15 June 2021

Water Security as Part of Non-Traditional Security: Threat - Implications for India

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Like oil or data, water is an integral part of the world’s economy. Although about 71 per cent of the earth’s surface is water-covered, the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water which is salt water. Freshwater, most of it is frozen in glaciers, accounts for the rest. That leaves less than 1 per cent of the world’s water available to support human and ecological processes. We withdraw 4.3 trillion cubic meters of freshwater every year from the earth’s water basins. We use it in agriculture, which accounts for 70 per cent of the withdrawals. Industry and households consume 19 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively. However, these percentages fluctuate widely across the globe. In the United States, industrial and agricultural usage is almost the same around 40 per cent. In India, agriculture uses 90 per cent of water withdrawals, while only 2 per cent is consumed by industry. Over the past century, rate of withdrawal of available freshwater resources have risen almost six times, outpacing global population growth.

China’s Nuclear and Missile Capabilities: An Overview

 Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Since China first conducted a nuclear weapon test in 1964, its nuclear doctrine has remained unchanged and is underpinned by two principles: a minimum deterrent doctrine and a No First Use (NFU) policy. China’s 2019 defence white paper states, “China is always committed to a nuclear policy of NFU of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones unconditionally.”

However, a recent U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) report claims that the scope of China’s nuclear modernisation and its lack of transparency “raise concern that China is not only shifting its requirements for what constitutes a minimal deterrence but that it could shift away from its longstanding minimalist force posture.” The data available show that China is modernising and expanding virtually every element of its nuclear forces, including each aspect of its nuclear weapons and missile, sea, and air delivery systems. What is not clear are China’s current and planned holdings of nuclear weapons, China’s future plans for deploying additional delivery systems, its commitment to some form of NFU, first preemption, or launch on warning, and the extent to which it will accept what might be called a form of ‘minimum assured destruction.

Pentagon works to move troops to countries near Afghanistan as military eyes drawdown’s end by July


The Pentagon wants to put counterterrorism forces in nations neighboring Afghanistan to monitor terrorist activity in that country after U.S. troops end their two-decade fight there, top U.S. defense officials said Thursday.

Pentagon officials have yet to strike any agreements to place those troops near Afghanistan after the ongoing withdrawal, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee. That withdrawal, which the U.S. military said this week was about half completed, could be finished as early as July, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the committee’s chairman, indicated during the hearing focused on the Pentagon’s fiscal 2022 budget request.

“Those [counterterrorism] efforts will be focused on those elements that can possibly conduct attacks against our homeland,” Austin said, singling out al-Qaida as his top concern. “As we have retrograded … a lot of our combat aircraft or missions are being conducted from platforms in the [Persian] Gulf [region]. And so, we have the capability now to do that. Now, what we are looking for is the ability to shorten the legs going forward by stationing some capability in neighboring countries, [and] that is still a work in progress.”

Which Asian Nations Can Benefit From the ‘China Plus One’ Strategy?

By Sara Hsu

The China-U.S. trade war and the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the need for companies to diversify supply chains outside of China. This has given rise to the “China plus one” strategy, in which multinational firms are moving to other countries, in addition to China. Some Asian countries have put forward plans to attract overseas investment as companies look for another center of production or distribution. These include Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam, which have introduced preferential policies for overseas firms investing in the country.

Thailand has made strides in improving its ease of doing business, streamlining the process for obtaining construction permits and improving minority investor protection. FDI applications rose 80 percent in Thailand 80 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2021. While the medical sector attracted the most FDI projects, foreign direct investment has also been increasing in the manufacturing industries, such as the metals and machinery sectors. Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor, including the provinces of Chonburi, Rayong, and Chachoengsao, received the most FDI applications, 39 percent more than those filed in the first quarter of 2020.

Myanmar’s Coming Revolution

By Thant Myint-U

Myanmar is at a point of no return. The army’s February coup, meant to surgically shift power within the existing constitutional framework, has instead unleashed a revolutionary energy that will be nearly impossible to contain.

Over the past four months, protests and strikes have continued despite the killing of more than 800 people and the arrest of nearly 5,000 more. On April 1, elected members of parliament from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), together with leaders from other political parties and organizations, declared a “national unity government” to challenge the authority of the recently established military junta. And through April and May, as fighting flared between the junta and ethnic minority armies, a new generation of pro-democracy fighters attacked military positions and administrative offices across the country.

The junta could partially consolidate its rule over the coming year, but that would not lead to stability. Myanmar’s pressing economic and social challenges are too complex, and the depth of animosity toward the military too great, for an isolated and anachronistic institution to manage. At the same time, the revolutionaries will not be able to deal a knockout blow anytime soon.

China's Troops 'Fear No Sacrifice,' Celebrated Border Clash Hero Declares


China's soldiers would rather die than "lose an inch" of territory, the country's celebrated Sino-India border skirmish commander declared on Thursday as Beijing officially outlawed all negative sentiments toward its military.

Qi Fabao, the 41-year-old People's Liberation Army officer involved in last summer's deadly clash along the Line of Actual Control, made the remarks at a ceremony honoring his fallen colleagues ahead of the one-year anniversary of the melee on June 15.

"We have no fear and fear no sacrifice," Qi told a room of uniformed officials with the Central Military Commission, the country's command and control organ chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"We fear no sacrifice and are firm in our belief that we would rather sacrifice our lives than lose an inch of our territory," he said at the event organized by the commission's Political Work Department.

Why the China – Russia Relationship Should Worry You – Part One


In 1937, Winston Churchill contrasted the “two rival religions” of Nazism and Communism then afflicting the world. Those fascist and communist “infernal twins”, he wrote, “imagine themselves as exact opposites” but are, in fact “similar in all essentials”, breeding in reaction to each other. Today’s ‘infernal twins’ – China and Russia – are ostensible great power rivals united by a common adversary.

Mark Kelton, Former Deputy Director for Counterintelligence, CIA

On the face of it, these communist and post-communist authoritarian states are unlikely allies with often conflicting interests. And they are in differing places strategically. One sees itself as an expanding power assuming its rightful, dominant place in the global order. The other is a revisionist state, seeking to restore strength and influence lost with the collapse of empire.

Yet, according to the US National Intelligence Council (NIC), China and Russia are “likely to remain strongly aligned as long as (Vladimir) Putin and XI (Jinping) remain in power.” They have, the NIC judged, formed a “comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination”. Putin and XI, as President Biden said in comparing the two, share a belief that “that an autocracy is the wave of the future and democracy can’t function” in a complex world. What they are most united in is a belief that the American giant that has heretofore impeded their respective aspirations is now in a weakened state, plagued by political divides and societal rifts at home while projecting uncertain leadership abroad. Like sharks that smell blood in the water, these allies of convenience sense opportunity in perceived American vulnerability. Accordingly, Beijing and Moscow are subordinating potential points of friction between them such as competition for influence in Central Asia and resources in the Arctic to advance their common goals of confounding American policy and diminishing Washington’s role in the world.

Why the China – Russia Relationship Should Worry You – Part Two


When the PRC decides to move on Taiwan, it is unlikely to move in a manner that makes a US decision on intervention clear cut. Should China decide, initially at least, against a full-scale invasion of that island nation, it could instead opt to try to “win without fighting.” Beijing might do so by using its large, state-controlled fishing fleet to cut smaller Taipei-controlled islands off from Taiwan itself much as the PRC is now massing fishing boats to expand Chinese-controlled seas to press claims on the Japanese Senkakus and Whitsun Reef in Philippine waters. Chinese state-owned fisheries companies – part of the so-called ‘Maritime Militia’ – serve as fronts for PLA intelligence. Using their fleets to operate in a manner somewhere between peace and conflict in the gray zone of contested control around Taiwan would allow Beijing to test whether the US and its allies are willing to help defend the island’s independence without being seen to initiate open conflict.

'Prepare for War,' China Military Warns in New Propaganda Poster for Taiwan


The Chinese military has released a flurry of pictures and videos showing battle-ready troops in training exercises as part of a new propaganda drive aimed at Taiwan.

Articles published by the information arm of the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) 80th Group Army carried stark warnings for "splittists" and a poster reading "prepare for war." The campaign material was widely shared on Wednesday by users on China's popular social media services Weibo and WeChat.

Soldiers of the 80th Group Army, which is stationed in China's coastal Shandong province, were also seen taking part in a brigade swearing-in ceremony. Pictures showed uniformed soldiers lining up beneath a stage while carrying firearms.

The brigade swore to "obey all commands" and "fear no challenges," while also committing to "fight for dignity without fear of death," according to the propaganda literature.

China's Internet Trolls Go Global

Some sling personal insults; others come bearing GIFs. With eclectic names like “truth_seeker456” and “mariele01757186,” and typically zero Twitter followers, they aren’t exactly hard to spot. But for all their obvious tells, China’s internet trolls are a more potent force than most analysts give them credit for—and remain a core part of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) strategy to seize international discourse power.

Today, most onlookers regard the “Fifty Cent Army” as an oddity of the Chinese internet, more warranting mockery than demanding action. But as the CCP pivots to more aggressively pushing propaganda on foreign social media networks, its trolls are beginning to pose serious threats to economic security, political stability, and personal safety worldwide.

The fact is that Party-backed trolls have become more than a nuisance, and the magnitude and frequency of their attacks will likely continue to increase. Formulating an effective response will require understanding their size, tactics, and mission as the CCP widens the scope of its public opinion war to include foreign audiences.

Rocket on Pad, China Ready to Send First Crew to Space Station

The rocket that will send the first crew members to live on China’s new orbiting space station has been moved onto the launch pad ahead of its planned blastoff next week.

The three astronauts plan to spend three months on the space station, far exceeding the length of any previous Chinese mission. They will perform spacewalks, construction, and maintenance work and carry out science experiments.

The main section of the Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony, station was launched into orbit on April 29. Cargo spacecraft sent up last month carried fuel, food, and equipment to the station in preparation for the crewed mission.

The Long March-2F Y12 rocket carrying the Shenzhou-12 spaceship was transferred to the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Wednesday, the China Manned Space Engineering Office said in a brief statement. Its tentative launch date is June 16.

Warship Headed to Venezuela Is Iran’s New Threat to the U.S.

James Stavridis

Over the past couple of weeks, a large Iranian navy transport ship, the Makran, has been lumbering through the Atlantic, reportedly headed to the Caribbean. Strapped to the top of this warship is a very lethal cargo: seven high-speed missile attack boats, probably headed to Venezuela.

The speedboats are of the Iranian Peykaap class, and are typically operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Nearly 60 feet in length, they can carry two lethal antiship missiles that have a range of close to 20 miles in surface-to-surface mode, as well as a pair of 13-inch torpedoes. Some reports indicate an Iranian frigate may be accompanying the Makran and her cargo.

I know that class of ship well, as do most U.S. Navy officers. We see them frequently in the Arabian Gulf, harassing merchant ships and occasionally challenging our warships. They are quite dangerous, especially in a constrained seaway like the Gulf.

What is unique in this situation is that they are paired with the Makran, which can function as a kind of 755-foot “mother ship” to a hostile brood of missile boats, providing general logistic support, fuel, ammunition and long-haul communications. After unloading the speedboats, the Makran can operate with a large flight deck to operate helicopters, which would effectively extend the combat range of the patrol boats by giving them “eyes” over the horizon.

Iran Uninterrupted


In the late 1990s, I was intrigued by how patterns of political behavior in postrevolutionary Iran correlated with those of the prerevolutionary periods. I began developing frameworks to understand these different historical epochs.

Four fundamental questions shaped my research: What leads to a highly exaggerated depiction of the Iranians’ view of themselves in the international system? What processes result in flawed Iranian assessments of the realities of the international system? Why have Iranians consistently faced major obstacles in building a national political consensus? Despite over a century of exposure to the West, why haven’t Iranians been able to institutionalize aspects of modernity such as political party competition, the rotation of power, and political liberties?

In over a decade of working on these questions, I traveled around Iran and published three books in Farsi. First, a study of Iran’s political culture, published in 2004 and in its seventh edition in 2019. It was based on 900 questionnaires completed by private citizens and public officials. Second, a project on Iranian authoritarianism during the Qajar dynasty (1794–1925), first published in 2011 and in its fourteenth edition in 2020. And third, a book on Iranian authoritarianism during the Pahlavi dynasty (1925–1979). Currently, I’m working on a fourth project on the psychological infrastructure of Iranian authoritarianism.

The Real Root Causes of America’s Border Crisis

By Michael A. Clemens

From his first days in office, U.S. President Joe Biden has had to contend with a surge in migration across the U.S.-Mexican border, in particular from the “Northern Triangle” countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Instead of building walls or beefing up border security, as his predecessor did, Biden has promoted an ambitious $4 billion plan to address what he has called the “root causes” of irregular migration. By tackling insecurity, corruption, and poverty in Latin America, the Biden administration is betting that it can persuade many would-be migrants who lack visas to stay home.

Biden’s plan won’t slow the traffic at the U.S. border overnight, but it may help stabilize the flow over time, preventing the kinds of extreme surges of irregular migration that occurred at the beginning of this year. For the plan to work, however, Biden and his team must understand that migration pressures from the Northern Triangle follow two starkly different patterns: long waves that last decades and short spikes that last months.

The former, perhaps paradoxically, are symptoms of rising prosperity in the countries from which migrants hail, whereas the latter stem from crises and shocks. Any successful agenda

Tech Tent: Is the FBI winning the crime war?

Rory Cellan-Jones

It has been quite a week for the FBI.

First it got back a large chunk of the Bitcoin paid to the gang behind the Colonial pipeline ransomware attack. Then it led a global operation which saw suspected criminals tricked into using a messaging service operated and monitored by the agency.

On this week's Tech Tent, we explore whether criminals will now think twice about using tech in their activities.

When it comes to understanding and using the latest technology it has often seemed that law enforcement is always at least one step behind the criminals. Not this week.

Just how the FBI managed to retrieve $2.3m (£1.6m) of Bitcoin paid to the DarkSide ransomware gang is far from clear. Theories range from the agency having an insider in the gang who handed over the private key to the Bitcoin wallet where the ransom had ended up, to the criminals being careless enough to leave their loot in a well-known exchange which could be ordered to hand it over.

Where’s Biden’s China Strategy?

By Robbie Gramer and Jack Detsch

Welcome to SitRep! Robbie is jet setting off to vacation later today, so Jack will be riding solo on SitRep next week.

Alright, here’s what’s on tap for the day: The Biden administration clams up on China policy, the president takes off for Europe, and we speed-read through the wonkiest papers in Washington.

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

The first rule of the U.S. Defense Department’s China review is you do not talk about the Defense Department’s China review. The second rule of the Defense Department’s China review is you do NOT talk about the Defense Department’s China review.

At least that’s how it felt to the dingy Zoom room full of reporters who logged on to speak to a so-called “senior defense official” who proceeded to say … nothing of substance on the Pentagon’s pivot to Asia. Well, almost nothing.

Pentagon Completes China Policy Review

By Steven Stashwick

The Pentagon has completed a four-month internal review of its China policies and strategies, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a new directive outlining a number of efforts to support its China strategy.

“The initiatives I am putting forward today are nested inside the larger U.S. government approach to China and will help inform the development of the National Defense Strategy we are working on,” Austin said in a statement.

Austin intends to oversee the Pentagon’s China policies and operations directly, commensurate with U.S President Joe Biden’s view that China represents the United States’ greatest geopolitical challenge. Biden has characterized his policy towards China as one of “extreme competition.”

The review began just weeks after Biden’s inauguration under the direction of Ely Ratner, who was a national security advisor to Biden when he was vice president and came to the Pentagon as a special assistant to Austin for China affairs. He is now the administration’s nominee to be the assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, awaiting confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

US, Turkey still far off on deal over Russian S-400 missiles

Amberin Zaman

With less than a week left before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with Joe Biden for the first time since he was elected president, rumors are swirling of an impending deal on Russian S-400 missiles that would help salvage relations between the NATO allies and see the equipment placed under US custody. But diplomatic sources with close knowledge of the S-400 impasse, speaking on condition of anonymity to Al-Monitor, deny there is any agreement in place.

“It’s the first I am hearing of this,” said a senior Turkish official. A Western official called the rumors “a bluff.”

“Erdogan is playing like [Turkey] is indispensable. There is no chance that Russia will accept storage of the S-400 under US custody. Basic fact from the commercial leaflet — they are meant to down [US made] F-16 and F-35 [fighter jets],” the Western official added.

Erdogan and Biden are scheduled to meet on the margins of a June 14 NATO summit in Brussels and various analysts have offered outlines of a possible accord that’s purportedly in the works. Others express profound skepticism.

Who Will Write The Next “Long Telegram?”

By Robert Wilkie

On February 22, 1946, George Kennan, then a young American diplomat in the Soviet Union, penned a secret cable to the State Department. Kennan warned the United States faced an enemy dedicated to destroying its principal adversary by first weakening her allies through subversion, bribery, and intimidation and then achieving total military superiority.
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The clear-eyed assessment of the brutish Soviet regime, known to history as The Long Telegram, became the foundation for 45 years of the containment of Moscow and for the eventual triumph of the American ideal. This is 2021, not 1946, but replace Russia and Soviet power with China and the Chinese Communist Party and the Long Telegram once again becomes operative. As Kennan would have opined, China, “[is] undoubtedly the greatest task our diplomacy has ever faced and probably the greatest it will ever have to face.”

The Telegram’s prescience is as powerful today as it was when written under Stalin’s nose:

Is Macron the New Merkel?

By Joseph de Weck

In politics, there is one simple law: If you win an election, you get power. If you win reelection, you get others—at home and abroad—imitating you.

Early next year, French President Emmanuel Macron and his self-proclaimed “neither left nor right” politics face this make-or-break test. If he fails, Macron will turn out to be a short-lived shooting star. (What’s more, he will likely have paved the way for the first power grab by right-wing nationalists in one of the European Union’s core countries.) If Macron wins, France will finally have found a policy mix and a president it can live with for more than the short term, and the EU will have found a poster child that demonstrates betting on Europe can actually win you political success.

Macron’s odds are not bad. In fact, out of all the past decade’s incumbent French leaders, 43-year-old Macron has the best chances of winning a second five-year mandate. Eleven months before the elections, Macron’s approval ratings stand at 50 percent. For the hard-to-please French, this is remarkable. At the same point, socialist former French President François Hollande stood at 21 percent. Right-wing former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who narrowly missed reelection in 2012, garnered 35 percent.

Eighty Years Later, Biden and Johnson Revise the Atlantic Charter for a New Era

By David E. Sanger and Michael D. Shear

CARBIS BAY, England — President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain signed a new version of the 80-year old “Atlantic Charter” on Thursday, using their first meeting to redefine the Western alliance and accentuate what they said was a growing divide between battered democracies and their autocratic rivals, led by Russia and China.

The two leaders unveiled the new charter as they sought to focus the world’s attention on emerging threats from cyber attacks, the Covid-19 pandemic that has upended the global economy, and climate change, using language about reinforcing NATO and international institutions that Mr. Biden hoped would make clear that the Trump era of America First was over.

But the two men also continued to grapple with old-world challenges, including Mr. Biden’s private admonishment of the prime minister against taking actions that could inflame sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

What’s Next for Multilateralism and the Liberal International Order?

The United Nations’ ability to carry out its mission has been severely constrained in recent years by its member states. And many of its agencies are now facing funding shortages that could severely curtail their work. In fact, multilateralism of all stripes is under strain, from the International Criminal Court to the World Trade Organization—to the World Health Organization.

The United Nations is perhaps the most prominent manifestation of an international order built on balancing sovereign equality with great-power politics in a bid to maintain international peace. But its capacity to do that—and to meet its other objectives, which include protecting human rights and delivering aid—have been severely constrained in recent years by its member states.

The real power in the U.N. lies with the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council—the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain and France. And they have used their positions to limit the institution’s involvement in major recent conflicts, including civil wars in Syria and Yemen. Beyond the Security Council, the U.N. has sprouted additional specialized agencies to address specific issues—health, women’s rights and refugees, among others—that have met with varied degrees of success. In some instances, they have been able to galvanize global action around urgent goals, like UNAIDS’ work curbing the international AIDS crisis. But many of those agencies are now also facing funding shortages that could severely curtail their work, not least the World Health Organization, which is leading the global coronavirus response.

‘Hack The Army’ Uncovers 238 Cyber Vulnerabilities


The bug bounty event, which began in January and ran for six weeks, invited military and civilian security researchers to find vulnerabilities within a limited time frame. This allows the Army to proactively fix the prospective cyber targets, ideally before a bad guy can exploit them.

For perspective, Hack the Pentagon found 138 unique, validated vulnerabilities in 2017, Hack The Army found 118 late fall, and Hack the Air Force found 207, according to a story Sydney did on the program.

“We cannot afford a ‘next time we will do better’ mentality. I strongly believe a proactive approach is critical, which means finding potential problems and addressing them before they are realized,” said the Defense Digital Service’s Maya Kuang, who participated.

This year’s event included 40 military and civilian participants. Eligible civilian security researchers received more than $150,000 in total bounty payouts.

How Does Facial Recognition Work?

James Andrew Lewis

Executive Summary
1. What Is Facial Recognition? Facial recognition is a way of using software to determine the similarity between two face images in order to evaluate a claim. The technology is used for a variety of purposes, from signing a user into their phone to searching for a particular person in a database of photos.

2. What Is Facial Characterization? Facial characterization refers to the practice of using software to classify a single face according to its gender, age, emotion, or other characteristics. Facial classification is distinct from facial recognition, whose purpose is instead to compare two different faces. Facial characterization is often confused with facial recognition in popular reporting, but they are actually distinct technologies. Many claims about the dangers of facial recognition are actually talking about characterization.

3. How Does Facial Recognition Work? Facial recognition uses computer-generated filters to transform face images into numerical expressions that can be compared to determine their similarity. These filters are usually generated by using deep “learning,” which uses artificial neural networks to process data.

Out of Sight Should Not Mean Out of Reach: Deterrence and the Proliferation of Hard and Deeply Buried Targets

Michaela Dodge

It has been almost two decades since the U.S. government had an extensive public discussion of the issue of having a nuclear capability to destroy hard and deeply buried targets (HDBTs). HDBTs can range from hardened surface bunkers to underground tunnels, with purposes that vary from protecting civilian and military leaders, weapons, industry personnel, and command, control, and communication nodes (among others). A majority of HDBTs are less than 250 meters deep but a few are as much as 500-700 meters deep in granite or limestone rock.[1] Many of these targets cannot be reliably held at risk by conventional weapons.

During the Cold War, the United States developed some capabilities to destroy HDBTs, particularly in the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, but the 1990s brought concerns over newly-armed nuclear weapon states, especially North Korea (technically still at war with U.S. ally South Korea). Additionally, advancements in conventional precision munitions and their increased lethality drove countries like Iran and China to redouble their efforts to protect what they value by building deeper and more hardened bunkers.[2] U.S. efforts to improve its HDBT capabilities have not made significant progress since the 1990s when the B61 Mod 11 nuclear weapon entered service. In the interim, adversaries have improved their hardening and tunneling capabilities. These developments likely diminish the U.S. ability to threaten what adversaries value most, which is an essential component of a credible deterrent posture.