4 September 2019

Myths of Kashmir

NEW DELHI – The Indian government’s recent decision to revokeKashmir’s special semi-autonomous status has raised fears of yet another conflict with Pakistan over the disputed territory. But in order to understand the implications of the events unfolding in Kashmir – a heavily militarized geopolitical tinderbox situated at the crossroads of central Asia – it is essential to dispel the many myths and misunderstandings surrounding it.

The first myth relates to the name itself. While news reports focus on the “Kashmir region,” they often fail to note that Kashmir is only a small slice of the affected territory, called Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), which also includes the sprawling areas of Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Moreover, calling J&K a “Muslim-majority” region fails to reflect just how ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse it is. Indeed, while Kashmir is majority Muslim, Jammu is majority Hindu; and the vast, sparsely populated Ladakh is traditionally Buddhist. Gilgit-Baltistan is also predominantly Muslim – Shia Muslim, to be precise (though Pakistan’s government has for decades been encouraging Sunni Muslims to relocate there and gradually form a majority).

Terror and Talks Don’t Mix Between Pakistan and India


In the aftermath of the military crisis between India and Pakistan this year, news of a Pakistani crackdown on anti-India terrorists has come out. There were reports which mentioned that India may ‘give Pakistan its due for action against terror groups’. Most recently, diplomatic relations between both countries deteriorated after the Indian government’s scrapping of special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. On the whole, a certain ‘ad hoc-ism’ seems to guide India’s policy towards Pakistan.

Even as India has maintained the rhetoric that ‘terror and talks cannot go together’, India’s approach to talks seems reactionary, with barely any trace of a guiding strategy towards engagement with Pakistan.

Raghuveer Nidumolu is the Knowledge Transfer program coordinator at Carnegie India.

The presence of nuclear weapons imposes certain constraints on how India can militarily coerce Pakistan to rein in the anti-India terrorists harboured in the country. However, Pakistan’s present economic difficulties give India an opportunity to compel it to do more to combat anti-India terrorism.

Modi must make sure Trump’s US doesn’t hyphenate India & Pakistan again


Speaking to the press ahead of his meeting with US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India and Pakistan could resolve their problems bilaterally without involving “any third country”. Trump conceded the point. Against the backdrop of Trump’s repeated offers over the past month to mediate between India and Pakistan, New Delhi will be relieved. Yet, American mediation was hardly a serious prospect. Of greater concern to India is the potential erosion of the United States’ policy of “de-hyphenating” its ties with the subcontinental neighbours.

Trump’s references to mediation did cause a flutter in Delhi’s diplomatic dovecotes. Soon after his meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on 2 August, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar tweeted that he had clearly conveyed “any discussion on Kashmir, if at all warranted, will only be with Pakistan and only bilaterally”. Trump’s persistence stoked further speculation, especially in Indian media. But even a nodding acquaintance with the history of American attempts at mediation would have underlined the implausibility of Trump’s avowals.

Lessons from 1963

To Start Afghan Withdrawal, U.S. Would Pull 5,400 Troops in 135 Days

by Mujib Mashal 

KABUL, Afghanistan — The United States will pull 5,400 troops from Afghanistan and leave five military bases in 20 weeks, the American special envoy told Afghan leaders on Monday, to initiate a gradual withdrawal from the country as part of an agreement being finalized with the Taliban.

The American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, who has led nearly a year of talks with the Taliban, told an Afghan news channel in Kabul that the United States had reached an agreement “in principle” with the Afghan insurgents, but he cautioned that final approval rested with President Trump.

“In principle, on paper, yes we have reached an agreement — that it is done,” Mr. Khalilzad told the Afghan channel ToloNews. “But it is not final until the president of the United States also agrees to it.”

The initial troop withdrawal and base closures would take place within 135 days after the deal goes into effect, and Afghan leaders aware of Mr. Khalilzad’s discussions in Kabul said the most likely sticking point for Mr. Trump would be the timeline under which the rest of the American troops would leave Afghanistan…

U.S. to Vacate 5 Bases in Afghanistan if Deal With Taliban Signed

Ayaz Gul 

The United States has reached a draft framework agreement with the Taliban that will require American troops to vacate five military bases in Afghanistan within 135 days of the signing of the document.

U.S. chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad made the comment Monday while speaking to the largest private Afghan television channel TOLOnews. He said that 5,000 troops will withdraw from the bases. Currently, 14,000 U.S. troops are deployed to Afghanistan and there are seven known U.S.-run bases in the country.

"We have reached an agreement in principle but it is not final until the president of the United States approves it," Khalilzad stressed.

He explained that Washington rented the bases from the Afghan government and violence will significantly reduce in areas from where the American troops withdraw.

In the first stage, Khalilzad added, Kabul and the neighboring Parwan province, where the U.S.-run Bagram military airfield is located, will see a reduction in violence. He said the text of the agreement will not be made public until Trump decides its fate.

Change History: What It Will Take for Trump to 'Win' a Trade War with China

by Gordon G. Chang 

The pair of analysts from the Guangzhou-based Intellisia Institute suggest American policy is, among other things, muddled. The title of their August 23 piece on The Diplomatsite says it all: “One Year into the U.S.-China Trade War, Trump Is Still Far from Winning.”

What, for President Trump, is “winning”?

If the two Chens are correct, it is not possible to answer that question because the American leader has not defined what he wants, and many others agree. Take Henry Paulson, Treasury secretary under George W. Bush. “We have,” Paulson told the Wall Street Journal, “a China attitude, not a China policy.”

Yes, Trump has plenty of China attitude, but evident from all that attitude is a policy. Trump, one way or another, is out to change history’s course.

Dagen H in Sweden: Traffic changes from driving on the left to driving on the right overnight.

WWII: The United Kingdom and France begin a naval blockade of Germany that lasts until the end of the war. This also marks the beginning of the Battle of the Atlantic.

China Will Dominate High-Tech Unless the United States Takes Off the Gloves

by Tom Le 

China’s ability to strike back at the U.S. proposed tariffs on Chinese imports was made dramatically apparent last week when markets reacted negatively to China’s devaluation of the yuan and the announcement that it would impose an additional $75 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods. The U.S.-China trade war has affected businesses from Apple to American cherry growers and shows no signs of halting. President Donald Trump responded with additional retaliatory tariffs and a storm of tweets, demanding American businesses to “immediately start looking for an alternative to China” and leaving the country altogether. At the root of this trade war is the Trump administration’s belief that the economy and security are intrinsically linked, notably in the realm of telecommunications.

Telecommunications has become the nexus of U.S. frustration at unfair Chinese trade practices and concerns that the Chinese government is utilizing the networks of private Chinese corporations to spy on foreign governments and corporations. At the center of the debate is the leading Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei, which has been accused of poor ethics, shoddy security, intellectual property theft and even spying for years.

Russia and China: Union or Strategic Uncertainty?

By Vassily Kashin

Russia–China military cooperation is gaining momentum. Since the start of the year, the sides have conducted naval exercises, the first joint patrol of bomber aircraft and a series of joint military competitions. Theatre of war missile defense exercises in the form of computer simulation has also been announced. And the Chinese side will once again take part in the Tsentr strategic command post exercise this year. 

A new agreement on military cooperation that will supersede the long-obsolete 1993 document is currently being drawn up. The agreement will turn many of the events that already take place, including the joint patrol of bomber aircraft, into formalized and ongoing areas of cooperation.

This cooperation is not limited to the Asia-Pacific. In 2017, joint fleet exercises were held on the Baltic Sea. And nothing is preventing Chinese and Russian bomber aircraft from conducting flights over the Atlantic. 

Red Flags: Why Was China’s Fourth Plenum Delayed?

On August 30, the Politburo of the Communist Party of China (CCP) announced that the long-awaited Fourth Plenum of the Nineteenth Central Committee will convene in October 2019, during which the body will review several regulations relating to intra-CCP regulations. This announcement comes after months of speculation that the plenum’s delay—the longest in the post-Mao era—stemmed from internal power struggles between General Secretary Xi Jinping and other political elite. However, when looked at in the broader context, the plenum’s seemingly peculiar timing stems from an adjustment to the plenary schedule made in early 2018. In short, Xi may well be facing opposition within the Party leadership, but the delayed plenary session is likely not evidence of such unrest.

Q1: What is a plenum? 

A1: Simply put, a plenum (“plenary session”) is the convening of the CCP’s Central Committee, during which time the committee’s Political Bureau (Politburo) proposes policies for review or approval. In theory, the Central Committee is the CCP’s top executive body when a Party Congress is not in session. Every five years, the clock on the plenum schedule resets with the election of a new Party Congress, with the current being the Nineteenth Party Congress, which began in October 2017 and will run through the fall of 2022. There are typically seven plenary sessions in each five-year term of a Central Committee, but additional plenums have been convened to address pressing or politically sensitive issues.

Where Do Hong Kong's Protests Go From Here?

What Happened 

With new protests and potential violence in Hong Kong a distinct possibility in the weeks ahead, the city's police force is striving to stay a step ahead of its competition. Authorities detained seven prominent activists, including Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Andy Chan, on Aug. 29 and Aug. 30 on charges that they were organizing protests. The arrests coincided with a ban on a major rally that the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), a key organizer against the contentious extradition bill that first ignited Hong Kong's protests, had scheduled for Aug. 31. As a result of the prohibition, the CHRF called off the rally, during which it had planned to demand universal suffrage on the fifth anniversary of Beijing's controversial white paper that effectively rejected the request.

The Big Picture

Now nearing its 14th week, anti-government protests in Hong Kong have escalated violently and dramatically in recent weeks, putting the city's all-important business and transportation activities at risk and raising the prospect of a harsher crackdown or direct intervention by Beijing. The general course of the protest movement and the demonstrators' deep — and still unaddressed — grievances make the chances of a de-escalation remote. 

How the global battle for the Arctic became the new Cold War

In 2016 North Korea became a signatory to a century-old agreement governing Svalbard, a smattering of frozen fjords, glaciers and islands in the High Arctic. The Svalbard Treaty of 1920 is an unusual document: it recognises Norwegian sovereignty over the territory, while granting citizens of member countries equal rights to live, work, fish, hunt and open businesses there.

What piqued Kim Jong-un’s interest in the frozen North? “It’s probably because he realised it’s easy and doesn’t cost any money,” a Norwegian diplomat told me earlier this year. All Pyongyang had to do was write a letter to the Svalbard Treaty headquarters near Paris, where it has sat since the postwar negotiations at Versailles.

Given the permissive terms of the treaty, though, the DPRK’s accession might have been indicative of another trend: everybody wants a piece of the Arctic. But as warming temperatures make the region more accessible – and crucially, more exploitable – it’s not yet clear who will prevail.

Why internet censorship would be a fatal blow for Hong Kong PLC, not pro-democracy protesters

by Phil Muncaster

Ever since the British flag was raised over Possession Point in 1841, Hong Kong has played a key role in international trade. To this day it remains the gateway to China, and the wider region, for a large number of international businesses. That's why many will be concerned by new reports of government plans to block certain apps and websites in order to disrupt long-running pro-democracy protests there.

The Hong Kong ISP Association (HKISPA) has released an urgent statement opposing such moves. If it isn't heeded, the SAR's hard-earned reputation as Asia's pre-eminent business hub could be at risk.

Protestors take to the internet

The Saudi Monarchy Catches Up With Its Millennials

By Ryan Bohl

If you subscribe to the official narrative, Saudi Arabia is evolving with the times. The monarchy, after all, has adjusted its stance on women's rights, broadened cultural experiences and softened taboos that would have once led to lethal consequences for those breaking them.

Yet in many ways, the monarchy is just catching up with its younger generations of Saudis, rather than shepherding them into new mindsets. Members of those generations, especially the ones born after 1980 (including heir apparent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, born in 1985), have shared experiences that have fundamentally shaped worldviews — moving them out of alignment with the conservative clerics who, until recently, most defined the kingdom's moral and cultural compass.

Saudi Millennials — and the Forces Shaping Them

Troubled Partners: What Russia and Turkey are Dividing Up in Syria

By Ruslan Mamedov

“Turkey is our close partner, our ally,” said Presidential Spokesperson and Turkologist Dmitry Peskov on the eve of the meeting in the town of Zhukovsky near Moscow. On August 27, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin met his Turkish counterpart Recep Erdogan at the MAKS International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky, where they held a working meeting on the bilateral agenda. Regardless of all their differences, the two countries still need each other greatly.

Although relations between Moscow and Ankara are developing in many areas, the focus was naturally on the further actions of the parties in the crisis-affected Syria. Will Turkey conduct another operation in Syria? And what is Moscow’s opinion?

Several events of importance for Russia–Turkey relations took place a week before the presidents met. On August 21, the first creditor was selected for the company building the Akkuyu NPP strategic facility. On August 27, deliveries started on the second S-400 battalion to Mürted Air Base in Ankara. As the United States removed Turkey from the F35 project following the purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile systems, analysts believe that Turkey might look at Russia’s Su-35 or Su-57. These are the aircraft the Turkish President saw at the MAKS Salon.

Reassessing Maritime Dynamics of the Arctic Ocean

By Zaeem Hassan Mehmood
Source Link

The Arctic Ocean is defined by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), to consist of the circular portion of waters around the geographical North Pole. It does not encompass the surrounding seas, of the Barents, the Kara, and the Beaufort seas. The term ‘Arctic Ocean’ is used to describe all the waters of the North Polar Region that are above the North Polar Circle. States which have direct access to the Arctic waters are Iceland, Denmark (through Greenland), and Norway. During the Cold War, the Arctic involved hardcore security dimension involving nuclear and conventional competition. In the more contemporary times; economics, energy, and environmental aspects of security, have added to the already present conflict over sovereignty rights.

The Cold War era, involved the Arctic region to be perceived from the East–West hostility. In the 1950s, Arctic was the direct route from one superpower’s territory to the other. Since the introduction of nuclear submarines, it became a sanctuary and an outpost for the SSBNs. After the cessation of bipolar hostilities, the tensions gradually diminished and the risk of an all-out nuclear war with Russia was deemed rather less conceivable. Nevertheless, international developments indicating for a waning US power and emergence of a multi-polar order; has brought the states to once again strongly rely on submarine based nuclear deterrence. Added to that, the enlargement of NATO, has restricted the global maritime domain of the Russian Navy. Therefore, the northern waters provide the Russian Navy an access, which is likely to increase with anticipated melting of the polar ice caps. US similarly considers the region as strategically valuable in the context of their missile defense programme. The Thule radar located in Greenland have been upgraded to contribute to the early warning missile defence network.

Creating a Future: Nationalism, Patriotism and Global “Oneness”

By Prof. Louis René Beres

“What does not benefit the entire hive is no benefit to the bee.”-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Sometimes, truth can be both counter-intuitive and bitterly ironic. Although Americans have long been instructed that patriotism is a proper sentiment of national superiority, of always “being the best,” such reasoning quickly dissolves in the face of cold logic. In the end, what we might ordinarily consider as decent patriotism can still undermine the nation’s core national interests.

Inevitably, if simply left in place, the cumulative global effect of any such considerations will prove injurious to all nations.

Perhaps even starkly injurious.

In the worst case, these injuries may extend to one form or another of catastrophic war.

These two questions arise:

28th WEF on Africa to Focus on Inclusive Growth in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Sub-Saharan Africa’s future prosperity hinges on the ability of its leaders to create inclusive, sustainable growth at a time of rapid transformation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This will be the main message coming from the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa 4-6 September.

The meeting will bring together 1,100 leaders from government, business and civil society, including ten heads of state or government. Top of the agenda will be new partnerships to create sustainable employment opportunities for Africa’s large and growing workforce.

The meeting will highlight: improving the funding and regulatory environments for start-ups; developing new partnerships for re-skilling and upskilling workers; identifying opportunities for green growth such as the circular economy; scaling-up e-commerce for rapid business growth, especially in the SME sector; and how to leverage the new Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement to drive regional integration.

A guide to the different sorts of chaos looming over Westminster

Isabel Hardman

What is going to happen next week in parliament? Most anti-no-deal rebels see it as their last opportunity to block Britain leaving the European Union without a deal, but what they haven’t yet agreed on is how best to do it. There are a number of likely scenarios, some of which intertwine with one another, and to show how chaotic the next few days are likely to be, I’ve drawn up a flowchart of how things might pan out (you can click on the image to view a larger version of the chaos):

Huawei believes banning it from 5G will make countries insecure

By Chris Duckett for Null Pointer 

Huawei may be lacking 5G contracts and 100 former employees in Australia as a result of its banning in 2018, but one thing it is certainly not lacking is gumption.

The Chinese giant's recently appointed chief technology and cyber security officer David Soldani said last week that Australia is set for a world of cyber pain.

"Blocking companies from certain countries does nothing to make Australia any safer from cybersecurity issues -- in fact it just makes things worse because they are not addressing the real issues on cybersecurity," Soldani said.

The CTSO warned that thanks to Huawei being ahead of its rivals in 6G research, it could see how insecure those networks could potentially be as the attack surface becomes larger.

"With the converge of management and control plane, AI will poses a significant impact on network security, as it might be exploited to launch more effective attacks, and in some scenarios, the security of AI systems is a matter of life and death," he said.

First Inside Look At Russia’s New Spetsnaz University In Kadyrov’s Chechnya

GROZNY — A 45 minute drive outside of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, Russia is building a special forces university in Ramzan Kadyrov’s Chechnya. Tsarizm was given a private, first look tour of the impressive site.

When completed in the near future, a sprawling campus of over 420 hectares will provide unprecedented training opportunities for elite soldiers of the Russian Federation’s Spetsnaz forces. The facility will have the capability to train 1,500 personal at the same time; many of these students will be from foreign nations allied with Russia.

The staff was most gracious and proud to show Tsarizm the training grounds with a complete, day-long tour, replete with weapons firing and specialized procedures.



The Army is in the midst of a reorientation—planning and preparing for conflict with peer and near-peer adversaries, as directed by the 2018 National Military Strategy. This reorientation will involve changes big and small, with the Army embracing both new technologies and concepts—such as unmanned systems and Multi-Domain Operations—and dusting off and updating old ones—such as camouflage and electronic warfare.

But one thing is strikingly absent: Army leaders are not giving sufficient consideration to the threat of nuclear weapons.

For nearly two decades, the U.S. military has been focused on combat against non-nuclear nation-states in which post-conflict counterinsurgency operations took significantly more time and resources than planned. As a result of these engagements, U.S. military readiness for conventional operations against a near-peer state has measurably degraded. A 2016 RAND Corp. report suggested Russia could overrun the Baltics before NATO could respond, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested he would resort to limited nuclear weapons use to stop NATO offensives.

Dear Britain, Where Did It All Go So Wrong?

Ferdinando Giugliano
Please excuse the rest of us for our sheer disbelief: we were never expecting a constitutional crisis, let alone protests around the country. You are making Italy’s political system look like a model of composure, and that’s not something to be taken lightly.

For years, we have admired your parliamentary democracy, with its eccentric rituals and timeless ceremonies. The brutality of Prime Minister’s Question Time was compulsory watching well before the age of social media; the speaker, with his cries of “order, order”, a reminder of what respect should mean in politics. Westminster was a model to look up to: A check on governments and a cradle for good arguments. We were envious, looking in despair at the quality of our own politicians.

The Brexit referendum and its aftermath have smashed our illusions. For a start, we were curious that one of the oldest representative democracies in the world would use a plebiscite to make such a momentous decision. Of course, there is the precedent of the 1975 vote to remain in what was then the European Economic Community to look back to. So we accepted this was just another eccentricity that happens every half a century or so – even if we knew deep down this was really just a way to solve a bitter conflict within the Conservative Party.

Pence visit to Warsaw on solemn occasion is important to close ally


U.S. leaders often do their best to avoid visiting countries entering an election cycle. But just weeks before Polish parliamentary elections in October, only three months after hosting Polish President Andrzej Duda at the White House, and days after returning from the G-7 Summit in France, President Trump dispatched Vice President Mike Pence to represent him in Warsaw today to observe the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II. The president planned to attend himself, until forecasters predicted Hurricane Dorian could make landfall in Florida as a category 4 storm

It is appropriate for the vice president to visit this warm and close ally on the occasion of such an important anniversary. In September 1939, Nazi Germany and, two weeks later, Soviet Russia attacked and partitioned Poland, thereby starting World War II and leading to the Cold War and a half-century of the brutal division of Europe. 

Israel and Hezbollah Exchange Fire

The weekend fighting marks an escalation in cross-border fighting. 

On Sunday, an Israeli government spokesman reported that Hezbollah fired antitank missiles at a military base near Avivim, hitting Israeli military vehicles. Both Israel and Hezbollah confirmed that the missiles hit Israel Defense Forces targets, but they disagree on casualty figures. Israel confirmed that Israeli aircraft are carrying out airstrikes on unspecified targets in southern Lebanon. This follows on the heels of lesser threats and attacks in recent weeks and marks a significant escalation in the cross-border exchange of fire – but it’s in keeping with the military and political posture of each side.

The underlying significance of this bout of Israel-Hezbollah fighting is the extension of Iranian power through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Hezbollah is Iran’s foothold in Lebanon, and, indeed, Israel views the group as an Iranian proxy. Hezbollah has a substantial rocket and missile arsenal, much of which has the potential to hit the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv-Haifa triangle, the Israeli heartland. In this fight, Israel has two priorities: neutralize Hezbollah and cripple Iran’s advance – outcomes on which Israel is aligned with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. 

The Impact of Cyber Security Power in the World

Author: Sajad Abedi

Since the principle of self-restraint addresses a wide range of threats, both in the area of ​​justice and in the field of military and strategic affairs. But the implementation of deterrence in cyberspace is only proposed if the risks that are objectively possible have a direct impact on the security and survival of a government; therefore, each state is required to make it possible in any way to overcome the existing challenges.


Since the principle of self-restraint addresses a wide range of threats, both in the area of ​​justice and in the field of military and strategic affairs. But the implementation of deterrence in cyberspace is only proposed if the risks that are objectively possible have a direct impact on the security and survival of a government; therefore, each state is required to make it possible in any way to overcome the existing challenges. The challenges of an attack, the estimation of the impact and reconstruction of the incident and the purpose of an attack, in the framework of public networking and actors, distinguish the cyberspace from other areas where deterrence is formed. Intrusions in cyberspace, although possible and possible, cannot be limited to existing measures, but unique concepts have to be developed and presented.

Infographic Of The Day: The 25 Best Warren Buffett Quotes

Warren Buffett is famous for his wit, and will likely go down in history as one of the most quotable and influential investors of all time.

A civil war state of mind now threatens our democrac

Polly Toynbee

An “outrage”, a “coup”, an “abomination”, a country tumbling into “failed state status”, Britain a “banana republic”, Boris Johnson a “dictator”. Parliamentarians stretch the limits of their vocabulary to express disbelief that this could happen in Britain, the “cradle of democracy”. Rewrite the history books, tear up Bagehot’s The English Constitution, as the Queen and privy council sign the prorogation, neither the “dignified parts” not the “efficient parts” function any longer.

This country that self-identified so smugly as stable, tolerant and moderate, with a crown to symbolise traditions honed down the centuries, is revealed as fissile, fragile and ferociously divided. A constitution that relied on gentlemanly governments’ willingness to bow to parliament has evaporated, blown away now it’s led by a man who doesn’t give a damn for parliamentary sovereignty: taking back control is for him alone. He is ready to destroy anything that threatens his ambition.

Suspension of parliament: MPs react with fury and Davidson set to quit after Johnson move – as it happened

The Decline and Fall of the Zuckerberg Empire

By Max Read

Mark Zuckerberg isn’t the first person in human history to draw inspiration from Augustus Caesar, the founder of the Roman Empire, but he’s one of a very few for whom the lessons of Augustus’s reign have a concrete urgency. Both men, after all, built international empires before the age of 33. “Basically, through a really harsh approach, he established 200 years of world peace,” Zuckerberg explained to a New Yorker reporter earlier this year. “What are the trade-offs in that?” Augustus, Zuckerberg explained, “had to do certain things” to ensure the stability of his empire. So too, apparently, does Facebook.

A 6,000-word report published in the New York Times last week disclosed in humiliating detail the lengths to which Facebook has gone to protect its dominance and attack its critics. As various interlocking crises concerning hate speech, misinformation, and data privacy widened, top executives ignored, and then kept secret, evidence that the platform had become a vector for misinformation campaigns by government-backed Russian trolls. The company mounted a shockingly aggressive lobbying and public-relations campaign, which included creating and circulating pro-Facebook blog posts that were functionally indistinguishable from the “coordinated inauthentic content” (that is, fake news) Facebook had pledged to eliminate from its platform. In one particularly galling example, the company hired a political consultancy that spread a conspiracy theory accusing George Soros of funding anti-Facebook protests. Zuckerberg, it seems, had taken the “really harsh approach” to establishing digital hegemony.

Australian Army reveals battlefield secrets that helped defeat Islamic State

Andrew Greene
New details have emerged about information warfare tactics and battlefield secrets used in the effort to defeat the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

Key points:

Major General Roger Noble said Coalition forces needed to challenge IS's extremist narrative

He said it was possible to sow discord among enemy fighters as IS used foreign recruits and Iraqis

He made the comments in a rare public address at UNSW's Defence Research Institute

In a rare public address, an Australian General talked at length about how the battle against IS required more than simply dropping bombs.

The Fraying Edge: Limits Of The Army’s Global Network


TECHNET AUGUSTA: As future soldiers hunker in foxholes, hiding from spy drones and smart bombs, they could really use some real-time intel to plan their next move. But how do you get them access to the AI-curated big data on centralized cloud serversback in the continental United States? Until someone figures out how to run fiber optic cable to every squad, command post, tank, and helicopter, frontline forces must rely on wireless — which means radio and, maybe, one day lasers. Bandwidth is going to be a problem.

The Pentagon increasingly sees ubiquitous big data, stored and accessed through cloud computing, as a key to victory. The Army, in particular, has pushed to connect, and ultimately combine, its enterprise network — mostly fiber optic cables on safe, stationary bases in the US — to its tactical network — which must use wireless satellite and surface-to-surface links to units on the move and in harm’s way.

At last week’s AFCEA TechNet conference in Augusta, just outside the Army’s cyber center at Fort Gordon, I heard a lot of enthusiasm for converging enterprise and tactical networks. I also heard a lot of frank acknowledgment that it was hard.