3 July 2019

5G, Huawei and India

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM(Retd)

… 5G and Huawei is not a technical issue, it is a complex strategic issue. Huawei is already inside India’s backbone network. Its network equipment are part of India’s armed forces’ classified networks. But by banning Huawei India’s security concerns are not eliminated. India should look at what the other countries specially the Europeans are doing …

The Story of India’s Many Scripts

By Akhilesh Pillalamarri

While India’s scripts are ancient, technology and modernity are changing their usage patterns.

Only a few years ago, things did not seem to be going well for India’s various alphabets, often known as the Indic or Brahmic scripts after the historical Iron Age script that is the ancestor of modern South and Southeast Asian writing systems. Digitalization and the widespread proliferation of Roman-alphabet keyboards in India meant that Indian users would often transcribe Indian languages using ad hoc Romanizations on the internet and via text.

Yet today, one can’t follow the Indian Twittersphere or Indian content on social media and the rest of the internet without noticing the recent proliferation of Indic script material, particularly Devanagari (the script used for Hindi, Marathi, and Nepali). Technology and innovation helped this process along, and instead of shrinking the sphere of Indic script usage, they allow Indic scripts to be used more broadly, especially at the popular level. The use of Unicode, and the spread of Indic script transliteration and typing interfaces on Google, and on phones—which is how most Indians access the Internet—have all made it much easier to publish online in Indic scripts. Many phones and computers in India are not specifically designed with Indic script keyboards and instead use the Roman alphabet keyboards common in the West. Transliteration software renders this moot. The increased use of Indic-language scripts has also lead to newer and more artistic fonts for Indian languages.

El Nino Effect: Three Areas Of Concern For The Indian Economy

by M R Subramani

Lower storage levels in water reservoirs across the country, late sowing of kharif crops and drop nacreage for sowing of crops are all causes for concern. 

As Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents her maiden Budget on 5 July (Friday), one hopes the centre would have plans to meet any situation arising due to the effect of El Nino this year.

June has passed by but it has left behind problems for Indian agriculture. Data on rainfall from the South-West Monsoon that began on 1 June, the storage levels in 91 important reservoirs and the data on kharif sowing — all show a negative trend.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the South-West Monsoon, which was delayed this year, has seen a 36 per cent deficient rainfall in June across the country. This is monsoon’s worst performance in the last five years. Twenty-seven of the 36 meteorological divisions in the country were rainfall deficient, while only five have got normal or excess rainfall.

Barring north Karnataka and east Rajasthan, almost all regions in the country have received less than normal rains since the monsoon set in this year. Regions like Jharkhand, Vidarbha, eastern Madhya Pradesh and western Uttar Pradesh received over 60 per cent less-than-normal rainfall.

Pakistan’s Water Crisis: Blaming India Won’t Do – OpEd

By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan.

Nitin Gadkari, Minister dealing with River waters, said on May 9, 2019 that India will stop Pakistan’s share of water allocated under the Indus Water Treaty. He also mentioned that “India is not bound to follow the Treaty and had plans to divert the water flow to Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. This statement was perhaps made during the election campaign more for the domestic audience.

Gadkari raised a bigger question- “What is the point of continuing the Indus Water Treaty if the spirit of mutual love, harmony and cordial relations is not honoured by the neighbouring country? Later he specifically named Pakistan when he said “Why continue the Water Treaty if Pakistan does not honour its spirit?

He is right in a sense that such agreements that deal with the livelihood of the people it should be implemented both in letter and spirit. Yet Pakistan has been indulging in opposing the Indian projects with minor technical objections and has not understood or cared for the spirit of the treaty.

Soon after Gadkari’s statement, Pakistan called on the World Bank to set up a court of arbitration under the Indus Water Treaty alleging India’s plans to divert the flow of Indus water that legitimately belongs to it under the treaty. The Pakistani media was not far behind in accusing India of diverting Indus Waters of Pakistan to India!

What Do the Taliban Want in Afghanistan? A Lost Constitution Offers Clues

By Mujib Mashal

KABUL, Afghanistan — There was an air of expectation on both sides as the Taliban and American diplomats gathered to meet for the latest round of peace talks on Saturday.

Afghan and Western officials say that if the Taliban express willingness to finally go to the negotiating table with the Afghan government, American diplomats might be willing to play their main negotiating card: offering some sort of provisional schedule for the withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan.

That phase of agreement has evaded negotiators for more than nine months, through six rounds of talks in Doha, Qatar. The hardest work, however, might come only after the Taliban and Afghan officials agree to begin discussing a political settlement.

The Taliban have remained officially vague about what kind of government they envision. But some clues to how the insurgents view power and governance can be found in a constitution that the group drafted while it ruled Afghanistan but that was never ratified before the Taliban were ousted by the United States invasion in 2001.

Assessing Threats To The Afghan Peace Efforts – Analysis

By Dr. Manoj Kumar Mishra

The Trump Administration soon after assuming office sought to address the US’s Afghan dilemma by adopting an offensive gesture through measures like increasing the number of American troops and resuming drone strikes.

However, unremitting insurgency in many pockets of the country and mounting civilian as well as troops’ casualties forced Washington to open direct talks with the Taliban.

Ironically, even while the peace talks are very much on between the American and Taliban interlocutors completing their sixth round, the supporting conditions are far from being attained.

Indicating the fragility of the peace process, at least 25 pro-government forces in Afghanistan have been killed in terror attacks as the talks entered into its seventh round on 29th of June in the capital city of Qatar. The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The ground realities do not indicate that the peace process is gathering momentum and moving in a unidirectional dimension.

Did Japan Get What It Wanted From the Osaka G20 Summit?

By Daniel Hurst

Evaluating PM Abe’s sideline diplomacy and Japan’s pursuit of previously stated goals.

The hosting of the G-20 summit in Osaka provided a chance for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to show leadership on the global stage just three weeks before a national upper house election. But to what extent did the summit live up to the goals set by the host country?

In the run-up to the summit on June 28 and 29, Abe had identified three priorities: strengthening “free and fair” trade; modernizing rules for the spread of data across international borders; and embracing innovation to tackle climate change and other environmental problems. Just as important, though, were a series of meetings with fellow leaders on the sidelines of the summit. Abe made progress in some areas but appeared to face challenges in others.

Free and Fair Trade

In a speech in late May, Abe explained that his three priorities for the G-20 summit included “working to maintain and ultimately strengthen the free and fair order for international trade.”

As has been noted previously, the Japanese government is concerned about the economic flow-on effects of the trade war between the United States and China (so it will welcome the apparent cooling of tensions after a highly anticipated bilateral meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Osaka). Tokyo – a key backer of the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade pact from which the United States withdrew – is now engaged in bilateral trade negotiations with Washington in the hope of fending off Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on automotive imports, amid fears about the impact on the Japanese economy.

Conference on the risks to the Asian peace: Avoiding paths to great power war

Richard C. Bush

The following is the text of framing remarks delivered at a joint Brookings-National Chengchi University conference in Taipei on June 17, 2019. A Chinese translation of this speech, published by the Financial Times, is also available here.

Thank you all for coming today for our conference on “The Risks to the Asian Peace: Avoiding Paths to Great Power War.” The Brookings Institution is honored to sponsor this conference in partnership with the College of International Affairs (CIA) at National Chengchi University. Let me say at the outset that I personally plus all of my Brookings colleagues are deeply grateful to Professor Huang Kwei-Bo of CIA for his tireless efforts to make all the arrangements here in Taipei and ensure the success of our conference. Brookings put a big burden on his shoulders and he bore it well and with good humor.

Regarding the title of the conference, the first part of the title—“the risks to the Asian peace”—implies that there has been s a peace and that it is significant. My colleagues and I sometimes use the term “the long East Asian peace.” The purpose of my remarks is to provide you with a brief analysis of that long peace and why it is now at risk.

The Indo-Pacific Is the New Asia

By Melissa Conley Tyler

It’s official. We live in the Indo-Pacific. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations released a joint statement this week in Bangkok during its annual summit called the “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific”. It defines the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions as a single interconnected region, the Indo-Pacific. While it won’t stop people from disliking the term, it suggests that the Indo-Pacific is now the shared geographic term for conceiving of this region.

The controversy over naming the region has generated heat for some time. For some, the Indo-Pacific concept is seen as divisive. In Australia, there have been debates over whether it’s an objective statement of geography or a loaded political term used to signal support for US over China.

It’s also been contested term in the wider region. China doesn’t like the term, complaining about a scent of containment. India supports it (that’s the “Indo-” bit), as does Japan. France recently released an Indo-Pacific strategy. But the big issue is the United States’ support for the term culminating in its Indo-Pacific Strategy released this month.

Southeast Asia has been a battleground for the term. For decades, the identity of the region has been one of “Asia” in a wider Asia-Pacific (Think the “Malaysia, Truly Asia” campaign).

Rethinking US-China competition: Next generation perspectives

From a potential “responsible stakeholder” to a “strategic competitor,” the U.S. government’s description of China has changed dramatically over the past years. Once a de facto partner in the Cold War, Beijing is increasingly seen as an economic rival at home and a challenge to American power in Asia and perhaps abroad. Furthermore, as knowledge of China’s social controls and treatment of ethnic Uighurs spreads, many Americans wonder what role values and human rights should play in U.S. policy toward Beijing. The discourse around China and its role in the world is changing.

In spring 2019, Brookings Vice President and Director of Foreign Policy Bruce Jones convened four Brookings scholars and affiliates—Tarun Chhabra, Rush Doshi, Ryan Hass, and Mira Rapp-Hooper—to probe how the rising generation of foreign policy scholars think about the evolving debate around China and the future of the U.S.-China relationship.

The edited transcript below reflects their assessments of China’s evolving foreign policy intentions, their debates on how to define the changing U.S.-China relationship, the dynamics of strategic competition between Washington and Beijing, as well as potential policy responses.

On U.S.-China trade, America is off track

Ryan Hass

One of America’s greatest strengths is its ability to self-correct. Unlike China, with its one-party state and its censored media, the United States fosters a constant competition of ideas, which enables it to adjust course when it veers off track. And right now, the United States is off track in its approach to addressing trade problems with China.

President Trump was directionally correct in prioritizing efforts to address China’s unfair economic practices. There is broad agreement that Beijing’s policies of shielding Chinese companies from foreign competition, pumping them full of subsidies, and then unleashing them on the global market where they can undercut market-based competitors are unfair. But the tactics President Trump and his team have pursued to change China’s behavior have done more harm than good for American farmers, workers, pensioners, and business owners.

Here are the facts: Tariffs will cost the average American household $831 this year; farmers have suffered over $1 billion in lost exports, mostly to China; farm foreclosures are spiking across the Midwest; businesses that rely on imports of intermediate goods from China are getting squeezed; and Chinese purchasing patterns are shifting from U.S. firms to foreign competitors. For all these reasons and more, the American Chamber of Commerce has urged the Trump administration to end its trade war with China, warning that continuing down the current path risks costing the U.S. economy $1 trillion over the next decade.



China's military called on the United States to adopt a modern way of thinking in dealing with the People's Republic, warning America that it risked falling behind.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang condemned the Pentagon's recent Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, which accused Beijing of seeking "to reorder the region to its advantage by leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce other nations."

He said the ministry was "firmly opposed to its negative contents concerning China," citing some specific points of contention.

"No strategy should go against the times," Ren explained. "The trend of the world is mighty and overwhelming. Those who follow it will prosper while those who resist will perish. Peace, development and win-win cooperation are the trends of our times. Any strategy that is closed and exclusive, which is against the general trends, is doomed to failure."

Five Sobering Lessons From Iran's Downing Of America's Most Capable Drone

Iran's destruction of a U.S. Global Hawk unmanned aircraft with a surface-to-air missile near the Strait of Hormuz should be a wake-up call for proponents of autonomous or remotely-piloted warfighting systems. The era of drone warfare is not upon us, because the vehicles currently available for military purposes are too limited in their capabilities to survive combat with a reasonably well-equipped adversary.

Drones became popular in military circles at a time when the U.S. was fighting adversaries who lacked air forces or air defenses. That has led some observers to over-estimate their near-term utility in warfare. With U.S. defense strategy now shifted from a focus on irregular forces (like ISIS) to great-power competition, the relevance of unmanned systems to fighting and winning wars has become less clear.

Obviously, recent advances in artificial intelligence and related technologies have the potential to bolster the performance of autonomous or remotely-piloted warfighting systems, whether they operate in the air, under the seas or on the Earth’s surface. But emerging technologies can also be applied to weapons aimed at countering them. Here are five lessons from last week’s shoot-down that should give proponents of unmanned military vehicles cause for reflection.

Responding to Iran's asymmetric threat


As the United States turns up the heat on Iran through sanctions, it’s clear we are entering an extended phase of tensions in the Persian Gulf. While the Iranian military would stand little chance against the U.S. military in a protracted conflict, the Iranian government possesses a range of asymmetric capabilities that could threaten U.S. interests worldwide. This should force senior U.S. national security officials to carefully consider the fine line between deterrence and escalation.

Iran has already taken asymmetrical measures, including attacks on oil tankers, shooting down unmanned U.S. aircraft and increased proxy operations in the Middle East, which make it difficult for the U.S. to respond proportionately. And Tehran has many more tools at its disposal. The U.S. needs to decide whether it will respond with covert steps, which would by their very nature be less effective in the very public signaling needed to dissuade Iran from further attacks, or overt measures like the proposed missile attacks against Iranian military sites, which could be escalatory. The closed and opaque nature of Iran’s security apparatus make Iran’s tripwires difficult to forecast. And when combined with President Trump’s unpredictable decision-making, it is a recipe for miscalculation. Here are some of the tactics Iran could use against the United States., and the challenges the White House faces in responding to them.

Frustrated US turns to dark ops against Iran as sanctions fail

America and its allies are weighing further covert action against Iran amid the realisation that sanctions are failing to bring it to heel.

After weeks of teetering close to war with the Islamic republic,Washington is pulling back from the brink of open hostilities and moving into the shadowy world of covert operations.

The US launched cyber-attacks on Iran earlier this month in retaliation for attacks on tankers in the Gulf that were blamed on the state.

The operation was believed to be similar to one in 2010 in which the so-called Stuxnet virus caused serious damage to Iran’s nuclear programme.

Bill Burns, a former US deputy secretary of state who spent decades dealing with Iran, said that there was an increasing acceptance that sanctions were…

Iran Strikes Back Against America. Is a War Coming to the Middle East?

by Sebastien Roblin

Tehran has started its very own maximum pressure campaign against Washington.

By most accounts, the United States and Iran came within minutes of armed conflict with each other on June 20, 2019. 

Around 4:30 AM that morning, a U.S. Navy RQ-4N Global Hawk spy drone flying a routine circuit over international airspace in the Persian Gulf was shot down by an Iranian Ra’ad surface-to-air missile system.

Later that day, U.S. forces were ostensibly “ten minutes” away from striking three Iranian bases likely with air- and sea-launched missiles when President Donald Trump changed his mind and canceled the attack. He later cited concerns that killing an estimated 150 Iranians over the loss of an unmanned drone was a disproportionate response.

Since the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from a nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018, it has waged a “maximum pressure campaign” on Tehran through economic sanctions. Iran had been complying with the JCPOA nuclear deal, which sharply restricted its nuclear technologies and opened sites to foreign inspectors in exchange for allowing Western companies access to the Iranian market. However, the deal’s critics complained the JCPOA did not regulate Iran’s rapidly improving ballistic missile capabilities nor address Iran’s involvement in the civil wars in Syria and Yemen, and support for Hezbollah.

Why Donald Trump Will Push Iran Into a War

by Paul R. Pillar

The current spike in tensions, including incidents involving oil tankers, is a direct and unsurprising result of the Trump administration’s failed “maximum pressure” campaign.

The statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the latest incident involving tankers in the Gulf of Oman is questionable on multiple counts, beginning with his immediate, semi-automatic attribution of responsibility to Iran. The origin of the fires and explosions on the tankers is still undetermined, grainy videos notwithstanding. The Japanese company that owns one of the tankers reports that the crew’s description of what hit the ship doesn’t square with the U.S. administration’s version. And no one has yet explained why the Iranian regime would go out of its way to embarrass Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan—which has been one of the leading buyers of Iranian oil—by sabotaging a Japanese tanker on the very day Abe was meeting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Pompeo’s listing of the reasons behind what he labeled as the “assessment of the United States Government” regarding Iranian responsibility is curious in other respects. One of Pompeo’s reasons is “recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping”—an apparent reference to an incident in May in which four tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates sustained mysterious minor damage. The reasoning is circular. That incident is still shrouded in uncertainty as well, despite immediate blaming of Iran by the U.S. administration, as the newest incident. 

The Oil Crisis Saudi Arabia Can’t Solve – Analysis

By Cyril Widdershoven*

Saudi Arabia’s CEO Amin Nasr’s message to the press that oil flows to the market are guaranteed, should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Looking at the current volatility in the Persian/Arabian Gulf and the possibility of a temporary closure of the Strait of Hormuz, the Aramco CEO’s message might be a bit overoptimistic. In reality, Aramco will not be able to keep the necessary crude oil and products volumes flowing to Asian and European markets in the case of a full Strait of Hormuz blockade. Even that Aramco owns and operates a crude oil pipeline with a capacity of 5 million bpd, carrying crude 1,200 kilometers between the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea, much more is needed to keep the oil market stable.

Nasr’s move to stabilize the market is praiseworthy but should be seen as an attempt to quell fears of traders and financial analysts, especially just before the OPEC+ meeting in Vienna next week. Nasr reiterated that Aramco (aka the Kingdom) is able to supply sufficient crude through the Red Sea, reiterating that the necessary pipeline and terminal infrastructure is there. However, what analysts tend to forget, Nasr’s statement is only linked to Saudi’s oil export volumes, which will likely be not higher this summer than around the level this pipeline can support. The real issue, if it comes to a full-blown conflict, is that not only Saudi oil is being threatened.

Putin’s Wrong, But So Are Liberals

Pankaj Mishra

While notions of individual freedom and dignity aren’t dead, defenders should examine their reflexively fanatical faith in market mechanisms.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assertion last week that Western liberalism was obsolete provoked some strident rebuttals. A contemptuous silence might have been preferable, saving us the embarrassment of Boris Johnson invoking “our values,” or European Council President Donald Tusk claiming, against overwhelming evidence, that it was authoritarianism that was obsolete.

Even the Financial Times, to which Putin confided his views, was reduced to childishly asserting that “while America is no longer the shining city on the hill it once seemed, the world’s poor and oppressed still head overwhelmingly for the U.S. and western Europe” rather than Russia.

Such rhetoric from both sides felt like a rehash of the cold war, and with the same purpose: to conceal the failures and weaknesses of both systems.

One function of Russia’s communist tyranny in the past was to make its capitalist opponents look vastly better. Centrally planned command economies failed spectacularly, revealing that communists had no economic solution to the modern riddles of injustice and inequality, and were, furthermore, devastatingly blind to their own environmental depredations.

EU to stage war games to prepare for hybrid threats

HELSINKI — European Union ministers will take part in joint war games over coming months to better prepare the bloc for a range of attacks, from cyberattacks to disinformation campaigns.

Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Thursday that interior and finance ministers from the 28-country bloc will be tasked to respond to fictional scenarios during meetings in Helsinki in July and September. By being able to respond, they will be able to help out authorities on the ground

"Military and civilian authorities can usually, in crisis time, do only what they have been trained for," said Haavisto.

Finland has specialized in dealing with the issue and has set up a European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which since its inception two years ago now has 22 EU and NATO members.

What the Right Gets Wrong About Socialism

By Erlend Kvitrud

As Scandinavia shows, it does feature plenty of public ownership—but also a thriving economy.

Global inequality is surging at an unprecedented pace. According to Oxfam, the world’s 26 richest people currently have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 3.8 billion—down from 61 people in 2016. As the rich get richer, sea levels are rising, tribalism is flourishing, and liberal democracies are regressing. Even some of the wealthiest nations are plagued by job insecurity, debt, and stagnant wages. Ordinary people across the political spectrum are increasingly concerned that the system is rigged against them. Trust in public institutions is near an all-time low.

In response to these conditions, democratic socialism is enjoying a revival in the United States. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-described socialist, is currently polling ahead of and raising more money than all the other Democratic presidential candidates except former Vice President Joe Biden. His town hall appearance on Fox News was the most watched such event of the campaign season so far. With this surge of interest has come a renewed debate, often centered on historical and international comparisons, about what socialism actually means and whether it can succeed. Sanders’s efforts to distinguish himself from Sen. Elizabeth Warren—a progressive, policy-oriented candidate who has emerged as a close competitor, and who advocates for “responsible capitalism” rather than democratic socialism—has only deepened that interest. Earlier this month, he delivered a speech presenting his vision of democratic socialism, and during Thursday night’s Democratic primary debate, he sparred with former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper over the viability of a socialist in the race against incumbent President Donald Trump.


David Maxwell’s thoughts on the meeting:

Unconventional, experimental, top down diplomacy. Diplomacy and foreign relations via twitter and social media.Will it pay off? I hope so but I think it will only work if we understand the true nature of the Kim family regime and we do not take our eye off the ball – north Korea’s political warfare strategy and long con.

I do not mean this to be disrespectful but I do think it is accurate to describe the “political philosophy” of this admisnntration as one of reality TV. I think it is simply a fact that the President’s information and influence activities strategy is based on the principles of success for reality TV.

I do hope the President will take seriously the name “Freedom’s Frontier” and will work to protect freedom and liberty everywhere throughout the world against our enemies who seek authoritarian government expansion and domination, to include China, Russia, Iran, and north Korea as well as the non-state violent extremist actors.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Sharing Coming Under Increased European Scrutiny

As a result of increasing strategic arms competition between the United States and Russia, European allies that host elements of the U.S. nuclear deterrent have rekindled the debate about overseas nuclear basing.

While so-called nuclear sharing isn't under immediate threat right now, there is significant uncertainty surrounding its long-term future.

The Turkish role in U.S. nuclear arms sharing is particularly fragile because of the deteriorating ties between Washington and Ankara, and the standoff over the acquisition of Russian S-400 air defense systems versus the U.S. F-35 fighter aircraft.

As the rivalry between the United States and Russia shows no sign of abating, a number of different elements of the strategic arms stability framework have come under significant stress. Several key treaties, including the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, have even broken down. At the same time, Washington and Moscow are doing their best to maintain or improve their nuclear posture in order to maintain a credible deterrent.

Uncertainty on Trade is Killing American Businesses

by Robert Krol

Uncertainty is causing real damage to U.S. consumers and producers.

President Donald Trump’s trade policies are hurting the U.S. economy. The president thinks “tariffs are a great negotiating tool,” and that may be true. However, uncertainty over potential tariffs can be a nightmare for American businesses engaged in international trade. For instance, Trump’s recent plan to raise tariffs on Mexican imports would have hammered an automobile industry that has integrated Mexican production since the passage of NAFTA in 1994. Additionally, the administration is still considering imposing tariffs on $300 billion worth of imports from China, and the resolution of that trade war is still up in the air. 

Tariffs raise the cost of imported goods for American consumers and businesses; these cost shocks have a negative impact on economic activity. The mere possibility of that shock affects the American economy more than many might think. 

The president’s on-again, off-again negotiating approach to trade relations hurts the U.S. economy by raising the level of uncertainty over the future course of trade policy. Uncertainty—whether it is due to the normal ups and downs of the business cycle or Washington’s obscure vision of future policy—will inevitably cause businesses both large and small to slow or cancel business expansion plans both here and abroad. Uncertainty reduces prosperity. 

Sharpening Our Efforts: The Role of International Development in Countering Violent Extremism

Thanks to the generous support and cooperation from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the CSIS Project on Prosperity and Development releases this new essay anthology, Sharpening Our Efforts: The Role of International Development in Countering Violent Extremism. As policymakers confront the ongoing challenge of radicalization and violent extremism, it is important that stakeholders and counterterrorism strategists recognize the critical role for development and other non-kinetic approaches to counter violent extremism (CVE). To that end, this new anthology takes a multidimensional role mapping out the role of soft power institutions in enabling lasting peace, prosperity, and global security.

This report is made possible through the generous support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Melians’ Revenge: How Emerging Tech Can Fortify NATO’s Eastern Flank


AI, 3D printing, commercial drones, and more can give the alliance’s easternmost nations a surprisingly potent defensive punch.

Perhaps Thucydides’ most famous quote is from the Melian Dialogue. The Athenians tell the Melians, “The strong do what they can, the weak suffer what they must.” For thousands of years, small states have faced the Melians’ choice. Today, Eastern European nations face much the same problem – a large neighbor that thinks it should dictate life to them.

Fortunately, the convergence of commercially available technology is changing this fact. It is creating small, smart, and cheap weapons that, combined with some existing arms, can provide small states with sufficient combat power to deter large neighbors. 

To start the discussion, we must consider two key factors: European willingness to fight and European geography. A 2015 Carnegie Europe poll found that only 48 percent of Europeans believed their nations should defend an ally. Phrasing the question somewhat differently, a WIN/Gallup poll found that only 25 percent of Europeans would be personally willing to fight for their own countries. And even if NATO decides to fight, its low military readiness and poor transportation networks to Eastern Europe mean significant reinforcements can’t arrive in time.

How To Secure The Internet Of Battlefield Things From Cyber Attacks

Dan Goure

Is the Pentagon ready for this new era of cyber warfare?

The proliferation of devices on the Internet is becoming a tidal wave. In addition to your phone, computer, video game console and television, the Internet now connects practically everything that has electronics and sensors: household appliances, heating and air conditioning systems, cars, airplanes, ships, industrial robots, public utilities, home security systems, children’s toys and medical devices. By 2025, it is estimated that there will be at least 75 billion connected devices in what is being called the “Internet of Things” (IOT). With advances in microprocessors, sensing devices and software, pretty soon anything that can be connected will be connected.

It should come as no surprise that the IOT has extended to government networks, particularly those operated by the Department of Defense (DoD). At DoD, everything from motors to battlefield sensors to door access readers may come with a network connection that is required for it to perform its assigned task. In addition to this mission-supporting equipment, DoD also has a litany of consumer devices running on its networks, from printers to video monitors and cameras to refrigerators. These devices are continually communicating with one another, as well as with higher headquarters all the way back to the Pentagon. The result is what some observers call the “Internet of Battlefield Things” (IOBT). There is a general consensus among experts that the military which first creates the IOBT will gain a decisive advantage over its competitors.

The Supreme Art of War

Andrew Fox

The Mad Scientist team executed its 2019 Science Fiction Writing Contest to glean insights about the future fight with a near-peer competitor in 2030. We received 77 submissions from both within and outside of the DoD. This story was one of our semi-finalists and features a futuristic look at warfare and its featured technologies.

“Secretary MacKennan, this is what satellite imagery showed as of oh-three-thirty this morning. The Donovians are massing their forces on their border with Otso.” General Lauren Goldwaithe, USAF, acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, aimed her laser pointer at a holographic image that had suddenly appeared in at the front of the conference room.

Vertigo churned Secretary of Defense William MacKennan’s stomach – due to both the sick-making hologram and the situation’s deadly significance. “There’s no chance this is just an exercise... a drill?” he asked.

“No, sir. The Donovian military has always been very up-front about announcing their mass exercises. They made no announcement in this instance. These significant movements of kinetic assets have followed on the heels of repeated cyber-degradations of Otsan communications and public utilities, as well as suspected reputational assaults on key Otsan political and business leaders.”

US cyber attack on Iran exploited flaw in heavily-guarded network, experts say


AFP — A cyber attack on Iranian missile systems claimed by the US last week would have had to exploit a flaw in the heavily-guarded network, experts said.

Citing US official sources, American media last week reported that the Army Cyber Command had crippled the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s air defense units that shot down a sophisticated drone on June 20.

Military computing security is usually “hardened” to defend against attack but highly-skilled computer scientists in cyber units of modern armies are always working to find a way in.

“The simplest way would be for a special forces member to plug in a USB [carrying a virus] to the right place,” Loic Guezo of the French Information Security Club told AFP.

This is almost certainly how the well-known US-Israeli Stuxnet virus was introduced in 2010, into the computers of Iran’s nuclear complex, according to experts.

Iran at the time accused the US and Israel of using the virus to target its centrifuges used for uranium enrichment.

The Revolutionary Guards are believed to have since bolstered precautionary measures in a bid to isolate their military computer networks from the internet.

What’s in the New US-Singapore Artificial Intelligence Defense Partnership?

By Prashanth Parameswaran

A closer look at the significance of bilateral security cooperation in a new area for both countries.

Last week, the United States and Singapore held an engagement that represented the first step by both countries to officially operationalize a defense partnership in the area of artificial intelligence (AI). Beyond its individual significance, the engagement also highlighted ongoing efforts by the two countries to strengthen cooperation in new areas of the security aspect of their bilateral ties.

As I have noted before, the United States and Singapore have long viewed each other as vital strategic partners, and that extends to the security realm as well, with the United States being a key supplier of defense technology and facilities for military training for Singapore, and the city-state is a valuable regional partner across a range of issues from counterterrorism to maritime security, while also hosting a U.S. Navy logistics command unit that coordinates regional operations.

The defense relationship has continued to advance in recent years. Though the headlines are often focused on individual developments such as new exercises and defense sales, the United States and Singapore have also been looking at how to work in new security areas, as set out in the new enhanced defense cooperation agreement (Enhanced DCA) that both sides had inked in 2015 which covered areas such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, cybersecurity, and biosecurity.

Why Doctrine Matters

George Fust

Anyone who has ever purchased furniture from Ikea knows the value of well written instructions. Entire sub-markets have developed to help people put Ikea furniture together. These experts have figured out the patterns and nuances of the company’s model. They have experience and knowledge of their respective task and can therefore perform it efficiently. Even when faced with a chair or table they haven’t assembled before, they under the principles and style of manufacturing and can leverage those skills to accomplish their objective. Military doctrine serves a similar function. It is critical for junior officers to have a solid foundation in doctrine. They must read it and apply it during training. They must commit to memory the most critical components. They must return to it if time permits to guide and shape courses of action (COA).

Unlike the notoriously vague Ikea instruction manual, Army doctrine is as specific as it needs to be without being overly directive. It allows flexibility when circumstances change, which they always will. Army doctrine has also evolved for generations. Hard fought lessons have been inculcated into each iteration. The material builds on previous knowledge and is now synchronized across war fighting functions. Army doctrine is a guidebook for accomplishing your mission. Those who attempt to build the latest Ikea desk without the instruction book may have similar results to those who ignore doctrine. At best, you may have a place to work. But how sturdy is it? Can you replicate the task the same way and achieve the same results in the future? At worst, you are unable to complete the build or mission.