18 September 2019

U.S.-India Insight: The World Waits for India’s Economic Breakout Plan

It has been over three months since the Modi government increased its majority in Parliament. Yet little has been done or said to enthuse the investor community. The opportunity to put up a fresh “India is open for business” beacon is fading; a few minor foreign direct investment (FDI) reforms announced in late September have not burnished Prime Minister Modi’s image as a reformer. Paired with the fact that foreign firms are looking for options beyond China, such an opening may not come again for some time. India is sitting on a unique opportunity to attract investment but must move with renewed urgency in enacting key reforms.

During the Modi government’s first term, we saw a fast pace of reforms in the early years. Per our earlier India Reforms Scorecard tracker, the Modi government completed 6 of 30 major economic reforms in its first year. This includes both key domestic reforms, as well as reforms meant to entice foreign investors. Seventy percent of India’s FDI reforms during the 2014-2019 period came in the government’s first two years in office. However, such reforms slowed in the latter part of the 5-year term. This was reflected in India’s foreign investment inflows, which stagnated—and even declined slightly—at the end of the Modi government’s first term. Restrictive anti-reforms at the end of the Modi government’s term left a bitter taste in many investors’ mouths. Recent employment data, while woefully incomplete, point to lingering weaknesses with job creation. Foreign investment is not a panacea for jobs but can be a relatively easy way to boost investment and job creation, particularly when this investment is geared towards exports as well as the domestic market.

‘Squarely blame Supreme Court for economic slowdown’: Harish Salve in conversation with Indira Jaising

Besides the apex court, he held “faulty” implementation of the demonetisation policy partly responsible for the downswing.

Aprominent Supreme Court lawyer and luminary of Indian judiciary, Harish Salve (HS) has many feathers in his cap. Besides constitutional law, he is known for his expertise in commercial and taxation law. During a freewheeling conversation with senior lawyer Indira Jaising (IJ), the former Solicitor General talked about economic-slowdown, demonetisation and environment.

Besides the apex court, he held “faulty” implementation of the demonetisation policy partly responsible for the downswing. He said that the Income-tax department is virtually setting the agenda for the Parliament. Commenting on wood imports, he stressed on turning India’s barren lands into wood farms. Here’s the transcript:

IJ: Mr. Salve, you are known for your grasp on the economic laws and tax laws etc. We hear that the Indian economy is not doing too well. In a previous conversation in 2016, you had said that the banking sector in India is going through an extreme crisis. What is your understanding of how the country’s economy is doing today?

Afghan Taliban stronger than ever after U.S. spends $900 billion

Over the years, the conflict has been both positive and negative for the Afghan economy, Tamim Asey, a former deputy defense minister, said by email.

For many Afghans like Zohra Atifi, whose husband was killed under Taliban rule, the American invasion in 2001 marked a chance to start over after living under an oppressive regime.

Yet 18 years later, after the U.S. spent nearly $900 billion and more than 147,000 people died, the Taliban are growing more confident of returning to power. The militant group controls or contests half of the country, more territory than any time since they were toppled in 2001. And they’ve come close to a deal with the U.S. that could give them even more power, even after President Donald Trump abruptly put the talks on hold.

What’s worse for the U.S. and its allies: Many Afghans are growing disillusioned with the American-backed regime in Kabul and its inability, along with its foreign allies, to contain not just the Taliban but another deadly insurgent group -- the Islamic State. One of Atifi’s sons was killed by IS extremists two years ago.

Why Pakistan Needs a New Strategy for the Pending Political Gulf Crisis

by Chirayu Thakkar

The key to Islamabad’s bewilderment lies elsewhere, perhaps in a newer geopolitical realignment.

Recently, India abruptly ended special autonomy of the Indian-administered Kashmir and dismembered it into two federally administered regions. A revved-up Pakistan prime minister resorted to all means to attract the attention of the global community to attend this issue including nuclear saber-rattling. Many countries have turned a blind eye to Imran Khan’s entreaties for intervention advising both neighbors to resolve the matter bilaterally. Nothing has flustered and disappointed the Pakistan politicos and public more than the outright inaction of Saudi Arabia and the UAE coupled with their acts of heaping highest civilian awards on Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. Historically, Pakistan has considered both these Gulf nations as custodians of ummah—a global community of Muslims—and looked upon them in moments of crisis. In the wake of India-U.S.-UAE/Saudi Arabia strategic configuration, that spirit of pan-Islamism needs to be revisited.

Sri Lanka Struggles to Solve the Islamic State-Local Network Puzzle

By: Animesh Roul

On August 23, the Sri Lankan government ended a four-month-long state of emergency that was declared after multiple suicide bombings inspired by the Islamic State (IS) rocked the South Asian nation (Colombo Page, August 23). Over 250 people died and scores were injured when on April 21, Easter Sunday, suicide bombers targeted popular hotels and churches in the capital city of Colombo, Dehiwala, Negombo (on the East Coast), and Batticoloa (on the West Coast). As investigations proceeded, evidence emerged of the involvement of local Islamist groups and individuals inspired and affiliated with IS. The government moved on May 13 to ban three local Salafi-jihadist groups—National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim (JMI), and Willayath-As-Seylani (WAS), under the regulations of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). [1] These three organizations have been banned “for the purpose of ensuring the continuance of peace within the country and in the interest of national security, public order, and the rule of law” (Colombo Page, May 14).

The NTJ and JMI had earlier claimed responsibility through IS’ Amaq news agency on April 23. The Amaq agency video subsequently released showcased the Easter day bombers and the NTJ’s renegade leader Muhammad Zahran Hashim and his associates pledging allegiance to IS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The government investigators now believe that before his death, Zahran Hashim and his fellow militants from NTJ and JMI formed the hybrid Willayath-As-Seylani (WAS). WAS is supposedly a new province of IS, with the goal of raising the group’s banner in Sri Lanka. However, information about WAS is currently sparse, as the government has been hesitant to confirm any physical manifestation, or even virtual inroads, of IS on Sri Lankan soil.

Persisting Ambiguity

Chinese Covert Social Media Propaganda and Disinformation Related to Hong Kong

By: John Dotson

Image: A screen shot from one of the accounts disabled by Twitter. This account, for the fictitious media organization “Dream News,” editorializes that the protestors who broke into and vandalized Hong Kong’s Legislative Council building on July 1 were acting on behalf of unspecified “forces [that] hide behind the scenes.” (Source: Twitter)

Introduction: “Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior” Related to the Protest Movement in Hong Kong

On August 19, the microblogging platform Twitter announced the suspension of 936 accounts originating in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which the company identified as part of an “information operation focused on the situation in Hong Kong.” The company stated that these accounts “were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground,” and further asserted that “we have reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation” (Twitter Blog, August 19).

To Counter China, Out-Invent It

By Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson 

China’s economic strategy is no secret. In the short term, Beijing will grow the country’s economy by manufacturing and exporting cheap, globally competitive goods. Over the longer term, it will build the capital, infrastructure, and expertise necessary to make the country an innovation powerhouse.

China is not the first to adopt this strategy. The same measures powered the rise of countries such as Germany, France, and Japan over the last 70 years. And even then they caused considerable trade friction with the United States. Washington accused all three of those countries of unfair trade and monetary policies—Germany and France in the 1970s and Japan in the 1980s. Recent U.S. administrations have accused China of the same. But this time around, the tension is more concerning. China is much more populous than Germany, France, or Japan, and its economy could easily become the world’s largest. Beijing also projects influence beyond its borders, sharing technology with smaller countries and endeavoring to create a set of close trade and investment relationships—ones that may one day be based on Chinese renminbi instead of the U.S. dollar.

China and the US: amphibious ambitions take new shape

As the United States Marine Corps contemplates shifting the make-up of its forces in the face of a challenging operating environment and the proliferation of anti-access/area-denial capabilities, China is about to take the next step in beefing up its amphibious capability.

Recent images from China reveal that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is close to taking the next step in the rapid development of its amphibious forces, with the first of a new class of large amphibious assault ship (LHD) in an advanced stage of construction. Meanwhile, the vision recently set out by the new head of the world’s premier amphibious force, the US Marine Corps, has been causing a stir by suggesting that it might shift emphasis away from what have been some of the classic building blocks of its capability.

What has been missing so far from the PLAN’s burgeoning amphibious line-up has been an LHD-type vessel with a large flight deck for helicopter operations and a floodable well-deck for landing craft and air-cushion vehicles. Such a vessel was long anticipated, and evidence steadily grew that the PLAN’s first LHD, designated Type-075, was under construction in Shanghai. The latest available images suggest the vessel is structurally nearly complete and could be ready for launch either later this year or in 2020. It looks as if a second Type-075 is also now under construction. It is believed that at least three ships of this type are planned.

PLAN Type-075

Unless We Act Now, the Islamic State Will Rise Again

To Whom It May Concern: 

We, the undersigned, have devoted decades to the fight against terrorism. We have lost colleagues and friends. We have borne witness to the violent rise of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS. We have studied the conditions that brought those groups into being and allowed them to grow in strength. Today, 18 years since 9/11, we see some of the same conditions arising once again in Syria and Iraq, and we will not be silent while history repeats itself. ISIS may have been defeated on the battlefield; but thousands of Western fighters and their families remain in detention in Syria and Iraq. We do not expect terrorists to attract much sympathy. But the majority of detainees are not terrorists; they are children. At the largest detention camp, al-Hol in northeastern Syria, around two-thirds of the approximately 70,000 detainees are under the age of twelve. The Red Cross describes conditions there as “apocalyptic.” 

Children routinely die of malnutrition and hypothermia. Education, medical care, and trauma counseling are practically non-existent. Extremist indoctrination is rife. Most detainees at al-Hol are from Iraq and Syria, but some are from Western countries. Western governments, for the most part, have refused to take their nationals back. Some have revoked their citizenship. Others have called for an international tribunal based in Iraq, which amounts to another means of avoiding the tough, but necessary, responsibility of dealing with their own citizens. Their trepidation is understandable; by blocking the return of people they regard as dangerous, these states believe that they are protecting their citizens at home. In reality, however, this “hands off” stance will only create greater danger in the future. The squalor of the camps and the lack of just treatment there, especially for children, fuels the Salafijihadist narrative of grievance and revenge that has proven so potent in recruiting followers. 

The Strategic Implications of the Strikes on Saudi Arabia

By Anthony H. Cordesman

The strikes on Saudi Arabian petroleum facilities have already shown the new level of risk that the wars in the Gulf region pose to global energy supplies and to the global economy. They have already created at least a minor crisis in world petroleum exports, and repairing Saudi facilities and resuming exports have already become key issues. The more serious challenge, however, is how do you stop future attacks of this kind, and this is both a short- and long-term strategic challenge.

The exact short-term challenge is still unclear. Saudi Arabia and Aramco have not provided any public detailed data on the level of damage the strikes inflicted, and there are good reasons not to disclose the level of accuracy in the strikes relative to key targets where damage can have a long-term effect, and further strikes can be planned in ways that greatly enhance the level of damage and extend repair times. It also makes good sense to alter undamaged Saudi oil and gas operations to minimize vulnerability to follow-on strikes – actions that can further limit production.

Saudi Arabia has stated, however, that it has suspended production of some 5.7 million barrels of crude per day, or more than half of the Kingdom’s output. This is a figure equivalent to some 6 percent of the world's normal daily oil supply. Prices have already jumped, and sooner or later the Kingdom will have to fully clarify both the scale of actual damage and how long repairs will take.

Iran May Not Be the Entirely Reliable Ally in the Caspian Moscow Hopes For

Following last month’s (August 12) Caspian Economic Forum in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (see EDM, September 4), a number of Russian commentators celebrated what they saw as a victory of the “Russian-Iranian approach,” which seeks to promote north-south trade over the east-west flows supported by the three other littoral states (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan) and the West (Iarex.ru, August 25). Some analysts are now even suggesting that Moscow and Tehran could soon become full-fledged allies when it comes to the Caucasus and certain other issues (Casp-geo.ru, September 8).

But though the two countries both seemingly want to ensure that outside powers—above all the United States, the European Union and China—do not become more important players in the region, they differ significantly in their respective roles. In fact, Tehran may not be the ally in the Caspian that Moscow hopes for. It may instead be a new competitor with its own agenda and capabilities that will challenge Russia’s ability to impose unimpeded control over the Caspian both economically and militarily. Indeed, disagreements about the Caspian that prevented a delimitation agreement until August 2018 appear likely to continue, albeit in new ways that could easily become more fraught than the situation was prior to that time.

Is Arab Unity Dead?


BEIRUT – Historically, the task of promoting multilateralism in the Middle East has rested with two institutions: the League of Arab States, a broad alliance for collaboration on political, economic, and cultural issues, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which deals mainly with economic matters. Despite the differences in their history, focus, and membership, both bodies were intended to serve as vehicles for ensuring Arab unity on crucial issues – such as opposing Israel – and avoiding conflict among member states.1

For decades, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rallied Arab countries around the common cause of supporting Palestinian statehood. But since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, three far more divisive issues have come to the fore: the perceived threat posed by Iran, the spread of regional terrorism, and the rise of political Islam (or Islamism).

These developments have ruptured traditional alliances and created much more fluid patterns of multilateral cooperation in the region. And current Western policy toward the Middle East – in particular that of the United States – is likely to reinforce this trend.

Trump says he does not want war after attack on Saudi oil facilities

Steve Holland, Rania El Gamal

WASHINGTON/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday said it looked like Iran was behind attacks on oil plants in Saudi Arabia but stressed he did not want to go to war, as the attacks sent oil prices soaring and raised fears of a new Middle East conflict.

Iran has rejected U.S. charges it was behind the strikes on Saturday that damaged the world’s biggest crude-processing plant and triggered the largest jump in crude prices in decades.

Relations between the United States and Iran have deteriorated since Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord last year and reimposed sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic programs. Washington also wants to pressure Tehran to end its support of regional proxy forces, including in Yemen where Saudi forces have been fighting Iran-backed Houthis for four years.

The United States was still investigating if Iran was behind the Saudi strikes, Trump said, but “it’s certainly looking that way at this moment”.

Saudi Arabia knows its defences are not up to war with Iran

Raf Sanchez

The smoke rising above above Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil field might seem at first like the justification Riyadh has been waiting for. 

If the White House is to be believed, Iran launched an unprovoked attack on the kingdom’s most important oil facilities. Saudi Arabia would be within its rights to strike its Iranian archrivals in response. 

In an evening tweet, Donald Trump even appeared to give Saudi Arabia a say in whether the US would attack Iran. “[The US is] waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”

Saudi Arabia has the power to bring fire and fury down on its most-hated foe but may be reluctant to actually that power. The reality is the Saudis are deeply skittish about the prospects of any war with Iran because they know they will be Tehran’s main target. 

If fighting breaks out between the US and Iran, the Iranians will have relatively few chances to strike America directly. They could target US ships in the Persian Gulf or order their Shia militia proxies to harass American forces in Iraq. 

U.S. Blames Iran for Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for coordinated strikes on the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, saying they marked an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.

The strikes shut down half of the kingdom’s crude production on Saturday, potentially roiling petroleum prices and demonstrating the power of Iran’s proxies.

Iran-allied Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen claimed credit for the attack, saying they sent 10 drones to strike at important facilities in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province. But Mr. Pompeo said there was no evidence the strikes had come from Yemen.

In a tweet, he said the U.S. will work with allies “to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression.” He added that the strikes showed Iran wasn’t serious about diplomacy.

Mr. Pompeo didn’t explain how the U.S. believes Iran was to blame or where the strikes originated, but Iran-backed militias in Iraq have previously been responsible for targeting Saudi Arabia’s oil industry. Meanwhile, Saudi and American officials are investigating the possibility that attacks on Saudi oil facilities Saturday involved cruise missiles launched from Iraq or Iran.

Its Lifeblood Attacked, What Are Saudi Arabia’s Options Now?

Zainab Fattah

(Bloomberg) -- A predawn attack on the heart of Saudi Arabia’s energy industry knocked out half of the country’s oil production and raised the prospect of retaliation. The U.S., without providing evidence, blamed the strike by a swarm of armed drones on the kingdom’s arch rival Iran. Iran has denied the allegation, but Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who have been battling a Saudi-led coalition for more than four years, have claimed responsibility. What are Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s options and which is he likely to deploy?

1. Bigger Military Involvement in Yemen:

Saudi Arabia hasn’t blamed anyone for the attack, but hours after the raid, Saudi fighter jets pounded Houthi militia positions in the northern Yemeni provinces of Saada and Al Jawf. While Saudi Arabia has been involved in a devastating war in Yemen since 2015, its campaign has been mostly limited to air strikes without a meaningful presence on the ground. That has hamstrung its intelligence- gathering abilities and reduced the effectiveness of its targeting.

“If the Houthis were actually responsible, this puts pressure on the Saudis to better target Houthi drone and missile capabilities,” said Emily Hawthorne, Middle East and North Africa analyst at Texas-based advisory firm Stratfor Enterprises. That “might require a larger military commitment from Saudi Arabia at a time when it wants the opposite.”

Iran’s Threat to Saudi Critical Infrastructure: The Implications of U.S.-Iranian Escalation

Written by Seth G. Jones, Danika Newlee, Nicholas Harrington, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have heightened concerns about the threat to critical infrastructure in the Persian Gulf, including in Saudi Arabia. This report argues that while Saudi Arabia has vulnerabilities in its oil, desalination, electricity, SCADA, shipping, and other systems, Iran has thus far adopted a calibrated approach. Tehran has conducted irregular attacks to infrastructure using offensive cyber weapons, naval ships to impede oil tankers, and partners like the Houthis in Yemen. The United States should focus on deterring further Iranian escalation, refraining from actions that threaten the regime’s survival, and providing a political “off ramp” for Iran to de-escalate.

Saudi Oil Attack Photos Implicate Iran, U.S. Says; Trump Hints at Military Action

By Eric Schmitt, Farnaz Fassihi and David D. Kirkpatrick

The Trump administration intensified its focus on Iran Sunday as the likely culprit behind attacks on important Saudi Arabian oil facilities over the weekend, with officials citing intelligence assessments to support the accusation and President Trump warning that he was prepared to take military action.

The government released satellite photographs showing what officials said were at least 17 points of impact at several Saudi energy facilities from strikes they said came from the north or northwest. That would be consistent with an attack coming from the direction of the northern Persian Gulf, Iran or Iraq, rather than from Yemen, where the Iranian-backed Houthi militia that claimed responsibility for the strikes operates.

Administration officials, in a background briefing for reporters as well as in separate interviews on Sunday, also said a combination of drones and cruise missiles — “both and a lot of them,” as one senior United States official put it — might have been used. That would indicate a degree of scope, precision and sophistication beyond the ability of the Houthi rebels alone.

Trump: US is 'Locked and Loaded' to Respond to Saudi Oil Attack

By Steve Herman

WHITE HOUSE - U.S. President Donald Trump says American forces are 'locked and loaded' to respond to the fiery attacks on one of Saudi Arabia’s largest oil fields and the world’s biggest crude oil stabilization facility.

"There is reason to believe we know the culprit," Trump tweeted late Sunday. He added he is waiting to hear from the Saudis as to who they believe is behind the attack and “under what terms we would proceed.”

Earlier, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had tweeted that “Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply," discounting the claim of responsibility by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen who said they carried out the attack by drones.

Iran calls the charges it is behind the attack, “maximum lies.”

Likely targets in Iran for the United States or Saudi Arabia “would be refineries and critical oil facilities,” Ali Shihabi, the founder of the Arabia Foundation, tells VOA.

The Amazon and You


NEW YORK – Nearly everyone has seen the dramatic images of the Amazon ablaze. Tens of thousands of fires – intentionally started or caused by logging, farming, mining, and other human activities – have broken out over the past year alone.

This matters a great deal, because forests absorb gases that increase global warming if released into the atmosphere. Reduction of the Amazon rainforest by fire adds to the problem of climate change in two ways: the fires themselves release gases and particles that accelerate the earth’s warming, and the elimination of the trees by definition means they cannot absorb carbon dioxide.

The issue gripped last month’s G7 meeting in France. The leaders of many of the world’s wealthiest countries pledged just over $22 million to help Brazil, home to the bulk of the Amazon rainforest and nearly half of the world’s tropical forests, combat the fires. Brazil angrily rejected the offer.

Brazil’s populist president, Jair Bolsonaro, stated that his country would not allow the G7 countries to treat it as if it were a colony. “Our sovereignty is nonnegotiable,” the government spokesman declared. In the end, Brazil did accept some $12 million in assistance from the United Kingdom, but it did not reach a compromise with the G7 or with France, which hosted the meeting.

An Innovation Agenda for Europe

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BRUSSELS/MADRID – The European Union’s new leadership team must reform and deepen the bloc and strengthen its global influence. Making Europe much more innovative should therefore be at the top of the priority list.

There is no time to waste. The rapid growth of the digital economy is creating a technological G2 world dominated by the United States and China, with Europe a distant third. Not even one European firm is ranked among the world’s largest Internet companies. Most technology “unicorns” – privately held start-ups valued at over $1 billion – are outside the EU. And tech hubs such as Shenzhen or Silicon Valley currently dwarf anything that Europe has to offer.

If EU leaders allow these trends to continue, Europe will find itself unable to meet the geostrategic challenges of the twenty-first century. An outdated industrial and technological base will be unable to support a resilient and effective data infrastructure, and will thus limit Europe’s strategic autonomy. With technology and innovation having become important arenas for Sino-American great-power rivalry, Europe must raise its collective game to avoid being caught in the middle.

The Clean-Energy Fast Track


LONDON – The global transition from carbon-intensive fossil fuels to cleaner, more reliable renewables like wind and solar is already well underway. But the big question – for the 2020s and beyond – is how fast it will happen. A slow transition would mean that energy-sector incumbents continue to flourish, and we would all but certainly miss the emissions-reduction targets enshrined in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. But if the transition is rapid, incumbents will experience varying degrees of disruption – the price of keeping the Paris targets well within reach. As matters stand, both scenarios are possible, representing two paths that lie before us.

In a new report for the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Energy, we and our co-authors identify four key areas that will determine which path we take. The Speed of the Energy Transitionoffers compelling evidence that the transition is coming fast, and that all stakeholders in the global energy system – which is to say, everyone – must start preparing.

One area where the gradual and rapid scenarios diverge is adoption of renewable energy. When will renewables start displacing incumbents? For markets, the key moment will be when renewables make up all of the growth in energy supply, as well as all the growth in electricity supply. That, most likely, will happen in the early 2020s, long before fossil fuels lose their dominant share of total energy supply. As renewables become the leading growth industries in the energy sector, financial markets will increasingly reallocate capital accordingly.

Why the US needs to improve intelligence sharing on Russian military activities with NATO allies

By: Diana Stancy Correll  

The U.S. should step up its distribution of intelligence with all NATO members to weaken Russian influence attempts and to help unify the alliance, in the event Russia targeted an attack against a NATO ally, a new report says.

“Intelligence-sharing could be particularly critical in the early phases of a conflict with Russia, during which Russian efforts to obscure its activities could influence the perceived threat perception by NATO allies,” a RAND Corp. report released Aug. 29 said.

In light of resurrected concerns about a Russian attack against a NATO member following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the report says the U.S. needs to take several steps to better share intelligence on Russian military activities and other security topics with NATO allies.

Although there are multilateral and bilateral intelligence-sharing agreements in place already, the report argued institutions for sharing intelligence with all NATO allies are lacking.

How the European Union Lost Its Luster

by Amitai Etzioni

While millions of people are willing to die for their nation, few are willing to die for the European Union, not to mention for less advanced supranational unions.

Brexit is often depicted as driven by a wave of right-wing nationalism. The same wave is viewed as having swept nationalistic and anti-EU governments into office in Hungary, Poland, and Italy, as well as having led to the rise of right-wing xenophobic parties in France, the UK, and Germany, among other European nations. French president Emmanuel Macron sounded the alarm: “Never since the second world war has Europe been so essential. Yet never has Europe been in such danger. Brexit stands as the symbol of that. . . . Retreating into nationalism offers nothing; it is rejection without an alternative. And this is the trap that threatens the whole of Europe.”

Patrick Cockburn holds that “Brexit is English nationalism made flesh, but the English underrate its destructive potential as a form of communal identity.” He sees a similarity between Brexit and the other expressions of the right-wing wave. “The new English nationalism that surfaced so strongly during the Brexit campaign is, ironically, much closer to continental traditions of nationalism,” he said. “It is much more ethnically and culturally exclusive than the English/British tradition.” Nigel Farage, who now leads the Brexit Party, previously led the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which is described as having fascist overtones and is blamed for leading the force that fashioned Brexit.

Joining the Technological Frontiers


LONDON – Artificial intelligence (AI) and biotechnology are both on an exponential growth trajectory, with the potential to improve how we experience our lives and even to extend life itself. But few have considered how these two frontier technologies could be brought together symbiotically to tackle global health and environmental challenges.

Consider the pace of recent developments in both fields. Biotechnology, in cost-benefit terms, has been improving by a factor of ten every year. The cost of deciphering the human genome has dropped from $3 billion in 2001 to about $1,000 today; a process that took months ten years ago can now be completed in less than an hour. Likewise, based on current developments, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that AI’s contribution to global output will reach $15.7 trillion by 2030 – more than the current combined output of China and India.

Yet, if anything, these predictions underestimate the economic impact. AI applications will eventually be so broad and so embedded in every aspect of our daily lives that they will likely contribute three to four times more to global output than the Internet, which today accounts for around $50 trillion of the global economy. Moreover, the siloed nature of current analyses means that potential AI/biotech combination technologies have not been fully considered or priced in.

GOP Sen. Sasse: US Lacks Cyber War Offense, Defense

By Eric Mack

The United States is "decades behind" in cyber security and the eventuality of modern warfare being carried out online and in space, according to Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.

"I've been pushing Washington to get serious about these threats and to draft a badly needed cyber playbook, because we don't have either offensive or defensive doctrine," Sasse told "The Cats Roundtable" on 970 AM-N.Y.

Sasse pointed to each of the leading U.S. adversaries, Russia, North, Iran, and China, telling host John Catsimatidis "we are well into the age of cyber war."

"We haven't done nearly enough planning for the asymmetric phases of war," he said. "And while we still lead China and Russia, our qualitative military edge is shrinking. And the amount of money China is investing in particular should keep all American policymakers up at night."

Sasse said China has prepared for massing preemptive destruction of satellite and GPS infrastructure against enemies – something he said "would be absolutely disastrous."

"It was never really an American military doctrine that you might just take out all the satellite architecture in the world," Sasse said. "U.S. weapons systems are dependent on GPS.

"China has envisioned a lot of game theory that has them sort of blowing up everything in the near-space early in a conflict, which would take away lots of things like GPS."

So Many Innovation Centers. So Hard to Find the One You Need

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I recently met a vice president from a hot artificial intelligence startup that found its way into a deal with a U.S. intelligence community agency. The company’s product uses AI to enable the rapid identification of elements on video, so you can imagine why the IC agency was interested.

But the story the young executive told me about how this vital capability eventually got into the hands of the IC should give us pause.

Like so many startups with great new capabilities and not much experience selling to government, the AI company was increasingly frustrated at its inability to break in at the IC agency. The staff either didn’t know about or was unable to tap the vaunted and rapidly expanding ecosystem of government innovation brokerages created by the Pentagon, IC and civilian agencies. These innovation hubs came into existence precisely to ease the way into the government market for nontraditional suppliers with bleeding-edge products and services.

Instead, the AI firm’s VP took an old-fashioned, circuitous route.

Will to Fight

by Ben Connable
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In 2018, RAND published two reports for the U.S. Army describing will to fight. Arguably, will to fight is the single most important factor in war. Will to fight is the disposition and decision to fight, to keep fighting, and to win. The best technology in the world is useless without the force of will to use it and to keep using it even as casualties mount and unexpected calamities arise. Will to fight represents the indelibly human nature of warfare.

With very few exceptions, all wars and almost all battles are decided by matters of human will: Breaking the enemy's will to fight while sustaining one's own will to fight is the key to success in battle. But as focus on technology increases, the essentially human nature of war is all but ignored. Lack of focus on will to fight has created a dangerous gap in American military practice.

We must improve our understanding of will to fight.

The use of force demands that we should understand our own natures, for the most basic and the most complicated weapon system is man.

Brigadier General Shelford Bidwell, Modern Warfare: A Study of Men, Weapons and Theories — 1973

Study explores the idea of allowing some military reservists to work from home or be non-deployable

By: Meghann Myers 

The military’s reserve component has a chronic under-manning problem. A new report from RAND Corp. suggests some ways to fix that, including some ideas that would rock the traditional structure of military service, even for part-timers.

What if some reservists could be non-deployable? What if some could work from home, on their computers? What if some worked more than their required one weekend a month, two weeks a year? These are some of the suggestions for plugging those personnel gaps, making reserve service more flexible and attractive to a diminishing number of Americans who qualify in the first place.

"A large and growing segment of the U.S. population is not a primary source of military manpower because of various life choices and conditions,” the report found, echoing a host of senior military officials who have in recent years lamented the small number of young people who are healthy enough, and without a criminal background, for service.

The study presents nine “workforce constructs” that would disrupt how the services’ reserve components and the National Guard operate. They include ideas like telework, part-time activation and even a warrant officer program for chaplains, freeing uniformed religious leaders from the workload of military officers and making joining up more attractive to civilian clergy.

Students invited to design Army’s next generation of unmanned aerial vehicles in new competition

By: Diana Stancy Correll

College and graduate students from all around the U.S. can start submitting ideas and designs for the Army’s next generation of unmanned aerial vehicles — and could be awarded up to $35,000 in prize money for the project.

The C3 Converge/Collaborate/Create Challenge is organized by Wichita State University’s FirePoint Innovations Center and allows university teams of student designers, engineers and others to pitch their ideas to the Department of Defense and other aerospace, aviation and manufacturing industry experts.

Registration for the competition opened Thursday. U.S. residents studying at universities across the U.S. are eligible to register, and must submit an intent to compete by Oct. 18.

“Our mission with C3 is twofold. First, our primary directive is to develop the next generation of engineers and innovators to fuel the Army’s talent pipeline, and there’s no better way to do that than by exposing students to the technologies, techniques and career opportunities available,” Steve Cyrus, manager of technology collaborations with FirePoint, said in a news release.