13 July 2020

Interpreting the India-Nepal border dispute

On May 8, India’s defence minister virtually inaugurated a new 80 km-long road in the Himalayas, connecting to the border with China, at the Lipulekh pass. The Nepali government protested immediately, contending that the road crosses territory that it claims and accusing India of changing the status quo without diplomatic consultations.

Among the many escalatory moves since then, Nepal deployed police forces to the region, summoned the Indian ambassador in Kathmandu, and initiated a constitutional amendment to formalise and extend its territorial claims over approximately 400 sq km. India, on the other hand, has conveyed its openness to a dialogue but does not seem to share Nepal’s sense of urgency: its initial statement agreed to a dialogue, but only after the COVID-19 crisis.

Over one month later, the bilateral crisis seems to now be stuck in a stalemate, a worrisome trend in otherwise friendly India-Nepal relations. Dr. Constantino Xavier, Fellow, Brookings India, answers some of the key questions on the crisis, the possible factors that escalated the dispute, the geostrategic context, and ways to de-escalate towards a solution.

Calls for India to Play the Taiwan Card Grow Louder

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Amid the continuing border standoff, there is increasing public antagonism toward China in India. This matches growing anger among Indian elites toward China and India’s current China policy, which I wrote about last week. This is leading to more public discussion about possible asymmetric diplomatic strategies to challenge China, such as altering India’s “one China policy” to enhance India’s relations with Taiwan. 

For example, a prominent Indian national newspaper, Indian Express, editorialized in May that India should be pragmatic in considering the question of Taiwan’s observer status in the World Health Assembly: the decision “should not be made either out of peevishness or fear.” The editorial argued that New Delhi should judge the issue on “apolitical appreciation of the specific technical issues involved.” Thus, though the paper did not call for changing India’s general policy on China and Taiwan, it was a reflection of the growing debate about the general unhappiness with India’s ultra-cautious policy when it comes to China. 

In Pakistan, the Army Tightens Its Grip

Source Link

Pakistan has faced an unprecedented set of challenges this year—from a locust invasion that threatened to infest 40 percent of the agrarian economy’s major crops to a pandemic that brought business activity to a grinding halt, prompting layoffs, falling household incomes, and a decline in purchasing power.

But when Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration unveiled the federal budget for the fiscal year 2020-2021 last month, a response to those calamities was nowhere to be seen. The budget allocated 1.29 trillion rupees ($7.7 billion) to defense expenditure, an 11.8 percent increase from last year’s budget and almost 18 percent of the total budget. Health, on the other hand, received 25 billion rupees ($148.6 million) in the central budget. Even after provincial governments stepped in to allocate an additional 467 billion rupees ($2.7 billion), health spending totaled a third of the military budget. As opposition Sen. Sherry Rehman said in a tweet, this is “not a national #budget for a country facing a crisis.”

Islamabad’s excessive defense funding, and failure to account for the country’s already stressed health infrastructure, isn’t simply an oversight.The latest budget would have been an apt time to push for much needed equitable resource allocation and a bigger development budget—more than 40 million Pakistanis are living in a state of food insecurity, and hospitals across the country are buckling as they cope with an influx of coronavirus patients. But Islamabad’s excessive defense funding, and failure to account for the country’s already stressed health infrastructure, isn’t simply an oversight. Rather, it is indicative of the military’s influence over the government and the weak government’s reluctance to push back.

Could China Beat America in a War? China Thinks So.

by Zachary Keck

Here's What You Need to Remember: The overwhelming belief that the PLA would prevail in a conflict with the United States in the East or South China Seas could make it easier for Chinese leaders to gain support for aggressive policies.

The vast majority of Chinese citizens believe the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could seize islands in the East and South China Seas, even if the U.S. military were to intervene in the conflicts.

No less than 87 percent of respondents said that the Chinese military already possessed the capability to take back the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands from Japan, according to a public opinion poll several years back. When asked whether they still believed the PLA could achieve this objective if the U.S. intervened in the conflict, 74 percent said yes.

The numbers were much the same for the South China Sea. When asked whether they believed the PLA could militarily take back disputed islands in the South China Sea, 85.6 percent of respondents said that China’s military could achieve this objective. Even if the U.S. military intervened on behalf of the Southeast Asian nations, about 73 percent of respondents said they still believed the Chinese military would prevail.

How the US could ramp up its economic war on China

Jonathan Hackenbroich

There are at least 11 different ways the United States could use economic weapons to harm China in the coming years.

The United States could soon place sanctions on European officials. Last month, a leaked German economics ministry report warned that Congress’s proposed Protecting European Energy Security Clarification Act (PEESCA) could lead to sanctions on ministry staff involved in the inspection and certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The report rightly calls this “an entirely new development if it materialised”. For a long time, such a scenario was simply unimaginable – the United States would never move to sanction, directly or indirectly, government officials of allied countries, and certainly not Europeans. So thought many on both sides of the Atlantic. But, as with many of its economic coercion manoeuvres – from export controls to treating European cars as a potential national security threat – the US is breaking one taboo after the other.

There is now a long list of instruments the US could use in a new round of economic warfare with China and others. The selection below focuses on measures that have direct or great indirect relevance for Europe. It is in part based on an extraordinary new report compiled by Republican foreign policymakers in Congress calling for a vast expansion of US economic coercion. Not all of the following measures are necessarily likely to be implemented, but they are all possible over the course of the coming months.

The Political Logic of China’s Strategic Mistakes


CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – Some of the Chinese government’s recent policies seem to make little practical sense, with its decision to impose a national-security law on Hong Kong being a prime example. The law’s rushed enactment by China’s rubber-stamp National People’s Congress on June 30 effectively ends the “one country, two systems” model that has prevailed since 1997, when the city was returned from British to Chinese rule, and tensions between China and the West have increased sharply.

The worse economic fundamentals and forecasts become, the more mysterious stock-market outcomes in the US appear. At a time when genuine news suggests that equity prices should be tanking, not hitting record highs, explanations based on crowd psychology, the virality of ideas, and the dynamics of narrative epidemics can shed some light.

Hong Kong’s future as an international financial center is now in grave peril, while resistance by residents determined to defend their freedom will make the city even less stable. Moreover, China’s latest move will help the United States to persuade wavering European allies to join its nascent anti-China coalition. The long-term consequences for China are therefore likely to be dire.

Why China's Race For AI Dominance Depends On Math

by Michael Auslin

THE WORLD first took notice of Beijing’s prowess in artificial intelligence (AI) in late 2017, when BBC reporter John Sudworth, hiding in a remote southwestern city, was located by China’s CCTV system in just seven minutes. At the time, it was a shocking demonstration of power. Today, companies like YITU Technology and Megvii, leaders in facial recognition technology, have compressed those seven minutes into mere seconds. What makes those companies so advanced, and what powers not only China’s surveillance state but also its broader economic development, is not simply its AI capability, but rather the math power underlying it. 

The race for AI supremacy has become perhaps the most visible aspect of the great power competition between America and China. The world’s dominant AI power will have the ability to shape global finance, commerce, telecommunications, warfighting, and computing. President Donald Trump recognized this last February by signing an executive order, the “American AI Initiative,” designed to protect U.S. leadership in key AI technologies. In just a few years, American corporations, universities, think tanks, and the government have devoted hundreds of policy papers and projects to addressing this challenge.

Yet forget about “AI” itself. It’s all about the math, and America is failing to train enough citizens in the right kinds of mathematics to remain dominant.

Multilateralism With Chinese Characteristics: Bringing in the Hub-and-Spoke

By Deep Pal and Suchet Vir Singh

Shortly after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that “neither had China entered our territory, nor occupied our posts,” on June 19, in reference to the tragic incident in Eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released their version of events. China turned Modi’s statement around to accuse India of transgressing and trying to alter the status quo at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Although clarifications came from the Prime Minister’s Office a day later, this swift round of China’s infamous “wolf-warrior diplomacy” allowed them to capture the narrative surrounding the clash at Galwan Valley.

However, changing ground realities with neighbors only represents a small part of a much larger and ambitious set of goals for China. Beyond territorial ambitions, Beijing wants to control how states interact. The latest such instance that provides Beijing with this opportunity is the recent U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO). For China, this is an opportunity to add to its heft in the international order and fulfil its ambitions of redesigning multilateral arrangements. It also means replacing the current U.S. endorsed “liberal rules-based order” with a model that benefits Beijing and fulfills its self-interests.

China Is NATO’s New Problem

Source Link

Over the past decade, Chinese companies have invested billions of dollars throughout Europe—buying up critical infrastructure and increasing Beijing’s political clout across the continent. As Chinese firms, often with strong ties to the state and Chinese Communist Party (CCP), acquire parts of sensitive ports, pipelines, and telecommunication networks, China’s incursions into Europe’s security umbrella are drawing serious concern.

But NATO, long worried about Russia, has largely been silent on China. Now, that is changing. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg recently called on the alliance to stand up to Beijing’s “bullying and coercion,” underscoring how China’s rise is fundamentally shifting the global balance of power. It’s apparent that NATO can no longer ignore the threat. If the alliance hopes to remain competitive, it will need to develop a new strategy for dealing with Beijing.

First, NATO needs a common assessment of China’s hybrid threats—a mix of diplomatic, economic, security, information, and technological actions designed to quietly undermine democratic states and institutions to Beijing’s benefit while avoiding a traditional conflict. While China’s conventional military threat in the Indo-Pacific is far from NATO’s borders, its hybrid activities are happening in the alliance’s own backyard.

The Political Logic of China’s Strategic Mistakes


CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – Some of the Chinese government’s recent policies seem to make little practical sense, with its decision to impose a national-security law on Hong Kong being a prime example. The law’s rushed enactment by China’s rubber-stamp National People’s Congress on June 30 effectively ends the “one country, two systems” model that has prevailed since 1997, when the city was returned from British to Chinese rule, and tensions between China and the West have increased sharply.

The worse economic fundamentals and forecasts become, the more mysterious stock-market outcomes in the US appear. At a time when genuine news suggests that equity prices should be tanking, not hitting record highs, explanations based on crowd psychology, the virality of ideas, and the dynamics of narrative epidemics can shed some light.

Hong Kong’s future as an international financial center is now in grave peril, while resistance by residents determined to defend their freedom will make the city even less stable. Moreover, China’s latest move will help the United States to persuade wavering European allies to join its nascent anti-China coalition. The long-term consequences for China are therefore likely to be dire.

Is Taiwan the Next Hong Kong?

By Michael Green and Evan Medeiros

Pro-democracy protests have rocked Hong Kong for more than a year. Now, China has imposed a draconian national security law that will undermine the territory’s autonomy and, by extension, its identity. The new law is a profound tragedy for the people of Hong Kong, but unfortunately, there is little the international community can do to halt its implementation. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has suggested that it will dial up pressure on Hong Kong’s government. But doing so risks hurting Hong Kong’s economy more than Beijing’s and accelerating the territory’s absorption into southern China.

Some analysts have therefore counseled U.S. restraint, arguing that a softer touch could encourage Beijing to moderate its implementation of the law and avoid making the situation worse. But there are larger issues at stake. U.S. policymakers must consider more than Hong Kong when formulating their response. A tepid U.S. reaction could leave Beijing with the impression that it can proceed with relative impunity on other contentious issues in Asia. The shadow of Taiwan looms large in this context. Unless the United States demonstrates the resolve and ability to resist Chinese coercion and aggression, China’s leaders may eventually conclude that the risks and the costs of future military action against Taiwan are low—or at least tolerable.

Russia Built Portable Nuclear Bombs or "Suitcase Nukes" (And Some Could Be Missing?)

by Caleb Larson

Here's What You Need to Remember: In 1997, a former Soviet general, Alexander I. Lebed, gave an interview to 60 Minutes in which he contended that the Soviet Union had created around 250 suitcase-sized portable nuclear weapons, similar to the United States’ B-54. 

Tactical nuclear weapons — compacts, small-yield atomic bombs that are not necessarily designed to be rained down on cities from bomber aircraft, nor delivered via Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles, but could be an artillery shell, a nuclear torpedo, landmine, or other small and easily transportable devices.

One of these tactical nuclear devices is the so-called “backpack” or “suitcase nuke” — essentially a nuclear device so small, it could be transported in a backpack or in a person’s luggage.

Limited Nuclear War:

Trump Wants the Navy To Take Out Iranian Gunboats That Get Too Close. Here's How.

by Kris Osborn

Interceptor missiles, attack drones, deck-mounted guns, electronic warfare weapons and even lasers could quickly be called upon by U.S. Navy commanders to destroy Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf --- should provocations, hostile actions or attacks require a lethal U.S. response.

The U.S. Navy is equipped, prepared and authorized to attack and defend against Iranian threats should that be needed, according to a recent tweet from President Trump and supporting comments from senior Pentagon leaders.

(This first appeared in April.)

Iranian threats in the Persian Gulf have been on the Pentagon’s radar for many years, as Iranian military units have at times used small attack boat maneuvers and mines near their borders to intimidate forces and commercial ships. These maneuvers and threats -- are by no means unprecedented -- and they have been of particular concern in a narrow Strait of Hormuz waterway connecting the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman; the Strait of Hormuz is a crucial, narrow passageway for international ships, such as oil tankers and other key vessels used for global commerce.

Japan Promotes ‘Clean’ Coal in the Battle Against Climate Change

By Thisanka Siripala
Japan’s government has announced it will phase out 90 percent of the country’s old and inefficient coal-fired power generators, alongside the construction of “cleaner” high efficiency coal power by 2030. Minister for Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) Hiroshi Kajiyama said coal-fired power will remain Japan’s baseline electricity source, but 114 high CO2 emitting coal power plants will be shut down to reduce overall carbon emissions. Japan currently has 140 coal power plants.

As a start to achieving a carbon neutral society, new coal power stations will also be fitted with effective systems that aim to use renewable energy as a main energy source. Kajiyama plans to boost the expansion of renewable energy by reviewing the power grid utilization rules. This month METI will set up a meeting with experts to devise concrete measures to reduce the CO2 output of inefficient coal power plants. An upper limit of power generation will be set for inefficient power plants with the cooperation of electricity providers.

In December last year, the United Nations urged its members to stop building new coal power plants after 2020. But Kajiyama said Japan would not aim for the total abolition of coal power seen in European countries. Earlier this month the minister said it was essential to use the best mix of energy sources due to Japan’s position as a resource-poor nation. That means one entire energy source can’t be ruled out.

Four ideas damaged by Covid-19

Source Link

Covid-19 kills not just people, it also kills ideas. And when it doesn’t kill them, it discredits them. For example, received ideas about office work, hospitals, and universities will not be the same when the dust settles from the pandemic. Nor will some of the more universal ideas about economics and politics. Here are four cases in point:

1. The United States is a source of global stability. False. The truth is that Washington has become an epicenter of geopolitical instability. The Bush administration’s response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, for example, sparked long and costly wars. In 2008, the US exported a serious financial crisis to the rest of the world. But no war or economic crisis has so eroded America’s influence in the world as the deeds of Donald Trump’s administration. Since his election in 2016, the president has shown, almost daily, that instead of calming the world and his country, he prefers to set off conflict and stir discord. America’s reaction to the pandemic has only confirmed that the White House is a volatile, accident-prone and unreliable ally.

That the United States now radiates instability is particularly ironic because the greatest beneficiary of the international order that Trump is unraveling is the very nation that he presides.

The army versus Putin?

by Pavel Luzin

Pavel Luzin looks into the voting habits of Russia’s military and wonders why military personnel were more likely to vote against constitutional amendments than their compatriots

Experts question both the procedure and the results of Russia’s recent vote on constitutional amendments. Officially, 77.92%, or more than 57.7mn people, were in favour of the amendments. 21.27% — more than 23.2mn voters n— were opposed. Turnout reached 67.97%, more than 74.2mn people.

Interestingly, a paradoxical situation occurred. In some specific locations, the percentage of those voting ‘no’ turned out to be abnormally high (see table 1). These spikes were not only in comparison with the nationwide results. They were also high compared to the surrounding regions where the polling stations were located (see table 2). These polling stations, in various parts of Russia, have one thing in common: members of the military, civilian defence personnel and their families vote there.

For example, 32.94% of voters said ‘no’ to Putin’s constitution in Sverdlovsk Oblast. In the same region, the number of dissenters reached from 40.92% to 51.03% in the closed town of Svobodny, home of the 42nd Rocket Division of the Strategic Missile Troops. The situation in the closed town of Zaozyorsk, Murmansk Oblast, home of a North Fleet submarine base, is similar: ‘No’ votes ranged from 43.91% to 50.14%, compared with 36.33% for the oblast as a whole.

South Korea’s Conscientious Objectors Are Getting an Alternative to Military Service

By Jenna Gibson

On June 30, South Korea officially began taking applications from conscientious objectors for alternative service to the country’s mandatory military service for all men. Instead of serving around two years in the military, men can now apply for the new alternative service — working for three years in prisons or detention centers.

The move has been a long time coming for those with religious or moral objections to being part of the military, who have previously faced 18 months in prison for failing to fulfil their service requirement. But while objectors no longer face prison time, not everyone is happy with the government’s plan for an alternative form of service.

Conscientious objection has been an issue in Korea since the time of the Japanese occupation in the 1930s, when a group of 38 Jehovah’s Witnesses were jailed for refusing to serve in the Japanese army. Since the end of the Korean War, about 19,000 Koreans, most of them Jehovah’s Witnesses, have served jail time for objecting to military service.

Winter Is Coming

By Admiral James A. Winnefeld Jr., U.S. Navy (Retired)
Source Link

Effective security strategies must balance four key variables: ends, ways, means, and the security environment. If one variable degrades significantly, the rest must adjust to restore equilibrium; otherwise strategic risk can quickly increase to an unacceptable level. 

Today we live in a deteriorating security environment. The global operating system that kept the United States and its allies secure and prosperous in the wake of the world wars is gradually unraveling. Meanwhile, over­attention to the distractions of extremism and self-alienated nations has masked persistent decay in the U.S. military’s capability and capacity relative to ambitious major competitors.

This erosion may hasten the end of the most recent
in a series of long-wave geopolitical cycles, which usually culminate in a war the belligerents did not expect. A major test of U.S. power, which some would contend is already under way, could signal the end of the current cycle.

National Security Implications of COVID-19: A Framework

By Gary L. Geipel

The current global pandemic of the disease called COVID-19—caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus—will sharpen several challenges to U.S. national security and influence the country’s ability to meet those challenges. “But how, exactly?” impatient policymakers and current practitioners of diplomacy and national security may ask, as they seek to construct U.S. responses. Avoiding speculative predictions at this point, we can start with a framework: an intellectual scaffolding on which to consider emerging implications before acting on them.

The pandemic’s implications for national security fall into two general categories: geopolitics and the critical supply chain. Overall, at this stage, we can rule out only calamity and business-as-usual with reasonable certainly. The pandemic raises significant concerns in both categories but with respect to such concerns, we can find worrisome evidence alongside more encouraging signals. This framework identifies a number of concerns, considers early evidence, and suggests steps to understand and mitigate the worst possibilities.

COVID-19 as a Turn of History

Want Better Strategists? Start With a Better Definition of Strategy

By Jeffrey Meiser and Patrick Quirk

A strategy is a theory of success. Other definitions of strategy abound but are unsatisfactory for a variety of reasons. Several recent essays call attention to why we need a clear, consistent definition of strategy and why other definitions of strategy are inferior to the theory of success definition. Regardless of whether the authors are attacking, defending, or reinterpreting strategy, they share the common characteristics of misunderstanding the nature of strategy and lacking an analytically useful definition of strategy.

These pieces and the associated debate come at a juncture when strategy is increasingly important for the United States and its position in the world. China uses military expansion, economic coercion, political subversion to exert its influence, and challenges the U.S. position in the world. Recognizing this threat, the U.S. is posturing itself for the new era of great power competition. Militarily, it shifts resources to theatres like the Indo-Pacific to contest Chinese aggression and counter China’s predatory economic practices through tariffs and other means. The U.S. has repurposed foreign aid and launched the International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC) to push back on the CCP’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Even as the United States deploys “strategies” to guide aspects of its economic, military, and diplomatic domains, it lacks a common understanding for—and definition of—strategy. This plays into the hands of our adversaries, China, Russia, and Iran chief among them. Therefore, a more productive way to advance the debate around strategy would be to push the U.S. to develop a realistic, actionable definition of and approach to developing strategy. Here, we critique the above referenced recent pieces, pull out the most useful aspects, and offer a way ahead.

Strategy is unavoidable

Ethiopia’s Nile mega-dam is changing dynamics in Horn of Africa

China, US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia vie for influence amid region’s renaissance DAVID PILLING Add to myFT © Ingram Pinn/Financial Times Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save David Pilling JULY 8 2020 60 Print this page In a few weeks, Ethiopian engineers will start the multiyear task of filling with water the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Africa’s largest hydroelectric power plant and the most ambitious attempt to harness the power of the Nile in history. Eventually, the $4.8bn project will double Ethiopia’s generating capacity and provide a jolt of electricity that could energise what is already the most dynamic large economy in sub-Saharan Africa. The dam has not only raised tensions with Egypt, which fears losing control over a waterway that has shaped its destiny for millennia. It has also put the spotlight on a region, the Horn of Africa, that has become a magnet for outside attention, not to say interference, from a plethora of powers including the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, China, Turkey and the US. 

They have brought billions of dollars in investment in ports, airports, rail, agriculture and education. But, as so often before, they have also projected their own rivalries on to a region with plenty of its own divisions. At the core of the Horn is Ethiopia, whose population of 110m dominates a region that includes, in its narrow definition, the far less populous countries of Djibouti, Eritrea and Somalia, plus the self-declared independent entity of Somaliland. Ethiopia, a Christian state since the fourth century, resisted European imperialism, making the Horn what Christopher Clapham of Cambridge university calls the only “non-colonial” region of Africa. Instead, Ethiopians from the highlands over centuries drew their own borders through imperial conquest, incorporating swaths of territory and sowing resentments that fester to this day. 

Could Twitter Be Launching a Subscription Platform?

by Stephen Silver

Twitter, for as long as it’s existed, has been free to use. In fact, it’s become a cliché on the social network for users to post particularly crazy discussions and exchanges, along with the caption “this website is free.”

Is there a chance it might one day not be so free? There’s indication of that—and it was enough to send Twitter’s stock price soaring on Wednesday.

Per CNBC, the company posted a job listing this week that strongly indicated some type of subscription product is on the horizon.

“We are building a subscription platform, one that can be reused by other teams in the future,” the ad said, per CNBC. “This is a first for Twitter! Gryphon is a team of web engineers who are closely collaborating with the Payments team and the Twitter.com team.” 

Twitter went on to edit the job listing, but not before its stock surged more than 7 percent on speculation that a new revenue stream is on the way for the company. The stock, which had been traded in the $33 a share range the day before, jumped as high as $36.43 during the way Wednesday, and had dipped only to $35.41 as of Thursday morning.

I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State

By Peter Beinart
I was 22 in 1993 when Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn to officially begin the peace process that many hoped would create a Palestinian state alongside Israel. I’ve been arguing for a two-state solution — first in late-night bull sessions, then in articles and speeches — ever since.

I believed in Israel as a Jewish state because I grew up in a family that had hopscotched from continent to continent as diaspora Jewish communities crumbled. I saw Israel’s impact on my grandfather and father, who were never as happy or secure as when enveloped in a society of Jews. And I knew that Israel was a source of comfort and pride to millions of other Jews, some of whose families had experienced traumas greater than my own.

One day in early adulthood, I walked through Jerusalem, reading street names that catalog Jewish history, and felt that comfort and pride myself. I knew Israel was wrong to deny Palestinians in the West Bank citizenship, due process, free movement and the right to vote in the country in which they lived. But the dream of a two-state solution that would give Palestinians a country of their own let me hope that I could remain a liberal and a supporter of Jewish statehood at the same time.

Events have now extinguished that hope.


Paul Lushenko 
Source Link

By the time Gen. Raymond Odierno became the Army chief of staff in 2011, he fully realized the tension between thinking and doing in the US Army. Amid the high operational tempo of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, officers had become, as retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales described it, “too busy to learn,” devoting increasing time and energy to operations at the expense of professional study. And the Army, Scales noted, largely acquiesced by de-prioritizing professional military education in favor of meeting the requirements of securing, stabilizing, and democratizing two countries. In observing this challenge, Scales reiterated a point made by Bernard Brodie, the strategist par excellence, nearly fifty years earlier. In 1973, he wrote that even the premier education received by colonels at the US military’s war colleges was “too brief, too casual, comes too late in life and keeps the military consorting with each other.”

In 2012, Odierno developed the Advanced Strategic Planning and Policy Program, commonly referred to as ASP3, suggesting he took these insights seriously. He designed the program to afford qualified officers the opportunity to pursue a fully funded doctorate in a field of study that benefits the Army’s modernization and diverse missions. Odierno’s intent was to use this stable of officers, who are referred to as General Andrew Jackson Goodpaster Scholars, as a means to help the Army strike a better balance between a warrior ethos that emphasizes martial virtues on the one hand, and critical thinking on the other. The program aims to develop Goodpaster Scholars as both strategic thinkers and future senior leaders. It reflects a recognition that operational experiences should not be the only factor shaping officers’ promotion through the ranks. These experiences, when combined with an ability to reason and communicate, best inform officers’ potential to serve as institutional leaders given an increasingly complex operating environment.


By Bill Bray

If you believe reading well or deep contemplation helps one be a better leader, consider how challenging it can be today to make a quiet place where one can be free from digital distraction. It requires quite a bit of discipline to train the mind to focus without interruption or read challenging texts. But reading them will, in turn, discipline the mind. It is a virtuous circle.

In 2005, I deployed to East Africa. It was my sixth deployment and I was excited about a new challenge in a part of the world I had never visited. I bunked in a small room with no television or internet connection. I brought with me a stack of books to read, knowing that for all their demands and challenges, deployments away from long commutes and domestic responsibilities provide more quiet time, even with longer work weeks.

Intensive deployment preparations during the preceding months allowed barely a spare moment to read, and after being on the ground for a few weeks and into a stable work rhythm I looked forward to diving in to some weighty but rewarding books. At first opportunity I expected to instantly relish again the joy of getting lost in a great book.