20 October 2019

Why property rights matter for India

By Mudit Kapoor, Shamika Ravi

In light of the economic slowdown, it is important to note that long-term economic growth is a consequence of individual rights to private property, and its protection from expropriation from other individuals as well as the most powerful entity, the state itself.

Nationalisation policies have held India back from her true economic potential and robbed hundreds of millions of people of the prosperity they deserved long ago. Nationalisation created a complex bureaucracy — a tyranny without a tyrant — eventually leading to an unparalleled economic crisis in the 1990s, compelling us to undertake courageous economic reforms.

Reform was mostly the reduction of bureaucratic red tape of “licence raj”, making it easier for private players to enter and exit markets. This led to unprecedented economic growth, the creation of a middle class, and significant poverty reduction. These reforms got a further shot in the arm under Atal Bihari Vajpayee with the disinvestment drive. For example, the telecom and energy sectors that were plagued by shortages for decades were partially privatised and very soon turned a surplus, boosting the economy and laying the foundation for a “digital economy” in modern India. This was evidence that nationalisation and socialism were not the answers to India’s poverty and social problems.

Indians are learning English through TikTok

By Matthew De Silva

Can you learn English from social media? TikTok, the viral video-sharing app, is testing the limits of its platform through EduTok, a new program it launched today (Oct. 17) in India. The company claims to have more than 200 million Indian users.

The #EduTok hashtag, which began as an in-app challenge over the summer, has already racked up 46 billion views, according to TikTok’s website. Users have created about 10 million educational videos so far, Sachin Sharma, director of sales and brand partnerships for TikTok India, told TechCrunch.

#EduTok launch. A 128% increase in educational content on the platform. In two months. Three new partners: Toppr, Gradeup and Made easy.

With EduTok, the company has essentially created virtual miniature classrooms. By watching short, free, and entertaining videos, users can learn English phrases from minor celebrities. TikTok India highlighted two language channels in particular, English with Geet and Awal Creations. Geet, a disabled woman, teaches her followers English idioms like “kicked the bucket,” “spitting image,” and “I’m on the fence.” She has nearly 5 million fans on the platform. The latter, run by influencer Awal Madaan, provides translations from Hindi to English. He has more than 6 million followers.

India Delivers 2 More Mi-24V Attack Helicopters to Afghanistan

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Vinay Kumar, handed over the the last two of four retrofitted Mi-24V attack helicopters from Belarus to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) at an air base in Kabul on October 15, according to the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

“Vinay Kumar, Indian Ambassador (…) handed over the 2nd pair of Mi-24V helicopters to Afg[han] Min[ister of] Def[ense] Asadullah Khalid at a ceremony today,” the Indian Embassy in Kabul tweeted yesterday.

Kumar noted in remarks at the induction ceremony that the new helicopters would ensure that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) maintain “a robust counter terrorism capability.”

Mi-24V are close-air support helicopters fitted with a YakB four-barreled, 12.7mm, built-in, flexibly mounted machine gun, as well as rocket and grenade launchers.

India: Residual Risks In Dantewada – Analysis

By Ajit Kumar Singh*
Source Link

On October 8, 2019, a ‘deputy commander’ of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), identified as Kawasi Deva, was killed by the Security Forces (SFs) in the Katekalyan Forest area near Pitepal village of Dantewada District in Chhattisgarh. The slain Maoist was carrying a cash reward of INR 800,000 on his head. The Deputy Inspector General (DIG, Anti-Maoist operations), P. Sundarraj disclosed that “hundreds of District Reserve Guard (DRG) personnel were out on the mission, based on specific input about rebels camping in the said forest.” When they spotted the Maoists and challenged them a gun-battle broke out in which the Maoist ‘deputy commander’ was killed and a DRG trooper was injured.

On September 19, 2019, the dead body of a civilian, identified as Budhram Tati, with his throat slit, was found near Perpa village in the Kirandul Police Station limits in Dantewada District. A Maoist pamphlet found near the body read: “Whoever works as a ‘police informer’ for money will meet the same fate.” The date of Tati’s abduction is not known.

On September 14, 2019, the body of a civilian identified as Mirya Manjal, was found near a private firm’s plant under Kirandul Police Station limits in Dantewada District. A Maoist pamphlet found near the dead body accused Manjal of being a ‘police informer’.

Inside Afghanistan’s Online Battlefield

By Ezzatullah Mehrdad

In the early 2000s, the war in Afghanistan was largely fought in the country’s rural areas. As the war dragged on, entrepreneurs established social media companies that now drive modern politics. The world evolved into the present social media-dominated age; so did the Afghan war.

In one video circulated on social media early this year, Taliban fighters line a local judge up in front of their guns. They ask him repeatedly: Who is legitimate, the Taliban or the government? As the judge says, “I only serve the people,” the militants open fire. 

In a second video, Afghan security forces capture a man in a desert battlefield. The forces pose for a photo with the man, asking him why he fired on them, asking who he is. They drag the man around, demanding repeatedly: Tell us the truth. As the man says he is a shepherd, the Afghan security forces line him up and open fire.

The Afghan war is increasingly fought on social media, as it is on the battlefield. Social media accounts connected with the government and the Taliban often post graphic content — to push messages of strength and victory. A flood of bloodied images and videos spills across the online battlefield, raising fears of everlasting hatred.

Can a Negative Decision at the FATF Bolster Hardliners in Pakistan?

By Umair Jamal

Later this week, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is set to release its findings concerning Pakistan’s case at the forum. Early reports from the ongoing meeting in Paris suggest that the country may evade blacklisting by the forum. However, it’s still expected that Islamabad will come under a lot of pressure as the majority of the recommendations by the FATF have only been implemented partially.

The case’s outcome will have significant implications not only for Pakistan, but also for the region. A critical outcome may prove to be a blow to the country’s moderate voices within the national security establishment and civilian elite that are working to push against the hardliner’s support base within various institutions.

From Islamabad’s perspective, the worst outcome would emerge in the form of the country being placed on the blacklist, which can virtually choke Pakistan’s struggling economy in the coming months. Policymakers in Islamabad believe that they have done enough in the time given to the country and that moving forward, there is a strategy in place to work on the remaining recommendations. Predictably, Pakistan is expecting an appreciation for the country’s compliance with the FATF’s recommendations and other efforts to contain terror financing and militant groups.

Pakistan: The Weaponization Of Blasphemy – Analysis

By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty*
Source Link

Riots broke out in Ghotki town (Ghotki District) of Sindh on September 15, 2019, after a school principal from the minority Hindu community was booked on charges of alleged blasphemy. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) tweeted a video of protesters breaking the infrastructure of the school and wrote, “Alarming reports of accusations of blasphemy in Ghotki and the outbreak of mob violence”. Videos of stick-wielding protesters were also shared on social media in which they were seen vandalising a Hindu temple. The protests erupted after a FIR (first information report) was filed against the Hindu principal of Sindh Public School on the complaint of Abdul Aziz Rajput, a student’s father, who claimed that the teacher had committed blasphemy. The principal, identified as Notan Lal, was booked and then arrested on charges of blasphemy on September 16. 

On May 27, 2019, a Hindu veterinary doctor, identified as Ramesh Kumar, was arrested in Phulhadiyon area of Mirpurkhas District of Sindh after a local cleric filed a Police complaint accusing him of committing blasphemy. Although the doctor was arrested, radical organisations and their supporters were not pacified and took to setting fire and damaging shops owned by Hindus in the area besides, burning tyres on the roads. The head cleric of the local mosque, Maulvi Ishaq Nohri, filed the complaint with Police alleging that Kumar had torn pages of a holy book and wrapped medicines in them.

From ‘Land-Locked’ to ‘Land-Linked’: China’s Xi Goes to Nepal

By Eleanor Albert

Chinese President Xi Jinping made a historic visit two-day to Nepal over the weekend, the first sitting Chinese leader to visit the South Asian nation in more than two decades. Xi was received by Nepalese President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli. Leaders from the two countries signed 20 agreements to boost connectivity, trade, economic assistance, and security relations. China and Nepal also agreed to upgrade their ties to a strategic partnership, with Xi vowing to “help Nepal realize its dream of becoming a land-linked country from a land-locked one.” 

Among the many deals signed were plans for a 70-kilometer railway connecting Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu and Gyiron in southwestern Tibet and a road tunnel designed to shorten the distance between Kathmandu and the Chinese border. In the lead up to Xi’s visit, a series of other deals were inked, including investments for developing an industrial park, the improvement of roads along the China-Nepal border, and a water supply project. 

China’s Record on Intellectual Property Rights Is Getting Better and Better


Speculation about the on-and-off U.S.-Chinese trade talks centers on whether the two sides will eventually settle for a truce or push for a “complete deal,” which U.S. President Donald Trump remains adamant he will obtain. Any grand bargain will require progress on a key structural issue: intellectual property (IP) rights. According to some reports, Chinese IP theft has cost the United States $225 billion to $600 billion a year. No wonder, then, that getting China to better protect IP is a point of rare consensus among both the White House and the Democratic leadership.

But history tells us to be cautious; Washington’s demands are unrealistic. Countries do not enact strong IP rights systems until their ability to innovate at home displaces reliance on outside knowledge. The United States’ own centurylong drift toward strong protections is a case in point.

Huang is a senior fellow in the Carnegie Asia Program, where his research focuses on China’s economy and its regional and global impact.

Competing With China on Technology and Innovation



Aside from broader issues of trade and economics, the United States and Japan should consider the specific risks and opportunities related to competition with China in high-tech innovation. A so-called fourth industrial revolution is under way, a revolution characterized by discontinuous technological development in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), big data, fifth-generation telecommunications networking (5G), nanotechnology and biotechnology, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and quantum computing. Breakthroughs in these fields can potentially shift the future balance of economic and military power, prompting governments and large corporations to compete aggressively now over their development and applications.

As an emerging tech giant, China has demonstrated it can be a leading innovator both globally and domestically. The country is making gains in four broad categories of innovation, including: 1) manufacturing, 2) digital platforms and associated markets (spurred by new apps and small money-based transactions); 3) the utilization of apps and other technologies designed “to solve societal problems” (and reconfigure existing businesses in the process, such as bike share apps and unstaffed convenience stores); and 4) basic science R&D in fields such as computing and biotechnology.

Schoff is a senior fellow in the Carnegie Asia Program. His research focuses on U.S.-Japan relations and regional engagement, Japanese technology innovation, and regional trade and security dynamics.

Competing With China on Technology and Innovation



Aside from broader issues of trade and economics, the United States and Japan should consider the specific risks and opportunities related to competition with China in high-tech innovation. A so-called fourth industrial revolution is under way, a revolution characterized by discontinuous technological development in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), big data, fifth-generation telecommunications networking (5G), nanotechnology and biotechnology, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and quantum computing. Breakthroughs in these fields can potentially shift the future balance of economic and military power, prompting governments and large corporations to compete aggressively now over their development and applications.

As an emerging tech giant, China has demonstrated it can be a leading innovator both globally and domestically. The country is making gains in four broad categories of innovation, including: 1) manufacturing, 2) digital platforms and associated markets (spurred by new apps and small money-based transactions); 3) the utilization of apps and other technologies designed “to solve societal problems” (and reconfigure existing businesses in the process, such as bike share apps and unstaffed convenience stores); and 4) basic science R&D in fields such as computing and biotechnology.

Responding to China’s Complicated Views on International Order



For the last several years, it has become increasingly common for scholars and strategists on both sides of the Pacific to assert that China is challenging the international order both regionally and globally. In fact, Beijing has become more explicit about its desire to revise the liberal international order created by the United States and supported by Japan. For example, on May 28, 2019, the major Japanese national daily Asahi Shimbun carried an interview with Chinese People’s Liberation Army Senior Colonel Liu Mingfu, a professor at China’s National Defense University and the author of a national bestseller called The China Dream. In that interview, Liu explained Beijing’s desire to build a new international order in East Asia as a substitute for the current order led by the United States, and he called for Japan to cooperate with China.

Such a dramatic conclusion, however, should be considered in detail. As new great powers rise, the distribution of benefits in international politics often does not represent the distribution of power, and observers tend to associate the dissatisfaction of ascending powers with challenges to the political status quo and a willingness to upend the prevailing system. If China appeared to be a revolutionary power, seeking to overturn the rules of various regimes of the international system broadly, this would undoubtedly be seen as a profound threat in both the United States and Japan. China’s behavior toward the regional and international orders is, however, far more complex.

Mira Rapp-Hooper is an adjunct senior fellow for Asian security at the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center.

The Cold War 2.0 between China and the US is already a virtual reality

Bertrand Venard

(MENAFN - The Conversation) As President Xi Jinping celebrated the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China with amassive military parade , the United States president threatened to raisetaxes on Chinese products .

In the meantime, belligerent cyber activity is ramping up, mirroring the trade war between China and the United States. Could this multiply and bring about our worst fear – a conventional war? Every day, statements from US and Chinese leaders highlight just how far apart these two countries are ideologically and politically, and the extent of their economic and military rivalry.

History has taught us how this type of confrontation often ends. Speaking of the rivalry between Sparta and Athens, theAthenian historian Thucydidespredicted that a dominant nation, seeing its supremacy seemingly threatened by a rising power, would settle the question by war. Thucydides' escalation theory makes us fear the worst for the US-China cold war, a war currently being fought in cyberspace.
From Estonia to Stuxnet

Bolstering the Alliance Amid China’s Military Resurgence



Recent tensions between the United States and China over trade and security issues mark the emergence of a more competitive U.S.-China economic, diplomatic, and security relationship. Indeed, this more competitive relationship between the two major powers is becoming a defining feature of the security environment in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

Under President Xi Jinping, China has shown its determination to push forward with a more assertive regional security policy. A number of developments have reflected this shift, such as attempts to challenge Japan’s administrative control over the Senkaku Islands and Chinese island building and construction of military facilities in the South China Sea.1 Beijing appears to be aiming to create a regional security order characterized by greater Chinese influence and reduced U.S. influence, one that will make other countries feel as though they have little choice but to defer to Chinese preferences, or at least refrain from any activities that China sees as an affront to its interests.

An increasingly capable and confident People’s Liberation Army (PLA) plays a key role in enabling China to achieve these goals. Moreover, the PLA is no longer content to simply copy from other countries to try to close the gap with the world’s advanced military powers. Instead, it aims to join their ranks. The arrival of a more advanced and operationally capable PLA will have important implications for the United States, Japan, and the U.S.-Japan alliance.

We Asked an Expert to Imagine a U.S.-China War. We Wish We Hadn't.

by Robert Farley

How does the unthinkable happen? What series of events could lead to war in East Asia, and how would that war play out?

The United States and China are inextricably locked in the Pacific Rim’s system of international trade. Some argue that this makes war impossible, but then while some believed World War I inevitable, but others similarly thought it impossible.

In this article I concentrate less on the operational and tactical details of a US-China war, and more on the strategic objectives of the major combatants before, during, and after the conflict. A war between the United States and China would transform some aspects of the geopolitics of East Asia, but would also leave many crucial factors unchanged. Tragically, a conflict between China and the US might be remembered only as “The First Sino-American War.”

The United States takes possession of Puerto Rico from Spain.

Xi Jinping's Hong Kong dilemma

By Gary Anderson
Source Link

Shortly before the reversion of Hong Kong to Communist control, I took my family there one last time before what I expected to be the imposition of an Iron Curtain around that enclave of freedom on the fringes of mainland China.

I frankly thought that the “One Country, Two Systems” approach agreement with Hong Kong between the Beijing and the city’s British colonial overlords wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. While there, I met one of the city’s prominent British-born lawyers through a mutual friend.

The attorney had also once been a colonial judge and had a good feel for the negotiations. He believed that my fears for an immediate Communist crackdown were unfounded, but that I was right in my assessment that Beijing would eventually impose non-democratic control. He did not think that Beijing would send in tanks when that happened. Rather, he believed that the Communists would do it by gradually subverting the justice system — particularly the police and judiciary.

Why China fears sending the tanks into Hong Kong

Howard W French

Two decades ago, many scholars began predicting that as China’s creation of wealth continued to speed ahead, the country would cross a threshold. Once a substantial new middle class had been created, they reasoned, politics would tip decisively in a more participatory, possibly even democratic, direction.

But while robust economic growth continued, the first decade of this century came and went with no severe challenge to China’s authoritarian model. And under China’s present leader, Xi Jinping, who took office in 2013, it has only become more entrenched: last year he changed the longstanding rules of succession to allow himself to remain in charge for life.

Now, however, this long-expected revolt of the middle class has arrived – not from China itself, but from Hong Kong. And more than any other problem China faces, the ongoing crisis in the city could determine Xi’s standing and his country’s direction over the next few years.

Hong Kong protestsShow

China’s All-Effects All-Domain Strategy in an All-Encompassing Information Environment

Thomas A. Drohan

China is wielding strategies that envelop opponents with an all-effects all-domain approach to national power. These effects are neither precise nor pre-ordained because they occur in an uncertain information environment that encompasses behavior by all sensors – living, or artificial. Drawing from a rich tradition of hybrid stratagems and holistic information, China’s leaders use a variety of asymmetric approaches that exploit weaknesses in opponents’ strategies.

In contrast, US strategy is fixated on lethal capabilities for armed conflict with information considerations perhaps sprinkled on top. We make great progress at precision destruction, but too often fail to convert battlefield victories into strategic success. It should not come as a surprise then, that US military doctrine still defines “asymmetric” in terms of dissimilar capabilities and methods, rather than with respect to effects. Our doctrine does not recognize hybrid warfare by unarmed actors either, even as they proliferate impactful information effects.

The essence of Chinese strategy consists of waging complex wars that exploit opponents’ expectations of warfare. Operations create preventative and causative effects that blend confrontation with cooperation, imposing dilemmas on opponents. Such asymmetric effects win wars by producing information that changes opponents’ behavior. Let’s see how this concept works.

The Middle East’s Lost Decades Development, Dissent, and the Future of the Arab World

By Maha Yahya 

Since the 9/11 attacks, the Arab world’s relative economic, social, and political underdevelopment has been a topic of near-constant international concern. In a landmark 2002 report, the UN Development Program (UNDP) concluded that Arab countries lagged behind much of the world in development indicators such as political freedom, scientific progress, and the rights of women. Under U.S. President George W. Bush, this analysis helped drive the “freedom agenda,” which aimed to democratize the Middle East—by force if necessary—in order to eradicate the underdevelopment and authoritarianism that some officials in Washington believed were the root causes of terrorism. Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, criticized one of the cornerstones of the freedom agenda—the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003—but he shared Bush’s diagnosis. In his first major foreign policy speech as president, delivered in Cairo in 2009, Obama called on Middle Eastern governments to make progress in democracy, religious freedom, gender equality, and “economic development and opportunity.” Implicit in his remarks was a widely shared view among Western observers of the Middle East: that the Arab world’s dysfunction was a product of social and political arrangements that thwarted human potential, furthered inequality, and favored a small elite to the detriment of the broader population.

During the first decade of this century, progress was slow. Under the surface, however, discontent was rising. This discontent culminated in the protests of 2010–11, commonly known as the Arab Spring. In countries as diverse as Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Tunisia, ordinary citizens took to the streets to challenge their authoritarian rulers and demand dignity, equality, and social justice. For a moment, it seemed as if change had finally arrived in the Middle East.

Explained Can NATO Members Kick Turkey Out of the Military Alliance?

Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria — along with the criticism and threats of sanctions brandished by fellow NATO members at Ankara over the offensive — is close to sparking a crisis at the world’s biggest military alliance.skip - Haaretz Weekly Ep. 44

But despite the high political-military tensions, Turkey is very unlikely to be ejected from the 29-member alliance, for NATO has seen tense times and survived them before.

From the Suez Canal crisis in 1956 to France leaving its military command structure in 1967 — which forced the alliance to move its headquarters to Brussels in Belgium — to the deep split among allies over the Iraq war in 2003, NATO bonds have been tested. But no country has left the alliance or been forced out.

Beyond that, Turkey is of great strategic importance to NATO. The large, mainly Muslim country straddles the Bosporus Strait, making it vital bridge between Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. It’s also the only waterway in and out of the Black Sea, where Russia’s naval fleet is based.

American Withdrawal and the Future of Israeli Security


America’s withdrawal from the Middle East validates the long-standing Israeli view that it must not rely on external guarantees, but rather do what’s necessary to defend itself, by itself. Israel’s former UN Ambassador makes the case for the incorporation of the Jordan Valley.

Near the close of Israel’s election campaign last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a public commitment to extend Israeli law and jurisdiction to the Jordan Valley and the Northern Dead Sea immediately following the elections. This was understood as a pledge to annex what has been viewed as probably the most important part of the West Bank when it comes to protecting Israel as a whole.

How this land came to be widely perceived as being so vital for Israel’s security is not well known. More importantly, how the Jordan Valley still remains the front line of Israel’s defense despite so many developments in military technology and Middle Eastern politics is also not well understood. What remains a constant for many years is the idea that Israel must be able to defend itself by itself and not accept external guarantees, even from the United States, in lieu of its own self-defense capabilities. This applies especially to the discussion over its retention of the Jordan Valley.

What is the future of Libya?

While world leaders remain confused and divided and, most of all, usually indifferent over the future of Libya, its municipal leaders point the way forward. Aided by nongovernmental organizations like Humanitarian Dialogue, they are doing what outside powers have so far failed to do in coming up with a realistic agenda for the country of six million, eight years after the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi left it in chaos. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization had a major hand in that operation to depose the former strongman, while outside powers in Europe and the Middle East continue to do more harm than good today, since they support opposing actors within Libya, stoking more conflict and instability.

For its part, the United States under President Trump oscillates between supporting the Government of National Accord under Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, which is anything but that, though it does at least have backing from the United Nations, and the forces of eastern strongman General Khalifa Haftar and his equally misnamed Libyan National Army. European countries including Italy, France, and Germany meanwhile attempt to organize grand national conferences on Libya within their own countries, but such convenings wind up being more like boondoggles than serious international attempts at conflict resolution.

The Way Forward in Syria

By Sinan Ulgen

ISTANBUL — The sudden decision by President Trump to endorse Turkey’s move to send its troops into Syria and pull out most of the American forces posted there seems to have shocked the country’s political and military establishment. American analysts and policymakers see events of the past week as largely benefiting Russia, the Syrian government, the remnants of the Islamic State and Iran.

Amid the great clamor of commentary, the United States and Europe are erroneously banking on sanctions on Turkey to contain the fallout. The harsh truth is that the United States, Europe and Turkey share responsibility for the creation of this crisis. They have all made a series of policy mistakes since the beginning of the Syrian war in 2011.

For the United States, the main failure was to naïvely believe that the partnership established with the People’s Protection Units, or the Y.P.G. — an organic offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or the P.K.K., which is considered by Ankara, Washington and Brussels to be a terrorist group — could be long-lived. Oblivious to the huge and negative impact of this commitment on bilateral ties with Turkey, the White House followed the Pentagon’s recommendation based on its an assessment that the Turkish counteroffer, of a group of Syrian opposition fighters trained by both Turkey and the C.I.A., would be inadequate to carry the fight against the Islamic State.

Trump's About-face in Syria Forces Israel to Rethink Its Middle East Strategy

Amos Harel

A flash visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Israel as part of a campaign to calm the Middle East; a new Iranian accusation against Israel; a quite unusual meeting between the IDF chief of staff and Kahol Lavan chairman MK Benny Gantz – the accumulation of events over the past 24 hours stirs a certain sense of panic in the air. When some media outlets tie everything together (and report that the meeting between IDF chief Avi Kochavi and Gantz was held against the backdrop of “a possible Iranian attack”) it is easy to think that the Iranians are at our door, again.

But it seems that what connects these things is not necessarily an immediate threat, but the beginning of a long process. While Israel is disturbed by Iranian plans for revenge, these have been coming together for a few months now. The main change is strategic more than anything operational or tactical: The United States is expediting its departure from the Middle East, and Iran’s influence is growing, along with its self-confidence. That is the context of Pompeo’s visit and that, it seems, is also the main reason for the Kochavi-Gantz meeting, held at the height of faltering coalition talks and against the backdrop of unusual funding demands by the army.skip - As Pence pushes Syria cease-fire with Erdogan, Trump undercuts negotiations

Free college won’t be enough to prepare Americans for the future of work

Annelies Goger

As the Democratic presidential candidates gather in Westerville, Ohio for the fourth primary debate on Tuesday, they would do well to acknowledge the growing public concern about the “future of work.” As a Midwestern swing state that has an intimate history with displacement and its consequences, Ohio is a fitting place for candidates to offer more robust solutions to issues such as automation and artificial intelligence, which will likely have disproportionate impacts on certain American communities and populations, including places like Westerville.

The candidates have not been completely silent on these issues. Andrew Yang and Pete Buttigieg have elevated the potential problems of digital transformation and its tendency to exacerbate inequality. However, their policy solutions—a universal basic income and enhancing the bargaining power of gig workers, respectively—fail to tackle the mass redeployment of labor from one set of skill demands to another, while minimizing harm and displacement. Other candidates—Julián Castro, Beto O’Rourke, and Tulsi Gabbard—have referenced a general need to invest more in workforce programs and retraining, but the debate about skills and education has, strangely, not gone much deeper than that.

How Close Is RCEP to Reality?

By Luke Hunt
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Trade ministers of 16 countries from the Asia-Pacific region stand for a group photo during the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) ministerial meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam on Monday, May 22, 2017. Over the past few years, one of the few bright spots in trade that has been in the spotlight is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). While the initiative continues to receive a lot of headlines, obstacles remain to it becoming a reality.

While RCEP itself largely represents an effort to harmonize existing deals between the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) with Japan, China, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, it is not without significance. The sixteen Asia-Pacific countries constitute about a third of the world’s total global gross domestic product. And if it succeeds, RCEP will open a market that accounts for 3.4 billion people.

But the fiscal and cultural differences between them are enormous, which partly accounts for why some gaps are hard to bridge. Australia remains the richest country, with a nominal GDP per capita of more than $55,000, while Cambodia is the poorest, with just $1,300 for each person.

Goodbye to the Middle East

by Peter Zeihan 

This day was always going to happen.

On October 7, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a partial withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria. Soon after, Turkish forces began moving south across the border to strike Kurdish forces which had been until extremely recently under American protection. Two days later the partial American withdrawal was upgraded to a full evacuation of all forces.

Wailing and gnashing of teeth across the American political spectrum quickly erupted, with many condemning the tactical and political aspects of the president’s decision. I’m of mixed minds:

On the one hand, the Kurds – whether in Syria or Iraq – have been America’s only reliable regional allies since America’s first major confrontation with Iraq back in the early 1990s. When we have asked, they have answered. Every single time. In many cases U.S. forces didn’t even do the heavy lifting, but instead relegated themselves to providing intelligence and materiel support. Without the Kurds’ assistance the overthrow of Saddam Hussein would have been far nastier affair, post-Saddam Iraq would have been far less stable, the defanging of ISIS and the destruction of the ISIS caliphate would not have happened. In Syria in specific, the Kurds habitually provided at least five times the forces the Americans did.

America's Options for the Middle East After Syria

By Seth Frantzman

U.S. commanders leading the war on ISIS are trying to extricate troops from Syria in an orderly manner. This is the only orderly thing that seems to be happening in Syria.

The Assad regime was rushing to control checkpoints at key locations while Turkey pressed its offensive on October 15, just nine days after the White House decided to wrap up America’s five-year war in Syria. Washington says it isn’t ending the war on ISIS though, so it’s possible airstrikes and even special operations may continue in Syria, run from Iraq or elsewhere.

The U.S. decision to suddenly leave Syria has been excoriated as a betrayal yet also received some praise for ending the relationship with the Syrian Democratic Forces, which Turkey accuses of being linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party. That means the U.S. decision to leave Syria can be viewed through the lens of reversing an Obama-era policy of working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) instead of the Syrian rebels. But if anyone thought the United States was pivoting toward opposing the Assad regime and Iran, that isn’t the case. Assad, Iran, Russia and Turkey are swooping in to grab the spoils.

It’s no use arguing over what might have been in eastern Syria. The war is over and the United States has to decide what its role is after Syria. This could become a key point in U.S. foreign-policy history—the bookend to George H. W. Bush’s “new world order” where America eschews its role as global hegemon, or global policeman, as it has sometimes been seen. This could also be a domino effect, causing the United States to lose more influence in Turkey, in Iraq, and potentially the Gulf as well.

How 5G and data are shaping Army modernization

By: Andrew Eversden 

Fifth-generation telecommunications technology, known as 5G, and data-driven decision-making are changing how the Army operates and what the service’s workforce will need.

Speaking at C4ISRNET’s “Accelerating IT Modernization” panel Oct. 14 at the AUSA conference, IT officials laid out their modernization priorities and explained how new technology is changing their jobs.

Among the more tangible steps the service is taking are releasing a new Army data strategy, kicking off a series of 5G pilot programs to explore the best way to use the technology and rethinking the IT skills soldiers need.

Data strategy

What the Unrestricted Line Needs from the IW Community

By Captain Jason Rimmer and Lieutenant Commanders Tracy Culbert, Chad Geis, and Lucas Seeger, U.S. Navy
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Given the tremendous appetite for swift and secure information across the maritime domain, the Navy’s information warfare (IW) community stands to have an even greater impact on warfighting than naval aviation did in the early to mid-20th century. Although intelligence, cryptologic warfare, meteorology and oceanography, and information professional are long-standing restricted-line communities, their merger more than ten years ago into the IW community to better support the unrestricted line is still maturing. Ideally, the IW community will maximize its relevance by responding to fleet demand signals; achieving comprehensive integration with traditional sensors and kinetic weapons; and promulgating standardized doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).

One of the benefits of serving on an amphibious assault ship is working with officers from each IW community discipline. During the 2018–19 USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) deployment to the Sixth and Fifth Fleets areas of responsibility, the ship and embarked forces made daily use of each IW specialty. Though the ship trained as part of an amphibious ready group (ARG) through the normal advanced-phase underway exercises, it was not until deployment and combat operations that the IW team honed its proficiency and identified areas where it could better support the warfighter’s needs. The following is not an exhaustive list of IW requirements. Rather, it includes gaps in IW support to operations at sea the Kearsarge ARG discovered during the deployment.
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