14 December 2019

Reprogramming the World: Political Places


In the novel Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie interweaves his signature magical realism into the political geography of India surrounding the specific time, 12:00am 15 August 1947, that India came into existence as a nation state.[1] Rushdie identifies this moment of national political identity as inseparably linked to individual identity. In one of the many turns of the novel, the reader is presented with the sale of Methwold’s Estate. In the story, William Methwold sells his estate to an Indian family with the contractual stipulation that the family must continue to live exactly as the English inhabitants before them had until the moment of Indian independence, at which point the family could again live as Indians. The fictional contract imposes an English (read colonial/imperial/Western) geography over the estate being sold. The contract extends a political identity as well by defining the identity of the inhabitants concurrently with the state’s political borders. The family lacked the possibility to live as and be Indian until the stroke of midnight, because until that point there was no such place to bound such an identity. Borders are what Kamal Sadiq, borrowing Rushdie’s phrase, calls “midnight’s children.” Decolonization led to “[n]ew borders,” and “paths that were legal and customary became illegal overnight” forcing, through both inclusion and exclusion, new identities on the local inhabitants as the result of international geopolitical shifts.[2] In Rushdie’s tale law enforces political identity congruent with state geography. At midnight, though, everything changes.

In this example, we can see that the law (i.e. the contract) is the expression of political identity across a territory, rendering a condition in which “[l]ocation equals identity.”[3] Rushdie illustrates that an individual’s location is a construct that can change without physical movement. In other words, “space changes … meaning.”[4] Political space is the space in which negotiations about how social rights and obligations will be allocated among the governed and the government. This negotiation itself gives identity to the participants in terms of membership, which legitimates their role in such negotiations. International borders, therefore, are expressions of legal geography mapped onto spatial geography through an expression of a political geography bounded by common community.[5] As a result, legal arguments “presuppose spatial knowledge,” and human rights actions are “struggles for spatial normativity.”[6] These values structure public space in which discourse and deliberation take place. Of course, such uniform identification of individuals with political values compartmentalized by borders is a mythical construction, but it is the construction that underlies international space.[7]

How India and Japan Zoomed in on Northeast India

By Rupakjyoti Borah
Over the past few years, northeast India has emerged as a new area of cooperation between Japan and India. In the wake of this trend, it is worth understanding the context for this as well as the underlying reasons for why this is occurring.

There are many reasons for this. One of them is the strategic location of this part of the country, which shares borders with Nepal, Bhutan, China, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. This region is important not only for Tokyo’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision, which aims to ensure that the sea lanes of communication in the region remain open and secure and countries stick to a rules-based order, but also New Delhi’s “Act-East Policy,” which aims to reinvigorate its ties with Southeast and East Asia.

Second, Japan already has close ties and huge investments in the ASEAN region, including in Myanmar, which shares a long border with the Northeastern states of India.

India: Maoists’ Explosive Assertions – Analysis

By Deepak Kumar Nayak*

On December 8, 2019, two personnel of the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), a specialised unit of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) proficient in guerrilla tactics and jungle warfare, were injured in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) explosion triggered by cadres of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) near the Piyakuli Hills of Tamar town in Ranchi District, Jharkhand.

On December 2, 2019, a CRPF trooper was injured while defusing one of five IEDs planted by cadres of the CPI-Maoist in the Bijapur District of Chhattisgarh. While the SFs successfully defused four IEDs planted between Sarkeguda and Tarrem villages, the fifth IED planted in the nearby Sagmetta village exploded while being defused, injuring the trooper. 

On November 30, 2019, cadres of the CPI-Maoist triggered an IED explosion, blowing up a bridge, in Bishnupur town, Gumla District, Jharkhand. No casualty was reported.

On November 22, 2019, a CRPF trooper sustained injuries in an IED explosion carried out by CPI-Maoist cadres near Tarrem village under Basaguda Police Station limits in Bijapur District, Chhattisgarh. The incident took place when a patrolling team of the CRPF’s 168 Battalion was out on an area domination operation.

According to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Maoists have already carried out at least 47 IED explosions killing 35 persons, including 11 civilians, 22 SF personnel, and two Naxalites (Left Wing Extremists), while injuring another 97 persons, including 47 civilians and 50 SF personnel, in the current year (data till December 8, 2019).

Can Pakistan Comply With the FATF’s Demands on Convicting the Members of Banned Groups?

By Umair Jamal

Last week, Pakistan submitted its progress report to the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) recommended action plan in a bid to escape the forum’s blacklist. The report submitted by Pakistan answers 22 questions that the FATF highlighted in its October meeting, when it asked for verifiable action from Islamabad in the next few months.

Reportedly, Pakistan’s response features the country’s actions against several extremist groups including those that have been listed as terrorist organizations by the United Nations (UN). However, the FATF doesn’t only want Pakistan to take action against the UN-designated militant groups, but also wants Islamabad to convict their members.

It’s important to note that the majority of the action points deal either directly with terror financing or proscribed organizations’ ability to use various channels to keep their campaigns running. During the last hearing, one of the key criticisms of Pakistan’s efforts focused on the country’s inability to choke off extremist groups’ financial operations. So far, Islamabad’s actions have remained concentrated on taking such groups away from the media’s attention and containing their PR campaigns. However, there has been plausible achievement when it comes to uprooting these groups completely.

Pakistan: Defenseless Elders – Analysis

By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty*

Tribal leader Malik Khan Gull and his son were killed in an explosion in the Tank area of Dera Ismail Khan District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) on November 25, 2019. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack thus far.

A pro-government tribal elder was killed in an explosion near the Pakistan-Afghan border in the Upper Dir District of KP on August 18, 2019. Four others were also killed in the attack. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack.

A tribal elder, Wali Khan Achakzai, and two of his guards were killed in a blast at Chaman town of Killa Abdullah District in Balochistan on May 8, 2019. Levies forces said Achakzai was returning home from work when the blast occurred, completely destroying the car and killing all three on the spot. 

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), during the first 11 months and eight days of the current year (2019), there have been five such incidents, resulting in death of six tribal elders across Pakistan’s tribal areas. During the corresponding period of 2018, five tribal elders had died in three incidents; and in the remaining period of 2018, there was one more incident resulting in one death. Throughout 2017, there were two such deaths in two incidents, and another two deaths in two incidents in 2016.

China’s successful repression in Tibet provides a model for Xinjiang

IN AN ANNUAL ritual, hardy groups of activists gathered outside Chinese embassies around the world to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10th. They protested about many Chinese abuses: the encroachment on the freedoms promised Hong Kong; the persecution of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang; and the repression of religious and political freedom in Tibet.

For Tibetans, this year marks an important and poignant anniversary: 30 years to the day since their exiled spiritual leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, was in Oslo to receive the Nobel peace prize. It is also an occasion to reflect on how little their cause has advanced since then. If the successful suppression of almost all dissent counts as winning, then China seems to have won in Tibet. And it appears to think it can replicate the success in the neighbouring region that has also seen unrest in recent years, Xinjiang. So it is worth pondering how that “victory” has been achieved.

Japan’s Options in the South China Sea

By Yoji Koda

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) possesses overwhelming military capabilities in the South China Sea (SCS). And it is clear that no single nation in this region, Japan included, is able to match those capabilities.

For the littoral nations of the SCS – Vietnam and the Philippines in particular – China’s robust military capabilities and its many controversial and militarized/fortified artificial islands have been casting much darker clouds over their policy planning toward China.

In addition to these security elements, every nation in the region has economic ties with China. In this context, China has an increased capacity to wield influence through its economic strength.

At the same time, however, almost all regional players want a clear U.S. policy toward China as well as a visible U.S. military presence. They also want to maintain good economic relationships with the United States.

Under the current security situation, China seems to enjoy an advantage over the United States. And today’s stalemate in the SCS complicates Washington’s policies and strategies toward China’s diplomatic and military actions. At the same time, however, the standstill does constrain China’s scope for political and military maneuvering.

US-China Trade War: Impact on Capital Markets and Commodities

By Mercy A. Kuo

Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Dimitri Zabelin – currency analyst specializing in international political economy and geopolitics with DailyFX.com – is the 216th in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”

As the U.S.-China trade tensions persist, explain the impact on capital markets and commodities. 

Capital markets have been held hostage by the U.S.-China trade war, which has led the world into an industrial recession. Equity markets have become increasingly reliant on central banks to boost liquidity provisions since underlying demand is no longer able to keep economic activity adequately vivacious by itself.

As a result, monetary authorities all over the world embarked on an easing cycle to offset the growth-hampering effects of the trade war. Investors frequently cheer the prospect of looser credit conditions, but the underlying message in central banks’ decision to cut rates appears not to have fully settled in. The question then becomes: how long can central banks keep sentiment afloat with stimulus measures before investors accept the dark reality of current circumstances?

Analyze the impact of the Hong Kong protests on Asian capital markets. 

A Manufacturing Exodus in China—Fact or Fiction?

By Dingding Chen and Yu Xia

The U.S.-China trade war has now dragged on for more than a year, and a preliminary trade deal between the two sides appears to be on the brink of being reached soon. An initial trade deal could involve a rollback of tariffs that has been slapped on roughly $360 billion worth of Chinese goods and $160 billion worth of Chinese imports.

Even if the deal is “millimeters away,” many would agree that the intense rivalry has caused considerable impact on China’s economy, among which shaking Beijing’s leading manufacturing sector is the most striking. Manufacturers are considering leaving China, but the scale is not that large, and it is not all because of the trade war.

Polls reveal some of the trends with respect to manufacturing relocation. According to the Nikkei Asian Review, more than 50 multinationals are rushing to escape the punitive tariffs placed by the United States. Report shows that Apple has called on major suppliers to consider moving 15 to 30 percent of iPhone production out of China and the trial production of its popular AirPods has started in Vietnam. HP and Dell are thinking of moving up to 30 percent of their notebook production in China to Southeast Asia and elsewhere. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Sony, and Nintendo are also planning to move some of their manufacturing out of China. Other companies including Lenovo Group Ltd., Acer Inc. and Asustek Computer Inc. are evaluating their options. In addition, Chinese manufacturers, as well as those from the United States, Japan, and Taiwan, are part of this trend. In a poll released by the American Chamber of Commerce earlier, roughly 40 percent of 250 surveyed firms said they were “considering or have relocated manufacturing facilities outside of China.”

Why Does China Say It Won't Use Nuclear Weapons First in War?

by David Axe 

China has reaffirmed its policy of never being the first in a conflict to use nuclear weapons. Experts refer to this policy as “no first use,” or NFU.

The NFU policy reaffirmation, contained in Beijing’s July 2019 strategic white paper, surprised some observers who expected a more expansive and aggressive nuclear posture from the rising power.

Notably, the United States does not have a no-first-use policy. “Retaining a degree of ambiguity and refraining from a no first use policy creates uncertainty in the mind of potential adversaries and reinforces deterrence of aggression by ensuring adversaries cannot predict what specific actions will lead to a U.S. nuclear response,” the Pentagon stated.

Chinese state media posted the government’s white paper in its entirety. "Nuclear capability is the strategic cornerstone to safeguarding national sovereignty and security," the paper asserts.

Bernard Madoff is arrested and charged with securities fraud in a $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

Indiana becomes the 19th U.S. state.

Missile Race: Does America or China Dominate the South China Sea?

by David Axe
Source Link

The Chinese military lobbed anti-ship ballistic missiles into the South China Sea in tests in early July 2019.

The missile trials underscored Beijing’s increasing militarization of resource-rich waters on which several countries have conflicting claims.

“The Chinese carried out the first test over the weekend, firing off at least one missile into the sea,” NBC News reported on July 1, 2019, citing a U.S. official with knowledge of the test.

“The window for testing remains open until July 3, and the official expects the Chinese military to test again before it closes.”

A bomb detonated in the New York City Subway, in the Times Square-42nd Street/Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC. It's known as the 2017 NYC attempted bombing.

Apollo 17 becomes the sixth and last Apollo mission to land on the Moon.

No U.S. Navy vessels were in the area when the missile or missiles splashed down, NBC News reported. Still, the official described the event as "concerning."

This 1979 War Transformed the Chinese Military Forever

by Charlie Gao
Source Link

When the Sino-Vietnamese war ended on March 16, 1979, it was hardly a definite resolution of the conflict. Both sides claimed victory, and Vietnam continued to pressure China’s allies in Cambodia and Thailand. As a result, the PLA continued to apply pressure to Vietnam by launching attacks across the Vietnamese border throughout the 1980s. While casualties were small relative to the tens of thousands who died during the 1979 war, the regimental and divisional scale operations across the border incurred significant casualties on both sides.

Chinese operations against Vietnam in the 1980s are often divided into four phases. In the first, the Chinese and Vietnamese further entrenched their positions along the border. This lasted until 1981. The second and third phase consisted of escalating offensive operations across the border from 1981 to 1987, gradually increasing in intensity. The last phase involved the PLA’s withdrawal from the border region. The political objectives of the Chinese incursions were to “punish” Vietnam for its continued belligerence towards Thailand and Cambodia. Since Vietnamese troops were going into Cambodia, Chinese troops would continue to do the same. Militarily, China saw the border conflict as a way to evolve the PLA from an antiquated fighting force to a modern one, by testing new doctrines and equipment on the border.

The Evolution of Chinese Corporate Social Responsibility


GLASGOW/SINGAPORE – Over the last decade, Chinese businesses have made significant strides in incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues into their decision-making. But they still have a long way to go, and they will not get there on their own.

The idea of corporate social responsibility is relatively new in China. Among the Chinese public, CSR began to gain traction in 2008, after a magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck Sichuan province, killing 69,181 people, injuring 374,171 more, and leaving 18,498 unaccounted for. More than 15 million homes were destroyed, leaving ten million people homeless. The total damage was estimated at $150 billion.

After the so-called Great Sichuan Earthquake, the Chinese public demanded that business contribute to the recovery. Companies responded, offering $1.5 billion in support – and setting a new precedent for philanthropic CSR in China.

When Sichuan suffered another serious, though less devastating, earthquake in 2013, major multinationals were quick to offer support. Samsung’s CN¥60 million ($8.5 million) contribution, and Apple’s CN¥50 million ($7 million), confirmed that social responsibility had become an integral part of doing business.

What Fox News Hasn't Told You about Qatar and Iran

Irina Tsukerman

A recent Fox News story provided a conclusion of an intelligence report, which explained that Qatar likely had advance knowledge of Iran attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May, but failed to share that information that could have prevented these attacks. If accurate this episode would not be the first time when Qatar is alleged to have had early warning of terrorist attacks but kept silent, advancing its own foreign policy agenda. Former Al Jazeera reporter Mohamed Fahmy had extensively discussed alleged contacts between Al Jazeera, a state-funded mouthpiece that closely reflects Qatar's foreign policy in its coverage, and that it has followed Iran's lead in using the media as a tool of foreign policy, masquerading as press. Qatar has openly supported the IRGC, Hezbullah, Hamas, and other Iran-funded terrorist organizations in its news coverage, as well as by giving platform to operatives and spokespeople from these groups on Al Jazeera.

Fahmy also pointed out that Qatar and Iran are close political allies. " “Iran and Qatar are allies, in fact, that have similar regional agendas — with the goal of destabilizing regimes allied with the US being chief among them. Qatar for years has sided with Iran in one proxy fight after another, whether in Bahrain, Yemen or in backing Hamas terror against Israelis and Palestinians.” (Mohamed Fahmy, Op-Ed, “Al Jazeera: Qatar’s Criminal Mouthpiece,” Arab News, 12/5/17) Fahmy further noted that "“Even when Qatar officially joined GCC positions against Iran, its real foreign policy — the so-called news pumped out by my former employer Al Jazeera — was on full display to anyone with a satellite dish or Internet, showing unquestionably that the emirate was firmly aligned with the mullahs, not with its Arab neighbors or the US.” (id.) Qatar also has a record of aiding and abetting Iran-backed terrorist organization terrorist attacks & acts of war not only through sympathetic coverage but by giving realtime information useful to launching more precise missile attacks aimed at civilians.

Japan’s Iran Dilemma

By Kazuto Suzuki

The situation in the Middle East remains extremely unstable. Since May 2019, when Iran declared that it was suspending some of its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Saudi Arabian and Norwegian registered oil tankers have been attacked around the Straits of Hormuz, and a Japanese oil tanker was attacked while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was actually visiting Iran. September brought a strike on a Saudi Arabian oil facility, knocking out 5 percent of global oil production, albeit temporarily. For Japan, relying as it does on the Middle East for its supply of crude oil and natural gas, the frequent occurrence of such dangerous situations poses a major problem for domestic energy security.

Moreover, the facts and intentions pertaining to these incidents are not clear. Iran is suspected of involvement in the May and June oil tanker attacks and the September attack on the oil facility, but denies any such involvement. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also hinted at Iran’s involvement, but did not hold Iran to account for the damage sustained. The United States has meanwhile pointed the finger directly at Iran. However, Washington’s existing policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran leaves little scope for sanctions. Even if additional sanctions were to be imposed, it would not significantly change the situation.

Wake Up America: The Military-Industrial Complex Never Sleeps

by Elliott Morss
Source Link


I quote President Eisenhower:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

Evidence of the workings of the military-industrial complex (MIC) is presented below.

Always at War

Measured by the years of engagement, the US is the most warlike nation in the world. In the 81 years since the start of WW11, the US has been at war in all but 30. And that does not include the Cold War (1947-1991) as an “actual" war. While there is significant agreement among scholars that WWII and the Gulf War made sense for the US, the jury is most definitely out on the others.

Why Don't More Women Win Science Nobels?

by Mary K. Feeney

All of the 2019 Nobel Prizes in science were awarded to men.

That’s a return to business as usual, after biochemical engineer Frances Arnold won in 2018, for chemistry, and Donna Strickland received the 2018 Nobel Prize in physics.

Strickland was only the third female physicist to get a Nobel, following Marie Curie in 1903 and Maria Goeppert-Mayer 60 years later. When asked how that felt, she noted that at first it was surprising to realize so few women had won the award: “But, I mean, I do live in a world of mostly men, so seeing mostly men doesn’t really ever surprise me either."

How Trump May Finally Kill the WTO


GENEVA—In an ornate stone palace on the shores of Lake Geneva, just a stone’s throw from the Quai Wilson and the Palais des Nations, the Trump administration is waging its latest battle against the international order that the United States helped to build.

At issue is the fate of a little-known part of a little-understood institution: the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization. As soon as Wednesday, if U.S. President Donald Trump continues his administration’s yearslong campaign of obstruction, the WTO’s ability to resolve trade disputes between countries—pretty much its most important function—will likely be paralyzed. That means that the go-it-alone unilateralism that has characterized the Trump administration’s approach to trade could soon spread far and wide, essentially turning back the clock to a time when trade rivalries between nations were settled not with legal arguments but with tariff walls, trade barriers, and beggar-thy-neighbor protectionism.

The U.S. Dominates New Oil And Gas Production

Jude Clemente

The American fracking for oil and natural gas boom will continue on through the 2020s. And why not? Since fracking took off in 2008, we have more than doubled our proven oil reserves to ~65 billion barrels. Natural gas reserves have surged over 80% to ~430 trillion cubic feet. Already the largest oil and gas producer, the U.S. is set to increase its share of ~17% of global oil production and ~23% of gas. In the 2020s, the U.S. is set to supply over 60% of new oil and gas (see Figure below).

This is according to experts at Rystad Energy, “an independent energy consulting services and business intelligence data firm” based in Norway. Rystad says the U.S. shale industry will continue to mount production even if prices drop. The reality is that oil and gas companies already have. Oil prices have been sliced in half since the triple-digits seen in mid-2014, yet U.S. crude oil production has still jumped over 50% to nearly 13 million b/d. For 2019 alone, the weekly oil rig count has plummeted 25% to 663 rigs as of Friday, yet weekly output has risen another 1.2 million b/d. Natural gas prices have fallen 17% this year and gas rigs are down 34%, yet gas U.S. output has still risen over 10%.

Can the Paris Summit End Ukraine’s War?

By Robert McMahon

The summit will feature the highest-profile talks in years on the war between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists, but the parties will have to bridge major divides to find a permanent end to the conflict.

The leaders of France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine—the so-called Normandy Four group—are due to meet December 9 in Paris to renew negotiations to end the five-year conflict in eastern Ukraine. While diplomatic momentum has grown in recent months, high obstacles remain before all sides can reach a lasting settlement.

Separatists, enabled by Russian forces, moved to seize power in the Donbas region in April 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The actions followed a pro-democracy uprising that led to the flight of pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych. The Donbas is now divided, with separatists controlling areas around the industrial centers of Donetsk and Luhansk, while the other part remains under Ukrainian government administration. Some fighting continues along the front line, but the war is largely stalled. It has exacted a heavy toll: thirteen thousand people have been killed, more than twenty thousand wounded, and about 1.5 million people internally displaced in Ukraine.

A Formula for Peace?

Pearl Harbor and the Strategy of Economic Sanctions

By George Friedman

There have been many lessons drawn from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. One was that wars need not begin according to international law. Another was that attacks can be unexpected and that constant vigilance is necessary. Still another was that underestimating an enemy can be catastrophic. And yet another was that failure to understand how new technology changes the nature of war can be disastrous.

The list of lessons learned is of course longer than the list of lessons remembered, one of which is particularly germane at this moment: When imposing economic sanctions, the more powerful the sanctions, the greater the pressure on your adversary to strike back. At a time when the U.S. is shifting from the use of military force to the use of economic power, the lesson of why Pearl Harbor was attacked needs to be considered carefully.

War Plans

Opinion | Google’s Sundar Pichai could end up in an Alphabet soup

Sandipan Deb

Within hours of the announcement of Sundar Pichai’s elevation from Google’s chief executive officer (CEO) to CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, cnbc.com ran an opinion piece with a headline that he had just “got the worst job in Silicon Valley". And it’s not as if Pichai didn’t already have his hands full with Google.

Alphabet owns a clutch of companies that pursue futuristic passion projects of Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who have stepped down as Alphabet’s CEO and president, respectively. These include self-driving cars, smart cities, providing worldwide internet via high-altitude balloons, and combating ageing. Pichai will now be responsible for them, in addition to his Google duties.

Since 2017, Google has been fined $9.3 billion by the European Union for violation of antitrust laws (the company is appealing all three verdicts), with a new investigation announced last week. The US government and almost every American state are scrutinizing its market dominance. Breaking up Google is an idea that has bipartisan political support; Democratic party presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has vowed to do so if she becomes US president. And Donald Trump believes Google has skewed its search algorithms to undermine him.

The cybersecurity battle of the future – AI vs. AI

By Nadav Maman 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to gain a foothold in our everyday lives. Whether for complex tasks like computer vision and natural language processing, or something as basic as an online chatbot, their popularity shows no signs of slowing. Companies have also started to explore deep learning, which is an advanced subset of machine learning. By applying “deep neural networks” deep learning takes inspiration from how the human brain works. Unlike machine learning, deep learning can actually train its processes directly on raw data, requiring little to no human intervention.

Recent research from analyst firm Gartner noted that the number of companies implementing AI technology has increased by around 270 per cent over the past four years. The return on investment is unmistakable as so many industries have started to implement the technology. However, even with the significant progress and given the nature of AI, that same, once helpful technology could fall into the wrong hands and be used to inflict damage on a company or the end user.

Cyberspace and the Struggle to Maintain and Manage It


In 1515, a live rhinoceros arrived in Portugal. It was a gift from Sultan Muzaffar II of Gujarat to King Manuel I of Portugal. The King then gifted the creature on to Pope Leo X, but the rhino died in transport. The pope instead received the taxidermied corpse, and German artist Albrecht Dürer based a drawing, titled Rhinoceron, on a sketch and secondhand description of that corpse. This drawing was then turned into a woodcut that made it reproducible on the printing press. Dürer’s rhinoceros, though fairly inaccurate, was reproduced and became the dominant depiction of the rhinoceros for well over a hundred years. The medium introduced by Gutenberg, facilitated the spread of an idea that became tenaciously melded into the public understanding of what constituted the thing that was signified by “rhinoceros.”[1]

The “boilerplate rhino” is a function of “Gutenberg’s revolution,” and it illustrates the ability of ideas to entrench themselves through reproduction.[2] The power of the image is itself a function of its reach, and Dürer’s decision to make the image a woodcut shows his intent for mass market publication.[3] Similarly, Chapter 5 discussed the power of cartography in constructing imaginary cartographies. These images of the international system are the graphic conceptualization of the “Westphalian state.” This term itself is one that has been entrenched through repetition and reification and is still used to describe the international system despite the dramatic differences between the contemporary nation state and the nation state that emerged from the Peace of Westphalia.[4] The resulting ‘boilerplate state’ is one that reifies its border through the projection of legal jurisdiction and political identity across a spatial geography denoted by solid black lines on a map. The Westphalian imaginary was repeatedly recast onto the developing international system as a descriptor and a depictor.

Clash of Killer Robots? Japan’s Role in Preventing AI Apocalypse

By Daisuke Akimoto

Civil society organizations have warned that if “killer robots” or “lethal autonomous weapons systems” (LAWS) reminiscent of the famous film The Terminator are created, such weapons would cause serious problems with regards to human rights. In scientific fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) technology often surpasses human beings, bringing about an apocalyptic scenario. Indeed, it is fair to consider that the combination of AI technology and nuclear weapons might bring about such a devastating conflict in the future. Although no “fully autonomous” weapon exists at this stage, several countries, such as the United States, Russia, China, South Korea, and Israel, are thought to have developed “semi-autonomous” weapons equipped with artificial intelligence.

LAWS issues have been a part of international discussions in the United Nations, and the Japanese government has actively participated in these conferences. Japanese politicians have also discussed the issues in the National Diet since 2015. This article examines Japan’s role in the international regulation of LAWS and attempts to explore possible solutions in international law.

Is Growth Passé?


NEW YORK – It’s clear: we are living beyond our planet’s limits. Unless we change something, the consequences will be dire. Should that something be our focus on economic growth?

Climate change represents the most salient risk we face, and we are already getting a glimpse of the costs. And in “we,” I include Americans. The United States, where a major political party is dominated by climate-change deniers, is the highest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases and the only country refusing to adhere to the 2015 Paris climate agreement. So there is a certain irony in the fact that the US has also become one of the countries with the highest levels of property damage associated with extreme weather events such as floods, fires, hurricanes, droughts, and bitter cold.

At one time, some Americans even hoped that climate change might benefit them. Maine’s coastal waters, for example, would become swimmable. Even today, a few economists still believe that there is not much to worry about, so long as we limit the increase in average global temperature to 3-4º Celsius, compared to the 2ºC limit set by the Paris agreement. This is a foolish gamble. Greenhouse-gas concentrations are projected to be at their highest level in millions of years, and we have nowhere else to go if we lose.

Are Facebook and Google State Actors? A Reply to Alan Rozenshtein

By Jed Rubenfeld 

I argued previously that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, in combination with congressional pressure, has turned internet mega-platforms like YouTube and Facebook into state actors when they censor “objectionable” content. Alan Rozenshtein has replied, thoughtfully and critically. This is my response.

There is a simple reason why Section 230—which grants broad immunity to websites that block “objectionable” but “constitutionally protected” speech, as the statute itself puts it—is constitutionally concerning. Through a grant of immunity, the statute deliberately seeks to induce private parties to take action that would violate constitutional rights if governmental actors did it directly. That’s a powerful formula for evading the Constitution. Imagine a statute immunizing private parties who barricade abortion clinics, hack into people’s email or confiscate people’s guns. Such immunity statutes have to trigger constitutional scrutiny; otherwise, all constitutional rights are in jeopardy.

Against this conclusion, Rozenshtein points to the Supreme Court’s 1978 decision in Flagg Bros, Inc. v. Brooks. It’s exactly the right case for him to cite. In Flagg Bros., the court found that a New York statute authorizing a warehouseman’s sale of bailed goods under certain conditions didn’t make such a sale state action. The case can be read to hold that a merely “permissive” statute never turns private conduct into state action. Because the statute “permits, but does not compel” the sale, said the Flagg Bros. court, there was no state action.

The World's Biggest Arms-Producing Companies

by Niall McCarthy
Last year, the sale of arms and military services around the world was 4.6 percent higher than in 2017, totalling $420 billion, according to new data released by Sipri. American companies accounted for $246 billion of that total.

U.S. companies were driven by major consolidations with both Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics making multibillion-dollar acquisitions in 2018. Lockheed Martin retained its place at the top of the biggest arms-producing companies with $47.26 billion in sales. Boeing's arms sales came to $29.15 billion last year while Northrop Grumman came third with $26.19 billion.

Out of the ten largest arms manufacturers, five are American and BAE systems is the first-non U.S. company on the list. Known for producing the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers as well as the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft, it comes sixth on the list in 2018 with sales coming to $21.21 billion.

Drones and Air Defense

By Mike Rogers

The September 14th attacks on the Saudi oil facilities were a master class the application of new technologies in non-traditional ways. Someone fired cruise missiles and drones, circumventing an apparently advanced air defense network, scoring remarkable—if un-attributable—successes for relatively low costs.

If you take a step back, the strikes themselves were masterful in their signaling despite their opacity. From where did the attacks originate? That's unclear. Who is responsible for the attacks? That too is unclear. Houthi rebels from Yemen claimed responsibility, but such an attack is well beyond their capabilities. It is all but certain that their patron and regional destabilizer in Tehran is behind the strike, escalating the long simmering, but largely covert, conflict with Riyadh fought with proxies.

Of course, the Iranians denied any involvement, but Tehran must be patting themselves on the back at finding vulnerabilities in the armor of the Saudi air defense network. The Russians, for their part, are clearly happy with the strike.

For Moscow, it’s a new sales opportunity. Since the strike, Russia’s been not-so-quiet proffering of their S-400 as a cheaper, better (according to Moscow) solution for governments in the market for air-defense. Clearly, in their words, the American system failed. And, boy, do they have a deal for you!

The Gulf Military Balance and U.S. Commitments to the Gulf

By Anthony H. Cordesman

There is a growing policy level debate in the U.S. over the risk of a serious conflict between Iran and the U.S. and its Arab strategic partners. This has led to reports that the U.S. could deploy up to 14,000 more military personnel to the Gulf, along with a significant increase in it its combat ships and major weapons systems.
The Evolving Matrix of Threats and Risks

It is far from clear that a major conflict will occur, but it is clear that the threat from Iran is growing, that some form of “gray area” military clashes are likely, and there is a risk that such a clash could escalate significantly even if Iran does not want to engage in a major conflict.

These risks are compounded by a wide range of other variables that affect U.S. commitments to the Arab/Persian Gulf region. They include very different and unpredictable levels of tension and conflict – driven by the following major variables and contingencies:

Risk of actual conflict at very different levels of intensity: Major war, limited war, proxy uses of forces, threats with military gestures, low-levels attacks.