13 November 2019

Opinion | India needs foreign talent to indigenize defence equipment

Nitin Pai

At a recent discussion in one of our defence institutions, defence analyst Bharat Karnad made a striking point: that indigenization of defence equipment will remain an elusive goal if India’s procurement policy relies on offsets, and while requiring a foreign manufacturer to invest a certain fraction of the purchase value in an Indian firm might generate some employment, it will not result in the transfer of cutting-edge technology. If we want to leapfrog up the value chain, Karnad argued, we must insist that the foreign manufacturer bring in top talent into the country. In other words, what we really ought to be buying is human capital even if what we are ordering is fighter aircraft, missiles or combat rifles.

Indeed, the issue of human capital is almost completely absent from the debate on defence policy. This, despite one of the most remarkable success stories of indigenous defence production being the result of the kind of approach Karnad advocates. India was among the few countries—outside the Western powers—to develop a supersonic fighter plane in the late 1950s. The HF-24Marut project started in 1955, started test flights in 1961, and was inducted into the Indian Air Force in 1967. That’s a mere 12 years to go from drawing board to production in a country that was still struggling with mass poverty and had only a handful of good engineering colleges, producing perhaps a couple of thousand engineers every year.

Russian designed, Indian built.

by Konstantin Makienko

Indications in recent months suggest that the upgrade program for India’s fleet of Su-30MKI fighters is finally gathering pace. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has so far placed orders for 272 aircraft, of which 50 were delivered by Russia in 2002-2004 and 2007. Another 222 are to be supplied by the HAL Corporation; production under Russian license began at HAL’s Indian facilities in 2004. So far, more than 200 planes have already been delivered, and the Su-30MKI is the most numerous of the multirole fighters currently in service with the IAF.

Even though the Su-30MKI is one of the most advanced of the Generation 4+ fighters in service with the IAF, the need for its upgrade is becoming ever more obvious. The first of the planes built to the current specification were delivered to India back in 2004. Since then, a lot of new technology has become available in Russia, India, and other markets, including advanced new radars, air-launched missiles and bombs. Retrofitting the plane with this new hardware can make it much more capable. In fact, the Su-30 platform itself is extremely well suited for all kinds of upgrades, from fairly conservative to the most radical because the plane has a two-seater cockpit and can accommodate a lot of bulky and heavy additional equipment.

What Brexit supporters can learn from India pulling out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership

David Dodwell

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha hold hands at the third Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership summit in Bangkok, Thailand, on November 4. India later decided not to sign the pact. Photo: Reuters

As Britain’s Brexit-obsessed conservatives rally the country’s voters around the vision of new and open trade pastures, with the United Kingdom breaking loose of European Union fetters and building its own dynamic and liberal trade deals with the world, let them think about just one thing: the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The proposed 16-economy pact is the brainchild of Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders keen to liberalise trade between themselves and with their key regional trading partners – Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, China and India. It was conceived in 2012 and could amount to the world’s largest trade block, embracing almost half the world’s population and a third of global gross domestic product.

China's mood chills on new Belt and Road projects in Pakistan

KARACHI -- When Pakistan and China sat down recently for talks on Beijing's major Belt and Road initiative known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the China side showed a distinct lack of enthusiasm toward pumping more money into new projects. 

The two countries held the sixth round of meetings of the Joint Cooperation Committee, the apex body of CPEC, on Nov. 4-6, and it concluded without a major breakthrough on new projects.

The main development in the committee was the inauguration of Multan-Sukkur Motorway on eastern alignment of the corridor.

The delegates also discussed the $9.2 billion Main Line 1 (ML-1) railway project, the largest single project in the corridor connecting Peshawar in the northwest to Karachi in the south. They deliberated on a framework for financing the ML-1 project but failed to reach a decision. Another committee was formed to explore financing for the ML-1.

Pakistan invited China to expand the scope of CPEC by investing in the oil and gas sector, and offered to sell the loss-making Pakistan Steel Mills to China. However, China did not make any financial commitment in response to these offers.

What Can We Learn from the US State Department’s Terrorism Report on Pakistan?

By Umair Jamal

The United States Department of State recently published its annual Country Report on Terrorism. The report, which criticized Pakistan for failing to uniformly implement the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations and not taking action against regionally-focused terrorist groups, is important for several reasons.

What is encouraging for Pakistan is that the 2018 report doesn’t carry the punitive language which was prevalent in the 2017 report. For instance, the 2017 annual report notes that “Pakistan did not take sufficient action against other externally focused groups such as Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which continued to operate, train, organize, and fundraise in Pakistan.” In the 2018 report, however, Pakistan’s action against the JeM and LeT is described in terms of the groups still retaining their “capability and intent to target Indian and Afghan targets.” Still, the report considers Pakistan’s actions to contain regionally focused groups ineffective.

Islamabad, for its part, claims that the country has taken credible action against India-focused militant groups. During the last six months, Pakistan’s prime minister has not only condemned individuals and groups trying to endorse the use of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, but has also termed it a threat to regional peace and Pakistan’s efforts to highlight the issue internationally.

Islamic State Is Alive and Well in South Asia

by Siddharthya Roy

… The quote embodies everything that’s changed in the jihadist tendencies of the Indian subcontinent. And it foretells how the bloodletting will remain unaffected in the Indian theater, despite the killings of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi and his spokesperson Al-Muhajir by the United States late last month.

Essentially, South Asia is witnessing the emergence of a new brand of terrorism. Unencumbered by the strings of foreign state influence, or the weight of partisan politics and regional status quos, the new jihadists of the Islamic State era are driven by a unifying dream that transcends individual leaders.

Rooted as they are in the immediate issues of local politics, building as they may be on the fertile soil of long-festering discontent and systematic persecution, they’re actively connecting local issues to global ones and building a platform that goes beyond the old demarcations of territorial fiefdoms followed by older jihadist groups…

The China Challenge

Michael R. Pompeo

MR MURDOCH: Ladies and gentlemen, I’m delighted to be here with you tonight to honor a man of many, many achievements and titles: Captain Pompeo, Editor Pompeo, Chief Executive Pompeo, Representative Pompeo, Director Pompeo, Secretary Pompeo, Senator Pompeo. (Laughter and applause.) President Pompeo. (Laughter and applause.) That’s really for the speech in 2025. I’m sorry. (Laughter.)

Your founder, Herman Kahn, was an extraordinary scholar whose provocative insights challenged conventional wisdom and helped shape the destiny of our nation and the world. Mike Pompeo is also unafraid to confront the status quo, dauntless in dealing with intractable problems. Secretary Pompeo is meeting the great challenges of our time with an extraordinary background in public and military service, in private sector success, and, well, he’s certainly the Renaissance man. You cannot get any better than first in your class at West Point. As a cavalry officer, he served along the Iron Curtain, of course, which Herman Kahn worked so hard to tear down. From his time in the military, Secretary Pompeo went to Harvard and later founded Thayer Aerospace and was president of Sentry International, before being elected to Congress from Kansas. His time in the House and as CIA director no doubt serve him very well as America’s 70th Secretary of State.

Should China Police the Strait of Hormuz?

by Lyle J. Goldstein
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Through the course of 2019, the United States has been to the brink and back with Iran more than once. First, several oil tankers came under attack. Next, a (rather expensive) U.S. drone was shot down by the Iranians in late June. Then came the attacks against the Saudi oil facilities in September. Washington’s myriad hawks are hopping mad that the Pentagon has not been permitted to teach Tehran a devastating lesson in response to its mischief. American credibility the world over, they contend, has been jeopardized.

Doves and non-interventionists, by contrast, are celebrating the U.S. president’s evident reluctance to start yet another war in the Middle East. They are further buoyed by the partial pullout from Syria and note that deep tensions with Iran date from the exit from the nuclear accord. Poor John Bolton was sent packing after all these machinations, but may yet be plotting his ultimate political revenge much to the delight of the salivating press corps. In any case, the recent killing of Abu al-Baghadadi seems like a perfect opportunity for the United States to declare “victory.”

Huawei Soars In Russia As Putin Engages In New ‘Technological War’

Zak Doffman
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Never one to shy away from a gunfight, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been nibbling around the edges of Washington’s battle with Chinese tech giant Huawei for months. In June, at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin met China's President Xi Jinping and technology was high on the agenda. Putin used the event to accuse the U.S. of “brazenly forcing Huawei from the global market,” adding that “in some circles, it is even called the first technological war of the coming digital era.”

Fast forward six months, and November has started with Putin taking a gloomy page from China’s technology copybook. The launch of RuNet—Russia’s Sovereign Internet Law—provides a theoretical kill switch to disconnect Russia’s internet from the world wide web, essentially reverting to a domestic DNS setup. This has been presented as a defence against U.S. cyberattacks, but the real enemies are much closer to home. The technology is likely to become a weapon for censorship, surveillance and monitoring.

The fear in Russia is that the state intends to emulate China’s “Great Firewall,” with an “Iron Cyber Curtain.” Digital parallels for the the real world. A spokesperson for Human Rights Watch warned that Moscow can “directly censor content or even turn Russia’s internet into a closed system—this jeopardizing the right of people in Russia to free speech and freedom of information online.” The mandate for ISPs and telcos to install government hardware is a pretty blunt surveillance backdoor. Ostensibly to provide this domestic cutoff, the tech can clearly perform other functions.

Chinese Multilateralism and the Promise of a Green Belt and Road


As China comes under increased scrutiny over its global energy investments, Chinese authorities have announced a series of multilateral initiatives to “green” its Belt and Road initiative (BRI). Of these, the BRI International Green Development Coalition and the Green Investment Principles for the Belt and Road Development show the most promise, yet they are in danger of failing to deliver on their stated goals. As long as investors on the ground only need to follow host countries’ environmental standards and Belt and Road members can free ride on Chinese “green” initiatives, investment along the Belt and Road—particularly in new fossil fuel energy infrastructure—will undermine China’s political rhetoric and climate targets. While just recognizing the problem is a positive step for China, these initiatives are generally too voluntary to be effective, too duplicative to be adding value, and too opaque to be adequately assessed.


For the last decade and a half, China has taken a prominent role in investing in and developing infrastructure projects around the world, particularly in the energy sector. These investments, which since 2013 have been loosely connected under the banner of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), have garnered a great deal of attention and criticism for their geopolitical, financial, and environmental implications. In response, China has launched a wide array of multilateral initiatives of varying scope and ambition to “green” the BRI. While just recognizing the problem is a positive step for China, these initiatives are generally too voluntary to be effective, too duplicative to be adding value, and too opaque to be adequately assessed.

China Seeks AI Without Limits, Ethics: SecDef Esper

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Esper and incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley.

WASHINGTON: Chinese companies are offering drones for export that they claim can stage lethal airstrikes autonomously, without the kind of human oversight the US military insists on, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said today.

He also claimed China is developing unmanned long-range submarines. While Esper didn’t say so explicitly, underwater vessels can only receive low-bandwidth, long-wavelength radio transmissions, which would make human control extremely difficult– if not impossible — especially over long distances.

It’s just one of the many warning bells Esper is ringing with industry and allies about China’s all-out push on advanced technologies like AI and 5G. “Don’t write off what we’re saying as United States scaremongering or [Defense Department] scaremongering about China,” Esper implored today. “Don’t think we’re overstating the problem. There are serious issues out there and we’ve been asleep at the switch here for quite some time.

America’s War on Chinese Technology


NEW YORK – The worst foreign-policy decision by the United States of the last generation – and perhaps longer – was the “war of choice” that it launched in Iraq in 2003 for the stated purpose of eliminating weapons of mass destruction that did not, in fact, exist. Understanding the illogic behind that disastrous decision has never been more relevant, because it is being used to justify a similarly misguided US policy today.

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, open societies were triumphant and international cooperation became the dominant creed. Thirty years later, however, nationalism has turned out to be much more powerful and disruptive than internationalism.

The decision to invade Iraq followed the illogic of then-US Vice President Richard Cheney, who declared that even if the risk of WMDs falling into terrorist hands was tiny – say, 1% – we should act as if that scenario would certainly occur.

Israel and the Arab Gulf: An Israeli-Saudi Alliance in the Making?


Israel has recently been in top global news with the elections to the Knesset held on September 17, 2019. As they ended in a deadlock between incumbent prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his contender Benny Gantz, Netanyahu might face the end of his political career. In addition, US President Donald Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century” for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, which is expected to be released shortly, has created quite a sensation (Asseburg 2019). In comparison, the Times of Israel’s October 5 report on Israeli foreign minister Noam Katz’s initiative to advance a non-aggression deal with several of the Arab Gulf states and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – attracted little interest (TOI Staff and Ahren 2019; Ahren and TOI Staff 2019). However, in terms of a lasting impact on regional affairs in the Middle East, Katz’s initiative bears much higher potential for structural change than Netanyahu possibly being voted out of office or Trump’s “Deal of the Century.’”

After the Baghdadi Raid, the Forever War Drags On

by Daniel Davis
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President Donald Trump claimed a major accomplishment in taking out Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. However, lost in the avalanche of media coverage, has been the fact that after years of blasting former President Barack Obama’s policies on Syria—which were, in fact, awful—Trump has doubled down on Obama’s worst policy missteps.

Since early 2018, Trump promised three times he would withdraw troops from Syria and end U.S. involvement on the ground. Three times he has failed to follow through. 

Many of the president’s supporters were in a celebratory mood last weekend when Trump ordered the raid that took out Baghdadi. While the mission was a tactical success, it’s not likely to have any strategic benefit. That should surprise no one, as we’ve seen these types of operations fail to accomplish anything of lasting value for decades.

Defying Repression, Protesters Seek to Change Iraq’s Post-Saddam Political Order

Haley Bobseine 

“There was no order to kill, yet throughout the country protesters were shot in the head?” one activist in Baghdad exclaimed, incredulous. “How do you explain that?”

A bloody crackdown on anti-government protests in Iraq has killed more than 275 demonstrators and wounded 11,000 people in recent weeks, and the death toll keeps rising. In the face of the government’s ruthlessness, the continued determination of protesters represents a turning point in Iraq’s post-2003 political order. Diverse segments of the Iraqi population—including elementary and middle-school students, oil workers in Iraq’s southern provinces and trade unions—have mobilized to join the young, mostly Shiite protesters demanding widespread reforms and a new government. Protesters want to undo the entire political system set up by U.S.-backed authorities after the fall of Saddam Hussein, which distributes power along sectarian lines and features restrictive electoral laws that hinder independent candidates, giving the ruling elite little incentive to reform. ...

Iran Has Military Advantage Over U.S. in Middle East Due to Asymmetric Forces, Report Says

by David Brennen 

A new report has warned that Iran is leveraging its asymmetric warfare networks to establish a military advantage over the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East, as Washington and Tehran maintain a tense standoff over Iran's nuclear research program.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) published a new report on Thursday—titled Iran's Networks of Influence in the Middle East—detailing Tehran's success in establishing a series of non-state forces across the region to protect and further its interests.

While the U.S. and its allies are operating with conventional military forces, the report said Iran's strength lies in its influence within non-state militias and insurgent groups in several nations.

IISS said this "third-part capability" has become more significant than Tehran's ballistic missile program, its nascent nuclear capabilities or its large—though outdated—conventional armed forces.

Though the conventional balance is still in favor of the U.S.—by far the most advanced and well-funded military in the world—Iran's capability in the so-called "gray zone" has shifted the balance of effective force towards Tehran…

Did U.S. Troops Have a Robot on the ISIS Raid?

by Kyle Mizokami 

President Trump claims that there was a “robot” on the raid that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Trump claims the raid unfolded too quickly for the robot to be deployed.

The U.S. military is conducting extensive research into operating drones in caves and tunnels, and yes, there probably was a robot present.

President Donald Trump claims that U.S. forces brought a “robot” with them when they raided the hideout of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. At least one outlet has cast doubt on the claim, but the claim is likely true. The U.S. Military has invested considerable time and effort in both subterranean warfare and robotics, and a robot designed to scout tunnel complexes would very likely be brought along on a mission to capture a high value target.

We actually had a robot to go in the tunnel but we didn’t get it because we were tracking him very closely. But we had a robot just in case because we were afraid he had a suicide vest on and if you get close to him and he blows it up, you’re going to die.

The Future Challenges Facing Europe as a Global Actor


Risk has become the lingua franca of modern life. Since the 16th century governments and companies have increasingly assessed threats in terms of risk (Coker, 2013; Peterson, 2011). During the 20th century, economists like John Maynard Keynes theorised risk as a measurable uncertainty; this approach to risk has been expanded across multiple disciplines and subjects (Peterson, 2011). It has, however, been theorised by Beck (2009; 1992) that modern society is now a ‘risk society’ constantly engaging with unquantifiable self-generated risks. As risks are socially constructed and the consequences of risks unknowable, Western states have been unsuccessfully trying to prevent future risks from materialising through pre-emptive action; for instance the Iraq War in 2003 (Beck, 2009, p. 53). Since the end of the Cold War the US and Western states have focused on the dangers posed by failing states, and their relation to terrorism (Mazarr, 2014a). This has been at the expense of more strategically important and pressing threats. Whilst terrorism and failed states pose a threat to European security, this threat has been greatly exaggerated by politicians, the media and institutions (Walt, 2015). It is for this reason that this essay will argue that over the next decade the threat from geopolitics and the changing international order will pose a greater challenge to Europe as a global actor than terrorism. This essay will first outline and evaluate different approaches to risk and uncertainty. Secondly, the essay will assess the extent to which risk, particularly terrorism, has been altered and complicated by modernity. Thirdly, the future threats posed by geopolitics and the changing international system will be critically analysed.

Russia Thought Its Tanks Were Unstoppable (And Then Syria Happened)

by Sebastien Roblin

The interconnected conflicts raging across the Middle East today have amounted to a dreadful human catastrophe with spiraling global consequence. One of their lesser effects has been to deflate the reputations of Western main battle tanks mistakenly thought to be night-invulnerable in the popular imagination.

Iraqi M1 Abrams tanks not only failed to prevent he capture of Mosul in 2014, but they were captured and turned against their owners. In Yemen, numerous Saudi M1s were knocked out by Houthi rebels. Turkey, which had lost a number of M60 Pattons and upgrade M60T Sabra tanks to Kurdish and ISIS fighters eventually deployed its fearsome German-built Leopard 2A4 tanks. ISIS destroyed eight to ten in a matter of days.

While these tanks could have benefited from specific defensive upgrades in some cases, the real lesson to be drawn was less about technical deficiencies and more about crew training, competent morale, and sound tactical employment matter more even than “invulnerable” armor. After all, even the most heavily armored main battle tanks are significantly less well protected from hits to the side, rear or top armor—and rebels with years of combat experience have learned how to ambush imprudently deployed main battle tanks, particularly using long-range anti-tank missiles from miles away.

The Siren Song of Strategic Autonomy


BRUSSELS – For over a year, US President Donald Trump’s protectionist war against China – and his broader use of import tariffs to advance geopolitical objectives – has been fueling anxiety about the future of world trade. But tariffs are only the tip of the iceberg of economic nationalism. If the world doesn’t navigate carefully, hidden hazards could sink the global trading system.

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, open societies were triumphant and international cooperation became the dominant creed. Thirty years later, however, nationalism has turned out to be much more powerful and disruptive than internationalism.

The United States has not found any followers in its aggressive use of tariffs. In developing countries, there is little pressure to implement similar measures, because so many firms manufacture globally, and even those that do not depend on global supply chains. And in developed economies, major sectors that struggled to cope with import competition in the past – such as the clothing and steel industries – have by now mostly adjusted, and no longer play an important role. This explains why US business leaders largely opposed Trump’s tariffs. It thus seems unlikely that the use of tariffs will spread beyond the US-China dispute.

The Rise of Nationalism After the Fall of the Berlin Wall


BERLIN – The fall of the Berlin Wall on the night of November 8, 1989 dramatically and suddenly accelerated the collapse of communism in Europe. The end of travel restrictions between East and West Germany dealt a death blow to the closed society of the Soviet Union. By the same token, it marked a high point for the rise of open societies.

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, open societies were triumphant and international cooperation became the dominant creed. Thirty years later, however, nationalism has turned out to be much more powerful and disruptive than internationalism.

I had become involved in what I call my political philanthropy a decade earlier. I became an advocate of the concept of open society that had been imbued in me by Karl Popper, my mentor at the London School of Economics. Popper had taught me that perfect knowledge was not attainable, and that totalitarian ideologies, which claimed to be in possession of the ultimate truth, could prevail only by repressive means.

In the 1980s, I supported dissidents throughout the Soviet empire, and in 1984 I was able to set up a foundation in my native Hungary. It provided financial support to any activity that was not initiated by the one-party state. The idea was that by encouraging non-party activities, people would become aware of the falsehood of the official dogma – and it worked like a charm. With an annual budget of $3 million, the foundation became stronger than the Ministry of Culture.

America's Great-Power Problems Will Come Back to Haunt It in the Middle East

by Ariel Cohen
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When assessing the implications of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw some one thousand U.S. servicemen and women from Northern Syria, history should be our guide. In the past, when great powers exited a geopolitically critical region, a strategic vacuum ensued. Trump’s hasty withdrawal of troops in Syria, just like his predecessor’s pullout from Iraq, is no exception.

The U.S.-led global architecture we live in today is a product of four generations, paid for by thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars of investment. The international framework's undeniable success has kept America safe and prosperous since 1945. This includes alliances, trade pacts, military bases, democratic values, and is supported by education, technology, business, the arts, and cultural icons. But as some of those become too costly or obsolete, readjustments may become necessary.

After emerging victorious after World War II, the United States inherited the mantle of the British Empire as the global, last resort security provider. NATO, Bretton Woods agreements, the Marshall Plan to rebuild Germany and Japan, painstakingly developed by U.S. policymakers, helped the West to topple the Soviet Union in 1991. Those same institutions continue to keep the world safe and provide an undeniable leg up for U.S. businesses.

Stealth Fighters, Hypersonic Missiles and Aircraft Carriers: China's Military Has Arrived

by Kris Osborn

Aircraft carriers, stealth fighters, anti-satellite weapons, drones, cyber attack technology and a growing arsenal of ballistic missiles are all among a series of Chinese weapons said to present serious concerns for Pentagon leaders and weapons developers, according to DoD’s annual China report.

The Pentagon 2018 report, called “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” details a broad spectrum of risks to include global economic expansion, massive military modernization and breakthrough weapons technology able to threaten US superiority.

While of course the report emerges within the context of a complicated, multi-faceted and stressed US-China relationship which includes growing tensions, military rivalry and some measure of cooperation as well. A recent DoD news report, for instance, was careful to mention China as a potential “adversary,” not “enemy.”

Disrupting Climate Change Through Innovation


LISBON – Because it poses an existential threat to humanity, climate change represents the bad kind of disruption. But it can – and must – be fought with the good kind of disruption: innovation. Since the Industrial Revolution, disruptive innovation has generated growth, created jobs, and opened new avenues for investment. And in the case of climate change, it could save humanity, by accelerating global efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. In fact, innovation will be absolutely necessary for a successful transition to a green economy that leaves no one behind. Without it, we have less chance of achieving genuine sustainability.

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, open societies were triumphant and international cooperation became the dominant creed. Thirty years later, however, nationalism has turned out to be much more powerful and disruptive than internationalism.

The alternative, of course, is unthinkable. To understand the extent of the threat posed by climate change in the event that we do nothing, consider where we are today. Average global temperatures have already risen by almost 1°C above pre-industrial levels, owing to the accumulation of GHGs in the atmosphere; and two-thirds of that increase has occurred since 1975. If the trend continues, global average temperatures could rise by 4°C by the end of this century.

The Mad Scramble for Syria

by Kathy Gilinsan

After weeks of chaos in the northeast, great powers redrew a small chunk of the map. And a bigger story is just beginning.

The U.S. pulled back. Turkey moved in. Kurdish forces retreated. The Syrian government gloated. Russia struck a deal and sent in more troops. More than 100 people died and more than 100,000 fled.

All this happened over a few weeks in October across a long but narrow strip of Syrian land running 300 miles along the Turkish border. It looked like a 21st-century great-power scramble to redraw the map. In reality, not much territory changed hands. So after almost a month of chaos, the U.S. is caught in a new maelstrom of competing proxies, its weak leverage further damaged, and the future of its anti-Islamic State fight thrown into doubt…

An Era of Unparalleled Espionage Risk Is Upon Us

Scott Stewart
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Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces the creation of a new initiative to crack down on Chinese intelligence officials stealing intellectual property from U.S. corporations through hacking and espionage during a press conference at the Justice Department on Nov. 1, 2018.

Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces the creation of a new initiative to crack down on Chinese intelligence officials stealing intellectual property from U.S. corporations through hacking and espionage during a press conference at the Justice Department on Nov. 1, 2018.

China and Russia have become increasingly aggressive in their industrial espionage efforts, though the proliferation of espionage tools ensures they are far from the only threat actors.

Technology has also made it easier to hack into corporate systems remotely and to download massive quantities of data from inside an organization. Combined with the spread of post-truth attitudes in the workplace, these factors create an environment rife with corporate espionage risk. 


The title above comes from Stacy Liberatore’s November 7, 2019 article in the DailyMail.com. She notes that The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI), in a newly published interim report (artificialintellreport), concludes that Russia and China are ahead of the U.S. in utilizing AI in their military operations and equipment. The report urges the Pentagon to “develop AI-powered security and defense technologies; before the U.S. falls victim to increased cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns, and the erosion of privacy and civil liberties.”

The interim report was released on Tuesday, with the final report expected to be out in the spring of 2020.

“We are concerned that America’s role in the world as the leading innovator is threatened,” wrote Commission Chair Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, and Commission Vice Chair and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work. “We know strategic competitiors are investing in [AI] research and applications. It is only reasonable to conclude that AI-enabled capabilities could be used to threaten our critical infrastructure, amplify disinformation campaigns, and wage war.”

“China, which the report names as the ‘most strategic competitor,’ has declared its mission [strategic intent] to become the world leader in AI by 2020,” Ms. Liberatore wrote. China has pledged to spend $150B from now till 2030, underscoring the importance that China and President Xi have placed on becoming the dominant AI player on the world stage.


The title above comes from Lily Hay Newman’s November 10, 2019 article she posrted to WIRED.com. WIRED.com, which is one of the best cyber security and technology websites on the Worldwide Web, held a WIRED25 Conference in San Francisco this week to discuss the latest trends and threats in the cyber domain. Anne Neuberger, the head of NSA’s new Cybersecurity Directorate provided the audience with her observations of some of the more serious cyber security threats facing the U.S. and our allies.

Ms. Neuberger “particularly emphasized the importance of proactively defending against vulmerabilities in emerging technologies like 5G, autonomous vehicles, quantum computing — and swarms of malicious drones,” Ms. Newman wrote.

“We felt the need to ensure that while using the technologies we understand the risks to our democracy, our society, and our economy, and we ensure we’re accounting for those risks at the same pace that the advancements become realities,” Ms. Neuberger said.

As was widely reported, the NSA stood-up their new cyber security directorate this past October, “with the goal of bolstering network and critical infrastructure defense by facilitating better communication about the threats within the NSA, and beyond to the private sector,” Ms. Newman wrote.

Dysfunctional Congress could leave soldiers behind


To arm America’s soldiers with the capabilities they will need to confront China’s increasingly formidable military, the U.S. Army is undertaking its most comprehensive and ambitious reform in decades. Sadly, however, congressional dysfunction now presents a major obstacle to ensuring that America’s soldiers can prevail in a future great power conflict.

Each year, the Army depends on Congress to pass annual defense authorization and appropriation bills before the new fiscal year begins on October 1. With a welcome exception last year, meeting this deadline has become increasingly rare. This year, Congress ignored the Army’s budget request and once again turned to a legislative tool known as a continuing resolution (CR), which provides temporary funding. A CR essentially cuts and pastes last year’s budget into a short-term law, which handcuffs reformers by denying them the authority and funding to initiate new projects.

The current CR expires on November 21.

Should the military treat the electromagnetic spectrum as its own domain?

By: Nathan Strout
Military leaders are reluctant to treat the electromagnetic spectrum as a separate domain of warfare as they do with air, land, sea, space and cyber, even as the service increasingly recognize the importance of superiority in this area.

At the Association of Old Crows conference Oct. 30, representatives from the Army, Navy and Air Force weighed in on a lingering debate: whether the electromagnetic spectrum should be considered its own domain.

In short, while the spectrum can legitimately be described as a physically distinct domain, it does not make sense logistically for the Department of Defense to declare it a separate domain of warfare, they said.

“It’s something that we’ve had a lot of discussion about … In one way, you can argue that the physical nature of the electromagnetic spectrum, the physical nature of it being a domain. However, I understand the implications and those are different challenges for a large organization like the Department of Defense. So I think that there’s a little bit of a different discussion when you talk about domain and what that implies for the Department of Defense and each of the departments in a different way,” said Brig. Gen. David Gaedecke, director of electromagnetic spectrum superiority for the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements.