28 September 2019

India’s Narendra Modi Isn’t a Game-Changer

Source Link

On Sunday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke in Houston before a crowd of around 50,000 cheering attendees. If that weren’t enough of a triumph for a foreign leader visiting the United States, U.S. President Donald Trump joined him on stage in Texas.

The fact that the event was titled “Howdy, Modi,” with the spotlight pinned firmly on the prime minister rather than the country he represents—or even on Trump, who loves nothing more than an adoring crowd—is telling. It encapsulates the meteoric rise of a leader who until just five years ago had been banned under the U.S. Congress’ International Religious Freedom Act from setting foot in the United States. His strongman, globe-trotting, leader-hugging image, and his appeals to religious nationalism and populism, all stand in contrast to his rather less colorful political opponent, Rahul Gandhi of the Indian National Congress party.

It is commonplace to argue that the rise of Modi and his party, the right-wing, Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), marks the grim demise of India’s own grand old party, the Congress party; the Nehru-Gandhi family that has led it; and its vision of India as a secular and nonaligned world power. But that isn’t quite right. Even under the BJP, many aspects of Indian foreign policy today still lean on old, institutionalized ideas of India’s role in the world. Beyond that, it is incorrect to think of previous Congress governments as monolithic in their viewpoints and strategies. In turn, it is a mistake to see a dichotomy between the foreign policy vision of India under Congress and India under the BJP today. In many ways, there is much continuity.

US Exit from Afghanistan: The Pakistan Factor

By Mercy A. Kuo

Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into the U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with M. Nazif Shahrani – Afghan American Professor of Anthropology, Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, at Indiana University and Advisory Board Member of the National Center for Dialogue & Progress (NCDP), Kabul, Afghanistan – is the 204th in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”

Explain the implications of President Trump’s July meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. 

President Trump made shocking remarks at the press conference with Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan (July 22, 2019). He said: “I think Pakistan’s going to help us out to extricate ourselves. We’re like policemen, we’re not fighting a war. [If] We wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people … if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth.” 

Pakistan-Afghanistan: Volatile Border – Analysis

By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty*

An Army Major and a sepoy were killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the Mohmand District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in Pakistan, on September 20, 2019. Major Adeel Shahid and Sepoy Faraz Hussain “fell victim to an IED planted by terrorists from across the border”, the Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) tweeted. The squad was supervising fencing work in an area “which carried [a] critical infiltration route”, the ISPR added.

On September 14, 2019, three soldiers were killed and one sustained injures when militants opened fire from across the Pak-Afghan border on Pakistan Army troops who were busy in border fencing in the Dir District of KP.

On September 13, 2019, one soldier was killed when terrorists opened fired on a routine patrolling party of Security Forces near the Abba Khel area of Spinwam tehsil (revenue unit) in the North Waziristan District of KP. In the exchange of fire, two militants were also killed.

Pakistan-Afghanistan: Volatile Border – Analysis

By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty*
Source Link

An Army Major and a sepoy were killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the Mohmand District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in Pakistan, on September 20, 2019. Major Adeel Shahid and Sepoy Faraz Hussain “fell victim to an IED planted by terrorists from across the border”, the Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) tweeted. The squad was supervising fencing work in an area “which carried [a] critical infiltration route”, the ISPR added.

On September 14, 2019, three soldiers were killed and one sustained injures when militants opened fire from across the Pak-Afghan border on Pakistan Army troops who were busy in border fencing in the Dir District of KP.

On September 13, 2019, one soldier was killed when terrorists opened fired on a routine patrolling party of Security Forces near the Abba Khel area of Spinwam tehsil (revenue unit) in the North Waziristan District of KP. In the exchange of fire, two militants were also killed.

Beyond the Brink: Escalation and Conflict in U.S.-China Economic Relations

As the United States and China mark their 40th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations in 2019, the world’s most important bilateral relationship is increasingly defined by mistrust, competition, and uncertainty. After four decades of deepening economic integration, the talk in Washington today is about the extent to which the two economies will “decouple” over the years ahead. We drew on several different academic disciplines to help us model how an economic conflict between the United States and China could escalate and eventually de-escalate. Despite the challenges inherent in modelling economic conflict, our model was validated to a surprising extent by both our simulations and real-world developments. The project produced several findings that were both unexpected and relevant to policy, including that economic conflict is likely to be an enduring feature of the U.S.-China relationship for many years to come. Until perceptions of relative costs in the two countries shift, Washington and Beijing seem set on a path of continued escalation, no substantial trade deal, and at least partial decoupling of their economies. Reflecting on these findings, the report also provides recommendations for U.S. policymakers seeking to engage in successful economic bargaining with China.

How China Challenges the EU in the Western Balkans

By Austin Doehler

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced what we now know as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a $900 billion global project that would seek to connect international trade routes in a modern day version on the Silk Road. As a result of this project, China has emerged as a relatively new yet significant actor in the Western Balkans. 

The cornerstone of China’s economic expansion into southeastern Europe has been its purchase of the Greek port of Piraeus, which China has transformed into the second largest port on the Mediterranean. This makes the Western Balkans a key strategic region for investment from China’s perspective, as China has a vested interest in seeing infrastructure in the Western Balkans improve so it can transport goods shipped in from Piraeus through the Western Balkans and into the EU’s common market of over half a billion consumers. Additionally, an assumed interest of China’s is that its investments in the Western Balkans are also a way for it to gain economic footholds in countries that are supposed to eventually become EU member states, some potentially as early as 2025.

China, Japan and South Korea Cautiously Look to Renew Their Collective Ties

J. Berkshire Miller 
Source Link

The foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea met in Beijing last month, where they agreed to seek closer economic ties and push for “free and fair trade” amid a climate of rising protectionism. A leader’s summit in China could follow later this year— an opportunity, perhaps, to resolve some festering troubles in a region mired in mistrust.

This diplomatic progress in collective ties comes at an inauspicious time. Attempts by Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul to work together have been undermined constantly over the past decade due to various rivalries in Northeast Asia. An inaugural trilateral leaders’ summit was held in 2008 in Beijing and was followed by consecutive meetings over the next four years, with the host nation rotating each year. Yet since 2012, the three leaders have only met twice—in 2015 and 2018—and meaningful progress on trade and other areas of cooperation have been scant. ...

China In The Middle East: Reshaping Regional Politics – Analysis

By Ilan Berman*
Source Link

China has well and truly arrived in the Middle East. After years of relative passivity, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is now making a concerted effort to expand its strategic presence and economic clout in the region.

For Middle East nations, Beijing’s newfound drive for regional prominence is one of the most consequential—albeit least reported—trends of recent years. It holds the power to reshape regional markets as local governments increasingly reorient their economies to take advantage of Chinese outreach and largesse. But the proliferation of Chinese political and economic influence also increasingly threatens to upend longstanding regional security arrangements and fragment solidarity in the Islamic world. The spread of China’s model of technologically-empowered censorship, meanwhile, carries with it the potential to reinforce some of the worst political impulses of the region’s autocrats.
Expanding Outreach

The real threat from China isn't "spy trains"

by Bruce Schneier

Part of the reasoning behind this legislation is economic, and stems from worries about Chinese industries undercutting the competition and dominating key global industries. But another part involves fears about national security. News articles talk about "spy trains," and the possibility that the train cars might surreptitiously monitor their passengers' faces, movements, conversations or phone calls.

This is a complicated topic. There is definitely a national security risk in buying computer infrastructure from a country you don't trust. That's why there is so much worry about Chinese-made equipment for the new 5G wireless networks.
Untold stories of American spies

Get unprecedented access to the world of espionage with CNN Original Series "Declassified," airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT starting September 29.

It's also why the United States has blocked the cybersecurity company Kaspersky from selling its Russian-made antivirus products to US government agencies. Meanwhile, the chairman of China's technology giant Huawei has pointed to NSA spying disclosed by Edward Snowden as a reason to mistrust US technology companies.

Myanmar: Renewed Fighting By Northern Alliance, Is China Part Of Problem? – Analysis

By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
Source Link

Despite declaration of “unilateral” cease fire by both sides, there has been intensive fighting between the three groups of the Northern Alliance- the TNLA, MNDAA and the AA- the Arakan Army with the Myanmar Army- Tatmadaw.

The offensive by the three groups on August 15th disrupting communication and trade on the Chinese border near Musse for many days is said to have surprised the Army and the Myanmar Government. It is doubtful whether the Chinese could also have been surprised.

The pre-planned simultaneous attack at many places in the northern Shan State and even in places close to Mandalay region could not have been done without proper planning and preparations for many days. The movement of insurgents spreading out over a wide area and transport of military supplies over many days could not have happened without knowledge if not acquiescence from the Chinese authorities in Yunnan.

Despite three rounds of meetings on China’s intervention, the most recent one being on the 18th, no agreement could be reached. All that was agreed was that they would meet again for further discussions!

Trump’s Iran-Saudi Arabia Dilemma

By Philip H. Gordon

The president is in the difficult position of either backing down in the face of Iranian threats and suspected attacks or escalating the conflict in ways he clearly wants to avoid.

U.S. officials say they are building a coalition to counter Iranian aggression in the Gulf following last week’s attack on Saudi oil facilities. Does this mean talk of war is de-escalating?

It seems clear that President Trump is keen to avoid the slippery slope toward conflict that might result from a robust military response against Iran, the presumed author of the attacks. The administration knows that failing to respond to such a brazen attack would only embolden Tehran, but Trump also knows that attacking Iran militarily could lead to a wider conflict, a global energy crisis, rising U.S. gas prices, an election-year recession, and anger among his political base—which was counting on him to avoid more wars in the Middle East. That explains why Trump, despite all his tough talk, seems to be hedging, by expressing lack of certainty over who is responsible for the attacks, stressing U.S. energy “independence,” suggesting that it’s up to Saudi Arabia to decide how to respond, and announcing “new sanctions” on Iran even though he had been claiming the United States had already reached “maximum pressure.” He seems determined to avoid a military conflict, if he can.

The Drone Strikes on the Saudi Oil Facilities Have Changed Global Warfare

Source Link

The devastating attack on Saudi oil facilities by drones and missiles not only transforms the balance of military power in the Middle East, but marks a change in the nature of warfare globally.

On the morning of 14 September, 18 drones and seven cruise missiles – all cheap and unsophisticated compared to modern military aircraft – disabled half of Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production and raised the world price of oil by 20 per cent.

This happened despite the Saudis spending $67.6bn (£54bn) on their defence budget last year, much of it on vastly expensive aircraft and air defence systems, which notably failed to stop the attack. The US defence budget stands at $750bn (£600.2bn), and its intelligence budget at $85bn (£68bn), but the US forces in the Gulf did not know what was happening until it was all over.

The Growing Threat to Journalism Around the World

By A. G. Sulzberger

Our mission at The New York Times is to seek the truth and help people understand the world. That takes many forms, from investigations on sexual abuse that helped spark the global #MeToo movement; to expert reporting that reveals how technology is reshaping every facet of modern life; to important and hard-hitting cultural commentary, like when we proclaimed “the Aperol spritz is not a good drink.”

But at a moment when surging nationalism is leading people to retreat inward, one of the most important jobs of The Times is to shine a light outward.

The Times is privileged to be one of the few news organizations with the resources to cover the world in all its complexity. And with that comes a responsibility to go where the story is, no matter the danger or hardship.

Every year, we put reporters on the ground in more than 160 countries. We’re in Iraq and Afghanistan, covering the violence and instability wrought by decades of war. We’re in Venezuela and Yemen, reporting on how corruption and conflict have led to mass starvation. We’re in Myanmar and China, eluding government monitors to investigate the systematic persecution of the Rohingya and Uighurs.

The Most Dangerous Moment of the Trump Presidency


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.

Resetting the U.S. Relationship with Saudi Arabia

The U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia has rested for decades on an unwritten agreement that benefited both sides: The United States provides security and access to global markets, while the Saudis ensure that the oil keeps flowing. But the rise of the United States as a leading energy producer and the increasing recklessness of Saudi Arabia under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are forcing a rethinking of that contract.

In the first episode of our new podcast, And Now the Hard Part, we tackle the question: How can Washington reset its relationship with Riyadh?

And Now the Hard Part is a partnership between Foreign Policy and the Brookings Institution. Each week, we look at one vexing problem in the world, trace its origin, and then offer a way forward. Our host is Foreign Policy’s editor in chief, Jonathan Tepperman, and the guests are some of the smartest analysts around—all scholars at the Brookings Institution.

Saudi Arabia Oil Attack A Geopolitical Game-Changer In The Middle East – Analysis

By Muhsin Puthan Purayil
Source Link

While the attacks on Saudi Arabian facilities have exposed the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities and a precarious global economy that such attacks can trigger in the event of any suffering in the oil industry; geopolitically, there is good reason to believe they could be a game-changer in the geopolitics of the Middle East. Indeed, the attacks have ushered in a geopolitical security environment in which national security threats are both immediate and palpable, not only for Saudi Arabia and its allies, but profoundly so for Israel as well. In fact, the attack on Saudi oil brought the Iranian threat to the doorstep of a large-scale war, warranting immediacy and expediency in containing Iran before it becomes too late.

Even as Iran denied any involvement in the act, there appears to be a broad agreement on Iran’s role. In a classic security dilemma situation, the long-harbored fear of Iranian aggression coupled with the clouds of doubt over Iran’s possible hand in the act could potentially prompt strategic alliance between Saudi and Israel. Clearly, the attack showcased fading US supremacy in the region. For the Saudis, an attack of this scale of escalation exposed the fallacy of the US standing alone as the major or perhaps only power in the region which can protect Saudi Arabia from Iranian threats. Further, it reinforced the need for a powerful regional ally for Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia: Oil Production Back To 75 Percent Of Pre-Attack Level

Saudi Arabia has restored more than 75 percent of the production lost after attacks on two oil processing plants and will return to full capacity next week.

The Khurais facility is now producing more than 1.3 million barrels per day and the Abqaiq plant about 3 million, industry sources said. 

Both Aramco plants were hit in drone and missile attacks on Sept. 14 that caused fires and significant damage, halving the country’s oil output. The Kingdom’s ability to quickly restore production demonstrated an important degree of resilience to potentially damaging shocks, the ratings agency Moody’s said.

King Salman said on Monday that Saudi Arabia was able to deal with the effects of what he described as “this cowardly sabotage, that targeted the Kingdom and the stability of global energy supplies.”

He spoke after talks in Jeddah with King Hamad of Bahrain, who denounced the “serious escalation targeting the security and stability of the region.”

Shock in Iran & Lebanon as Israel declassifies intel as a preparation for a multi-front war

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) exposes new intelligence on Hezbollah's precision missile program as a preparation for a multi-front war.

IDF said Hezbollah is housing dozens of precision missiles in Lebanon, including in densely populated areas, following six years of efforts, working with Iran's Qud's Force, an elite unit of the Revolutionary Guard.

Iran has armed Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria with hundreds of thousands of long-range missiles. According to intelligence sources in Israel, Hezbollah is planning to launch a long-range war against Israel and fire 3,000 Heavy-Warheads Missiles towards civilian targets in Israel during each fighting day.Under international law, every rocket fired from Gaza and Lebanon into Israel is a double war crime — one for targeting Israeli civilians, another for doing so inside or next to civilian homes, mosques, hospitals and schools, which uses civilians as human shields.

Patriot Games: President Trump Again Puts the “Nation” in United Nations

by Stewart M. Patrick

In his third annual speech to the UN General Assembly, President Donald J. Trump reinforced the central theme of his first two appearances: The road to international peace and prosperity requires collaboration among fiercely independent, sovereign nations that are vigilant in pursuing their national interests and determined to combat the siren songs of “globalism” and “socialism.” The president trumpeted the spirit of “national renewal” he had launched at home, and he encouraged peoples of all nations to embrace their own forms patriotism, by cherishing their unique histories, cultures, and destinies. At the same time, he offered zero guidance about how multilateral cooperation could actually emerge from these competing nationalisms. Nor did he explain why any other UN member states would want to follow the U.S. lead on Iran, given his own administration’s repeated defection from major international initiatives over the past three years.

In contrast to his earlier, bombastic appearances before the United Nations, Trump’s tone was solemn, even-keeled, even reassuring. He invoked the storied history of past UN speeches by world leaders. Once again, he declared, the globe faced clear choices. Today’s essential divide pitted countries ruled by tyrants and self-serving elites, on the one side, and nations that remained faithful to liberty, independence, and self-government, on the other. The American experience had vindicated the latter path. Democratic, free societies can only survive if patriotism prevails, he insisted. The future does not belong to globalists but to patriots who love their country, are committed to national ideals, and reject the machinations of bureaucrats at home and abroad. In sum, “the free world must embrace its national foundations.”

The Global Retreat of Free Trade


BUENOS AIRES – In the 1980s, US President Ronald Reagan’s administration forced Japan to accept “voluntary” restraints on its exports, particularly of automobiles, in order to reduce America’s trade deficit and protect its companies from Japanese competition. By 1994, the deficit hadn’t shrunk, but US car manufacturers had become more competitive, so the restrictions were discontinued. The next year, the World Trade Organization was established, and such unfair “voluntary” restraints were outlawed.

The US Constitution will not save American democracy from the depredations of President Donald Trump. Only American society, which has always been more democratic than the country's founders, can do that.6Add to Bookmarks

Since then, Japan – for which trade represents about 35% of GDP – has been a staunch defender of multilateral trade rules. But that may be changing in response to US President Donald Trump’s escalating attacks on the rules-based trading system.

Japan recently agreed to negotiate a preferential trade agreement with the United States that could challenge one of the pillars of the multilateral trading system: the “most favored nation” (MFN) obligation, which states that any concessions or privileges granted to one country in a trade deal must be extended to all WTO members. Here, Japan is again acting “voluntarily,” under strong pressure from the US.

Russian Secret Weapon Against U.S. 2020 Election Revealed In New Cyberwarfare Report

Zak Doffman

The FBI has warned that “the threat” to U.S. election security “from nation-state actors remains a persistent concern,” that it is “working aggressively” to uncover and stop, and the U.S. Director of National Intelligence has appointed an election threats executive, explaining that election security is now “a top priority for the intelligence community—which must bring the strongest level of support to this critical issue.”

With this in mind, a new report from cybersecurity powerhouse Check Point makes for sobering reading. “It is unequivocally clear to us,” the firm warns, “that the Russians invested a significant amount of money and effort in the first half of this year to build large-scale espionage capabilities. Given the timing, the unique operational security design, and sheer volume of resource investment seen, Check Point believes we may see such an attack carried out near the 2020 U.S. Elections.”

Trump Weighs Cyberattack on Iran

Source Link

What’s on tap: The Trump administration weighs sending a message to Iran through another cyberstrike, the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting kicks off in New York, researchers at Google may have achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing, and Edward Snowden speaks.

Second Cyberattack on the Table

Facing questions about whether the deployment of additional U.S. forces to Saudi Arabia to beef up the Kingdom’s defenses is enough of a show of force to deter Iranian aggression, President Donald Trump is reportedly weighing a second cyberstrike to punish Tehran for the attacks on Saudi’s oil infrastructure last weekend.

Economic and military targets. Cyberattacks and other covert measures can be extremely effective, Lara Seligman and Elias Groll write—the most famous, an attack by President Obama’s administration using the “Stuxnet” virus, crippled Iranian nuclear-enrichment centrifuges. They are also flexible: They can be used to take down Iran’s oil fields and refineries, or military installations.

Now It’s Really ‘Do or Die’ for Boris Johnson

Source Link

LONDON—The ruling by Britain’s highest court Tuesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent suspension of Parliament was unlawful has thrown the future of his premiership into doubt—and renders all but unachievable his promise to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union by Halloween. 

In a harshly worded unanimous verdict, all 11 justices concluded that the government’s decision to suspend Parliament earlier this month “was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions.” Moreover, the court found that the government had “no justification” in suspending Parliament for a five-week period—and ruled that since the order to suspend Parliament was unlawful, the House of Commons had not, in fact, been suspended after all. 

Britain and the United States

By George Friedman - September 24, 2019

The United States and Britain have agreed to sign a trade agreement by next July, The Sun newspaper reported on Monday. The accuracy of the story is not yet clear, but for Britain, leaving the European Union and building a closer trade relationship with the United States, and therefore with North America, follows geopolitical logic.

Britain’s historical stance toward Europe was to try to maintain a balance of power on the Continent so that no force there would be able to threaten British sovereignty. One force driving British imperialism was the need to develop markets and sources outside Europe so as not to become excessively dependent on Europe. The Royal Navy was designed both to protect Britain from continental powers and, in time of war, to blockade hostile European powers without being excessively drawn into combat on the Continent. The British hesitated for a long time before agreeing to join the European Community and the powers on the Continent (particularly the French) hesitated for a long time before admitting them. The British were instrumental in creating the “Outer Seven” bloc of nations on the Continent’s periphery as an alternative to what would eventually become the European Union.

For Britain, the consolidation of the Continent into a single bloc was a perpetual nightmare. Britain was militarily weak compared to the Continent as a whole and saw Napoleon, for example, as an existential threat. Had he been able to impose a stable system, dominated by Paris, on the Continent, the economic and military force he could have mustered would have overwhelmed Britain’s naval defenses in the not-too-long run and compelled Britain to accommodate itself to French hegemony. In this hegemony, it would have found itself at a perpetual disadvantage (as would other nations) as France tilted the economic system in its favor. It therefore joined the anti-Napoleonic alliance and, after Waterloo, cautiously withdrew from the Continent and focused on its empire.

Trump’s Trade Wars: A New World Order? – Analysis

By James M. Dorsey
Source Link

President Trump’s declared economic protectionism has taken the United States’ international relations with several foes and allies to some uncharted territories. His open-ended trade wars toward several nations have triggered criticism among conservatives and liberals alike in the United States. He has justified his actions by arguing for a downturn of America’s trade deficit. However, a recent Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey shows 63 percent of registered voters said that tariffs imposed on Chinese products ultimately hurt the U.S. more than China; while 74 percent said that American consumers are shouldering most of the burden of those tariffs. (1) The political network funded in part by billionaire libertarian Charles Koch has contested Mr. Trump’s approach toward China, and decided to shape an alternative strategy in the year of the U.S. Presidential elections. One Koch senior official has acknowledged, “It doesn’t penetrate with the people that are willing to go along with the argument that you have to punish China.” There is now a pursuit of a “two steps back strategy,” which will involve putting together a team of almost 100 business leaders to call on the Trump administration and lawmakers to end the trade war with China. (2)

Russian Views of the Saudi Oil Facility Attacks (Part One)

By: Sergey Sukhankin

On September 14, Yemen’s Houthi militants claimed responsibility for an attack on crucial Saudi Arabian oil facilities in Buqayq and Khurais, which was carried out using a number of suicide drones (allegedly 18) and 7 cruise missiles. The exact area(s) from which the strikes were delivered still remains unknown (Interfax, September 18). And some strong evidence actually points more directly to Iran. Russian sources noted that the United States has already ascertained that the attack was launched from southern Iran, somewhere along the northern Gulf coast (Interfax, September 17). The incident forced a sharp spike in global oil prices. Additionally, it reignited discussions pertaining to the changing nature of war, the safety (or the lack thereof) of strategic objects/critical infrastructure, and the ways in which these types of sites could be better protected.

The government in Moscow construed the attack on the Saudi oil infrastructure as a new opportunity to increase its geopolitical weight in the Middle East through offers to sell Russian weaponry/munitions (see EDM, September 19). Namely, JSC Rosoboronexport stressed that, during the upcoming Dubai Airshow 2019 (November 17–21), the Russian side would “convert anti-UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] means and weaponry into a standalone dimension for further negotiations” (Interfax, September 17).

How Long Will Unbreakable Commercial Encryption Last?

By Stewart Baker 

Most people who follow the debate over unbreakable, end-to-end encryption think that it’s more or less over. Silicon Valley has been committed to offering such encryption since at least the Snowden revelations; the FBI has abandoned its legal campaign against Apple’s device encryption; and prominent national security figures, especially those tied to the National Security Agency,, have sided with industry and against the Justice Department. Attorney General William Barr is still giving speeches claiming that law enforcement is “going dark”—but in this partisan age many Americans will not take his views at face value. And Congress is unwilling to go to bat for an FBI that is increasingly viewed with skepticism on the right as well as the left.

In fact, this complacent view is almost certainly wrong. Enthusiasm for controlling encryption is growing among governments all around the world and by no means only in authoritarian regimes. Even Western democracies are giving their security agencies authorities that nibble away at the inviolability of commercial encryption. Equally importantly, unbreakable user security will increasingly conflict with the commercial and political interests of the big Silicon Valley companies that currently offer encryption as a mass market feature—especially as technology companies take a more aggressive role in content moderation.

Google’s ‘Quantum Supremacy’ Isn’t the End of Encryption

Google accidentally made computer science history last week. In recent years the company has been part of an intensifying competition with rivals such as IBM and Intel to develop quantum computers, which promise immense power on some problems by tapping into quantum physics. The search company has attempted to stand out by claiming its prototype quantum processors were close to demonstrating “quantum supremacy,” an evocative phrase referring to an experiment in which a quantum computer outperforms a classical one. One of Google’s lead researchers predicted the company would reach that milestone in 2017.

Friday, news slipped out that Google had reached the milestone. The Financial Times drew notice to a draft research paper that had been quietly posted to a NASA website in which Google researchers describe achieving quantum supremacy. Within hours, Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang was warning that Google’s quantum computers could break encryption, and quantum computing researchers were trying to assure the world that conventional computers and security are not obsolete.

Cyber Command’s first major weapons system needs the cloud

By: Mark Pomerleau
The Air Force plans to spend as much as $95 million on cloud services from several companies to work on one of Cyber Command’s first major weapon systems.

Unified Platform will allow cyber teams to share information, conduct mission planning and provide the command and control tools they need to conduct missions. It will consolidate the big data platforms used by Cyber Command and its subordinate organizations, such as the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Cyber Command needs a mix of standardization capabilities to tools to access targets to cause effects to data integration capabilities to cyber deterrence tools.

U.S. Military Forces in FY 2020: The Struggle to Align Forces with Strategy

Annually, CSIS Senior Adviser Mark Cancian publishes a series of papers on U.S. military forces--their composition, new initiatives, long term trends, and challenges. The overall theme of this year's report is the struggle to align forces and strategy because of budget tradeoffs that even defense buildups must make, unrelenting operational demands that stress forces and prevent reductions, and legacy programs whose smooth operations and strong constituencies inhibit rapid change. Subsequent papers will take a deeper look at the strategic and budget context, the military services, special operations forces, DOD civilians and contractors, and non-DOD national security organizations in the FY 2020 budget.
Strategic and Budget Context

The Trump administration’s 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) drives its FY 2020 budget proposal, which aims to fix readiness and increase modernization to prepare for long-term competition with China and Russia. Force structure expands very little. Thus, the Trump administration, like the Obama administration before it, has chosen capability over capacity, but unrelenting operational demands are pushing the services towards a high-low mix in order to cover both.