8 July 2019

India’s National Security Challenge – Analysis

By Harsh V. Pant and Kartik Bommakanti*

States across Asia face growing challenges to their security. The gradual shift in the balance of power from the West to the East has introduced security competition among the major states. As India’s economic and military profile grows in the wider Indo-Pacific, it too faces a range of intrastate and interstate security challenges, which it has to manage. In this context, it is worth considering the nature and scope of India’s military modernisation in view of the types of conflicts it faces. The modernisation of the Indian defence forces is a complex process covering issues pertaining to the balance between manpower and firepower as well as that between the acquisition of weaponry from indigenous sources and the import of arms. India’s efforts to revamp and restructure its military in response to security challenges are characterised by a quest to meet the needs of the three services without compromising transparency and integrity in the acquisition of weapons.

Who Will Win the India-China Railway Race in Nepal?

By Biswas Baral

The race is on between two old geopolitical rivals in Nepal to bring a railway to Kathmandu. According to the new Nepali budget, work on joining Kathmandu with Raxaul (on the Indian border) and with Keyrung (on the Chinese border) will start in the next two years. This pair of projects is part of the communist government’s bid to turn Nepal into a “vibrant economic bridge” between India and China. It would indeed be wonderful if Nepalis could tomorrow hop on a train in Kathmandu and get off in New Delhi or Beijing. Yet that dream is a long way from being realized.

Let’s start with China. In 2008 it was announced that the Qinghai-Tibet railway would be extended right up to Keyrung on the border with Nepal. Why not extend the line all the way to Kathmandu? asked Nepal. China agreed, in principle. There was even a pre-feasibility study of the 72-kilometer line, which found that a proper feasibility study would cost around 35 billion Nepali rupees ($314 million). China wanted Nepal to foot most of the bill; Nepal would like China to do it pro bono.

A robust relationship with the US is central for India. But at what cost?

Brahma Chellaney 

Narendra Modi has wisely gone to the strategic Maldives on his first overseas trip after re-election. It speaks for itself that the leader of the world’s largest democracy has begun his new term by visiting the world’s smallest Muslim nation — in population and area. Generous Indian financial assistance, including $1.4 billion in aid, has helped president Ibrahim Solih escape a Chinese debt trap and enabled his Maldivian Democratic Party to sweep the April parliamentary elections.

Modi also shrewdly kept out troublesome Pakistan from his inauguration by inviting leaders from the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) grouping. While the moribund South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) boxes India in a narrow, artificial framework limited to the Indian subcontinent, the east-oriented Bimstec seeks to realign India along its historical axis. India’s main trading and cultural partners in history were the countries to its east. From the west, India experienced mainly invaders or plunderers.

Why Would Trump Want a Trade War With India?

Sudha Ramachandran

Fears of a full-blown trade war between the United States and India seem to have faded for the moment following last week’s meeting between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Japan. Trump and Modi agreed to instruct their trade officials to meet soon to find solutions to an escalating row over tariffs that had triggered concern in both countries. It was a climbdown of sorts for Trump, who just a day before the Osaka meeting had taken to Twitter, as usual, to air his grievances. “India, for years having put very high Tariffs against the United States, just recently increased the Tariffs even further,” he wrote. “This is unacceptable and the Tariffs must be withdrawn!”

Following the G-20 meeting, the two sides will now move to the negotiating table to address the most contentious issues. This is a step forward, albeit a small one. It came on the heels of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to New Delhi, where he held out the prospect of major U.S. investments in India. Trump followed that up in Osaka by promising India “very big things… in terms of trade, in terms of manufacturing”—without providing details.

Pakistan PM to Be First Head of State to Meet Taliban

Ayesha Tanzeem

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Pakistan's prime minister is expected to become the first head of state to meet the Taliban leadership since the militant group's ouster from power in 2001. An Afghan official confirmed, on the condition of anonymity, that the move has the Afghan government's consent. 

"It's coordinated with the Afghan side," the official said, adding that Pakistan was expected to brief the Afghan government after the meeting.

The news broke on Pakistan's state media early Thursday. 

"Special Assistant to Prime Minister Naeem-ul-Haq has said Imran Khan will meet the Taliban leader soon for the peaceful resolution of Afghan crisis," a story published on Radio Pakistan's website said.  

Chinese Private Security Moves Into Central Asia

By Yau Tsz Yan

As Kyrgyz President Soornbay Jennbekov pushed efforts to make the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway a reality, a private Chinese security company signed deals to protect the contested project for China Railway Group. 

The 2016 Chinese embassy bombing in Bishkek heightened risk perception among the Chinese business community in Central Asia. Chinese companies operating in Kyrgyzstan since then have begun to swap out local security services for imported private Chinese security personnel.

Currently, there are relatively few Chinese private security companies in Kyrgyzstan, compared to 400 local Kyrgyz private security companies. But the some 574 Chinese enterprises in Kyrgyzstan are beginning to favor Chinese staff on their grounds over locals.

Zhongjun Junhong, a top Chinese private security service provider, branched out into Kyrgyzstan in September 2016. With 281 security personnel, a local weaponry license, and military gear brought from China, Zhongjun Junhong is quickly becoming a leader in Kyrgyzstan providing full-scale security service resembling the company formerly known as Blackwater, since 2011 operating under the name Academi.



How should Washington deal with an authoritarian regime that is expanding its influence abroad and repressing its citizens at home? That is the question the United States faces today in dealing with Xi Jinping’s China. But it is not a new challenge. After World War II, the United States faced another authoritarian state intent on expanding its borders, intimidating its neighbors, undermining democratic institutions, exporting its authoritarian model, and stealing U.S. technology and know-how. The result, after a period of initial debate and uncertainty in U.S. policy, was the Cold War: a 40-year competition over power, influence, and the contours of global order.

As tensions between Beijing and Washington harden, there is a growing fear that China and the United States are entering a new cold war—another multi-decade struggle to shape the international system. There is also a growing debate about who or what is responsible for the deterioration in the relationship. Is it the vaulting ambition and personalistic rule of Xi Jinping? The nature of Communist rule in China? The tragic qualities of international relations? America’s own behavior and global ambitions?

Is China Winning Its War on Pollution?

By Shannon Tiezzi

In January 2013, China’s capital of Beijing found itself choking under an epic cloud of smog. Beijing – along with dozens of other Chinese cities – was in the middle of an air pollution crisis that exceeded the maximum measurement levels. China’s air pollution had long been an open secret, despite state media’s preference for referring to such episodes as “fog.” But the high-profile global coverage of the 2013 “airpocalypse,” coupled with the outrage from Chinese people suffering in the smog, finally forced the Chinese government the take action.

Beijing declared a “war on pollution” and began rolling out new measures to combat the problem – new standards and targets for air pollution levels; revisions to China’s Environmental Protection Law designed to increase penalties for polluters; and repeated government inspection campaigns, coupled with heavy fines for violators. But as is usually the case in China, implementation has struggled to keep up with the new regulations. That, coupled with the severity of the problem to begin with, means China’s “war on pollution” has had a mixed record thus far.

U.S. Imports From Vietnam Surge At China's Expense

by Felix Richter

As the trade war between the United States and China drags on, U.S. companies are weighing other options to avoid the tariffs currently levied on goods sourced from China. Last week, the Nikkei Asian Review cited anonymous sources saying that Apple is considering moving up to 30 percent of iPhone production out of China, with India and Vietnam the top candidates to help Apple diversify its supply chain.

Apple isn’t alone in its efforts to reduce its dependency on Chinese imports, as U.S. import data for the first four months of 2019 shows. Imports from Vietnam, Taiwan and South Korea surged 38.4, 22.1 and 17.1 percent, respectively, compared to the same period of last year, while imports from China dropped by 12.8 percent year-over-year. Vietnam in particular has been profiting from the trade dispute as it supplies many of the goods that are typically imported from China and are now hit by tariffs.

The Next Phase of Trump’s Trade War with China


China remains committed to its 40-year-old process of reform and opening up. But following through on this commitment will require China's leaders to find ways to manage escalating tensions with the US and avoid a costly – and potentially devastating – reconfiguration of the global economy.

BEIJING – US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping may have agreed at the G20 summit in Osaka to resume trade negotiations, but the path to ending the trade war remains far from clear. After all, the two leaders reached a similar agreement at the previous G20 summit – in Buenos Aires last December – and those talks ultimately failed, not least because Trump mistook China’s conciliatory attitude for weakness.

Whether Trump makes the same mistake this time remains to be seen. In any case, it is worth considering how the trade war might unfold over the coming months and years – and what China can do to protect itself.

Will the Future Bring Digital Trench Warfare Between the EU and China?

Dr. Annegret Bendiek is Senior Associate in the EU/Europe Research Division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Dr. Nadine Godehardt is Deputy Head of the Asia Research Division at SWP, and David Schulze is Research Assistant in the Asia Research Division at SWP. Prof. Dr. Jürgen Neyer is Professor of European and International Politics at the European University Viadrina and Vice President for International Relations.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s placement of Huawei on the Entity List, effectively banning U.S. suppliers from trading essential components like chips and software with the company, has seriously escalated the technological conflict with Beijing. European countries, more reliant on Huawei and trade with China than the United States, risk getting caught between the two superpowers. The European Union (EU) has named China as a “systemic rival,” in part because of mounting concerns about discriminatory industrial policies but many European countries are reluctant to follow U.S. warnings to completely cut ties with Huawei and suffer the technological and economic consequences of a decoupling from China.

Iran, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Ever-Complex Geopolitics of Oil

by Amy M. Jaffe

In a sign that anxiety about oil security of supply isn’t what it used to be, the Group of Twenty (G20) meeting broke up this week with no big joint statements regarding how to protect the freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz. From the sidelines, U.S. President Donald J. Trump said there was “no rush” and “no time pressure” to ease tensions with Iran. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she advocated “very strongly” to get into a negotiating process on the Iranian situation. Chinese President Xi Jinping noted that China “always stands on the side of peace and opposes war.” The latter statement was a pretty mild one given that approximately one-fifth of the oil that passes through the Strait of Hormuz is destined for China. China has given no public indication that it plans to protect its own shipping. Roughly 60 percent of crude oil passing through the Strait goes to China, Japan, South Korea, and India.

Not Much of a Concession on Huawei

One thing largely unremarked in the accounts of President Trump’s G20 announcements on Huawei is the stony Chinese reaction. This is telling. The Chinese were desperate to get concessions on Huawei. The company would have been forced to stop production within 12 months because of a shortage of irreplaceable U.S. technology. Huawei can't make phones or 5G networks without U.S. components. Saying that some exports from U.S. tech companies could be resumed is a major concession by the president (if he goes through with it), and at first glance, he didn't seem to get much in return. However, the United States can withdraw the reprieve at any time; the administration may hope this gives them leverage in the trade talks. Nor does this mean the "tech war" is over.

China still depends on the United States and other Western nations for advanced technology. China can buy technology, steal it, or send its citizens abroad to learn how to make it. It has done this for decades, and despite the Trump-Xi talks at the G20, the United States is still clamping down on all three of these avenues, blocking Chinese investment in U.S. technology, attempting to strengthen export controls, and making it harder for Chinese students to study here. Some companies are already moving production from China, but the tech relationship between the two countries is complicated and interdependent, and it will be hard for the United States to "decouple." Apple announced it would do more assembly in China, probably to placate the Chinese government, but they aren't moving research or advanced production there, and most companies are following suit by keeping their tech "crown jewels" out of China.

The US-Saudi Alliance Is on the Brink


An effort is under way in Washington to fundamentally overhaul, if not end, a decades-old American alliance—but it didn’t come at the direction of the alliance-skeptical Donald Trump. The president, in fact, has paradoxically emerged as the greatest force of resistance to the change.

Fed up with the catastrophic human cost of Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen’s civil war and appalled by the murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Congress seemingly attempts some sort of measure to censure the kingdom every week. Yet at every turn, the White House has blocked or circumvented those moves, standing staunchly by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MbS, while escalating its confrontation with his archenemy, Iran.

Why Does The Left Love Islam So Much?


BERLIN — It is one of the most bizarre romances of the past decades: The love of many leftists for Islam. If their ideological ancestors once maintained that "There is no better being, no god, no emperor or tribune", as sung in the famous socialist "The Internationale" anthem, the wind has now turned. The stanzas have been rewritten.

People are protesting alongside Islamists who call "Allahu Akbar" against the state of the Holocaustsurvivors and their descendants, they view the apocalyptic Iranian cutthroat regime as the ideal anti-imperialist power and chant: "Hijab is Empowerment." At the same time, queer-feminist murder is carried out on icons such as Alice Schwarzer, and the liberal female Imam Seyran Ates is given the "haram" stamp: not allowed.

And then Frankfurt am Main. The city has just recovered from the excitement of an exhibition on "modest" Muslim fashion at the Museum of Applied Arts. It then moved on to the following battleground: the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University.

Iran’s Latest Nuclear Provocation: What it Means, What Comes Next.

Q1: What exactly did Iran do?

A1: Iran announced Monday—and international inspectors confirmed—that it had exceeded the amount of enriched uranium it can have on hand under the terms of the nuclear deal (known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA). The deal allows Iran to have up to 300kg of up to 3.67 percent enriched uranium hexafluoride. Iran has reportedly only gone over that limit by a few kilograms. The cap on the amount of material Iran can have is only one of many limits that the deal imposes on Iran’s enrichment program.

Q2: Does this make it easier for Iran to build a nuclear weapon?

A2: Iran’s breach of these limits does not pose any immediate proliferation risk. The amount of material Iran has produced is still modest and is only a fraction of the amount that it would need for a nuclear weapon, which Iran would then need to further enrich to higher levels.

Are Economic Sanctions On Iran Just?

By Matt Hadro

Economic sanctions are often seen as a more humane alternative to military conflict. But as some observes warn that sanctions on Iran are beginning to restrict the availability of daily necessities, questions have arisen about the justice and proper limits of such measures.

In 2018, the U.S. reimposed sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. That agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was supported by the Vatican and the U.S. bishops, but critics said it was ineffective and strengthened the regime’s ability to support terrorist activity abroad. 

Further sanctions have been imposed following an escalating series of events, including the recent shooting down of an American drone. On Monday, as Iran confirmed it had violated the terms of th 2015 nuclear deal and would withdraw from it. The White House responded that it would exert “maximum pressure” on the regime to curb its “nuclear ambitions” and “malign behavior.” 

Diego Garcia: Troubling Past, Uncertain Future

By David Vine

In May, the United Kingdom received eviction orders to leave contested islands in the Indian Ocean. The largest of the Chagos Islands, Diego Garcia, hosts a secretive U.S. military base that has played key roles in every U.S. war in the Middle East over the last 40 years. In a diplomatic defeat that media outlets described as “embarrassing,” “humiliating,” “a disgrace and a disaster,” Britain and its U.S. ally were “routed” 116-6 in a UN General Assembly vote that underlined the global isolation of a Brexit-ing Britain and Donald Trump’s United States.

The UN vote affirmed a recent 13-1 verdict at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague that found Britain’s rule in the Chagos Archipelago – its last-created colony – “unlawful.” Echoing the International Court, the subsequent UN resolution ordered Britain to “withdraw its colonial administration” within six months and acknowledge that Chagos “forms an integral part” of the victor in the ICJ case: The small western Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius. The UN “urge[d]” the U.K. “to cooperate with Mauritius in facilitating the resettlement” in Chagos of Mauritians and Chagossians, the indigenous people callously evicted by British and U.S. officials during construction of the base on Diego Garcia.

Wimbledon 2019: Kyrgios vs. Nadal and the Difference Between an Entertainer and a Champion

By Gerald Marzorati

Nick Kyrgios, who lost at Wimbledon to Rafael Nadal on Thursday, is drawn to the signs of defiance, not to what defiance is capable of signifying.

Nick Kyrgios was struggling to stay in character. The interview room was jammed with reporters on Thursday evening, unusual for a press conference after a second-round match, but that wasn’t it. Kyrgios requires the tennis media, plays with it and off it, to convey . . . convey what, exactly? That’s where the struggle lies. He wants to be seen as defiant. But he also wants to be embraced by those he believes he is defying.

Defying how? An English journalist asked him about his deployment of underarm serves in his just-completed match on Centre Court at Wimbledon against Rafael Nadal. He had used it twice, effectively. Why not more? “I don’t know, man,” Kyrgios replied, looking away, far away, then back at his questioner, then away again. “If I do something outrageous, I get, like, destroyed in the media for it.” Something outrageous. Serving a tennis ball underhand. Nadal smiled when Kyrgios served underhand the first time. He also beat Kyrgios in four sets, 6–3, 3–6, 7–6(5), 7–6(3).

How Deepfakes Could Disrupt the 2020 US Election

“We are crossing over into an era where we have to be skeptical of what we see on video,” says John Villasenor, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Villasenor is talking about deepfakes—videos that are digitally manipulated in imperceptible ways, often using a machine-learning technique that superimposes existing images or audio onto source material. The technology’s verisimilitude is alarming, Villasenor argues, because it undermines our perception of truth and could have disastrous consequences for the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

“I do think deepfakes are going to be a feature of the 2020 elections in some way,” Villasenor says. “And their shadow will be long.”

Europe alone: July 2024

“If europeans won’t take American soybeans, they don’t get American soldiers. america first!” The tweet was dispatched by President Donald Trump in the early hours of April 5th 2023, as he watched “Fox & Friends”, his favourite breakfast-television show. It landed as officials in the foreign ministries of Paris, Berlin and Warsaw were settling down for lunch. Most rolled their eyes.

The president had, after all, issued similar threats at each of the natosummits after his narrow re-election in November 2020. At the alliance’s gathering in Potsdam in 2021 Mr Trump had unnerved fellow leaders by proposing that Russia join the alliance. The following year in Skopje, as the us-eu trade war spiralled out of control, he had insisted that his chief trade negotiator accompany him to every meeting with allies, in place of the secretary of defence. Despite that, 60,000 American troops remained scattered across the continent.

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.

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.

Rising carbon emissions call for a population policy

By Frederick A. B. Meyerson

Human population continues to grow by more than 75 million people annually. Since the first
Earth Day in 1970, global population and annual carbon dioxide emissions have both increased by about 70 percent. As a result, per capita emission rates remain steady at about 1.2 metric tons (mt) of carbon per person per year.

Unfortunately, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol has had little measurable effect on per capita emissions, even in the countries that have agreed to national targets. Emissions in Western Europe reached 2 mt per person back in 1970 and have fluctuated just above that level ever since. The same plateau phenomenon, which appears to be related to stages in development, happened in the early 1970s in “centrally planned Europe,” which includes Russia and the former Soviet republics.

Per capita carbon emissions in the United States also leveled off around 1970 at a much higher rate–above 5.5 mt per person–and have barely budged since, through recessions, economic booms, and swings in energy markets. From 1970 to 2004, U.S. population and emissions both rose by 43 percent.


A new report says hackers could wreak havoc by interfering with space-based communications and navigation services that NATO armies rely on.

The threats: The study, published by the UK’s Royal Institute of International Affairs, says that military satellites face the threat of hackers using malicious code to jam battlefield communications or disrupt automated missile-defense systems. Attackers can also create fake GPS signals from satellites. Known as “spoofing,” this could be used to surreptitiously redirect everything from planes to ships and ground forces.

Security researchers have already highlighted the vulnerabilities associated with communications satellites. Hacking satellites could be a far more effective way of compromising an enemy than simply blowing them up.

Satellite dependency: During the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, just over two thirds of US munitions were guided via “space-based means” says the report—up from just a tenth during the first Gulf War in 1990-’91. This “critical dependency on space” makes cyber vulnerabilities all the more concerning.