19 June 2020

Locust Invasion in India

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd), Consultant, VIF

It has been a double whammy. As the nation is reeling under the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, India has to fight another menace: locust invasion. Massive swarms of desert locusts have devoured crops across seven states of western and central India including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. The locust population might grow 400 times larger by end June 2020 and spread to new areas without action. It would be disrupting food supply, upending livelihoods and require considerable resources to address. India is facing its worst desert locust invasion in nearly 30 years.

Chinese Tanks Conduct High-Altitude Drills Amid Border Standoff With India

By Ankit Panda

Chinese People’s Liberation Army tanks recently conducted military drills in high altitude conditions, according to a report in Chinese state media. According to the Global Times, a nationalistic newspaper with links to the Communist Party of China’s People’s Daily newspaper, Chinese People’s Liberation Army Type 15 lightweight tanks conducted exercises “in a low temperature mountainous plateau region.”

The report, which was published on Sunday, comes amid an ongoing standoff between India and China along their disputed border in the Himalayas. The two countries share one of the world’s longest unsettled land borders, which is divided into a western, middle, and eastern sectors. The most serious of the ongoing standoffs between Chinese and Indian troops have taken place along points in the western sector. The unofficial line that demarcates Indian-held and Chinese-held disputed territory is known as the Line of Actual Control.

According to a PLA Tibet Military Region statement quoted by Global Times, “An infantry battalion at the PLA Tibet Military Region recently organized infantry-tank cooperation drills at an undisclosed location at an elevation of more than 4,700 meters, putting the troops’ teamwork and rapid-response capabilities to a comprehensive test.”

Afghanistan: IS-KP Another Weapon In The ISI Armory – Analysis

By Ajit Kumar Singh*
Source Link

On June 12, 2020, at least four civilians, were killed in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack that occurred at Sher Shah Suri Mosque in the Kart-e-Char area of Kabul city in Kabul Province. The blast took place when people were offering Friday prayers, killing four worshippers, including the prayer leader Imam Maulavi Azizullah Mufleh.

Though no group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far, the Taliban has, in fact, condemned the attack. It is widely believed that the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP) was behind the attack. Significantly, a similar attack on the Wazir Akber Khan Mosque in Kabul took place on June 2, 2020. Two persons, including prayer leader, Mullah Mohammad Ayaz Niazi, were killed and two others were injured in the blast, which took place when worshippers had gathered for evening prayers. Claiming responsibility for the attack, IS-KP described the targeted prayer leader as “an apostate and evil, propagating loyalty to the apostate Afghan government.”

On May 30, 2020, two employees of Khurshid TV, a private TV channel, were killed in an explosion in Kabul City. Those killed included a reporter and a technical worker of the television channel. Six others, including one of the employees of the TV channel, were injured. IS-KP claimed responsibility for the attack.

The shape of Asia's new cold war

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SEOUL – In retrospect, the decision by the Chinese Communist Party to impose a new security law on Hong Kong seems to have been preordained. Historically, rising powers always try to expand their spheres of geopolitical influence once they pass a certain stage of economic development. It was only a matter of time before China would do away with the “one country, two systems” arrangement and impose its laws and norms on Hong Kong — a territory that it considers integral to the motherland.

From China’s perspective, America’s decadence and decline over the last 12 years — from the 2008 financial crisis to Donald Trump’s presidency — have given it an open invitation to accelerate its strategic expansion. Though Chinese President Xi Jinping has long assured the world that the Pacific Ocean is big enough to accommodate both China and the United States, his actual policies have often suggested otherwise. In addition to militarizing the South China Sea, his signature "Belt and Road" initiative aims to make China the nodal point for the entire Eurasian landmass.

Now that Xi has decided to accept nothing less than Hong Kong’s full subservience, he will likely also challenge the status quo with respect to Taiwan, trusting that an isolationist, distracted Trump administration will do nothing. But the U.S. has taken note of Xi’s aggressiveness. After two decades of hoping that China would become a responsible stakeholder in the world economy, U.S. policymakers have finally decided that this will not happen. Since the CCP’s March 2018 decision to abolish presidential term limits, the U.S. foreign policy establishment has abandoned any expectation of normative convergence between Xi’s China and the West.

In Xi Jinping's effort to make China No. 1, he's forgotten the basics

Peter Hartcher
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Xi Jinping has set China the goal of leading the world in cutting edge technology, but has overlooked the very basics. While the regime is pursuing quantum computing, artificial intelligence and space dominance, it has neglected one of the founding concepts of physics. Isaac Newton's third law says that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

As Xi pushes harder and harder for global dominance, he is provoking a growing pushback. Not just from the US. A growing number of people, countries and organisations are realising that Xi's China is not the China they thought they knew.

The China that had followed Deng Xiaoping's dictum to "hide your brightness, bide your time" for the preceding four decades was given a new direction by Xi: "Strive to achieve." It's no sin to strive. But when you are striving to take territory from your neighbours, sovereignty from your friends, and liberties from people everywhere, you are going to ruffle a few feathers.

Among the latest to awaken is the secretary-general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg. The North Atlantic Treaty Alliance was forged to protect Europe from Russia. But Stoltenberg has now named China as a threat, too. China was too big a threat for America to manage by itself, the former Norwegian Labour prime minister said in a remarkable speech last week. Beijing was now a threat to democratic values everywhere and a global military force to be reckoned with.

Survey: China Gaining Influence Over US in Southeast Asia, With Likely Long-term Consequences

By Ankit Panda

Researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies recently published a survey of Southeast Asian “strategic elites” (PDF) on their views on a range of geopolitical questions pertaining to the future of the Indo-Pacific. The exercise is a helpful source of insight into how Southeast Asia, long seen as one of Asia’s most economically dynamic and geopolitically significant sub-regions, sees competition between the United States and China, among other questions.

The CSIS results make for interesting side-by-side reading with previous efforts in this area — most notably the most recent survey report published by the Singapore-based ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute (PDF) surveying Southeast Asian elites on similar issues.

The CSIS report’s findings are largely in line with what the ISEAS survey found: China is gaining ground in the region and the United States is losing it. The CSIS team, as its top finding, notes that “China is seen as holding slightly more political power and influence than the United States in Southeast Asia today and considerably more power relative to the United States in 10 years.”

Report: US Secretary of State to Meet China’s Top Diplomat in Hawaii

By Ankit Panda

On Friday, Politico reported that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been “quietly” planning a trip to meet senior Chinese officials in Hawaii. The trip, if it happens, would be the highest-level U.S.-China bilateral meeting since the signing of the “Phase One” trade deal back in January. It would certainly mark the most important such bilateral meeting after both sides traded accusations after the rapid spread of COVID-19 around the world.

It’s unclear what exactly Pompeo’s objective with such a trip might be. The U.S. secretary of state has drawn Chinese ire for personally raising the profile of unsubstantiated theories that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 was released as a result of a biosafety failure at a Chinese lab in Wuhan. Pompeo repeated this idea shortly after the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a rare statement that the “[U.S.] Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.”

Hong Kong and the National Security Law: Why Now?

By Simon Shen

The series of iron-fisted moves last month in Hong Kong may seem sudden to international observers: Hong Kong government’s earlier reinterpretation of the China-Hong Kong relationship, the election of a pro-Beijing legislator to be a Legislative Council chair through a controversial mechanism, and Beijing’s recent decision to impose a national security law on Hong Kong. The desire to bring Hong Kong under the banner of “one country, one system” is not impulsive. Quite the contrary, it’s a calculated campaign to initiate a so-called “second reunification with Hong Kong” — since the first reunification after the handover, using a lenient soft-power approach, has supposedly failed.

What are Beijing’s calculations that motivate this bold campaign now? And more important, will the campaign work?

While I remain highly skeptical of solely applying the realist framework to study Hong Kong, Beijing’s mentality is nonetheless entirely realism-driven. It is therefore essential to use this lens to understand more of their thoughts.

COVID-19: A Golden Opportunity on the International Stage?

Blunting China’s South China Sea ‘New Normal’ Quest Starts With the Southeast Asian Claimants

By Prashanth Parameswaran

Amid the focus on China’s alleged pandemic opportunism, it’s worth keeping the sober bigger picture in perspective in the South China Sea: that China remains focused on creating a new normal where it has the ability to enforce what it sees as its legitimate claims, and that the response to Beijing’s quest has thus far not been sufficient to blunt it. While reversing this reality will require adjustments on multiple fronts, it cannot occur unless familiar gaps are bridged in responses by claimant states and interested parties in Southeast Asia.

Over the past decade, though the focus of the headlines may shift based on individual developments – be it China’s documented artificial-island building campaign or the reversal of the Philippines’ South China Sea approach with the election of Rodrigo Duterte – the reality is that China has pursued a steady course aimed at securing de facto control of the South China Sea, and the response from other interested parties has been inadequate. This is not because the flood of commentaries prescribing what should be done have fallen on deaf ears, but rather due to a series of rather familiar obstacles to translating these ideas into reality – including the massive asymmetry of capabilities between China and other claimant states and Beijing’s far greater commitment to realizing its objectives in the South China Sea than other powers’ — including Washington’s — will to obstruct it from doing so.

Contentious Politics in the Syrian Conflict: Opposition, Representation, and Resistance


This compilation brings together scholars from various backgrounds to reflect on the opportunities to push for political change within Syria, the reaction by the Syrian regime this prospect of change was met with, as well as the possibilities for change in the foreseeable future. The volume covers the challenges faced by Syria’s opposition, beginning in its formative years and leading up to 2020. It discusses the obstacles this opposition faced as it grew more reliant on regional and international funding. It looks at the question of civil society and its potential role in Syrian-led priorities today. The compilation also sheds light on how local organization can block attempts by regime and nonregime groups (like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) to control society. In addition to these topics, it examines the methods that the regime employs to consolidate its authoritarian rule, with a focus on how today's reconstruction process is instrumentalized to crush dissent. The idea of normalization under regime control is called into question as conflicting loyalties and sectarian divisions in cities like Homs demonstrate that durable peace and stability is not possible without a credible form of transitional justice. Overall, the compilation highlights how thousands of Syrians have worked and continue to work for a future that is more just, despite the obstacles they continue to face.

The Paradox of Russia’s Disinformation Activities in Italy

By: Dario Cristiani

As the novel coronavirus crisis unfolded in Italy, several countries came to the rescue, and among them, Russia played a crucial role (see EDM, April 8). Italian authorities acknowledged and praised these efforts. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio personally welcomed Russian cargo planes when they arrived back in March, and he publicly thanked Russia’s government (Corriere della Sera, March 23). A few months later, Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini called his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, to praise Moscow’s “prompt and substantive support,” offering Italian help in return as the COVID-19 crisis in Russia deepened (ANSA, TASS, May 7). And on May 8, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for the help over a phone call to mark the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazism (Kremlin.ru, La Stampa, May 8).

These dynamics highlight the well-established and widely recognized existence of a robust relationship between Rome and Moscow. Russian-Italian ties have remained resilient over the years, with Rome perpetually among Moscow’s closest partners within the European Union—independent of any changes in the government in Italy. Against this backdrop, however, a number of developments have emerged in the wake of the coronavirus crisis that may, at least partially, undermine this friendly relationship.

Germany is picking up the tab for Brexit

The car workers would pay a heavy price. The City would be muscled out of crucial markets. The Treasury would be sinking in red ink as tax receipts went into freefall, and farmers would lose their subsidies. During the long, painful debate about the UK’s departure from the EU there were lots of different groups which, we heard repeatedly, would pay a price for that. But now that we are out, we are finally getting a definitive answer. There will be a price to be paid. But it will be German tax-payers who will be picking up the tab, not anyone in Britain. And that could hardly come at a worse time.

EU leaders are due to meet on Friday to discuss the Budget for the next seven years. Boris Johnson doesn’t have a lot to be thankful for right now, but at least he doesn’t have to go through the ritual humiliation of trying to hammer out a compromise in Brussels in the middle of the night and facing furious headlines whatever deal he brings home. Instead, he can leave that dubious pleasure to Angela Merkel.

According to a report in Die Welt today, the Commission is planning a 13 billion euro (£11.7bn), or 42 per cent, increase in the German contribution to the EU. It currently pays in 31 billion euros (£27bn) to the EU Budget, but over the next seven year the annual amount will go up to 44 billion euros (£39bn). That will make it by far the biggest contributor to the EU on both a net and gross basis. That may be about to get worse. The EU is about to borrow 750bn euros (£672bn) for its Coronavirus Recovery Fund. It remains to be seen exactly how that will be dished out – there will be another fierce struggle about that – but because Germany has been relatively lightly hit by Covid-19 it should receive less money than Italy, Spain and France, but as the biggest economy it will still pay in more than anyone else.

How and why Russian intelligence is using Paul Whelan

by Tom Rogan

It won't be that simple.

Whelan, an American who also holds British, Canadian, and Irish citizenship, was arrested by Russia's FSB domestic security service at a Moscow hotel in December 2018. He was convicted of having received FSB intelligence material on a USB stick. The court's intended implication: that Whelan was a CIA nonofficial cover officer or agent using his supposed business and leisure trips to Russia to collect intelligence. NOC officers or agents collect intelligence without the protection of diplomatic cover, leaving themselves vulnerable to imprisonment or execution if their activities are detected. Except that it is not at all clear that Whelan is or ever was a spy.

Previously convicted at a military court martial of theft-related activities and dishonorably discharged from the Marine Corps, Whelan would be viewed by the CIA as untrustworthy and unreliable, someone far more likely to embarrass the agency or to be used by the Russians. Certainly, any NOC would not use an almost certainly bugged Moscow hotel room to engage in a USB stick exchange with an FSB officer.

Sino-US ties at a crossroads

Maleeha Lodhi
The writer is a former ambassador to the US, UK and UN.

THE confrontation instigated by the United States with China continues to intensify. The pandemic has escalated tensions between them that were already at a record high before the Covid outbreak. This fraught situation has variously been described as a new Cold War, end of the post-1979 era, a geopolitical turning point and less seriously, a ‘scold war’.

What does this mean for the world’s most consequential relationship? Is this a transformative moment from where ties will have to be completely redefined rather than reset? Will the two global powers arrive at a modus vivendi or will their stand-off become an enduring feature of the international landscape? How much of China-bashing in the US reflects campaign politics in an election year? Is the friction an inevitable result of a global power’s response to the rise of another that can challenge its predominant position — a classic phenomenon witnessed throughout history when power dynamics shift fundamentally?

Is economic decoupling between the two inescapable? Or will present hostilities eventually give way to a restructuring of ties in which relations may end up being fiercely competitive and selectively cooperative but with overtones of hostility?

Clearer answers will emerge over time. But a key factor that could shape future relations will be the US presidential election in November when the next occupant of the White House will have to decide how to manage relations with China: to stabilise the relationship on new terms, or embark on a course of drawn-out confrontation. In both eventualities, a return to engagement that previously characterised relations with China is unlikely.


Fighter fuel range is the biggest threat to America’s Navy in the 21st century

By: Alex Hollings 
Despite maintaining the most powerful military apparatus on the globe, this pivot won’t be without its challenges. Over the past 19 years, the United States military has funneled the majority of its funding into combat operations and new technologies that support the counter-terrorism endeavor. During this time, national opponents like China have had ample opportunity to observe the way America’s military operates, and find cost-effective methods of countering the U.S.’ most significant strengths.U.S., Japanese, and South Korean aircraft flying across the Korean Peninsula (U.S. Army photo by SSgt. Steven Schneider)

In 2015, for instance, both China and Russia established space-specific branches of their armed forces tasked with replicating some of America’s orbital strengths (like a GPS satellite constellation), but also with finding ways to mitigate America’s established orbital dominance. Put simply, it’s cheaper and easier to interfere with or destroy technology than it is to replicate it, and America’s enemies have leveraged that simple logic to great effect in recent years. Today, it’s believed that both Russia and China operate semi-autonomous orbital assets that can already spy on or potentially even destroy satellites that are currently in orbit.

GE Delivers First Lightweight Composite Gas Turbine Module For Future U.S. LCS

Martin Manaranche 

This new module, which was fully certified by the United States Navy in 2019 after receiving MIL-S-901D shock qualification, provides a 5,500-pound weight savings (50% wall weight reduction) and 60% quieter enclosure. 

Austal USA recognized the unique attributes of this new composite module design by bestowing GE Marine with its coveted Austal Supplier Innovation Award in 2018.

GE is supplying 38 LM2500 gas turbines to Austal USA for LCS Independence variants up to LCS 38. Like all the Austal USA-built LCS, the future USS Santa Barbara will be powered by two GE LM2500 gas turbines arranged in a combined diesel and gas turbine configuration with two diesel engines.

“One of the most important design features of this new module is that it provides a safer environment and improved access for sailors,”

How the Coming Crash in the Dollar Will Unfold

Stephen Roach

Scorn has long been heaped on those daring to question the supremacy of the U.S. dollar as the world’s dominant reserve currency. I certainly received more than my fair share in reaction to a column I recently wrote for Bloomberg Opinion on the likelihood of a sharp decline in the greenback. The counter-arguments were strong and highly political, basically boiling down to the so-called TINA defense – that when it comes to the dollar, “there is no alternative.”

That argument is very important in one critical sense: The dollar, like any foreign-exchange rate, is a relative price. As such, it encapsulates a broad constellation of a nation’s value proposition — economic, financial, social, and political — as viewed against comparable characterizations of other nations. It follows that shifts in foreign-exchange rates capture changes in these relative comparisons — the U.S. versus Europe, the U.S. versus Japan, the U.S. versus China, and so on.

My forecast that a 35% decline in the value of dollar could well be in the offing is couched in terms of the comparison between the U.S. and the currencies of a broad basket of America’s trading partners. Individual components in this basket are weighted by country-specific trade shares with the U.S. and expressed in real terms to capture shifting inflation differentials. As an economist, I care most about currency-related shifts in international competitiveness. The real effective exchange rate, or REER as calculated monthly by the Bank for International Settlements, is particularly well suited for this task.

The Geopolitics of Alaska

by James Holmes

Alaska is much in the news during this incipient age of great-power strategic competition. Almost daily, it seems, U.S. Air Force fighter jets scramble to intercept lumbering Russian bombers approaching North American airspace to the extreme northwest. This spring the air force activated its first squadron of F-35 joint strike fighters in the Pacific, emplacing the stealth warbirds at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. Around the same time, a B-1B Lancer bomber took wing in South Dakota, swept over the Bering Sea, and skirted along Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula in the course of an ultra-long-range flight to Japanese airspace. And on and on. We dwell in eventful times.

Air commanders portray their endeavors as part of the Pentagon’s “dynamic force employment” model, whereby forces remain close to home for the most part yet sortie to faraway theaters at odd and unpredictable intervals. Dynamic force employment is meant to show would-be antagonists that the U.S. military can deliver heavy combat power on battlegrounds far from home. In the process, it puts them on notice that America is not abandoning distant theaters. But while airpower has dominated headlines of late, peacetime strategic competition unfolds in many domains. Information, cyberspace, and economics are competitive if vaguely defined arenas for competition. Military forces interact aloft, on the ground, and on and beneath the sea’s surface.

Britain moves closer to the brink

Some 300 years ago in the 1690s, merchants and aristocrats in Scotland had a big money-making idea. They would settle a Scottish colony in the “New World”. They chose Central America, a place called Darien and it turned out to be a disaster.

The Scots took warm tweed clothes to the tropics. The native people were not interested in the trinkets they brought. The Spanish navy tried to put an end to the scheme, as did rival merchants in London. Disease, especially malaria, helped wipe out hundreds of the colonists. About 20 per cent of the money in circulation in Scotland was invested and lost. This economic disaster brought about profound political change, as the Scottish parliament in 1701 voted to dissolve itself and instead send members to the English parliament in London.

A man in a face mask rides a scooter past a shuttered shop on Oxford Street, June 12, London, UK. Justin Setterfield / Getty

Was the Coronavirus Outbreak an Intelligence Failure?

by Erik J. Dahl

The U.S. intelligence community has for many years considered the possible threat of disease among the potential risks to national stability and security.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, it’s clear that having better information sooner, and acting more quickly on what was known, could have slowed the spread of the outbreak and saved more people’s lives.

There may be finger-pointing about who should have done better – and President Donald Trump has already begun laying blame. But as a former naval intelligence officer who teaches and studies the U.S. intelligence community, I believe it’s useful to look at the whole process of how information about diseases gets collected and processed, by the U.S. government but also by many other organizations around the world.

The role of traditional US intelligence agencies

The U.S. intelligence community has for many years considered the possible threat of disease among the potential risks to national stability and security.

Reinvigorating The UN? – OpEd

By Graham Peebles

Whatever corner of the world one happens to live in, the most pressing issues of the day affect everyone. Pandemics/epidemics and the environmental emergency; war and terrorism; poverty and food insecurity; overpopulation and the displacement of persons. Such crises cannot be limited by borders or controlled by nation states; no government or corporate power can manage them. They are interconnected global issues and they require a coordinated global response.

Drawn together by economic interest or shared geo-political concerns various allied groupings and regional alliances exist in the world. While such assemblies present the possibility of nations unifying, self-interest, ideology and partisanship dominates the approach of many governments’ to global problems: achieving consensus is rare, and consistent implementation of agreements even more so. And with the rise of tribal nationalism in recent years, led by major nations like America, Russia and China, the space for cooperation and unity has been further eroded, the major issues of the times ignored, or in many cases enflamed.

The United Nations: What now?

In addition to highlighting a range of social inequalities the Covid-19 pandemic has emphasized the need for nations to work cooperatively in response to global issues, under the coordinated stewardship of an international body. One that is free from political ideology is non-partisan and works to build the broadest level of consensus.

Germany Says Further US Sanctions Over Nord Stream 2 Would Interfere With EU Energy Security

(RFE/RL) — The German government has “noted with regret” a U.S. proposal to expand sanctions over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.

“New sanctions would constitute a serious interference in European energy security and EU sovereignty,” a statement by the Foreign Ministry said on June 14.

A group of bipartisan U.S. senators early this month submitted legislation to stop Russia from completing the controversial natural gas pipeline along the floor of the Baltic Sea.

The United States already has taken steps to halt the $11 billion project. A bill passed late last year allowed Washington to impose sanctions on any vessel that helps Russia complete the pipeline, forcing Western-owned ships to stop work.

To get around the legislation’s impact, Russia has sent its own vessel to the Baltic Sea to lay the remaining 160 kilometers of pipeline.

The new proposed legislation widens the sanctions in the existing law to include any entity that provides insurance, port facilities, or tethering services for the project as well as any company that certifies Nord Stream 2 for operation.

The Geopolitics Of Post-Brexit Britain – Analysis

By Geoffrey Sloan*

(FPRI) — The greatest failure of the European referendum campaign in 2016, which can be attributed to both sides, was the inability to articulate an understanding of Britain’s geopolitical relationship to Europe. By geopolitics, I do not mean its current usage: interpreted merely as a synonym for international strategic rivalry. I refer, instead, to classical geopolitics, which is a confluence of three subjects: geography, history, and strategy. It draws attention to certain geographical patterns of political history. It fuses spatial relationships and historical causation. It can produce explanations that suggest the contemporary and future political relevance of various geographical configurations.

What sets geopolitics apart is that it does not obey the artificial boundaries of disciplinary knowledge; classical geopolitics embraces a synthetic approach to address policy problems and issues. Furthermore, the problems and issues themselves do not respect those artificial boundaries, nor do the solutions.

The British thinker responsible for formulating geopolitical perspectives that still have pertinence to Britain’s future relationship with Europe was Sir Halford Mackinder. He was that rare beast in British public life: a polymath. He set up the School of Geography at Oxford, and founded what was to become the University of Reading in 1926. He was also the second Director of the London School of Economics. In 1919, he was appointed British High Commissioner to South Russia by then-Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon. He was elected to the House of Commons and between 1910 and 1922 served as a Scottish Unionist MP for a constituency in Glasgow.

Trump At West Point: Un-Policing The World – OpEd

By Binoy Kampmark

Donald Trump claims to be the law-and-order president of the United States. There does not seem much sign of this as the stitching of the Republic gets undone. Protestors have been given a considerable roughing up across several states; police forces are in retreat before proposals of defunding while protocols for arrests are being changed. Police chiefs are resigning and, in the rarest of cases, officers are being charged for police brutality. 

What, then, of the empire’s own policing capabilities overseas? Here, the Trump message is a treat of confusion. He wishes to be armed for unilateralism. No more needless policing endeavours in the international arena. No unnecessary use of US armed forces to intervene in the murky, squalid affairs of international relations.

The interventionist, policing streak in foreign policy reached its height with the 2005 declaration by President George W. Bush in his second inaugural address that it was “the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” This was ambitiously dangerous, foolhardy and a promise of a global US chokehold to be applied to any regime suspect of not sighing to the sirens of liberty. (Well, at least the US variant of it.) “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.”

Production of one of the F-35′s most anticipated bombs has been on hold for almost a year

By: Valerie Insinna  
WASHINGTON — Deliveries of a new precision-guided bomb under development by Raytheon for the F-35 and other fighter jets have been at a standstill for about a year as the company struggles to correct a technical problem involving a key component.

A fix for the issue, which brought production of the Small Diameter Bomb II to a halt in July 2019, could be approved by the government as soon as July, said Air Force spokesman Capt. Jake Bailey in response to questions by Defense News.

However, a June report by the Government Accountability Office pointed out that continued technical issues have already caused a delay in fielding the munition, with Raytheon forced to redesign a key component and retrofit all 598 bombs already delivered to the Air Force and Navy.

The Small Diameter Bomb II — also known as the GBU-53 StormBreaker — was designed with a tri-mode seeker that includes a millimeter wave radar, imaging infrared and semi-active laser that allow the weapon to engage targets in all weather conditions and environments where visibility is obscured by dust and debris.

Lawmakers Move Once Again to Rescue A-10 Warthog from Retirement

By Oriana Pawlyk
Source Link

The Senate Armed Services Committee isn't keen on the U.S. Air Force's plans to retire legacy aircraft in favor of new technology, putting a stop to some proposed aircraft retirements and delaying others.

In the committee's version of the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, lawmakers say that the service must operate a minimum number of aircraft for each major mission set. The legislation also "prohibits the divestment of aircraft until the minima are reached to ensure that [the] Air Force can meet [National Defense Strategy] and combatant command requirements."

A congressional staffer told Defense News that requirement equals "1,182 fighters; 190 unmanned aerial vehicles; 92 bombers; 412 tankers; 230 tactical airlift platforms; 235 strategic airlift platforms; 84 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft; and 106 combat search-and-rescue aircraft."