12 September 2019

Opinion | The many myths of Kashmir and the subversive role of Pakistan

Brahma Chellaney

The Indian government’s recent decision to revoke Kashmir’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).

Chang’e 4 and Chandrayaan 2: To the Moon and Beyond

By Namrata Goswami

On September 7, India’s Chandrayaan 2 Lunar mission’s robotic Vikram lander came tantalizingly close (2.1 km/1.3 miles) to landing close to the South Pole of the Moon. The chosen landing site was between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N. Landing between these two craters is perceived to be critical in order to understand the composition of the Lunar South Pole, a site believed to be rich in resources. The initial part of the Vikram lander’s lunar descent was normal, with its engines firing to slow its descent for a lunar soft landing. However, in the final approach path, when the lander was meant to hover before landing on the lunar surface, all communications were lost between the lander and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). 

The Chandrayaan 2 orbiter is, however, operational and will continue to map the Lunar poles for a year. Chandrayaan 2’s lander and rover had aimed to build upon the data generated by the 2008 Chandrayaan 1 on the existence of water ice at the Pole. NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), aboard the Chandrayaan 1, confirmed the presence of water ice, with NASA stating:

DO NOT DISTURB PAKISTAN (India's Proposed Response to UNHCR)

Lt Gen P G Kamath

Talking on the affliction of Pakistan for the J&K issue; it appears Imran Khan has stopped governing his nation and is stuck in the groove of Kashmir. A nation that has carried out endless operations using its Airforce, missiles, artillery guns and attack helicopters against its own nationals, sheds needless tears and guilelessly waxes eloquent on Human Rights in J&K? The Pakistan Army Chief vowed that Pakistan will not leave Kashmiri people alone until the issue is resolved on the basis of UN Resolution. Addressing troops on 6 Sep 2019, Martyrs Day, also observed as Kashmir Solidarity day; he said that the hearts of Kashmiris and Pakistanis beat together. Look at the chagrin of a nation that has been the defender of human rights worldwide and upholders of democracy and rule of the people? We all understand how a nation overflowing with such noble values and virtues gets understandably disturbed when the special status of J&K has been revoked. More of it later.

Now let us see how Pakistan has dealt with its own nationals? History knows of the suppression and merciless rule unleashed on their own province of East Pakistan and the massive genocide carried out by its armed forces. ‘Operation Searchlight’ was launched by Pakistani Army on 26 Mar 1971 to destroy the national movement of East Pakistan. An estimated 300, 000 to 3 million civilians were killed and over 10 million refugees fled to India. Please do not forget the targeted killing of intellectuals, students, professors, jurists, writers, academics, doctors, journalists from all cities of then East Pakistan totalling more than 1100. Even on the night of 14 Dec 1971; two hundred intellectuals were abducted from their homes in Dacca and were executed. Also, lest you forget the abduction of girl students from their dormitory of Dacca University, who were raped and kept in cantonments as concubines till the end of the war. Some were dead and some were mentally deranged and were dying at the end of the war. Isn’t it ludicrous that they should be shouting hoarse for the people of J&K?

India’s Space Power: Revisiting the Anti-Satellite Test

Against the backdrop of former U.S. president Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars program, Satish Dhawan, a pioneer of the Indian space program, observed that time would tell whether Indian activities in space would remain exclusively civilian and pacifist.1 Around three decades later, on March 27, 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised the world with his announcement that India had become the fourth country to conduct an anti-satellite (ASAT) missile test (after the United States, Russia, and China). The test on March 27 was preceded by an unsuccessful one in February; but that doesn’t eclipse the significance of the exercise. Only three publicly recorded ASAT tests have been conducted since the end of the Cold War, and, arguably (the possession of latent capabilities notwithstanding), it is the actual testing of a technology that represents a salient transformation in a country’s capabilities.

Dubbed “Mission Shakti” (shakti denotes “power” in Sanskrit), the test entailed launching a ballistic missile into outer space to destroy an Indian satellite located about 300 kilometers above the earth’s surface, in low earth orbit (LEO)—which ranges between 80 kilometers and 2,400 kilometers above the earth’s surface, depending on contrasting definitions. The direct-ascent missile destroyed the satellite kinetically, in under three minutes, by the sheer impact of the collision rather than a warhead-induced explosion. India reportedly adapted its missile defense interceptor, the Prithvi Defense Vehicle Mark-II, into an ASAT weapon, making it the third country to demonstrate the capability for a direct-ascent kinetic kill.2 Though its technological antecedents have been engendered through the ballistic missile defense program since 2006, recent global and regional dynamics arguably catalyzed Mission Shakti. The ineluctable questions now revolve around the mission’s intentions, impact, utility, and potential next steps.


U.S. military likely to ramp up operations against Taliban: U.S. general

Phil Stewart

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Reuters) - The U.S. military is likely to accelerate the pace of its operations in Afghanistan to counter an increase in Taliban attacks, a senior U.S. general said on Monday following Washington’s suspension of peace talks with the insurgents.

An advisor from the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade stands at the fortification of a base during deployment to Afghanistan June 13, 2019. Courtesy Maj. Jonathan Camire/U.S. Army/Handout via REUTERS

U.S. Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, said during a visit to Afghanistan that the Taliban overplayed its hand in peace negotiations by carrying out a spate of high-profile attacks, including one that killed a U.S. soldier last week.

The Taliban, which controls more territory than at any time since 2001 when it governed the country, said on Sunday that more American lives here would be lost.

The Writing Was on the Wall With Afghanistan


The latest bout of bloodshed may have played some role in the actions Trump just took, but it is also a convenient out for an administration that had gone all in on a floundering initiative.

Yesterday, Mike Pompeo was all over television, joining so many political shows that one half-expected him to pop up for his next interview in the sportscasters’ booth at a football game. And during each appearance, the U.S. secretary of state told the same story about the presidential tweets that in one minute on Saturday night had terminated, for now, the most serious diplomatic effort ever to end America’s longest war—just three days before the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that precipitated the conflict.

U.S. officials were making unprecedented progress in negotiations with the Taliban, Pompeo explained. They had pressured the Islamist fundamentalist movement, which had sheltered Osama bin Laden and other 9/11 plotters, to make several momentous commitments: publicly breaking with al-Qaeda, reducing violence in Afghanistan, engaging in dialogue with “their other Afghan brothers and sisters.” So within reach were “peace and reconciliation” that Donald Trump was moved to invite the Afghan president and Taliban leaders to his Camp David retreat in Maryland to personally seal the deal at a secret summityesterday.

Witness to a War

by Kevin Maurer
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Iwoke as the plane crossed into Afghanistan. It was a January evening. Outside my window, snow-covered mountains cut through the desert. In less than an hour, we would descend into Kabul. As a journalist, I had made this trip 10 times over the years — reporting on soldiers at remote military bases; embedding with Special Forces as they tried to train the Afghan army and build goodwill with the Afghan people; interviewing countless Afghans about the war that has, for nearly two decades, consumed their country.

Now I was headed back. In a few hours I’d meet with Austin “Scott” Miller, commanding general of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan — the man tasked with overseeing the end of what has become the longest war in American history. Eighteen years after sweeping across the country in the aftermath of 9/11, the United States was — pending the outcome of peace talks with the Taliban — preparing to finally leave. If this never-ending war was really ending, I wanted to see it for myself.

Trump's US-Taliban Move Pushes Afghans Toward Fragile Vote

By Cara Anna

U.S. President Donald Trump’s sudden halt to U.S.-Taliban talks looks like a gift to the beleaguered Afghan president, who has insisted on holding a key election in less than three weeks’ time despite widespread expectations that a peace deal would push it aside. Now, with an agreement to end America’s longest war on hold, Afghanistan suddenly faces a presidential vote amid warnings that it’s not ready — and the threat of even more violence.

The Taliban, who control or hold sway over roughly half the country, have told Afghans to boycott the vote and warned that rallies and polling stations would be targets. Spurned by Trump on the brink of a deal they said had been “finalized” to end nearly 18 years of conflict, the insurgent group is more distrustful than ever and has vowed to keep fighting. The talks are “dead,” Trump now says.

The Afghan people, essentially shut out of the talks, want a say in their fate. But if this election is as chaotic as last year’s parliamentary vote and the 2014 presidential one, some observers fear the Afghan government could be badly weakened at a pivotal time.

Trump’s National Security Team Splinters Over Taliban Meeting

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Update: Hours after this story was published, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that John Bolton had resigned. Read our latest coverage here

The collapse of U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans for a potentially historic summit at Camp David with Taliban leadership and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani reveals new fractures in his foreign-policy team as a lasting peace deal for the war-torn country appears ever more elusive. 

Trump’s impromptu plan to invite leaders of the Afghan insurgent group to the presidential retreat at the same time as the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks set off heated deliberations last week between the members of his national security team, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supporting the move and National Security Advisor John Bolton arguing against it.

Once Again, Trump Lurches to End a War, But Troops Remain

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The collapse of talks with the Taliban raises questions about the president’s willingness to bring troops home from costly engagements overseas.

President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to cancel peace negotiations with the Taliban has thrown the uncertainty of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan into stark relief and raised questions about the president’s commitment to his own avowed mission to bring troops home from costly engagements overseas.

The Trump administration for months has signaled that peace negotiations with the Taliban were nearing their final days, with U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad publicly saying that a deal had been reached “in principle” that would jumpstart a conditioned American withdrawal. And in recent weeks, Trump has signaled an increased interest in the talks, repeatedly deriding the 20-year combat mission as a mere “police” operation unworthy of U.S. military involvement. 

Afghan peace deal: Trump says Taliban talks are 'dead'

Media captionDonald Trump: "It was my idea to terminate meeting"

US President Donald Trump says talks with the Taliban aimed at ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan are "dead".

"As far as I'm concerned, they are dead," he told White House reporters on Monday.

Over the weekend Mr Trump cancelled secret plans to host a Taliban delegation in the US after the militant group admitted killing a US soldier.

The two sides had appeared close to a deal and the Taliban said the US would "lose the most" for cancelling talks.

The US president has made withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan a key foreign policy aim, but asked about the 14,000 US troops still there he said: "We'd like to get out but we'll get out at the right time."

What the Apparent Collapse of Afghan Peace Talks Means for Pakistan

By Umair Jamal

U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s Twitter announcement that the United States has called off peace talks with the Afghan Taliban after the group claimed an attack that also killed one American soldier was a surprise to the world this weekend. Already, a lot has been written about the merits and demerits of the terms of the peace process and how a potential deal in its current form between the U.S. and the Taliban could affect Afghanistan’s future.

While those who didn’t want a deal made with the Taliban have called Trump’s announcement the right decision, regional players invested in getting the peace process closer to settling an official agreement have been caught off-guard. The decision will have implications for Pakistan’s interests in the region and beyond.

Pakistan is one of those states that wanted to see the deal go through. For Islamabad, the cancellation of the talks has come as a surprise. About a week ago, Washington’s special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, publicly talked about the draft agreement, settled between the United States and Taliban. Less than a week ago, a U.S. delegation visited Islamabad to review the terms of the final agreement too.

Bangladesh: Marginal Resurgence Of Extremism – Analysis

By S. Binodkumar Singh*
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On August 31, 2019, two Policemen, including a security official of the Local Government and Rural Development (LGRD) Minister Tazul Islam, and a traffic Police Constable, were injured in a bomb attack at the Science Laboratory intersection in the capital city, Dhaka. The Minister escaped unhurt as he was in his car some yards away from the blast site. Hours after the incident, the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack. The US-based Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) on their Twitter account, published: “IS claims credit for bomb blast on police in Bangladeshi capital.”

This was the third attack on the Police in 2019. On April 29, two traffic Police Constables and one community traffic member were injured in a bomb attack in Dhaka city’s Gulistan area. In another incident, on May 26, 2019, an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) and two rickshaw-pullers were injured in a bomb attack targeting a Police vehicle at the Malibagh intersection in Dhaka city. The IS claimed responsibility for both the bomb attacks.

Myanmar: Recent Developments – OpEd

By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
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The most important event this month has been the surprising attacks by the three members of the Northern Alliance- the TNLA, MNDAA and the AA on infra structure and Army’s check posts in areas close to the Chinese border. More audacious was the attack by the three “brotherhood group” in the Mandalay region targeting the “Defence Services Technology Academy” that is said to have exposed the gaps in the high security zones of the Army. China openly intervened to bring the two sides together, though it is openly said that China is a part of the problem and not the solution!

Despite objections from the Army Representatives, the NLD Government accepted the amendment proposals of the Parliament Amendment Committee and is moving ahead to draft the amendment bill, though the fate of the bill is already known with the Army objecting to the amendments totally as against the procedures in the Constitution.

The Rohingya problem had another setback with the first batch of 3500 Rohingyan refugees cleared for repatriation to Myanmar failed to turn up for repatriation on the appointed time.

Securing the Belt and Road

by Nadège Rolland

On August 1, 2017, the day of its 90th anniversary, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officially inaugurated its first permanent overseas support facility under the blazing Djiboutian sun. The event indicated a dramatic departure from the previously prevailing claim that China “does not station any troops or set up any military bases in any foreign country” as a matter of policy.[1] It also highlighted the long-term role assigned to the PLA in protecting China’s expanding national interests, a role that Hu Jintao had granted the Chinese military back in 2004 as part of its “new historic missions.”[2] For the past fifteen years, recognizing that “security risks to China’s overseas interests are on the increase,”[3] the PLA has taken on the new challenges created by globally expanding national interests and entanglements, pushing farther away from China’s shores, broadening its strategic horizons, and enhancing its power-projection capabilities. The 2015 defense white paper put an unprecedented emphasis on maritime interests and on the PLA’s responsibility to protect them as one of its core missions.[4]

Chinese strategic planners generally agree that the “boundaries of China’s national security” are defined by the expansion of its overseas interests and that “where national interests expand, the support of the military force has to follow.”[5] Since its introduction in late 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been pushing the boundaries of China’s national interests well beyond the traditional focus on the country’s immediate neighborhood. China’s Ministry of National Defense publicly denies that BRI has any military or geostrategic intent.[6] Even if that is truly the case, the priority Beijing has given to BRI for the last six years has created an overall acceleration and geographic expansion of Chinese overseas activities that will inevitably generate the need for some level of state and military protection.

Why Isn’t China Salami-Slicing in Cyberspace?

By Tobias Burgers and Scott N. Romaniuk

China’s efforts to increase its sphere of influence have been well documented. From academic reports to think tanks papers and coverage on this website, China’s attempts have been subject to a wide range of research. A central feature in these efforts has been so-called salami-slicing tactics. This tactic of incrementally advancing interests and challenging existing dominances and norms, resulting in increased pressure and geopolitical tensions, has taken place across many domains. From the economic to military and political, salami-slicing tactics and cabbage strategies have become core components of the Chinese military and security diet, and with laudable success.

China’s salami-slicing practices date back to the 1950s when the newly formed People’s Republic of China (PRC) eventually secured control of parts of Jammu and Kashmir between 1954 and 1962. Another successful use of this tactic is observable in China’s slow but steady acquisition of much of the South China Sea (SCS) through the step-by-step occupation, encompassing military clashes between China and South Vietnam, of the Paracel Islands in 1974, the Johnson Reef in 1988, and the Mischief Reef in 1995. In 2012, China gained control of the Scarborough Shoal. Through the use of such tactics, China has established effective military control at many points in the SCS, has increased its influence over several of its neighbors, is securing influence over critical economic infrastructure such as ports and communication networks throughout the region and has used its economic power, political clout, and military might to set the region’s dynamics to its favor. The approach has resulted in a China that has been increasingly assertive while expanding its ambitions and demands.

Are The U.S. And China Headed For A Cold War?


Chinese military delegates arrive for the National People's Congress in Beijing last March. The growing friction between the U.S. and China, combined with the rapid rise of China's economy and its military, has stirred a debate about whether the U.S. and China are headed toward a Cold War.Ng Han Guan/AP

Nearly three decades after the Cold War ended between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, a new debate is stirring: Is the U.S. heading into a new Cold War, this time with China?

"The Chinese military has undergone a substantial program of modernization to the point now where they are a near-peer military in a number of military domains," Neil Wiley, the director of analysis at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in an interview with NPR.

Wiley has a top-floor office in Washington, D.C., that's suited for deep reflection on big questions. He looks out over the Potomac River, at the planes coming and going at Reagan National Airport, and toward the top brass over at the Pentagon.

Trump’s Trade War With China Comes Home to American Consumers

Kimberly Ann Elliott 

It didn’t take long for the U.S.-China trade war to get worse. Even though negotiators have agreed to meet in Washington next month, they are unlikely to see a breakthrough. If things continue on their current course, they will keep getting worse from now until the end of the year, when there will be tariffs of 15 to 30 percent on almost everything the United States imports from China. In part because of the trade war, Chinese economic growth is now expected to fall below 6 percent later this year. Slowing global trade is also hitting the export-driven German economy, which may be slipping into a recession—perhaps to be followed by other parts of Europe and the United Kingdom with the chaos of Brexit.

US Wargames to Try Out Concepts for Fighting China, Russia

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Joint Staff-led exercises will test new communications gear and new ideas for getting past “industrial-age” synchronization of forces.

A series of September and November wargames led by the Pentagon’s Joint Staff will evaluate new battle plans for fighting China and Russia, Pentagon officials say.

“What we don’t have is a concept that accurately and with rigor describes how the services will fight against a peer adversary,” Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Futures Command and director of Futures and Concepts Center, told reporters Wednesday on the sidelines of the Defense News Conference.

How AI Will Predict Chinese and Russian Moves in the Pacific


As Pacific Air Forces builds a picture of normal traffic, they'll start looking for suspicious patterns — and even predict what's coming.

HONOLULU—On the site of the most infamous sneak attack in American history, U.S. Pacific Air Forces is collating tens of millions of radar contacts and other data in a bid to stave off a latter-day surprise — and even reveal the adversary’s weaknesses.

Airmen and researchers at PACAF’s Pearl Harbor headquarters are using the data — as old as a year and as new as real-time — to draw up a portrait of normal air traffic in the vast Pacific region. Ultimately, that should make it easier to spot abnormal events, such as an impending attack, the deputy chief of PACAF’s C3 Integration Division said at the Defense One-Nextgov Genius Machines event here last Tuesday.

“If you’ve got six months, eight months, a year’s worth of data, you start to understand what the pattern looks like,” Lt. Col. Ryan Raber said. “Here’s what I know is ‘normal.’ Then we start to pick out the data points that are abnormal. What does abnormal look like? And then we start to focus on those and figure out what they mean to us. Is that adversary aircraft preparing for something? Are they just off their air route? What’s going on with that specific data?”

The U.S.-China Cold War Is a Myth

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This week, the U.S. Navy conducted drills with ships from Southeast Asian countries in the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea—an apparent sign of Washington’s renewed interest in the region and in challenging China.

Close U.S. partners such as Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have warned of growing tensions between the two superpowers and urged restraint by both sides. Washington has been deepening security and diplomatic relations in the region, even with former adversaries such as Vietnam, which has been locked in a tense maritime standoff with China since July.

In recent years, the notion of an emerging second Cold War, this time between the United States and China, has gained credence. As early as 1995, China scholar David Shambaugh warned of deteriorating relations in an article titled, “The United States and China: A New Cold War?” Last year, Cold War analyst Graham Allison, the Douglas Dillon professor of government at the Harvard Kennedy School, warned of a “new cold war,” and articles published in the Economist, Foreign Policy, the Washington Post, and across the mainstream media have built on this narrative. But the Cold War paradigm is not the best way to understand today’s strategic landscape.The Cold War paradigm is not the best way to understand today’s strategic landscape.

The US, China and Japan: Grand Strategy

By George Friedman

When Chinese President Xi Jinping came to power in China, he was seen as a decisive leader who could dominate Chinese institutions and guide China to a position of greatness. His enormous power was solidified with the removal of presidential term limits, while the anti-corruption purges initiated at his behest have reshaped the Communist Party.

From my point of view, however, the imposition of a dictatorship in China was a sign of concern and insecurity within the Communist Party’s Central Committee. Dictators do not usually arise to preside over success. They emerge in times of trouble, taking or being given powers that allow them to impose their will to deal decisively with a country’s problems. Why would the Central Committee allow the office of the president to change so profoundly if things were going well? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” as the saying goes. China may not have been broken yet, but it was in danger of breaking, and Xi’s appointment was a sign of weakness rather than strength.

China’s Economic Problems

How to Make a Lasting Deal With Iran

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Despite the Trump administration’s assertions, it is increasingly clear that the maximum pressure approach deployed to force Iran to temper its behavior in the Middle East is not working. Iran has allegedly engaged in provocations in the Persian Gulf and has taken concrete steps to scale back its commitments to enrichment limitations under the 2015 nuclear deal. Meanwhile, it hasn’t limited its missile program and has doubled down on its reliance on nonstate actors throughout the region.

Tensions flared again in the Middle East late last month after Israel apparently launched strikes on Iranian forces and their proxies in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. As this shadow war moves into the light of day, Israeli officials argue that these attacks are meant to curb Iran’s expanding regional influence through its support and training for nonstate actors—which is a growing threat from Israel’s perspective. The most recent exchange between Israel and Iran highlights the security challenges Iran poses to U.S. interests and partners in the region, and, more importantly, why the U.S. government needs a new and innovative strategy to effectively engage with Iran. 

18 Years After 9/11, Jihadism Remains a Global and Local Threat

By Scott Stewart
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The jihadist movement has always consisted of various components, and has never had a unified ideology, theology or operational doctrine.  While many franchise groups and grassroots jihadists operate under either the Islamic State or al Qaeda name, their operations are still largely independent and thus unaltered by any losses incurred by the two core organizations.  This decentralized model means that jihadist militants continue to pose an array of threats both at the local and global level, and that security forces must keep the pressure on both levels to adequately thwart future attacks. 

18 years ago tomorrow, Osama bin Laden and his jihadist al Qaeda group conducted the most devastating terrorist attacks in history. The attacks in New York and Washington took the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent victims, shaking the entire world to its core. And the aftershocks continue to be felt today — whether it's in the residual consequences of the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, or the complete overhaul of global air travel security. 

Trump Axes Bolton via Twitter


U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired National Security Advisor John Bolton via Twitter, ending a turbulent 17-month run in the White House for the hawkish security advisor during which he grew increasingly isolated and on the losing end of key policy debates.

Bolton’s “services are no longer needed at the White House,” Trump said in his tweets. “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration.”

Bolton’s firing—though he said he offered his resignation Monday night—comes as he has found himself on the losing end of a series of foreign-policy debates. An uber-conservative advocate of the unilateral application of U.S. power, Bolton was opposed to Trump’s diplomatic opening with North Korea, his effort to find a negotiated solution to the war in Afghanistan, and Trump’s repeated overtures to the leaders of Iran to meet.

The latest high-profile departure from a White House in chaos promises to further destabilize a foreign-policy team in disarray, just ahead of the big United Nations General Assembly in New York. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has flirted with running for the open U.S. Senate seat in Kansas, and senior State Department officials concede that the United States has ceded influence to rivals like China in part because of the turmoil in leadership.

Trump Ousts John Bolton as National Security Adviser

By Peter Baker

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday pushed out John R. Bolton, his third national security adviser, amid fundamental disputes over how to handle major foreign policy challenges like Iran, North Korea and most recently Afghanistan.

The departure ended a 17-month partnership that had grown so tense that the two men even disagreed over how they parted ways, as Mr. Trump announced on Twitter that he had fired the adviser only to be rebutted by Mr. Bolton, who insisted he had resigned of his own accord.

A longtime Republican hawk known for a combative style, Mr. Bolton spent much of his tenure trying to restrain the president from making what he considered unwise agreements with America’s enemies. Mr. Trump bristled at what he viewed as Mr. Bolton’s militant approach, to the point that he made barbed jokes in meetings about his adviser’s desire to get the United States into more wars.

Their differences came to a climax in recent days as Mr. Bolton waged a last-minute campaign to stop the president from signing a peace agreement at Camp David with leaders of the radical Taliban group. He won the policy battle as Mr. Trump scrapped the deal but lost the larger war when the president grew angry about the way the matter played out.

Rafael Nadal Defeats Daniil Medvedev in the Best U.S. Open Men’s Final of This Century

By Gerald Marzorati

If shot variety, tactical adjustments, and relentless competitiveness are what keep you glued to a tennis match, then Sunday’s contest between Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev was the greatest U.S. Open men’s final of this young century—and arguably as good as any since John McEnroe defeated Björn Borg in 1980. Like that McEnroe-Borg final, it went five sets. It ended just a few minutes shy of the record four hours and fifty-four minutes that it took Andy Murray to beat Novak Djokovic, also in five sets, in 2012. And, as in Juan Martín del Potro’s stunning upset of Roger Federer, in five sets, in 2009, it pitted a young newcomer against a veteran star who’d won the Open title numerous times before. Though, as Sunday afternoon yielded to night, Medvedev, twenty-three years old and making his first appearance in a major final, did not, in the end, have quite enough to overtake Nadal, who managed to fight off one last break point, earn his third championship point with a drop shot, and hold his serve to win, 7–5, 6–3, 5–7, 4–6, 6–4.

The Erratic State of U.S. Foreign Policy Under Trump

U.S. foreign policy under Trump does not appear to have a consistent logic. Trump has promised to put "America First," and pursued that end in a variety of ways. At the same time, he has stocked his Cabinet with hawkish interventionists. While adopting a more unilateralist approach, Trump has neglected the institutions that help formulate and execute U.S. foreign policy.

After almost three years in office, President Donald Trump’s administration does not appear to have seized on a consistent approach to dealing with the world. Instead, U.S. foreign policy under Trump has become erratic and seems predicated on somewhat random factors. Decisions often seem to depend on the ability of an individual—whether a world leader or Cabinet official—to sway Trump’s opinion. Trump himself seems to revel in any opportunity to undo the accomplishments of his predecessor, Barack Obama, as well as any chance to right a perceived slight against the United States.

Two Cheers for Esper’s Plan to Reassert Civilian Control of the Pentagon

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The longest-ever gap in civilian leadership atop the Department of Defense came to an end on July 23, when Mark Esper was sworn in as secretary of defense. His presence in the chain of command, second to Trump, may seem enough to ensure civilian control of the Armed Forces. But the implementation of this American tenet is more complex. Civilian control is a process, not simply a person. And out of sight of most Americans, civilians are losing control over key processes that manage war plans, deployment decisions, and the programs that determine what kind of military the U.S. builds for the future. 

Many see no problem with this tilt toward military management of the department. The U.S. military is one of the most-respected government institutions, its technical and operational expertise seemingly unrivaled. It can seem counterintuitive for civilians to manage key decisions of war planning, conflict, and building the future military. But even those who urge civilian deference to military expertise know strategist Carl von Clausewitz’s observation that “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” Statute, and history too, have determined that America is better served when politicians shape the nation’s approach to its defense, even though it is messy, difficult, and naturally infused with tension.

You and Your NCO

by Ryan Cornell

The officer-noncommissioned officer (NCO) relationship is one of the Army’s many paradoxes that is fun to discuss and theorize. The Army deliberately pairs the two. Imagine a typical platoon’s leadership, with a brand-new platoon leader (second lieutenant) placed in charge of a seasoned platoon sergeant (usually a sergeant first class). Make no mistake, the platoon leader rates the platoon sergeant. As a captain, the company commander rates the first sergeant (1SG) who, once again, is typically more seasoned. Why is the individual with far greater experience placed in the subordinate position? The onus is on the NCO to provide reverse mentorship – and on the officer to learn from it.

Among many other duties, a good NCO-partner is much like a lane safety on a rifle range. They are a trainer, coach, and mentor.