7 December 2019

Ten steps to $5 trillion: Lesson from RCEP fiasco is that India must execute bold reforms to become competitive

Gurcharan Das 

November 4, 2019 was a sad day. Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to walk out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations at the eleventh-hour, admitting that India couldn’t compete with Asia, especially China. It was a big and painful decision as this is no ordinary trade agreement. Had India joined, RCEP would have become the world’s largest free trade area comprising 16 countries, half the world’s population, 40% of global trade and 35% of world’s wealth in the fastest growing area of the world.

India should have joined RCEP. The deal on offer was a reasonably good one and many of our fears had been allayed. Our farmers had been given protection from imports of agricultural products and milk (say from New Zealand). A quarter of Chinese products had been excluded, and for the rest a long period of tariffs was allowed from 5 to 25 years. The deal offered a unique safeguard from a sudden surge of imports from China to India for 60 of the most sensitive products.

If much smaller countries in Asia – Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos, Myanmar – can compete and have joined RCEP, why can’t India? Why does it need tariff protection, normally meant for infant industries? Why are India’s companies still infants after 72 years of Independence? No nation has become prosperous without exports; open economies have consistently outperformed closed ones. The $5 trillion target cannot be achieved without exports. The lesson from this fiasco is that India must act single-mindedly and execute bold reforms to become competitive. We can still join RCEP by March 2020. Consider this period a pause to get our house in order. It’s never too late to do the right thing. Here are ten ways to make the nation competitive.

The US H-1B Visa: A Boon for High-Skilled Immigrants from India

Jacob Funk Kirkegaard 

The Trump administration’s preference for a “merit-based” immigration system over one that welcomes migrants fleeing poverty and persecution became clear in May 2019. It was then that the administration unveiled an immigration reform proposal favoring English-speaking professionals with skills to fill jobs in such fields as medicine and computer programming.

An outcry erupted after these preferences were disclosed, many critics citing the famous poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty declaring: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.” But the most recent US data available suggest that the policy has already been implemented for H-1B visas, a category that allows US employers to hire foreign nationals in certain job categories when it can be demonstrated that their skills cannot be found among US citizens. In an even more striking trend, the dominance of this important visa category by nationals from India has become pronounced.

Tracking this trend is complicated by an administration cutback in the available data. The annual Characteristics of H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers, which is prepared by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the US Department of Homeland Security, has not been published for the fiscal year of 2018. Instead a much less detailed USCIS Statistical Annual Report was published in early 2019, which indicates that the number of H-1B petitions processed in FY2018 fell by 2 percent from FY2017. Data on H-1B visa issuance from the US State Department support the trend. The USCIS data suggest a tightening of H-1B administrative processing procedures by the Trump administration, as the rejection rate of H-1B petitions rose to 15 percent in FY2018 from around 6 percent in 2014–17. Due to this tightening, the total number of H-1B petitions approved in FY2018 declined to 335,000, which is roughly 10 percent lower than the number of H-1B petitions approved in 2016–17 but more than the number approved in 2014–15.[1] So even if sustained, this higher level of H-1B rejections would imply only a relatively limited tightening of H-1B administrative processing procedures during the Trump administration in FY2018.

Next in Line to Lead al-Qa`ida: A Profile of Abu Muhammad al-Masri

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Abstract: Now is an opportune time to revisit the question of succession to the leadership of al-Qa`ida, for a number of reasons: the organization’s current emir, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is 68 years old and reported to have a potentially serious heart complaint; bin Ladin’s heir apparent, his son Hamza, is reported by the United States to have been killed in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region; and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of al-Qa`ida’s principal rival, the Islamic State, is also dead. An analysis of al-Qa`ida’s history and current decision-making structure points to one man in particular: the longtime jihadi commander known as Abu Muhammad al-Masri. Abu Muhammad has long played a critical role in al-Qa`ida, both as an operational commander and as a member of the governing shura council. Yet despite his importance to the organization, Abu Muhammad remains a shadowy figure. Little is known about his early life or his current activities. Unlike most al-Qa`ida Central figures, he is based not in northern Pakistan but in Iran, where he was previously imprisoned and now resides under a murky arrangement by which he is apparently allowed a great deal of freedom while still being barred from leaving the country.

The fall of 1998 marked a high point in Abu Muhammad al-Masri’s career. He had just returned to Afghanistan from East Africa, where he had masterminded al-Qa`ida’s deadliest attack on the United States yet—the twin truck bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.1 He had positioned himself as one of Usama bin Ladin’s key confidants, to be consulted on the planning of all major attacks. And he had risen to the leadership of al-Qa`ida’s network of training camps.

China Is Overtaking the U.S. in Scientific Research

Peter R. Orszag

Thirty years ago in December, the modern exchange of scholars between the U.S. and China began. Since then, Chinese academics have become the most prolific global contributors to publications in physical sciences, engineering and math. Recent attempts by the U.S. to curtail academic collaboration are unlikely to change this trend.

For decades, China's growth was driven by shifting workers from agriculture to manufacturing. As the country started to approach the so-called Lewis turning point, when such shifts no longer raise overall productivity, the government made an increasingly concerted effort to build the scientific base to provide another vector for growth. The results of those efforts are showing up in both the rankings of Chinese universities (11 of the top 100 globally) and in scholarly output.
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China, Japan, and the East China Sea: Beijing’s “gray zone” coercion and Tokyo’s response

Adam P. Liff

China’s approach to Japan, its most economically powerful neighbor and a key U.S. treaty ally for nearly 70 years, is an important metric with which to assess China’s rapidly expanding role in the world — in particular, how Beijing is using its growing power and influence when its neighbors’ self-perceived rights and interests are in conflict with its own. The vicissitudes of China-Japan relations today also carry immense implications for, and are themselves shaped by, the United States’ relationships with these two major powers.

This paper focuses on the competition between China and Japan over their festering territorial dispute in the East China Sea. Though political frictions over the Senkaku (Diaoyu in Chinese) Islands are decades-old, since a 2012 contretemps over the islands led Beijing to begin regular, provocative deployments of government vessels into the islands’ contiguous zone and territorial seas, the dispute has become the most significant geopolitical flashpoint and locus of security competition between China and Japan today.

China Isn’t the Soviet Union. Confusing the Two Is Dangerous.

Melvyn P. Leffler

Anyone looking for evidence of a growing economic and ideological conflict between China and the United States will have no trouble finding something—the trade war now roiling both countries’ economies, the standoff between police and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, Beijing’s swift retaliation against the NBA over a single Houston Rockets executive’s tweet in support of those same protesters. President Donald Trump seems to think a new cold war is at hand. His national-security strategy statement identifies China as an adversary bent on dismantling a U.S.-centered global order and forging a new one in its own favor. This point of view is catching on outside the administration, too. Earlier this year, the Committee on the Present Danger relaunched once again. First organized in the late 1940s to push for a massive military buildup and revived in the 1970s to promote a more confrontational approach toward the Soviet Union, the group now seeks to mobilize Americans for an existential struggle against China.

I am a historian who has been writing about the U.S.-Soviet Cold War for nearly three decades. However tempting the analogy might be as China’s influence and military strength grow, invoking it now is profoundly wrong. The Cold War happened not simply because there were two superpowers in the world, but because of the specific circumstances confronting the United States after 1945. The historical context in which the United States operates today, the prevailing configuration of power in the international arena, and the ideological appeal of the rival regime are all entirely different. In today’s circumstances, Cold War–era policies—starting with the containment strategy adopted in the late 1940s—are not only unnecessary, but likely to catalyze a destructive spiral of heightening tensions that would make the world a more dangerous place.

The Battle for Motor Sich: A Sino-American Dispute in Ukraine

By: Yuan Jiang, Vladimir Legenko


This summer, Ukraine became another venue for competition between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In August, then-U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton held several meetings with the Ukrainian leadership; according to the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, the hurriedly arranged trip was intended to “underscore U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic path” (U.S. Embassy Kyiv Twitter Account, August 27). Many observers believed that a key purpose of Bolton’s trip was to convince the Ukrainian government to block the acquisition of the Ukraine-based company Motor Sich (Мотор Січ) by the Chinese enterprise Beijing Skyrizon Aviation (UNIAN, August 25; Nikkei Asian Review, September 3; Eurasia Daily Monitor, Sep 6).

Motor Sich is one of the largest aviation companies in the world, and is a manufacturer of advanced engines for both rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft. Furthermore, Motor Sich has a 60-year contract to share design and operational documentation with the state-owned-enterprise Ivchenko-Progress (Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, September 21)—and therefore, China’s recent efforts to acquire Motor Sich would also give access to Ivchenko-Progress’s vast archive of technical documentation. A Chinese acquisition of Motor Sich offers the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) the resources and knowledge to deploy more advanced engines in PLA combat helicopters—potentially raising PLA capabilities in areas such as logistics and close air support.

The History of Chinese Military Procurement in Ukraine

China’s Presence in the Bahamas: A Greater Role After Hurricane Dorian?

By: Jared Ward


The Bahamas, an island paradise less than 60 miles off the coast of Florida, faces a long and expensive rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. Nearly 50 percent of the Caribbean island nation’s housing has been destroyed; and its infrastructure, upon which its tourism economy so badly depends, has been decimated. The international community has worked to stave off the immediate dangers of food and water shortages, but the task of rebuilding the Bahamas will be shouldered by its people for generations to come. The Inter-American Development Bank has calculated $3.4 billion in initial damages from Hurricane Dorian, and it is still uncertain where the funding for disaster relief will come from. (IDB, November 15)

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, whose state enjoys close ties to the Bahamas, warned in a recent editorial that the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian could create an opening for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to use aid as a Trojan Horse to gain a foothold near American shores (Miami Herald, September 14). However, while the destructive path of the hurricane has ostensibly created a blank slate for the PRC’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to rebuild badly needed infrastructure, Beijing’s presence in the Bahamas has already been growing for years: Chinese investors are major players in the Bahamas’ lucrative tourism industry, and Chinese companies like the China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) have added to their growing Caribbean portfolio with infrastructure projects throughout the country.

A State Visit by Kazakhstan’s President Demonstrates China’s Increasing Influence in Central Asia

By: Leo Lin


Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s recent visit to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on September 10-12 was not merely a state visit, but also signaled a new era in bilateral relations between Kazakhstan and China. During his visit, Tokayev met top officials of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), including CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, and Li Zhanshu, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. Tokayev also stopped in Hangzhou, where he visited the headquarters of the Alibaba Group and spoke with founder Jack Ma, as well as the new chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang (Sina Tech, September 12). The September visit has symbolic meaning for both Xi and Tokayev as they prepare for a new stage of their partnership—in the same year as the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, and the 30th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence.

A New High Point in Kazakh-Chinese Relations

This visit and the events surrounding it produced numerous achievements for both sides. On a personal level, Kazakh President Tokayev has impressed Chinese audiences with his language ability. With his strong foreign service background and previous work experience in China and Russia, Tokayev can speak Russian, Chinese, and English. In an exclusive September 9 interview with China Central Television (CCTV), he spoke in fluent Chinese (CCTV, September 9), which raised a lot of positive attention in China prior to his trip.

The Central Committee Fourth Plenum Gives Further Powers to the CCP Leadership “Core”

By: Willy Wo-Lap Lam


Is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) finally putting systems and institutions before the rule of personality? The much-delayed Fourth Plenum of the 19th CCP Central Committee, an annual meeting of about 300 top cadres that wrapped up on October 31, passed a “Decision on Some Major Issues Concerning How to Uphold and Improve the System of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and to Advance the Modernization of China’s Governance System and Capacity for Governance” (hereafter “Decision”). The communique of the plenary session of the Central Committee said that by the year 2049, China would “fully realize the modernization of the state governance system and governance capacity.” By that time, the whole society would “boost systemic governance, governance according to the law, coordinated governance, [and] ‘governance at the source’” (源头治理, yuantou zhili), so that China’s “institutional superiority” would be even better transformed into state governance capacity (China Daily, November 6; Xinhua, October 31).

Official commentators have characterized the modernization of governance systems as China’s “Fifth Modernization” (after the “Four Modernizations” of agriculture, industry, science and technology, and national defense). According to Han Xu, a politics expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, “the internal need for modernizing the state governance system has provided a ‘chemical reaction’ [in the form of a] catalyst for institutional reform.” Han added that China urgently needed a “responsive government” that would respond to the “strong demands of the people in the areas of democracy, rule of law, equality, justice, the environment and security” (DWNews.com, October 30; HK01.com, October 28; Chinanews.com, July 15).

The Historical “Struggle Between Two Lines” in CCP Governance

The Xiangshan Forum and Emerging Themes in PRC Military Diplomacy

By: John Dotson
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Introduction: The Beijing Xiangshan Forum and the PRC’s International Security Propaganda

In October, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) hosted two events that illustrated the PRC’s continuing and expanding efforts in the field of military diplomacy. The first of these was the seventh Military World Games, which opened on October 18 in the city of Wuhan (Xinhua, October 18). The second major event was the ninth meeting of the Beijing Xiangshan Forum (北京香山论坛, Beijing Xiangshan Luntan), held in the Chinese capital from October 20-22. The Xiangshan conference, first held in 2006, has become a prominent component of the PRC’s security-oriented propaganda efforts directed to international audiences. PRC state press has called the event one “created on the principles of equality, openness, inclusiveness and mutual learning,” and noted that “multilateral platforms like the Xiangshan Forum [are] very important for China’s military diplomacy” (China Daily, November 1).

The Xiangshan Forum is sponsored by the China Association for Military Science (subordinate to the PLA Academy of Military Science) and the China Institute for International Strategic Studies (a state think tank affiliated with the PRC Foreign Ministry) (Xiangshan Forum, undated). PRC media claimed attendance at this year’s event by over 1,300 people from “76 official delegations” from around the world (Xinhua, October 21). The conference included a range of academics and military officials, as well as defense ministers (or vice ministers) from countries to include: Afghanistan, Brazil, Cambodia, Egypt, Malaysia, Nepal, North Korea, Russia, Rwanda, Serbia, Singapore, and Vietnam. Representatives from international organizations also participated, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the United Nations, and the International Red Cross (Xiangshan Forum, undated).

U.S. Participation in the Xiangshan Forum

An Examination of Jihadi Recidivism Rates in the United States

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Abstract: The recidivism rate for ordinary criminals is extremely high, and since over 200 convicted terrorists have been released in the United States and many more will be in the near future, a natural fear has been that they pose a high risk of recidivism. Using nearly 30 years of data, this articles shows that while not zero, the recidivism rate of those involved in jihadi terror plots targeting the United States is much lower than that of common criminals. Unlike most criminals, prison may deter jihadis from future involvement in violent extremism.

Will those convicted of jihadi-related terror offenses pose a danger once they are released from prison?a This article explores that question by looking at conflicting findings from research examining what to expect from terrorists who have served their sentences. Next, it presents quantitative data on those involved with jihadi plots in the United States over the past three decades. Given the small numbers of jihadi re-offenders with a link to terrorist plotting in the United States, the article then gives a qualitative description of each. Lastly, it discusses possible lessons that may be gleaned from the documented cases of jihadi plot recidivism in the United States.

Why Study Jihadi Recidivism Rates?

In the United States alone, there have been over 500 prosecutions of those with ties to international terrorism post 9/11.1 Although the rate of terrorism-related arrests and prosecutions in the United States has slowed since they peaked in 2015-2016, 191 have been charged in plots related to the Islamic State since 2014 alone.2 Well over 200 convicted terrorists in the United States have already completed their sentences and been released.3 Over 50 who are currently incarcerated in the United States on terrorism charges are scheduled to be released in the next five years.4 Years of studies show criminals in the United States re-offend at rates between 25 and 83 percent.b Similar high recidivism rates (45-55 percent) have been reported in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and the Netherlands.5

How Somaliland Combats al-Shabaab

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Abstract: Al-Shabaab has struggled and largely failed to establish itself in the independent but unrecognized Republic of Somaliland. There, the government has, with limited means, denied al-Shabaab the operational space it requires through the implementation of a virtuous circle that builds on local buy-in and uses HUMINT as a force multiplier. However, despite its successes in its war against al-Shabaab, Somaliland faces a formidable foe that is increasingly active along its border with Puntland where this virtuous circle is under increasing strain. The efficacy of Somaliland’s security forces in these border areas is limited.a

Analysts and officials have made frequent predictions about the decline and demise of al-Shabaab over the years.1 However, the al-Qa’ida-allied terrorist group has not only survived but continues to thrive in much of Somalia. On September 30, 2019, al-Shabaab launched attacks on two high-profile targets. It attacked a military base that hosts U.S. Special Forces soldiers at Balegdole in Lower Shabelle (southern Somalia), and then its operatives also targeted an Italian armored convoy carrying military advisers in Mogadishu. Both attacks failed. Al-Shabaab did not succeed in penetrating the outer defenses of the military base nor did they did injure or kill any of the military advisers.2 However, both attacks demonstrate al-Shabaab’s ability to target extremely well-guarded sites and individuals.

Since 2006, when al-Shabaab began to coalesce as an organization, billions of dollars have been spent by the United States and the international community to fight the group.3 The expenditure of vast sums of money and the eventual deployment of 22,000 soldiers by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), however, have failed to defeat the organization.4

A View from the CT Foxhole: General (Ret) Joseph Votel, Former Commander, U.S. Central Command

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General Joseph L. Votel is a retired U.S. Army Four-Star officer and most recently the Commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM)—responsible for U.S. and coalition military operations in the Middle East, Levant, and Central and South Asia. During his 39 years in the military, Votel commanded special operations and conventional military forces at every level. His career included combat in Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Notably, he led a 79-member coalition that successfully liberated Iraq and Syria from the Islamic State caliphate. He preceded his assignment at CENTCOM with service as the Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

Votel is the Class of 1987 Senior Fellow at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. He is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C., and the Belfer Center at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, MA and a member of the Council of Foreign Relations. Votel is a member of the Board of Directors for Service to School, a non-profit organization that helps military veterans transition and win admission to the Nation’s best graduate and undergraduate schools. In January 2020, Votel will become the President and CEO of Business Executives for National Security (BENS). He is a 1980 graduate of the United States Military Academy and earned master’s degrees from the U.S. Army Command and Staff College and the Army War College.

Strategic Studies Quarterly, Winter 2019, v. 13, no. 4

o On Great Power Conflict: Entangled or Untangled Alliances?

o Attrition and the Will to Fight a Great Power War

o Through the Glass—Darker

o Missile Defense for Great Power Conflict: Outmaneuvering the China Threat

o Ambiguity, Risk, and Limited Great Power Conflict

o Techniques for Great Power Space War

o Minding the Gaps: US Military Strategy toward China

o Decide, Disrupt, Destroy: Information Systems in Great Power Competition with China

Global trade takes a beating—and with it the global economy

Eswar Prasad
International trade tends to be a good barometer of how the world economy is doing and where it is headed. This is why twists and turns in the U.S.-China trade war, and other developments in world trade, receive so much attention.

What do recent trade data portend? The news is not good, and suggests that not only is the world economy weaker than it was earlier this year but that more weakness lies ahead. Still, it may be premature to call a worldwide global recession. Much will, of course, depend on U.S. trade policy and whether the Trump administration chooses to tamp down or further escalate its trade disputes, not just with China but also with other major U.S. trading partners such as the European Union. Otherwise, trade will drag down rather than boost growth.

First, what do the data show? International trade volumes usually tend to grow at the same rate or faster than global GDP growth. The World Trade Organization, which monitors world trade, recently slashed its forecast for global trade growth in 2019 from 2.6 percent to just 1.2 percent. For 2020, the forecast has been cut from 3 percent to 2.7 percent, which still suggests a rebound.

But other indicators paint a less promising picture. The Baltic Dry Index, a closely-watched indicator based on bulk commodities shipping that serves as a reliable indicator of future trade activity, has fallen by nearly 50 percent since August (after doubling in the first eight months of the year), squelching hopes for a rebound in global trade.

Top emitters must commit to a U-turn at COP25

Vinod Thomas

Epitomizing the disconnect between scientific warnings and human action, global temperatures are now on track to rise by an unacceptable 3.2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels by 2030 while greenhouse gas emissions hit all-time highs. As the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) meets in Madrid December 2-13, the big emitters need to commit to a U-turn in their emission trajectory to avert the extreme impacts that scientists project.

Leaders in the top emitting nations need to drive climate action in view of their high share in carbon emissions (Figure 1). The top 10 percent of countries (20 of them) make up 81 percent of global carbon discharges, starting with China, the United States, India, Russia, and Japan. Given the dominance of these large economies, their national policies make all the difference to whether we can expect a reversal in the carbon intensity of global economic growth. A recent U.N. report calls for a 7.6 percent a year emission decline for the next 10 years to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. Contrastingly, emissions have increased 3 percent over the past three years, led by the United States, China, and India.

To motivate far stronger steps, it would help to be convinced that the payoffs from switching to a low-carbon growth path far outweigh the costs of making the transition. The benefits of climate action include avoided damages from climate change. And there is growing evidence on the damages that can be averted by timely climate action. India, according to a World Bank estimate, could incur damages of 2.8 percent of GDP by 2050 in the current climate trajectory. A recent estimate places the loss from climate change from extreme weather events for 82 countries at 3 percent of GDP by 2050.

A Leftist Loss in Uruguay’s Presidential Race Wasn’t Exactly a Conservative Triumph

Laurence Blair 

Ending 15 years of governing by the leftist Broad Front coalition, Luis Lacalle Pou of the center-right National Party was declared the winner on Nov. 30 of Uruguay’s closely contested presidential runoff. The results of the second-round vote a week earlier, on Nov. 24, came down to just 28,666 votes out of 2.43 million cast, according to the Electoral Court. With turnout at 90 percent, Lacalle Pou, a lawyer, veteran congressman and son of a former president, edged the Broad Front’s candidate, Daniel Martinez, a former mayor of Montevideo, 48.7 to 47.5 percent.

During the Broad Front’s decade and a half in power, it pursued pragmatic economic policies and a series of socially liberal reforms, as poverty and inequality fell. Uruguay’s government is now back in the hands of the country’s two oldest political parties, the conservative National Party and Colorado Party—each founded in 1836—along with a newly formed right-wing movement called the Cabildo Abierto, or the Open Forum. After being knocked out in the first round on Oct. 27, the Colorado Party’s presidential candidate, Ernesto Talvi, and Cabildo Abierto’s candidate, Guido Manini Rios, a retired general, threw their weight behind Lacalle Pou to form a “multicolor” conservative coalition, papering over a range of disagreements and historical rivalries. ...

Rift Emerges in PKK Command Structure over Ties to U.S. Coalition Forces in Syria

By: Kyle Orton

Even by the standards of Syria’s complicated war, October 2019 was a tumultuous month. The contradictions inherent in the U.S. effort to conduct a counter-terrorism war against the Islamic State (IS) divorced from the realities of the underlying conflict erupted into view. Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria on October 6 and effectively green-lit a Turkish incursion, codenamed Operation Baris Pinari (Peace Spring), which began on October 9. Trump then changed course, applying sanctions on Turkey for moving against the United States’ Kurdish partner force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the political and legal cover for the blacklisted Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) (See TM, June 14).

There was a week of fighting, with Turkish troops and their Arab proxies, the Syrian National Army (SNA), taking over the Tel Abyad-Ras al-Ayn zone, an Arab-majority corridor that had formed the link between Kobani and Qamishli—two core Kurdish-majority parts of “Rojava”, as the PKK calls its Syrian statelet.

A U.S.-brokered ceasefire with Turkey on October 17 gave Ankara (on paper) virtually everything it had asked for, ratifying the conquests already made and, crucially, proclaiming a twenty-mile corridor inside Syria free of the PKK, plus lifting the sanctions imposed over the incursion (Al-Hurra, October 17).

The Cross Pollination of East Africa’s Armed Groups

By: Brian M. Perkins

East Africa and its peripheral countries, particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), are experiencing an evolution of their security landscapes as jihadist ideologies continue to creep into domestic conflicts. On the surface, many of the domestic conflicts and armed groups in individual East African nations are locally concentrated and driven by local issues, with violent spillover mostly concentrated in small portions of bordering countries—al-Shabaab violence spilling from Somalia into Kenya, or the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) operating in DRC and neighboring Uganda. A closer look, however, shows an increasing level of cross pollination in ideology, tactics, and financing stemming from high levels of mobility across the region as a whole, and not just between neighboring countries.

Across East Africa and its periphery, Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania have historically been the most affected by jihadist violence, with Kenya and Tanzania experiencing deadly attacks by al-Qaeda in the late 1990s and early 2000s and Somalia being host to al-Shabaab, a longtime al-Qaeda affiliate, and more recently an Islamic State (IS) branch. Mozambique, Uganda, and DRC, meanwhile, have historically struggled less with overt jihadist groups and more with anti-government rebel factions such as the ADF or FRELIMO. Over the past year, jihadist ideologies have taken root at a more alarming rate as IS expanded its presence into DRC and Mozambique through one of its newer branches, Islamic State Central Africa Province (IS-CAP) (See TM, November 6). While the pace and international focus on growing jihadist sentiment in East Africa has increased in the past year, groups that had once primarily been anti-government rebels have increasingly been exposed to the region’s jihadist-leaning groups. These groups have particularly made contact through highly lucrative smuggling and money laundering networks, as well as through loosely connected radical mosques that are exporting militants across the region.

Attacks in Northern Kenya Highlight al-Shabaab’s Enduring Ambition

By: Sunguta West

Deadly al-Shabaab attacks targeting security forces, civilians, and government installations in northeastern Kenya have continued to unfold despite security forces’ intensified actions to counter the militant group’s activities in the region.

Since 2011, when the Kenyan Defence Forces entered Somalia—the base of the al-Qaeda affiliate in East Africa—hundreds of small-scale terror assaults have been recorded.

In most of the attacks, the militants have used improvized explosive devices (IEDs) planted on roads to strike the military and police convoys on patrol. The consequence has been deadly with dozens of soldiers and police officers losing their lives. Civilians have also borne the brunt of terrorist attacks. The attacks have forced some of the region’s professionals, including teachers, nurses, public administrators, and construction workers to flee (Business Daily Africa , October 10, 2018).

The continued attacks are lending credence to suspicions that the militant group has existing cells in the region which it is using to radicalize and recruit Kenyan youths. In June, the group said it had recruited an army of fighters in Kenya. The mass recruitment strategy fits well with the latest attacks inside Kenya, including the DusitD2 office attack in January. Ali Salim Gichuge, the lead attacker on DusitD2, was an ordinary Kenyan youth who was born and raised in non-Muslim regions (Daily Nation, November 15).

EU-NATO Cooperation In An Era Of Great-Power Competition

Luis Simón

Over the past two decades, discussions on EU-NATO relations have been closely associated with crisis-management operations and transnational threats. But that is yesterday’s world. The return of great-power competition is eliciting a shift in European security and transatlantic relations toward deterrence and defense. As such the conceptual framework that has so far underpinned debates on EU-NATO relations has been, by and large, rendered obsolete.

The return of great-power competition and growing uncertainty about the United States' commitment to Europe have led to renewed calls to turn the EU into an autonomous pole in global politics. Some even toy with the notion of European equidistance in a global context that is increasingly defined by Sino-American competition. At the same time, the EU’s need to give its global role security and a transatlantic anchor underlines the potential of a more structured EU-NATO dialogue.

Great-power competition also has important implications for capability development. A key challenge is to ensure that the EU’s new defense initiatives help reinforce NATO’s ongoing efforts in deterrence and defense. One way to do that would be to give the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy the authority to bring together the industrial and politico-strategic aspects of the union’s defense policy and thus act as an effective bridge between the EU and NATO. The last three years have witnessed a steady flow of self-congratulatory remarks about unprecedented progress in the relationship between the European Union and NATO. Their joint statements in 2016 and 2018 provided a compass for greater cooperation between them. But it is important to put this in perspective and ensure that the relationship keeps apace with a rapidly changing— and worsening—geostrategic environment. Discussions on EU-NATO cooperation remain stuck on a 1990s wavelength, taking crisis management and transnational challenges as their key referents. As NATO leaders meet in London and the EU undergoes a leadership transition, they should revamp their dialogue around the increasingly important theme of great-power competition.

We Need a NATO for Infowar

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Western countries have pitifully few defenses against ever-more-powerful disinformation campaigns. Banding together can help.

It was Sweden that manufactured the nerve gas that nearly killed Russian double-agent Sergey Skripal in Salisbury in March. Or the Czechs. Or in fact the UK itself. Russian media deliver a dizzying range of exaggerations and falsehoods about our countries, while we usually opt for the high road of near-silence. But truth won’t prevail on its own. We need a robust defense not just of our borders but of our free and open societies: in other words, a Communications NATO for information warfare.

Following last month’s chemical attack in Syria, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denounced reports of it as fabrications. A Russian military spokesman insisted that the UK had been involved, an allegation that Britain’s UN ambassador Karen Pierce dismissed as a “grotesque, blatant lie” and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called “demented.”

CCDC CBC-TR-1599, Cyborg Soldier 2050: Human/Machine Fusion and the Implications for the Future of the DOD

The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (Alexandria, VA) established the DOD

Biotechnologies for Health and Human Performance Council (BHPC) study group to continually assess research and

development in biotechnology. The BHPC group assesses scientific advances for improved health and performance with

potential military application; identifies corresponding risks and opportunities and ethical, legal, and social implications; and

provides senior leadership with recommendations for mitigating adversarial threats and maximizing opportunities for future

U.S. forces. At the direction of the BHPC Executive Committee, the BHPC study group conducted a year-long assessment

entitled “Cyborg Soldier 2050: Human/Machine Fusion and the Impact for the Future of the DOD”. The primary objective of

ENISA threat landscape for 5G Networks

This report draws an initial threat landscape and presents an overview of the challenges in the security of 5G networks. Its added value lays with the creation of a comprehensive 5G architecture, the identification of important assets (asset diagram), the assessment of threats affecting 5G (threat taxonomy), the identification of asset exposure (threats – assets mapping) and an initial assessment of threat agent motives. The information produced for this Threat Landscape is based on publicly available information published by 5G standardisation groups and bodies (i.e. ETSI, 3GPP, 5GPPP) and 5G stakeholders such as operators, vendors, national and international organisations. An expert group with experts from mobile operators, vendors, research and European Commission has contributed to ENISA’s work with information on existing 5G material, current developments in the market and research and quality assurance of the current document. Moreover, the members of the NIS CG, European Commission and ENISA have reviewed the current document. Published 

November 21, 2019 Language 


Internet Governance: Past, Present, and Future

BY Wade Hoxtell David Nonhoff

The internet, a global system of interconnected computer networks, is one of the most defining technologies of our time. Most aspects of our lives are touched in some form or another by the internet, including our economic and financial systems, our social interactions, our education, work and civic participation, as well as the many services we use to complement our lives, from entertainment and banking services to booking travel. In many ways, the internet has become an indispensable aspect of modern life – and peoples’ dependence on the internet and its ecosystem of services will only continue to grow.

Despite the constant and ubiquitous presence of the internet, most people have little understanding about how this complex system actually works. Internet users, particularly in areas with highly reliable connections, take it for granted that everything simply works as expected. Yet, underpinning all technical infrastructure, applications, services and content is a complex system of institutions, actors, mechanisms, and rules that govern how the internet works – termed ​“internet governance.” Internet governance is broadly defined as the processes that influence how the internet is managed – locally, nationally, regionally and globally. The United Nations Working Group on internet Governance (WGIG) defined internet governance in 2005 as ​“the development and application by governments, the private sector, and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures and programs, that shape the evolution and utilization of the internet.”

What jobs are affected by AI? Better-paid, better-educated workers face the most exposure

Mark Muro, Jacob Whiton, and Robert Maxim

Artificial intelligence (AI) has generated increasing interest in “future of work” discussions in recent years as the technology has achieved superhuman performance in a range of valuable tasks, ranging from manufacturing to radiology to legal contracts. With that said, though, it has been difficult to get a specific read on AI’s implications on the labor market.

In part because the technologies have not yet been widely adopted, previous analyses have had to rely either on case studies or subjective assessments by experts to determine which occupations might be susceptible to a takeover by AI algorithms. What’s more, most research has concentrated on an undifferentiated array of “automation” technologies including robotics, software, and AI all at once. The result has been a lot of discussion—but not a lot of clarity—about AI, with prognostications that range from the utopian to the apocalyptic.

Given that, the analysis presented here demonstrates a new way to identify the kinds of tasks and occupations likely to be affected by AI’s machine learning capabilities, rather than automation’s robotics and software impacts on the economy. By employing a novel technique developed by Stanford University Ph.D. candidate Michael Webb, the new report establishes job exposure levels by analyzing the overlap between AI-related patents and job descriptions. In this way, the following paper homes in on the impacts of AI specifically and does it by studying empirical statistical associations as opposed to expert forecasting.

Artificial intelligence: What it is and how we’re measuring it

Good Practices for Security of IoT - Secure Software Development Lifecycle

This ENISA study introduces good practices for IoT security, with a particular focus on software development guidelines for secure IoT products and services throughout their lifetime. Establishing secure development guidelines across the IoT ecosystem, is a fundamental building block for IoT security. By providing good practices on how to secure the IoT software development process, this study tackles one aspect for achieving security by design, a key recommendation that was highlighted in the ENISA Baseline Security Recommendations study which focused on the security of the IoT ecosystem from a horizontal point of view. 

Air Force Research Institute (AFRI)

· Air Force Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs, Winter 2019, v. 2, no. 4

o Strategic Expeditionary Advising

o Dueling Hegemony

o Undermining Democracy

o China in the South Pacific

o Bringing Balance to the Strategic Discourse on China's Rise

o Revision of India's Nuclear Doctrine

o Japan's Indo-Pacific Strategy

An American Failure: CAATSA and Deterring Russian Arms Sales

Jarod Taylor

The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization.

The threat of sanctions action under Section 231 of the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) is in the news again. This time it was suggested by the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, Mr. R. Clarke Cooper, at the recent Dubai Airshow regarding Egypt’s Su-35 fighter jet purchase from Russia. An unnamed U.S. State Department official spoke on background to the press on November 21, 2019 to discuss the lingering threat of CAATSA sanctions regarding Turkey’s S-400 purchase from Russia. The Egyptian and Turkish cases are only two of several that represent the inability or unwillingness to use Sec. 231 the way it was designed, which not only weakens the U.S. diplomatic position in these instances but also encourages other states to dismiss similar threats. Comments from both officials show that CAATSA Sec. 231 is failing to deter and that the strategic logic underlying the sanctions has changed.

CAATSA Sec. 231 was designed with an ambitious goal in mind: to shape the global security environment by raising the costs for third countries to do business with Russian defense and intelligence industry. The U.S. Congress resolved to use Sec. 231, and other provisions, to respond to Russia’s activities in Ukraine, aggressive cyber operations, and interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections. But resolve and design are not enough: the deterrence mechanism has to be implemented in a way that stays true to the design for it to work. CAATSA’s ambiguities leave room for divergent interpretations by officers in the executive branch. The statute mandates secondary sanctions on entities, either people or organizations or both, who execute a “significant transaction” with disallowed Russian firms. Important elements of the law are purposefully vague, giving the President significant latitude when implementing this law. Left notably ambiguous in the original statute are the definition of “significant transaction,” the timeline for implementation of specific actions, and the specification of which Russian entities are disallowed (specified by the State Department in October 2017).