7 August 2019

The Modi Government Scraps Kashmir's Special Status: What Now?

By Harsh V. Pant

After weeks and days of intense speculation about the situation in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Modi government finally revealed its cards and in one fell swoop fundamentally transformed India’s relationship with the state. Home Minister Amit Shah announced in the Parliament the scrapping of Article 370, which exempted Jammu and Kashmir from the Indian Constitution (except Article 1 and Article 370 itself) and permitted the state to draft its own Constitution. The state will now be bifurcated into two Union Territories — Ladakh without a legislature, and Jammu and Kashmir with a legislature. While the government received support in the Parliament from parties like the BSP, AAP, BJD, and YSRCP, its ally the JD(U) walked out of the House in opposition to the move. Predictably, political leaders from the state called the move “unconstitutional” and warned of dangerous consequences.

In some ways, the move should not be that surprising as the BJP had talked of the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35 A in its 2019 manifesto and has never been shy of making its preferences clear on the matter. Syama Prasad Mookerjee, founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the predecessor of the BJP, was imprisoned by the Sheikh Abdullah government in Srinagar where he died in 1953, championing the cause of fuller integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India. Since then this issue has resonated with the rank and file of the party.

Modi-fying Kashmir: Unpacking India’s Historic Decision to Revoke Kashmir’s Autonomy

By Abhijnan Rej

In a dramatic move, India’s Narendra Modi-led government revoked the special status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) emanating from a constitutional provision, and tabled a bill in the Indian parliament that would split it into two Union Territories: Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and Ladakh. These decisions capped days of high drama in India-administered Kashmir, which saw tens of thousands of additional paramilitary personnel deployed and communications cut off there. Last night, senior mainstream Kashmiri politicians were put under house arrest in the middle of the night.

The decision to scrap Article 370 of the Indian Constitution through a presidential decree – which required support by a majority in the Indian Parliament, something Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) enjoys or could arrange for – had been predicted by many on Indian social media in the run-up to today’s momentous events. But Modi’s decision to actually go ahead with it with a degree of surreptitiousness unseen in the recent history of the country came as a serious shock to many both in India and abroad.

U.S. Envoy Ready To Sign 'Good Agreement' With Taliban As Qatar Talks Resume

The U.S. peace envoy seeking to negotiate an end to the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan said Washington was ready to sign a "good agreement" with the Taliban.

Zalmay Khalilzad's remarks came as U.S. and Taliban negotiators met on August 3 in the Qatari capital Doha for an eighth round of peace talks.

A bilateral U.S.-Taliban agreement will cover the withdrawal of foreign forces in exchange for guarantees by the Taliban not to harbor terrorist groups.

That deal will be a prelude to intra-Afghan peace negotiations on a political settlement and a permanent cease-fire.

"The Taliban are signaling they would like to conclude an agreement," Khalilzad wrote on Twitter late August 2. "We are ready for a good agreement."

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said there was "hope that a solution may get finalized in this round," adding that some outstanding details remain.

Trump’s Afghanistan: Exit or Mirage?

by Curt Mills
Source Link

WASHINGTON—The president wants to end the war in Afghanistan. 

Since entering office thirty months ago, Donald Trump has looked for ways to exit America’s longest conflict, but has been stymied, repeatedly, on execution. 

The first major flashpoint came in summer 2017—when the president found himself effectively with two bad options—install former Blackwater chief Erik Prince as a viceroy for U.S interests and withdraw U.S. troops, a plan championed by then-White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, or assent to a moderate ramp-up, the plan favored by Trump’s troika of generals, H.R. McMaster, James Mattis and John Kelly. The president chose the latter course. The president explained the move in an announcement that some political observers chuckled looked like a “hostage tape.” All of the major players in that decision are now gone, however, as Donald Trump has repeatedly, frustratedly, reshuffled the deck in his inner sanctum. 

NASA's Curiosity rover lands on the surface of Mars.

The Army experiment with the network in Afghanistan

By: Mark Pomerleau 
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Army brigades in Afghanistan are testing a new set of rules on when to replace and refurbish equipment related to the service’s battlefield network.

Maj. Gen. Mitchell Kilgo, the new commander of Communications and Electronics Command, said Aug. 1 the Army’s Security Force Assistance Brigades, which are using new communications equipment and concepts that will be applied to the conventional force, are testing a new model for maintaining this equipment.

The Army is looking to the newly established advise-and-assist brigade that's headed to Afghanistan to help inform modernization efforts associated with communications gear for conventional units.

Chinese State Hackers Suspected Of Malicious Cyber Attack On U.S. Utilities

Zak Doffman

The notorious Chinese state-sponsored hacking group APT10, which is believed to act for the country's Ministry of State Security, is the most likely culprit behind a cyber campaign targeting U.S. utility companies in July. The disclosure on August 1 was made by researchers at Proofpoint, who warned that "persistent targeting of any entity that provides critical infrastructure should be considered an acute risk—the profile of this campaign is indicative of specific risk to U.S.-based entities in the utilities sector."

The spear-phishing campaign targeted company employees with emails purporting to be from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), emails that claimed to be delivering professional examination results but which were actually delivering "malicious" Microsoft Word attachments. Threat researchers at Proofpoint broke the news and dubbed the command and control malware "LookBack."

The Cyber Dimension of the South China Sea Clashes

By Mark Manantan

Three years since the Philippines won its landmark victory at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague against China’s overlapping claims in the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea, the majority of Filipinos still demand that the Duterte government enforce the arbitral ruling. In a recent survey, 87 percent of Filipinos want the Duterte government to “arrest and prosecute” Chinese fishermen for destroying marine life in Philippine waters, especially in light of the recent “maritime collision” involving 22 Filipino fisherman and a Chinese vessel in Reed Bank.

However, whenever a sizeable plurality of Filipinos pressures their commander-in-chief to stand up against China, President Rodrigo Duterte reduces the policy options available into a binary choice between war or appeasement. Such an approach seeks to perpetuate a superficial narrative that, in the long run, generates a psychological belief in a false and narrow path to resolving the issue. Halfway through his presidency, the overarching formula to Duterte’s approach to China is the oversimplification of geopolitical tensions on the ground, often devoid of facts, which consequently distorts a complex reality. Abetted by his overt theatrics, Duterte conditions his supporters and the public to play by China’s rules to avoid any military confrontation, which the Philippines cannot win anyway.

Stratcom: China Rapidly Building Up Nuclear Forces

Bill Gertz 
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OMAHA—China is aggressively building up nuclear warfighting forces as part of a larger effort to expand power over Asia and globally, according to senior officials of the U.S. Strategic Command.

Vice Admiral David Kriete, deputy commander of the command, said he is concerned by China's rapidly growing nuclear arsenal when combined with other alarming activities in the South China Sea and elsewhere.

"China is and has been for the last couple of decades on a very clear trajectory where they're increasing the numbers of nuclear weapons that they field, they're increasing the number of and diversity of the delivery systems," Kriete said in a press briefing.

"They are working on fielding a triad—ballistic missile submarines, strategic bombers, and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles."

What’s Trump’s Plan With the Latest Tariffs on China?

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U.S. President Donald Trump blindsided global markets and his own trade officials Thursday when he announced, via Twitter, an escalation in the trade war with China. The push to raise tariffs on more Chinese imports starting Sept. 1 comes as trade talks between the two sides have bogged down, with little hope of progress apparent even before Trump’s surprise move. Now, the big question is how much damage Trump’s escalating trade wars will do to global economic growth at a time when the United States, China, Japan, Britain, and the European Union are all slashing forecasts.

What was Trump’s latest escalation?

Days after U.S. trade officials made a half-hearted visit to Shanghai to resume stalled trade talks with China, Trump made the surprise announcement that he would ratchet up tariffs by 10 percent on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods that had so far been untouched by his trade war—including shoes, clothing, and electronic goods such as laptops and game consoles.

How influential is China in the World Trade Organization?

China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2001 was heralded by the international community as a victory for free trade and economic liberalization. During its arduous, 15-year accession process, China made extensive commitments to reform domestically and reduce trade barriers. Since joining the WTO, China has been one of the organization’s most active members and its economy has become an integral link in global supply chains. Yet, Beijing has not instituted deep, systematic reforms and its mixed compliance with WTO dispute rulings has at times challenged the WTO’s underlying norms.

The WTO serves three main functions: facilitating trade negotiations, monitoring compliance, and arbitrating trade disputes. The dispute settlement system (DSS) is the WTO’s legal mechanism for resolving trade conflicts between members. Members may be involved in the DSS in one of three ways. They can bring a dispute against another member as a complainant, or be the subject of a complaint as a respondent. Countries with “substantial trade interests” in a dispute may also join as a third party. All final rulings of the DSS are binding and mandatory.1

President Trump Threatens 10% Tariff On Chinese Products

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(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump intensified pressure Thursday on China to reach a trade deal by saying that beginning Sept. 1, he will impose 10% tariffs on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports he hasn’t already taxed. The move immediately sent stock prices sinking.

The president has already imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese products, and Beijing has retaliated by taxing $110 billion in U.S. goods.

U.S. consumers are likely to feel the pain if Trump proceeds with the new tariffs. Trump’s earlier tariffs had been designed to minimize the impact on ordinary Americans by focusing on industrial goods. The new tariffs will hit a vast range of consumer products from cellphones to silk scarves.

The Truth About Tariffs

by Andrew Chatzky

Tariffs have long been used to prop up homegrown industries by getting locals to buy goods produced domestically. For most of the past century, however, tariffs have fallen out of favor because they often lead to reduced trade, higher prices for consumers in tariff-wielding countries, and retaliation from abroad. With tariffs once again rising under U.S. President Donald J. Trump and global trade slowing, many experts fear companies could soon face higher costs and the world economy could suffer.

A tariff is a tax imposed on goods imported from a foreign country. Tariffs are paid by an importing business to its home country’s government, most commonly as a fixed percentage of the value of the imports.

Tariffs can serve several goals. Like all taxes, they provide a modest source of government revenue. Several countries have also used tariffs to help their infant industries at home, hoping to shelter local firms from foreign competitors. Some tariffs are also meant to address unfair practices that other countries have used to make their exports artificially cheap.

U.S. Ends Cold War Missile Treaty, With Aim of Countering China

By David E. Sanger and Edward Wong
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WASHINGTON — The United States on Friday terminated a major treaty of the Cold War, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement, and it is already planning to start testing a new class of missiles later this summer.

But the new missiles are unlikely to be deployed to counter the treaty’s other nuclear power, Russia, which the United States has said for years was in violation of the accord. Instead, the first deployments are likely to be intended to counter China, which has amassed an imposing missile arsenal and is now seen as a much more formidable long-term strategic rival than Russia.

The moves by Washington have elicited concern that the United States may be on the precipice of a new arms race, especially because the one major remaining arms control treaty with Russia, a far larger one called New START, appears on life support, unlikely to be renewed when it expires in less than two years.

U.S., China: Trump's Tariff Tweets Escalate a Mammoth Trade War

Stratfor stated in its Third-Quarter Forecast that "While there is a small window for a truce between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, there is a stronger likelihood that the White House will follow through on its threat to impose tariffs on remaining Chinese imports." With Trump deciding to impose an additional tariff, the trade war between the world's two largest economies moves further into uncharted water.

What Happened

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Aug. 1 that the United States plans to impose a 10 percent tariff starting Sept. 1 on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese exports. He argued that China has fallen short of its pledges to increase agricultural purchases and curb fentanyl sales to the United States. Trump tried to frame the tariff move in positive terms, calling it a "small" tariff (compared with his earlier threat to impose a 25 percent tariff), and said that he looks forward to a "positive dialogue with China" after "constructive" U.S.-China trade negotiations in Shanghai earlier in the week.
Why It Matters

Millions of barrels of Iranian crude are sitting in Chinese ports — and could disrupt oil markets

Estimates as to the volume of Iranian crude that’s made its way to China between last January and May vary from 12 million to 14 million barrels. China keeps the crude in “bonded storage,” which means the oil has not been cleared through Chinese customs and is not being used, therefore not yet violating U.S. sanctions Oil could fall by $5 to $7 a barrel if China were to draw down on these stored volumes, one expert told CNBC.

The Chinese port of Nantong in Jiangsu Province, China.
Xu Congjun | Visual China Group | Getty Images

Iranian oil tankers have been quietly offloading their supply into Chinese ports, according to ship tracking data, despite U.S. sanctions on crude from the Islamic Republic.

These flows, which experts say show no sign of stopping, could seriously disrupt U.S.-China trade talks as well as oil markets if Beijing decides to actually use them.

Examining Alliances and Splits That Could Determine Israel's Future

Israel's myriad political parties must now sink or swim in a diverse society increasingly facing deep questions of identity, national security, prosperity and rule of law. The broad outlines of the upcoming contest — a rerun of the April 9 vote that failed to produce a governing coalition — are clear: the main parties on the center-right portion of the political spectrum have been unable to resolve several big issues dividing them, and look weaker going into the Sept. 17 election than the one earlier in the year. Because the parties on the center-left look no more unified, however, it's unclear whether they can take advantage of this.

Israel's political parties have finalized their electoral forms, setting up the official lines for the country's national election on Sept. 17 that will determine the composition of the Knesset — and likely decide whether embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will return to office. Last-minute mergers between smaller parties on the right and the left now give the bigger parties on both sides of the spectrum, Likud and Blue and White, a clear idea of who they might ally with — from the United Right led by Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett to the Democratic Camp of former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Yet these alliances have done little to close the fundamental splits on each side of Israel's political spectrum — leaving Avigdor Lieberman as a possible kingmaker.

Ensuring a Twenty-Second Century America

There is a growing consensus that we are now in a new age of “great power” competition. So what’s the best strategy for dealing with it?

Just as there were smart and stupid versions of containment strategy during the Cold War, there are better and worse ways to handle global confrontations now.

We are in better shape for this competition than many suppose. Still, there is work to be done to smarten up the strategy. There are subtle, but important differences in how the U.S. has to handle China, Russia, and Iran. Our alliance structure also needs work. Friends, allies, and strategic partners have to act like friends, allies, and strategic partners—they can’t live in the neutral zone. Additionally, we need to get some of the instruments needed to implement the strategy into better shape.

Russian 'super quiet' submarines feared to be in British waters

Dominic Nicholls

Anew breed of “super-quiet” Russian submarines are feared to be operating unseen in British territorial waters, according to military sources. 

The new Russian Kilo-Class submarines are feared to be threatening UK security by tracking Britain’s fleet in the North Atlantic undetected or by tapping into under-sea internet cables.

HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier, and the nation’s nuclear deterrent submarines could be vulnerable to the Russian boats' stealth technology, extended combat range and ability to strike targets above and below the water as well as on land. 

“The new First Sea Lord needs to deliver the underwater battle,” a senior military source told the Telegraph. “We must be better at what we do.”

Kim Jong Un Turns Up the Pressure on the United States

By Ankit Panda

Kim Jong-un’s campaign of “maximum pressure” against the United States has continued despite the pageantry of the June 30 summit between him and U.S. President Donald Trump at the inter-Korean Military Demarcation Line.

In July alone – a little more than three weeks after that summit – Kim was photographed inspecting a new submarine and overseeing tests of a new short-range ballistic missile system – which poses a huge threat to South Korea-based missile defence systems – and a new multiple-launch rocket system.

The submarine inspection marked the first time since February 2018 that North Korea had shown the world any military hardware explicitly intended to carry and launch nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. Slowly but surely, Kim is ramping up the volume on his continued development of nuclear capabilities.

Will Trump’s Trade Wars Reshape the Global Economy?

A trade war between the United States and China that began last year appeared to be inching toward a conclusion recently, but only after bringing the world to the brink of a global trade crisis and damaging producers—particularly U.S. farmers. Trump launched the trade war over China’s perceived unfair trade practices, including forced technology transfers and the theft of intellectual property. Now negotiations have once again stalled, and Trump has returned to the threat of raising tariffs on a broad range of Chinese imports to the U.S.

That may be particularly concerning to European officials who are set to start their own trade negotiations with the U.S. Trump has already decried what he sees as unfair trade deficits with European Union countries, particularly Germany, and he imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from some allies, without seeming to understand that the EU negotiates trade terms as a bloc. A U.S.-Europe trade war could do lasting damage to both sides.

Not Your Father’s Bots

By Sarah Kreps And Miles McCain 

Surveillance images from a U.N. sanctions report purportedly showing a North Korean vessel engaged in illegal trading United Nations Security Council / REUTERS

What Does the Demise of the INF Treaty Mean for Nuclear Arms Control?

Source Link

President Donald Trump on Friday officially terminated a longstanding U.S. nuclear treaty with Russia, potentially signaling the beginning of the end of the arms control architecture that has regulated nuclear weapons since the Cold War. 

The United States’ formal exit from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia raises important new questions on the future of nuclear arms control, including the fate of another major arms treaty, sparking a fierce debate among Washington policymakers. All sides agree that the United States must prevent the devastating use of a nuclear weapon, but experts are divided over how to overhaul binary Cold War-era arms controls to better fit a modern world where an increasing number of nations and nonstate actors have access to nuclear technology. 

With an estimated 14,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, the debate over the future of arms control is one that quite literally affects the fate of humanity. 

In the Dispute Between Japan and South Korea, Echoes of Trump’s Trade Policy

Kimberly Ann Elliott

Japan and South Korea are in the midst of a nasty diplomatic dispute, and Japan is using trade restrictions as a weapon to try and resolve it. Beyond the potential threats to American and regional geopolitical interests if the two countries remain at loggerheads, the nature of the spat is also disturbing. Japan’s use of trade restrictions to force South Korea to back down, while publicly justifying them as necessary for national security reasons, echoes U.S. President Donald Trump’s cavalier approach to trade rules and alliance relations. If the dispute is not resolved quickly, it could complicate efforts to deal with North Korea as well as other regional threats, while also dealing another blow to the World Trade Organization and the rules-based trading system.

Will Argentina’s Immigrants Pay the Price for Macri’s Electoral Alliance?

Benjamin N. Gedan, Nicolás Saldías

Facing a competitive reelection campaign, Argentine President Mauricio Macri took an unexpected gamble last month in his choice of a running mate: Miguel Angel Pichetto, an opposition stalwart who has nonetheless helped the government advance critical reforms from his perch as the most senior senator from the Justicialist Party, the main political vehicle for the opposition Peronist movement. 

The move was widely praised by analysts. Pichetto is a moderate, so he can help Macri lure Peronists who are anxious about their party’s more populist ticket, which includes the polarizing former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner as its vice-presidential candidate.

But Macri’s choice of Pichetto could have implications far beyond the election. In particular, Pichetto has a long record as an immigration skeptic. As vice president, his views could embolden domestic anti-immigration factions even as the region struggles to address the Venezuelan migration crisis.

Ep. 50: Cyberwarfare yesterday

Today we turn from the possible future of cyberwarfare and to its fairly incredible past. We’ll start with the first major cyber attack on U.S. military networks, work our way up to the OPM hack of 2015, then all the way to East Germany in the 1980s. We’ll even make some brief stops in Hollywood, where a few films over the past 35 years got cyber risks you might say helpfully wrong, while others got various key elements uncomfortably right.

A transcript of this week’s episode can be found below — beneath the table of 50 key events in the history of cyberwarfare.

Select key events in cyber history (through 2018):

1986 Cliff Stoll notices, helps nab Soviet-linked hacker Markus Hess in honeypot folder scheme involving the U.S.military’s “SDI Network.”

1990 The military of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait in August; the U.S. hacks Iraq systems ahead of Desert Storm (Jan 1991).

1991 Internet goes mainstream (August).

A Port Rush: Competition for Control of Trade Routes

Yoel Guzansky, Gil Hurvitz

In the Arabian Sea, competition has been building for the past few years over control of the strategic ports adjacent to major trade routes. Power struggles have developed in the context of China's efforts to consolidate its hold on key ports in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and Red Sea, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Chinese penetration of this arena has both increased the Indians' sense of a direct threat and sharpened the United States understanding that it must increase its strategic focus on this region. In tandem, there are heightened efforts by Arab Gulf states to increase their strategic-military stability and secure their energy export and food import channels, while reducing their dependence on the Strait of Hormuz. 

From the international angle, therefore, port development in this region is an integral piece in the competing geo-economic plans of China (BRI) and India (Look West) to develop new trade routes to markets in West Asia and Africa. From the strategic angle, the US (in collaboration with India and the UK) is trying to obstruct China’s march forward. From the regional angle, the Gulf states are developing their ports with an emphasis on industrial zones, refineries and petrochemical facilities, storage facilities, export facilities, and free trade zones. From Israel's perspective, the competition over the Red Sea shipping lane allows the consolidation of the presence of different actors along the southern access routes to the Gulf of Eilat and to the Suez Canal, creating a new space of challenges, and maybe also opportunities for (low profile) Israeli involvement in some of the initiatives.

The El Paso Shooting and the Virality of Evil

By Andrew Marantz

Shortly after 10 a.m. on Saturday, an unsigned document was posted to 8chan, a site that calls itself “the darkest reaches of the Internet.” Its author appeared to be a twenty-one-year-old white man from near Dallas, Texas, who had just driven about nine hours to the border city of El Paso. According to the document, the young man was inspired by the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March. In Texas, his goal was to murder as many Hispanic civilians as possible. Carrying an AK-47-style assault rifle, he killed twenty people and wounded twenty-six others. Apparently, he intended to spark a race war—or, rather, to accelerate a race war that he already believed to be in progress. “Do your part and spread this brothers!” he wrote on 8chan. “Keep up the good fight.”

From the iPhone to Huawei: The new geopolitics of technology

Dhruva Jaishankar

In meetings in various international capitals this summer—from a gathering of defense ministers in Singapore to a meeting of economic policy heavyweights and CEOs in Paris—discussions frequently revolved around the impact of technology. Of course, technological developments have long had implications for the global economy and international security, whether the advent of gunpowder or the railways, or the mastery of radio or nuclear fission. But with the “return of history” we may also be witnessing a return—after an anomalous period of positive-sum progress—of the geopolitics of technology. The scale and speed of this technological change makes it difficult to completely internalize the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for the world’s major powers.

Essentially, different approaches to technological development, and specifically the use of data, threaten to divide the world and shape the contours of geopolitical competition, contributing further to the securitization of technological competition. Instead of a “clash of civilizations,” we could be in for a “clash of automations.”


Extreme Weather Threatens Military Facilities

by Steven Aftergood

Extreme weather events and rising sea levels are causing damage to U.S. military facilities and could threaten U.S. military infrastructure around the world.

“Is the military ready for climate change?,” asked Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA). “It is not.”

“In the last 12 months, severe storms have devastated Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Tyndall Air Force Base, and Offutt Air Force Base,” he said during the House debate on the FY2020 defense authorization bill on July 10.

The defense bill that was passed by the House therefore included several provisions to require the Department of Defense “to plan for and respond to the threat that climate change poses to military installations and military operations.”

Similar requirements to incorporate weather projections in defense facility planning were included in the Senate version of the pending defense authorization bill.

The Longest Wars Richard Holbrooke and the Decline of American Power

Holbrooke in central Vietnam, early 1967Vladimir Lehovich

One of the most celebrated diplomats of his generation, Richard Holbrooke helped normalize U.S. relations with China; served as U.S. ambassador to a newly reunified Germany and then to the United Nations; and, most famously, negotiated the 1995 Dayton peace agreement that ended the war in Bosnia. But he began and ended his career struggling with how to resolve two American wars: first in Vietnam, then in Afghanistan.

Richard Holbrooke was six feet one but seemed bigger. He had long skinny limbs and a barrel chest and broad square shoulder bones, on top of which sat his strangely small head and, encased within it, the sleepless brain. His feet were so far from his trunk that, as his body wore down and the blood stopped circulating properly, they swelled up and became marbled red and white like steak. He had special shoes made and carried extra socks in his leather attaché case, sweating through half a dozen pairs a day, stripping them off on long flights and draping them over his seat pocket in first class, or else cramming used socks next to the classified documents in his briefcase. He wrote his book about ending the war in Bosnia—the place in history that he always craved, though it was never enough—with his feet planted in a Brookstone shiatsu foot massager. One morning he showed up late for a meeting in the secretary of state’s suite at the Waldorf Astoria in his stocking feet, shirt untucked and fly half zipped, padding around the room and picking grapes off a fruit basket, while Madeleine Albright’s furious stare tracked his every move. During a videoconference call from the U.S. mission to the United Nations, in New York, his feet were propped up on a chair, while down in the White House Situation Room their giant distortion completely filled the wall screen and so disrupted the meeting that President Bill Clinton’s national security adviser finally ordered a military aide to turn off the video feed. Holbrooke put his feet up anywhere, in the White House, on other people’s desks and coffee tables—for relief, and for advantage.