13 August 2019

Modi Crosses the Rubicon in Kashmir

By Sumit Ganguly

On August 5, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in New Delhi announced the revocation of Article 370, a provision in the Indian constitution that governs the relationship of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir with India. Simultaneously, the home minister, Amit Shah, also announced in Parliament that the government planned to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its statehood, creating instead two “union territories” (one in the Buddhist region of Ladakh and another in the regions of Jammu and Kashmir, which have Hindu and Muslim majorities, respectively). Both the lower and upper houses of the Indian Parliament passed legislation enacting these changes the following day.

If the government of Narendra Modi can follow through on its plan, Kashmir will cease to be an autonomous state within India. The abolition of Article 370 has long been a staple of the Hindu nationalist BJP’s political platform. In its 2014 election manifesto, the BJP repeated its old ambition of getting rid of the article, but promised to “discuss this with all stakeholders.” That commitment to consultation vanished in its 2019 manifesto. With another clear-cut majority in Parliament, the party is emboldened to make good on its electoral promise.

Walking the Path of the Buddha in a Neglected Corner of India

By Paul Salopek

Buddhism was born under a giant fig tree, which, today, grows at the center of the remote and unbeautiful town of Bodh Gaya, in India’s destitute northeastern state of Bihar. The tree is about three crooked blocks from the Be Happy Café and a few minutes’ walk from a used book store where a middle-aged Krishna devotee from Iowa, named James, works, reselling old paperbacks by Hesse and Murakami.

The sacred Bodhi Tree is surrounded by a wall and guarded by police. (Islamic extremists bombed the site in 2013.) At dawn, before pilgrims begin their daily perambulations around the tree’s massive trunk, local children forage under its sprawling canopy—some branches are propped up by iron columns—to gather fallen leaves. Pressed inside clear plastic, the leaves are sold to visitors from Bhutan, Myanmar, and Manhattan, and to outposts of Buddhism around the world. The historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, a reputed prince from what is now Nepal, is said to have achieved nirvana while meditating under the tree, in the fifth century B.C. The Awakened One purportedly spent seven weeks under under the Bodhi Tree after achieving liberation from the wheel of suffering that binds humankind to selfhood, aging, disease, and death. So Deepak Anand told me.

U.S. Military Calls ISIS in Afghanistan a Threat to the West. Intelligence Officials Disagree.

By Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Julian E. Barnes

WASHINGTON — Senior United States military and intelligence officials are sharply divided over how much of a threat the Islamic State in Afghanistan poses to the West, a critical point in the Trump administration’s debate over whether American troops stay or withdraw after nearly 18 years of war.

American military commanders in Afghanistan have described the Islamic State affiliate there as a growing problem that is capable of inspiring and directing attacks in Western countries, including the United States.

But intelligence officials in Washington disagree, arguing the group is mostly incapable of exporting terrorism worldwide. The officials believe that the Islamic State in Afghanistan, known as Islamic State Khorasan, remains a regional problem and is more of a threat to the Taliban than to the West.

Will China Crush the Protests in Hong Kong?

By Michael C. Davis And Victoria Tin-Bor Hui 

For five months, Hong Kong has seen waves of massive protests and violence in the streets. And for five months, the local authorities, with the backing of Beijing, have responded in increasingly draconian ways—from wielding batons and firing lethal shots at protesters to jailing them on rioting charges—that have succeeded mostly in inflaming public sentiment. The situation has devolved into a stalemate, featuring escalating protests and brutal clashes between police and demonstrators. The question on everyone’s mind is if and when the Chinese government will resort to more aggressive means—including use of the military—to end the unrest for good.

How China's Rise Has Remade Global Politics

As much as any other single development, China’s rise over the past two decades has remade the landscape of global politics. Beginning with its entry into the World Trade Organization in December 2001, China rapidly transformed its economy from a low-cost “factory to the world” to a global leader in advanced technologies. Along the way, it has transformed global supply chains, but also international diplomacy, leveraging its success to become the primary trading and development partner for emerging economies across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang presents the government’s “work report” during the second session of the 13th National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 5, 2019 (Imaginechina photo via AP Images).

US-China Trade War: Why the EU Should Take Sides and Favour the Rules-based Order

By Nicola Casarini

The recent G20 summit in Osaka in June failed to deliver a breakthrough in the growing US-China rivalry over trade and technological supremacy. Like the rest of the world, Europe is feeling the heat of the trade war US President Donald Trump unleashed against China. As a resolution of this tug-of-war is not in sight, the EU’s new leadership should start preparing a comprehensive response.

For this, the EU should keep equidistance vis-à-vis the US and China and, depending on the issue, temporarily align with the positions of either one or the other so as to defend the norms and principles on which the liberal international order, including the multilateral trading system, depends.

Another sea trial for China’s first home-grown aircraft carrier ‘suggests technical problems’

Minnie Chan
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China’s Type 001A aircraft carrier leaves the shipyard in Dalian on Thursday for a four-day sea trial. It is undergoing more testing this week. Photo: ImagineChina

China’s first home-grown aircraft carrier is undergoing another sea trial, straight after four days of testing, suggesting that the PLA Navy may have identified technical problems requiring immediate attention, military observers said.

The latest sea trial of the 65,000-tonne Type 001A was indirectly confirmed by a “no-sail zone” notice issued by the Liaoning Maritime Safety Administration on Monday. Ships have been warned not to enter a 3,400 sq km area in the north of the Yellow Sea for safety reasons.

The “no-sail zone” – near Dalian port, where the warship was built – is almost the same area used for  last week’s sea trial. A military source said the area was chosen to facilitate operations and emergency support.

The Future of Countering Terrorism: Ideas Not Bullets

Jason Howk 

In World War II the Germans complained that it was so difficult to fight the Americans because the U.S. commanders didn’t follow their own written doctrine. That isn’t the case with many of our modern enemies. Most of the terrorists we face today are violent supremacist groups that have a clear and public doctrine which they use to recruit and inspire new members. They follow their doctrine; and we need to remember that when we try to counter them.

As America awoke after the Christchurch Mosque attack, I got a text from a CNN producer to get to a studio for the 8 AM show. I ended up opposite Peter Bergen discussing the similarities between white supremacist and Islamist supremacists. They both have clear and public ideologies about why they are superior to other humans and why they are authorized, in their own minds, to “defend” themselves against anyone that refuses to think like they do. They are extremely violent, deeply radicalized into their ideology, and can blend-in easily, making their attacks hard to predict or stop. Unfortunately, their idea of “defending themselves” means killing all innocent people that are in their way.

Return and Expand?

With the end of its territorial caliphate, the Islamic State will almost certainly attempt a comeback. Such efforts will require money. The authors examine the group's history as an insurgency and a self-styled caliphate, drawing from the literature, the group's documents, and interviews with individuals who lived under the caliphate, with a focus on how the group has financed itself. The Islamic State has prided itself on drawing from local funding sources rather than external donations. As a territorial caliphate, it could openly levy taxes and fees and sell oil from fields it controlled to cover its expenses. Now that it can no longer rely on such sources, the group will go with activities that it has used successfully in the past, as an insurgency. Criminal activities will prove useful, with its members seeking to extort, kidnap, steal, smuggle, and traffic to obtain the money they need to finance the group's activities. On top of this, the Islamic State likely has detailed information on the population it once ruled, and it appears to have sizable assets in reserve. As an insurgency, rather than a territorial government, its expenses are far lower than they were at the peak of its power. Accordingly, the United States will need to stay involved with counter–Islamic State activities across several lines of effort, including counterfinance and potentially including military action.

Iran's Military Is Making Strides Into Twenty-First Century Technology

by Michael Rubin

Recent Iranian ship interceptions highlight Iran’s military challenge and continue to drive a regional arms race. Whereas Gulf Cooperation Council states spend lavishly on high-end, off-the-shelf, U.S.-built platforms, decades of sanctions and post-revolutionary strategic decisions to be militarily self-sufficient has led Islamic Republic to focus more on its own indigenous industries. Direct comparisons of defense spending between Arab states and Iran is difficult. While a superficial reading of public statistics shows Saudi and Emirati spending far outstrips Iran’s as a proportion of GDP, it would be a mistake to take public Iranian statistics at face value. Still, post-revolutionary Iran has long embraced asymmetric strategies such as terrorism or perhaps nuclear technologies to counter enemies, both real or imagined.

U.S. Sanctions Turn Iran’s Oil Industry Into Spy vs. Spy

By Farnaz Fassihi 
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They change offices every few months and store documents only in hard copy. They scan their businesses for covert listening devices and divert all office calls to their cellphones. They know they are under surveillance, and assume their electronics are hacked.

They are not spies or jewel thieves but Iran’s oil traders, and they are suddenly in the cross hairs of international intrigue and espionage.

“Sometimes I feel like I am an actor playing in a thriller spy movie,” said Meysam Sharafi, a veteran oil trader in Tehran.

Since President Trump imposed sanctions on Iranian oil sales last year, information on those sales has become a prized geopolitical weapon — coveted by Western intelligence agencies and top secret for Iran. And the business of selling Iranian oil, once a safe and lucrative enterprise for the well connected, has been transformed into a high-stakes global game of espionage and counterespionage.

The Enduring American Presence in the Middle East

By Daniel Benaim And Michael Wahid Hanna 
Judging by the headlines, the last two years of U.S. Middle East policy seem to be marked by a whiplash-inducing series of radical shifts. U.S. President Donald Trump ran on opposition to a foreign policy of “intervention and chaos,” then ramped up U.S. airstrikes from Somalia to Syria. He announced a complete pullout of U.S. troops from eastern Syria in December, declaring, “They’re all coming back and they’re coming back now,” only to reverse himself and then trumpet additional military deployments to the region to counter Iran six months later. He has simultaneously decried his predecessor’s overinvestment in the Middle East and his weakness there. 

These conflicting signals have allowed wildly different interpretations of the Trump administration’s posture in the Middle East. Focusing on one announcement leads to warnings of a new war; focusing on others allows for proclamations of a “post-American era” in the Middle East. Yet most Middle East watchers seem to agree that something fundamental about America’s presence in the region is changing. 

The Return of Doomsday

By Ernest J. Moniz And Sam Nunn

The year is 2020. The Russian military is conducting a large exercise in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea that borders the NATO member states Lithuania and Poland. An observer aircraft from the Western alliance accidentally crosses into Russian airspace and is shot down by a surface-to-air missile. NATO rushes air squadrons and combat vessels into the region. Both sides warn that they will consider using nuclear weapons if their vital interests are threatened.

Already on edge after the invasion of Crimea, rising tensions in the Middle East, the collapse of arms control agreements, and the deployment of new nuclear weapons, NATO and Russia are suddenly gearing up for conflict. In Washington, with the presidential campaign well under way, candidates are competing to take the hardest line on Russia. In Moscow, having learned that anti-Americanism pays off, the Russian leadership is escalating its harsh rhetoric against Washington. 

Hard Truths in Syria

By Brett McGurk 

Over the last four years, I helped lead the global response to the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS)—an effort that succeeded in destroying an ISIS “caliphate” in the heart of the Middle East that had served as a magnet for foreign jihadists and a base for launching terrorist attacks around the world. Working as a special envoy for U.S. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, I helped establish a coalition that was the largest of its kind in history: 75 countries and four international organizations, their cooperation built on a foundation of U.S. leadership and consistency across U.S. administrations. Indeed, the strategy to destroy the ISIS caliphate was developed under Obama and then carried forward, with minor modifications, under Trump; throughout, it focused on enabling local fighters to reclaim their cities from ISIS and then establish the conditions for displaced people to return.

17 Countries, Home to One-Quarter of the World's Population, Face Extremely High Water Stress

Rutger Willem Hofste, Paul Reig and Leah Schleifer
Once-unthinkable water crises are becoming commonplace.

Reservoirs in Chennai, India’s sixth-largest city, are nearly dry right now. Last year, residents of Cape Town, South Africa narrowly avoided their own “Day Zero” water shut-off. And the year before that, Rome rationed water to conserve scarce resources.

The reasons for these crises go far deeper than drought: Through new hydrological models, WRI found that water withdrawals globally have more than doubled since the 1960s due to growing demand – and they show no signs of slowing down.

Where The EU Imports Its Clothes From

by Niall McCarthy

Eurostat has released data showing that EU Member States imported €166 billion worth of clothing in 2018, just over half of which came from outside the EU.

China was the largest non-EU source country, accounting for €27 billion or clothing imports or 32 percent of the total. It was followed by Bangladesh with €16 billion (19 percent) and Turkey's €10 billion (12 percent).

The Twin Rise of Populism and Authoritarianism

Globally, the past decade has been marked by the twin advances of authoritarianism and populism. The two are not always linked, but in situations ranging from the Philippines and Cambodia to Hungary and Poland, politicians have leveraged populist movements to seize power. Once in office, they have begun the process of dismantling the institutions designed to check their authority and protect human rights, particularly the judiciary and the media. 

The populist boom is fueled by disparate, local issues, but these often share common features, such as feelings of disenfranchisement, of being left out of a global economic boom and of discomfort at seeing familiar social orders upended. The movements these grievances generate have spurred anti-immigrant xenophobia—and, in places like Hungary and Greece, even horrifying episodes of political violence—as underlying prejudices are exploited by opportunistic politicians.

Ukraine-Russian Relations and the Future of Ukraine

by Matthew Petti 

The unexpected election of the former comedian and businessman Volodymyr Zelensky in April 2019 to the presidency upended Ukrainian politics. Will Zelensky now grow into a serious political leader? To discuss Ukraine’s future, the Center for the National Interest hosted a Thursday luncheon talk titled “The Future of Ukraine and Ukraine-Russia Relations,” by John Herbst, director of the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council and a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. The Center’s own board member Richard Burt, a former U.S. ambassador to Germany, moderated. Herbst, who has a long record of diplomatic service and has previously served as ambassador to Uzbekistan, is a fluent Russian speaker and a major authority on Russian and Ukrainian politics.

UN Warns World Food Security Increasingly At Risk Due To ‘Unprecedented’ Climate Change Impact

More than 500 million people today live in areas affected by erosion linked to climate change, the UN warned on Thursday, before urging all countries to commit to sustainable land use to help limit greenhouse gas emissions before it is too late.

Speaking at the launch of a Special Report on Climate Change and Land by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Geneva, experts highlighted how the rise in global temperatures, linked to increasing pressures on fertile soil, risked jeopardizing food security for the planet.

Humans affect more than 70 per cent of ice-free land and a quarter is already degraded, noted Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of one of three Working Groups that contributed to the bumper 1,200-page report.

“Today 500 million people live in areas that experience desertification,” she told journalists. “People living in already degraded or desertified areas are increasingly negatively affected by climate change.”

Plant-based food and fuels, key to climate change fight

Gold As Geostrategic Asset: The Once And Future King? – Analysis

By Jose Miguel Alonso-Trabanco

In terms of grand strategy, the relevance of gold is often underestimated. To a certain extent, this misperception is a consequence of the disdain publicly expressed by some prominent economists. For instance, Lord John Maynard Keynes held that gold was a ‘barbaric relic,’ whereas former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke claimed the yellow metal is stockpiled in vaults all over the world merely because of ‘tradition.’ The view that gold is like any other ordinary commodity is utterly reductionist and its corresponding limitations highlight the importance of developing a wider and deeper understanding.

The nature of gold – a heavy element produced by celestial phenomena like supernovae and the clash of neutron stars – goes well beyond that. In fact, since the very dawn of civilization, it has been regarded as a substance that conveys wealth, power, prosperity, splendor, and prestige. Its use in coinage, jewelry, bullion trade, and royal crowns are clear examples of that reality. In other words, it can be argued that the aurous metal possesses profound political, social, cultural and psychological properties. Therefore, its strategic weight is superior to its market value alone.

Trump’s Deficit Economy


Economists have repeatedly tried to explain to Donald Trump that trade agreements may affect which countries the US buys from and sells to, but not the magnitude of the overall deficit. But, as usual, Trump believes what he wants to believes, leaving those who can least afford it to pay the price.

NEW YORK – In the new world wrought by US President Donald Trump, where one shock follows another, there is never time to think through fully the implications of the events with which we are bombarded. In late July, the Federal Reserve Board reversed its policy of returning interest rates to more normal levels, after a decade of ultra-low rates in the wake of the Great Recession. Then, the United States had another two mass gun killings in under 24 hours, bringing the total for the year to 255 – more than one a day. And a trade war with China, which Trump had tweeted would be “good, and easy to win,” entered a new, more dangerous phase, rattling markets and posing the threat of a new cold war.

Growing opportunities in the Internet of Things

By Fredrik Dahlqvist, Mark Patel, Alexander Rajko, and Jonathan Shulman

After years of hype, anticipation, and steady uptake, the Internet of Things (IoT) seems poised to cross over into mainstream business use. The number of businesses that use the IoT technologies has increased from 13 percent in 2014 to about 25 percent today. And the worldwide number of IoT-connected devices is projected to increase to 43 billion by 2023, an almost threefold increase from 2018.1

This level of uptake is both a result and an impetus of the developing technologies that underpin the IoT. For one, technological advancement means that IoT technology will become easier to implement, opening the door for a wider variety of companies to benefit from IoT applications. Indeed, although large enterprises began to invest their sizable resources in IoT technologies years ago, the beneficiaries of this latest wave of IoT maturity will be small and medium-size enterprises. While they may not have the means to execute bespoke implementations, they can still invest in easy-to-use IoT solutions.

When should the Army’s cyber school teach information warfare?

By: Mark Pomerleau   
Each of the U.S. military services are reorganizing under a banner of information warfare, a subject area that often includes cyber, electronic warfare, signals intelligence and information operations. But, now, the Army’s cyber school is struggling to figure out how — and when — to teach those disciplines.

“The big elephant in the room is how are we going to incorporate information operations as part of the convergence or transformation,” Maj. Chase Hasbrouck, course manager for the Cyber Common Technical Core at the Army cyber school. Hasbrouck spoke to Fifth Domain during a week-long visit and was embedded with students at Fort Gordon earlier this year.

Of course, the Army’s cyber school needs to continue teaching students the appropriate skills set out by U.S. Cyber Command for personnel that will one day feed up to the joint cyber mission force ... but what about the other disciplines? The head of Army Cyber Command, Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, has repeatedly said that by 2028 he’d like the command to transition to an approach more along the lines of Army Information Warfare Operations Command.

Acquisition of Software-Defined Hardware-Based Adaptable Systems

The increasing importance of software has created an opportunity for the Department of Defense (DoD) to harness innovation through the acquisition and modification of adaptable systems that are 1) inherently multifunctional and 2) designed for continuous modification. Identifying an acquisition approach to these types of adaptable systems that are software-defined and hardware-intensive is particularly challenging from an acquisition perspective as these systems do not fall into typical acquisition phases that discretely differentiate between phases such as research & development and production. However, there are several existing enablers that, if adopted, can mitigate barriers to the acquisition of adaptable systems.

This CSIS study was made possible by the support of Northrop Grumman.


by Allen Longstreet
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The quick answer is that the price advertisers pay per visitor varies. With the percentage of money spent on programmatic ad bidding auctions increasing every year, people want to know: “Am I getting paid the right amount for the ads that are showing on my website? Are the people coming to my website the type of traffic that advertisers are paying a lot of money for?”

If you’re hoping to figure out how much will advertisers pay for your content to reach their audience, you’ve come to the right place.

Below, I’m going to answer those questions and more.


The biggest thing to remember when answering this question is that all the traffic coming to your website is not the same. Most publishers understand this. Bot traffic, in comparison to real traffic, can dilute both website performance and ad revenues.

‘Zero Trust’ Lab Will Explore the Future of Pentagon Data Security

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Once upon a time, U.S. Cyber Command and DISA could act like no one got past their passwords. Those days are over.

The Defense Information Systems Agency is standing up a lab for researchers to test different strategies for building zero-trust network architectures across the Pentagon.

Located near the agency’s Fort Meade headquarters, the facility will serve as the base of operations for a pilot program run by DISA and U.S. Cyber Command focused on protecting the Pentagon’s IT infrastructure from unauthorized access, according to Jason Martin, acting director of DISA’s cyber directorate. 

Once the lab is up and running, security experts from the defense and intelligence communities will use it to experiment with novel approaches to improving identity and access management on military networks, he said Wednesday during a panel at the FCWCybersecurity Summit. The intelligence community will also be involved in those efforts, he added.

What the Machine Learning Value Chain Means for Geopolitics


Thanks to major improvements in computing power, increasingly sophisticated algorithms, and an unprecedented amount of data, artificial intelligence (AI) has started generating significant economic value. With algorithms that make predictions from large amounts of data, AI contributes, by some estimates, about $2 trillion to today’s global economy. It could add as much as $16 trillion by 2030, making it more than 10 percent of gross world product.1

AI’s outsize contribution to global economic growth has important implications for geopolitics. Around the world, governments are ramping up their investments in AI research and development (R&D), infrastructure, talent, and product development. To date, twenty-four governments have published national AI strategies and their corresponding investments.

So far, China and the United States are outspending everyone else while simultaneously taking steps to protect their investments from foreign competition. In 2017, China passedlegislation requiring foreign companies to store data from Chinese customers within China’s borders, effectively hamstringing outsiders from using Chinese data to offer services to non-Chinese parties. For its part, the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment blocked a Chinese investor from acquiring a leading U.S. producer of semiconductors, which are essential components for computing. While this was officially a national security action, it could also benefit U.S competitiveness by protecting its stake in semiconductor production.2

'The threat now is fake news': Thai army chief describes 'hybrid war'

Kay Johnson, Panu Wongcha-um, Panarat Thepgumpanat

Thailand's Royal Army Chief General Apirat Kongsompong speaks during an interview with Reuters in Bangkok, Thailand, August 9, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

General Apirat Kongsompong spoke to Reuters a week after a half-dozen small bombs hit Bangkok during a high profile meeting of world powers, attacks he said were aimed at undermining a new civilian government led by the former junta leader.

Although Thailand officially ended five years of army rule last month, opposition parties say elections were engineered to keep retired general Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister and cement the military’s control.

Apirat said the army was now fighting a struggle he compared to that against communist insurgents in the 1970s and ‘80s, with the challenge now being propaganda on the internet.

Can robots make an Army platoon 10 times as effective?

By: Kelsey D. Atherton 
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Are humans with robots an order of magnitude better than humans without robots? It’s the question the Army’s Maneuver Center for Excellence is hoping to solve through trial and experimentation. The National Advanced Mobility Consortium posted a request for white papers Aug. 5 about technologies that might have a place in a robotic, artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomy technology demonstration at Fort Benning in September 2020.

This project is long in the works, with an announcement of intent dating back to March 2019. The premise, as stated in the March announcement, is to “show a path towards an Army capability that will provide a robotically equipped dismounted infantry platoon that is 10 times more effective than the current dismounted infantry platoon.”

Digital Technologies and Mediation in Armed Conflict

This report assesses the implications of growing connectivity and reliance on digital technologies for the mediation of armed conflicts. More specifically, after assessing the relevance of such technology for mediation, the text’s authors highlight the opportunities that digital technologies offer mediators, particularly regarding 1) conflict analysis; 2) engagement with conflict parties; 3) inclusivity, and 4) strategic communication. The report also proposes practices that can help mediators seize these opportunities while avoiding the risks of inadvertently causing harm to their efforts and the actors with whom they engage.