11 October 2019

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

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

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

ISRO Scientist Assassinated In Hyderabad – OpEd

An ISRO scientist was recently found assassinated in Hyderabad. A native of Kerala, the scientist had been living in Hyderabad for 20 years. His wife was also working in the city but was transferred to Chennai in 2005. Their son is settled in the US, while the daughter lives in New Delhi.

A scientist with the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was on Tuesday found murdered in his apartment, police said.

S Suresh, 56, was allegedly killed by unknown persons at his flat at Annapurna Apartment in Ameerpet area in the heart of the city. Suresh, a native of Kerala, was alone in his flat. When he did not report to the office on Tuesday, his colleagues called him on his mobile number. As there was no response, they alerted his wife Indira, who is a bank employee in Chennai.

Suresh’s wife along with some other family members rushed to Hyderabad and approached the police. They broke open the flat to find Suresh lying dead. Police suspect that he was hit on the head with a heavy object, resulting in his death. The body was shifted for autopsy. Senior police officials visited the scene and a team gathered clues. They said they were scanning the CCTV footage of the apartment complex to probe the case.

A Brief History of India’s Relationship with the People’s Republic of China


The image of China in Indian minds has evolved and changed over the past seven decades. China has been perceived in many ways by many different audiences in India. At the risk of oversimplification, there have been three phases in which China’s image has changed and evolved.


The first phase lasted for a decade, from the founding of the PRC in 1949 to 1959. During these years, India regarded China as a fellow Asian country that had emerged from imperial control and stood ready to craft a new future. Although the political systems of the two countries were rather different, many Indians—including the top political leadership—believed that the countries had lots of avenues for cooperation and learning. This honeymoon period came to a close in 1959, when the border dispute came to the fore and the Dalai Lama fled Lhasa, Tibet, to take refuge in India.


India to unveil cybersecurity strategy policy early next year

"India's cybersecurity strategy policy will be released in January 2020 and will enable the government to cyber-secure the nation," said Rajesh Pant.

“The biggest question is where this money will come from?”Bajpai said. (Photo: Reuters)

India will release the cybersecurity strategy policy in January next year to enable the government to “cyber-secure the nation”, which will also help in achieving the target to achieve a USD 5-trillion economy, an official said on Wednesday. “India’s cybersecurity strategy policy will be released in January 2020 and will enable the government to cyber-secure the nation. The government’s vision of a USD 5-trillion economy will be helped to a great extent by this effort,” said Rajesh Pant, national cyber security coordinator on cyber policies, at an SKOCH event here.

The most important requirement for internet safety is increased effective coordination between ministries that are overseeing various aspects of cybersecurity, proper critical infrastructure protection and public-private partnership, said Pant. He said the critical information infrastructure does not only lie with the government, so that partnership with private sector becomes essential. On the requirement of huge budget to successfully implement cybersecurity at all levels, Ajeet Bajpai, director general of the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre, said even a small country like Israel has allocated USD 20 million as the annual budget for cybersecurity.

India's Population to Overtake China's by 2027: UN Report

The UN said that the world's 47 least-developed countries are among the fastest growing, and this burgeoning population will present challenges to sustainable development.

Passengers board an overcrowded train at a railway station in Ajmer, India, October 23, 2016. 

The UN’s “World Population Prospects” report released on Monday predicts that the world’s population will grow by nearly 2 billion people over the next 26 years. Although the world’s population is getting older and growing at a slower pace, it is still expected to increase, as a few countries will experience a surge in population.

The report predicts that by 2050, more than half the world’s population will be concentrated in India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States. India is expected to overtake China as the world’s most populous country by 2027. China is expected to see its population drop by 2.2% between 2019 and 2050.

Ending America's Endless War in Afghanistan

by Arta Moeini Shahed Ghoreishi
Source Link

Less than a week after U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation and chief U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad announced that the protracted negotiations with the Taliban are nearing completion, President Donald Trump brought an end to the ceasefire talks as retribution for the group’s killing of an American soldier. The agreement reached “in principle” would have allowed the Trump administration to begin drawing down U.S. troops from the country heading into an election year. The reports of progress in the talks with the Taliban were welcome news for advocates of military restraint and those who champion diplomacy and responsible statecraft grounded in foreign policy realism. 

President Trump is right to deliver on his campaign promise to bring our troops home. The breakdown in the talks should not impede the Trump administration from ending our “forever war” and leaving Afghanistan after close to two decades. It was always doubtful whether the Taliban had any serious intent to end hostilities with the United States or that the group could be trusted to hold up its end of the bargain. The cessation of U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan should not depend on negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban and could still be accomplished regardless of developments on that front. 

Hong Kong Wields Emergency Powers as Tensions Escalate

By Eleanor Albert

Last week, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the use of emergency powers, including a ban on face masks, punishable by up to one year in prison or a steep fine. The move comes as clashes between authorities and protesters are on the rise.

If the Hong Kong authorities thought a face mask ban would dissuade protesters from turning out over the weekend, they were mistaken. Even under heavy rain, thousands took to the streets in opposition, many defiantly donning masks. This week marked not only the 18th consecutive weekend of discontent but also coincided with the fifth anniversary of the Umbrella Movement protests in 2014. Protest groups filed an appeal to the imposition of emergency powers, but Hong Kong’s high court rejected the request for a temporary injunction on Sunday. 

The legal provisions that enabled Lam to exercise executive emergency powers date back to the city’s colonial era and have not been used in nearly 50 years. The ordinance has been invoked a number of times, including to quell strikes by a seamen’s union in the 1920s and leftist, pro-communist riots in the late 1960s. The Emergency Regulations Ordinance allows the chief executive to impose any measures necessary “in the public interest” on occasions of emergency or public danger. Such provisions could include censorship, arrests and detention, taking control of ports and the harbor, and restrictions on travel and transportation. 

Hypersonic Hype: Just How Big of a Deal Is China’s DF-17 Missile?

By Ankit Panda

Of all the thousands of tons of military hardware that passed along Beijing’s Changan Avenue on Tuesday, one of the most scrutinized items was the Dong Feng 17 (DF-17) hypersonic boost-glide missile. A total of 18 models were paraded on their launchers, representing two brand new units.

The DF-17 is the weapon that the U.S. intelligence community estimated in 2017 to become the first of its kind to see operational deployment. The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force will probably begin operating it next year.

But what is it that makes the DF-17 such an attraction and is it truly special?

Like most things, it depends.

These days, there’s a lot of hype around “hypersonic” weapons, but they have actually been around for some time. For instance, the first intercontinental ballistic missiles in the late-1950s and early-1960s saw their warheads reach hypersonic speeds.

Europe’s Next Move and the US-China Standoff

By Brigitte Dekker and Maaike Okano-Heijmans

As the trade war between the United States and China evolves into a state of permanent conflict, it is apparent that a defining feature of the deepening geopolitical contest is technology. The race is on for the leader in the development and use of emerging technologies, and thereby the writing of norms and the rules for their use. In this context, the foreign investments, the screening thereof, and the question of how to deal with China’s telecom giant Huawei ride high in the headlines. But few are aware that the related issue of export control is equally, if not more, challenging. 

In charting a path forward, European governments have to act in this field before they are caught again between the demands of two rival powers. Specifically, this requires the EU and its member states to recraft their own export control regimes to uphold European norms for the use of certain technologies challenged by China, in particular. Moreover, there is a need to shield European companies against U.S. extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Hypersonic Hype: Just How Big of a Deal Is China’s DF-17 Missile?

By Ankit Panda

Of all the thousands of tons of military hardware that passed along Beijing’s Changan Avenue on Tuesday, one of the most scrutinized items was the Dong Feng 17 (DF-17) hypersonic boost-glide missile. A total of 18 models were paraded on their launchers, representing two brand new units.

The DF-17 is the weapon that the U.S. intelligence community estimated in 2017 to become the first of its kind to see operational deployment. The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force will probably begin operating it next year.

But what is it that makes the DF-17 such an attraction and is it truly special?

Like most things, it depends.

These days, there’s a lot of hype around “hypersonic” weapons, but they have actually been around for some time. For instance, the first intercontinental ballistic missiles in the late-1950s and early-1960s saw their warheads reach hypersonic speeds.

Hong Kong’s 2019 Turmoil: A Dismal Future? – Analysis

By KB Teo*
Source Link

As Hong Kong’s political crisis deepens, what are the options open to Beijing and what are the priority issues for the Hong Kong leadership?

The turmoil currently sweeping Hong Kong is driven primarily by four main causes. One, fear of Beijing’s growing control. Two, concern over the erosion of its “freedoms and autonomy”. Three, the very high costs of living. Four, Western interference. 

Under the 30 June 1997 China-UK Handover Agreement, Beijing promised to maintain Hong Kong’s “autonomy” for 50 years in three areas: freedom of speech, assembly, and religion. Today, Hong Kong is less important to China.
Fear over China’s Growing Control

In 1997, Hong Kong accounted for 20% of China’s GDP. The proportion now is 5%, with the rise of Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Chongqing. Shenzhen is becoming the high-tech centre of the world. In 1997, Hong Kong handled 50% of China’s foreign trade. Today, it is only 12%.

Hong Kong’s per-capita income used to be 35 times higher than China’s. Now it is five times higher. As China’s economy continues to expand, it will become richer and leave Hong Kong behind. 

China Urged To Revise GDP Growth Claims – Analysis

By Michael Lelyveld
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As China’s government struggles to keep its economic growth rates from falling further, it faces persistent questions about its growth claims in the past.

China economists and scholars have argued for years over the accuracy of official gross domestic product figures. In 2007, Premier Li Keqiang described the data as “man-made” and “for reference only,” when he served as a provincial leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC), according to a memo published by WikiLeaks in 2010.

Criticisms of the figures issued by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) have focused on the remarkable stability of GDP growth rates through good times and bad.

No matter what the external pressures, the NBS figures have had an uncanny knack not only for meeting the government’s GDP targets but also for varying from quarter to quarter by no more than 0.1-0.2 percentage points, critics say.

“Over the past 16 quarters, China’s headline GDP has only varied by 0.8 percentage points in total, within the range of 6.2 percent and 7.0 percent,” the Rhodium Group said in a recent research note.

Does the World’s Longest Undersea Tunnel Have a China Problem?

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HELSINKI—A Chinese-funded project to build the world’s longest undersea rail tunnel in the Baltic Sea is being held up over concerns about its financing, making it a focal point of larger European questions about the influence of China. 

The idea of building a tunnel between the Finnish and Estonian capitals of Helsinki and Tallinn is not new, but fresh concerns arose about the project after Peter Vesterbacka, a Finnish tech entrepreneur, inked a deal this year with Touchstone Capital Partners, a financial firm that invests the resources of state-owned Chinese enterprises. The deal will supply $17 billion to fund the three Chinese companies that have signed on to build and design the tunnel. 

Should the project break ground, it would become the largest Chinese investment in Northern Europe and open up a slew of other opportunities to build infrastructure across the region. 

In July, however, Estonian Public Administration Minister Jaak Aab said the current timeline to open the tunnel in 2024 wasn’t realistic and questioned Vesterbacka’s business plan while also raising serious concerns about the source of the private financing: China. 

‘It Didn’t Have to Be This Way’: Just-Retired CENTCOM General


Trump's decision "threatens to undo five years’ worth of fighting against ISIS and will severely damage American credibility and reliability," writes Joseph Votel, who until March led America's forces in the Mideast.

The abrupt policy decision to seemingly abandon our Kurdish partners could not come at a worse time. The decision was made without consulting U.S. allies or senior U.S. military leadership and threatens to affect future partnerships at precisely the time we need them most, given the war-weariness of the American public coupled with ever more sophisticated enemies determined to come after us.

In northeastern Syria, we had one of the most successful partnerships. The Islamic State was using Syria as a sanctuary to support its operations in Iraq and globally, including by hosting and training foreign fighters. We had to go after ISIS quickly and effectively. The answer came in the form of a small band of Kurdish forces pinned up against the Turkish border and fighting for their lives against ISIS militants in the Syrian town of Kobane in 2014.

Why Saudi Arabia's Crisis Is a Sign that U.S. Foreign Policy Is Shifting

by Eldad Shavit Ari Heistein
Source Link

The lackluster U.S. response to Iranian strikes against Saudi Aramco facilities highlight what is becoming an increasingly important trend in U.S. foreign policy: Washington’s declining willingness to invest military and economic resources in defense of its allies’ security. While President Donald Trump provided this shift with an ideology and a slogan, it did not originate with him but with President Barack Obama’s attitude toward “freeriders.” As many from both sides of the aisle in Washington today subscribe to different variations of this approach aimed at reducing U.S. responsibility toward allies, there could be significant implications for the global alliance system.

First, one cannot discuss U.S. desire to avoid foreign entanglements without referring to its long, costly, and thankless engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has become difficult for Americans to discuss any potential military action, except maybe drone strikes against isolated terror groups, without referencing the possibility that mission creep or escalation will drag it into another quagmire. Options between full-scale war and taking no action at all appear to have largely evaporated from U.S. discourse, as the public and decisionmakers have little faith in the ability to contain operations. This binds the hands of U.S. decisionmakers and prevents the judicious use of military power, as anything that warrants an action somewhere between total war and no response cannot be treated appropriately. In turn, despite threatening rhetoric, the low credibility of those threats and the high U.S. threshold for what warrants a response have given bad actors far more room to operate.

Syrian Decision Rekindles Fear of ISIS Prison Breaks


Pentagon and State Department officials have raised alarms for months about the makeshift prisons.

Senior U.S. national security officials are worried that ISIS will break thousands of its fighters out of makeshift prisons run by the Syrian Democratic Forces in northern Syria, following President Trump’s shocking late-Sunday announcement that he would withdraw U.S. troops to make way for a looming Turkish invasion.

“The real concern is if [Turkish forces] come in, the Kurds — the SDF, YPG, whatever term you want to use — will go and defend their territory, and that opens up the possibility of these prisoners getting out,” a U.S. official said Monday. “The problem is, nobody really knows how this works if the Kurds decide to abandon the prisons. I know we’re saying the Turks would be responsible, but what does that mean in terms of…how we maintain security.” 

On Sunday night, Trump appeared to offer a green light for a Turkish incursion after a phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But by Monday, officials from across the administration — and Trump himself — were seeking to walk back the statement, which even close GOP allies of the president on Capitol Hill said was tantamount to willfully abandoning America’s Kurdish allies to slaughter by the Turks. 

Iran-backed hack attempt on government officials ‘completely routine activity’

By: Andrew Eversden   
Microsoft disclosed Oct. 4 that hackers believed to be backed by the Iranian government tried to breach email accounts of a U.S. presidential campaign and several current and former U.S. government officials, at a time of already inflamed tensions between the two nations.

Over a 30-day period in August and September, the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center observed 2,700 attempts to identify email accounts belonging to Microsoft customers, according to a blog post from Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Customer Security and Trust Tom Burt. The hackers subsequently launched attacks against 241.

Burt wrote that four accounts were compromised as a result, but not those of the campaign or U.S. government officials. Microsoft attributed the attacks to a group it calls “Phosphorous,” which it says it believes is associated with the Iranian government.

“The targeted accounts are associated with a U.S. presidential campaign, current and former U.S. government officials, journalists covering global politics and prominent Iranians living outside Iran,” wrote Burt.

Politically Deadlocked Bosnia Takes ‘One Step Forward and Two Steps Back’

Katerina Barton 

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s unique and often unstable tripartite presidency missed its deadline to form part of its national government in early September, almost a year after general elections, amid continued disagreements on whether to proceed with long-in-the-works plans to join NATO. With its leaders deadlocked, the country’s path toward both the Western military alliance and membership in the European Union is as uncertain as ever.

Twenty-five years after the end of the brutal war that killed over 100,000 people and left millions displaced, Bosnia’s dysfunctional political system continues to hamper its long recovery. The country is still reliant on international funding to support development and to maintain peace, while the country’s youth unemployment is one of the highest in the world, at 46.7 percent, according to the World Bank. Its three presidents—each representing one of the three dominant ethnic identities of Serbs, Croats and Muslim Bosniaks—have now brought Bosnia to a standstill over its future relationship with NATO. ...

Defying Pentagon, Trump Endorses Turkish Operation in Syria

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Defying the advice of top defense officials, U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday endorsed a Turkish military operation into northern Syria, paving the way for a bloody assault on the Kurdish minority population there and a possible resurgence of the Islamic State.

U.S. troops have now left the border area after the abrupt shift in policy, which came after a phone call between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this weekend. U.S. defense officials had sought to maintain a small American presence in the region to continue operations against the Islamic State terrorist group and safeguard the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against repeated threats of a Turkish invasion. 

But their recommendations seem to have fallen on deaf ears. 

“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area,” according to a White House statement.

The Implications of a Turkish Intervention in Northeastern Syria

Late on October 6, President Donald Trump spoke to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and said he would no longer oppose a Turkish military incursion into northeastern Syria against the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The estimated 100 to 150 U.S. military personnel who were deployed to the area have begun to withdraw from U.S. military facilities near the Turkish border, although some U.S. troops are expected to remain in eastern Syria. The White House announced that Turkey would assume responsibility for all Islamic State group (ISG) fighters in the area. Late on October 7, Turkish shelling reportedly hit a Syrian border town.

Q1: How does this announcement shift U.S. policy in northeastern Syria?

A1: Even after President Trump’s announcement of a full U.S. withdrawal from Syria on December 19, 2018, roughly 1,000 U.S. troops remained stationed in the area. These troops worked with the Kurdish-led SDF to help stabilize areas captured from the ISG. The goal of the U.S. troop presence was to ensure that conditions remained hostile to the return of ISG fighters.

Trump Orders Cut to National Security Staff After Whistle-Blower

Jennifer Jacobs and Justin Sink

President Donald Trump has ordered a substantial reduction in the staff of the National Security Council, according to five people familiar with the plans, as the White House confronts an impeachment inquiry touched off by a whistle-blower complaint related to the agency’s work.

Some of the people described the staff cuts as part of a White House effort to make its foreign policy arm leaner under new National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.

The request to limit the size of the NSC staff was conveyed to senior agency officials by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and O’Brien this week. The whistle-blower complaint, focused on Trump’s conduct in a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has been followed by damaging reports on the president’s private conversations with other world leaders.

An Energy Crisis Is Putting Cuba’s Post-Castro Leadership to Its First Test

William M. LeoGrande 

Venezuela’s economic collapse and Washington’s new sanctions on companies shipping Venezuelan oil to Cuba have plunged the island nation into its most severe energy crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. In response, Havana is looking to its old ally Russia to plug the hole in energy supplies left by the decline in Venezuelan shipments. But the crisis is hampering plans to implement economic reforms that Havana hopes will respond to popular demands for economic liberalization while retaining the Communist Party’s political dominance.

Visiting Cuba last week, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev promised that Russia would help Cuba through the current crisis. But the long-term challenge for Havana is how to develop energy security, locking in stable sources of supply that don’t depend on shifting political winds. ...

ASEAN’s Digital Economy: Getting The House In Order – Analysis

By Amalina Anuar*
Source Link

Thailand’s ASEAN chairmanship in 2019 saw the kingdom laying down several blueprints to unleash the oft-touted US$240 billion potential of ASEAN’s digital economy. This included, among others, the Digital Integration Framework Action Plan (DIFAP).

Thisdigital framework built upon last year’s dual ratification of the ASEAN e-Commerce Agreement and ASEAN Framework on Digital Data Governance (FDDG). As 2019 nears its close, what progress has ASEAN made so far in realising its digital ambitions, and how can the grouping move forward from here?

The House We Live In

For the digital economy, the importance of both physical and institutional infrastructure cannot be understated. So far, ASEAN member states have made unanimous commitments to providing and improving the quality of its information infrastructure.

No Disguising The Economic Slowdown Now. Take A Look

Only last spring, as the country was gearing up for elections, we were hearing about a growth rate of 7 per cent, the highest in the world. Various new statistics were trotted out to suggest that the growth rate since 2014 had been higher than that under the previous regime. Those of us who looked at other economic indicators such as the unemployment rate and growth in tax revenue sensed the clear signs of the onset of an economic slowdown, but were dismissed as compulsive contrarians.

Yet, as winter approaches, the debate is no longer about how high the growth rate is, but about whether we are in a structural recession or a cyclical one, with clear signs of growth dropping sharply across sectors. Even the government's spokesmen and sarkari economists are not singing the "all izz well" tune.

But the chronicle of this economic downturn was foreshadowed even by official statistics. Take the successive rounds of revised estimates of GDP put out by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO). On January 7, when the CSO released the first advance estimate of GDP for 2018-19, the yearly growth rate was reported as 7.2 per cent. On February 28, when the second advanced estimate was published, the number was revised down to 7 per cent. By May 31, when the provisional estimate for the 2018-19 GDP was published, the number had fallen to 6.8 per cent. When the CSO published its first quarter estimate of GDP for 2019-20 in late August, the reported quarterly growth rate was 5 per cent, the lowest quarterly figure in more than six years.

What's Next for the WTO?

by James McBride


The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the principal forum for setting the rules of international trade. In its two decades, it has helped reduce barriers to trade in both goods and services and created a dispute resolution system that supporters say has reduced the threat of trade wars. However, the institution is under considerable pressure. Negotiations on a comprehensive development agenda have foundered on disagreements over agricultural subsidies and intellectual property rights, while members have increasingly turned to separate bilateral and regional free trade agreements to advance their trade interests. Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald J. Trump has criticized the WTO for what he sees as its weakness in confronting China’s trade abuses and constraints on U.S. sovereignty, placing the future of global trade rules into doubt.

What is the WTO?

The WTO is responsible for overseeing the rules of international trade. It facilitates trade negotiations among its members, which have increased from 123 in 1994 to 164 in 2018. The organization also monitors the implementation of those trade agreements, produces research on global trade and economic policy, and serves as a forum for settling trade disputes between nations.

The tough war against cyber criminals in the dark Web

by Grace Chng

Botnets and ransomware for hire. Stolen credit card numbers for sale. Drugs, guns, ammunition for purchase. Hitmen for rent. Chances are that anything shady going online is taking place on the dark Web.

It is a small and rare section of the Internet where Google cannot crawl. Because its key characteristic is anonymity, it is attractive to people, especially criminals, who want remain “unsearchable”.

Cybersecurity expert Ziv Mador said international cooperation among law enforcement agencies is needed to nab these criminals because their location, operations and attacks are usually in different countries.

Law enforcement agencies face a long and tough journey to bring the cyber criminals to justice, said Mador.

Often they have to “travel” to the dark web to unmask them and to collect evidence. Collaboration between law enforcement agencies can also be slow as countries have different judicial and legal processes.

Information Warfare: Chinese Hackers Caught Down Under

October 7, 2019: Recently leaked details of a Chinese hacking campaign on the Australian government earlier this year revealed embarrassing (for all concerned) details about continued Chinese Internet mischief. The ASD (Australian Signals Directorate) concluded in March that the Chinese MSS (Ministry of State Security) was responsible for the wide ranging hacking attack on the parliament and three major political parties before the May national elections. ASD apparently could find no evidence that the Chinese effort was directed at influencing the election. Even before the ASD had reached their conclusion, after calling in American and British government Cyber War experts, there were unavoidable indications that something was going on. In February the government suddenly admitted there had been a widespread Internet hack and that all government Internet users were ordered to change their passwords and take other precautions that are normal after widespread attacks.

At the time there was no official mention of China or the extent and apparent purpose of the attack. The government was trying to keep secret the Chinese involvement. In part that was because China is Australia’s largest trading partner but also because the government and ASD were still seeking to find out more about the extent and purpose of the attack. Some aspects of the Chinese hacking had been going on for some time but the main effort was three months before the May elections. Forensics on the attack and measuring the full extent are still underway and maybe for some time. The government is still trying to play down the MSS Cyber War department involvement as well as details of what ASD knows and what they are looking for,

Why we need a more modern and ready military, not a larger one

Michael E. O’Hanlon and James N. Miller

After the Marine Corps takeover in Washington’s policy corridors a couple of years ago, it is now the Army’s turn. Long gone are retired generals John Kelly and Jim Mattis from their lofty perches in the Trump administration. And as of September 30, a third prominent Marine general, the George Marshall-like Joseph Dunford, has stepped down as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s top military job.

Now, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman Mark Milley run the Department of Defense. As recently as this summer, they held comparable jobs within the Army, with primary responsibility for recruiting, training, and equipping that military service. With their promotions, their portfolios now extend to the entire defense community — with its three million employees, deployments around the world, and ongoing conflicts in roughly a half-dozen hot spots. Not only must they now raise armies and maintain navies, they must also provide the president their best advice on the use of force and management of national security crises.

Ensuring a high-quality and modernized force is much more important than enlarging the U.S. military at this juncture.

After the Niger Ambush, I Trusted the Army to Find Answers. Instead, I Was Punished.

By Alan Van Saun
Source Link

On Oct. 2, 2017, my wife, Brooke, gave birth to our second daughter, Eva. During the final months of Brooke’s pregnancy, I was deployed to the West African country of Niger with Third Special Forces Group. I was lucky; my chain of command decided earlier in the year that I would be allowed to fly home for the birth, a decision that reinforced my trust in them. In hindsight, that decision left me grappling with how things could have been different if I had stayed.

While flying out of Niger was logistically very simple, especially compared with my previous deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, the timing was challenging because I was still getting familiar with the demands from recently deploying as a new company commander in charge of teams of Green Berets. Brooke was experiencing early contractions back at home in Fort Bragg, N.C., and there were constant phone calls and deliberations about when I should jump on a plane to be there on time and to maximize my 10 days of paternity leave.

Integrate cyber maintenance into the US Army’s battle rhythm

By: Col. Stephen Hamilton and Jan Kallberg   
The U.S. Army continually transforms over time, and the latest iteration is the transformation to support the concept of Multi-Domain Battle. This concept describes how the Army will operate, fight and campaign successfully across space, cyberspace, air, land and maritime domains. While cyberspace is defined as a domain, it is not separate and integrates across all other domains. Maintaining cyber physical systems is critical to succeed across all domains.

Future conflict will likely unfold quickly and immediately initiate U.S. forces to move from current positions to theater. Therefore, readiness is key to success, and maintained equipment is a part of the preparation for these transitions to war fighting. That is a known fact.