22 July 2019

India’s Africa Policy

Dr Christian Wagner

Since the 1990s, India has significantly widened its relations with Africa. Three summits, increasing trade and newly agreed cooperation on security demonstrate the increased importance of the African continent to India’s foreign policy.

With this commitment to Africa, India continually underscores its claim to act as advocate for the countries of the Global South. Moreover, African countries now account for a larger share of India’s energy imports, thereby reducing its dependence on Middle Eastern countries. India is also trying to establish a counterweight to China’s activities in Africa. However, India’s decision-makers realise that they cannot seriously compete with China in this arena.

The IMF Takeover of Pakistan

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

On July 3, the International Monetary Fund approved a $6 billion bailout package to help “return sustainable growth” to Pakistan’s economy. Throughout the deal spanning 39 months, the IMF will review Pakistan’s progress on a quarterly basis. As part of the agreement, $1 billion has been released to Pakistan.

This is the 13th IMF bailout for Pakistan, with the Fund looking toward the correction of “structural imbalances” in the country. In this regard, the IMF had announced in the negotiations over the past couple of months that Islamabad would have to increase taxation in order to repay external debt and increase foreign exchange reserves.

Taliban overruns district in eastern Afghanistan


The Taliban overran the district of Dila Wa Khushamand in Paktika province over the weekend. Video published on Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid's twitter account shows Taliban entering what appears to be district center. Afghan military claimed it conducted "tactical withdrawal."

The Taliban overran a district in the troubled eastern Afghan province of Paktika on July 13. Afghan officials confirmed the Taliban took the district after security forces retreated.

Creating a Real Peace in Afghanistan

by Anthony H. Cordesman 

It has been a long, grim war since the first U.S. troops appeared in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. The fighting has now lasted close to 18 years, and the conflict has become one of the worst managed wars in American history. The effort to reinvent Afghan government as a functioning democracy has so far been an unstable nightmare mixing corruption and uncertain central leadership with power brokers, ex-warlords, and divided leadership. Efforts at economic growth and reform have fallen far short of their goals, vast sums have been wasted or lost through corruption, and the current Afghan economy now survives on the basis of outside aid and domestic narcotics exports. Major security efforts have at best produced an uncertain stalemate and one where the Afghan government increasingly seems to be losing control in the countryside in order to maintain its hold on major population centers.

Three different Presidents have made major errors in overall strategy. President Bush gave priority to Iraq at the cost of giving the Afghan war proper attention and providing adequate forces to deal with the return of the Taliban. President Obama first authorized a surge — which wasted major resources in Helmand — and then called for a premature U.S. withdrawal based on totally unrealistic goals for Afghan force development. President Trump has adopted a strategy which has no clear political or economic element, and is unclear as to whether the U.S. is willing to keep supporting Afghan government military efforts or is giving priority to peace more as part of an effort to withdraw U.S. forces than to achieve a lasting and meaningful peace settlement.

‘What Kind of Peace Talks Are These’: On the Front Lines of a 17-Year War

By Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Taimoor Shah and Najim Rahim

KABUL, Afghanistan — The war in Afghanistan has raged for nearly 18 years, cost billions of dollars, shattered countless families and consumed the administrations of three American presidents. But it has taken a particularly heavy toll on Afghan troops and police officers, 45,000 of whom have been killed in the past five years of fighting alone.

The fate of more than 35 million Afghans, including the 300,000 members of the Afghan security forces, could soon be decided over a negotiating table hundreds of miles away in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban and the United States are trying to reach an agreement to have Western troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

France Is Looking for New Allies in Asia


French President Emmanuel Macron paid his first official visit to Tokyo last month, reflecting his commitment to step up his country’s bilateral relations with Japan. Although French-Japanese ties are advancing on all fronts, the most promising area of cooperation is in maritime security in the Indo-Pacific. Although France may not be a prominent player in the realm now, that is set to change in the coming years. Its effectiveness will depend on its willingness to coordinate with others, in particular Japan and India.

For French strategists, the Indo-Pacific is pivotal. Some of the country’s overseas territories and about 90 percent of its exclusive economic zone are located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. As many as 8,000 of its soldiers are stationed in the region, and France continues to maintain a number of military facilities there, including in Reunion.

Looking before we leap: Weighing the risks of US-China disengagement

Jonathan D. Pollack and Jeffrey A. Bader

In recent years, American views of China (especially in elite opinion circles) have grown increasingly antagonistic. Though in part attributable to China’s behavior and to the policies of the Trump administration, these shifts in U.S. thinking reflect a larger unease over the implications of Beijing’s emergence as a global power, with China seen as an ever-larger danger to American commercial, political, and security interests. To many, the defining question is no longer how to manage relations with China, but how to counteract and (if possible) impede China’s advance to major-power status.

The political right and left in the United States have both long hewed to antagonistic views of China, though for very different reasons. The far more pronounced shifts in thinking now emanate from intellectual constituencies and commercial interests in the center of U.S. policy debate. By default or by design, centrist opinion now aligns with sentiments in the Trump administration and on the right and left of the political divide, with all arguing that China’s policy goals and strategic intentions are increasingly malign.

Facing theEconomic Challenge fromChina

by Matthew Rooney

China has taken steps to become more nationalistic, authoritarian, and protectionist. As the United States faces an aggressive, revisionist China, how can we avoid open conflict?

Since President Richard Nixon opened formal relations with China in 1972, most Americans have thought of China as a large but impoverished maker of cheap consumer goods. As China opened its economy to market forces and entered a long period of rapid economic growth, creating a middle class larger than the population of the United States, Americans came to view China as a large potential market for American exports and an enticing investment opportunity.

American leaders have expressed confidence that embracing China into the U.S.-led international system would induce China to become a “responsible stakeholder” in global prosperity and to modernize away from its outdated model of political repression, state-dominated industrial policy, and closed markets.

The last decade has shattered this optimistic view.

The Abyss Is Opening Under China-U.S. Relations


A strange sort of calm has descended over the U.S.-China relationship. Officially, Washington and Beijing have agreed to a truce in their escalating trade war and are searching for the outlines of a possible agreement. But it’s looking increasingly likely that the cease-fire won’t hold—and a conflict far greater than the trade war itself looms. Last week, Beijing announced that it would sanction U.S. companies involved in selling arms to Taiwan. On Monday, meanwhile, the government statistics agency announced that China’s GDP growth in the first half of 2019 was the lowest since 1992.

The comparison is unsettling: In 1992, China was still reeling from the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, and its market reforms faced so much opposition that Deng Xiaoping had to abandon a bridge tournament—his favorite hobby—in Beijing to reassure wavering officials in Guangdong province. As a sign of this grim new normal, Washington has found a favorite term to describe the state of U.S.-China relations: searching for the floor.

Adm. Davidson: China Assaults International Order


Adm. Philip Davidson displays a large model of Fiery Cross Reef — one of seven fake islands Beijing has built by destroying shallow reefs in the South China Sea — in the anteroom to his office at Indo-Pacific Command headquarters.

Chinese President Xi Jinping publicly promised in 2015 not to “militarize” those “islands, which lie in an area an international tribunal ruled does not belong to China. But, as the model in Davidson’s office makes clear, Fiery Cross bristles with military facilities, including an airstrip, anti-ship and surface-to-air (SAM) missiles. “What my predecessor called a ‘Great Wall of Sand’ three years ago is now a ‘Great Wall of SAMs,’” Davidson recently warned.

Breaking Defense contributor James Kitfield recently visited Adm. Davidson, commander of Indo-Pacific Command, in his Camp Smith, Hawaii office, with its expansive views of Pearl Harbor and Honolulu in the distance. Edited excerpts from their interview follow.

10 expert predictions for the next decade in Chinese AI

Nina Xiang
Source Link

Over the past several years, we have witnessed the blossoming of China's artificial intelligence industry. Thanks to generous government policy support, and enthusiastic entrepreneurs and venture investors, China commandeered a position that it has not occupied for centuries: that of a global leader in an emerging critical technological field.

But as we entered 2019, whispers of an AI “winter” began to emerge. The venture capital market has indeed dialed back. The number of venture financing deals in China's AI sector as of mid-June 2019 stood at 131, with a total deal value of $5.6 billion, as compared with 496 venture deals and $15.7 billion in total deal value in 2018. The number of mega-rounds – those venture deals greater than $100 million – fell from 26 such deals in 2018 to 4 so far in 2019.

At the same time, the bottlenecks of deep learning – the driver of the current wave of AI enthusiasm – are more frequently discussed. The lack of explainability, lack of ability to reason, the need for a large amount of data for training, and the challenges of solving real-world problems are constraining the technology's commercial applications.

From Moon Walk to Space Wars


It is easy to get caught up in escalating strategic competition and conflict on Earth. But, 50 years after the Apollo 11 mission reached the Moon, guaranteeing the freedom to navigate the stars has become no less essential to global peace and security than safeguarding the freedom to navigate the seas.

NEW DELHI – Fifty years after astronauts first walked on the Moon, space wars have gone from Hollywood fantasy to looming threat. Not content with possessing enough nuclear weapons to wipe out all life on Earth many times over, major powers are rapidly militarizing space. Given the world’s increasing reliance on space-based assets, the risks are enormous.

As with the Cold War-era Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union, the new global space race has an important symbolic dimension. And, given the lunar landing’s role in establishing US dominance in space, the Moon is a natural starting point for many of the countries now jostling for position there.

Why is Turkey betting on Russia?

Galip Dalay

On June 6, then-Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan sent a strongly-worded letter to his Turkish counterpart over Turkey’s planned purchase of S-400 air defense system from Russia. The letter outlined a timeline to remove Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program, should Turkey move forward with the purchase. Washington argues that if installed in Turkey, the S-400 system will compromise the F-35 technology.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan chafed at threats of sanctions and said that the S-400 purchase is a done deal. And indeed, last week Russia began delivering the system to Turkey.

As U.S.-Turkey relations are headed for further downturn, Erdoğan appears to have pinned his hope on President Trump in order to avoid U.S. sanctions. In fact, Erdoğan came out of his meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Japan at the end of June satisfied, as Trump put the blame for the S-400 crisis on Obama administration and—in contrast to the messages from elsewhere in the U.S. government—gave the impression that he doesn’t favor putting heavy sanctions on Turkey over the issue.

Iranian Cyber Capabilities: Assessing the Threat to Israeli Financial and Security Interests

Sam Cohen

The Iranian government continues to develop and field an increasingly sophisticated range of cyber capabilities to support their strategic interests and to enable a variety of computer-based financial crime. These capabilities have directly and adversely impacted Israel, which has been the target of major cyberattacks either affiliated or directly orchestrated by the political leadership in Tehran. To assess this strategic threat, this article outlines the evolving objectives and characteristics of Iran’s cyber activity targeting Israel, including attacks on banks, airlines, the Israel Defense Forces, and critical infrastructure. The article includes a brief overview of Iran’s internet and telecommunications history and a technical assessment of government-linked advanced persistent threat (APT) groups. Ultimately, the article concludes that a deterrence-by-punishment strategy utilizing Israel’s computer network attack and exploitation advantage could provide an impactful—albeit not risk free—approach to offsetting Iran’s rapidly improving cyber posture.

Iran: The Case Against War

Steven Simon and Jonathan Stevenson

Iranian Basij paramilitary forces during an annual reenactment of the Iran–Iraq War at a park in southern Tehran, 2015

There is no plausible reason for the United States to go to war with Iran, although the Trump administration appears to be preparing to do so. In mid-May, the Pentagon presented the White House with plans for deploying up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East to respond to Iranian attacks on US forces or the acceleration of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

To be sure, the Iranian government is guilty of genuine transgressions against American interests and values. It backs Syria’s brutal dictator, Bashar al-Assad. It undermines the security of Israel by organizing and sustaining Shia militias in Syria, supporting the Palestinian extremist group Hamas, and arming the Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah. By serving as Iran’s proxy on Israel’s border, Hezbollah exposes Lebanon—long a fragile state—to the risk of Israeli retaliation. Iran has also supported Shia militias in Iraq that in theory answer to the Iraqi prime minister through a special commission, but in practice are outside the national military command structure, which compromises the cohesion and authority of the Iraqi state.

Five Years After the Downing of MH17, What Do We Know About Russia’s Role?

Candace Rondeaux 

This week marks five years since Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine. Since then Russia has seemingly spared no effort or expense in waging an epic disinformation campaign to beat back allegations that Kremlin-backed mercenaries and separatists in the Donbas region fired the Russian-made Buk missile that killed all 298 people on board the passenger jet. Yet as evidence of Russian involvement has continued to mount in recent days, it looks like Moscow may need to retool its strategy.

Mapping European Shipping Routes

While researching Scottish-U.K. relations, we recently stumbled on the blog of British geographer James Cheshire. Cheshire had discovered an old European Union-funded research project from 2001-03 that created a climatological database for the world’s oceans from 1750 to 1850. The study gathered information from decades-old, detailed log books of global maritime activities and allowed Cheshire to create a few rough maps of British, Dutch and Spanish trade routes.

Our graphics team decided to give illustrating the data a shot of their own. The result is this graphic, which shows British, Dutch, Spanish and French trade routes from 1750 to 1800. As one might expect, the British trade routes are those of an impressive global empire. This time period happened to be the heyday of Dutch power abroad, so the Dutch routes are also extensive. The Spanish trade routes are focused mainly on Spanish colonies in the New World. Meanwhile, the French trade routes seem spartan and rather undiversified compared to the others – but then, 1750-1800 was an exceedingly unstable time in France, so there were more pressing worries at home. For those who would like to examine the data themselves and are brave enough to negotiate late-1990s HTML coding, you can find it here.

Is industry cyber(in)security DoD’s Achilles’ heel?

By: Mark Pomerleau   

Military leaders like to point out that the nature of warfare is unlikely to change, but the character of war — how they are fought and with what — is rapidly evolving. Physically, the United States benefits from the geographic isolation, separated from adversaries on all sides by large oceans and friendly nations, but the advent of cyber capabilities has created new attack vectors. In turn, agencies are pursuing case studies and exercises to identify best practices in less transparent, highly vulnerable sectors, such as manufacturing.

The homeland is no longer a sanctuary

In the event of a conflict, it is within the realm of possibility that adversaries will try to target small to medium-sized manufacturing companies with crippling cyberattacks. In many cases, these companies provide the Department of Defense with critical services but often are so small that they don’t have the wherewithal to institute enough cyber defenses against intrusions.

Outsourcing in Intelligence and Defense Agencies: A Risk of an Increase in the Proliferation of Cyber Weapons?

Omree Wechsler

The many cases of the leakage of classified materials belonging to intelligence and defense agencies have led to claims that contract workers are the reason for these incidents, due to either their lack of loyalty or negligence. In addition, these leaks of classified information, including hacking programs and components, have raised the question of whether this internal threat is also the cause of the increased proliferation of sophisticated cyber weapons among players who do not have the ability to develop them. A prominent case study from the past few years is the leak of the National Security Agency (NSA)’s hacking component, EternalBlue, and its use in the global cyberattack WannaCry, which damaged computers in 150 countries and was attributed to North Korea. Understanding the internal threat and its connection to the proliferation of cyber weapons, along with enumerating the advantages and disadvantages of hiring contractors, is critical for minimizing the threat, coping with it, and in preventing harm to national security and further deterioration of stability in cyberspace.

Is blockchain overhyped? 5 challenges to getting projects off the ground

Over the past few years, there has been a great deal of excitement around blockchain – some warranted, and some not. As the hype dies down, the dust is settling, and the technology is moving into a “build” phase. That is, organizations – large and small – are looking into viable use cases for the technology and deploying them. (You can find our practical framework for deciding whether blockchain is a good fit for your use case here.)

To get a pulse of where blockchain deployments stand, the World Economic Forum and Accenture Research partnered to survey 550 individuals from 13 industries, interview dozens of public and private sector leaders, and analyse 79 blockchain projects. Here are the top obstacles and challenges to getting projects off the ground:

1. Hype remains

Microsoft is like a Monopoly that Just Won’t Die

Michael K. Spencer

Microsoft is the world’s most valuable public company. It is no Amazon or Huawei, but its pivot to the Cloud has been an epic success and Alibaba and Tencent should be taking notes.

Incredibly, half of Microsoft’s acquisitions in 2018 were in the area of video games. Microsoft has tried to copy the success of such solutions as Slack and Twitch, but somehow as a Grandfather of tech company is losing the battle of consumer artificial intelligence and now partners with Alexa, rather than competing against it.

Not part of the volatile FAANG stocks, Microsoft’s stock is rock solid at around $100.00. Azure is easily the second leader in the Cloud that’s still showing incredible global growth and will continue to do so in the 2020s.

Security and the 'Holographic Society'

By Eric B. Schnurer

The very distinction between the virtual and physical worlds is itself dissolving. Is it time we started thinking about security in the physical world as we do in cyber? Successful attacks cannot be entirely prevented but can be survived by building multiple pathways so the enemy cannot take down the entire system. Every point in the network has access to the information, so it can, as a practical matter, never be destroyed or altered, something like a hologram. In that way, blockchain essentially models the logic of “defense” as dispersion and redundancy. "Distributed" rather than concentrated systems are more survivable and secure in the real world, not just the virtual: To the extent that our concern is purely physical survival, even then, the more dispersed or redundant a population, an economy or a culture, the less a physical attack on it will make any sense.

Revealed: This Is Palantir’s Top-Secret User Manual for Cops

By Caroline Haskins

Palantir is one of the most significant and secretive companies in big data analysis. The company acts as an information management service for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, corporations like JP Morgan and Airbus, and dozens of other local, state, and federal agencies. It’s been described by scholars as a “secondary surveillance network,” since it extensively catalogs and maps interpersonal relationships between individuals, even those who aren't suspected of a crime.

Palantir software is instrumental to the operations of ICE, which is planning one of the largest-ever targeted immigration enforcement raids this weekend on thousands of undocumented families. Activists argue raids of this scale would be impossible without software like Palantir. But few people outside the company and its customers know how its software works or what its specific capabilities and user interfaces are.

World Trade Organization 2.0: Reforming Multilateral Trade Rules for the Digital Age


The rules-based framework, as instantiated in rules established under the World Trade Organization (WTO), is not equipped to address the issues that are emerging under the technological conditions generated by the digital transformation. The emerging knowledge-based and data-driven economy features incentives for strategic trade and investment policy and a confluence of factors contributing to market failure at a global scale; digital social media and platform business models have raised concerns with calls for regulation affecting cross-border data flows; and newfound security issues raised by the vulnerabilities in the infrastructure of the digitized economy have precipitated a potential decoupling of global production networks along geopolitical fault lines.

To date, the response has been fragmented, incomplete and, in large part, conducted outside the WTO. A new WTO digital round is required to create a multilateral framework that is fit for purpose for the digital age.

Limited Wars Are Forever Wars


On Sunday, June 23, CBS Face the Nation reporter Margaret Brennan asked Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders what he thought of President Donald Trump’s last-minute reversal of an order to bomb Iran. Brennan pointed out that the action would have been a “limited strike.” In his reply, Sanders sarcastically mocked the concept, saying that any limited strike would, of course, be “an act of warfare.” Sanders also denounced the president for issuing the order in the first place.

The next day, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, one of Sanders’s rivals for the 2020 nomination, proposed a tax on nonmilitary families to fund future U.S. wars while drawing down the current American conflagrations. According to O’Rourke, the tax was meant, in part, to end “forever wars.”