16 August 2019

India’s Paradigm Shift in assertion of Geopolitical Power on Kashmir- 2019.

Dr Subhash Kapila

In a historically significant revocation of Special Provisions of Article 370 and Article 35A applicable to State of Jammu & Kashmir on August 05 2019 by a Presidential Proclamation followed by passage of J&K State Reorganisation Bill 2019 by both Houses of Parliament with overwhelming majorities, India signalled a paradigm shift in the assertion of its newfound geopolitical power and India also finally shedding its decades old diplomatic timidity and insipid domestic political dynamics.

India’s destiny had left this historical challenge to achieve full and undiluted integration of the State of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh (already integrated but with Special Provisos) to the hands of BJP’s indomitable PM Narendra Modi and his irredoutable Home Minister Amit Shah.

India’s moves on Kashmir in August2019 were not impulsive decisions by the Modi Government but a calculated and well scripted strategy which shell- shocked Pakistan and China especially, and Major Powers, by its suddenness and high-level secrecy maintained till final execution. It was Statecraft of an excellent high order exhibited by PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

Pakistan bots wage cyber warfare

Shashank Shekhar
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\As Kashmir limps back to normalcy after the abrogation of Article 370 that ceases the special status accorded to the erstwhile state, Pakistani cyber warriors -in a clear attempt of retaliation against the decision - have flooded social media platforms with anti-India posts.

Security agencies and cyber experts have found that thousands of fake accounts have been created from Pakistan to peddle fake news, morphed pictures, and old videos to show India and armed forces in a bad light.

Sources in central surveillance agency said Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the intelligence agency of Pakistan is on a hiring spree as they have started recruiting a pool of techies and hackers to wage information warfare by circulating fake information.

Thousands of fake profiles have been created recently on Facebook and Twitter which are constantly spreading anti-India content. According to a senior security officer, Pakistan already has a large team of influencers and geeks who are spreading lies and Pakistan's anti-India propaganda on social media.

India, Pakistan, Afghanistan: The new great game

by Nirupama Subramanian

It is not often that Zalmay Khalilzad flies into Delhi. The sharp-suited, self-assured Afghan-American diplomat has been on a year-long overdrive to stitch up an agreement with the Taliban to ensure US President Donald Trump’s promised withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan comes true. It is a process in which Pakistan has played a key role, by bringing the Taliban to the table. India, on the other hand, has no role at all. And with India’s friends in Afghanistan all sceptical or downright dismissive of the process, Khalilzad has kept his distance.

When he arrived in the capital on August 6, it was the day after the Narendra Modi-led government had executed a series of constitutional moves in Jammu & Kashmir in keeping with its ideological positions — revoking the state’s special status, making redundant Article 370, plus bifurcating J&K into two Union Territories. The ripples from the move had been felt as far as Doha in Qatar, where Khalilzad was closeted with Taliban leaders for an all-important eighth round of talks, with both sides said to be on the cusp of announcing a deal.

Why Are the Taliban Reluctant to Declare a Ceasefire?

By Daud Khattak

It’s not only a negotiating tactic. There’s real fear on the Taliban’s end about what happens after the guns go silent.

As the Afghan reconciliation process advances toward a deal for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan that may likely pave way for direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, the militia’s leadership is still reluctant to end hostilities by declaring an all-encompassing ceasefire.

Last week, a document billed as a draft agreement was leaked to media in Kabul. Key points include the withdrawal of U.S. forces, the release of some 13,000 Taliban prisoners over the course of two months, assurances from the Taliban that Afghan soil will not be used by terrorists for staging attacks against any other country, and the start of talks with the Afghan government, which the Taliban have so far refused to sit down with.

The U.S. and the Taliban Are Near a Deal. Here’s What It Could Look Like.

By Mujib Mashal

DOHA, Qatar — After months of negotiations between the United States and the Taliban, both sides have signaled that they are nearing an initial peace deal for Afghanistan, perhaps in the coming weeks or even sooner, even though the recent talks have seemed bogged down in the final details.

Even a provisional agreement would be momentous, marking the beginning of the end to the United States’ longest war. The conflict has stretched for nearly 18 years, taking the lives of tens of thousands of Afghans and more than 3,500 American and coalition forces, and costing hundreds of billions of dollars.

President Trump’s desire to end what he has described as an endless war has been abundantly clear, and it is likely that if there is a breakthrough to announce, in an election season, he will be the person to do it.

Chinese nuclear forces, 2019

By Hans M. Kristensen, Matt Korda 

The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists, and Matt Korda, a research associate with the project. The Nuclear Notebook column has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientistssince 1987. This issue’s column examines China’s nuclear arsenal, which includes about 290 warheads for delivery by ballistic missiles and bombers. This stockpile is likely to grow further over the next decade, and we estimate that China will soon surpass France as the world’s third-largest nuclear-armed state.

China’s nuclear arsenal includes about 290 warheads for delivery by ballistic missiles and bombers and is likely to grow over the next decade,

Why the Fate of Hong Kong's Protests Will Come Down to Beijing

By Ben West

The size, frequency and duration of street demonstrations alone do not determine the success of a protest movement.

Major cracks are beginning to form among Hong Kong's "pillars of power" — the major stakeholders in any society as identified by the social scientist Gene Sharp — suggesting that protesters could make greater headway.
One critical stakeholder, Hong Kong's business community, will ultimately support the force that will bring more stability to the territory.

But even if protesters succeed in eroding support for the government, Beijing will step in as the ultimate backstop so as to preserve Hong Kong's status within the People's Republic of China.

Not all protests are created equal. So far this year, popular uprisings in Sudan, Algeria and Puerto Rico have successfully overthrown their leaders — some of whom were authoritarian figures entrenched in power for decades. But perhaps some of the most geopolitically consequential protests of the year are still raging in Hong Kong, four months after they started over a controversial bill that would permit Hong Kong to extradite criminal suspects to mainland China. Protesters successfully blocked that legislation in June, but over the past six weeks, they have expanded their demands by agitating for the resignation of Hong Kong's leader, Carrie Lam, among other calls.


BEIJING’S ZHONGGUANCUN NEIGHBORHOOD is often called the “Silicon Valley of China,” but seen from street level, the two places are worlds apart.

Silicon Valley’s endless office parks strive for the platonic ideal of workplace productivity: spacious green “campuses,” colorful slides to take you between floors, free in-house massages, and cafeterias serving up grass-fed steak and brain-boosting kale juice. The environment, the companies, and the culture all coddle you.

Zhongguancun smacks you right in the face. Shove your way out of the Zhongguancun (pronounced “jong-gwan-soon”) subway stop at rush hour and you emerge onto a traffic intersection the size of a football field. Twelve lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic on Beijing’s Fourth Ring Road cross under or feed into Zhongguancun Road. At street level, a sea of bikes, tuk-tuks, and electric scooters muscle their way through traffic, and onto sidewalks when the spirit moves them.

In Africa, China Is the News

By Aubrey Hruby

Beijing’s infrastructure projects may grab headlines, but its efforts to shape the media are more dangerous.

Washington has long been concerned about China’s “no strings attached” infrastructure deals in African markets. These large port, rail, and road projects grab headlines and stoke fears about African government debt levels and Chinese political influence. But the real strategic threat for the United States is not bricks-and-mortar projects but rather China’s efforts to reshape African countries’ media landscape.

In just over a decade, China has dramatically expanded its media presence in Africa, urging not just African publics to “tell China’s story well” but also influencing the continent’s underlying telecommunications, data, and information standards. Given that the United States has historically held a competitive advantage in communications and media, it should pay attention.

China’s Xi Sees The Hong Kong Protests As An Existential Threat To The Ruling Communist Party; Brutal Crackdown Likely Coming Soon; Looming Black Swan Event Brewing

With the protests in Hong Kong gaining momentum, and with both sides feeling an existential threat, something has to give as they say. Hong Kong protesters want to maintain Hong Kong’s unique status with respect to mainland China; and the recently proposed extradition law by Beijing sent fear and shock waves throughout the populace. Although the law has been at least temporarily suspended, the protesters rightly fear it will at some point be reinstated, and they also believe Beijing will slowly, but inexorably chip away the cities unique status — and ultimately absorb Hong Kong into the mainland. On the other hand, Beijing fears that if these protests are not put down, that an Asian version of the Arab Spring could blossom into a full blown — existential threat to the Communist Party.

China’s U.N. Mission issued a public statement this afternoon (EDT), stating that the protesters have smashed public facilities, paralyzed the airport, blocked public transport and used lethal weapons — showing a tendency of resorting to terrorism. China’s Central Government soon followed with its own statement: “We firmly support Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her government in discharging their duties and compliance with the law and supports the police force and the judiciary. If the protesters are in fact deemed terrorists by Beijing, it gives Ms. Lam additional powers to subdue the protesters. During a news conference late today, Ms. Lam was twice asked by reporters whether or not she had the authority to rescind the now suspended new extradition law between mainland China and Hong Kong, and twice she did not answer the question — leading protesters to assume she is nothing more than a puppet/figurehead for Beijing.

China’s Army May Miss Some of Its Modernization Goals

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But the PLA will still have more modern armored brigades than the United States.

The People’s Liberation Army might miss modernization targets scheduled for next year, according to China’s recently published Defense White Paper. 

The PLA’s modernization schedule is more than symbolically tied to President Xi Jinping’s goals for the “Two Centenaries” (两个一百年). (The 2021 centenary marks the 100th anniversary of the Party’s founding; the second, in 2049, will mark the hundredth birthday of the People’s Republic of China itself.) A more capable PLA is a fundamental part of Xi’s “China Dream” (中国梦), a wide-ranging development and modernization ambition for the Chinese nation. 

By next year — a deadline first laid out publicly in the 2008 Defense White Paper — the PLA is meant to have achieved basic mechanization (机械化) and made progress towards informationization (信息化). The PLA has never made public what exactly it means by either term, but the former is broadly understood to address modernizing equipment inventories, while the latter addresses the widespread adoption of digital systems in a networked environment. Taken together, they show how the PLAhas been racing to catch up with other major militaries, particularly the United States, in equipment and operational prowess.

The Chinese luxury consumerAugust 2019 | Article

By Aimee Kim, Lan Luan, and Daniel Zipser

Chinese consumers are now the engine of worldwide growth in luxury spending. The fast-expanding bulge of affluent citizens combined with a small but very wealthy coterie means there’s much more income to spend on luxury goods and services—from fashion, jewelry, and prestige cosmetics to artwork and high-end travel.

1. China leads the world in luxury

It’s a burgeoning market and maybe the deepest pool of spending on high-end products the world has ever witnessed. Understanding the new dynamics is important for luxury brands, of course, but all companies will benefit from insights into the purchasing power and aspirations of these new, mostly younger consumers.
The explosion

China Brief: The state of the economyMarch 2019 | Article

By Nick Leung

Welcome to the first edition of China Brief. In this series, linked to our monthly podcast, McKinsey on China, our China-based partners share the latest insights from this dynamic market.

Pundits have been buzzing in recent months about the slowdown of China’s economic juggernaut. There is evident cooling of GDP growth, especially since the middle of last year, and sales of cars and smartphones have been dropping steeply. Some high-profile companies are flashing warnings of plunging sales and some even of job cuts.

Yet, despite the doom and gloom China continues to rack up one of the most enviable growth rates in the world, adding the equivalent of “another Australia” each year. Consumers continue to trade up to more expensive premium goods and some companies are registering record sales. So the gloom is not uniform. What do the facts tell us about what to expect in 2019? In this first edition of China Brief, we take a quick look at some of the key drivers shaping China’s economy today.

1. Growth is slowing—but China is still adding the equivalent of Australia every year

Which country is better equipped to win a US-China trade war?

Eswar Prasad

The United States and China are clearly on a collision course. Chinese companies abscond with intellectual property, and President Trump introduces tariffs on Chinese goods; President Xi Jinping responds with his own levies, so Trump adds more. China allows the value of its currency to fall, and the United States brands it a currency manipulator. We are now on the verge of all-out economic warfare.

These are the world’s two largest economies, and the collapse of trade between them would hardly bring either one to a grinding halt. But the combatants are not evenly matched. China might seem in a better position to cope with a trade war, since it is a heavily managed economy and the government squashes political resistance. Yet its every maneuver carries enormous risks. Meanwhile, Trump, who manages a durable and flexible economy, is not exactly seeking victory for the American way of doing business. His approach, in some ways right out of Beijing’s playbook, would make our economy quite a bit more like China’s.

The U.S. or China? Europe Needs to Pick a Side


Amid ten consecutive weeks of protest in Hong Kong, Beijing is looking to a seemingly unlikely place for support: Europe. In recent days, Chinese ambassadors across the continent have gone on the offensive to rally Europe behind Hong Kong’s government and against the protestors. As part of their campaign to promote Beijing’s line, China’s ambassadors are publishing op-eds in local papers and publicly criticizing European leaders for failing to denounce what they are trying to frame as violent protests. The audacity of China’s efforts suggests that in Beijing’s eyes, Europe is up for grabs.

There’s a reason China thinks Europe might be persuaded. As China attempts to spread its authoritarian values across the globe, and especially as the competition between China and the United States intensifies, Europe has conspicuously avoided siding with the United States over China. European leaders remain convinced they can uphold the values and norms they share with Washington while benefitting economically from greater engagement with China. This stance is short-sighted and dangerous—putting liberal democracy in peril.

Stop the Slaughter of Our Children With These Weapons of War


Assault weapons are designed to kill as many people as possible in the shortest time possible. They are for war; they are not for sport.

Since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 20 of our first graders were slaughtered with an AR-15-style rifle, I have pondered despairingly how long it would take for America to put an end to the killing generated by these weapons of war. I very briefly had hope that the massacre of our little ones would bring us to our senses, spurring Congress to pass commonsense legislation, including universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons—those massively lethal weapons of mass destruction.

I spent my entire professional life taking up arms in defense of our country, serving in wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan, and ending my service as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan I saw how our ground forces and special forces sought to improve the precision and lethality of their weapons, which took enemy lives and saved their own. Such is the nature of war.

A Tiananmen Solution in Hong Kong?


WASHINGTON, DC – The crisis in Hong Kong appears to be careening toward a devastating climax. With China’s government now using rhetoric reminiscent of that which preceded the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters – and, indeed, its democracy – could well be in grave danger.

For more than two months, Hong Kong has been beset by protests. Triggered by a proposed law to allow the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China, the demonstrations have since developed into broader calls to safeguard – or, perhaps more accurately, restore – the semi-autonomous territory’s democracy, including by strengthening state (especially police) accountability.

As the unrest drags on, the Chinese government’s patience is wearing thin – and its warnings are growing more ominous. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) garrison in Hong Kong is, in the words of its commander Chen Daoxiang, “determined to protect national sovereignty, security, stability, and the prosperity of Hong Kong.” To drive the point home, a promotional video showing Chinese military officers in action was released along with the statement.

Can Dominic Cummings Banish Nativist Populism From U.K. Politics?

Around the world, Brexit has come to be known as an exercise in populist politics. Many observers believe the 2016 referendum vote was won on the back of a toxic form of nationalism combining racism, xenophobia, and imperialist nostalgia for the heyday of the British Empire. 

The real story is not so simple. Arguments for Brexit were made on historical, constitutional, and democratic grounds. Their proponents ranged across the political spectrum, and they appealed not only to nativist plutocrats but to a significant number of minorities and immigrants, too. But more importantly, it ignores the possibility that some Leave advocates might have been fighting to prevent a populist takeover of Britain—by strategically adopting the same position as a band of xenophobic extremists in order to strip them of their mobilizing force.

Some Leave advocates wanted to prevent a populist takeover of Britain—by strategically adopting the same position as a band of xenophobic extremists in order to strip them of their mobilizing force.

UN probing 35 North Korean cyberattacks in 17 countries


FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, file photo, visitors watch the North side from the Imjingak Pavilion in Paju, South Korea. U.N. experts say they are investigating at least 35 instances in 17 countries of North Koreans using cyberattacks to illegally raise money for its nuclear program, and they are calling for sanctions against ships providing gasoline and diesel to the country. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. experts say they are investigating at least 35 instances in 17 countries of North Koreans using cyberattacks to illegally raise money for weapons of mass destruction programs — and they are calling for sanctions against ships providing gasoline and diesel to the country.

Last week, The Associated Press quoted a summary of a report from the experts which said that North Korea illegally acquired as much as $2 billion from its increasingly sophisticated cyber activities against financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges.

No One’s Going to Be Happy Giving Up Land to Fight Climate Change

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1. There is no shortage of scary facts in the major new report on climate change and land, a summary of which was released today by a United Nations–led scientific panel. Chief among them: For everyone who lives on land, the planet’s dangerously warmed future is already here. Earth’s land has already warmed more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since the industrial revolution, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That’s the same amount of warming that climate activists are hoping to prevent on a global scale.

This spike makes sense, scientifically: Land warms twice as fast as the planet overall. Earth as a whole has warmed by only 0.87 degrees Celsius (1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) during the same period. But this increase makes the stakes of climate change clear: When scientists discuss preventing “1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming,” they are really talking about forestalling 3 degrees Celsius—or 5.1 degrees Fahrenheit—of higher land temperatures.

Is Tourism an Antidote to the Global Wave of Nationalism and Xenophobia?

Stewart M. Patrick 

As vacation photos from exotic locales pile up in Facebook and Instagram feeds this summer, it’s easy to take far-flung tourism for granted. Well-heeled friends riding elephants in Thailand or camels in Giza might as well be at the Jersey shore or beside a lake in the Adirondacks. Mass international tourism, like the free flow of goods, services, money and data, has become a hallmark of globalization. 

This is neither accidental nor trivial. The ability of those with means and passports to travel the world is a function of international cooperation. It is also a force for global understanding, a potential antidote to the resurgent nationalism that now infects this era. Achieving such cosmopolitan ideals, however, requires a tourism focused on people-to-people contacts and mutual benefits, rather than perpetuating self-contained bubbles of privilege. ...

Peak energy, peak oil, and the rise of renewables: An executive’s guide to the global energy system

Global energy demand is headed toward a plateau over the next ten to 20 years, as the world focuses on electrification, energy efficiency, and more service-driven economic growth.

Here’s What Foreign Interference Will Look Like in 2020

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The incentives for foreign countries to meddle are much greater than in 2016, and the tactics could look dramatically different.

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.

Two new books explore “the common good”, an alternative politics for a divided age

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Globalisation’s forward march was once assumed to be unstoppable. The world would ceaselessly become more politically, economically and culturally integrated. In his 2005 Labour Party conference speech, Tony Blair declared: “I hear people say we have to stop and debate globalisation. You might as well debate whether autumn should follow summer.”

When asked in 2007 which US presidential candidate he was supporting in the forthcoming election, Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chair, remarked: “We are fortunate that, thanks to globalisation, policy decisions in the US have been largely replaced by global market forces. National security aside, it hardly makes any difference who will be the next president. The world is governed by market forces.” Politics, it was thought, had been reduced to an exercise in technocratic management.

Yet this proved to be a false dawn (in the title of John Gray’s prescient 1998 book). Globalisation has not been reversed, as some suggest, but it has stalled. Its imperial phase – breathless talk of the end of history and nation states – is unambiguously over.

New report: To limit climate change, food production must change dramatically

By Robin McKie

Attempts to solve the climate crisis by cutting carbon emissions from only cars, factories and power plants are doomed to failure, scientists will warn this week.

A leaked draft of a report on climate change and land use, which is now being debated in Geneva by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), states that it will be impossible to keep global temperatures at safe levels unless there is also a transformation in the way the world produces food and manages land.

Humans now exploit 72 percent of the planet’s ice-free surface to feed, clothe and support Earth’s growing population, the report warns. At the same time, agriculture, forestry and other land use produces almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, about half of all emissions of methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, come from cattle and rice fields, while deforestation and the removal of peat lands cause further significant levels of carbon emissions. The impact of intensive agriculture – which has helped the world’s population soar from 1.9 billion a century ago to 7.7 billion – has also increased soil erosion and reduced amounts of organic material in the ground.

Business Isn't Just a Numbers Game

With the launch of Stratfor Worldview Enterprise, business leaders from a variety of backgrounds share their opinions on geopolitical risks and business strategies.

In this blog post, Founder and CEO of Khorus Software, Joel Trammell, discusses the importance of leadership and mentoring as a path toward business development. Joel Trammell has spent decades as a startup launcher and CEO. He has focuses on working with current and future CEOs to maximize their performance.

When I started my first business over 25 years ago, I would've told you that business is a numbers game. As a degreed engineer whose father was a college professor, I was exposed to many mathematical concepts and analytical approaches. I thought all you had to do in business was gather the data, apply the math, and voila! There was the answer.

After 25 years of running companies, I will tell you that numbers are mostly just the result of a bunch of little actions people take every day in your company. Business is about people. And most business problems are people problems. Improving a business is therefore accomplished not by looking at numbers but by changing the behavior of people. And that is very hard. My wife moved the drawer where we keep the utensils in our kitchen over a year ago, and I still sometimes reach in the wrong drawer. No wonder it's such a difficult task to make large-scale changes across an entire organization.

Argentina’s Stock Market Decline Is Among the World’s Worst Since 1950

Argentina’s main stock market plummeted 48 percent in U.S. dollar terms on Monday. The S&P Merval’s fall was the second-largest drop of any major stock index tracked by Bloomberg since 1950.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s wider-than-expected margin of defeat in primary elections Sunday by his center-left rival, Alberto Fernández, sent shock waves through the Argentine stock market. The conservative Macri is known for championing austerity and freer markets as solutions to Argentina’s recession.

The country has a long history of fiscal crises. As seen in the chart below, two of the five worst stock market drops since 1950 occurred in Argentina.

Largest Stock Market Plunges Since 1950