4 July 2019

India: Collapse Of Global Terror In J&K – Analysis

By Ajit Kumar Singh

On June 26, 2019, ‘spokesperson’ of the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGH, supporters of holy war in India), Shabir Ahmad Malik alias Abu Ubaidah, was killed in an encounter by the Security Forces (SFs) in the Tral area of the Pulwama District of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). 

On June 23, 2019, SFs killed four AGH militants, Ahmad Mir aka Arsha ul Haq, Hafiz Azad Ahmad Khanday aka Samiullah Haq, Suhail Yousuf Bhat aka Huzaif ul Haq and Rafee Hassan aka Imaam ul Haq, during an encounter at Daramdora Keegam area in Shopian District.

In the intervening night of May 23-24, 2019, Zakir Rashid Bhat aka Zakir Musa, the ‘founder’ and ‘chief’ of the AGH, was killed in an encounter with the SFs at Dadsara village in the Tral area of Pulwama District. 

According to South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) database, the AGH has lost (killed by the SFs) at least 19 of its cadres since its inception in July 2017 (data till June 30, 2019). The SFs have arrested another nine AGH cadres during this period.

Modi’s foreign minister Jaishankar has a situation on hand – tackling angry US


The first priority for Indian foreign policy today is the same as the first priority for Indian domestic policy – economic renewal.

Hours after he took over as the external affairs minister in the new Narendra Modi government, former diplomat S. Jaishankar had a situation on hand. US President Donald Trump formally rescinded India’s designation as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

This designation, accorded to India in November 1975, provided preferential duty-free access to the US markets for an array of goods. It is the clearest expression yet of Trump’s intention to confront economic differences, especially bilateral trade deficit, with India head on — irrespective of its implications for the wider US-India relationship. While Jaishankar is no stranger to these issues, the context in which he will have to deal with them is more challenging than ever.

The former foreign secretary’s appointment to a top cabinet post signals Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s desire to accord high priority to external engagements in his second term. In particular, Jaishankar brings to the table deep experience on big-picture geopolitical issues. Speaking at a public event a few weeks before he returned to government, Jaishankar noted that Indian foreign policy now aimed at a “positioning that will arise from optimising ties with all major players”. First in the order of priority was “cultivating America”.

India staring at a water apocalypse

A combination of climate change, bad policies and political apathy is steadily pushing India into a catastrophic water crisis that threatens stability in South Asia.

Recent studies document that glaciers feeding the Indian subcontinent’s rivers will recede rapidly, while rapid ground water depletion poses an existential challenge to agriculture.

The southwest monsoons remain the biggest source of water in the subcontinent. The monsoons lead to a combination of water sources supporting human habitats that includes glaciers, surface irrigation and ground water. But redundancy and surplus have gone missing from this once abundant system. Taking their place are galloping shortages.

Even the best-case scenarios are “scary,” water researcher Aditi Mukherjee told Asia Times.
Terrible loss of glaciers

Mukherjee is one of the editors of a landmark study that was published earlier this year. It predicts a terrible loss of the glaciers that dot the Hindu Kush-Himalaya region. “The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment” says that even if urgent global action on climate change is able to limit global warning to 1.5 degrees centigrade, it will still lead to a loss of a third of the glaciers in the region by the year 2100.

Parag Khanna’s Latest Book: The Future is Asian

By William Thatcher Dowell

Mention Asia these days and thoughts generally turn to China. In the “Future is Asian”, writer Parag Khanna argues that Asia is a great deal bigger than the Middle Kingdom and in fact encompasses a wide swath of the planet ranging from the Middle East to the Philippines and the Indonesian archipelago.

Asia is not a continent, Parag Khanna observes; it is an extended region that includes some five billion people, whereas China’s population accounts for a mere 1.5 billion. As Khanna sees it, It is this immense assortment of humanity that will almost certainly define the future as the Asian Century.

Understanding the full extent of Asia requires a bit of mental gymnastics from Westerners who are accustomed thinking of Asia as a succession of disparate states, separate entities that seem to have little in common with each other. That perspective, Khanna observes, is a lingering after-effect of 19th and 20th century colonialism. As Khanna sees it, even the United States, which always thought of itself as anti-imperialist, has often been an indirect participant in colonial imperialism. The most glaring example may have been the Vietnam War in which Americans initially provided support to France’s postwar efforts to reclaim its lost colonies in Indochina.

Nepal: The Guthi Bill And Lessons Learnt (Brute Majority Is Not Enough) – OpEd

By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

The Controversial Guthi Bill, its abrupt withdrawal from the Parliament and subsequent massive but disciplined demonstration against the Government’s attempt to nationalize Guthis should be a good lesson for Oli Government. 

First, the Government thought that with its brute majority it could get through the bill without considering or even attempting to explain to the people the benefits. This was a mistake. The second mistake was to treat it as law and order problem in the early stages. In the end, it brought, the power of the common man to the fore as against the might of the Government. What is left unsaid was tht the powerful Newar community cannot be trifled with and particularly with their centuries old traditions and practices.

Guthis are socio economic institutions that have been present since the fifth century. These institutions that are mainly held as trusts have certain obligations like conducting the many festivals of the valley with the proceeds of the endowed land and donations from the public. Of late the income from the endowed lands has not been sufficient but these festivals like the many “Rath yatras” one sees in Kathmandu were the result of generous donations of well to do people. There was active participation of the public in all these festivities.

Osaka G20: The Important Meeting Most Media Missed

By Andrey Panevin

The Sino-Russian partnership has growing appeal for other countries (including India) as the West flounders.

The most recent G-20 Summit in Osaka was an interesting affair. Not much of substance emerged from meetings involving Western leaders, including those with U.S. President Donald Trump. Instead, the most interesting aspects of the G-20 were Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interview with the Financial Times, given just prior to the start of the event, and the trilateral handshake between Russia, China, and India.

The former grabbed headlines due to Putin’s proclamation regarding the obsolescence of the Western liberal order; the latter was a strangely and unfortunately muted affair in terms of press coverage. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done what many thought he would not, extending a friendly hand to China at the most opportune time for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative and plans for transcontinental Eurasian integration.

The trilateral was a somewhat informal meeting held at the behest of Modi, who had pitched the idea while at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit earlier in June. It came just as the United States has been growing ever more worried about Russia’s sale of S-400 air defense systems to Turkey and India, two nations that were perhaps taken for granted as being the major non-Western powers in the Western camp.

Why policymakers should fear Libra

Kaushik Basu

New global digital currency, Libra, which the company plans to launch as early as 2020, could transform the world. But no one—including the founders of this ambitious economic engineering project—can fully anticipate the currency’s possible ramifications. And monetary policymakers should be especially worried, because they may find it much harder to control unemployment and inflation in a Libra world.

In the first quarter of 2019, Facebook had 2.38 billion monthly active users. If even a fraction of them begin to use Libra to carry out financial transactions, buy and sell products, and transfer money, the new currency would quickly gain wide acceptance. Already, the Libra Association, a Geneva-based not-for-profit group that will operate the digital currency, counts companies such as Uber, eBay, Lyft, Mastercard, and PayPal among its founding members. Libra could, therefore, become a dominant global currency—but one run by a corporation, not a central bank.

Although Libra is based on the same blockchain technology as other cryptocurrencies, it is expected to be much more efficient. Facebook promises that the Libra system will be able to process 1,000 transactions per second, be user-friendly, and have a transaction cost of virtually zero.

China’s quest for soft power


Many people around the world and are thrilled by the rapid rise of China within a span of a single generation. But people’s perception of China is informed and influenced by two different schools of thought.

First, the China exceptionalism school trumpets how great, resilient, and responsive the Chinese system is with full accounts on how China plans to take over the world by stealth. For the proponents of this school, the Chinese regime is not only flexible but exceptional enough to overcome the enormous internal and external challenges the country faces.

Second, the China imminent collapse school, on the other hand, argues that China will be the victim of its success. Huge ecological damage, an insurmountable pile of bad debt – in both the public and the private sector – and simmering dissent over corruption and crony capitalism are put forward to assert the rationale of China’s looming collapse. The proponents of this school tend to forget the potential opportunities as China climbs the industrial, scientific, and cultural value chain.

China’s Risks Rise With Threats To Gulf Oil – Analysis

By Michael Lelyveld

Rising risks to shipping in the Persian Gulf have renewed questions about China’s strategic stockpile of oil and its dependence on energy flows from the Middle East.

As the world’s largest oil importer, China would be vulnerable to a shutdown of traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, the vital waterway that carries about one-fifth of the world’s liquid petroleum supplies.

The potential impact is part of growing concern in China over energy security with the rise in dependence on imported crude oil to roughly 70 percent from 50 percent in 2008.

“Needless to say, the dependency rate is quite high, but in my opinion, it may still be a conservative calculation,” said Lin Boqiang, dean of Xiamen University’s China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy.

“More importantly, the government should be aware that such high oil dependency is actually a very unsafe form of risk,” Lin told the Communist Party of China (CPC)-affiliated Global Times in an interview published on March 29.

Red Star over Tibet

Rumours recently circulated about the Dalai Lama restarting negotiations with China. Nine rounds of fruitless talks were held between 2002 and 2010 between Lodi Gyari Rinpoche, the Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy and Zhu Weiqun of the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department.

Since then China’s control over Tibet has hardened; countries which earlier had some sympathy for the Tibetans, are now hostile.

Take the strange incident which took place at the Tribhuvan International airport in Kathmandu; The Himalayan Times reported: “Man labelled Dalai Lama’s agent, deported to US”.

Apparently the Nepal immigration mistook a Tibetan holding a US passport called Penpa Tsering arriving from the US, with his homonym the former Dalai Lama’s Representative in the US; Nepali officials argued that the man was ‘on China’s most-wanted list’. In Dharamsala, the former Tibetan Representative observed: “It clearly shows that the Chinese government’s pressure on Nepal is working.”

China and Japan’s Pragmatic Peace

By J. Berkshire Miller

Facing U.S. unpredictability, both countries have decided that they’re better off working together.

Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping for a bilateral summit in Osaka on the sidelines of the G-20 summit. World leaders frequently hold such meetings alongside international gatherings, but this one was special, particularly because it happened during Xi’s first visit to Japan since he took office in 2013. During the meeting, both sides praised the positive trajectory of ties between the two countries and made plans for Xi to visit Tokyo next spring.

At least as measured by visits, the trajectory is positive indeed. Xi’s meeting follows Abe’s own official state-level visit to Beijing last October, which came on the heels of a state-level visit to Japan in May by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, during which the two sides agreed to memoranda of understanding on a range of issues, from social security to private sector cooperation on infrastructure development in third countries. Underlining the importance of reestablishing a pragmatic relationship with China, Abe even took the step of accompanying Li to Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido following official meetings in Tokyo.

How Xi trumped Trump at the G20 summit

Charles Burton is associate professor of political science at Brock University, senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad, and former counsellor at the Canadian embassy in Beijing

Donald Trump met with China’s supreme leader Xi Jinping for 80 minutes at the G20 summit in Osaka on Friday. For Canada, the meeting wasn’t good – but it was for China.

While China’s long-term preparations for its new cold war confrontation with the U.S. continue apace, Mr. Trump’s infatuation of autocratic dictators – of which Mr. Xi is primus inter pares – shows no signs of abating. At the press conference following their meeting, Mr. Trump told a Chinese reporter that Mr. Xi is “a brilliant leader. He’s a brilliant man. You know better than I, he is probably considered to be one of the great leaders of 200 years in China.”

There was no mention of Mr. Xi’s leadership over Chinese Communist Party policies which have incarcerated 3 million Uyghurs (the figure used by the U.S. State Department) under harsh conditions in cultural genocide camps. Mr. Trump indicated that Hong Kong also didn’t come up.

Xi Jinping's Strategy for U.S.-North Korea Negotiations

By Tao Peng

On the occasion of the deadlock in the U.S.-DPRK denuclearization negotiations, the increasingly fierce Sino-U.S. game, and the G20 summit in Japan, Chinese President Xi Jinping flew to North Korea to start a two-day state mission. This was interpreted by some analyses as Xi Jinping would U.S.e this to put the United States under pressure at the Japan Summit or to present a gift to Trump. Judging from varioU.S. recent statements and actions in Beijing, Xi Jinping’s trip has both the intention of displaying strength to the United States and the intention of reconciling with the United States, which can be described as a double-edged sculpture.

First of all, the primary connotation of Xi Jinping's visit to North Korea is that Beijing and Pyongyang will break away from the Cold War framework, adapt to the world's development trend, synchronize the internal policies of the two countries, and get rid of the strategic squeeze imposed by the United States on China in Northeast Asia.

Tajikistan Tilts Back Toward Iran

By Catherine Putz

With a new agreement on an old tunnel, and Tehran on the hunt for friends, the tide is pulling Iran and Tajikistan back together for now.

Tajikistan and Iran have agreed to invest $8 million more into construction of the Istiqlol tunnel. According to Akipress, Tajikistan and Iran signed an agreement in which each size will commit $4 million in financing to finish the tunnel. Each side will finance $4 million to finish the tunnel with ventilation, sprinkler and traffic and safety control systems.

The tunnel has as checkered a history as Tajik-Iranian relations over the past few years. An agreement to do more work on the tunnel is the latest gesture within an improving relationship.

The Istiqlol tunnel, also called the Anzob Tunnel, is 3.1 miles long and cuts the travel time between Dushanbe and Tajikistan’s second-largest city, Khujand, dramatically. Because of Tajikistan’s geography, traveling between the capital and Khujand requires either going through the tunnel or through Uzbekistan, which until recently was considerably more difficult. The partially completed tunnel initially opened in 2006. With an original price tag of $4 billion, what opened quickly earned the moniker “tunnel of death.” In 2014, Iran and Tajikistan signed another agreement, worth $3 billion, to complete the tunnel by the following March. But in June 2015 the tunnel was closed again and reopened that September.

U.S., North Korea: Trump and Kim Step Over the Border Line to Revive Nuclear Talks

What Happened

Just over four months since the high-profile breakdown of their summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have met again. On June 30, in what Trump couched as a relatively impromptu event, they held a 50-minute meeting at the inter-Korean border's Panmunjom peace village. In a highly symbolic moment, the two leaders shook hands before Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to cross, however briefly, into North Korea. Kim also stepped over into South Korea.

At a post-meeting news conference, Trump said that U.S. and North Korean representatives will hold working-level nuclear talks in the next two to three weeks between teams chosen by the U.S. special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the one side and an unnamed North Korean counterpart on the other. The president emphasized the goal of a comprehensive deal, downplaying (as before) speed. He also confirmed that he has invited Kim to visit the White House but there had been no formal agreement. While Trump said sanctions on North Korea would remain, he suggested that talks could change this — a hint of a potential departure from the White House's hard-line position. And he once again downplayed the significance of North Korea's missile launches in May.

The Long Shadow of 9/11

By Robert Malley And Jon Finer 

When it comes to political orientation, worldview, life experience, and temperament, the past three presidents of the United States could hardly be more different. Yet each ended up devoting much of his tenure to the same goal: countering terrorism.

Upon entering office, President George W. Bush initially downplayed the terrorist threat, casting aside warnings from the outgoing administration about al Qaeda plots. But in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, his presidency came to be defined by what his administration termed “the global war on terrorism,” an undertaking that involved the torture of detainees, the incarceration of suspects in “black sites” and at a prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, the warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens, and prolonged and costly military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Barack Obama’s political rise was fueled by his early opposition to Bush’s excesses. He was clear-eyed about the nature of the terrorist threat and aware of the risks of overstating its costs. Once in office, he established clearer guidelines for the use of force and increased transparency about civilian casualties. But he also expanded the fight against terrorists to new theaters, dramatically increased the use of drone strikes, and devoted the later years of his presidency to the struggle against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS). 

Socialism and Capitalism

By George Friedman 

Socialism is a global political movement that emerged from the French Revolution. Its goal was to speak for the dispossessed, only sometimes as a democratic political party. In all of its guises, it has been a powerful political force in most of the world. In the United States, however, it has been relegated to the political margins, seen largely as alien to the American ethos. It has now emerged explicitly as a subject of debate in American politics and therefore requires some thought.

Origin Stories

The important difference between socialism and capitalism – even more important than what each actually preaches – is that capitalism is less an intellectual or moral system than a reality born of the industrial revolution. Socialism, on the other hand, has always been an intellectual movement, crafted by intellectuals such as Saint-Simon, Fourier, Lassalle and Marx, all of whom made the moral case for socialism and imagined what such a system would look like. These intellectuals loathed inequality and despised the...

Debate: "Should the United States severely restrict Huawei's business?"

Scott Kennedy: Well, good morning. Welcome to CSIS. I’m Scott Kennedy. I’m a senior adviser in the Freeman Chair in China Studies here, and I’m also your safety officer for today. There’s lots of folks here, and if there is any kind of issue or any type of challenge I’ll try to give you advice and protect you. You’ll be able to go out one of these exits on either side. You’ll go down the stairs, come out the sides of the building, and we’ll meet across the street, and then the losing team will buy a round for everybody. (Laughter.) That’s not going to happen. We’re going to have a great event today, no issues whatsoever.

And in fact, this is the week of debates. The Democratic Party had two debates that touched lightly on China. We’re going to take, instead, a head-on approach to the most urgent issue facing U.S.-China relations, which is “Should the United States severely restrict Huawei’s business?” Let me briefly explain why CSIS is hosting this debate, introduce the two teams, explain the format and the rules, and get you, the audience, involved right away.

In an astonishing turn, George Soros and Charles Koch team up to end US ‘forever war’ policy

By Stephen Kinzer 

BESIDES BEING BILLIONAIRES and spending much of their fortunes to promote pet causes, the leftist financier George Soros and the right-wing Koch brothers have little in common. They could be seen as polar opposites. Soros is an old-fashioned New Deal liberal. The Koch brothers are fire-breathing right-wingers who dream of cutting taxes and dismantling government. Now they have found something to agree on: the United States must end its “forever war” and adopt an entirely new foreign policy.

In one of the most remarkable partnerships in modern American political history, Soros and Charles Koch, the more active of the two brothers, are joining to finance a new foreign-policy think tank in Washington. It will promote an approach to the world based on diplomacy and restraint rather than threats, sanctions, and bombing. This is a radical notion in Washington, where every major think tank promotes some variant of neocon militarism or liberal interventionism. Soros and Koch are uniting to revive the fading vision of a peaceable United States. The street cred they bring from both ends of the political spectrum — along with the money they are providing — will make this new think tank an off-pitch voice for statesmanship amid a Washington chorus that promotes brinksmanship.

Middle East War: How Iran Could Attack the U.S. Navy's Aircraft Carriers

by Kyle Mizokami

It could get ugly.

Recent events, particularly the downing of a U.S. Navy MQ-4 Triton by Iranian military forces, again raise the possibility of war between the United States and Iran. The on again, off again standoff between Washington and Tehran, now in its fourth decade is periodically instigated by both sides, and each time Iran grows stronger. If Iran decides to stage an attack against a larger target, such as an American destroyer or even aircraft carrier, how might it use its missile force to do so? 

Iran has invested considerable resources in its ballistic missile forces over the past forty years, for the same reason China and North Korea did: military aviation is an expensive proposition, and developing and maintaining an air force to rival the United States is very expensive indeed. Ballistic missiles offer a relatively inexpensive way to launch conventional, chemical, biological, and even nuclear payloads long distances. As an added bonus intercepting such missiles is complex and itself an expensive undertaking. All three countries developed large ballistic missile arsenals of varying sophistication, occasionally trading in illicit information among themselves and others. 

The Grandmaster: An Interview with Ambassador Richard Armitage

Andrew Schwartz: Welcome to the Asia Chessboard, the podcast that examines geopolitical dynamics in Asia, and takes an inside look at the making of grand strategy. I'm Andrew Schwartz at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Ben Rimland: In this episode, Mike and Andrew interview a true grandmaster of the Asia chessboard: Ambassador Richard Armitage. Ambassador Armitage has seen it all, from riverine patrols with the “brown-water navy” in Vietnam to hard-fought bureaucratic battles as Deputy Secretary of State. Andrew and Mike discuss Ambassador Armitage’s background in Asia. They grade the Trump administration’s ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.” Plus, they forecast possible black swans shadowing the Asia chessboard. And Ambassador Armitage’s all-time bench press record is revealed.

Andrew Schwartz: I wanted to go back sort of to the beginning in the Naval Academy. You were a student, but you also played on the football team, and you played with a guy that a lot of us have heard of named Roger Staubach.

Global Peace Index 2019

This thirteenth edition of the Global Peace Index ranks the peacefulness of 163 independent states and territories according to 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators. In addition to providing the index’s findings and an overall trend analysis, the report also includes an updated assessment of the economic impact of violence as well as trends in Positive Peace: the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies. For the first time in five years, the results of the index suggest a slight improvement in the average level of global peacefulness.

5G smartphones will surpass 4G ones by 2023

By Macy Bayern

More than half of smartphone shipments will be 5G-enabled in the next four years, according to a Canalys report.

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5G-enabled smart devices will reach 800 million units in 2023, occupying 51% of all smartphone shipments, according to a Canalys report released on Monday. This means 5G smartphones will outnumber 4G smartphones in the next four years.

The rise of 5G, the fifth generation of mobile smartphone networks, will aid the widespread impact of Internet of Things (IoT) adoption. This next generation of mobile handsets are expected to have a better battery life, quicker processing power, and lower latency, according to a GlobalData report, driving global 5G adoption. 

The CAGR for 5G smartphones between now and 2023 will hit approximately 180%, with vendors predicted to ship nearly 1.9 million 5G smartphones to the market by the end of 2023, the Canalys report found.

The Promise and Perils of Technology in International Affairs

Technology has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life for the world’s populations, but there are no guarantees it will. Concerns remain about everything from how the growing digital divide risks leaving large swathes of society—and the world—behind, to questions about the security of data and its potential weaponization. And, of course, there is the ongoing debate around how technology and information platforms can be used to undermine democratic processes, including elections.

To address these concerns, a panel of experts assembled by the United Nations recently called for “multistakeholder-ism” that would convene governments, members of civil society, academics, technology experts and the private sector in an attempt to develop norms and standards around these technologies. Even they could not agree on what this structure might specifically look like, though, underscoring how difficult it will be to ensure that technology is harnessed for everyone’s benefit.

The risks are particularly acute under authoritarian regimes, which are more interested in utilizing new technologies to strengthen their grip on power than in having their hands tied by whatever multistakeholder vision ultimately emerges. There are also the questions raised by technological advances in weaponry—particularly the ethical questions and legal concerns surrounding autonomous weapons that remove humans from the decision-making chain.

Espionage and LinkedIn: How Not to Be Recruited As a Spy

By Scott Stewart

Intelligence agencies have always used open source intelligence to spot people with access to the programs or information they are attempting to collect. 

The internet provides such agencies with more open source information than ever; some sites, such as LinkedIn, are particularly useful for spotting people with access to desired information or technologies. 

By understanding how intelligence agencies use LinkedIn and other social media platforms, one can take steps to avoid or mitigate the threat.

The risk that hostile intelligence services will use LinkedIn as a recruitment tool has been widely reported. One such report, by Mika Aaltola at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs published in June 2019, focused on Chinese activity on LinkedIn. The phenomenon, however, is neither confined to Chinese intelligence operations nor limited to that particular social media platform. All intelligence agencies use similar exploits, as illustrated by the Iranian-linked hack of Deloitte in which a LinkedIn connection was used to gain an employee's trust. Even so, the number of reported cases attributed to the Chinese — including those of former intelligence officers such as Kevin Mallory and corporate espionage cases such as one involving an engineer at GE Aviation — suggest their intelligence services are among the most active and aggressive users of LinkedIn as a recruitment tool.

Facebook, Funny Money And Libra – OpEd

By Binoy Kampmark

In this squalid era of compromised data and hollowed privacy, it would be fitting that the company largely responsible for such mishaps would steer another technological innovation. Distractions are needed, and while Mark Zuckerberg cannot launch missiles, as yet, he can certainly launch platforms and what can be coarsely termed “deliverables”.

Having become the object of derision and resentment from the political fraternities of many countries, Facebook has been brazen enough to launch a crytocurrency it hopes will be boosted by support from major currencies.

Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency generated more than a smattering of interest last month when its early-access code made its way to GitHub. By the end of the month, it had been “saved” by some 10,000 users, while a 1,000 clones of the codebase were also generated, very much in a playful effort to test its reliability.

The site for the new currency is spritzed by the usual immodest lingo we have come to associate with technology that is meant to assist, and transform (naturally). “A simple global currency and financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people,” toots the message. The vision is then broken down, staccato like: “Reinvent money. Transform the global economy. So people everywhere can live better lives.”

U.S. Army Making Synthetic Biology a Priority


New thermal cloaking, insect proof uniforms are on the horizon, if the U.S. can get out in front of China.

The U.S. Army’s new Futures Command is accelerating research into synthetic biotechnology to help the military develop next-generation living camouflage and other never-before-seen organisms and materials.

Dimitra Stratis-Cullum, who is overseeing the research in synthetic biology for the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Combat Capabilities Development Command, detailed the effort on Thursday at the fourth annual Defense OneTech Summit. 

U.S Army labs have long had a mandate to study biology, but in April, the lab quietly elevated the study of synthetic biology to one of its top ten priorities. 

“Synthetic biology is one of the Lab’s top ten research priorities. That means we are working across the laboratory and with other regional partners to double the effort that was previously being executed under the Living Materials program,” said Army spokesperson T’Jae Gibson Ellis. The Army did not provide specific numbers on the size of the Living Materials program. The research is being overseen by Gen. Mike Murray, the head of the U.S. Army’s newly established Futures Command.

The Military Aren’t Heroes or Villains. They’re Us.

By Elisabeth Braw

The gap between soldiers and civilians is hurting democracies.

Eighty percent of Germans say they respect their armed forces, the Bundeswehr, a recent survey shows. They just don’t want to serve in it themselves: The German military is currently some 20,000 soldiers short. The situation is the same across the West, from the United States to Britain and Italy. The public respects—worships, even—the military but knows precious little about what it does and wants even less to do with it personally.

“About 4 in 10 young Americans say they have never even considered military service,” reported the U.S. National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service in an interim study this past January. The bipartisan commission, appointed in 2017, is tasked with examining the growing civil-military divide and proposing solutions. The United States is far from the only country to suffer this problem: In the United Kingdom, for example, only 7 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds have a family member serving in the armed forces.

That divide directly affects the armed forces, which are struggling to recruit officers and soldiers from an ever-decreasing pool of military families. In 2016 there were, for example, 2.5 million armed forces veterans in the U.K.; by 2028, the number is projected to plummet to 1.6 million. “Today there’s no place to learn about the military,” said Pete Newell, a retired colonel who led the U.S. Army’s innovative Rapid Equipping Force. “The armed forces are consolidated on large bases behind fences. It has become a multi-generational profession.”

Options for the U.S. Department of Defense to Balance Peer Competition with Military Operations Other Than War

Background: With the release of the 2017 National Security Strategy, the United States is executing a policy pivot towards preparing for peer competition and away from nearly two decades of counterinsurgency. Yet, the most likely future military conflicts will continue to be small wars[1] and MOOTW—such as security force assistance, counter terrorism missions, evacuating U.S. nationals from conflict zones, and robust peacekeeping.

Significance: The post-Cold War period of unipolarity has ended with a return to great power competition. Revisionist great powers are asserting themselves militarily in their near abroad and challenging Western hegemony. Consequently, the United States’ national security priorities have shifted to counter the threat. However, small wars and MOOTW are likely to be the dominant form of actual military conflict for foreseeable future. The challenge for the U.S. military is preparing for peer competition and continental conflict while maintaining the ability to execute MOOTW. For example, the U.S. Army has shifted from Brigade Combat Teams designed for counter insurgency warfare to warfare against peers[2]. What follows are three options for addressing the continuing need for conducting MOOTW.

Option #1: The U.S. primarily employs Special Operations Forces (SOF) to address small wars and MOOTW. Currently, much of the U.S. counter terrorism mission is executed by SOF. Within SOF, the U.S. Army Special Forces were created to assist host governments in developing the capabilities to execute counter insurgency and counter terrorism missions. Other SOF are trained and deployed for direct action missions against high value targets. In many ways SOF is ideal forces for executing certain missions with a low footprint.

Fast and Furiously Accurate

By Lieutenant Andrea Howard, U.S. Navy

Testifying before Congress, Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin outlined the consequences of the United States falling behind Russia and China on one of the most threatening breakthroughs today—hypersonic weapons: “Let them have their way, or go nuclear.”1

The United States may face this dismal choice between incapacitation or nuclear escalation if attacked with hypersonic weapons without a credible, equal response. However, by developing more-precise technology—and specifically integrating hypersonic weapons with U.S. Navy submarines—the United States may gain an edge in developing the fastest, most precise weapons the world has ever seen.

Faster than Supersonic

The speed of sound at sea level is 720 miles per hour (mph). Hypersonic weapons travel faster than Mach 5—at least five times the speed of sound, around 3,600 mph, or one mile per second.2 Hypersonic cruise missiles (HCMs) use rockets or jets to provide aerodynamic lift and propulsion during flight.3 They are similar to but faster than existing missiles, such as the subsonic U.S. Tomahawk missile, which maxes out around 550 mph. A novel type also is being developed: hypersonic boost–glide vehicles. These travel atop ballistic missiles into the upper atmosphere, but unlike conventional reentry vehicles, they do not follow the ballistic trajectory. Instead, hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs) coast extraordinarily fast through the thin upper atmosphere.4 

Trends in Armed Conflict, 1946–2018

The number of armed conflicts in 2018 was slightly higher than 2017 and much higher than ten years ago, but the number of fatalities occurring in these conflicts was below average for the post–Cold War period. A key issue remains internationalized conflicts – civil wars with external parties involved – where a majority of fatalities in 2018 has been recorded.
Brief Points

The number of state-based armed conflicts in the world increased slightly from 50 in 2017 to 52 in 2018, with the Islamic State active in 12 of them.

There was a significant decline in conflict casualties in 2018, with 23% fewer casualties compared with 2017, and 49% fewer than 2014.

Afghanistan is again the deadliest conflict region in the world; 48% of all casualties in state-based conflicts in 2018 were in Afghanistan.

Internationalized conflicts and nonstate conflicts continue to represent major threats to reductions in violence.

There were six wars in 2018, down from 10 in 2017.