Russian Army. It is completely equipped with Russian arms, has the same organizational structure,” its soldiers and officers are being trained by Russians and in Russian military schools, and its forces are fully integrated into exercises organized by Moscow. Moreover, he points out, the strongest and most reliable military force in this Central Asian country is not Tajikistani at all but rather a Russian military base that Moscow owns the lease to until 2042 (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May 28).

No other military of a former Soviet republic is as fully integrated into the Russian Armed Forces as Tajikistan’s, a situation highlighted last week (May 28) by the visit to Dushanbe of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (TASS, May 28). The particularly close military-military relationship reflects three interrelated calculations by Moscow: First, Tajikistan has the longest land border with Afghanistan (1,300 kilometers) of any Central Asian state and, thus, is more at risk than any other country regarding the spread of radicalism from there that could, ultimately, make its way toward the Russian Federation. Second, Tajikistan itself is unstable and at risk of collapse—its government is corrupt and heavily in debt, its population is increasingly disaffected, and the center’s control over the regions is increasingly in doubt, according to some observers (see EDM, October 18, 2018). And third, Russia views Tajikistan as a potential model for the restoration of Russian dominion over the entire Central Asian region, convinced that by controlling the force structures there, it can politically control the countries as well.