21 November 2019

What Does the Kartarpur Corridor Really Mean for India-Pakistan Relations?

By Vinay Kaura

Hidden motives and lingering tensions mean the corridor’s impact on the overall relationship will be limited.

The longstanding desire of the Sikh community to be able to visit one of their holiest sites, the last resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, in Pakistan has been fulfilled at last. Just four kilometers from the international border and visible on clear days, the Sikh shrine was awarded to Pakistan at the time of British India’s Partition in 1947.

It is indeed a pivotal moment in the history of India-Pakistan relations, which has received considerable public attention. Even the U.S. State Department underlined its importance when it gave a statement on the Kartarpur Corridor on the day of its opening. However, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s expression of gratitude to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan for honoring the feelings of Indians on Kartarpur was baffling and contradictory.

Optimists would argue that when virtually every avenue of people-to-people contact between the two hostile neighbors has been closed, the opening of the Kartarpur corridor should be seen as the most positive development.

Modi Was Right. India Isn’t Ready for Free Trade.

By Harsh V. Pant , Nandini Sarma

In late October, India decided to pull out of a massive trade deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which would have included 16 countries and covered around 40 percent of the global economy. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his decision at an RCEP summit held in Bangkok in early November. The negotiations, he said, failed to address India’s “outstanding issues and concerns.”

India’s objections to the trade agreement aren’t hard to understand. For one, India has trade deficits with 11 of the 15 other RCEP members, many of them sizable. Taking that into account, at the start of negotiations, India had demanded a three-tiered structure for phasing out its tariffs for different groups of countries. For example, India would have provided an initial tariff reduction on 65 percent of goods from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with reductions on another 15 percent phased in over a 10-year period. For countries such as Japan and South Korea, with which India already had trade agreements, the reduction would be on 62.5 percent of items. The rest of RCEP members, including China, which doesn’t currently have a free trade agreement with India, would have received a reduction on 42.5 percent.

No, Pakistan’s Gwadar Port Is Not a Chinese Naval Base (Just Yet)

By Krzysztof Iwanek

The Pakistani navy is entrenching itself in Gwadar but there is no evidence of the Chinese forces’ presence yet.

With growing U.S.-China tensions and with the rise of the simplifying “Thucydides Trap” narrative, we are often tempted to perceive many of Beijing actions as done deals, and as initiatives of far-reaching, strategic implications. The truth, as always, is that reality is complex and only time will tell. One of the stories that often flows on this hype is that Pakistan’s civilian port of Gwadar – which is now being developed with the help of Beijing – will become a Chinese naval base.

To be sure, I do think it would be natural, from a strategic perspective, for Beijing to start running a base for its navy in Pakistan at some point in the future. But just because I believe so does not mean I can twist and cherry-pick evidence to prove it is already happening.

Has Gwadar port become a base for the Chinese navy? There is no open source evidence for this and the current level of the port’s development would make this rather impossible. There is also no public inter-government agreement or a statement of each of the governments available to prove that Islamabad has handed over Gwadar – or is going to do so – for the use of the PLAN (the People’s Liberation Army Navy, i.e. the Chinese navy). Many things may be kept secret of course, though in the case of Djibouti, we did learn of the agreement between the governments before the base was officially set up.

Sri Lanka Has a New Strongman President

By Ravi Agrawal , Kathryn Salam

Welcome to Foreign Policy’s weekly South Asia Brief. The highlights this week: Gotabaya Rajapaksa is Sri Lanka’s new president, a new political map of India stirs controversy, and Pakistan faces a biblical-scale locust crisis.

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The Rajapaksas Are Back in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s new president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, promised at his swearing-in on Monday to ensure tolerance for all religions and cultures, but it might not be so simple. Rajapaksa won 52.3 percent of the vote on Saturday. He was supported—by his own admission—mainly by the Sinhalese majority, most of whom are Buddhists. Minority Tamil Hindus and Muslims voted mostly for his opponents.

Both minority groups have reason to fear their new government. Rajapaksa was Sri Lanka’s defense minister from 2005 to 2015, overseeing the brutal crushing of the Tamil separatist movement and ending 25 years of civil war. The United Nations Human Rights Council is still waiting for Sri Lanka to conduct a credible investigation into war crimes in those years.

Will Gotabaya Revisit Sri Lanka’s Hambantota ‘Debt Trap’ With China?

By Ankit Panda

The new president’s election manifesto pledged to “revisit” the 99 year lease transfer of Hambantota port.

On Sunday, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a former Sri Lankan defense chief accused of human rights violations, won the country’s presidential elections. Gotabaya rode a wave of Sinhala nationalist sentiment and security concerns, which were made all the more acute after this year’s deadly Easter bombings, claimed by a local Sri Lankan extremist group pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. His victory fits neatly into a narrative about South Asian states turning gradually to illiberal democracy (at least, so writes James Crabtree at the Nikkei Asian Review). He was sworn in on Monday.

Here at The Diplomat, Sudha Ramachandran sums up what might be expected of Gotabaya on domestic and geopolitical issues. “Much will depend on the new government’s relations with Beijing,” she concludes. Much of the pre-election commentary focused on Gotabaya’s likely approach to China through the frame of the tremendous rapprochement between Beijing and Colombo that had taken place during the presidential tenure of his brother, Mahinda. (Mahinda, term-limited from seeking the presidency, is a likely contender for the prime ministership, parliamentary politic permitting.)

A requiem for the city of Hong Kong

Richard C. Bush

We are likely witnessing the end of Hong Kong as we know it. What began as a refugee society after the end of World War II and the civil war victory of the Chinese Communist Party, transformed itself into an international financial center and a prosperous, middle-class metropolis by the 1990s. Hong Kong was also a test of the proposition that a capitalist society with basic political freedoms and the rule of law could coexist with the Leninist regime that became the city’s sovereign in 1997. The term for this arrangement was “one country, two systems.” Proving that proposition correct would require good sense and restraint on all sides. In the end, the possibility of coexistence vanished in clouds of tear gas and flames from petrol bombs.

There is the belief that the cause of the current crisis is social and economic inequality, and that if only that problem could be solved the crowds on the street would abandon their protests and life would return to normal. There is truth in that belief. Hong Kong has one of the highest concentrations of wealth in the world. Young people cannot get good jobs or afford an apartment. As a result, they are blocked from getting married and having families.

But economic and social inequality has existed for decades, and little or nothing was done about it. Hong Kong has many bright people who understand how to correct the various elements of the inequality problem. What was missing was the political will to do so. One reason is that most members of the business elite were not willing to share their wealth. Another is that the central government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) — Hong Kong’s sovereign — believed that it would be possible to preserve the city’s admirable prosperity and stability by ruling through that business elite and the leaders of the civil service. In return, the central government let the tycoons keep their wealth and limited the ability of the population as a whole to choose the city’s leaders.

Now Is the Time for the U.S. to Stand With Hong Kong


Benedict Rogers is co-founder and chair of Hong Kong Watch and Johnny Patterson is the director of Hong Kong Watch.

This has been one of the darkest weeks in the Hong Kong protest movement. On Monday, one police officer shot a protestor with a live-round from point-blank range, another was filmed driving a motorbike into a group of protesters; in a separate incident, a protester set a man on fire during an argument. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the universities literally became battlegrounds as riot police stormed campuses and put students under siege.

With the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump, Brexit paralysis continuing in Britain, and turmoil in the Middle East, the attritional protests in Hong Kong could easily end up neglected and forgotten. But now more than ever, Hongkongers need our solidarity.

Grassroots groups have sprung up in major world capitals with a simple message: “Stand with Hong Kong”. In the United States, their activism has focused on one call: the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act through Congress. Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers have taken to the streets to make this plea to U.S. Senators. The act would be a symbolic statement that human rights and democracy are at the heart of U.S. policy in Hong Kong.

Chinese troops that cleaned up Hong Kong were from top counterterrorism brigade

Jun Mai

Soldiers in bright basketball jerseys made no effort to hide their colours, but why were they on the streets?

Analyst says presence of troops from Xuefeng Special Operations Brigade raises questions about what PLA might do next

Hong Kong’s streets on Saturday were several dressed in colourful basketball jerseys.

While that might not have meant much to the casual observer, those with a grounding in military matters would have noticed that besides shirt numbers, the fluorescent orange and blue tops also carried a name: “Xuefeng Special Operations Brigade”.
Part of the Western Theatre Command, which oversees a vast area in the west of China, including Xinjiang and Tibet, Xuefeng – according to earlier reports by the PLA Daily, the mouthpiece of

China’s military – is one of the country’s leading counterterrorism brigades.

In 2010, its troops took part in a joint counterterrorism drill in a mountainous region of northern Pakistan, close to the border with Afghanistan. The exercise involved a range of scenarios, including dealing with hostage situations.

The brigade is also trained to be able to deal with a wide range of environments, including deserts and open plains, and have travelled to South America and Europe, the reports said.

China’s Internet Freedom Hit a New Low in 2019, and the World Could Follow

By Sarah Cook and Mai Truong

No user or platform is safe from the leadership’s insatiable appetite for ideological conformity.

Late last month, public security agencies and a school in Hebei Province “seriously criticized” a 15-year-old student for accessing blocked websites and browsing information that was deemed “antagonistic toward China.” A few days earlier, another Chinese netizen had reported that his account on Tencent’s social media platform WeChat had been suspended for “spreading malicious rumors” after he posted a comment about Winnie the Pooh, whose likeness is often used to mock President Xi Jinping. It will soon be even easier for authorities to track down such individuals: as of December 1, all telecommunications companies will be required to obtain facial scans of new internet or mobile phone users as part of the real-name registration process.

These are just a few recent examples of the daunting growth in restrictions on expression, privacy, and access to information in China. Indeed, the newly released edition of Freedom House’s annual global assessment of internet freedom, Freedom on the Net, identified the Chinese government as the world’s worst abuser of internet freedom for the fourth consecutive year. But even by China’s own poor track record, the past year stood out, as the country’s score reached its lowest point since the inception of the report a decade ago.

Lips and teeth: Repairing China-North Korea relations

China has reset its ties with North Korea and repaired a relationship that had suffered its most severe downturn ever. The Beijing-Pyongyang relationship, long called as “close as lips and teeth,” took a decidedly negative turn in 2017 as Pyongyang’s confrontation with the United States appeared to be pushing the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war. Through its actions, North Korea seemed to willfully ignore China’s interests. Beijing responded with stark warnings and support for tougher U.N. Security Council sanctions.

The year 2018 brought a remarkable turnabout on the peninsula, including historic new U.S. and South Korean dialogues with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But as diplomacy accelerated, concern was mounting in Beijing that China was being left out of the game and North Korea was drifting out of its orbit. China moved decisively to reassert itself and repair relations with North Korea through an unprecedented series of summits between President Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un, the first visit by a Chinese leader to North Korea in 14 years, and renewed contacts between party and military officials.

From persuasion to coercion: Beijing’s approach to Taiwan and Taiwan’s response

Beijing’s goal concerning Taiwan is decidedly revisionist. It wishes to end the island’s separate political existence and incorporate it into the People’s Republic of China under terms similar to those employed for Hong Kong — known as one country, two systems (1C2S) — and so place limits on Taiwan’s sovereignty and democracy.

That formula was unacceptable to Taiwan’s authoritarian leaders when it was first developed in the late 1980s. Once Taiwan made the transition to democracy in the early 1990s, the public rejected it as well. Democracy also opened the door to the minority on Taiwan who wanted de jure independence and total separation from China, a source of great concern in Beijing. Still, Beijing held out the hope that Taiwan could be persuaded to accept 1C2S, and those hopes rose when Ma Ying-jeou, then head of the main conservative party, the Kuomintang, became president in 2008. Thereafter, cross-Strait relations did improve economically, but for a variety of reasons the political relationship stalled. Worse yet for China, Ma was succeeded in 2016 by Tsai Ing-wen, the leader of the Democratic Progressive Party, which Beijing associates with the goal of independence.

This Is How America Will Keep Iran Away from Saudi Arabia

by Bradley Bowman, Andrew Gabel

In response to the September 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced plans to deploy additional personnel and air and missile defense assets to the Middle East – including one Patriot battery, four Sentinel radars, and 200 support personnel. This deployment represents the latest American effort to deter Iranian aggression and highlights the growing and evolving air and missile threat to the United States and its partners.

At a September 20 press conference, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford said that Riyadh had requested U.S. assistance following the September 14 attack. “The Iranian regime is waging a deliberate campaign to destabilize the Middle East and impose costs on the international economy,” Esper said.

The attack, Esper continued, carried Tehran’s fingerprints. “It is clear,” he said, “that the weapons used in the attack were Iranian-produced and not launched from Yemen.” Three weeks ago, despite disagreements regarding the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany joined the U.S. in blaming Tehran for the attack.

The Importance of the Tactical Level: The Arab-Israeli War of 1973

Lorris Beverelli

It is widely agreed that there are three levels of war.[1] From the general to the local, they are the strategic, operational, and tactical levels. Strategy is the alignment of means and ways to accomplish a political end. Strategy is about winning the war. Tactics consist of locally achieving victory through a series of actions that, taken globally, participate directly or indirectly in the accomplishment of strategy. Tactics are typically about winning battles. Finally, operations consist of connecting the tactics to the strategy. To do so, the operational level aims to create campaigns—a series of tactical actions which pursue specific operational aims—to ultimately accomplish specific strategic goals. The operational level is typically about winning a series of campaigns to accomplish the stated strategy.

Each level of war is essential to achieve success, and are all equally important. The Arab-Israeli War of 1973 provides an illustration of why the tactical level is essential. This article will first provide elements to understand the broader aspect of the conflict, before demonstrating how the lack of tactical skill doomed the attackers.

How the Iranian Government Shut Off the Internet

After years of centralizing internet control, Iran pulled the plug on connectivity for nearly all of its citizens.

Amid widespread demonstrations over rising gasoline prices, Iranians began experiencing internet slowdowns over the past few days that became a near-total internet and mobile data blackout on Saturday. The government is apparently seeking to silence protesters and quell unrest. So how does a country like Iran switch off internet access to a population of more than 80 million? It's not an easy thing to do.

Though some countries, namely China, architected their internet infrastructure from the start with government control in mind, most don't have a central set of levers they can pull to influence countrywide access to content or connectivity. But regimes around the world, including those in Russia and Iran, have increasingly been retrofitting traditional private and decentralized networks with cooperation agreements, technical implants, or a combination to give officials more influence. In countries like Ethiopia, Venezuela, and Iraq, along with disputed regions like Kashmir, government-led social media blocking and more extensive outages have become the norm.

Trump and North Korea: Why 2020 Could Look Like 2017

by Daniel L. Davis

The key thing for Trump and his senior advisors to recognize is that peace with North Korea is possible and a reduction of the threat from Kim is attainable. Here is how to achieve it.

President Donald Trump has boasted he alone was able to bring reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the negotiating table and has often cited the cessation of long-range missile and nuclear warhead testing as evidence of his success. North Korea, however, says it has been “betrayed” by Trump due to the lack of negotiations progress—and if there is no change in U.S. policy by the end of the year, then the Hermit Kingdom will no longer feel bound to its moratorium on testing. 

In other words, if Trump doesn’t quickly reengage with North Korea diplomatically, then the year 2020 could end up looking a lot like the days of “fire and fury” in 2017 and the risk of destructive war will again rear its ugly head.

There is still time, however, to avoid unnecessary escalation. Last Thursday, North Korean state media announced that the United States has proposed a new round of working-level negotiations in December. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper followed up on Friday saying the United States would be “flexible” on future joint military exercises with South Korea—exercises the North views as antagonistic—if that facilitates the diplomatic track. 

The war between Israel and Hamas has its roots in Britain's shameful betrayal of the Palestinians

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Israeli soldiers stand in front of a banner with a copy of a letter from the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (a leader of the British Jewish community) known as the Balfour Declaration of 1917, as Palestinians, Israeli and foreign protesters demonstrate in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on November 06, 2010. 

You’ve seen the pictures, read about the bloodshed, heard the accusations. The military head of Hamas was assassinated by Israel in Gaza. Rockets fired in retaliation killed three Israelis and Israel then went into overkill. The November anniversary of the Balfour declaration is marked not with wimpy fireworks but real bombs, big bangs.

It is exactly 95 years since Lord Balfour, the then Foreign Secretary, informed Baron Rothschild that Britain would back a new Jewish state on Palestinian territory as demanded by Zionists, some of them terrorists who had attacked British targets. Lord Edwin Montagu, the only Jewish member of the UK cabinet, objected vehemently to the decision: “All my life I have been trying to get out of the ghetto and you want to force me back there again”. He was overruled by his colleagues, some of them avowed anti-Semites.

Don’t Believe the Hype. Russia Is Losing in the Middle East—and Around the World.

In the West, liberals and conservatives alike seem to agree that Russia has reemerged as a great power with a global reach. And in Russia itself, well-known foreign-policy experts assert that the West had best get used to their country’s resurgence.

But such appraisals, some of which tend toward alarmism, don’t hold up under the bright light of evidence. For one, Russia’s GDP is just a little larger than Spain’s—a country with a population less than a third of Russia’s. And Russia’s military budget is less than a 10th of the United States’, about a fifth of China’s, and smaller than Japan’s.

Furthermore, Russia’s foreign-policy successes have been overblown. Consider Syria. According to the standard narrative, in 2015 Russian President Vladimir Putin took advantage of U.S. President Barack Obama’s vacillation on Syria to intervene militarily, which gave him the upper hand in the ensuing conflict.

In truth, Putin’s moves had little to do with Obama. Syria has been Moscow’s strategic partner since 1956. Soviet-bloc arms sales started that year, as did the training of Syrian soldiers and pilots in Soviet-allied Czechoslovakia and Poland. Syria also made its first request for a deployment of Soviet bombers and fighter planes—which the Kremlin turned down—in 1956, in the wake of the Suez crisis and as a counter to Israel and Turkey. In the ensuing Cold War decades, the Soviet Union became Syria’s primary source for economic aid and weaponry. In 1971, Soviet warships and submarines started using Syria’s deep-water port at Tartus. And in 1980, Damascus and Moscow signed a treaty that contained provisions for strategic cooperation.

What Does the US Military Need For A War In Space? It’s Hard to Say


The plans for war above the atmosphere remain so tightly classified that industry can’t start building the things that will be needed.

It’s no secret that Pentagon leaders believe that future wars will be fought in space. But operating concepts and battle plans remain under such tight wraps that it’s hard for the defense industry to start making the satellites, spacecraft, and materiel that will be needed for the fight.

That’s a problem, acknowledged U.S. Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond, who leads the 3-month-old U.S. Space Command.

“We have a concept of operations on how we’re going to operate [in space]. I invited industry to come in and say: ‘OK, we’re going to give it to you,’” Raymond said Monday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “The problem was, it was so classified that very few could come in. We’re working very hard to reduce the classification on issues that allow more conversation back and forth.”

In recent years, Pentagon officials have said future satellites need to be able to defend themselves and be more maneuverable. Most military satellites orbiting the Earth — collectively worth many billions of dollars — are unable to do that, which has prompted military officials to warn that China and Russia could easily shoot them down, jam their signals, or blind their cameras.

Infographic Of The Day: What Countries Hold The Most Money In Circulation?

How much money is in circulation around the world at any given time? And how would the money supply of each country compare against each other?

The Uneven Global Response to Climate Change

Recently published climate science ultimately underscores the same points: The impacts of climate change are advancing faster than experts had previously predicted, and they are increasingly irreversible. The latest blockbuster report, from a United Nations grouping of biodiversity experts in early May, found that 1 million species are now in danger of extinction unless dramatic changes are made to everything from fuel sources to agricultural production. Despite these warnings, however, scientists confirm that the world remains on pace to blow past the goal of restricting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, likely with catastrophic consequences.

Persistent climate skepticism from key global figures, motivated in part by national economic interests, is slowing diplomatic efforts to systematically address the drivers of climate change. In particular, U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement immediately undermined the pact but has also had long-term implications. Countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia, who were never eager to participate in the first place, now have cover to back away from their commitments.

Is TikTok a threat to national security?

Why is TikTok, a trendy video-streaming app, on the radar of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)? This interagency committee — which reviews foreign acquisitions of U.S. businesses that could threaten national security — opened an investigation of TikTok, owned by ByteDance, a Chinese firm.

ByteDance entered the U.S. market by acquiring Musical.ly, a similar short-video-streaming app, in 2017 and then rebranding the product as TikTok. It is this acquisition that is apparently under scrutiny. (Because CFIUS never publicly comments on its investigations, it has neither confirmed nor denied these reports.)

It may seem unlikely that TikTok and its 15-second videos popular with teenagers worldwide could pose a threat to national security. TikTok, in fact, is the latest in a string of recent CFIUS investigations of tech companies. Within the past two years, CFIUS has scuttled a proposed merger between MoneyGram and the Chinese firm Ant Financial and compelled Chinese owners to divest the dating app Grindr and the health start-up PatientsLikeMe.

Why Is Google Slow-Walking Its Breakthroughs in AI?

The company’s new facial-recognition service comes with limitations to prevent abuse, which sometimes lets competitors take the lead.

Google became what it is by creating advanced new technology and throwing it open to all. Giant businesses and individuals alike can use the company’s search and email services, or tap its targeting algorithms and vast audience for ad campaigns. Yet Google’s progress on artificial intelligence now appears to have the company rethinking its do-what-you-will approach. The company has begun withholding or restricting some of its AI research and services, to protect the public from misuse.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has made “AI first” a company slogan, but the company’s wariness of AI’s power has sometimes let its competitors lead instead. Google is a distant third in the cloud computing market behind Amazon and Microsoft. Late last year Google’s cloud division announced that it would not offer a facial-recognition service that customers could adapt for their own uses due to concerns about its potential for abuse.

Although Amazon and Microsoft have recently called for federal regulation of automated facial recognition, both have offered the technology for years. Amazon’s customers include the sheriff’s office of Washington County, Oregon, where deputies use its algorithms to check suspects against a database of mug shots.

After Protest: Pathways Beyond Mass Mobilization


The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace gratefully acknowledges support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Ford Foundation that helped make this report possible.

In the past ten years, a startling wave of large-scale citizen protests has washed over the political life of every region of the world. In countries as diverse as Algeria, Armenia, Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and Sudan, protests have exploded, often with little warning and sometimes with dramatic outcomes. Protesters have taken to the streets to speak out about corruption, economic injustices, environmental questions, repression, and a range of particular local issues. Several protests have driven political leaders out of office; some have triggered draconian government reprisals. Mass mobilizations have occurred in democracies and nondemocracies and advanced and developing economies alike. They are now a major feature of global politics.

These protests attract considerable attention while they are occurring. Media coverage is extensive as the drama of revolt plays itself out on the streets of cities around the world. Large numbers of observers offer their views on the sparks that led to the protests, the makeup of the protest movements, and the goals they seek. Iconic pictures capture the tumult of huge protests in Harare, Hong Kong, Kyiv, New York, Paris, and São Paulo, and millions of people across the world see them as symbols of this age of rage.

Cold fusion: A potential energy gamechanger


A desktop-sized nuclear reactor that generates energy without radioactivity – it sounds too good to be true. Indeed, the discovery of a novel form of nuclear energy called “cold fusion,” proclaimed in 1989 by the chemists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, has long been dismissed by the mainstream scientific community as a case of faulty measurement or even self-delusion.

Some scientists disagreed, however, finding more and more evidence for radioactivity-free nuclear energy generation occurring under the sorts of conditions Fleischmann and Pons had created: in crystalline materials infused with large quantities of hydrogen or its non-radioactive isotope deuterium.

Now a combination of three factors – accumulation of credible experimental results over the ensuing 30-odd years, resolution of some major issues regarding reproducibility and a developing technology base – has brought cold fusion to the threshold of a breakout.

Big players are quietly investing substantial sums into cold fusion research, positioning themselves for what could turn out to be a major game-changer on the global energy scene. Japan and the United States are way ahead.

Rigid Structures, Evolving Threat: Preventing the Proliferation and Use of Chemical Weapons

Chemical weapons are back. Today, old actors are employing new forms of chemical weapons, and new chemical weapons (CW) states are employing them in new ways. Meanwhile crude forms of chemical weapons have fallen within the reach of non-state actors. The willingness of some state and non-state actors to use or acquire chemical weapons appears to have increased, and the potential for state or non-state actors to field CW capabilities is growing rapidly. Unless the international nonproliferation regime can adapt to address the threat of chemical weapons, these concerning trends will almost certainly intensify in the foreseeable future as proliferation networks and emerging technologies with CW implications mature.

This study examines the evolving and changing nature of chemical weapons and how the system of restraint—comprised of norms, taboos, deterrence, and denial of benefit—must adapt to ensure that the proliferation and use of chemical weapons do not reemerge as endemic features of the global security landscape. The study provides a framework for structuring the problem, identifies gaps and challenges, and puts forward options for improving the global effort to prevent the proliferation and use of these weapons.

SOCOM is working on a mechanical ‘third arm’ that may tout a drone-killing weapon system

U.S. special operations forces could eventually deploy with an articulated mechanical ‘third arm’ that could potentially detect, track, and classify incoming unmanned aerial systems, Task & Purpose has learned.

The system, currently called the Small Arms Stabilization Platform/Counter Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Weapon System, is one of several subsystems to come out of U.S. Special Operations Command’s Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) effort that media outlets dubbed the “Iron Man suit,” Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a SOCOM spokesman, told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.

The system “combines a lightweight modular gyro-stabilization device to enable the operator to engage targets with more accuracy,” Hawkins told Task & Purpose. “It’s essentially a system that has a multirole capability against air-ground-and maritime threats.”

“Not only are we talking the stabilization device that enables the operator to engage with greater accuracy, but detecting tracking and targeting and classifying targets prior to engagement,” Hawkins added. “There’s potential for an auto-detect feature. The specific capabilities aren’t sketched out yet, but we’ve identified several for further maturation and testing.”

New Army Network ‘A Revolution’ For Airborne: Commander


Since World War II, every airdrop has been a well-armed leap of faith into the unknown. A new tactical wireless network could change that.

82nd Airborne paratroopers practice an airdrop.

WASHINGTON: From D-Day to today, every time a parachute unit hits the ground, it shatters. A well-ordered formation breaks apart into individuals, strewn across the landscape and unsure of where their comrades and commanders have landed. Leaders race to reform a fighting force before the enemy can pick the scattered paratroopers off.

Now the famed 82nd Airborne is testing to see how much faster could that force form up and move out if paratroopers could see each others’ locations in real time on a digital map. What new tactics would become possible?

”Right now, to gain accountability, I touch a kid on the shoulder and say, ‘oh, there you are.’ And when I’ve touched 4,400 of them, I know the brigade’s assembled,” said Col. Andrew Saslav, who commands the 1st Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division.

Aircraft-carriers are under threat from modern missiles

If carriers and the planes that fly off them do not adapt, American allies in Asia will be in trouble

“No piece of hardware better exemplifies America’s military might than an aircraft-carrier,” declare the memoirs of Ashton Carter, America’s defence secretary in 2015-17. Nor does any other piece of hardware so plainly exemplify what is wrong with America’s military thinking. Aircraft-carriers are the largest and most expensive machines in the history of warfare. A new American Ford-class ship costs $13bn—more than the annual defence budget of Poland or Pakistan. However, as precision missiles become faster, more accurate and more numerous, these beasts look increasingly like giant floating targets.

Although America has by far the world’s largest fleet of carriers—11 of the full-sized sort, plus half a dozen smaller ones—their appeal is global, and growing. China’s first domestically built carrier will be commissioned within months. Britain’s second modern carrier began its sea trials in September. Even pacifist Japan is converting two destroyers to carry jets, for the first time since the second world war.

Ditch the Bomb, not the NPT

By Sergio Duarte

World order will be secured only when the whole world has laid down these weapons which seem to offer us present security but threaten the future survival of the human race. —President John F. Kennedy, State of the Union address, 1962

At 2017’s fiftieth anniversary celebration of the signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in Washington, DC, some participants enthused that the treaty should last for the next five decades and beyond.

On the contrary, however, a recent provocative and timely article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists by Tom Sauer and Joelien Pretorius (“Is it time to ditch the NPT?”) expressed serious doubts about the NPT’s longevity and actual usefulness, in view of the disappointing implementation of some of its key provisions.

In response, Adam Scheinman, a recognized expert in arms control and nuclear non-proliferation matters, wrote “No, it is not time to ditch the NPT,” which disagreed sharply the former’s premise, and extolled the enduring value of the NPT—pointing out its contribution to world security and stability.

Agencies need a long view on infrastructure for connected devices

By: Brian Wright 

Marines with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment use tablets to help them in a training exercise at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Oct. 14, 2015. The tablets are wirelessly connected through an encrypted internal Wi-Fi network allowing Marines to coordinate and maneuver more efficiently in a tactical environment while securely using various applications on the devices.

In early August, the National Institute of Standards and Technology held a forum to secure feedback from industry on an internal report released in June that focused on managing risks associated with the internet of things. The genesis behind this report and meeting is for NIST to develop a core baseline for IoT security, which would serve as a good starting point for agency deployments.

IoT involves putting sensors on devices to gather real-time insights for better decision-making and connecting everything from door locks to lights to heating and cooling systems. IoT also can be used to connect sensors to equipment and supplies as a way to improve supply chains, logistics and inventories, or to prevent insider threats by tracking and managing foot traffic of personnel in federal buildings. At its best, this real-time information makes it possible to see patterns, and predict what’s next, such as when a shipment will be delivered, when equipment breaks, or how external factors, like traffic or weather, affect operations.