4 January 2020

Chhattisgarh: Sukma: Diminishing Influence

S. Binodkumar Singh

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

After months of delay and bitter allegations of fraud and corruption, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) on December 22, 2019, published the preliminary results of the Presidential Election held on September 28, 2019. According to these results, incumbent President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani won the Election. Out of 1,824,401 total votes, Ghani secured 923,868 (50.64 percent) – enough to win in the first round of voting – defeating his main challenger, incumbent Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who secured 720,099 votes (39.52 percent).The head of Hizb-e-Islami, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, came a distant third, with 70,243 votes (3.85 percent). The remaining 5.99 per cent votes went to 11 other candidates. Eight of these candidates– Rahmatullah Nabil, Faramarz Tamana, Enayatullah Hafiz, Mohammad Hakim Torsan, Ahmad Wali Masood, Mohammad Shahab Hakimi, Ghulam Farooq Najrabi and Noor Rahman Lewal – had together formed the Council of Presidential Candidates on April 15, 2019.The Presidential Election was contested by 14 candidates.

There was a total of 9,665,745 million (the exact number released by the IEC on August 18, 2019) registered voters, out of which1,929,333 exercised their right to vote, i.e. around 19 percent. 104,932 of the registered voters, i.e., around one percent, was found invalid. During the 2014 Presidential Election, the voting percentage was 58 percent.

Does India Gain Anything From the Shanghai Cooperation Organization?

By Krzysztof Iwanek

2020 will mark the first time India hosts the annual Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit. In the week before the event, one can expect an outpouring of commentaries on what it will mean for New Delhi. Let me, therefore, be done with my part of this discussion early by providing a short reply: It will not mean much. Not just in the coming year, but at all. India will not gain much from its participation in the SCO.

One of New Delhi’s most important challenges is to hold the threats posed by Pakistan and China at bay. And yet New Delhi joined the SCO, which has Beijing as one of its founding fathers and guiding spirits – moreover, India attained membership in the SCO together with Pakistan in 2017. Diplomacy may be perhaps understood from the point of view that every dialogue is necessary, and various formats help to share more words, views, and information. But let’s cut to core issues: Can the SCO take a stand on the Kashmir dispute that India would like, given that China is sure to take Pakistan’s side? Can the SCO take a stand on the border dispute between India and China that New Delhi would appreciate, given that none of SCO’s other members have the capability to stand up to Beijing in such a dispute? Can the SCO actually help India in its dealings with China in any significant way?

Is the Washington Consensus on US-India Relations Fraying?

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

U.S.-India relations have improved over the last two decades, partly due to the strong political consensus in Washington supporting this trend. Both Democrats and Republicans have put aside other differences when it came to India, and, even when different parties controlled them, both the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government have supported strengthening the relationship.

Recent developments, however, have cast a shadow on the extent of that support and how it might shape up moving forward. Scrutiny on some domestic developments in India has raised some questions about U.S. support for India and the future shape of the bilateral relationship.

Of particular note are the recent Indian actions regarding Indian citizenship and identity issues, such as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which have not gone down well, either in India or in the United States.

The negative Western media attention on India has been generally dismissed by senior Indian officials as biased. The home minister, Amit Shah, blamed Indian opposition parties for raising human rights concerns. Commenting on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir in September, Shah said, “To those who are asking questions about human rights, I want to ask have they ever thought about the human rights of the widows or children of the 41,800 people killed in J&K so far.” Ashok Malik, a respected journalist, former media advisor to the Indian president, and currently additional secretary at the Ministry of External Affairs categorized the negative publicity as “a familiar assortment of New York/London-based know-alls, fringe left activists, Pakistani state agents masquerading as aggrieved neutrals, and freelance self-determinists representing nothing but their bylines.”

Fractious Vote

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

After months of delay and bitter allegations of fraud and corruption, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) on December 22, 2019, published the preliminary results of the Presidential Election held on September 28, 2019. According to these results, incumbent President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani won the Election. Out of 1,824,401 total votes, Ghani secured 923,868 (50.64 percent) – enough to win in the first round of voting – defeating his main challenger, incumbent Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who secured 720,099 votes (39.52 percent).The head of Hizb-e-Islami, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, came a distant third, with 70,243 votes (3.85 percent). The remaining 5.99 per cent votes went to 11 other candidates. Eight of these candidates– Rahmatullah Nabil, Faramarz Tamana, Enayatullah Hafiz, Mohammad Hakim Torsan, Ahmad Wali Masood, Mohammad Shahab Hakimi, Ghulam Farooq Najrabi and Noor Rahman Lewal – had together formed the Council of Presidential Candidates on April 15, 2019.The Presidential Election was contested by 14 candidates.

There was a total of 9,665,745 million (the exact number released by the IEC on August 18, 2019) registered voters, out of which1,929,333 exercised their right to vote, i.e. around 19 percent. 104,932 of the registered voters, i.e., around one percent, was found invalid. During the 2014 Presidential Election, the voting percentage was 58 percent.

Russia- Iran-China- A New Strategic Trilateral in the Making:

By Dr Subhash Kapila
Source Link

Russia-Iran-China in adversarial crosshairs of United States seem to be emerging as a new ‘Strategic Trilateral ‘in the making astride waterways of the Gulf Of Oman and the North Arabian Sea, both, of immense strategic significance to the United States and its national security. The strategic rationale prompting this Trilateral arises chiefly from US Policy Establishment’s persistent stubborn resistance to “reset” United States policy formulations on Russia.

So cornered more particularly in December 2019, Russia, Iran & China have decided to hold Joint Naval Exercises in the waters of the Gulf of Oman and the North Arabian Sea segment of the Indian Ocean. Presently, the global strategic community could be dismissive that this is just one more political signalling by these three Nations in adversarial relationship with the United States. This argument basically arises from the fact that Russia and China also enjoy good relations with Saudi Arabia, strong ally of the United States, in an intense regional power struggle with Iran. This factor may not permit Russia and China to move beyond political signalling to the United States.

Bur contextually, Saudi Arabia too sensing that US power and US pressure on Saudi domestic policies may be on the decline has developed strong relationship with Russia including sizeable purchase of Russian arms and equipment.

Assessing Southeast Asia in the 2010s: 5 Big Strategic Trends and How They May Shape the 2020s

By Prashanth Parameswaran

While there was no shortage of significant developments in Southeast Asia over the past decade, there was also a shorter list of major trends that ran throughout the decade. Below is a list of five big trends that shaped the subregion in the 2010s and will continue to be important to watch into the 2020s as well, in no particular order.

1) Rising External Power Penetration: Southeast Asia has long attracted interest from major powers for various reasons. The subregion’s economic, diplomatic, and political significance in its own right has been increasingly recognized in the 2000s as well following a stumble during the Asian Financial Crisis in the 1990s. But the 2010s saw a significant increase in external power interest in the region by any definition. While much of the focus has been on China and the United States on the security side, other powers, including Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and key European countries, began to pay much greater attention to Southeast Asia as part of their overall foreign policies, including through the articulation of specific strategies. More recently, toward the end of the decade, we have also seen growing concern about U.S.-China rivalry and Southeast Asia’s place within an era of major power competition, which we will likely continue to hear about into 2020 and beyond.

The CCP’s Renewed Focus on Ideological Conditioning, Part 2: The New Five-Year Plan for Training Party Cadres

By: John Dotson

Author’s Note: This is the second part of a two-part series that addresses new directives issued by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the field of ideological “education.” The first part (The CCP’s Renewed Focus on Ideological Indoctrination, Part 1: The 2019 Guidelines for “Patriotic Education”), which appeared in our December 10 issue, examined new directives for intensified “patriotic education” among Chinese youth and the general public. This second part examines a new five-year plan unveiled by the CCP in November 2019 for more rigorous ideological indoctrination among its own cadres.

Introduction: The Drive for Increased Ideological Conformity in the CCP

The leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has long pointed to the collapse of the Soviet Union as a cautionary example, and party organs have produced books and films that warn of the dire consequences that would follow from any steps to loosen the CCP’s grip on the economy, public discourse, or political power. These materials have been made the focus of mandatory study under CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping (SCMP, November 18, 2013). Alongside alleged villains such as the reformist Mikhail Gorbachev, ideological laxity among Soviet Communist Party members has been identified as a key factor in the downfall of the Soviet state. [1]

Planting the Seed: Ethnic Policy in Xi Jinping’s New Era of Cultural Nationalism

By: James Leibold


The recent leak of secret Chinese Communist Party (CCP) documents in Xinjiang provides irrefutable evidence of the CCP’s radical plan to fundamentally remake Xinjiang society and transform the thoughts and behaviour of its Muslim minorities (ICIJ, 24 November). Less well known, however, is the role that Xi and his supporters have played in reorienting People’s Republic of China (PRC) policy away from a previous tolerance of ethnocultural heterogeneity, and towards a virulent form of cultural nationalism that pathologizes dissent and diversity as an existential threat to the Party and the nation.

The self-described “New Era” (新时代, Xin Shidai) of Xi Jinping Thought marks a decisive departure from previous attempts to propitiate ethnic minorities through special preferences and a “loose reins” (羁縻, jimi) system of ethnic autonomy. This new orientation is most clearly articulated in a public speech Xi Jinping gave in September, suggesting a new level of confidence in the Party’s attempt to build a “spiritual homeland” (精神家园, jingshen jiayuan) for China’s fragile political unity in the face of deep internal resistance in the peripheries of Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong.

Ethnic Minority Groups and “Leap-Frog Style Development”

China’s 2020 Economic Agenda: Maintaining Stability Amid Flux

By: Yun Jiang, Adam Ni


China’s top annual economic policy gathering, the Central Economic Work Conference (中央经济工作会议, Zhongyang jingji gongzuo huiyi), or CEWC, was held between December 10 and 12 in Beijing. This year’s CEWC focused on the theme of “achieving developmental progress on the basis of first ensuring stability” (稳字当头, 稳中求进 / wen zi dangtou, wen zhong qiu jin) (Xinhua, December 12)—thereby continuing a theme stressed during the meeting of the National People’s Congress in March of this year (China Brief, March 22). Given increasing economic risks and political challenges, both domestic and international, the party-state’s focus on the supremacy of stability is unsurprising. Importantly, the CEWC reiterates that the goal of achieving a “moderately prosperous society” (小康社会, xiaokang shehui) by the end of 2020 is “a priority among priorities” (重中之重, zhong zhong zhi zhong).

This article examines the key outcomes of the 2019 CEWC, which set the overall direction of China’s economic policy agenda for 2020. In doing so, we highlight a central underlying tension: on the one hand, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants to keep a steady ship at a time of economic and strategic flux; on the other, maintaining strong economic growth requires ambitious developmental goals and economic reform imperatives, which have added pressure for bold policy actions. How well Chinese policymakers can navigate this tension in 2020 has important ramifications for both China’s national development and the CCP’s political legitimacy.

The Ritual of the “Three-Step” Dance

Sara Hsu on the US-China Trade War

By Shannon Tiezzi

On December 13, the United States and China both issued separate announcements outlining their “phase one” trade deal. It was the latest twist in the so-called “trade war,” which has been underway for over a year-and-a-half following U.S. President Donald Trump’s initial announcement of tariffs on Chinese exports to the United States. Since then, we have seen trade talks start and stop, and deals made and scrapped; the one constant has been the climbing tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by both sides.

With optimism riding high (or at least higher) with the phase one deal set to be signed in January, The Diplomat’s Shannon Tiezzi spoke with Sara Hsu for more perspective on the trade war. Hsu, Associate Professor of Economics at the State University of New York at New Paltz, discusses the trade war’s impact on both economies and the potential for lasting change in China’s economic practices.

How are tariffs impacting the economies of the U.S. and China? In other words, who’s winning the trade war?

How China Sees The Indo-Pacific: What Next After AOIP? – Analysis

By Benjamin Tze Ern Ho*

Following the publication of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) earlier this year, Chinese observers have trained their focus on what the AOIP means for Beijing’s relations with Southeast Asia. Come 2020, it is likely that China would demand greater clarity concerning the practical “deliverables” of the AOIP.

During the 34th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok in June 2019, ASEAN foreign ministers agreed to the publication of what they referred to as the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP). This effectively states the regional grouping’s position on the Indo-Pacific while ensuring that it was seen as not taking sides in geopolitical competition.

Up till then, much of Chinese analysis concerning the Indo-Pacific strategy was focused on the members of the Quad (US, Japan, Australia and India) and how the Indo-Pacific concept reflected the geopolitical calculations of the four countries.
ASEAN’s Voice on the Indo-Pacific

Following the rollout of the AOIP, China was relatively guarded in its assessment and refrained from stating an official position regarding its support or concerns towards the document.

Ghosts in the Clouds: Inside China’s Major Corporate Hack

By Rob Barry and Dustin Volz

In one of the largest-ever corporate espionage efforts, cyberattackers alleged to be working for China’s intelligence services stole volumes of intellectual property, security clearance details and other records from scores of companies over the past several years. They got access to systems with prospecting secrets for mining company Rio TintoRIO -0.30% PLC, and sensitive medical research for electronics and health-care giant Philips PHG -0.61% NV.

They came in through cloud service providers, where companies thought their data was safely stored. Once they got in, they could freely and anonymously hop from client to client, and defied investigators’ attempts to kick them out for years.

Cybersecurity investigators first identified aspects of the hack, called Cloud Hopper by the security researchers who first uncovered it, in 2016, and U.S. prosecutors charged two Chinese nationals for the global operation last December. The two men remain at large.

A Wall Street Journal investigation has found that the attack was much bigger than previously known. It goes far beyond the 14 unnamed companies listed in the indictment, stretching across at least a dozen cloud providers, including CGI Group Inc., GIB -0.70% one of Canada’s largest cloud companies; Tieto Oyj, a major Finnish IT services company; and International Business Machines Corp. IBM -1.82%

Trump Fighting The Wrong Battle In A Tit-For-Tat Confrontation With China – OpEd

By Jonathan Power*
In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, Sherlock Holmes lectures Watson on the unlikely subject of free trade.

Holmes: “Capital article this on free trade. Permit me to read you an extract from The Times: ‘You may be cajoled into imagining that your own special trade or your own industry will be encouraged by a protective tariff, but it stands to reason that such legislation must in the long run keep wealth from the country, diminish the value of our imports, and lower the general condition of life in this island.’”

“What do you think of that, Watson?” cried Holmes, in high glee, rubbing his hands together with satisfaction. “Don’t you think that is an admirable sentiment?”

That was written 1901. In 2019 we are still furiously debating the value of free trade. The Nobel economics laureate Paul Krugman argues that the trade barriers that President Donald Trump has raised against China are counterproductive. All it has done is to trigger retaliation. Farmers who export soya and wheat to China have lost out heavily. The old, uncompetitive, industrial sector of America has not been revived and the American consumer has faced rising prices. Yesterday (December 30, 2019) a report published by the Federal Reserve (the US central bank) said the same thing.

What if China Offered a Nuclear Shield to North Korea?

by Brian J. Kim
Source Link

A nuclear umbrella is a guarantee by a nuclear weapons state to defend a non-nuclear allied state. It promotes nonproliferation by allowing states to access nuclear deterrence without nuclear weapons of their own. The American nuclear umbrella, for instance, is an important reason South Korea abandoned its nuclear ambitions in the 1970s. A Chinese nuclear shield over North Korea is a realist solution that similarly obviates Pyongyang’s case for a homegrown program while still enabling it to reap the security benefits of nuclear deterrence.

According to Pyongyang’s unilateral deadline, President Trump has until year’s end to produce a more dramatic proposal on North Korean denuclearization. Pyongyang has warned the United States of an ominous “Christmas gift” and claims it is no longer interested in denuclearization talks unless Washington first terminates its “hostile policy.” North Korea maintains its nuclear weapons are necessary for regime security and that it will only exchange its arsenal for a credible security guarantee.

Progress, Peril, Hope: The Nuclear Decade in Review

Never take progress for granted. That is the big lesson from the past ten years of dealing with nuclear threats. The decade began with great hope for a transformational U.S. nuclear policy and increased global cooperation. It ended with nuclear risks resurgent across the board. 

At the beginning of 2010, one of us was writing another book on nuclear policy, the other was finishing senior year in college. But we end this nuclear decade in the same place: deeply worried about multiple nuclear dangers and the failure of U.S. nuclear policy. 

There is some good news. We end the decade better off than we began by several measures. In 2010, there were 22,400 nuclear weapons on the planet. Today, there are fewer than 14,000, a 40-percent reduction. For the first time in the Atomic Age, a decade passed without a new nation joining the nuclear club. (North Korea became the ninth nuclear-armed state in 2006.) Moreover, there was no nuclear terrorist attack, not even a dirty bomb—though that was the top threat cited in the U.S. National Security Strategy of 2010. 

Bitcoin's Path From Insurgents’ Talisman to Tool of Big Tech

At first, you didn’t even need a pickax. The earliest prospectors of the California gold rush ventured into the Sierra foothills as solo travelers, sloshing through streams in search of nuggets dislodged by the current. That, at least, is the prevailing image: The individual renegade who headed west to strike it rich by his own initiative. But soon there were too many prospectors and too little easy gold. The task became more resource-intensive, requiring water to blast away the hills. That meant size and scale, to build pipes and aqueducts—out of reach to all but a few.

I thought of that history while reporting, earlier this month, on an alleged pyramid scheme involving the digital gold rush of the 2010s, in which people were sold on the idea that mining bitcoin was a path to self-won bounty. Early in this decade, had I possessed the foresight, I might have set up my home computer as a bitcoin miner and reaped healthy rewards. The key was openness. Bitcoin wasn’t worth all that much then, but anyone could do it. The underlying technology, blockchain, seemed to make sure of that, by eliminating the need for intermediaries. The platform would maintain our independence, our state of decentralization.

Then bitcoin went the way of gold. Why? Because it started making people rich.

Another Year of Living Dangerously


NEW YORK – The year 2019 is ending with widespread demonstrations, rising inequality, and a crisis of representation in many countries. The world is sleepwalking toward recession and a new crisis, while depleting the environment. Governments, and ultimately people, can reverse these alarming trends in 2020.

61 countries will have presidential or parliamentary elections in 2020. Many citizens are tired of conventional orthodox policies; they want change, and they will choose new parties as a way to achieve this.

This is an important opportunity to redress the current situation, but many of the new emerging leaders are far right demagogues who blame today’s problems on social-welfare policies, migrants, and the poor, while aiming to remove all remaining constraints on capital. As in the United Kingdom, many whom neoliberalism has harmed will vote for these politicians, making the world a more unequal and riskier place.

A lot will be decided in the United States, still the world’s hegemonic power. How US citizens (many without much knowledge of global affairs) vote in the 2020 presidential election will have profound consequences for the rest of the planet’s citizens.

Putin’s Pipelines to Power


MOSCOW – Over the last year, predictions of serious struggles for Russian President Vladimir Putin – or even his political demise – have been increasingly frequent. A recent article in The Economist, “An awful week for Vladimir Putin,” is just one example. But it is Putin biographer and New York Times correspondent Steven Lee Myers whose assessment rings most true: “Putin,” Myers has repeatedly said to me, “always wins.”

Maybe “always” isn’t quite true. Russia’s economy is expected to grow by only 1% this year, owing to lagging export diversification, large-scale capital flight, and low levels of foreign direct investment linked to Western sanctions imposed after the country’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. As a result, Putin’s approval rating has declined somewhat from its annexation-fueled high of 83% in July 2014.

But 61% of Russians still rate Putin’s performance positively. Most democratic leaders can only dream of such favor with the public. Fewer than 43% of Americans approve of President Donald Trump, for example. In fact, the same incoherent and combative US policies toward Europe, China, Turkey, and others that have contributed to Trump’s unpopularity have fueled Putin’s popularity, by handing him a series of tactical victories.

Henley Putnam University

· Journal of Strategic Security, 2019, v. 12, no. 4

o Huachicoleros: Criminal Cartels, Fuel Theft, and Violence in Mexico

o Profiling Lone-Actor Terrorists: A Cross-Sectional Study of Lone-actor Terrorists in Western Europe (2015–2016)

o Can Volunteer Forces Deter Great Power War? Evidence from the Baltics

o The Future of Strategic Information and Cyber-Enabled Information Operations

o Delegated Interstate War: Introducing an Addition to Armed Conflict Typologies

The US and Japan After the INF Treaty

By Ankit Panda

Are American ground-launched missiles realistically deployable in Japan? And if so, what kinds of missiles and under what conditions? These are the questions that have quickly risen to the top of strategic and bureaucratic debates in Japan – a response to the quick demise of the INF Treaty under the Trump administration. The treaty’s end opens up new conventional deterrence options for consideration by the U.S.-Japan alliance. While the introduction of missiles is unlikely to occur anytime soon for the simple fact that post-INF American missiles don’t exist just yet, Tokyo is fully expecting that Washington will open consultations on the matter as early as the end of 2019 or in early 2020.

On August 2, the United States effectuated its withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

While the primary reason for the American withdrawal from the treaty may have been the Russian violation, China was also a factor. Over the 32 years that the INF Treaty bound the United States and Russia (with the exception of the one violating missile type), China emerged as a missile power in its own right. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, for instance, has long seen the value of the INF Treaty in diminished terms owing to the growing missile challenge from China, which was never bound by the treaty.

Russian Foreign Policy: Balance Sheet 2019 – Analysis

By Chris Cheang*

As a new decade dawns, Russian foreign policy can boast some successes, mainly in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. However, apart from China, Moscow’s ties with the Asia-Pacific region are below par even though there is considerable potential for a stronger relationship.

More than five years after the annexation of the Crimea and separatism in eastern Ukraine, some European countries appear to have become anxious about of the state of the European Union’s relations with Russia. This has been epitomised by the efforts of French President Emmanuel Macron to reach out to Russia. He has accepted President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to Moscow to attend the 75th anniversary celebrations of victory in the Second World War on 9 May 2020.

President Donald Trump has also been invited. It remains to be seen whether he will take it up. Victory Day, as this annual celebration is described in Russia, is a very important day in the history of post-Soviet Russia. Attendance by any major Western leader would be a significant symbolic boost to President Putin’s standing with his people and to Russia’s prestige − it would be seen as the end of Western diplomatic isolation of Russia.
Back to G-8 After Europe Thaw?

Turkey’s Erdoğan uses airbase as bargaining chip against United States

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is again threatening to close the country’s strategically important Incirlik Airbase to the United States if Washington pushes ahead with sanctions against Ankara for its purchase of Russian S-400 air defence missiles.

“If it is necessary for us to take such a step, of course, we have the authority… We will close down Incirlik if necessary,” Erdoğan said last week.

Read the full story and more in Ahval.

Reimagining a Global Europe



The idea of a global Europe is on the rise again in some European quarters—a feeling that the time is ripe for the European Union to have another try at acting as a global power. The most recent statements by the new European leaders who entered office in late 2019 underscore the need for Europe to assert itself as a genuine geopolitical player. The new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has promised a new geopolitical role for her institution. The high representative for foreign and security policy, Josep Borrell, has prioritized the need for Europe to learn “to use the language of power.” And French President Emmanuel Macron has been speaking for some time of the urgency for the EU to build up “European sovereignty.”

It is tempting to see in these statements a new incarnation of an old and repetitive narrative. This story dates to the early days of the European venture, when the European Community—the EU’s forerunner—was struggling to broaden its economic realm. Years later, Europe started to see itself as a credible global player: the union was buoyed by a consolidated single market, a new single currency, and a promising diplomacy; it was comforted by a fresh wave of enlargement; and it had bounced back from the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s and the deep internal divisions after the 2003 U.S.-led intervention in Iraq.

Economic Stats Won’t Tell Us What Really Causes Recessions – Analysis

By Frank Shostak*

Most economists are of the view that by means of economic indicators it is possible to identify early signs of an upcoming recession or prosperity. What is the rationale behind this opinion?

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) introduced the economic indicators approach in the 1930s. A research team led by W. C. Mitchell and Arthur F. Burns studied about 487 economic data to ascertain the mystery of the business cycle. According to Mitchell and Burns,

Business cycles are a type of fluctuation found in the aggregate economic activity of nations. … a cycle consists of expansion occurring at about the same time in many economic activities, followed by similarly general recessions, contractions, and revivals which merge into the expansion phase of the next cycle; this sequence of changes is recurrent but not periodic.1

To Successfully Denuclearize North Korea, Washington Should Make it Think Like South Africa

by Andrea Stricker

After Kim Jung Un declined to deliver on his promised “Christmas gift,” North Korea watchers are turning their attention to the New Year and the possibility of more than the usual fireworks display over Northeast Asia. In October, Pyongyang gave Washington a year-end deadline to make progress on bilateral negotiations before canceling a voluntary two-year moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

President Donald Trump’s negotiators and their South Korean counterparts are seeking to convince Kim to talk instead of test, but what they should be doing is recalling the lessons of a previous case of nuclear dismantlement. The 1991 decision by South Africa to abandon nuclear weapons shows that the regime in North Korea may not yet face adequate pressure to denuclearize.

Of ten total countries that have possessed nuclear weapons, only South Africa verifiably gave them up. The longtime holdout surprised the world when it announced it would sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Two years later, President F.W. de Klerk revealed that Pretoria had decommissioned six nuclear weapons, halted progress on a seventh, and dismantled his country’s nuclear weapons infrastructure and robust space launch and missile delivery programs.

The 3 Worst Foreign Policy Disasters of the 2010s

by Daniel R. DePetris 
Source Link

With the year 2019 coming to a close, the world is poised to enter a brand new decade of promise, opportunity, and unpredictability. None of us have a crystal ball; we can only hope that the next stretch of time is peaceful and prosperous, devoid of the kind of superpower conflagrations that defined the Cold War period.

Progress over the next decade will depend in large measure on our ability to avoid the kinds of self-inflicted wounds that can make our lives hell. For the men and women who have the privilege and weighty responsibility of running U.S. foreign policy in the future, avoiding mistakes means looking back in time and recognizing when judgment was poor and when policy errors were made. There is no better time to perform this exercise than at the end of a calendar year.

So as we say goodbye to the 2010’s, here are three of the worst foreign policy mistakes the United States made over the last decade.

The Founders Never Wanted An Unaccountable Deep State

by Robert W. Merry
Source Link

Among the more audacious intellectual escapades of the postwar period, one must include Francis Fukuyama’s prediction that the new post-Soviet era would usher in the “universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” World history has been refuting Fukuyama’s “End of History” thesis pretty much since the day he promulgated it. Now Fukuyama, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, offers a piece in The Wall Street Journal hailing the so-called administrative state (and its cousin, known as the “deep state”) as crucial protectors of democracy. But he couldn’t have it more wrong.

American constitutional government, Fukuyama avers, “depends on the existence of a professional, expert, nonpartisan civil service.” True enough. But then he adds that this is because “government cannot function without public servants whose primary loyalty is not to the political boss who appointed them but to the Constitution and to a higher sense of the public interest.” Indeed, writes Fukuyama, “the U.S. needs a deep state, because it is crucial to fighting corruption and upholding the rule of law.”

Fukuyama supports his thesis through a survey of what he considers relevant U.S. history, and we shall review that history below. But first a stab at identifying the underlying flaw in this analysis and the flaws also in his characterizations of how critics view the administrative state and the deep state.

Why Governments Should Not Wait for Godot


CAMBRIDGE – The scenario is all too familiar. A reformist government wants to boost economic growth and employment by implementing market-friendly reforms designed to make the country more attractive to (often foreign) investors. Policymakers understand that these investors possess the technological prowess, organizational capability, and market reach that the country desperately needs. Committees are created to improve the country’s performance in the World Bank’s Doing Business index, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, or other beauty contests promoted by a sprawling array of international rankings.

The reformist government overcomes grueling fights with legislators and civil society, who accuse it of putting investors’ interest ahead of those of its own people. But with perseverance, it successfully adopts reforms that improve the country’s rankings and gets glowing coverage in the international press. The learned world’s impression of the country (and even that of money managers) changes significantly for the better. And then the government waits for foreign investment to arrive. And waits. And, as in Samuel Beckett’s famous play, the anticipated inflows, like Godot, never show up.

Going Backwards in the “Race for 5G”

By Tom Wheeler 

The collision of corporate opportunism and Republican anti-government orthodoxy has pushed the United States backwards on the allocation of important spectrum for fifth-generation wireless networks (5G). Positioning the U.S. as engaged in no-holds-barred competition with China, President Trump declared in April, “The race to 5G is on and we must win.” With typical bravura, he then promised, “my administration is freeing up as much wireless spectrum as is needed.”

Unfortunately, such is not the case when it comes to the most desired piece of 5G spectrum. Thanks to the Trump Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the effort to free up a large and important piece of 5G spectrum known as C-Band is farther behind at the end of 2019 than it was at the beginning of the year.

A Phone Call

Part of that regression stems from a phone call from the president to the FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Immediately after the call, the chairman reversed plans to allocate this important piece of spectrum for 5G. The result is to make the path to 5G spectrum longer, not shorter.

Sniper Artillery? The Army Thinks It's Possible—Right No

by Jared Keller

For months, Army officials have bragged that the branch’s new Joint Effects Targeting System will boost the precision and lethality of forward observers by effectively “turn[ing] a howitzer or a Paladin into a giant sniper rifle.” By the end of the year, every artillery platoon will find out if they were bluffing: After months of intensive testing, the Army plans on fielding the portable new JETS to U.S. combat troops downrange starting in September 2018, PEO Soldier officials told Task & Purpose on Jan. 19.

Envisioned as a lightweight man-portable substitute for the bulky Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder, JETS relies on a unique assembly of advanced sensor technology to measure everything from distance to target to the rotation of the Earth, allowing forward observers to relay more precise targeting data up the chain of command than ever before. After months of testing and evaluations, PEO Soldier claims that the system can deliver targeting data precise enough to place a GPS-guided munition within a 10-meter target location at a range of more than 2.5 kilometers, eliminating the need for fire for effect and boosting the lethality on platoons on both the maneuver and indirect fire sides.