14 August 2019

Taliban's J&K statement has grave implications for India's security

All things taken into consideration, the Taliban statement on Kashmir portends trouble ahead. The Taliban is notorious for doublespeak and when it says there is no link between the Kashmir issue and the Afghan settlement, the opposite must be taken into account as well, points out Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar.

IMAGE: Security personnel stand guard across a road during restrictions after the government scrapped the special status for Kashmir, in Srinagar. Photograph: Danish Ismail/Reuters

The statement issued by the Taliban on Thursday (external link) regarding the situation surrounding the state of Jammu and Kashmir merits serious attention.

The statement recalls media reports on the abrogation of the special status of J&K by the Modi government, the deployment of additional troops in the state, and the lockdown in the valley that have created "difficulties and hardships for the Muslim population."

America Ignored

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When U.S. President Donald Trump offered to mediate the decades-old Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan late last month, he wasn’t attempting anything all that new for modern American presidents. U.S. leaders have sought to play arbitrator-in-chief in global affairs going back to Teddy Roosevelt, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. 

The difference was that Trump botched the effort in the most ham-handed way—and ended up seriously exacerbating tensions between the two nuclear-armed nations when, a little more than a week later, an incensed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made clear that not only would there be no talks, he was formally annexing Kashmir.

It’s not only that Trump flagrantly misrepresented Modi’s position and humiliated the Indian leader by saying—to the cameras and to the delighted surprise of visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan—that Modi had asked him to mediate. (No Indian prime minister, especially a nationalist like Modi, has ever consented to international mediation over Kashmir, which India regards as its own province.) What was most obvious to observers was that Trump’s blundering, casual comments about one of the most complex issues in South Asia were directed toward a single end—inducing Pakistan to help the United States withdraw from neighboring Afghanistan—and that he likely knows little about Kashmir except that people occasionally wear it. “I honestly don’t think Trump has the slightest idea of what he’s talking about,” tweeted Shashi Tharoor, a former senior United Nations official and now a legislator from the Indian National Congress Party.

How the CIA Aims to Keep a Footprint in Afghanistan


KHOST, Afghanistan—The muezzin had just called for the morning prayer when soldiers brandishing guns jumped off their Toyota Hiluxes, surrounded Noor Walli Khan’s house, knocked down the door, and entered the dark rooms where his family slept. 

Minutes later, they had tied everyone’s hands and feet and started pouring gasoline over the family’s only car. Khan, 42, watched as the vehicle went up in flames. His children hid in the rooms left devastated by the raiders. 

The surprise raid was the handiwork of the Khost Protection Force (KPF), a unit of Afghan soldiers trained, equipped, and funded by the CIA, operating mainly in the eastern province of Khost. The KPF’s U.S.-directed mission: Root out anyone remotely suspected of al Qaeda or Taliban ties. Interviewed after the raid, Qais, a 29-year-old KPF commander and drone operator who asked to be identified by a pseudonym, remarked casually that he himself was sure Khan’s family was innocent. But he shrugged off the raid as a warning that the CIA directed him to deliver.

“Our main objective is to bring security and to remove Taliban threats in Khost,” he explained, puffing out smoke from his cigarette. The CIA did not respond to several requests for comment.

Losing the War in Forgotten Afghanistan


Taliban chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (front) leaves after peace talks with Afghan senior politicians in Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2019. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters)The Taliban’s waiting game is finally about to pay off.

The media are struggling to fix the nation’s limited August attention on Captain Ahab (a.k.a. House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler) and his quest to nab the great white whale of impeachment. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the United States of America, the world’s lone superpower, is about to lose a war to the Taliban.

You heard me right: the Taliban.

This would be the same ragtag gang of sharia-supremacists that harbored al-Qaeda — its enduring ally — while the terror network slaughtered nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, the bloodiest attack by a foreign power on our homeland in American history. Worse even than Pearl Harbor.

Taliban Urges Pullout f Foreign Forces From Afghanistan

Afghan Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid dismissed speculation on the possibility of a peace agreement in coming days, stressing that a total pullout of foreign forces from Afghanistan, including the US forces, is a precondition for any deal.

In an interview with Tasnim on Saturday, Mujahid denied reports that the Taliban might sign a peace agreement with the US in coming days, saying the efforts are still underway, although there are still disagreements with Washington.

The Afghan Taliban is committed not to pose a threat against the other countries, he underlined, stressing that all foreign forces must immediately leave Afghanistan, including all contractors and even the Western diplomats.

“The pullout of foreign forces from Afghanistan is a major condition for any possible agreement with the US, and the formal announcement of a timetable for the (US) exit (from Afghanistan) is a precondition for a possible deal with the US,” Mujahid underscored.

In Afghanistan, the Endgame Demands a Difficult Balancing Act in a Region on Edge

By Mujib Mashal
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DOHA, Qatar — Six days into negotiations that many expect will deliver a preliminary deal to end nearly two decades of United States military presence in Afghanistan, the last stretch is proving to be a difficult balancing act.

Most of the American and Taliban negotiators were stuck in talks late into the night Thursday in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar — but others, including the delegation leaders, were on the road in a region in turmoil, visiting other nations that could have some sway in the outcome.

For both sides, the challenge is to craft a face-saving resolution for all the vested interests that also sets a path for stability in Afghanistan.

At the table in Doha, Qatar’s capital, negotiators were working to address the needs of a Taliban trying to transition to peace and an American administration seeking a withdrawal that could aid a bid for a second term in office.

The Rise of Afghanistan's Taliban

by Masood Ahmad Azizi

The latest round of U.S.-Taliban talks appears to be heading to a framework for peace. In exchange for a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. forces, the Taliban have agreed to a guarantee that Afghan territory will not be used to sponsor terrorist groups or stage attacks against the United States or its allies. This would be followed by a nationwide ceasefire and the start of an intra-Afghan dialogue, leading to the release of prisoners from both sides.

For all the progress, the peace talks face criticism for excluding the Afghan government. The Taliban have consistently refused to recognize Afghanistan’s elected government—calling it a U.S. puppet—and demanded to negotiate solely with the United States. But intra-Afghan negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan leadership will only begin once a deal with the United States is agreed upon.

Asia’s future is now

By Oliver Tonby, Jonathan Woetzel, Wonsik Choi, Jeongmin Seong, and Patti Wang
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For years, Western observers and media have been talking about the rise of Asia in terms of its massive future potential. But the time has come for the rest of the world to update its thinking—because the future arrived even faster than expected.

One of the most dramatic developments of the past 30 years has been emerging Asia’s soaring consumption and its integration into global flows of trade, capital, talent, and innovation. In the decades ahead, Asia’s economies will go from participating in these flows to determining their shape and direction. Indeed, in many areas—from the internet to trade and luxury goods—they already are. The question is no longer how quickly Asia will rise; it is how Asia will lead.

Of course, it is hard to generalize about such a vast swathe of the world, spanning myriad languages, ethnicities, and religions.1 These nations have widely varying forms of government, economic systems, and human-development indicators. Some have young and growing populations, while others are aging. Annual per capita income ranges from $849 in Nepal to $57,714 in Singapore. The region encompasses ancient ruins and bullet trains, rural farming villages and towering skyscrapers.

Why China Can't Target U.S. Aircraft Carriers

Loren Thompson

Critics of U.S. aircraft carriers have been arguing for decades that the survival of the world’s biggest warships will increasingly be at risk in an era of long-range, precision-guided anti-ship missiles. In recent years, China has typically been identified as the military power most likely to drive U.S. carriers from the sea.

But the U.S. Navy seems much less worried about carrier attacks than observers who lack military credentials and clearances. In fact, the outgoing Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, told an audience earlier this year that “we’re less vulnerable now than we have been since and including World War II.”

One reason the Navy is not alarmed is that it has invested heavily in new technologies aimed at bolstering the defenses of carrier strike groups. It also has changed its tactics for operating near China. But the biggest reason for confidence about the future resides in the difficulties China would face in trying to find and track U.S. carriers.

What Happened to the US-China Trade Deal?

By Paul Wiseman

A deal seemed so close.

As recently as May, the Trump administration and China seemed on the verge of resolving their dispute over Beijing’s combative trade policies.

Then it all collapsed. A ceasefire, declared by Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in June, failed to stick.

Now, global financial markets are shaking and central banks across the world are trying to cushion their economies from the worst by slashing interest rates — all in the expectation that a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies will continue to rage, probably through the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

“The U.S.-China trade talks are in serious trouble,” said Wendy Cutler, a former U.S. trade negotiator who is now vice president at the Asia Society Policy Institute. “There is less and less trust on both sides, coupled with a growing sense in both Washington and Beijing that they may be better off without a deal, at least for the time being.”

It's Time for America to Break with Beijing

by Gordon G. Chang
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SOME MISTAKES are repeated over the course of generations. For more than four decades, American presidents sought a closer relationship with China, working to “engage” that country so as to “enmesh” it into the international system. Richard Nixon, in his landmark Foreign Affairs article in 1967, provided the rationale for engagement, arguing the Chinese state could not be isolated. “Taking the long view,” he famously wrote then, “we simply cannot afford to leave China forever outside the family of nations, there to nurture its fantasies, cherish its hates and threaten its neighbors.”

Since the early 1970s, American policymakers believed they could avoid such nurturing, cherishing and threatening by making the success of the Communist Party of China a goal of U.S. foreign policy. With interests defined this way, American presidents helped China’s communists at crucial moments.

A Strong Military Everyday Keeps China Away

by James Jay Carafano

Washington’s greatest problem in-great power competition isn’t Tehran, Beijing, or Moscow. It’s Washington. Nourishing America’s competitive strengths should get as much attention as pushing back against competitors looking to diminish America’s place in the world.

Great and Not-So-Great Powers

Not all the powers in the great-power competition are all that great. Iran and Russia are regional powers. China has achieved global influence and reach with astonishing speed. Yet, by super-power standards, Beijing is not yet the global force that the old Soviet Union was.

Otto Witte, an acrobat, is purportedly crowned King of Albania.

Black infantrymen of the us Army's 25th Infantry Regiment are accused of killing a white bartender and wounding a police officer in Texas, despite exculpatory evidence.

Still, it makes sense to frame America’s challenge as a great-power competition. While China, Russia, and Iran can’t measure up to the Soviet Union individually, taken together (and throwing in a dollop of North Korea and transnational terrorism) they present a formidable threat at least as challenging as the task of winning the Cold War.


By Jennifer Cafarella with Brandon Wallace and Jason Zhou
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The Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) is not defeated despite the loss of the territory it claimed as its so-called ‘Caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria. It is stronger today than its predecessor Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) was in 2011, when the U.S. withdrew from Iraq. AQI had around 700-1000 fighters then. ISIS had as many as 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria in August 2018 according to a Defense Intelligence Agency estimate. ISIS built from the small remnant left in 2011 an army large enough to recapture Fallujah, Mosul, and other cities in Iraq and dominate much of eastern Syria in only three years. It will recover much faster and to a much more dangerous level from the far larger force it still has today.

[Download the full report here.]

Unveiling the Role of Women in Jihadist Groups

By: Sudha Ramachandran

On July 21, two back-to-back terror attacks rocked Dera Ismail Khan in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The first was carried out by two unidentified gunmen, who opened fire at a checkpoint at Kotla Saidan, killing two policemen. Soon after, a suicide bomber struck a hospital to which the victims of the Kotla Saidan attack were rushed. According to local officials, the suicide bomber was a 28-year-old burqa-clad woman. She was reportedly strapped with 7-8 kilograms of explosives packed with nails and ball-bearings, which she detonated near a crowd of people who were bringing in the injured and dead to an ambulance. The suicide bombing resulted in the death of four policemen and three civilians visiting relatives at the hospital. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is opposed to the Pakistani state and is based largely in areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border, claimed responsibility for the attack, describing it as revenge for the killing of two TTP commanders by police a month earlier. However, it denied that the suicide bomber was a woman (The Nation, July 22).

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

by Michael Rubin
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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.

The New Tiananmen Papers

By Andrew J. Nathan 

On April 15, 1989, the popular Chinese leader Hu Yaobang died of a heart attack in Beijing. Two years earlier, Hu had been cashiered from his post as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party for being too liberal. Now, in the days after his death, thousands of students from Beijing campuses gathered in Tiananmen Square, in central Beijing, to demand that the party give him a proper sendoff. By honoring Hu, the students expressed their dissatisfaction with the corruption and inflation that had developed during the ten years of “reform and opening” under the country’s senior leader, Deng Xiaoping, and their disappointment with the absence of political liberalization. Over the next seven weeks, the party leaders debated among themselves how to respond to the protests, and they issued mixed signals to the public. In the meantime, the number of demonstrators increased to perhaps as many as a million, including citizens from many walks of life. The students occupying the square declared a hunger strike, their demands grew more radical, and demonstrations spread to hundreds of other cities around the country. Deng decided to declare martial law, to take effect on May 20.

Long After Hiroshima – OpEd

By David Swanson

How do we honor victims? We can remember them and appreciate who they were. But there were too many of them, and too many unknown to us. So, we can remember a sample of them, examples of them. And we can honor the living survivors, get to know and appreciate them while they are still alive.

We can remember the horrific way in which those killed were victimized, in hopes of manipulating ourselves into doing something serious about it. We can remember those who were instantly vaporized, but also those half-burnt, partially melted, those eaten out from the inside by maggots, those who died slowly in excruciating pain and in the presence of their screaming children, those who died from drinking water they knew would kill them but who were driven to it by thirst.

Here’s What Foreign Interference Will Look Like in 2020


Russia is “doing it as we sit here.”

This stray line, buried in seven hours of testimony on Capitol Hill, wasn’t just Robert Mueller’s way of rebutting the charge that his investigation into the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 presidential election amounted to a two-year, $32 million witch hunt.

It was also a blunt message to the lawmakers arrayed before him, the journalists hunting for a bombshell, and the millions of Americans monitoring the proceedings: We’re all here fighting the last war, when we really should be bracing ourselves for the coming one.

The Russians “expect to do it during the next campaign,” the special counsel continued, and “many more countries are developing capability to replicate” Moscow’s model.

This time, a Donald Trump presidency isn’t some pipe dream or fuzzy nightmare, as it was for many foreign governments during the 2016 race. It is instead an all-consuming reality that is disrupting America’s alliances, role in the world, and relationships with great powers like China and Russia. The 2020 election will determine whether that reality is an aberration or a new normal.

Ukraine’s Petroleum-Sector Challenges: Raising Domestic Output and Cutting Corruption

By: Rauf Mammadov

Volodymyr Zelenskyy inherited formidable challenges when he was elected Ukraine’s sixth president this spring, including a Kremlin-backed war with “separatists” in the east, deep-rooted corruption, and an ongoing natural gas dispute with Russia. Ukraine is now responding to the gas discord by trying to negotiate an extension of a long-term contract with Russia, filling its storage tanks in case Russia cuts gas shipments to it this winter, and trying to increase domestic production.

The contract under which Russia exports natural gas to Ukraine and on to Europe via Ukrainian pipelines expires on January 1, 2020. Russia’s Gazprom had hoped to complete its Nord Stream Two pipeline by then so it could transit gas to Europe without going through Ukraine. This gas transit pipeline would double the annual capacity of the already-existing 55-billion-cubic-meter (bcm) Nord Stream One, which directly links Russia and Germany via the Baltic seafloor. But Denmark has yet to approve the Nord Stream Two project in part of its waters, making the pipeline unlikely to be completed until mid-2020—a key reason why Russia asked for the contract extension talks with Ukraine.

The Russian Sale of S-400 Missiles to Turkey May Change Power Equilibrium in the Middle East

By: Pavel Felgenhauer

For centuries, Russia has spent vast amounts of blood and treasure and fought multiple wars in the hopes to either directly annex the Turkish Straits—the Bosporus and the Dardanelles—or to establish a friendly vassal regime there that would control the strategic waterway and allow only Russian warships to pass. Moscow’s control over the Straits is vital to ensure secure Russian access to the Mediterranean region and to effectively move southern Russia’s line of defense from the littoral waters near Sochi and Taman all the way out to the Aegean Sea.

Since the 15th century, Russia has presented itself as the only true successor of the Byzantine Orthodox Roman Empire; indeed, the double-headed eagle on the coat of arms of the House of Palaiologos—the last Byzantine imperial dynasty—today makes up the national coat of arms of the Russian Federation. Capturing Istanbul (Constantinople), restoring the Orthodox cross on the Hagia Sophia (the Ottoman Turks turned it into a mosque; at present, it is a museum), taking the coveted Straits, and ultimately uniting the Balkan and Middle Eastern Orthodox people under Russian rule seemed close at hand several times in the last couple of centuries. But each time, as Russian forces invaded and marched to Constantinople or planned to land troops on the Bosporus, something went wrong. Nonetheless, in 1833, the Russian navy actually succeeded in landing some 30,000 troops on the Bosporus to stop the advancing forces of Egyptian ruler Mehmed Ali and saved the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II. The Russian forces withdrew only after the Turks signed a mutual defense compact—the Treaty of Hünkâr İskelesi—effectively turning Turkey into a Russian protectorate with a secret clause requiring the closure of the Dardanelles to all foreign warships at Russia’s command. The modern-day equivalent of such a treaty is arguably the ultimate goal of Moscow’s present Middle Eastern policy.

A Preliminary Survey of CCP Influence Efforts in Hong Kong

By: Russell Hsiao
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The founding ceremony in July 1992 for the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (later renamed the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong), the pro-Beijing coalition in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. (Source: DAB)

Editor’s note: Our previous two issues contained articles by Russell Hsiao that profiled institutions and methods employed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to cultivate influence in Japan (A Preliminary Survey of CCP Influence Operations in Japan, June 26, 2019) and in Singapore (A Preliminary Survey of CCP Influence Operations in Singapore, July 16, 2019). In this issue, Mr. Hsiao completes this series by examining the organizations and methods by which the CCP seeks to erode the independent institutions and political norms of Hong Kong, and thereby to more fully assert Beijing’s control over the city. 

Introduction and Background

The steady erosion of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR)’s autonomy that has visibly occurred in the two decades since reversion—and accelerated under Chinese paramount leader Xi Jinping since 2012—raises questions as to how the social, political, and legal institutions that make up the foundation of Hong Kong’s distinctive system and political autonomy have been eroded since the 1997 retrocession. This article provides a preliminary survey describing some of the means by which the central government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and its ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intervene and exercise influence in Hong Kong—through the PRC Liaison Office, political parties, media, academia, and community organizations—in order to promote the CCP’s political agenda and undermine the influence of the territory’s pro-democracy forces.

Is Trump Accidentally Triggering Reconciliation in the Middle East?


The Trump administration took its irrational animosity toward Iran to new heights this past week by sanctioning Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Though an absurd move that directly contradicts Donald Trump’s claim of seeking diplomacy, it appears unlikely to change an increasingly undeniable reality in Trump’s standoff with Iran—Zarif and the Iranians are gaining on the long game. This has not escaped America’s allies in the Persian Gulf—and some have started to act accordingly. Yet within Trump’s defeat lies a victory for America.

Iran was in a precarious situation back in May of this year. Trump had just announced a major escalation: He was going to push Tehran’s oil exports down to zero by refusing to renew sanctions waivers to European and Asian countries. With a highly oil-dependent economy, Tehran could ill afford Trump’s ever-intensifying economic warfare.

Ever since breaching the Iran nuclear deal a year earlier, Trump had sought to bring Iran’s economy to its knees by re-imposing sanctions. At first, the Iranians had hoped European Union countries would continue their trade and shield Iran from Trump’s economic belligerence. This kept Tehran from responding to Trump’s provocations, since it calculated that it could endure the economic pressure and wait out the Trump administration.

Infographic Of The Day: Ranking The Top 100 Websites In The World

As a greater portion of the world begins to live more of their life online, the world's top 100 websites continue to see explosive growth in their traffic numbers. To claim even the 100th spot in this ranking, your website would need around 350 million visits in a single month.

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.

State-Sponsored​ Cyberattacks 'Challenge The Very Concept Of War'

Zak Doffman
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The nature of warfare has changed, with a new "mix and match" multidimensional approach from aggressor states and their proxies. In the military sphere, this means attacks in one domain can lead to retaliation in another—military strikes following cyberattacks, for example. But, of more note, targeted or indiscriminate cyberattacks on civilian infrastructure and the commercial sector have become a softer and easier to reach target than locked down military or intelligence platforms. All of which is proving a challenge to traditional definitions of warfare.

The blurred lines between the military and civilian domains and the ease by which cyberattacks can be launched on targets thousands of miles from home have become a game-changer. Military dominance is undermined if the home-front is woefully vulnerable to a catastrophic attack. While we read headlines about long-range missiles being tested in North Korea or developed in Iran, the fact is that a takedown of a country's energy grid or transportation network or health service is a far greater risk. And that risk doesn't need any scientific developments and rogue supply chains—it exists today.

The Rise of the Global Cyber War Threat


The prospect of an all-out cyber war involving the United States, Russia, China and a host of other nations including Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia sounds like something out of a Hollywood blockbuster movie. Yet, based on the growing sophistication and aggressiveness of state-sponsored cyber attacks around the world, a cyber war involving attacks on the critical infrastructure of nations can no longer be ruled out. Of even more concern is that China, Iran and Russia may be presenting a united front in the cyber domain as part of a very visible response to what they perceive as aggressive unilateralism from the United States.

Russia, China and Iran each have their own separate reasons for uniting against the United States. As a result, they are taking steps to unite in order to resist the hegemony of the United States. Not only is the United States the world’s foremost military and economic power, but also it is now the world’s leading cyber power. And the National Security Agency (NSA) of the U.S. has been carefully articulating a more robust and more offensive-minded cyber doctrine that would enable it to act much more aggressively than in the past by using cyber weapons.

Globalization in transition: The future of trade and value chains

By Susan Lund, James Manyika, Jonathan Woetzel, Jacques Bughin, Mekala Krishnan, Jeongmin Seong, and Mac Muir
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Global value chains are being reshaped by rising demand and new industry capabilities in the developing world as well as a wave of new technologies.

Even with trade tensions and tariffs dominating the headlines, important structural changes in the nature of globalization have gone largely unnoticed. In Globalization in transition: The future of trade and value chains (PDF–3.7MB), the McKinsey Global Institute analyzes the dynamics of global value chains and finds structural shifts that have been hiding in plain sight.

Although output and trade continue to increase in absolute terms, trade intensity (that is, the share of output that is traded) is declining within almost every goods-producing value chain. Flows of services and data now play a much bigger role in tying the global economy together. Not only is trade in services growing faster than trade in goods, but services are creating value far beyond what national accounts measure. Using alternative measures, we find that services already constitute more value in global trade than goods. In addition, all global value chains are becoming more knowledge-intensive. Low-skill labor is becoming less important as factor of production. Contrary to popular perception, only about 18 percent of global goods trade is now driven by labor-cost arbitrage.

How tech is transforming the intelligence industry

At a conference on the future challenges of intelligence organizations held in 2018, former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats argued that he transformation of the American intelligence community must be a revolution rather than an evolution. The community must be innovative and flexible, capable of rapidly adopting innovative technologies wherever they may arise.

Intelligence communities across the Western world are now at a crossroads: The growing proliferation of technologies, including artificial intelligence, Big Data, robotics, the Internet of Things, and blockchain, changes the rules of the game. The proliferation of these technologies – most of which are civilian, could create data breaches and lead to backdoor threats for intelligence agencies. Furthermore, since they are affordable and ubiquitous, they could be used for malicious purposes.

The technological breakthroughs of recent years have led intelligence organizations to challenge the accepted truths that have historically shaped their endeavors. The hierarchical, compartmentalized, industrial structure of these organizations is now changing, revolving primarily around the integration of new technologies with traditional intelligence work and the redefinition of the role of the humans in the intelligence process.

15-Marine rifle squad: An exclusive look inside the future infantry

Todd South and Shawn Snow

When Sgt. Cameron Brower heads out on his next deployment later this year, he’ll operate in a kind of rifle squad that top Marine leaders see as the future of the Corps’ core unit and a way to bring new technologies and capabilities to bear at the lowest tactical levels of warfighting.

Brower, with 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon, Echo Company, is one squad leader among a couple dozen in the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Battalion Landing Team with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The unit is the first fully manned deploying unit in the Marine Corps at the 15-Marine rifle squad configuration,unveiled in 2018 by last Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller. It adds two Marines, an assistant squad leader and a squad systems operator to the decades-old 13-Marine formation.

The move is an effort to put more capabilities in the squad, which some see as the base of the fight in a future battlefield that may require small numbers of Marines to operate in contested areas with a lot of firepower at their fingertips.

Wanna Start World War III? Simple: Sink a U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier.

by Robert Farley

The targets of an attack against a carrier, in effect, would be U.S. military capabilities, public opinion, and elite opinion (defining elite as including military and civilian leadership). The political and military leadership of the foe would need to believe that attacking the carrier was militarily feasible, that it would further operational or strategic goals, and that the likely U.S. responses were manageable in military and political terms. On the operational and strategic levels, it's not difficult to imagine a context in which damaging, destroying, or deterring a carrier would enable operational military success. Simply clearing the skies of F/A-18s and F-35s tends to make life easier for fielded military forces. On the strategic side, an attack would convey a seriousness of commitment, while creating fear of vulnerability in America. Damaging or sinking a carrier would make the costs of war starkly clear to Americans, and might dissuade them from further conflict. Finally, any decision to escalate must take the potential U.S. response seriously and including either that America would not escalate in response or that any U.S. response could be effectively managed.