2 October 2019

What Pakistan Can Learn from India

Stanley Weiss

WASHINGTON — When a 12-year-old Indian prodigy defeated an 18-year-old Italian champion in chess this past June, he didn’t just win the game. He also became the second-youngest grandmaster — the highest rank possible — in chess history.

It was the latest development in what has become a “chess renaissance” for India over the last 15 years, as the country has rocketed to the game’s top ranks after decades of mediocrity. This transformation has paralleled a more symbolic one, as India — the world’s largest democracy — has risen steadily since the end of the Cold War into the ranks of geopolitical grandmasters, skillfully using its size, strength, and strategic location to expand its global presence. It’s a fitting rise for the civilization where chess first originated.

But as India has embraced the global chessboard, its neighbor and adversary Pakistan has instead trapped itself into a handful of squares in the corner. Where India is choosing moves that open up powerful possibilities, Pakistan — which announced this week it was seeking a bailout from the International Monetary Fund for its economy while simultaneously announcing a deal to buy 48 military drones from China — has let its obsession with India limit its diplomatic partners and constrain its options.

Modi govt world’s 3rd most trusted after Switzerland, Indonesia: World Economic Forum

by Sagar Abhinandan

PM Narendra Modi has garnered enough praise from global leaders for his works. Now, recently, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Jagat Prakash Nadda lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governance, after the country ranked third in World Economic Forum’s list of most trusted governments.

Jagat Prakash Nadda took to Twitter to post the list, and then came up with another tweet saying that the list indeed serves as the testament to India’s development.Credits: DNA India

He emphasized that India is heading in the right direction in terms of development under astute leadership traits of PM Narendra Modi.

“India securing third best place in the list of most trusted governments worldwide is evidence that the country is treading in the right direction of development under our Hon’ble PM @narendramodi Ji’s leadership,” Nadda tweeted.

The report also reveals that almost three quarters (i.e. 74%) of Indians say they have confidence in their national government.

China, India, Pakistan: who’s really pulling the strings in Jammu and Kashmir?

Brahma Chellaney

The media spotlight on India-Pakistan tensions over the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has helped obscure the role of a key third party, China, which occupies one-fifth of this Himalayan region. Kashmir is only a small slice of J&K, whose control is split among China, India and Pakistan. Sino-Indian border tensions were exemplified by a reported September 11-12 clash between troops from the two countries in the eastern section of J&K, where Beijing’s territorial revisionism has persisted for more than six decades.

Meanwhile, ever since India revoked the statehood and autonomy of its part of J&K in August, Pakistan has stepped up its bellicose rhetoric, with military-backed Prime Minister Imran Khan vowing to “teach India a lesson” and promising a “fight until the end”. Khan has even raised the threat of nuclear war with India.

Why Imran Khan Acknowledged Pakistan’s Role in Training Jihadists

By Umair Jamal

On Monday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan landed himself in fresh controversy when he talked about Pakistan’s role in training jihadists during the late 1980s and sustaining contacts with them. Khan made the following remarks while speaking at a think tank in New York: “There were always links between them [security agencies and jihadist groups] — there had to be links, because they [security agencies] trained them.”

While Khan may have invited criticism over his remarks, the comments are likely to end up helping Pakistan’s case at different forums internationally.

It’s important to note that the question of the militant groups’ alleged support base in Pakistan at the state level is considered a sensitive issue, and one that every elected Pakistani government prefers to ignore. However, the recent comments are not the only occasion when Khan talked about extremist group links with the Pakistani state in the context of the Afghan jihad. In July, Khan lamented the huge human and financial cost of allying with the United States to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan. Khan noted then that due the operations Pakistan undertook as part of its alliance with Washington, including training jihadists, had cost the country greatly.

Will This Be Another Afghan Election Marred by Fraud?

By Ezzatullah Mehrdad

The 2009 Afghan presidential election seemed more like a public celebration, rather than a political process. For months, people cheered at election rallies and excitement filled the hearts of people. That year, I could not vote. It was not because I was just too young, but because when I tried to register, the voter registration officers were absent; the second time I attempted to register the center ran out of materials.

I was so jealous of the people who passed through colored lines around my school, a polling station, and cast their votes. Their votes, marred by widespread accusations of electoral fraud, led to a second round between Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abduallah, the latter refused to participate in the run-off. Hamid Karzai was declared president of Afghanistan. 

A decade after taking power in an election marred by fraud, former President Karzai along with other Afghan politicians — among the first politicians to help establish and run the country’s democratic system — said in a statement that the 2019 Afghan presidential election “plunges the country into deeper political and social crisis and it does not help to bring peace in the country.” 

EXCLUSIVE: Pakistan sends combat troops to southern Saudi border

David Hearst

The Pakistan army is sending a brigade of combat troops to shore up Saudi Arabia’s vulnerable southern border from reprisal attacks mounted by the Houthis in Yemen, according to senior security sources.

The brigade will be based in the south of the Kingdom, but will only be deployed inside its border, the sources told Middle East Eye. "It will not be used beyond Saudi borders," one said.

It is the latest twist in a brutal and devastating two-year war, which has killed more than 10,000 people in Yemen, injured over 40,000 and brought the impoverished nation to the verge of famine.

Both sides have been accused of war crimes and starving civilians trapped in the carnage.

JUST IN: Space Commander Warns Chinese Lasers Could Blind U.S. Satellites

By Mandy Mayfield
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China is developing new directed energy weapons that could degrade American satellites during a future crisis, the leader of the newly formed U.S. Space Command said Sept 27.

“We're pretty comfortable [in asserting] that they are developing directed energy weapons — probably building lasers to blind our satellites,” said Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, who is dual-hatted as commander of Spacecom and Air Force Space Command. “They also are developing pretty robust on-orbit capabilities that are very complex that could also have a dual-use purpose.”

“It's clear that China would plan to use those threats against us in conflict," he added.

The spectrum of threats to U.S. assets makes it critical to reorganize the military's space enterprise, Raymond noted during remarks at a breakfast in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

Smart Money on Chinese Advances in AI

Few countries have embraced the vision of an AI-powered future as fervently as China. Unlike the United States, the Chinese government is dedicating significant resources and attention to AI development and creating a supportive policy environment to facilitate innovation and experimentation and proactively manage risk. However, numerous misconceptions and competing narratives around China’s innovation economy have made it difficult for U.S. policymakers to understand the AI ecosystem in China and its links to AI innovation in the United States. This report seeks to improve this understanding by examining China’s progress toward achieving its four strategic goals. We find that while China’s progress towards AI leadership remains uneven, its commitment to building domestic innovation capacity could allow the country to become a world-leading AI power in the coming decades. China’s progress in AI can complement and accelerate U.S. AI development, and policymakers should avoid responding to China’s advances with counterproductive policies that undermine the U.S. innovative capacity to little or no gain. Instead, the United States should focus on developing a positive agenda for driving its own AI development.

This report is part of the CSIS China Innovation Policy Series (CIPS) made possible by general support from Japan External Trade Organization, Semiconductor Industry Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft, General Electric Foundation, and the Smith Richardson Foundation.

Is China or Fear of China the Greater Threat?

by Doug Bandow

However, mutual fear of the USSR fostered rapprochement between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. After Mao’s death, the PRC adopted significant economic reforms, sparking rapid growth. Personal autonomy greatly increased. Political freedom lagged, but many Americans hoped rising income and expanding private enterprise would foster political liberalization.

Instead, after the crackdown in Tiananmen Square China adopted an unstable system of loose authoritarianism. Although challenging Chinese Communist Party control would result in prison, more general discussions of political and policy topics were tolerated, at least in academia. Foreign contacts expanded significantly. A semi-independent press developed, which could challenge local government malfeasance. Protests against abusive local officials were common. The CCP’s reputation crashed as corruption burgeoned.

Now, President Xi Jinping is pushing the PRC rapidly in the opposite direction. Concerned about the party’s declining authority, he has imposed an increasingly totalitarian system—one which Mao likely would admire, especially its technological innovations. Among its fearsome features: forcing a million or more Muslim Uighurs into reeducation camps, crushing the slightest public hint of dissent, and imposing a “social credit” system designed to regulate all personal behavior.

Plugging the Gaps in Saudi Arabia’s Air Defenses

By Michael KnightsConor Hiney

The kingdom already has much of the equipment needed to intercept Iranian air attacks, but it needs Washington’s help on reacting more quickly, deterring Tehran, and establishing joint defense networks with other Gulf states.

The reasons why Saudi Arabia failed to intercept the recent attack on Abqaiq and Khurais are no mystery: its air defenses were overstretched, badly coordinated, and not operated on a wartime footing. This failure does not mean that Iranian cruise missile and drone strikes will succeed every time, but it does underline the need to offer practical defensive assistance from abroad, and to restore deterrence by imposing costs on Iran.


An integrated air defense system (IADS) like Saudi Arabia’s can be compared to the human body. The air surveillance (ASV) section is the eyes and ears. The battle management system is the brain and nervous system that processes information, makes decisions, and assigns tasks to other parts of the body. The weapons-control and interception systems (surface-to-air missiles, guns, electronic warfare units) are the muscles and limbs that actually take action. No IADS can be effective unless all of these systems work together, and this level of coordination requires regular training.

Breathing life back into ramjet-powered surface-to-air missiles

Douglas Barrie

Only a handful of surface-to-air missile systems powered with ramjet sustainer engines remain in service today, but, as Douglas Barrie and Joseph Dempsey suggest, renewed interest and investment in high-speed guided-weaponry could prompt a comeback for ramjet engine technology. 

Surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems with ramjet sustainer engines could be about to make a comeback. Such engines were central to European, Soviet and United States medium-to-long-range SAM system research and development in the 1950s and 1960s. Of the systems to emerge from this work, today only a handful of the Soviet-era 2K11 Krug (SA-4 Ganef) and 2K12 Kub (SA-6 Gainful) remain in service. Norwegian energetics and propulsion specialist Nammo would like to change that.

Nammo is working on the development of a ramjet engine that it believes could provide the basis for an extended-range SAM, offering an engagement capability far in excess of most of today’s Western systems. The company claims a range envelope beyond 400 kilometres (250 miles) for high-altitude fly out, although a Nammo official recognised that this poses targeting issues.

Plugging the Gaps in Saudi Arabia’s Air Defenses

By Michael Knights, Conor Hiney
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The reasons why Saudi Arabia failed to intercept the recent attack on Abqaiq and Khurais are no mystery: its air defenses were overstretched, badly coordinated, and not operated on a wartime footing. This failure does not mean that Iranian cruise missile and drone strikes will succeed every time, but it does underline the need to offer practical defensive assistance from abroad, and to restore deterrence by imposing costs on Iran.


An integrated air defense system (IADS) like Saudi Arabia’s can be compared to the human body. The air surveillance (ASV) section is the eyes and ears. The battle management system is the brain and nervous system that processes information, makes decisions, and assigns tasks to other parts of the body. The weapons-control and interception systems (surface-to-air missiles, guns, electronic warfare units) are the muscles and limbs that actually take action. No IADS can be effective unless all of these systems work together, and this level of coordination requires regular training.

Trump’s Close-Call Diplomacy with Iran’s President

By Robin Wright
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On the evening of Tuesday, September 24th, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, went to see his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, at the Millennium Hilton Hotel, across the street from the U.N. headquarters, in New York. The hotel is one of only three places that the Iranian leader could go in the city, because of U.S. sanctions. Macron intended to set up a three-way telephone conversation with Rouhani and President Trump. A team of technicians arrived to set up a secure line, in a meeting room on Rouhani’s floor, for the call at 9:30 p.m. The telephone conversation was supposed to cap twenty-four hours of frenetic diplomacy—including personal appeals to Rouhani by the British, Japanese, and Pakistani Prime Ministers and the German Chancellor—after months of quiet French diplomacy.

Earlier in the day, Macron, alongside the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had urged Rouhani to talk with Trump. Their exchange was caught on video. “If he leaves the country without meeting President Trump, honestly, this is a lost opportunity,” Macron directed an interpreter to tell Rouhani, amid a scrum of diplomats and photographers. “Because he will not come back in a few months and President Trump will not go to Tehran.” Rouhani threw his head back and laughed. “So they have to meet now!” Macron insisted. Johnson chimed in, as cameras flashed, “You need to be on the side of the swimming pool—and jump at the same time.”

The U.S.-Iran Standoff Is Militarizing Cyberspace


With U.S. President Donald Trump considering ways to retaliate against Iran for an attack against Saudi oil infrastructure—but desperate to avoid getting entangled in a shooting war—cyberattacks against Iranian targets have emerged as a potentially bloodless way to flex American power.

But experts in cyberwarfare worry that the administration’s apparent eagerness to rely on digital weapons to strike back against Tehran for a missile and drone attack that briefly ground Saudi oil output to a halt carries with it a great risk: normalizing the militarization of cyberspace.

The risk is twofold. The United States and its massive digital economy would be exposed to attack—with more vulnerabilities than most other countries. And Washington would be lowering the bar for engaging in a new domain of warfare, exposing the broader digital economy to new types of threats.

Intra-Gulf Competition in Africa’s Horn: Lessening the Impact

What’s new? Middle Eastern states are accelerating their competition for allies, influence and physical presence in the Red Sea corridor, including in the Horn of Africa. Rival Gulf powers in particular are jockeying to set the terms of a new regional power balance and benefit from future economic growth.

Why did it happen? Regional instability, a relative power vacuum and competition among rising Middle East states have prompted Gulf countries to seek to project their power outward into the neighbourhood. They are looking at the Horn of Africa to consolidate alliances and influence.

Why does it matter? Many new Gulf-Horn relationships are highly asymmetrical, driven more by Gulf than African interests. Gulf states are injecting resources and exporting rivalries in ways that could further destabilise fragile local politics. Yet they also carry the potential to resolve conflict and fuel economic growth.

The end of the German-American affair

BERLIN — Just off a wide boulevard in a leafy west Berlin suburb, the U.S.-German friendship is alive and well.

Americans play football, sail and dance with their German friends. The decades-old bond between the two countries is on full display.

Trouble is, it's only a display. Opened in 1998, the Allied Museum, a free exhibition housed in an old U.S. Army theater, offers a window into what once was — and a welcome escape from what is.

Nearly 75 years after the end of World War II, the U.S.-German relationship isn’t just moribund, it’s on life support.

At both the official and unofficial level, the foundation that has supported the transatlantic alliance since the 1950s is crumbling. About 85 percent of Germans consider their country’s relationship with the U.S. to be “bad” or “very bad,” according to a recent study, while a clear majority want Germany to distance itself from the U.S.

Grand Strategy in the Age of Climate Change: A Theory of Emergent Grand Strategy

By Charlotte Hulme

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 Charlotte Hulme from Yale University.

More striking than the lack of consensus over how to define grand strategy is that for over a century, scholars, regardless of their definitional approach, have considered grand strategy as the exclusive province of states and national policymakers.[1] For example, Kennedy defines grand strategy in terms of policy, or “the capacity of the nation’s leaders to bring together all of the elements of power, both military and non-military, for the preservation and enhancement of the nation’s long-term…best interests.”[2] On the other hand, Earle treated it as the highest type of strategy, one that “so integrates the policies and armaments of the nation that the resort to war is either rendered unnecessary or is undertaken with the maximum chance of victory.”[3] Brands defines it in terms of ideas, writing that grand strategy is “a purposeful and coherent set of ideas about what a nation seeks to accomplish in the world, and how it should go about doing so.”[4] 
J.F.C. Fuller and B.H. Liddell Hart (Wikimedia)

America Needs a New Strategic Triad to Face the 21st Century

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For decades, nations have thought about the strategic triad as the integration of three systems to deliver nuclear weapons: land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles; long-range strategic bombers like the B-52, B-1 and B-2; and nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines. Together, these redundant delivery systems deterred an enemy from a first strike, providing a foundation of national military power. Because creating such systems was an incredibly costly process, required advanced technology and needed highly trained workforces, this strategic triad had extremely high barriers to entry.

As this turbulent 21st century unfolds, a new sort of strategic triad is clearly emerging, recently illustrated by the sophisticated strikes on key Saudi oil fields in the Middle East, which knocked out 5% of the daily global oil supply with low-cost drones and likely used Google Earth for GPS coordinates. This new strategic triad is composed of unmanned vehicles (in the air, but also under and on the sea), offensive cyberstrikes and special forces. All of these are relatively inexpensive, present far lower barriers to entry and can be “equalizers” allowing an asymmetric advantage that a nongreat power (or even a nonstate actor) can utilize.

Russia Tests Network-Centric Warfare in Tsentr 2019

By Roger McDermott
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The Russian Armed Forces staged their annual strategic-level military exercise this past week (September 16–21), alongside units from seven partner countries—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China, India and Pakistan—all of them Moscow’s allies in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). This year’s strategic command-staff exercise (strategicheskiye komandno-shtabnyye ucheniya—SKShU), Tsentr 2019, tested a number of aspects of military capability within an overall theme of the Russian variant of network-centric warfare: the Reconnaissance-Fire System (Razvedyvatelno-Ognevaya Sistema—ROS) (see EDM, September 18). As with every one of the quadrennial Tsentr exercises, last week’s maneuvers focused on the Central Military District (MD); though, additional force groupings were also formed in the Southern MD. Tsentr 2019 covered large geographical areas, ranging from the North Caucasus to the Urals and Siberia, and also saw Russian forces deploying to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan (Vesti.ru, September 22).

In terms of the “multilateral” dimension of Tsentr 2019, it was not officially designated as an SCO exercise; whenever officials or Russian media referred to the Central Asian participants, they qualified this as involving allies from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)—even though Uzbekistan is no longer a member. The overall troop total for the exercise, 128,000 personnel, is undoubtedly an exaggerated figure; and it includes only 1,600 troops from China, 140 from India and 90 from Pakistan. In other words, this was a Russian military exercise with the facade of a multilateral event (Topwar.ru, September 22).

Russia’s Pivot To The East: A New Balance? – Analysis

By Chris Cheang*

Russia’s pivot to the East is assuming a more balanced tilt and might become more sustainable.

Russia’s pivot to the East, hitherto focussed on China and the Asia-Pacific region, has shifted − the high-profile attendance of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 5th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok from 4-6 September 2019 was its manifestation. The event was also attended by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga.

Singapore’s Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam also attended the event, in conjunction with his visit to Russia to co-chair the High-level Intergovernmental Commission (IGC), an annual dialogue to strengthen broad-based cooperation between the two countries. China, North Korea, South Korea, and Indonesia participated in the EEF as well.

Russia’s Objectives at the 5th EEF

Russia may have achieved three goals by convening the 5th EEF:

We're In the Middle of a Global Information War. Here's What We Need to Do to Win

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If the Russians had tried to find a more inhospitable space for our meeting, I don’t know how they could have succeeded. I was led into a narrow trapezoidal room with one grimy window in a faceless building off Red Square. It was 10 days before the 2016 presidential election, and I was the last State Department official to visit Moscow before the vote. I had been Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy for almost three years, and a big part of my job had been trying to counter the deluge of Russian disinformation that we saw beginning with the invasion of Crimea in 2014. But I was under strict orders from the National Security Council to not bring up Russian disinformation or interference in the U.S. election. No one wanted any hiccups.

The two Russian officials seemed to be channeling Putin: chilly, inhospitable, inflexible. They made no effort to be pleasant–or even diplomatic. I brought up Russian harassment of American diplomats. They shrugged. I brought up the forced closing of American cultural facilities. They shrugged. I did not bring up Russian interference in our election. I wish I had.

Starting Over in Venezuela

By Allison Fedirka

Internal differences have again prevented the political opposition from achieving its goals.

The failure to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro has finally caught up to Venezuela’s political opposition. Internal divisions are preventing its constituent parts from coalescing into a force strong enough to contest his power. Just last week, in fact, having apparently seen the writing on the wall, a small group of dissidents defected back to the government.

When we speak of the Venezuelan opposition, we refer to an umbrella group of diverse political parties that are united by a common hatred of Maduro and a mutual desire to gain political power at his expense. But that’s about it. These groups try to overcome their differences so that they don’t lose what little collective power they can bring to bear, but the truth is that their competing agendas make it difficult to agree on a long-term strategy.

This goes a long way in explaining the events of last week. The splinter group that went back to the government was actually a group loyal to Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, but not...

The Trump Impeachment Debacle Has Exposed Cracks in the GOP

by Hunter DeRensis 

Two-thirds of Democratic Party voters have consistently favored impeaching Trump. Some of them have attached their impeachment desires to disproven accusations of collusion with the Russian government. Others have focused on accusations of obstruction of justice. Now, there’s the infamous phone call with the president of Ukraine, which some people have described as an abuse of power. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has resisted multiple call for impeachment over the past few years, to the consternation of her more progressive colleagues. She finally called for an official impeachment inquiry on Tuesday.

“There is a heightened leftist component of the Democratic Party that she was feeling pressure from,” said Democratic Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo. “It’s a long and unproductive road . . . Where does it go ultimately? Nowhere.”

Tomgram: Engelhardt, "Make America Greta Again"

by Tom Engelhardt 

Look what Greta started and what she did to me! I took part in the recent climate-strike march in New York City -- one of a quarter-million people (or maybe 60,000) who turned out there, along with four million others across all seven continents. Then I came home and promptly collapsed. Which tells you one thing: I'm not 16 years old like Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen who almost singlehandedly roused a sleeping planet and is now described as “the Joan of Arc of climate change.” Nor am I the age of just about any of the demonstrators I stopped to chat with that afternoon, however briefly, while madly scribbling down their inventive protest signs in a little notebook.

But don’t think I was out of place either. After all, the kids had called on adults to turn out that day and offer them some support. They understandably wanted to know that someone -- other than themselves (and a bunch of scientists) -- was truly paying attention to the global toilet down which their future was headed. I’m 75 and proud to say that I was walking that Friday with three friends, two of whom were older than me, amid vast crowds of enthusiastic, drum-beating, guitar-playing, chanting, shouting, climate-striking kids and their supporters of every age and hue. The streets of downtown Manhattan Island were so packed that sometimes, in the blazing sun of that September afternoon, we were barely inching along.

Trump Keeps Talking About The Last Military Standoff With Iran Here's What Really Happened

by Megan Rose, Robert Faturechi, and T. Christian Miller
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Just before sunset on Jan. 12, 2016, 10 American sailors strayed into Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, a navigation error with potentially grave consequences. On their way to a spying mission, the Americans had set sail from Kuwait to Bahrain. It was a long-distance trek that some senior commanders in the Navy’s 5th Fleet had warned they were neither equipped nor trained to execute.

Surrounded by four boats operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the U.S. sailors, in two small gunboats, surrendered rather than opening fire. The officer in charge of the mission later said he understood that had a firefight erupted, it could well have provoked a wider conflict and scuttled the controversial nuclear deal the two countries were poised to implement in mere days.

The Navy dialed up an elaborate rescue mission to free the sailors from tiny Farsi Island involving fighter jets and a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group. But the return of the sailors was ultimately secured peacefully. The nuclear deal went forward with the U.S. providing sanctions relief and unfreezing billions in Iranian assets in exchange for Tehran’s promise to curb its nuclear ambitions.

Edward Snowden in His Own Words: Why I Became a Whistle-Blower

At the age of 22, when I entered the American intelligence community, I didn't have any politics. Instead, like most young people, I had solid convictions that I refused to accept weren't truly mine but rather a contradictory cluster of inherited principles. My mind was a mash-up of the values I was raised with and the ideals I encountered online.

It took me until my late twenties to finally understand that so much of what I believed, or of what I thought I believed, was just youthful imprinting. We learn to speak by imitating the speech of the adults around us, and in the process of that learning we wind up also imitating their opinions, until we've deluded ourselves into thinking that the words we're using are our own.

My parents were, if not dismissive of politics in general, then certainly dismissive of politicians. To be sure, this dismissal had little in common with the disaffection of nonvoters or partisan disdain. Rather, it was a certain bemused detachment particular to their class, which nobler ages have called the federal civil service or the public sector, but which our own time tends to refer to as the deep state or the shadow government.

Trump’s New Joint Chiefs Chair Is A Savvy Political Operator


If there’s any question why President Donald Trump picked U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs — months earlier than expected — look no further than his sports radio interview before the 2017 Army-Navy football game.

“Take that Jets shirt off,” the Boston-area native and avid New England Patriots fan barked at a New York radio host. Responded the host, “C’mon, ‘cause you win all the time.” Milley fired back: “You can’t argue with victory, you can’t argue with stats. The winners write the history books, brother.” 

On Monday morning, Milley will become America’s top general. Many Pentagon insiders never considered the blunt, tough-talking paratrooper a leading candidate to become Army chief of staff, much less chairman. But those who know Milley say he is a keen political operator who managed his own meteoric rise through the ranks while advancing the interests of his various institutions along the way. 

New U.N. Debate on Cybersecurity in the Context of International Security

By Nele Achten 

In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish two separate groups to study international law and norms in relation to cyberspace. Resolution 73/27proposed by a number of countries, including Russia—created an open-ended working group (OEWG) on the subject. Another group of countries—including Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States—supported a resolution advocating continuing the debate within the framework of a group of governmental experts (GGE) reporting to the secretary-general.

A GGE on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security has convened since 2004 and failed to produce a consensus report in 2017. The GGE has yet to convene this year, but the OEWG gathered for its first substantive meeting from Sept. 11 to Sept. 12. This is the first time that all U.N. member states were invited to discuss developments in information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the context of international security.

Infographic Of The Day: Social Media Use By Generation

Today's infographic compares key generational and regional differences of social media use based on data from nearly 114,000 internet users, highlighting how pervasive social media has become in our lives.

The military drone bonanza

About half of the world's militaries are now flying drones, according to a sweeping new study published this week that revealed the swift spread of a critical technology that until recently was too expensive or sophisticated for most countries.

Why it matters: The increasingly robot-crowded skies mean that clashes involving drones — like the recent attack on a Saudi oil facility that the U.S. has blamed on Iran — are likely to become commonplace.

The takeaways: From cheap, off-the-shelf quadcopters to enormous, missile-toting aircraft, flying drones are not only proliferating widely, but they're becoming integrated increasingly deeply into militaries, according to the new report from Dan Gettinger, co-founder of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College.

They are already changing the way countries project power over adversaries. Chinese drones are flying over the South and East China seas, Russian drones are over Ukraine, and Iranian drones allegedly operate in Yemen and Syria.

Despite the explosion of new players, the U.S., China and Israel still have the most sophisticated drone operations, Gettinger tells Axios. But new leaders, like Turkey and Russia, are emerging.