29 November 2019

US And India Grow Closer Strategically – Analysis

By Todd Royal

The Financial Times (FT)in the first quarter of 2019 stated the world is now living in the “Asian Century.” FT goes onto mark the times have moved from a western to Asian model becoming the cornerstone for the remainder of the century. The former U.S. administration realized this reality years earlier when it made a policy decision to “Pivot to Asia.” 

Now the current U.S. administration is continuing this pivot by wrapping up the first ever, joint U.S.-India military drills that involved live-fire drills and search-and-seizure training. The exercise dubbed – “Tiger Triumph” – “brought together 500 American Marines and sailors, and about 1,200 Indian soldiers, sailors and air force personnel to train side-by-side for nine days.” At one point during the exercise and ocean drills an Indian helicopter landed on an American naval vessel in the Bay of Bengal. The main goal of this nine-day exercise was “to coordinate more ambitiously on challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.” 

The two countries signed a mutual defense pact in 2018. This pact allows for exercises and “transfer of advanced (U.S.) weaponry and communication systems to India.” This type of nation-state partnership is out of the norm for India. Historically, India doesn’t partner this publicly with the U.S., or other western powers such as NATO, or the European Union (EU). This non-alignment with western powers is confirmed when Russia is the only other country India has completed military exercises with that involved all three branches of its armed forces.

Pakistan’s Haqqani Network Increases Its Profile in Afghan Peace Talks

By Umair Jamal

The recent prisoner swap between the United States and the Afghan Taliban is the first major development since the collapse of the peace talks earlier this year, which suggests that the peace process’ revival has been accepted by all major stakeholders. The development, which was facilitated by Islamabad and endorsed by the Afghan government, Washington, and the Taliban, indicates that the restoration of dialogue has formally begun.

In Afghanistan’s context, the progress shows that the Afghan government is ready to work with the United States and other regional stakeholders despite the former’s previous rejection of the peace process. From the Afghan government’s perspective, the sanctioning of the recent exchange shows two things. First, while the Afghan government doesn’t stand to gain much from the prisoner swap, the former has no option but to agree with the parties making a deal. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s decision to allow the prisoner exchange is to an extent driven by his weakening legitimacy domestically, which is not only being challenged by his political rivals, but also by stakeholders that want to make a deal with the Taliban.

Sri Lanka: Victory of Rajapaksa- What it means to Tamil Polity?

By Prof. Ramu Manivannan

The victory of Gotabaya Rajapaksa was much anticipated in the recently held 16th November presidential elections in Sri Lanka given the course of national politics after the evaporation of false euphoria over the success of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in keeping Mahinda Rajapaksa out of power since 2015. 

Rajapaksas are back in saddle more firmly than ever before and their grip over Sri Lankan polity is near complete with the becoming of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the prime minister. Sinhalese along with the radical Buddhist clergy are celebrating the success of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the restoration of political stability and national security state. While Muslims are looking over their own shoulders with worry about their safety and future, Muslim leadership is mulling about its own survival in power. Tamils are disheartened but not broken although Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is in a mood of disdained resignation. It is, however, time to reflect than to throw in the towel. 

Tamils are a strong political society with poor self belief. Tamils have strongly and consistently maintained their collective political opposition to the ‘Sinhala Only’ polity of Sri Lanka as revealed in every election since 1977 without any exception. But unfortunately Tamils could only decide whom they do not want to elect and not choose who they want to be represented as their leaders at the national level. 

China’s Growing High-End Military Drone Force

By Rick Joe

The 2019 National Day parade held on October 1 was punctuated by the debuts of a number of new systems, some of the most consequential being a various unmanned aerial vehicles/unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UAVs/UCAVs). Recent years have seen the introduction of a variety of new UAVs in Chinese military (PLA) service as well, some of which have parallels to foreign equivalents. This marks a useful time to review some of the PLA’s UAVs and what the future of PLA drone development may hold.

Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drones

Medium Altitude Long Endurance drones can be described as UAVs with a service ceiling of below 9,000 meters and capable of flying a relatively long endurance of up to 24 hours or longer. These UAVs tend to be powered by propeller engines rather than jet engines. Well-known international MALE drones include the MQ-1 and MQ-9 from the United States or the Heron system from Israel.

China’s Growing Amphib Fleet: A Cause for Long-Term Concern?

By Robert Farley

Within the next decade, China will likely wield a weapon of political influence that thus far only the United States has fully taken advantage of. In a recent Asia Times article, Grant Newsham wrote of the political and military implications of China’s growing fleet of amphibious warfare vessels. Newsham argued that the primary impact of China’s fleet will come through its political implications, rather than through its use as a weapon of war. The more important consideration is how this fleet will allow China to maximize and extend its influence across the Indo-Pacific region.

As The Diplomat’s Rick Joe suggests, by 2025 China will have at least three Type 075 LHDs in service, and could have as many as eight in service by 2030. As Joe indicates, the PLAN will shortly have eight Type 071 LPDs available, although it is unclear how many more of these ships should be expected. U.S. Navy experience with LPDs has no clear lessons for the future of the LHA force, although the USN eventually expects to acquire 26 San Antonio-class LPDs in support of roughly a dozen LHAs.

How to Lose a War: U.S. Bases Are Under Threat From Chinese Missiles

by James Holmes

Last week the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Center (USSC) set policy circles aflutter when it issued a novella-length report that questions the staying power of U.S. military strategy in the Indo-Pacific theater while urging inhabitants of the region to take up their share of the defense burden vis-à-vis a domineering China. 

In one sense the report presents little new information or insight. That the U.S. military has retooled itself for counterinsurgency warfare and must now reinvent itself again for great-power strategic competition is old news. So is the notion that Washington suffers from strategic ADHD, taking on new commitments around the world willy-nilly while shedding few old ones to conserve finite resources and policy energy. Over the past decade-plus, it’s become plain that Communist China is a serious, strategically-minded maritime contender and has equipped itself with formidable shore-based weaponry to assail U.S. and allied bases in the region and supply firepower support to its increasingly impressive battle fleet. Beijing can now hope to fend off U.S. reinforcements from coming to the aid of regional allies, to slow them down, or to make the effort so expensive in terms of lives and hardware that no U.S. president would order the attempt. If it does any of these things it could spring a fait accompli on the region, accomplishing limited goals before powerful outsiders could intercede.

This is old—if still potent—wine in a new bottle.

Secret Documents Reveal How China’s Mass Detention Camps Work

In this Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, file photo, a guard tower and barbed wire fences are seen around a section of the Artux City Vocational Skills Education Training Service Center in Artux in western China’s Xinjiang region.Credit: AP Photo/File

The watch towers, double-locked doors and video surveillance in the Chinese camps are there “to prevent escapes.” Uyghurs and other minorities held inside are scored on how well they speak the dominant Mandarin language and follow strict rules on everything down to bathing and using the toilet, scores that determine if they can leave.

“Manner education” is mandatory, but “vocational skills improvement” is offered only after a year in the camps.

Voluntary job training is the reason the Chinese government has given for detaining more than a million ethnic minorities, most of them Muslims. But a classified blueprint leaked to a consortium of news organizations shows the camps are instead precisely what former detainees have described: Forced ideological and behavioral re-education centers run in secret.

China’s Strategic Perspective on the South China Sea

By James Goldrick
In many ways, the American label of ‘great wall of sand’ that was applied to the artificial islands in the South China Sea encapsulates a key element of Chinese thinking. The same desire to protect China from external threats that produced the terrestrial Great Wall has been extended into the South China Sea. It’s significant that a Chinese senior officer once expressed surprise at the American label of ‘anti-access/area denial’ for China’s maritime strategy and remarked that the Chinese called what they were doing ‘coastal defence’.

By creating facilities such as artificial islands in the South China Sea, China has effectively pushed out its defensive perimeter to the edge of the first island chain and beyond, at least to the south and southeast. The artificial islands can act as surveillance platforms, as nodes for area surveillance systems (particularly underwater arrays) and as forward operating bases for reconnaissance and strike aircraft and naval surface combatants. They can also house offensive and defensive missile systems. China’s facilities have probably already reached a level of capability that means no outside combatant which enters the South China Sea, however covertly, can be completely confident it’s not being tracked.

UN Secretary-General: US-China Tech Divide Could Cause More Havoc Than the Cold War

On Friday, WIRED spoke with António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, about a topic of increasingly grave concern to him: the fracturing of the internet and the possibility that a technology meant to bring nations together might drive them apart. The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

Nicholas Thompson: It's an honor to get the opportunity to conduct this interview. Recently you gave a speech in Paris, where you talked about five great threats to the world. And you talked about the technological break. What did you mean? Why is it so in your mind right now?

António Guterres: I think we have three risks of divides: a geostrategic divide, a social divide, and a technological divide. Geostrategically, if you look at today's world, with the two largest economies, the Chinese economy and the American economy, and with the trade and technology confrontation that exists, there is a risk—I'm not saying it will happen—there is a risk of a decoupling in which all of a sudden each of these two areas will have its own market, its own currency, its own rules, its own internet, its own strategy in artificial intelligence. And that inevitably, when that happens, its own military and geostrategic strategies. And then the risks of confrontation increase dramatically.

The Anatomy Of Competing China And US ‘Gray Zone’ Activities In South China Sea – Analysis

By Mark J. Valencia
Source Link


This has not yet happened. But it is likely if China and the US continue with their competing gray zone tactics in the South China Sea.

The U.S. and many of its scholars and pundits constantly criticize China for its “gray zone” activities in the South China Sea – especially its use of ‘maritime militias’. https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR2900/RR2942/RAND_RR2942.pdf Admiral John Richardson, the US Chief of Naval Operations is clearly frustrated with China’s use of maritime militia to disrupt its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations there. He has now informed China that the U.S. Navy will treat China’s maritime militia the same way it treats Chinese warships. https://news.usni.org/2019/02/06/cno-richardson-calls-tougher-actions-gray-zone-conflicts-russia-china

After the US-China Trade War


NEW HAVEN – For the last two years, the conflict between the United States and China has dominated the economic and financial-market debate – with good reason. After threats and accusations that long predate US President Donald Trump’s election, rhetoric has given way to action. Over the past 17 months, the world’s two largest economies have become embroiled in the most serious tariff war since the early 1930s. And the weaponization of US trade policy to target perceived company-specific threats such as Huawei has broadened the front in this battle.

I am as guilty as anyone of fixating on every twist and turn of this epic struggle between the world’s two economic heavyweights. From the start, it has been a political conflict fought with economic weapons and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. What that means, of course, is that the economic and financial-market outlook basically hinges on the political dynamic between the United States and China.

In that vein, the so-called phase one “skinny” trade deal announced with great fanfare on October 11 may be an important political signal. While the deal, if ever consummated, will have next to no material economic impact, it provides a strong hint that Trump has finally had enough of this trade war. Consumed by domestic political concerns – especially impeachment and the looming 2020 election – it is in Trump’s interest to declare victory and attempt to capitalize on it to counter his problems at home.

Chessboard or Player? The EU Role in US-China Competition

By Körber-Stiftung

Every year, Körber-Stiftung publishes the “Berlin Pulse,” a project that contrasts perspectives on German foreign policy by high-ranking international authors with current German public opinion based on representative surveys. This year’s edition contains a whole chapter on Germany’s role in the Asia-Pacific, with contributions from analysts around the globe. This interview with Thorsten Benner, Co-Founder and Director of the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) in Berlin and Torrey Taussig, Research Director for Transatlantic Relations 2021 at the Harvard Kennedy School, first appeared in 2019/20 edition of The Berlin Pulse.

Körber-Stiftung: Brussels and the U.S. share a number of grievances vis-à-vis China, but disagree on the means. How do both parties see each other’s role and their respective relations with China?

Why Iran May Be Locked Into a Future of More Protests

Vahid Yücesoy 

At midnight on Nov. 15, Iran’s government announced a precipitous 300 percent hike in fuel prices. Immediate public outcries quickly escalated into nationwide protests that spread to more than 100 cities and gripped the country for 6 straight days, before the authorities effectively crushed them.

Since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal in August 2018 and reimposed unilateral sanctions, the Iranian economy has been charting difficult waters. President Hassan Rouhani admitted as much recently when he exhorted lawmakers to reduce fuel subsidies in the face of plummeting oil revenues, saying that “Iran is experiencing one of its hardest years since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.” ...

One False Move By Israel or Iran Will Lead to War

by Seth J. Frantzman

Israel has been monitoring Iranian entrenchment in Syria, weapons transfers that move to Iraq and also to Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as Iranian-backed groups in Gaza. On November 12 Jerusalem put in motion operation ‘Black Belt,’ the attack on a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander named Bahaa Abu al-Ata. He was a “ticking bomb,” Israel said after the operation, which led to 450 rockets being fired in retaliation from Gaza. There is another ticking bomb in Syria, where Israel struck numerous targets on November 20, a day after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired rockets at Israel. One false move by Israel or Iran now could lead to a major regional war. Jerusalem must gamble on its precision airstrikes to deter Tehran.

“The Iranian attack towards Israel is further clear proof of the purpose of the Iranian entrenchment in Syria, which threatens Israeli security, regional stability and the Syrian regime,” Israel’s IDF said on Wednesday, November 20. The airstrikes were a major attack on the IRGC’s Quds Force, and also on Syrian air defense systems. Headquarters units, weapons warehouses, and bases were struck. Like in Gaza though, the airstrikes are not unique. Israel has carried out more than one thousand airstrikes in Syria. At the same time, Iran or Iranian-backed groups have sought to attack Israel with rockets and drones five times in the last two years. This includes a drone attack in February 2018, rockets fired in May 2018, a rocket in January 2019, rockets fired in September and on November 19.

Fighting but Not Winning

An Asian foreign minister recently observed privately that the United States has been fighting but not winning in the Middle East for 20 years, while China has been winning but not fighting for 20 years. That captures much of the last two decades in a nutshell. It can’t go on. It’s worth thinking about how we got here and where we need to go.

Almost 20 years on, the U.S. approach to the Middle East remains rooted in the response to the 9/11 attacks. The war in Afghanistan started soon after and still rages. The U.S. military presence in Iraq started as a response to 9/11 and turned into an occupation with an accompanying counterinsurgency. That then morphed in a counter-terror operation, which led U.S. troops into a similar venture in Syria to fight the Islamic State group.

Fundamentally, though, counterterrorism rose to the top of U.S. priorities in the Middle East. In fact, counterterrorism rose to the top of U.S. security priorities worldwide, and it continues to be the one the U.S. public most widely supports.

Israel’s New Way of War

by Seth Frantzman

A rocket slams into Route 4 near Gan Yavne, Israel, on November 12, 2019.

Commuters on Route 4, driving toward the Israeli coastal city of Ashdod on November 12, were shocked by an explosion, a rocket impact next to a major intersection. Had it fallen on a car or one of the many trucks plying the route, there would have been deaths, and the road would have been closed. Instead, police and Israeli Home Front Command units came and cordoned off the sidewalk, and drivers went about their day.

Twenty-five miles south of where the rocket landed, other rocket teams from Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), an Iranian-backed terrorist group, were preparing to fire more than 400 rockets at Israel during a brief flare-up in fighting. Most of them would be intercepted by Israel’s high-tech air defense. More than 2,000 rockets have been fired into Israel since March 2018.

The ability of millions of Israelis to mostly go about their day while Israel’s air force carries out precision air strikes nearby is due to Israel’s latest achievements in fighting war. It also comes with questions about whether Israel is being effective and what this latest revolution in military affairs means in the long term.

What Can We Learn From ‘Made in Japan’?

By He Jun

The Japan-South Korea trade friction revealed that Korean companies, even though they have dominated the semiconductor market for many years, still need Japanese suppliers in the semiconductor industry. That means Japanese companies can easily exert pressure on the Korean giants. Has the world been underestimating Japan’s companies – not to mention the country’s economic strength and technological innovation? What can we learn from “Made in Japan”?

Above all, Japanese companies have abundant technical ability and technical reserves. There are many semiconductor giants in Japan. For example, Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd., which founded its business selling nitrogen fertilizer in 1926, specializes in the research and manufacturing of basic materials to meet market demand. It has even monopolized the crucial raw material market within the semiconductor industry today. Currently, Shin-Etsu Chemical is the world’s largest supplier of silicon wafers and the largest silicone products manufacturer. The company is able to produce a uniform crystal structure of single-crystal silicon with a purity of 99.999999999 percent, which places it at the world’s leading technology level.

‘Bleak’ U.N. Report on a Planet in Peril Looms Over New Climate Talk

By Somini Sengupta

With world leaders gathering in Madrid next week for their annual bargaining session over how to avert a climate catastrophe, the latest assessment issued by the United Nations said Tuesday that greenhouse gas emissions are still rising dangerously.

“The summary findings are bleak,” said the annual assessment, which is produced by the United Nations Environment Program and is formally known as the Emissions Gap Report. Countries have failed to halt the rise of greenhouse gas emissions despite repeated warnings from scientists, with China and the United States, the two biggest polluters, further increasing their emissions last year.

The result, the authors added, is that “deeper and faster cuts are now required.”

As if to underscore the gap between reality and diplomacy, the international climate negotiations, scheduled to begin next week, are not even designed to ramp up pledges by world leaders to cut their countries’ emissions. That deadline is still a year away.

The Fighting Continues in Northern Syria

by Jonathan Spyer

When President Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from northeast Syria in October, a Turkish invasion swiftly and predictably followed. The Syrian Kurds were faced with the choice of meeting the Turkish onslaught alone, or inviting regime and Russian forces into their area. They chose the latter course. This appeared initially likely to herald the rapid demise of the Kurdish autonomous authority in Rojava, which had been carved starting in mid-2012.

The current reality on the ground, however, belies this simple picture. The Assad regime is decrepit and lacking in manpower. The Kurdish-led SDF, meanwhile, remains vigorous and strong. For this reason the regime has yet to attempt to establish control on the ground in cities such as Derik, Hasakah and Qamishli, where checkpoints and daily security control remains in the hands of the Kurds and their allies.

A new era of cyber warfare: Russia’s Sandworm shows “we are all Ukraine” on the internet

By Cynthia Brumfield
Source Link

In-depth research on Russia's Sandworm hacking group shows broad capabilities and scope to disrupt anything from critical infrastructure to political campaigns in any part of the world.

Speakers at this year’s CyberwarCon conference dissected a new era of cyber warfare, as nation-state actors turn to a host of new advanced persistent threat (APT) strategies, tools and tactics to attack adversaries and spy on domestic dissidents and rivals. The highest profile example of this new era of nation-state digital warfare is a Russian military intelligence group called Sandworm, a mysterious hacking initiative about which little has been known until recently. The group has nevertheless launched some of the most destructive cyberattacks in history.[ Learn what you need to know about defending critical infrastructure . | Get the latest from CSO by signing up for our newsletters. ]

Wired journalist Andy Greenberg has just released a high-profile book about the group, which he said at the conference is an account of the first full-blown cyberwar led by these Russian attackers. He kicked off the event with a deep dive into Sandworm, providing an overview of the mostly human experiences of the group’s malicious efforts.

Where Is Trade?

I had planned to devote this week’s column to an incisive commentary on the trade issues that were extensively discussed in last week’s Democratic presidential primary debate. Oh, wait . . . there weren’t any. Once again, there were no questions on trade policy, and it came up only peripherally once or twice. This is not new; indeed, most of the debates have ignored the subject.

This continues to baffle me. Trade policy historically has not been a major issue in presidential campaigns—the parties tend to nominate candidates who move to the center for the general election and try to avoid divisive issues, and pollsters view trade as a “low-intensity” issue. Voters have opinions about it but do not rank it as one of their top priorities. Now, however, the United States has a president who has made it one of his signature issues. He ran on it in 2016, and he doubtless will run on it again in 2020. If nothing else, that means the Democratic nominee, whoever that turns out to be, will have to have both a response to the president’s claims and a policy of his or her own.

Responding to the president so far has not been hard; in fact, it’s one of the things all the candidates agree on. They all make the same two points: whatever it is that he’s doing is both wrong and a policy failure, and his biggest mistake is his failure to build coalitions to tackle problems like China that affect many countries.

The Oligarchs Who Lost Ukraine and Won Washington

By Michael Carpenter 

Acongressional impeachment inquiry seeks to determine whether U.S. President Donald Trump extorted a foreign leader, withholding a coveted White House meeting and U.S. military aid in order to promulgate a Russian-inspired conspiracy theory and smear his chief opponent in the 2020 election. The United States’ gravest constitutional crisis since Watergate is not just about preserving the integrity of U.S. democratic institutions from the president’s abuse of power, however. It is an episode in a broader geopolitical struggle between the defenders of democracy and the forces of oligarchic authoritarianism, from Kyiv’s Maidan to Hong Kong’s Mong Kok. In this wider global conflict, Trump and his surrogates have consistently aligned themselves with the forces of oligarchic authoritarianism—in Russia, Turkey, Hungary, and other countries, too. Nowhere is this clearer than in Ukraine.

That Ukraine is at the heart of the U.S. impeachment inquiry is no coincidence. The country is ground zero for the struggle between democratic rule of law and authoritarian oligarchy. Halfway around the world from Washington’s halls of power, Ukraine sits along a civilizational and geopolitical fault line. To Ukraine’s west are the liberal democracies of Europe, governed by rule of law and democratic principles. To its east are Russia and its client states in Eurasia, almost all of which are corrupt oligarchies.

Why Fintech Is Disrupting Traditional Banking

BankMobile co-founder Luvleen Sidhu discusses how her firm's “Bank-as-a-Service” model enables it to acquire customers at higher volumes and lower costs than traditional banks.

Fintechs are growing rapidly. Their range of offerings and number of customers are expanding as they target the pain points that clients experience with traditional banks. A case in point: BankMobile, a five-year-old mobile-first bank that operates as the digital banking division of Customers Bank of Phoenixville, Arizona. Its “Bank-as-a-Service” model enables it to acquire customers at higher volumes and lower costs than traditional banks. This helps pay higher interest on customer deposits than traditional banks do.

Luvleen Sidhu, co-founder, president and chief strategy officer of BankMobile spoke recently with Knowledge@Wharton about its business model. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.) The bank is active in the student loan market and in a “white label” partnership with T-Mobile, where it leverages the latter’s brand; it plans several more white-label partnerships. BankMobile is also helping shift the gender bias in banking and financial services by bringing parity in pay and status for its women executives.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

US Electronic Warfare: You’re Doing It Wrong


CSBA calls for networks of manned and unmanned systems, each performing a specialized role. (Credit: Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments)

Despite rising budgets and high-level attention to electronic warfare, the Pentagon’s “efforts have been unfocused and are likely to fail,” warns a congressionally mandated study out today. What the US needs, the Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments report says, is a radically new approach that can outfox Russia and China.

The Revolution in Military Affairs

By Jacek Bartosiak

The notion of a “revolution in military affairs” has created a sensation in recent years, as it could create a new phase in the way wars are conducted. RMA’s importance is likely to grow over the coming decades of great power competition and proxy wars across Eurasia and its neighbors. It is, therefore, worth spending some time on this concept.

The Dawn of RMA

In 1992, the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of Net Assessment published a report on the coming military-technical revolution – what it called the Revolution in Military Affairs. The concept wasn’t a new one. By the 1970s, Soviet military theoreticians were heralding the arrival of what they described as the 20th century’s third wave of the military-technical revolution. The first wave was the motorization of war – namely, the use of aviation and chemical weapons in World War I. As this phase matured in World War II, it came to incorporate the German concept of “blitzkrieg” (armored warfare operations with an air tactical support component), the British-American concept of strategic bombing, and the concept of replacing battleships with onboard aircraft taking off from aircraft carriers, as envisaged by both Japan and the United States.