7 September 2019

Wary of China, Modi Courts India's Neighbors

China's Belt and Road Initiative will compel India to deepen its engagement with its neighbors under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Neighborhood First" policy, as peripheral nations in South Asia seek to maximize their benefits from the competition between Beijing and New Delhi. Because India wishes to maintain its regional influence to guarantee national security, it will prioritize investment and diplomatic overtures to countries like the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh. But as India seeks to cultivate its influence on the periphery, it will find it difficult to compete with China and its Belt and Road Initiative given Beijing's superior access to capital through state-owned enterprises.

Since winning a landslide reelection in May, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has taken major strides toward advancing his country's grand strategy. Most prominently, Modi revoked Jammu and Kashmir's autonomous status on Aug. 5 to strengthen the country's territorial unity, much to the consternation of archrival Pakistan. And against the backdrop of that momentous decision, Modi's government is pursuing another element of its grand strategy as well: preserving its sphere of influence. With that in mind, New Delhi has recently beaten a path to the door of the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh. But with China more than prepared to open the checkbook to dazzle the region with infrastructure projects as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, India knows it can ill-afford to neglect its backyard, meaning Modi's "Neighborhood First" policy will be front and center as he begins his second term in office.

The Big Picture

Steaming back into the Indo-Pacific

Zorawar Daulet Singh

An exchange in 1964 between U.S. diplomat Chester Bowles and Triloki Nath Kaul, India’s then Ambassador to Moscow, offers a fascinating insight into contemporary geopolitics. While discussing South East Asia, Bowles said, “it would be a good thing if India could try to bring the Soviet and American points of view closer… India’s friendship with both could act as a sort of bridge between them.” He “hoped that it would be possible for [the] USA and USSR, with the help of India, to come to some kind of understanding about preventing Chinese expansionism and infiltration in South East Asia.” Kaul replied, “India would be glad to bring the U.S. and Soviet points of view closer as far as lay within our ability. In fact this was our present policy.” This response reflected India’s then geostrategy to position itself as an area of agreement between the superpowers.

As Kaul’s cable in September 1965 to Indira Gandhi subsequently explained: “the interests of America, USSR and India, have a common feature of being aimed at the prevention of Chinese expansion in this area. This provides an opportunity for India to reap the maximum possible advantage from both sides and strengthen herself for the future.”

History, however, followed a different course. As the 1960s unfolded, the Sino-Soviet ideological struggle culminated in an ugly spat in the Communist world. Ironically, both New Delhi and Washington perceived that trend differently and with contrasting ends in mind.
A multipolar world



The initial reaction of Pakistan on the abrogation of Article 370 was disbelief and shock. They did not even know how to react. Their comments were loose cannons fired by their leaders in every direction, each missing its target. Their attempt to approach the international community failed miserably, with almost no response and support. Even those whom they considered close and were expected to oblige, turned their backs on Pak. It shocked the Pak leadership into disbelief.

Internally pressure began to mount as with one stroke the ambit of Kashmir had changed. The Pak leadership, both army and civil, began coming under pressure to act. Desperation appeared to creep in, to the extent that Imran began addressing the nation and asking for all to join in solidarity for 30 mins every Friday. He began threatening of a nuclear war in every forum. His beleaguered ministers began writing to every UN and international body raising the Kashmir bogey with fake claims, including on occasions quoting Indian opposition leadership.

While internal rambling and screaming continues, mainly to divert minds from economic hardships and suffering, on the external front it appears to be setting forth a plan to change international public opinion and adhering to it. It realized that governments and international organizations across the globe would neither listen to them, nor advice India on the same. Thus, they began targeting the public at large and changing opinion while roping in nondescript politicians to garner some face saving. 

The Afghanistan War Is Over, and Pakistan Has Won

by Michael Rubin
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The U.S. war in Afghanistan is winding down, and Pakistan has won. The basic outline of the agreement negotiated by U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is nothing new: The United States withdraws its forces in exchange for a Taliban pledge not to associate with terrorism or allow Afghanistan to be used as a safe-haven for terror groups.

There problems with the agreement are many. Proponents of diplomacy with the Taliban often say that wars can only end through diplomacy. “You don’t make peace with your friends. You have to be willing to engage with your enemies if you expect to create a situation that ends an insurgency,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained. But the agreement outlined by Khalilzad is little different from that which Clinton administration officials struck with the Taliban in the years prior to 9/11: At the time, the Taliban promised to foreswear terrorism and quarantine Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. The subsequent terrorist attacks in New York and Washington underscored their insincerity. Perhaps the Taliban have changed, but not necessarily for the better, as the uptick in attacks throughout Khalilzad’s negotiations show. In many ways, President Donald Trump and Khalilzad seem to have embraced the John Kerry school of diplomacy, in which desperation for a deal substitutes for bringing leverage to bear and credibly convincing adversaries that failure to bargain will mean for them a far worse fate.

Taliban blast kills US soldier, several civilians in Kabul


Resolute Support (RS) forces and Afghan security personnel inspect the site of a car bomb explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. A car bomb rocked the Afghan capital on Thursday and smoke rose from a part of eastern Kabul near a neighborhood housing the U.S. Embassy, the NATO Resolute Support mission and other diplomatic missions. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban car bomb exploded and killed U.S. and Romanian service members and 10 civilians in a busy diplomatic area near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Thursday, the second major attack this week as the Afghan government warned that a U.S.-Taliban deal on ending America’s longest war was moving at dangerous speed.

U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, under pressure after announcing earlier in the week that “on principle” he and the Taliban had reached an agreement, returned abruptly to Qatar, site of the talks, later Thursday, officials close to the negotiations said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

Pakistan army committing genocide in Balochistan: Imran Khan

"The army is bombing its own people in Balochistan. How can you bomb women and children. Just think of the immorality of this act. The extra-judicial killings are going on and their economy has been destroyed," he's seen as saying.

VIDEO: Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan is proclaiming that Pakistan army is committing genocide in Balochistan... Butchering children & women. Bombing its own people. Similar to what it did in East Pakistan.

In the same video, he talks about the massacre perpetrated by the army in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1971. "I was a firm supporter of the army back then and stood by our brave soldiers. But only after three years, we got to know that army butchered civilians, including women and children. We're doing exactly the same thing in Balochistan," he said.

The Complexity behind Hezbollah's Response to Israel's Attacks

Yoram Schweitzer, Orna Mizrahi

The considerations that have so far guided Hezbollah's calculated retaliation on September 1, 2019 following Israel’s strikes, and the August 25 drone strike in Beirut in particular, reflect its character as an organization with multiple identities - all of which influence its decision making. Hezbollah simultaneously constitutes a pivotal link in the regional "resistance axis" led by Iran; a Lebanese "resistance" movement and "defender of Lebanon"; and an organization within Lebanon that preserves its independent identity and autonomous decision making. Even as Hezbollah is involved in the overarching "resistance axis" against Israel, its commitment to the Lebanese state serves as a restraint. In its brief round of fighting with Israel, Hezbollah, which seeks to avoid broadening the confrontation to a war ruinous for both Lebanon and itself, behaved like a careful state-like actor. At the same time, in its response to the Israeli strikes, Hezbollah laid down a red line whereby it will not tolerate further strikes within Lebanon's borders, and that any such action will prompt a harsher response - something of a signal to Israel that it should take this possibility into account when mulling operations in Lebanon. In the circumstances created, Israel has several alternatives: avoiding further military action within Lebanon's borders; continued "campaign between wars" activity in Lebanon, accompanied by the risk of escalation into a broad conflict; and a "preemptive strike" - a broad operation against Hezbollah aimed at significantly damaging Hezbollah's precision missile capabilities and force buildup.

Asia’s Coming Era of Unpredictability

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In 1942, when U.S. marines were engaged in brutal island combat with the Japanese, with no end in sight, Nicholas J. Spykman, a Dutch American strategist who taught at Yale University, foresaw a postwar alliance between the United States and Japan against China, then a critical U.S. wartime ally. Japan, he argued, would be both loyal and useful: It would need the United States to protect the sea lanes so it could import food and oil, while its large population of consumers would form the basis of a strong trade relationship. China, on the other hand, he said, would eventually emerge from the war as a powerful and dangerous continental power, which the United States would need to balance against. Spykman also indicated that Japan would be the equivalent of Great Britain with respect to mainland Asia: a large, offshore ally of the United States.

Spykman, who died of cancer the following year, never lived to see his predictions enacted. In fact, it was a vision that would both define and stabilize Asia, granting it peace and economic prosperity for nearly three-quarters of a century. U.S. President Richard Nixon’s opening to China in 1972 put a wrinkle in that vision by moving the United States closer to China in order to balance against the Soviet Union. But the U.S.-Japan alliance nevertheless remained the bedrock of Asian stability. Without America’s partnership with Japan, the Nixon administration’s diplomatic coup in Beijing could not even have been conceived.

Top IT official names China as main cyber threat to US


Speaking at a cybersecurity summit, Federal Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Grant Schneider said China has the “capacity and the capability and the intent” to work against the U.S. in cyberspace more so than other countries.

China is “an adversary that has displayed their intent, has clear means to get into and attack our critical infrastructure systems, our government systems, you name it, both from an intellectual property theft point of view, as well as an espionage point of view,” Schneider said at the 10th annual Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington.

He added that American dependence on information technology systems only compounds the potential security vulnerabilities that countries like China could exploit and emphasized that threats to networks have evolved.

“It’s really the nation-state actor, and the one particular nation state with the capacity and the capability, and the intent is really the one that concerns me the most,” Schneider said.

A Return to Normal for Beijing and Pyongyang?

By Eleanor Albert

Earlier this week China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi traveled to meet with his counterpart in Pyongyang to, some have said, potentially lay the groundwork for another future exchange between China’s Xi Jinping and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Wang last visited the neighboring country in May 2018, just ahead of the summit between Kim and Trump in Singapore, while this most recent trip comes amid signs of impatience and a possible impasse in discussions between Pyongyang and Washington. While the intrigue of triangular dynamics tends to dominate the news cycle, it is worthwhile to review how ties between Beijing and Pyongyang have shifted of late, especially as the two mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations. 

During Xi’s first five-year term (2013-2018), the historically warm friendship between Beijing and Pyongyang appeared to cool, particularly as the North’s young Kim continued to ramp up nuclear and missile testing. China, though still committed to ensuring stability along its northeast border and concerned with nuclear proliferation, signed on to a series of increasingly harsh and constricting United Nations sanctions that squeezed North Korea’s already isolated economy. 

Is China Really About to Build J-20 Stealth Fighters for Its Carriers?

By Robert Farley

Last week, the South China Morning Post reported that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has decided to pursue converting the J-20 stealth fighter into its primary carrier-borne combat aircraft. Reportedly this decision stems from concerns about the development of the FC-31, and worries that an economic downturn will starve the service of resources.

The J-20 would be big for a carrier-based fighter, but certainly not the largest that has ever flown. The Grumman F-14 had a slightly higher take-off weight, although it was a bit shorter. The A-5 Vigilante, which operated from U.S. carriers in the 1960s, was slightly longer but somewhat lighter. The J-15, which China’s two existing carriers operate, is slightly longer but also lighter.

The timeline for developing a carrier variant of the J-20 remains unclear. Converting the aircraft to naval service may take some time. The idea of taking a primarily land-based fighter and modifying it for flight decks is not unheard of; the J-15 is an obvious example of a relatively successful conversion, as is the MiG-29. The United States toyed with the idea of developing a carrier variant of the F-15 before settling on the F-14 and eventually the F/A-18. Indeed, the Hornet grew out of the YF-17 Lightweight Fighter Project, which competed directly with the F-16 to provide an affordable aircraft to the U.S. Air Force.

Welcome to the New Phase of US-China Tech Competition


It came without a breaking news alert or presidential tweet, but the technological competition with China entered a new phase last month. Several developments quietly heralded this shift: Cross-border investments between the United States and China plunged to their lowest levels since 2014, with the tech sector suffering the most precipitous drop. U.S. chip giants Intel and AMD abruptly ended or declined to extend important partnerships with Chinese entities. The Department of Commerce halved the number of licenses that let U.S. companies assign Chinese nationals to sensitive technology and engineering projects.

Even as Washington debates the relative merits of decoupling technologically and economically with China, policymakers need to consider that the point may be moot: Decoupling is already in motion. Like the shift of tectonic plates, the move towards a new tech alignment with China increases the potential for sudden, destabilizing convulsions in the global economy and supply chains. To defend America’s technology leadership, policymakers must upgrade their toolkit to ensure that U.S. technology leadership can withstand the aftershocks.

What’s Already Happened

Behind the Rise of China’s Facial-Recognition Giants

Unfamiliar faces aren’t welcome at Beijing public housing projects. To prevent illegal subletting, many have facial-recognition systems that allow entry only to residents and certain delivery staff, according to state news agency Xinhua. Each of the city’s 59 public housing sites is due to have the technology by year’s end.

Artificial intelligence startup Megvii mentioned a similar public housing security contract in an unspecified Chinese city in filing for an initial public offering in Hong Kong last week. The Chinese company, best-known for facial recognition, touts its government dealings, including locking down public housing to curb subletting, as a selling point to potential investors.

Megvii’s filing shows the scale of China’s ambitions in artificial intelligence and how they could influence the use of surveillance technologies like facial recognition around the world. The company is one of four Chinese AI startups specializing in facial recognition valued at more than $1 billion, qualifying them as unicorns in Silicon Valley-speak. Now, the companies are looking to expand overseas, with help from public markets.

The Fifth Domain and Coercive Diplomacy


As part of its retaliation for the tanker incidents in the Strait of Hormuz and the downingof a surveillance drone, the US launched cyber operations against Iran in June 2019. The attack disrupted the shipping traffic database used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to track tankers passing through the Persian Gulf. The Iranian Minister for Information and Communication Technology, Mohammad Javad Azari, was adamant that the attack was not only unsuccessful, but that ‘Tehran had neutralised 33 million attacks’ in 2018. The attack came amid heightened tensions between the two nations and was part of a “package” of measures, along with a cancelled US airstrike. Cyber confrontations generally allow for measured “retaliation outside wartime” and are capable of causing widespread infrastructural damage without the usual attendant human casualties.


Iran is no stranger to US-based cyber-attacks. A joint operation by the US and Israel against Tehran in the 2011 “Operation Olympic Games”, targeted the Natanz nuclear facility damaging its reactors and leaving it close to a nuclear meltdown. The two countries have, at various times, exchanged cyber volleys of increasing strength and sophistication and ever since the Stuxnet attack on the nuclear facility, there has been the risk of loss of human lives.

American Bases in Japan Are Sitting Ducks

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When it comes to Japan, U.S. President Donald Trump’s opinion is well known: The Japanese are freeloaders. This has been clear since his early days on the campaign trail in 2016, when he declared that if the Japanese “don’t take care of us properly, if they don’t respect us enough to take care of us properly, then you know what’s going to have to happen? … They’re going to have to defend themselves.” The meaning of “take care of properly” has become clearer in recent months: The White House has drawn up demands for “cost plus 50”—or the full cost of hosting American servicemen, plus a 50 percent premium.

There is nothing wrong with pressuring the Japanese to commit more to the forces that protect them. But a financial focus distracts from more urgent problems in the U.S.-Japanese alliance—most importantly, Japan’s determination to cordon off the troops they host onto a small number of easily attacked bases. If changes to American basing are not made, the United States does not just risk being cheated, but defeated.

30 Years After Reunification, Germany Is Still Two Countries

By Anna Sauerbrey

BERLIN — Nov. 9 marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. There will be no lack of commemoration — but there will also be very little celebration. Today the country is once again divided along East-West lines, and growing more so. As it does, the historical narrative of what really happened in the years after 1989 is shifting as well.

Only a few years ago, when my country consecutively celebrated the 25th anniversary of the wall’s demise and of German reunification in 1990, the official mood was one of victory and hope.

President Joachim Gauck, a former East German pastor who had played a role in the Communist regime’s demise, then later oversaw the declassification of the archives of the Stasi secret police, praised the East German masses who, in their “desire for freedom,” stood up to “overwhelm” the “oppressor” — an uprising, he said, in the tradition of the French Revolution. A year later, he spoke optimistically about German reunification, stressing the dwindling differences between eastern and western Germans.

Making Sense of Japan’s Approach to Russia

By Michito Tsuruoka

One of the major features of Japan’s foreign policy under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe since he returned to power at the end of 2012 has been his commitment to improving relations with Russia. Abe’s primary goal is to conclude a peace treaty with Moscow, which for Tokyo means solving the Northern Territories issue: the return to Japan of the four islands occupied by the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia after World War II. Resolving the territorial issue with Russia is one of the major remaining challenges for postwar Japanese diplomacy, alongside the normalization of Japan’s diplomatic relations with North Korea, and Abe is hardly the first leader to tackle it.

At one point, there was a surge in optimism in Tokyo that the Northern Territories might actually be returned to Japan under Abe, even if only in part. That expectation has since receded significantly. Many experts, including this author, do not believe that the islands will be returned any time soon and unsurprisingly many observers both in Japan and overseas question Abe’s continued overtures to Moscow. Still, there are four reasons why the Abe administration’s policy toward Russia remains viable, regardless of whether or not the islands are to be returned to Japan.

The EU and NATO: The Essential Partners

This book features nine chapters on NATO-EU cooperation, focusing on areas of interaction identified in the two organizations’ Joint Declarations of 2016 and 2018. More specifically, the topics covered include EU-NATO interaction regarding hybrid threats; operational cooperation; cyberspace; defense capability development; defense-industrial cooperation; capacity building of partner countries and organizations; counterterrorism; and the women, peace and security agenda. In assessing theses areas, the text also addresses recent achievements, challenges and ways forward in EU-NATO cooperation.

Japan to Set Up New Police Unit for the Senkakus

By Ankit Panda

The Japanese government will stand up a new police unit specializing in the patrol of the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported on Monday. The new unit will be equipped with submachine guns and helicopters.

The Senkaku Islands, which are administered by Japan, are also claimed by China as the Diaoyu Islands. Chinese maritime law enforcement vessels and People’s Liberation Army Navy vessels have sailed near the islands to press Beijing’s claim in the past.

According to Japan’s National Police Agency, the unit may include as many as 159 police officers, with the objective of inhibiting landings on the islands.“Assuming scenarios that include illegal landing by an armed group, highly trained members equipped with sub-machine guns will be deployed,” NHK said in its broadcast. The National Police Agency has submitted a new budget request to set up the unit.

Heading for (another) Ukraine-Russia gas figh

Steven Pifer

Gazprom, a large Russian parastatal, now transits a significant amount of gas to European destinations via Ukrainian pipelines. The volume totaled 87 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2018, one-third of Russian gas exports to Europe.

However, the contract that governs this gas transit expires at the end of 2019. Kyiv wants to replace the current agreement with another long-term contract, preferably for 10 years. Moscow, on the other hand, wants just one year.

Russia hopes to bring Nord Stream 2 — which runs from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea — online in 2020. (The U.S. government has raised the possibility of sanctions against companies involved with Nord Stream 2, but the pipeline is already 75% complete.) Moscow also hopes that Turk Stream — two pipelines running under the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey — will reach full capacity next year. Nord Stream 2 will have a capacity of 55 bcm of gas per year. Turk Stream consists of two pipelines, each with an annual capacity of 15.75 bcm. The Turks plan to use half of the gas domestically and export the rest to southeastern Europe. If Gazprom can move an additional 70.75 BCM of gas to Europe via Nord Stream 2 and the Turk Stream pipelines after 2020, its need for the Ukrainian pipelines will drastically decline.

Russians learn lessons from Syrian battlefield

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Regardless of what you might think of operational tactics and technologies employed by the Russian military in Syria, specifically the Air Force and Naval Aviation, valuable lessons are being learned on the gritty battlefield, say experts.

According to Defense Update, while the deployment of Russian military equipment decreased over time, the number of personnel rotated to support missions in Syrian increased.

About a third of the active personnel of the Russian air defense forces rotated to combat deployment in Syria, two-thirds of the aircrews of strategic air forces, and almost all personnel of the military transport.

Su-24 and Su-34 are the two platforms carrying most of the operational burden, with Su-24M flying over half the missions and Su-34 flying 26%. The remaining activity performed by Su-25 close air support aircraft, and Su-30 and Su-35 multi-role fighters each type flying about 8% of the combat missions.

Distinguished Voices Series with Jim Mattis

Jim Mattis
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General Mattis discusses his lessons learned in leadership over the course of his military and government career.

MATTIS: I’m sure that’s for you, Richard. (Laughs.)

HAASS: Well, good morning and welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations. Welcome back to the Council on Foreign Relations. I hope everyone had a good summer. I’m Richard Haass. Still president. (Laughter.) But before we turn to this morning’s meeting with—do you prefer Secretary Mattis or General Mattis?

MATTIS: Jim does just fine. (Laughter, applause.) I left my titles behind, Richard, in Washington, D.C., and happily so. (Laughter.)

HAASS: It’ll be difficult. (Laughter.) But before we turn to the meeting I did want to say a few things about Leslie Gelb. Les, as I expect all of you now know, passed away over the long weekend. He was eighty-two. Most recently he was president emeritus here, but over the past four or five decades he was a distinguished academic, a senior government official at both State and Defense, an opinion writer and a journalist with the New York Times, and, of course, president here at the Council on Foreign Relations for a decade, from 1993 to 2003.

A new tool for the Trump Doctrine

By Gary Anderson
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Back in June, I argued that the Trump administration might well use cyber attacks as another tool in the kit of putting pressure on the Iranians to stop exhibiting bad behavior in the Persian Gulf region. This was at a time when the president was being criticized by some on the left as well as the right for not reacting more forcefully to the shoot-down of an American drone.

As it turns out, the administration was conducting a cyber attack as I was writing. Although the Pentagon did not announce it at the time, both The New York Times and The Washington Post have reported a successful cyber attack on Iran’s data base used to target oil tankers. It would appear to confirm speculation that there is a Trump Doctrine in play, and that it is working.

A Cyber Command Operational Update: Clarifying the June 2019 Iran Operation

By Robert Chesney 

Those following the evolution of Cyber Command’s authorities, capabilities, and activities will want to read this article from Julian Barnes in the New York Times, published last week. It picks up the thread of reporting that made considerable waves two months ago, when the United States apparently considered a kinetic response to Iranian attacks on oil tankers and a U.S. Global Hawk surveillance drone but ultimately settled on conducting one or more operations in the cyber domain instead. Critically, the reporting on the target(s) of those operations varied in important ways, as I summarized here at the time. The initial scoop (from Yahoo! News) indicated that the target was an Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) component involved in threats to shipping. Subsequent reporting from other sources expanded the story in an important way, asserting that there also was a Cyber Command operation to disrupt the systems supporting at least some of Iran’s missile-launch capabilities. 

The story from the Times this week picks up both the threads of those stories, clarifying the nature of one of those operations while denying the existence of the other. And, in the course of doing so, the article also provides a number of interesting insights about larger questions surrounding cyber operations.

Exclusive: Secretary of State Pompeo Declines to Sign Risky Afghan Peace Deal


The U.S. is closing in on a deal with the Taliban that is designed to wind down America’s 18-year war in Afghanistan, but the best indication of how risky the pact may be is this: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is declining to sign it, according to senior U.S., Afghan and European officials.

The “agreement in principle” that U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has hammered out in nine rounds of talks with Taliban representatives in Qatar would take the first tentative steps toward peace since U.S. and allied forces deployed to Afghanistan following the attacks on 9/11, according to senior Afghan and Trump Administration officials familiar with its general terms. Defense Secretary Mark Esper was scheduled to discuss the closely held details of the deal with President Donald Trump in a Sept. 3 meeting, according to senior administration officials. If Trump approves and a deal is struck, it could begin a withdrawal of some 5,400 U.S. troops, roughly a third of the present force, from five bases within 135 days.

Why 5G requires new approaches to cybersecurity

Tom Wheeler and David Simpson

Tom Wheeler recently appeared on the Lawfare Podcast to discuss the cybersecurity of 5G networks with Brookings Fellow Margaret Taylor. You can listen to the podcast episode here.

“The race to 5G is on and America must win,” President Donald Trump said in April. For political purposes, that “race” has been defined as which nation gets 5G built first. It is the wrong measurement.

We must “fire first effectively” in our deployment of 5G. Borrowing on a philosophy Admiral Arleigh Burke coined in World War II: Speed is important, but speed without a good targeting solution can be disastrous.[1]

5G will be a physical overhaul of our essential networks that will have decades-long impact. Because 5G is the conversion to a mostly all-software network, future upgrades will be software updates much like the current upgrades to your smartphone. Because of the cyber vulnerabilities of software, the tougher part of the real 5G “race” is to retool how we secure the most important network of the 21st century and the ecosystem of devices and applications that sprout from that network.

Massive iPhone Hack Targets Uyghurs

China is being blamed for a massive surveillance operation that targeted Uyghur Muslims. This story broke in waves, the first wave being about the iPhone.

Earlier this year, Google's Project Zero found a series of websites that have been using zero-day vulnerabilities to indiscriminately install malware on iPhones that would visit the site. (The vulnerabilities were patched in iOS 12.1.4, released on February 7.)

Earlier this year Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) discovered a small collection of hacked websites. The hacked sites were being used in indiscriminate watering hole attacks against their visitors, using iPhone 0-day.

There was no target discrimination; simply visiting the hacked site was enough for the exploit server to attack your device, and if it was successful, install a monitoring implant. We estimate that these sites receive thousands of visitors per week.

Cybersecurity of NATO’s Space-based Strategic Assets

Dr Beyza Unal

All satellites depend on cyber technology including software, hardware and other digital components. Any threat to a satellite’s control system or available bandwidth poses a direct challenge to national critical assets. NATO’s missions and operations are conducted in the air, land, cyber and maritime domains. Space-based architecture is fundamental to the provision of data and services in each of these contexts. The critical dependency on space has resulted in new cyber risks that disproportionately affect mission assurance. Investing in mitigation measures and in the resilience of space systems for the military is key to achieving protection in all domains.

Almost all modern military engagements rely on space-based assets. During the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, 68 per cent of US munitions were guided utilizing space-based means (including laser-, infrared- and satellite-guided munitions); up sharply from 10 per cent in 1990–91, during the first Gulf war. In 2001, 60 per cent of the weapons used by the US in Afghanistan were precision-guided munitions, many of which had the capability to use information provided by space-based assets to correct their own positioning to hit a target.
NATO does not own satellites. It owns and operates a few terrestrial elements, such as satellite communications anchor stations and terminals. It requests access to products and services – such as space weather reports and satellite overflight reports provided via satellite reconnaissance advance notice systems – but does not have direct access to satellites: it is up to individual NATO member states to determine whether they allow access.

Soldiers May "Wear" New Super Secure Computers into Combat

By Kris Osborn 

(Washington, D.C.) The age is fast emerging wherein forward-operating soldier sensors, weapons and networking technologies will all rely upon secure computing to perform most advanced combat tasks. While many elements of this scenario already exist in various forms, technology is progressing quickly to the point where virtually all combat systems will be cyber-reliant.

Soldier-worn computers will instantly connect target information, drone feeds and enemy tracking data - among other things. Computers and sensors are already being woven into soldier uniforms and being ergonomically engineered to accompany forces in battle for this specific purpose.

This presents a certain duality or paradox of great significance to future war; increased computing power, AI-enabled systems and advanced processing speeds promise to bring unprecedented advantages to combat operations - yet at the same time greater reliance upon computer networking requires sophisticated “hardening” and security technologies. Vulnerability to certain individual systems could increase if all technologies were connected to a central computer network, because an intruder would have wide-ranging access across a range of systems should initial hacking attempts be met with a measure of success.

Empire America: Why Washington Can't Reduce Its Military Footprint

by Ted Galen Carpenter
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As negotiations between the United States and the Taliban continue, it is increasingly clear that even if an agreement emerges, any U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan will be partial, not total. President Donald Trump recently confirmed that point. “Oh yeah, you have to keep a presence,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News radio. “We’re going to keep a presence there.” He did indicate that the current troop level of more than 14,000 was being reduced to 8,600. Further reductions might take place if a final accord could be reached, but a sizable contingent of Special Forces personnel, intelligence operatives, and military contractors would remain indefinitely.

Disappointed advocates of a complete withdrawal from America’s longest war believed that, once again, the president listened to military leaders and congenital hawks such asSen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and backed away from his intention to extricate the United States from the seemingly interminable conflict. A similar pattern had emerged in the summer of 2017, when National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and other advisers successfully prevailed on Trump to abandon the pledgehe made during the 2016 presidential campaign to terminate the Afghanistan mission.