13 February 2020

Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi: Truth Is One, Paths Are Diverse

by Uma Majmudar

One was a Hindu monk who looked like a prince, whereas the other—a British educated barrister turned politician—looked like “a half-naked fakir,” as Churchill described him deridingly. The monk in the princely garb was none other than Swami Vivekananda, who mesmerized Eastern and Western audiences not only by his magnificent looks and magnetic personality, but also by the forceful delivery of his universal message of Vedanta in the last decade of the nineteenth century. The half-clad man in the loin-cloth, despite his lowly peasant garb and poor physique, came to be revered around the world as Mahatma Gandhi—the saintly politician who set India free from the imperialist British rule by launching his most powerful weapon of nonviolent resistance, called, (satya: truth, agraha: insistence).

Before delving deep into their personal backgrounds and family influences, it will be worthwhile to first examine the nineteenth century colonial Indian national environment that shaped the thoughts and responses of both Vivekananda and Gandhi. If India, under the British raj, had lost her luster and pride of who she once was—a spiritually leading nation with a vibrant culture and rich civilization—the people of India, too, had become demoralized and depressed; wallowing in self-pity and a servile mentality, they had lost faith in themselves, in their country, and in their unique ancient religious heritage of the Vedas and the Upanishads. Succumbing to superstitions and bickering over petty rituals, caste-rules and restrictions, they had sold their souls, as if to the forces of darkness. Right around the corner, Christian missionaries were waiting in the wings, ready to pounce upon their weakened and vulnerable prey; they launched a deadly attack on Hinduism and began to convert the Hindus to Christianity. We will later examine Vivekananda’s and Gandhi’s individual responses to this nationwide demoralization and social-religious degradation. In addition to these national themes, we shall also examine their regional/cultural milieu which also contributed to the shaping of each one’s specific response.

Gandhi and teachings of Vivekananda

Dr Satish K Kapoor
Source Link

Was Mahatma Gandhi influenced by Swami Vivekananda? Obviously, yes. During his visit to Belur Math, Kolkata, on 6th February 1921, Gandhi acknowledged that a study of Vivekananda’s writings had increased his love for India a thousand fold. To this one may add, that some dimensions of Gandhian philosophy clearly reflect an extension of Vivekananda’s ideas.

Means and ends

The view that right means should be employed to achieve an end, normally attributed to Gandhi, originally came from Vivekananda, as can be seen from his lecture, ‘Work and its Secret’ delivered at Los Angeles, California, on January 4,1900. Likewise, Gandhi’s observation that contemporary religion consists ‘merely in eating and not eating’, seems to have been derived from Vivekananda’s reply to the ‘Address of Welcome’ at Manamadurai, after returning from abroad. He said, ‘Our religion is in the kitchen, our god is the cooking pot…As long as touch-me-not-ism is your creed and the kitchen-pot your deity, you cannot rise spiritually.’ 

All are equal

US Approves Possible Sale of an Integrated Air Defense Weapon System for India

By Ankit Panda

The U.S. Department of State has approved a possible sale to India of military equipment comprising an integrated air defense weapon system (IADWS), the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced in a statement Monday. The cost of the sale, if finalized, would be approximately $1.867 billion. The DSCA announcement comes shortly before an anticipated trip to India by U.S. President Donald J. Trump later this month. Trump is expected to visit India for a two-day trip between February 23 and 26, according to Indian reports.

The IADWS package that has been approved includes a range of sensors, weapons systems, and support equipment. Included in the potential sale are AN/MPQ-64Fl Sentinel radar systems, AMRAAM AIM-120C-7/C-8 missiles and associated guidance and control equipment, and Stinger FIM-92L missiles. The sale also includes M4A1 rifles, M855 5.56mm cartridges, and a range of other associated equipment.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” the DSCA release noted.

Why is Pakistan’s military repressing a huge, nonviolent Pashtun protest movement?

Madiha Afzal

On January 27, a man named Manzoor Pashteen was arrested in the middle of the night in Peshawar. He faced five charges, including sedition, criminal conspiracy, attacking Pakistan’s sovereignty, and promoting ethnic hatred. Pashteen is the young leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz (Protection) Movement, or the PTM: a non-violent protest movement demanding rights for Pashtuns in Pakistan’s former Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Days after Pashteen’s arrest, PTM activists — elderly women among them — protesting for his release in front of the press club in Islamabad were arrested and also charged with sedition. Those activists were released on bail after a few days, but Pashteen remains under arrest.

Coverage of his two-year-old movement is censored in Pakistan. Newspapers and TV outlets are not allowed to report on the huge rallies the movement holds — with attendees numbering in the tens of thousands — or to air the movement’s demands. In a state that has routinely negotiated with right-wing Islamists who take to the streets, why have the PTM’s members been repeatedly arrested, and why does this movement of dissenters present such a challenge to its military?


Coronavirus and China’s Decision-Making in a Crisis

By Matthew Sullivan

A computer screen shows Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan as a currency trader works at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 28, 2020.Credit: AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

The coronavirus outbreak could not occur at a more inconvenient time for Chinese leaders. 2019 was not a particularly pretty year for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). They faced significant economic pressure from the U.S.-China trade war, international opposition to China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, an outbreak of swine fever that decimated China’s pork industry, and protracted civil unrest in Hong Kong. Even though several of these challenges have begun to subside, it does not appear that 2020 will offer significant relief for the CCP leadership.

On January 23, 2020, the Chinese leadership ordered a quarantine on Wuhan, China, halting public transportation in an effort to contain an outbreak of Coronavirus, which at that time, had infected about 600 people with 17 deaths. By February 10, the number of infections had surpassed 40,000, with over 900 deaths, superseding the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak in sheer numbers.

Risk Mitigation and Huawei: The UK Makes a Choice

By Ankit Panda

Editor’s Note: The following is a preview of the latest edition of the APAC Risk Newsletter, presented by Diplomat Risk Intelligence. To read the full newsletter, click here to subscribe for free.

In late January, the government of the United Kingdom announced that it had reached a decision on allowing Chinese technology company Huawei to provide infrastructure for what will be a national 5G network. The UK decision came amid intense pressure from the United States to disallow Huawei, which the U.S. intelligence community has described as a backdoor for Chinese intelligence; in 2018, several high-level U.S. intelligence officials said Huawei products could be used by China to conduct “undetected espionage.”

American pressure on London had been coming from the highest levels of government. On Thursday, the Financial Times exclusively reported on a phone call between U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Johnson.

China’s ‘Whole-of-Government’ Pushback on the Coronavirus

By Jin Kai

International media and public attention have recently focused on China’s epidemic situation amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. The United States, soon followed by other countries, even began restricting entry by Chinese nationals. All this even though, according to the Washington Post, the outbreak of flu in the U.S. is a much bigger threat for the American people than the spreading coronavirus in China.

The coronavirus outbreak in China has indeed become a pandemic, particularly in view of people’s unfamiliarity with this new virus and the mode of its transmission. Although the early response to the epidemic in Wuhan was questioned by the public, unified action by the whole government and society was quickly launched across the country.

At the central level, a new Central Leading Group on Responding to the Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Outbreak, chaired by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, was convened in the Central Political Bureau Standing Committee Meeting on January 25, 2020. Two days later, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, leading a central government group, arrived in Wuhan to guide the epidemic control work in Hubei province. And to fight the epidemic, the model of “counterpart support” (对口支援) that appeared after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake is being applied again. Under this model, 16 provinces will provide one-to-one support to the cities outside Wuhan, meaning that one province will be partnered with one city. The Chinese government’s response is also reflected in the high-speed construction of the two hospitals – Huoshenshan (Fire God Mountain) Hospital and Leishenshan (Thunder God Mountain) Hospital – in about 10 days. These new hospitals will specialize in treating thousands of novel coronavirus patients.

Vietnam Battles Its Coronavirus Challenge

By Thoi Nguyen

Southeast Asian government have been battling with the coronavirus outbreak, and Vietnam is no exception. Indeed, the Vietnamese government has been taking a series of responses to deal with how the coronavirus is affecting the country.

Vietnam began a lunar new year with little of a sense of nationwide enjoyment. The country faced the global coronavirus outbreak, with Vietnam confirming its first case when a 66-year-old father Li Ding who came to the country from Wuhan, China, and he and his son sent to the hospital with fevers and tested positive with the new virus.

The first case was announced on January 23, 2020. At the time of writing, the number of coronavirus infections has risen to 14 cases in Vietnam. These include nine Vietnamese, one Vietnamese American, and two Chinese so far.

Forget Russia, China Has The Largest Tank Force On Earth

by David Axe 

Key point: Many of the tanks are in need of a serious upgrade.

In 2019 both the U.S. and Russian armies introduced new versions of their primary main battle tank, helping to enhance what is widely viewed as the world’s leading armored forces.

But China, not the United States or Russia, possesses the planet’s biggest tank force, all-together possessing a whopping 6,900 tanks.

By contrast, the U.S. and Russian armies each need just under 2,000 tanks to fully equip all front-line armored units, although to be fair both armies also keep thousands of additional tanks in reserve.

At present, old and obsolete tanks comprise roughly half of the Chinese inventory. But the mix of tanks in the People’s Liberation Army is changing fast as Beijing develops new models and buys them in bulk.

Which is not to say the PLA knows how to use all these new vehicles. When it comes to tanks, China’s doctrine lags behind its equipment.

Why the UK Didn't Ban Huawei

by Greig Paul

The UK’s decision not to ban China’s Huawei from being a supplier for its next-generation mobile network has caused ructions. US politicians are outraged, with Newt Gingrich calling it a “major defeat” for his country. In the UK, there could be a Tory rebellion against forthcoming legislation on the matter.

In truth, the government had little choice. When you look at the background, the decision is at least understandable – and more complex than just a security issue.

Mobile phone networks comprise two parts: the core and the radio access network or RAN. The core handles security-sensitive aspects such as user authentication, routing calls, data and so on. The radio network consists of base stations and other networking equipment across mast sites nationwide.

When a user makes a call or uses the internet, a signal from their phone is picked up by a base station and is passed across the radio network to the core, where it is routed to wherever it is supposed to reach. While your call or data is encrypted, it is decrypted on the base station before being passed on - the base station can therefore see its content.

Could A Chinese Surprise Attack Beat The U.S. Military?

by David Axe 

Key point: In the event of war with the United States over disputed Pacific territories, Chinese forces likely would attempt to neutralize forward-deployed U.S. forces in Japan and Guam and at sea.

The U.S. military must find ways of defeating any attempt by China to launch surprise strikes using non-nuclear weapons, analyst Sam Goldsmith argued in a new article for Naval War College Review.

“China likely would aim to confine itself to the use of conventional weapons during any potential high-intensity conflict with the United States—particularly given that China already possesses a lethal array of long-range, conventional, theater-strike options,” Goldsmith wrote in “U.S. Conventional Access Strategy: Denying China a Conventional First-Strike Capability.”

“Such a strategic, conventional, first-strike option is one that the United States should seek to deny China by developing an effective conventional access strategy.”

In the event of war with the United States over disputed Pacific territories, Chinese forces likely would attempt to neutralize forward-deployed U.S. forces in Japan and Guam and at sea, Goldsmith explained.

3 Ways the Coronavirus Will Have an Impact on the U.S. Economy

by Robert Aboolian

As the new coronavirus spreads around the world, and confirmed cases and deaths mount, economists are increasingly concerned about the impact on the U.S. economy.

In a recent report to Congress, the Federal Reserve warned that disruptions from the coronavirus could spill over into the global economy, creating new risks to the U.S. And Wall Street lender Goldman Sachs estimates that the virus will cut as much as half a point off of U.S. economic output in the first quarter of 2020.

As an expert in supply chain management, I’ve studied how dependent U.S. companies have become on manufacturers of parts and products in China. But that is only one of many ways the outbreak could hurt the U.S. economy. Here, I list three – as well as something that could mitigate the impact.

1. Sales to China

Reformists Are Dispirited and Hard-Liners Resurgent Ahead of Iran’s Election

Ellie Geranmayeh

Ahead of parliamentary elections later this month, there is widespread disillusionment among Iranian voters. The nuclear deal that Tehran concluded with world powers in 2015 is hanging by a thread, and the economy is being throttled by unprecedented American sanctions. Across the country, security forces have clashed with protesters disgruntled at economic and political conditions. And while Iran and the United States have pulled back from the brink of war, tensions remain high.

All of this has fueled the more hard-line factions in Tehran who blame President Hassan Rouhani, a centrist politician first elected in 2013 promoting an agenda of economic reforms and potential détente with the United States, for the country’s ills. By contrast, supporters of Rouhani, who include both moderate conservatives and reformists, are exhausted, frustrated and increasingly hopeless. Many of them may well decide to stay home rather than participate in the upcoming ballot on Feb. 21, when all 290 seats in Iran’s parliament will be up for grabs. ...

Will Iran and the US Engage in a Cyberwar?

by Vasileios Karagiannopoulos

The world shook at the news in early January that a US drone strike had killed Iran’s top military general, Qassem Soleimani, outside Baghdad’s airport. According to the Pentagon, the attack was conducted as a decisive defensive action at the direction of President Donald Trump to protect US personnel abroad.

The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for “severe revenge” for Soleimani’s death and on January 8, Iran launched missiles against US military bases in Iraq in retaliation.

There are widespread concerns that these events might fuel further conflict between the two countries. Considering the importance of information networks and cyberspace for our everyday lives, there is also concern that this conflict might not only take place in the physical world but could take the form of cyber-attacks. These could have serious consequences, particularly since Iran has demonstrated an increase in its cyber-capability in the past decade.

Cyber capabilities

Donald Trump Got Completely Suckered By Iran In Iraq

by Dov S. Zakheim

Key point: Tehran did not waste much time responding to the American strike. 

On December 29, 2019, in retaliation for a rocket attack two days earlier by the Tehran-backed Kataib Hezbollah (KH) militia on the K-1 military base near Kirkuk that killed an American contractor, Air Force F-15E fighters struck three of the militia’s bases in Iraq and two more in Syria. The attacks left about twenty-five militiamen dead and more than fifty wounded. The targets were KH storage facilities and command posts; Washington asserted that the command posts had masterminded a series of eleven rocket attacks that had culminated with the December 27 KH strike on the K-1 base.

Tehran did not waste much time responding to the American strike. One day later, led by its Iraqi puppets—notably Iraqi National Security Advisor Faleh al Fayyad, and Hadi al Ameri, leader of the Shia Badr organization—rioters charged the American embassy compound, used makeshift battering rams to break down its outer doors and ransacked the facility’s entrance lobby. 

The Uneven Global Response to Climate Change

Recently published climate science ultimately underscores the same points: The impacts of climate change are advancing faster than experts had previously predicted, and they are increasingly irreversible. One recent blockbuster report, from a United Nations grouping of biodiversity experts in May 2019, found that 1 million species are now in danger of extinction unless dramatic changes are made to everything from fuel sources to agricultural production. Despite these warnings, however, scientists confirm that the world remains on pace to blow past the goal of restricting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, likely with catastrophic consequences.

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

A government blueprint to adapt the ecosystem to the future of work

By Marco Dondi, Solveigh Hieronimus, Julia Klier, Peter Puskas, Dirk Schmautzer, and Jörg Schubert
Source Link

Digital and artificial intelligence technologies will likely have a substantial economic and social impact. Governments can act now to create shared prosperity and better lives for all citizens.

In the coming years, automation will have a substantial economic and social impact on countries around the world—and governments will by no means be passive observers. This report seeks to provide government leaders and policy makers with the foundation to harness the potential of automation while mitigating its adverse effects.

Automation can be a positive disruption that improves everyone’s lives

Automation has the potential to alter nearly every facet of work and daily life. Indeed, automation, digital, and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are already essential to our professional and civic lives. The McKinsey Global Institute identified the adoption of digital technologies as the biggest factor in future economic growth1 : it will likely account for about 60 percent of potential productivity growth by 2030. AI alone is expected to yield an additional 1.2 percent in productivity growth per year from 2017 to 2030.

On-The-Record, Off-Camera Press Conference on U.S. Space Force

STAFF: All right, good afternoon, ladies and gentleman, thank you for coming out today for our Space Force update. Just a couple of ground rules before we get started, so this will be on-the-record, off camera. Please silence all of your devices. Today we'll provide you with an update on the U.S. Space Force. 

On February 3rd, the Department of the Air Force submitted a comprehensive congressional report on the structure of the U.S. Space Force in accordance with congressional reporting requirements in the F.Y. '20 NDAA. Because this is a report provided for Congress, we will not be distributing it.

With us today are Stephen Kitay, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy; Lieutenant General David Thompson, vice commander, U.S. Space Force; Shawn Barnes, from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration; and Major General Clint Crosier, director, U.S. Space Force Planning Office.

Following a short introduction, opening remarks from General Thompson, we will take questions. Please identify yourself and your organization before asking your question, and please limit yourself to one question and one follow-up. If there's time, then we'll circle back for additional questions. We'll get started here in a second.

All right, General Thompson, sir.

Beyond North Korea: Fractures in the US-South Korea Alliance

By Clint Work

With U.S.-North Korea talks at an impasse and Pyongyang sticking to a tactically ambiguous line, attention has moved away from the Korean Peninsula. However, policymakers should not lose sight of ongoing developments within the U.S.-South Korea alliance. Although the Trump administration refers to the alliance as the “linchpin” of its Indo-Pacific strategy, and Congress passes resolutions in support of Asian allies, it is unclear whether U.S. policymakers fully appreciate the extent to which U.S. and South Korean perspectives diverge on fundamental bilateral and strategic issues.

Whether or not diplomacy with Pyongyang moves forward or continues to erode, alliance cohesion is crucial. Yet the allies face multiple interrelated challenges, which not only undermine cohesion vis-à-vis Pyongyang, but call into question the longevity of the alliance itself. These include tensions over the nature and scope of alliance cost-sharing; changes to the alliance’s bilateral military command architecture; and, more broadly, differing perspectives amid a shifting strategic context and rising China.

SMA Talks

Why Did a False Nuclear Alarm Go Off?

by Jack L. Rozdilsky

On Sunday at 7:23 a.m., residents of the Greater Toronto Area were abruptly awakened by an alert issued by Ontario’s Emergency Alert Ready System stating: “An incident was reported at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. There has been NO abnormal release of radioactivity from the station and emergency staff are responding to the situation.”

At 8:06 a.m., the Ontario Power Generation released a statement that the alert was issued in error and that there was no danger to the public or the environment. At 9:11 a.m., another message from the Provincial Alert Ready System stated that the initial nuclear alert was “in error.”

Any time there is an incident — including a false alarm — at a nuclear power station, it causes us to pause and consider the impacts of the fallout. In this case the fallout is not radioactive, it is increased public uncertainty concerning the reliability of systems meant to warn the public about nuclear disasters.

Did America Really Lose the First Gulf War (In the Long Run)?

by Robert Farley

Key point: Washington won the war, but it made America over-confident. Even if the conflict was the right call, the question is how this hubris might play out in the long-run.

The United States and its coalition partners evicted Iraq from Kuwait over twenty-three years ago. Temporally, the Gulf War is closer to the fall of Saigon than it is to us today. Given the struggles of the past fourteen years, it’s difficult to remember how important the Gulf War seemed in 1991, as the Soviet Union neared its collapse.

The war suggested a bright future. The United Nations, riding the overwhelming power of American arms, could finally meet its true potential as a collective security and peacemaking organization. The thawing of the Cold War opened up political possibilities, while the remarkable effectiveness of American precision-guided munitions meant that warfare no longer demanded the destruction of civilian life and property.

In short, the Gulf War seemed to suggest that international institutions, underwritten by revolutionary advances in American military power, could finally solve real military security problems. The political and technological foundations for a transformation in the functioning of global politics were in place.

The intervening twenty-three years have given us time to reconsider this conclusion.

Is Trump’s Economic Forecast a Giant Lie?

by James Pethokoukis

If the new White House economic forecast — part of its fiscal 2021 budget document — pans out, many future generations of American teenagers might well be attending a Donald J. Trump High School in their area. Well, maybe not Vermont, but in plenty of other places. Because if that rosy forecast pans out, it would mean that the US economy has defied expectations and broken sharply higher from its two–decade, two percent growth path. 

Both the Congressional Budget Office and Federal Reserve see long–term GDP growth, adjusted for inflation, more in the range of 1.8 to 2.0 percent. The “New Normal” — maybe you’ve heard of it — gap in growth rates represents the difference between a $32 trillion economy and a $36 trillion economy by 2030, or an extra Germany worth of annual growth. The Trump White House is looking at a very different economy than the CBO and Fed, one that is way more productive. Much faster productivity growth — almost double what most economists are predicting — is the only realistic way the economy is going to boost its growth rate by so much.

President Donald Trump’s 2021 Budget Bonanza

by Chris Edwards

The Trump administration has released its budget for fiscal year 2021. In the face of huge deficits, the budget proposes numerous reforms to discretionary and entitlement spending and foresees the budget eventually balancing by 2035.

On the revenue side, the budget would extend the Trump tax cuts beyond 2025, which would reduce federal revenue growth. But the budget also assumes strong economic growth in the coming years, which the administration projects would help fill federal coffers with rising tax receipts.

This chart compares spending and revenues in the Trump budget to the latest baseline projections from the Congressional Budget Office.

The administration is proposing $4.6 trillion in deficit‐​reduction measures over the next decade. Those changes sound large but would represent just 7 percent of projected federal spending over the next decade of $61 trillion. Most of the Trump cuts make sense, although larger entitlement reforms should be pursued.

Fact: Overpopulation Did Not Cause Climate Change

by Heather Alberro

The annual World Economic Forum in Davos brought together representatives from government and business to deliberate how to solve the worsening climate and ecological crisis. The meeting came just as devastating bush fires were abating in Australia. These fires are thought to have killed up to one billion animals and generated a new wave of climate refugees. Yet, as with the COP25 climate talks in Madrid, a sense of urgency, ambition and consensus on what to do next were largely absent in Davos.

But an important debate did surface – that is, the question of who, or what, is to blame for the crisis. Famed primatologist Dr Jane Goodall remarked at the event that human population growth is responsible, and that most environmental problems wouldn’t exist if our numbers were at the levels they were 500 years ago.

This might seem fairly innocuous, but its an argument that has grim implications and is based on a misreading of the underlying causes of the current crises. As these escalate, people must be prepared to challenge and reject the overpopulation argument.

A dangerous distraction

100 US Soldiers to Transfer into Space Force in 2021


The Army is the first branch outside the Air Force to announce initial plans regarding the new branch of service.

The U.S. Army plans to transfer 100 soldiers into the U.S. Space Force beginning in 2021, according to service officials and budget documents.

The soldiers will already have space-related training and jobs — military occupational specialties, in Army parlance — Maj. Gen. Paul Chamberlain, deputy assistant Army secretary for budget, told reporters on Tuesday.

It’s the first time any service outside of the Air Force has identified members that will transfer into the Space Force, the new branch of the military within the Air Force created in December. The Navy has yet to say how many of its sailors it plans to transfer. The Air Force plans to shift some 6,000 airmen into the Space Force by year’s end and more in the years that follow. 

Right now, Gen. Jay Raymond, the chief of space operations, is the only member of the Space Force. Still, there are 16,000 Air Force servicemembers and civilians assigned to the Space Force.