21 June 2019

India must play a key role in claiming the Indo-Pacific region

Girish Luthra

There is an increasing recognition of the importance of maritime security, maritime commons and cooperation. In the last few years, almost every joint or vision statement at the end of summit-level talks or meeting between major maritime powers accords high priority to maritime security and stability.

The prevailing and emerging international order, characterised by a new form of internationalism and hazy geopolitics, finds centrality in the Indo-Pacific region. It is the new arena for strategic rivalry, within the bounds of interdependence, and all major players have made Indo-Pacific-related policy and posture pronouncements in the recent past. The region’s share of world merchandise trade is over 75 per cent and its seaports are the busiest in the world. Its contribution to global GDP is around 60 per cent. The region is also critical to world energy flows, for both suppliers and consumers. The rise of China (and President Xi Jinping’s grand Belt and Road Initiative), the realignment of US global strategy, the new approach adopted by India, Japan, ASEAN, France and other key players and new partnerships have further underlined the salience of the region.

India’s Global Challenge

“India wins yet again!” Narendra Modi announced in May 2019, just after securing a second term as Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy in a landslide general elections victory. When Modi was elected for a first term five years ago, he promised that India would win back its place at the high table of leading world powers. Indeed, after decades of sustained growth, India today is at a tipping point in terms of socio-economic prospects for its 1.35 billion citizens. As the global balance of power and economic growth shifts towards Asia, and a whole new set of forces is seeking to redefine the international order, opportunities abound for the subcontinent to carve out its place as a leading, democratic, global actor. Is India ready to do so?


Paolo Magri

1. India’s Turn: Groundbreaking Reforms for a Global India

Gautam Chikermane, Observer Research Foundation

2. How Solid Is India’s Economy?

Bidisha Ganguly, Confederation of Indian Industry

3. Defining the Indian Middle Class

Antonio Armellini, Former Ambassador to India

4. Inequality: Global India’s Domestic Bottleneck?

Nicola Missaglia, ISPI

5. A “Paper Tiger”? What India Wants to Be(come)

Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies

6. Facing Global China: India and the Belt and Road Initiative

Christian Wagner, SWP Berlin

7. India, Europe and Italy: Time to Boost Partnership

Claudio Maffioletti, Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

India a Vital Cog in the Wheel For US’ Strategy For Indo-Pacific Region

The Pentagon recently published a report on “The Indo-Pacific Region. The Indo-Pacific Region report accuses China of being a so-called “revisionist power” that is ostensibly opposed to the U.S. vision of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. The strategic report on the Indo-Pacific Region also mentions the significance of India and how the US is wooing Delhi on its side.

Former President Barack Obama began to turn the United States towards the Indo-Pacific Region. Under President Trump, the same course continues. The report argues that the continuity of the American common strategic vision is not interrupted, despite the increasingly complex security situation in the region.

The geography of the American Indo-Pacific is defined quite simply – it is the zone of responsibility of the 7th and 3rd fleets of the US Navy.

The Indo-Pacific region provides two-thirds of world gross domestic product (GDP) and accounts for 60% of world’s GDP. The Indo-Pacific Region comprises of the world largest economies – the United States, China and Japan – and the six fastest growing economies of the world – India, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Nepal and the Philippines.

Great Expectations: ASEAN and the Indo-Pacific Concept

Sophie Boisseau du Rocher

After France unveiled the latest version of its policy in the Indo-Pacific (“France and security in the Indo-Pacific”) in May 2019, and after the United States published its updated “Indo-Pacific Strategy Report” in June 2019, ASEAN is next in line in terms of new articulations of an ongoing concept that has been under development. At the 34th ASEAN summit to be held in Bangkok on June 23, member-states are expected to endorse an “ASEAN Indo-Pacific Outlook.”

It’s a long-awaited document as ASEAN is, among all stake-holders, the only one not to have yet to formally express its vision on this emerging – and still under discussion – concept. The single comment ASEAN has made until now is to insist that the coming scheme must respect ASEAN centrality.

Because the concept is obviously a major concern for the future of ASEAN, located as it is at the very center of the Indo-Pacific, the Association has deliberately taken its time to elaborate an answer, to avoid being tied into any logic or undertakings it doesn’t approve. But that is not the only reason for the delay. The diverse perceptions among the member-states on the geographical scope and the goals and ambitions of the Indo-Pacific construct (for example, Singapore has yet to endorse the concept paper agreed to by senior officials in Chiang Rai last March) reflect simultaneously the limits of ASEAN’s influence, its complex positioning in the new power configuration, and the risks for serious misunderstanding with its traditional partners.

The American Dream Is Alive And Well - In China

by Ellen Brown

Home ownership has been called “the quintessential American dream." Yet today less than 65% of American homes are owner occupied, and more than 50% of the equity in those homes is owned by the banks. Compare China, where, despite facing one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world, a whopping 90% of families can afford to own their homes.

Over the last decade, American wages have stagnated and U.S. productivity has consistently been outpaced by China’s. The U.S. government has responded by engaging in a trade war and imposing stiff tariffs in order to penalize China for what the White House deems unfair trade practices. China’s industries are said to be propped up by the state and to have significantly lower labor costs, allowing them to dump cheap products on the U.S. market, causing prices to fall and forcing U.S. companies out of business. The message to middle America is that Chinese labor costs are low because their workers are being exploited in slave-like conditions at poverty-level wages.

But if that’s true, how is it that the great majority of Chinese families own homes? According to a March 2016 article in Forbes:

… 90% of families in the country own their home, giving China one of the highest home ownership rates in the world. What’s more is that 80% of these homes are owned outright, without mortgages or any other liens. On top of this, north of 20% of urban households own more than one home.

Trump Has Already Won the ‘Trade War’

Gordon G. Chang 

On Sunday, the Communist Party’s most important journal expounded on Sino-U.S. relations in advance of the anticipated meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese ruler Xi Jinping at the end of this month at the Osaka G-20.

A thirteen-thousand-character essay in Qiushi—Seeking Truth—stated that China wants a “win-win agreement” but is prepared to “resolutely struggle to the end.”

Beijing has yet to confirm that Xi will meet Trump in Japan.

Trump has said “it doesn’t matter” whether the two of them sit down, and he is right. As a practical matter, he has already won the so-called “trade war.” Trump prevailed by convincing the world’s manufacturers that they must leave China.

In one sense, the importance of the planned talks is hard to overestimate. As the Washington Post’s editorial board stated in an editorial Saturday, “The United States and China are at a hinge point in the most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century.”

China’s Complacent Generation

By Michael Auslin

China hasn’t seen a major democracy movement in a generation. Thirty years ago, when Chinese tanks brutally crushed such protests in Tiananmen Square, many observers wondered if the Chinese Communist Party could survive massacring its own citizens. But not only did the CCP survive, it flourished, even as it has become more alienated from the Chinese people.

The CCP’s strength has been made clear most recently by its ability to control a string of sensitive anniversaries this spring. Last month marked the 100th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement, a student uprising in republican China that shaped China’s 20th-century history. As told in CCP mythology, the May Fourth Movement ignited the revolutionary fervor that led to the party’s founding two years later, in 1921, and the eventual rise to power of Mao Zedong.

Thirty years after the May Fourth protests erupted, Mao proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China from the gate of Tiananmen. But history has failed to repeat itself; three decades after 1989’s Tiananmen Square protests, which intensified on the 70th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement, the prospects for a democratic China seem more remote than ever.

Xinjiang and the Belt and Road Initiative

By Rebecca Warren

China’s economic growth over the last 40 years has been extraordinary, lifting millions of Chinese out of poverty and making China among the most economically powerful nations in the world. Since Deng Xiaoping’s Reform and Opening-Up policies, China has modernised to a startling extent. However, this growth has been uneven and has caused severe inequality across the country. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is often seen as promoting China’s influence across the world, but this is not its only purpose. This article looks at how the Belt and Road Initiative is being used as one measure to transform some of the poorest regions of China, and how despite this, China is failing to address some of the issues in its most volatile areas.

The province of Xinjiang has existed as a separate civilisation since the 7th century and has always sat uneasily within China’s margins. It borders the former Soviet states of Central Asia, making its repeated bids for independence particularly unsettling for China in the light of the break-up of the Soviet Union. Xinjiang’s main ethnic group, the Uighurs, are a Turkic people who predominantly practice Sufism. In an attempt to dilute the Uighur influence, the government has encouraged Han-majority peoples to settle in Xinjiang, which has led to the Uighur population falling from over 90% of Xinjiang in 1949 to around 40% in 2018.[1] Regional unrest only increased, however. 

The Sino-Russian Partnership and the North Korean Nuclear Crisis

Elizabeth Wishnick

This brief outlines Chinese and Russian interests in North Korea, examines how those interests play out in the case of the North Korean nuclear crisis, and provides an assessment of implications for the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK).DOWNLOAD

The 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy depicts China and Russia as presenting a joint challenge to U.S. interests, influence, and security. Unlike in the 1950s, when the United States was able to exploit the divisions between the two countries, the differences in Chinese and Russian interests today only serve to enhance their combined challenge to the United States. That challenge is visibly manifest in the case of the North Korean nuclear crisis.

To address this challenge, U.S. policymakers must keep the dynamic of Sino-Russian cooperation regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) firmly in mind. To better inform that discussion, this brief outlines Chinese and Russian interests in the region, examines how those interests play out in the case of the North Korean nuclear crisis, and provides an assessment of implications for the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK). The brief concludes with a list of relevant congressional initiatives to address these challenges.

Iran Has Options and It’s Starting to Use Them


For almost a year, Iran looked set to hunker down and take the Trump administration’s repeated punches—the withdrawal from the nuclear deal, the escalating sanctions, the intensified threats. But now Iran is punching back.

On Monday, Tehran announced a clear and rapid plan to start breaching the nuclear deal—which Iran and all the original signatories have stayed in without the United States—unless certain conditions were met. This followed a series of attacks against oil tankers in the region, which the Trump administration has attributed to Iran over Iranian denials, and the shooting down last week of a U.S. surveillance drone over Yemeni territory controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi movement.

If the administration’s assumption was that its “maximum pressure” campaign would force Iranian capitulation at no cost to the United States or its allies, that assumption is proving mistaken.

What Does the Islamic State’s Organisational Restructuring Tell Us?

Dr. Colin P. Clarke

Over the course of recent weeks, the Islamic State (IS) announced that it had established a new province in India, the wilayah of Hind, after attacks on security forces in the Kashmir region. IS has also been responsible for an uptick of attacks in Pakistan under the auspices of the wilayah of Pakistan. The attacks in Pakistan, both of which took place in Quetta, were directed against the Pakistani police and another against the Taliban. Until recently, most of the Islamic State’s activity in South Asia has been claimed by the Islamic State Khorasan Province, its affiliate in Afghanistan.

The real question on the minds of policymakers and counterterrorism officials is: do these recent actions constitute organisational restructuring, or do they suggest a more profound shift in strategy, tactics, and worldview?

For some time now, it has been inaccurate to describe IS in monolithic terms. In the post-Caliphate phase, it is no longer appropriate to speak of one centre of gravity since there are multiple wilayahs, each with growing capabilities of their own. These affiliates are able to take advantage of local developments, seeking to exploit opportunities provided by growing instability, weak governance, and sectarianism. The panoply of global conflicts guarantee that IS will continue to find safe haven, especially where Muslims are engaged in civil wars or insurgencies, and are perceived to be under siege. By inserting itself into conflicts that are both seminal and highly symbolic, such as the disputed territory of Kashmir, IS could further burnish its image as the true defender of Islamist rebels committed to defending Muslims.


IN A MAZE of tunnels 900 feet beneath the Nevada desert, US nuclear weapons scientists have since the 1990s been intermittently agitating flecks of plutonium with chemical high explosives, carefully trying to push them to the brink of a chain reaction capable of yielding nuclear force.

IN A SEPARATE network of underground tunnels about 4,800 miles away, in the northern Russian archipelago of Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic Circle, Russia conducts its own such experiments, meant to model the key chemical and physical actions that occur in the run-up to a full-blown nuclear explosion, without actually causing one.

Experiments at the two sites are used by both nations to help ensure their nuclear arsenals remain viable but conducted under a blanket of secrecy. And so they’ve given rise to suspicions—and accusations—that they violate a 1996 global treaty designed to stymie nuclear weapons innovations by barring any nuclear explosions.

Because the experiments are designed to closely simulate such explosions, 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries in 2016 calledthem violations of the “spirit and letter” of the treaty, “thereby undermining its impact as a measure of nuclear disarmament.”

EU Steps Up Its Defense Spending, But Washington Says Not So Fast


WASHINGTON: Just days before thousands of government officials and defense industry executives from around the globe gather at the Paris Air Show, neither the US nor the European Union appears ready to back down from a war of words over an ambitious European project to boost its homegrown defense industry.

At issue is the proposed $14 billion European Defence Fund, along with a host of procurement and development programs under the Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, that the European economic alliance is undertaking. American officials complain the plan is biased against non-EU defense firms and have suggested imposing penalties unless their concerns are addressed, but top European officials show no inclination to shift course.

Europe’s dilemma: President Trump wants the allies to spend more on their own defense— but it also wants them to buy defense equipment from the US.

SOURCE: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (https://www.sipri.org/)

“The US wants Europe to have a strong industrial base,” Jorge Domecq, Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency, told me recently on the sidelines of the EU-Foreign Policy Defense Forum. But PESCO and EDF “do not change the rules of the defense procurement market in Europe,” he said, and they don’t restrict US defense companies. Despite American suggestions to the contrary, he insisted, the proposed rules and programs “are not protectionist.”

Thucydides’ Other “Traps”: The United States, China, and the Prospect of “Inevitable” War

The notion of a “Thucydides Trap” that will ensnare China and the United States in a 21st century conflict—much as the rising power of Athens alarmed Sparta and made war “inevitable” between the Aegean superpowers of the 5th century BCE—has received global attention since entering the international relations lexicon 6 years ago. Scholars, journalists, bloggers, and politicians in many countries, notably China, have embraced this beguiling metaphor, coined by Harvard political science professor Graham Allison, as a framework for examining the likelihood of a Sino-American war. As Allison summarizes the concept,

When a rising power threatens to displace a ruling power, alarm bells should sound, extreme danger ahead. This is a big insight earned for us by Thucydides. And Thucydides said, famously, it was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable. This was the war between Athens and Sparta that basically destroyed classical Greece.1

Allison’s active promotion has given Thucydides (ca. 460–ca. 399 BCE), historian of the Peloponnesian War, new cachet as a sage of U.S.-China relations. References in academic journals, politicians’ speeches, and political cartoons have become ubiquitous across the Indo-Pacific region. Allison examines this historical metaphor at length in his May 2017 book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?

The Rebalancing That U.S. Trade Policy Actually Needs

Kimberly Ann Elliott

President Donald Trump likes trade wars because he thinks they are “easy to win,” as he infamously put it, and because he thinks they will help improve the trade balance. Trump claims past American presidents have been weak, allowing other countries to take advantage of the United States in trade negotiations. As evidence, he points to the large American trade deficit. But any economist worth her salt will tell you that the deficit doesn’t reflect what Trump thinks it does. Instead, it simply reflects the propensity of Americans to spend more than they save and invest.

Trump is wrong about a lot of things when it comes to trade, including that the trade arrangements to which the United States is a party reflect poor negotiating skills. To the contrary, they overwhelmingly reflect U.S. negotiating preferences. But Trump does have a point that some of the negotiators’ priorities don’t reflect those of many Americans. Indeed, policymakers have manifestly failed to adopt the kinds of parallel policies that would compensate workers displaced by free trade agreements or provide the skills and resources needed to take advantage of globalization. That—not new tariffs—should be the focus of U.S. trade and economic policy going forward, which would entail some rebalancing to make it fairer and more inclusive.

What Does The Trump Administration Want From Iran?

Two oil tankers were attacked on June 13 off the coast of Oman, forcing the crew members of one burning ship to flee.

It was the latest in a series of assaults on tankers transporting oil through the Gulf. In May, Saudi, Norwegian and Emirati oil tankers were attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, causing damage but no casualties. The attacks have gone unclaimed, so the perpetrator is unknown - at least publicly.

U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, blamed the Iranian government and called the May attacks “naked aggression." Saudi King Salman asked the international community to “use all means" to punish Iran.

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, who has called for bombing Iran to cripple its nuclear program, has maintained that Iran is “almost certainly" responsible for the attacks. In May Bolton announced the deployment to the Persian Gulf of a carrier strike group and a nuclear-capable bomber task force, America’s most formidable military assets.

U.S. Response to Iranian Brinkmanship

On Thursday, June 13, two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz were attacked. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the United States assessed the attack and concluded that it was perpetrated by Iran. The Iranian government has denied involvement and rejected the accusation. In response, the U.S. Central Command released video footage that it claims shows an Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded ordnance from the hull of one of the tankers.

Q1: What is currently known about who conducted the attack on the two tankers?

A1: Secretary of State Pompeo announced that the U.S. government has assessed that the Iranians were responsible. What I found a little bit strange is Secretary Pompeo didn't characterize his level of confidence in that assessment, which is traditionally the way the intelligence community reports such things. As a former director of Central Intelligence Agency, he would surely be familiar with that practice. I presume that there is some other evidence that has not been made public that has been shared with allies. And I don't know of any contravening evidence against the assessment that Secretary Pompeo laid out yesterday, but I am struck at how much skepticism I am hearing from former senior U.S. government officials and from abroad.

What Are US Interests in Turkmenistan?

By Victoria Clement

As a new U.S. Ambassador heads to Turkmenistan, the time is ripe to assess American interests in the Central Asian state.

The government of Turkmenistan will soon welcome a new U.S. ambassador in Ashgabat. On June 13, 2019, Matthew S. Klimow was sworn in as the next United States Ambassador to Turkmenistan in the Ben Franklin Room at the Department of State. Undersecretary of State David Hale administered the oath on the Bible that Klimow and his father each carried in war.

A graduate of West Point, the new ambassador served as a U.S. Army officer from 1974 to 2003. He commanded at the battalion and brigade level and received a Silver Star in support of Operation Desert Storm. He retired with the rank of Colonel.

In his May 16 testimony before the U.S. Senate, then-candidate Klimow underscored that the United States has long-term interests in Central Asia and that his upcoming work in Turkmenistan presents an opportunity to advance those interests. He specifically noted “porous borders, terrorism, and drug trafficking” as potential threats to Turkmenistan, which shares borders with Iran and Afghanistan to the south.

Will the G-20 provide the urgent leadership needed on climate action?

Amar Bhattacharya

In two weeks, G-20 leaders will meet in Osaka to take up a range of pressing global issues, after which a set of key U.N. summits in September will convene world leaders to take stock of and chart forward progress in three vital areas: the 2030 Agenda, climate action, and financing for development.

The U.N. Climate Summit will test the willingness of world leaders, including G-20 countries, to scale up ambitions to tackle the urgent threat of climate change. Accounting for more than 80 percent of global emissions, the role of the G-20 is pivotal. Related to this, I participated in a July 13 meeting in Tokyo of the F20, a group comprising more than 50 international foundations, where the F20 warned of the danger of ignoring climate change and sustainability at the upcoming G-20 Summit.

The Paris Agreement has been widely regarded as a turning point, signaling the willingness of the world to confront an existential planetary threat. The Paris Agreement commits the world’s nations to “holding the increase in the global average temperatures to well below 2 C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels,” as well as to build resilience in the face of climate change.

Our global system has spun out of control. Here's how to rebalance it

Klaus Schwab

The global system we are part of seems to be spinning out of control. Headlines around the world tell us something is amiss in many societies. I believe many of the developments we see today in individual countries and societies are part of an interconnected network of cause and effect. The entire global system is under stress. We must ensure it rebalances.

I believe this is possible, and I will outline below how I think this rebalancing can be achieved. But first let us consider the extent of the current global imbalances. There are four reasons why the system has spun as out of control as it has.

1. The unprecedented complexity of our global system

In a world of 7.7 billion people, it is no surprise that our global system is more complex than at any other time in history. In 1945, when the building blocks of the current global system were constructed, the world population was less than a third of what it is today. Similarly regarding the global economy, after World War II exports comprised a mere 5% of global GDP. Today, that percentage is roughly five times higher, even as global GDP has increased multifold as well.

Striking a Balance: Centralising and Decentralising Disaster Management through New Technologies

Executive Summary

In December 2017 the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies at RSIS identified four policy balances that must be struck when using emerging technologies in humanitarian operations. This report specifically explores how to balance the potential of emerging technologies to strengthen centralised disaster management against their ability to decentralise capacity, which could increase the autonomy of affected communities to directly manage their own risks. It presents two principal findings. First, investigating the potential for emerging technologies to decentralise elements of disaster management is under prioritised. Second, while both globally and locally oriented innovators are exploring some possibilities for decentralisation, they do so quite differently. The report offers a series of policy recommendations based on these two findings.

Reassessing CBRN Threats in a Changing Global Environment

Threats related to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) use are evolving rapidly alongside changes in the political environment and developments in technology. The continued use of chemical weapons (CW) in armed conflict has, in particular, underlined the fragile nature of existing arms control agreements. In addition, several recent attacks in Asia and Europe using toxic chemicals and radioactive materials suggest that a new concern—state-sponsored assassination or attempted assassination—must now be incorporated into national security policy. Such confirmed use of CBRN materials by both state and non-state actors in these contexts highlights substantial challenges that the world is facing. As such, it is imperative to identify the threats posed by the use of CBRN and to understand the obstacles that impede cooperation at both the regional and international levels. Strengthening barriers against the use of CBRN weapons by exploring the possibility for working collectively to safeguard and enhance existing international instruments is in the mutual interest of Asian and European states. On 14 January 2019, SIPRI held the expert workshop ‘Reassessing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats and their implications for East Asia’. A number of key takeaways generated from the workshop are set out in this volume.


IN THE SHORT span of years in which the threat of cyberwar has loomed, no one has quite figured out how to prevent one. As state-sponsored hackers find new ways to inflict disruption and paralysis on one another, that arms race has proven far easier to accelerate than to slow down. But security wonks tend to agree, at least, that there's one way not to prevent a cyberwar: launching a preemptive or disproportionate cyberattack on an opponent's civilian infrastructure. As the Trump administration increasingly beats its cyberwar drum, some former national security officials and analysts warn that even threatening that sort of attack could do far more to escalate a coming cyberwar than to deter it.

Over the past weekend, The New York Times reported that US Cyber Command has penetrated more deeply than ever before into Russian electric utilities, planting malware potentially capable of disrupting the grid, perhaps as a retaliatory measure meant to deter further cyberattacks by the country's hackers. But judging by Russia's response, news of the grid-hacking campaign may have already had the immediate opposite effect: The Kremlin warned that the intrusions could escalate into a cyberwar between the two countries, even as it claimed that Russia's grid was immune from such threats.

Senate wants to boost oversight of Pentagon’s cyber activities

By: Mark Pomerleau
Several provisions in the Senate’s version of the annual defense policy bill aim to increase oversight of cyber activities in the Department of Defense, including a new two-star general officer to serve as the senior military adviser to cyber policy.

The bill, which passed the Senate Armed Services Committee in late May, adds new positions at the Pentagon to ensure the military’s cyber capabilities continue to mature. The full text of the legislation was released June 12.

One section of the bill directs the undersecretary of defense for policy to create a position known as the senior military adviser to cyber policy.

This uniformed official – while concurrently serving as the deputy principal cyber adviser, an existing position – will advise the undersecretary for policy on all cyber matters. The official will also work with the Pentagon’s chief information officer, joint staff, services and combatant commands regarding cyber policy decisions. In the Pentagon’s current hierarchy, there is already a similar position: a deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy within the undersecretary for policy office.

Nuclear Cybersecurity: Risks and Remedies

The Fissile Materials Working Group (FMWG), in partnership with the Stimson Center, hosted a 1.5-day off-the record (Chatham House Rule) Nuclear-Cybersecurity Workshop, which took place at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation. The invitation-only workshop comprised a group of two dozen cybersecurity experts and stakeholders in the nuclear industry, including operators, transporters, regulators, states, and nuclear security analysts. The group discussed cybersecurity risks affecting the nuclear sector and explored what needed to be done, across the board, to manage those risks. Consequently, the experts suggested that NGOs – given that they are wellpositioned to facilitate conversations among the various stakeholders – prioritize the following four action items:

This report outlines what was covered throughout the workshop. At the end of the report, there is a list of next steps the NGO community – as well as other stakeholders – should consider taking to reduce the cybersecurity risks affecting the nuclear sector. The FMWG and Stimson’s immediate next step is to share these findings with the nuclear and cybersecurity community, and to explore future collaboration amongst key stakeholders.

Trusting Technology: Smart Protection for Smart Cities

By Marie Baezner

What do technological advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) mean for the protection of critical infrastructure (CI) in today’s increasingly complex and connected smart cities? According to Marie Baezner, Linda Maduz and Tim Prior, it means trusting technology to play a more substantial role in security infrastructure for the resilient provision of critical services. In addition, a crucial challenge will be to strike a balance between the preservation of security and the openness to exploit opportunities that come with technological advancement.

Connectedness within and between modern societies generally strengthens social systems. But connectedness can also increase the exposure and sensitivity of technical systems to disturbances (natural, technical, and social). When those technical systems provide critical services for social systems, connectivity can become a problem.

UPDATED: Centcom Confirms Reaper Shoot Down, Says Iran And Houthis Fired At Drones


WASHINGTON: The US on Sunday accused Iran and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels of firing surface-to-air missiles at American Reaper drones twice over the past week, confirming earlier reports that the Houthis brought down one of the US drones over Yemen on June 6.

Houthi social media accounts posted video and photos last week showing what they claimed were images of the downed Reaper. The shootdown, and another attempted shootdown by what the US claims were Iranian forces, represent a significant escalation in tensions in the Gulf region after weeks of rhetoric by US and Iranian officials, sparking fears over the countries stumbling into a military confrontation.

The incidents, according to a CENTCOM statement, were undertaken by Iran, or “enabled” by the regime.

The June 6 downing was the result of the Houthis firing a Russian-made SA-6 ground-to-air missile which “indicated an improvement over previous Houthi capability,” according to CENTCOM.

SIPRI report: modernization of world nuclear forces continues despite overall decrease in number of warheads

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) today launches the findings of SIPRI Yearbook 2019, which assesses the current state of armaments, disarmament and international security.

SIPRI Governing Board Chair Ambassador Jan Eliasson, former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, says: ‘A key finding is that despite an overall decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2018, all nuclear weapon-possessing states continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals.’

At the start of 2019, nine states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea)—possessed approximately 13 865 nuclear weapons. This marked a decrease from the approximately 14 465 nuclear weapons that SIPRI estimated these states possessed at the beginning of 2018 (see table below). Of these 13 865 nuclear weapons, 3 750 are deployed with operational forces and nearly 2 000 of these are kept in a state of high operational alert.

The Future Conflict Operating Environment Out to 2030

This collection of essays is about contemporary trends in war and warfare, and how they will shape the actions of belligerents in future conflicts. Its conclusions have implications for the force design of Western militaries and signposts the adaptations that will need to be undertaken to meet the challenges of the next decade. Its research seeks to stimulate a conversation about the overly restrictive ways in which Western thinkers consider competition, conflict and combat to broaden the discussion beyond an orthodoxy of military interventions in which combat is something bound by laws, behaviours, conventions, ethics, morals, values, and geography. Its deductions naturally lead to a further research question that examines what an adequate Western response might be.

The traditional taxonomy can be confusing. Historical terms such as ‘limited war’ have connotations that lead some to infer direct linkage to counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, or stabilisation operations; things once captured under ‘Operations Other Than War’. The legacy of post-Cold War thinking leaves limited war as a category of ‘wars of choice’ rather than existential conflict. But this does not expose its real limits: either the self-imposed restraint or limited means states deploy. As Lawrence Freedman usefully highlights, ‘[O]ne reason why limited war can be a difficult strategic category is that it is used to refer to conflicts where enough is at stake to demand engagement but not so much as to require total commitment’. Yet in many ways the activities described in this paper are ‘limited’. Not in how they are undertaken (small interventions can often be as ‘high intensity’ as total war to the actors involved), but in the objectives they seek to deliver, whether political, geographic, military resource, or resource based. This distinction is important to understand, but because of issues surrounding Western military taxonomy, the term ‘limited war’ is not used. 

Assessment of the Role of Small Wars Within the Evolving Paradigm of Great Power Competition in a Multipolar World

By James P. Micciche

Summary: The U.S. is scaling down the Global War on Terrorism and focusing on threats posed by a revisionist China and Russia and rogue nations such as Iran. In this context, limited military operations (small wars) will be useful in transforming counterterrorism methods, which previously dominated U.S. foreign policy, into being only one facet of a synchronized whole of government response in pursuit of U.S. policy objectives in contested spaces.

Text: Over the past decade, the global balance of power has shifted to a multipolar construct in which revisionist actors such as China and Russia attempt to expand their spheres of influence at the expense of the U.S.-led liberal order. The ongoing rebalance has been gradual and often conducted through a myriad of activities beyond kinetic operations as Russia, China, and regional actors such as Iran have shown a capability to capitalize on and create domestic instability as a means to expand influence, gain access to key terrain and resources, and reduce western influence. The capacity to utilize limited military operations (small wars) as part of a focused, tailored, and comprehensive whole of government approach to deter threats and expansion from revisionist powers is paramount in promoting U.S. and Western interests within the modern paradigm. Despite the prominent role engaging in limited operations at or more importantly below the level of conflict fulfills within the context of great power competition, it is far from a proverbial silver bullet as the rebalancing of power brings new parameters and risks that U.S. policy makers must understand before engaging in any small war.