27 September 2019

Don’t Mess With Modi in Texas

By Roger Cohen
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HOUSTON — Who could resist an audience of more than 50,000 Indian-Americans packed into a Texas football stadium? Not Donald Trump, on the eve of an election year, so he joined the “Howdy, Modi!” party here to proclaim, with the Indian prime minister, a great future of shared values and mutual reinforcement for the world’s two largest democracies.

It was quite a rah-rah Lone Star State show, boasting Indian-Texan cheerleaders. It was also freighted with political significance. Less than two months after Narendra Modi, with strong backing from Parliament, revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, eliminating the special autonomous status of the Kashmir region and clamping down on the mainly Muslim territory, Trump chose to signal approval by standing side-by-side with the prime minister.

The president got his biggest cheer by saying the United States was determined to help protect India from the threat of “radical Islamic terrorism.” As for Modi, he brought the house down when he declared that his “new India” was bidding farewell to open defecation, taxes that are an obstacle to jobs, 350,000 shell companies, 80 million fake names used to defraud the government and — wait for it — Article 370.

Baluch Raji Ajohi Sangar: Emergence of a New Baluch Separatist Alliance

By: Farhan Zahid

The surfacing of a new Baluch separatist organization in Pakistan’s terrorism-ridden Baluchistan province marks a major new development. The newly established organization, Baluch Raji Ajohi Sangar (BRAS) (in English, Baluch National Freedom Movement), is an alliance of three Baluch nationalist-separatist terrorist groups—Baluchistan Republican Army (BRA), Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), and Baluchistan Liberation Front (BLF) (CSCR, April 18). It is the first alliance ever formed by Baluch terrorist organizations.

BRAS is reportedly the brainchild of Dr. Allah Nazar Baluch, the leader of BLF. The combination of the various nationalist-separatist groups’ forces was a long-time dream of Nazar Baluch. He held a meeting with the various groups prior to the alliance’s formal announcement on November 10, 2018. Prior to BRAS’ announcement, the slain leader of the BLA’s Majeed Brigade (suicide squad) Aslam Baluch (a.k.a. Achu) announced the formation of an alliance between the BLA and BLF. BRA formally joined the alliance in June 2019, under the Nazar Baluch’s leadership. [1]

As US-Taliban Peace Process Collapses, an Opportunity for Russia?

By Samuel Ramani
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On September 9, U.S. President Donald Trump declared that talks with the Taliban were “dead,” after the militant group carried out a car bombing in Kabul which killed a U.S. soldier. Trump’s remarks followed his cancellation of a meeting with the Taliban at Camp David and dashed hopes for a U.S.-Taliban agreement to end the war in Afghanistan. 

Like much of the rest of the international community, Russia expressed disappointment with the breakdown of U.S.-Taliban peace negotiations. Russia’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said that Trump’s cancellation of U.S. talks with the Taliban was a “negative signal,” but claimed that statements from Taliban representatives and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised hopes for future dialogue. On September 14, a Taliban delegation traveled to Moscow to discuss a revival of peace negotiations with the United States, and Taliban spokesman Mohammed Suhail Shaheen vowed to continue negotiating with Washington, provided that the United States “shows commitment to what they have agreed.”

Russia’s decision to host Taliban representatives just days after the collapse of U.S.-led peace negotiations suggests that it is serious about assuming a more prominent role in the conflict resolution process. Russia also views the breakdown of U.S.-Taliban peace negotiations as an excellent opportunity to strengthen its cooperation with two other major stakeholders in Afghanistan: China and Pakistan. 

Russia’s Expanded Arbitration Ambitions in Afghanistan

Chinese Covert Social Media Propaganda and Disinformation Related to Hong Kong

By: John Dotson
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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).

On the same day, Facebook announced that—acting on information provided by Twitter—it had taken down fifteen accounts, pages, or groups “involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior as part of a small network that originated in China and focused on Hong Kong.” The company further asserted that the organizers “behind this campaign engaged in a number of deceptive tactics… to manage Pages posing as news organizations, post in Groups, disseminate their content, and also drive people to off-platform news sites… Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government” (Facebook Newsroom, August 19).

Everything Old is New Again: Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean Use of Proxies Against the United States

Christopher J. Heatherly and Ian A. Melendez

What role do unofficial transnational and criminal organizations play in the global adversarial competition among nations occurring today? How specifically do Russia, China, Iran, North Korea or other specifically named adversary employ unofficial transnational or criminal organizations in its strategic efforts to undermine the United States or its allies?


"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

On February 27th, 2014, a group of unidentified men entered the Ukrainian city of Simferopol on the Crimean Peninsula, seized several government buildings and raised the Russian flag.[1] Simultaneously, additional armed groups, including police officers, local citizens and the Russia based Night Wolves Motorcycle Club setup checkpoints on the roads to Sevastopol.[2] Shortly afterwards, Russian military units crossed into the Ukraine to illegally annex the entire Crimean Peninsula and the Donbass. The soldiers wore Russian uniforms, albeit devoid of insignia or rank, and were armed with Russian military equipment. Russian government entities and aligned media outlets immediately began a disinformation campaign denying involvement in the operation.[3] Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the disinformation efforts claiming the soldiers were Ukrainian locals wearing surplus Russian uniforms.[4] As the Crimean crisis deepened, Ukraine’s ability to coordinate a response suffered from cyber attacks against its cell phone networks, news websites and social media platforms. These attacks were allegedly carried out by Russian criminal hackers acting under Moscow’s orders.[5] Moscow might have successfully conducted the operation independently but the use of the Russian ethnic diaspora as well as cyber, criminal, paramilitary, information and diplomatic proxies provided two critical advantages before, during and after the invasion. Their inclusion allowed Russia to rapidly seize and retain its strategic objectives in the Crimea while also affording deniability on the local, regional and world stages.

Competing with China for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific

Gen. Robert B. Brown, U.S. Army
Lt. Col. R. Blake Lackey, U.S. Army

Maj. Brian G. Forester, U.S. Army

Chinese troops on parade 13 September 2018 during the Vostok 2018 military exercise on Tsugol training ground in Eastern Siberia, Russia. The exercise involved Russian, Chinese, and Mongolian service members. Chinese participation included three thousand troops, nine hundred tanks and military vehicles, and thirty aircraft. (Photo by Sergei Grits, Associated Press)
As China continues its economic and military ascendance, asserting power through an all-of-nation long-term strategy, it will continue to pursue a military modernization program that seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future.

—Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy

Modernizing the Military: China’s Path to Hegemony?

By Alexia Frangopoulos
In the tunnels of the “Underground Great Wall” are stacked hundreds of nuclear ICBMs, hidden from the eyes of the world. This 5,000 kilometer passageway is just one part of China’s plan to modernize and increase the size, power, and efficiency of its already gargantuan military. 

In 2019, the People’s Liberation Army’s annual defense budget was 1.19 trillion yuan ($177.5 billion), up 7.5 percent from last year’s defense budget. China is allocating increasing amounts of money to programs and initiatives that increase the quantity and quality of their military weapons. The Defense Department claims that one of its most recent developments — the New Type 055 guided missile destroyer — is akin to the United States’ marine destroyers. 

Additionally, the PLA is growing its stockpile of nuclear weapons. Dean Cheng, an expert in the Chinese military at the Heritage Foundation, commented in an interview with the HPR that “China’s ICBM force currently is very limited, maybe 50. But there are reports … that suggest that China is engaged with a longer term nuclear modernization program that will also expand the number of nuclear weapons it fields.” 

The Coming Crisis of China’s One-Party Regime

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CLAREMONT – On October 1, to mark the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic, Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver a speech that unreservedly celebrates the Communist Party of China’s record since 1949. But, despite Xi’s apparent confidence and optimism, the CPC’s rank and file are increasingly concerned about the regime’s future prospects – with good reason.

For two generations after World War II, the marriage between market capitalism and representative democracy delivered widely shared prosperity for the Western world. But, viewed in a broader historical context, the Golden Age may have been the exception rather than the rule.

In 2012, when Xi took the reins of the CPC, he promised that the Party would strive to deliver great successes in advance of two upcoming centennials, marking the founding of the CPC in 1921 and the People’s Republic. But a persistent economic slowdown and rising tensions with the United States will likely sour the CPC’s mood during the 2021 celebrations. And the one-party regime may not even survive until 2049.

China Is Waging a Silent Media War for Global Influence

by Daniel Wagner
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Beijing is expanding its ability to influence societies around the world through its exercise of soft power. This is best exemplified by its Belt and Road Initiative, but there is another, more stealthy effort occurring along-side it that has potentially profound implications for Chinese foreign policy—Beijing’s growing influence in the Western press. China’s state-run media companies are expanding their integration with Western news outlets and having some surprisingly significant impacts.

The Chinese Communist Party has rapidly expanded its efforts to influence discussions about China beyond its borders to attempt to suppress criticism and make international media to refer to China in a positive light. In 2018, Xinhua, China’s largest state-run news agency, announced that it was expanding cooperation with the U.S. news service the Associated Press (AP). Xinhua declared that the two news agencies had established broad cooperation in such areas as new media, economic information, and the application of artificial intelligence.

How dominant are Chinese companies globally?

The world economy is shaped not just by states, but also by an assortment of influential companies. These firms are critical elements of national economic power that generate revenue, drive trade, and support research and development. In conjunction with China’s emergence as an economic superpower, several Chinese companies have climbed the ranks to be among the largest in the world. With the revenue of China’s largest businesses now measured in the trillions, assessing their presence in the global marketplace provides insight into China’s expanding economic clout.

Comparing Chinese companies

One way of measuring the growth of Chinese companies is through the Fortune Global 500, an annual ranking of the world’s top 500 companies by revenue. In 2008, only 29 Chinese companies made it onto the list. These companies had a combined revenue of $1.1 trillion, which accounted for just five percent of the revenue generated by the world’s 500 largest companies. By comparison, 119 Chinese companies with a combined revenue of $7.9 trillion appeared on the list in 2019 – representing nearly a quarter of the $32.7 trillion in revenue generated by all 500 companies.

Sustainability with Chinese Characteristics

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To its credit, China is focusing on sustainable development at a point when its per capita output is barely more than one-third the level in the so-called advanced economies. A relatively poor country has made a conscious choice to shift its focus from the quantity of economic growth to its quality.

NEW HAVEN – In the here and now of climate change, it is easy to lose sight of important signs of progress. China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is a case in point. By changing its economic model, shifting its sources of fuel, developing new transportation systems, and embracing eco-friendly urbanization, China’s sustainability strategy is an example of global leadership that the rest of the world should consider very carefully. In the rush to demonize China over trade, the West has missed this point altogether.

For two generations after World War II, the marriage between market capitalism and representative democracy delivered widely shared prosperity for the Western world. But, viewed in a broader historical context, the Golden Age may have been the exception rather than the rule.

Expanding Cyber Demands Embolden China’s Homegrown Cybersecurity Darlings

By Mohammed Shihab

In tandem with the rapid growth of internet accessibility over the last decade, the expanding footprint of cyber warfare has meant no absence of new threats and vulnerabilities. From the individual level all the way to corporations and the bureaucracies responsible for managing sovereign states, no party is immune from the perils of our increasingly connected internet landscape. 

Echoing the vast yet still growing population of Chinese internet users, the country has seen no shortage of companies respond to the rallying call for better cyber security. Among its most important initiatives, the country’s leadership has outlined the cyber defense arena as one of specific importance.

Labeling the directives as defensively oriented, China is building a welcoming ecosystem for its homegrown darlings as it seeks to expand its cybersecurity capacities. As the country’s ambitious Made in China 2025 takes off and the government invests heavily into smart manufacturing and smart cities, tech and cybersecurity are equally vital sides of the same transformative coin.

Saudi Arabia won’t attack Iran. But it may pay someone else to

Nesrine Malik

There is a longstanding joke told in the Middle East about Saudi Arabia’s reluctance to fight its own wars. “Saudi Arabia will fight until the last Pakistani,” the punchline goes, in reference to the fact that Pakistani troops have long supported Saudi’s military endeavours.

The punchline has expanded lately to include the Sudanese, a recent addition to the Saudi army’s ground troops. Saudi Arabia is accustomed to buying labour that it deems too menial for its citizens, and it extends that philosophy to its army.

There is always a poorer country ready to send cannon fodder for the right price. The military assault in Yemen is sometimes referred to as “the Arab coalition”, a respectable term for a Saudi-led group of combatants that, in addition to allies in the Gulf, includes forces from Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, as well as Sudanese child soldiers, whose deaths are handsomely compensated for with cash paid to their families back home. When asked what fighting in Yemen under the command of the Saudis had been like, some returning Sudanese troops said that Saudi military leaders, feeling themselves too precious to advance too close to the frontline, had given clumsy instructions by satellite phones to their hired troops, nudging them in the general direction of hostilities. Where things were too treacherous, Saudi and coalition airforces simply dropped bombs from high-flying planes, inflating civilian casualties. This is how Saudi fights: as remotely as possible, and paying others to die.

The Most Dangerous Moment of the Trump Presidency

Richard Fontaine

For all of the uncertainty of the Trump administration’s nearly three years in power, genuine international crises have been rare. That’s changing right now. The attack a week ago on Saudi Arabia’s massive Abqaiq oil field took offline half of the country’s oil production—some 5 percent of global output. The drone and missile salvo has the hallmarks of Tehran, and with top administration officials pointing to Iranian culpability, the world is watching to see if and how the United States responds. It’s the most dangerous moment of Donald Trump’s presidency thus far.

Not so long ago, a devastating attack on Saudi oil supplies would almost certainly have elicited an American military response. Ensuring the continued flow of energy from the Middle East was widely seen as crucial, one of the vital American interests that nearly all policy makers believed worth defending. Fracking and reduced U.S. dependence on Middle East oil, the exhaustion and caution borne by two decades of American wars, a new focus on great-power competition, and the complexities of recent diplomacy with Iran have changed all this to a degree.

For Saudi Arabia, What Now?


It’s doubtful that U.S. President Donald Trump’s new sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank, along with his commitment to modestly increase U.S. troops and equipment in the Gulf region, will much deter Tehran from attacking Saudi Arabia again. After all, the Iranians’ strategy for pushing back against Washington’s “economic warfare,” as they see it, is to ramp up their violence in the region and, specifically, go after vulnerable U.S. partners. If Tehran responds to these new sanctions by bombing a Saudi palace or a government ministry in Riyadh, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. 

Should that happen, and Saudis die as a result, it would constitute a code red in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia’s options would be limited, given its weak military capacity and suspect diplomatic muscle, but it’s a mistake to say that they don’t exist. The Trump administration should better understand Saudi thinking if it wants to avoid getting dragged into another endless war in the Middle East. 

Saudi leaders thought the kingdom was safe — they were wrong

Bruce Riedel

The Saudi leadership has reacted to the attacks on the country’s critical oil infrastructure with deep concerns about its acute vulnerability. Despite spending a fortune on the military and the renewed presence of American troops in the kingdom, the crown jewels of the Saudi economy were delivered a deadly blow. The new Saudi energy minister has been challenged to get the infrastructure back on line as quickly as possible. Addressing Saudi military weaknesses is a more difficult problem.

The Zaydi Shiite Yemeni Houthi rebels immediately took credit for last Saturday’s attacks, claiming that they launched 10 drones to strike their targets. Very importantly, they said that the attacks were facilitated by Saudis in the kingdom, most likely Saudi Shiites in the oil-rich Eastern Province. The scale and sophistication of the attacks are beyond the known capabilities of the Houthis.

The Trump administration has said that they believe the attacks were launched directly from Iran and represented an unprecedented “act of war.” Both drones and cruise missiles were used. The Saudis have been more guarded, and say the weapons were Iranian-made and fired from the “north.” Saudi Shiite make up a sizable portion of the workforce in the Saudi oil business, and perhaps some provided information on the most critical nodes to attack.

More Fracking, or More War?


Here is a news lead that begins with a bang and ends with a whimper: “The strike on the heartland of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, including damage to the world’s biggest petroleum-processing facility, has driven oil prices to their highest level in” — here, Reuters should have used some ellipses of irony — “nearly four months.”

Four months!

If the United States declines to go to war against Iran on behalf of Saudi Arabia, our increasingly troublesome client state, one of the reasons for that happy development will be: because we do not need to. It is no longer the case that the world sneezes when the Saudis catch a cold. U.S. interests and Saudi interests remain aligned, broadly, but they are severable.

Team Iran

By Lee Smith

It wouldn’t seem hard for anyone remotely interested in the fate of the planet to draw at least one clear lesson from last Saturday’s Iranian strikes on Saudi Arabia: There is no way that the regime that casually took 50% of Saudi oil production offline can ever be allowed to get anywhere near possessing a nuclear bomb. Imagine what a nuclear-armed Iran might do to the oil production on which the entire planet depends for energy, transportation, and food. Does anyone really care to wager that an Iranian regime that had such devastating weapons wouldn’t actually use them? That seems like a bad bet. 

And yet that was precisely how a highly visible segment of political partisans in Washington has chosen to see things. The oil fields were still burning as former Barack Obama aides, Democratic Party officials, political operatives, and journalists rolled out an arsenal of tweets, quotes, and op-eds laying down cover for a military attack targeting the world’s oil supply. In a different time, the idea of a public campaign to cheer on an operation whose intended effect was to raise oil prices and terrorize a traditional US ally might seem like a deranged PR stunt by campus nihilists. But in DC’s toxic new zero-sum political game, an attack on Saudi Arabia is good news— not because it benefits America or Americans in any conceivable way, but because it benefits Iran. Same difference, right?

No, We Shouldn’t Let Saudi Arabia ‘Fight Its Own Wars’

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As the president considers how the United States should respond to a series of aggressive acts by Iran and its proxies in the Middle East, one fact should be clear: There are no good options.

Inaction is unacceptable. A passive posture would invite more aggression, and the pattern of escalating Iranian provocations suggests the Islamic Republic could miscalibrate its attacks in a way that would require a broad and conclusive response from the West. But even a measured military response to Iranian attacks entails risk. While neither the Western world nor Iran and its roguish allies want to see a full-scale military confrontation, the mechanisms for de-escalating such a conflict once the shooting starts are untested and unreliable. Iran would retaliate, potentially against American military and diplomatic targets, compelling the United States to respond in kind. That’s how cycles of violence spiral out of control. The choice before President Trump is an unenviable one, but this is the job he wanted.

Although the menu of options before the president consists entirely of unpalatable selections, there is one that is worse than the others. Via NBC News:

Aramco Attack Exposes Saudi Vulnerabilities

Will Hickey

CANTON, CHINA: The recent drone attacks by unknown actors of Saudi Arabia’s Aramco Abqaiq oil processing facility on September 15 highlights the company’s extraordinary significance to the world’s energy economy. The attack is expected to lop off 5 percent of the world’s oil capacity in the near term and could further derail a long delayed Saudi Aramco initial public offering that had once been expected in late 2019.

Reconciliation Must Drive Development


PARIS – In a profoundly volatile world riddled with fractures, the temptation to embrace a seemingly reassuring path of withdrawal or isolation may be strong. In fact, avoidance of potential hazards seems only natural. For lack of a better alternative, we may be instinctively inclined to look inward in order to circumvent or at least mitigate the risks of a world that feels like end times, in which children are telling us the truth.

For two generations after World War II, the marriage between market capitalism and representative democracy delivered widely shared prosperity for the Western world. But, viewed in a broader historical context, the Golden Age may have been the exception rather than the rule.

Many of us have already decided to follow that route. And yet the fires which recently ravaged the Amazon rainforest are a stark – and tragic – reminder that this line of reasoning, albeit understandable, is misleading. In fact, we should be moving in the opposite direction. We live in a world in common, which means that we are all vulnerable to threats – be they environmental, social, or political – that know no borders. Because direct or collateral effects can be felt everywhere, we should be nurturing a desire for reconciliation, not isolation.

America’s Gray-Zone Offensive Against Iran Could Turn Into War

by James Holmes
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The latest milestone on the route to war: a combined drone and missile strike on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil facility and Khurais oilfield. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed credit for the September 14-15 attack, while Saudi officials contended that it came from the north—not from Yemen, in other words. Either way, Riyadh fingered Tehran for the assault, observing that the perpetrators carried it out using Iranian weapons.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo termed the attack an act of war. President Donald Trump struck a more noncommittal note, postponing action while declaring that Riyadh must take part in any counterstroke. This will not be a one-on-one fracas pitting the United States against the Islamic Republic. Which seems fitting. Why help an ally unwilling to help itself?

Suppose the Trump administration opts to proceed. Not to sound sympathetic with an antagonist, but a little empathy seldom goes amiss. If Tehran’s conduct seems mysterious or unduly bellicose, it’s because from the Iranian standpoint a kind of limited war has been raging for some time. Or, if you prefer, you might call it an American “gray-zone” campaign that strikes at Iranian economic and warmaking capacity. Not cruise missiles but lost export revenues have impoverished the Islamic Republic’s standing in the region.

Trump Is the Odd Man Out at the U.N.

Stewart M. Patrick 

When President Donald Trump takes to the United Nations podium Tuesday morning for his third annual address to the General Assembly, his audience may wonder why he bothered to come. By now, little mystery remains about his “America First” worldview. Foreigners are familiar with his commitment to nationalism, skepticism of treaties, affinity for strongmen, passion for walls, fear of immigrants, antipathy toward refugees, attachment to protectionism and denial of climate change. In sum, he rejects the very purposes and priorities of the United Nations. Those who still believe in multilateral cooperation are likely to endure Trump’s speech much as they would the offensive ramblings of an aging uncle over a holiday dinner. It will be a performance to suffer through, for at least one more year.

Trump’s first U.N. appearance in 2017 actually exceeded expectations—an admittedly low bar. The president’s salute to sovereignty, a term he invoked 21 times, resonated with developing countries sensitive to the principle of nonintervention. They welcomed the Westphalian thrust of Trump’s speech, as well as his observation that all U.N. member states should pursue their national interests. (They were less reassured by his promise to wipe North Korea off the map if it proceeded with its nuclear ambitions). ...

I Work for N.S.A. We Cannot Afford to Lose the Digital Revolution.

By Glenn S. Gerstell

The National Security Operations Center occupies a large windowless room, bathed in blue light, on the third floor of the National Security Agency’s headquarters outside of Washington. For the past 46 years, around the clock without a single interruption, a team of senior military and intelligence officials has staffed this national security nerve center.

The center’s senior operations officer is surrounded by glowing high-definition monitors showing information about things like Pentagon computer networks, military and civilian air traffic in the Middle East and video feeds from drones in Afghanistan. The officer is authorized to notify the president any time of the day or night of a critical threat.

Just down a staircase outside the operations center is the Defense Special Missile and Aeronautics Center, which keeps track of missile and satellite launches by China, North Korea, Russia, Iran and other countries. If North Korea was ever to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile toward Los Angeles, those keeping watch might have half an hour or more between the time of detection to the time the missile would land at the target. At least in theory, that is enough time to alert the operations center two floors above and alert the military to shoot down the missile.

The Truth About The Dark Web: Intended To Protect Dissidents, It Has Also Cloaked Illegal Activity

by Aditi Kumar and Eric Rosenbach

In the late 1990s, two research organizations in the US Department of Defense drove efforts to develop an anonymized and encrypted network that would protect the sensitive communications of US spies. This secret network would not be known or accessible to ordinary internet surfers. And while the original clandestine intention was never fully realized, some of the researchers saw a different value proposition at hand - launching a nonprofit focused on anonymity for human rights and privacy activists.

Enter the Tor network, short for “The Onion Router," given the many layers of encryption that guard passing information. Tor lives on the fringe of the internet and serves as the underlying technology of the dark web - a collection of hidden sites inaccessible via a regular browser and not indexed by search engines such as Google. The Tor browser - a free download - is all you need to unlock this hidden corner of the web where privacy is paramount. Radical anonymity, however, casts a long shadow.

Is Meritocracy Making Everyone Miserable?

By Louis Menand
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In recent years, we have been focussed on two problems, social mobility and income inequality, and the place these issues appear to meet is higher education. That’s because education in the United States is supposed to be meritocratic. If the educational system is reproducing existing class and status hierarchies—if most of the benefits areThe Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), thinks that the problem is a broken system. Daniel Markovits, in “The Meritocracy Trap” (Penguin Press), thinks that the whole idea was a terrible mistake.

How Fake Agile At DoD Risks National Security

Steve Denning

As Agile is increasingly seen as the standard way to manage work in the 21st Century, we are seeing more and more “Agile in name only” or “fake Agile”. The government is no different. The Department of Defense (DoD) has even issued a guide, “Detecting Agile BS” to help identify and drive out rampant fake Agile. What is at stake is significant: at a time when cyber warfare, both offensive and defensive, has become at least as important as physical fighting, rapid development of effective software at DoD has become a key ingredient in national security.

The DoD Guide: ‘Detecting Agile BS’

The current situation is worrying. In March 2019, the Defense Innovation Board concluded that DoD’s “current approach to software development is broken.” It is

a leading source of risk to DoD: it takes too long, is too expensive, and exposes warfighters to unacceptable risk by delaying their access to tools they need to ensure mission success. Instead, software should enable a more effective joint force, strengthen our ability to work with allies, and improve the business processes of the DoD enterprise.”

The NSA General Counsel's Proposal for a Moonshot

By Susan Landau 

National Security Agency (NSA) General Counsel Glenn Gerstell presented an interesting and surprising challenge last week, writing in the New York Times that the United States must be ready to face the “profound and enduring implications of the digital revolution.” The essay was interesting in that Gerstell’s writing was almost philosophical, rather than a direct call to action (not exactly a common mode of address for general counsels of intelligence agencies), and surprising because Gerstell argued that the solutions to the conundrums he presented “are not easy but very hard.” As John Kennedy said so very long ago, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – can this game save the series?

Keith Stuart

Acouple of hours and several dozen respawns into the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare beta test and you gradually start to appreciate the changes. The latest title in the multimillion-selling shooter series is being sold as a return to the principles of its near-namesake, 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Developer Infinity Ward is promising gritty, contemporary combat on claustrophobic maps with authentic weapons and skills – and absolutely none of the laser guns or wall-running super powers that have blighted later episodes. The beta tests, held over the last two weekends, have been the first chance to experience this premise on public servers. And it has not been disappointing.

In many ways, the new title does feel very similar to the original Modern Warfare trilogy. We get familiar weapons with familiar effects, such as the super versatile M4A1 assault rifle and the strange-looking AUG with its blisteringly rapid fire rate. There is also a return for killstreaks, where players are specifically rewarded for shooting enemies rather than meeting mission objectives, recalling Modern Warfare’s ultra-aggressive roots. Map locations also have a nostalgically grungy and bomb-blasted look. Azhir Cave is a mass of snaking desert tunnels and crumbling villages, while Hackney Yard is all rusted shipping containers, abandoned offices and burned-out police cars.

DIME without the 'M' is DIE: A Case for Conventional Military Power in Modern Strategy Discourse

By Geoff Hertenstein

Earlier this year, The Strategy Bridge asked university and professional military education students to participate in our third annual student writing contest by sending us their thoughts on strategy.

Now, we are pleased to present an essay selected for honorable mention by Geoff Hertenstein from the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College.

Fear of great power parity creates panic among the strategy community that the United States is unable to respond to flashpoints of crisis across the globe, such as the Russian take over of Crimea or Chinese actions in the South China Sea.[1] Supposedly, American hesitancy rests on an inability to adequately strategize. To overcome this shortcoming, experts want the United States to be more like its opponents, adopting the teachings of Sun Tzu and winning wars before wars are fought via the use of diplomacy, intelligence collection, and economic power, thereby marginalizing the use of military force.[2] This insight means changing the calculus among these four instruments of national power, inviting disaster since one invites reconfiguring DIME without the “M” as DIE. In fact, the United States has put these elements into proper balance and sits firmly in the realm of strategic choice, where the country can choose its interventions when and where it wants to and on its own terms because it enjoys a preponderance of military force.