17 May 2024

Is The US Blackmailing India Over Assassination Allegations To Be More Hostile Toward China And Russia? – OpEd

Finian Cunningham

The United States and its Western allies have stepped up a media campaign to accuse India of running an assassination policy targeting expatriate dissidents.

The government of Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, has furiously denied the allegations, saying there is no such policy.

Nevertheless, the American Biden administration as well as Canada, Britain and Australia continue to demand accountability over claims that New Delhi is engaging in “transnational repression” of spying, harassing and killing Indian opponents living in Western states.

The accusations have severely stained political relations. The most fractious example is Canada. After Premier Justin Trudeau publicly accused Indian state agents of involvement in the murder of an Indian-born Canadian citizen last year, New Delhi expelled dozens of Canadian diplomats.

President Biden, ISIS-K is ramping up its terror. You must ramp up our response

If I were to describe a president who, acting on a long held belief but purportedly responding to the American public’s war-weariness, orders the withdrawal of all American troops and leaving no residual force in a country besieged by diminished but resilient terror groups whose ambitions include attacks against the American homeland, you might assume I was referring to August 2021, but it also describes events from late 2011.

At that time President Barack Obama tasked Gen. Lloyd Austin—the same person who, as Secretary of Defense under Biden, oversaw the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal—with orchestrating the full removal of American forces from Iraq. This withdrawal created a void that ISIS capitalized on, transforming in just few short years from nascent, scattered cells into a deadly terrorist network.

Though President Obama famously called ISIS "the JV team" in an interview with The New Yorker, the terror group went on to establish a physical caliphate that encompassed large swaths of Iraq and Syria. Their acts of terrorism stood out for their barbarism – the beheading of journalists, mass executions of Iraqi soldiers, and burning victims alive. They also demonstrated a capacity to conduct complex terrorist attacks abroad, slaughtering innocents in Paris, Istanbul, and Manchester, England, among other locations.

Myanmar policy at a crossroads

Morgan Michaels

On 11 April regime soldiers withdrew from the last outpost guarding Myawaddy, a critical trading town on the Myanmar–Thailand border, following an almost month-long siege by opposition forces. While it was eventually able to push back its opponent with the help of airpower and the local Border Guard Force, the episode at Myawaddy underscored the junta’s increasingly precarious grip on many of Myanmar’s most strategic areas. Though it was at the peak of its might just before the February 2021 military coup, the Myanmar army’s survival looks increasingly uncertain.

With the balance of power shifting in Myanmar, the region must confront a new reality marked by a receding regime and the rise of various non-state armed groups in control of different parts of the country. As Myanmar fragments, the question of how and with whom international stakeholders should engage becomes increasingly complex. Myanmar’s neighbours face unique conditions and concerns due to the variety of conflict actors and dynamics in the country. As such, international responses to the conflict remain disjointed and divergent.

Beware forecasts of doom for Taiwan under Lai

Ryan Hass

As the May 20 inauguration of William Lai as Taiwan’s next president approaches, prepare for an anticipable wave of news analyses predicting escalating tensions and potential conflict on the horizon. Lai famously referred to himself as a “pragmatic worker for Taiwan independence.” And since Beijing has threatened to go to war to prevent Taiwan independence, so the thinking goes, Lai’s inauguration could spell impending trouble.

Such analysis is easy to write and almost certainly wrong. Lai is not a wild-eyed zealot with a one-track-minded focus on Taiwan independence. He is a professional politician who has organized his career around becoming Taiwan’s president. Now that he has ascended to Taiwan’s top elected position, he will want to win reelection. To do so, he almost certainly will need to tack to the center of Taiwan’s political spectrum rather than cater to the wishes of a small minority of Taiwan voters who favor throwing caution to the wind in service of Taiwan independence or unification. Indeed, less than 6 percent of Taiwan’s voters support “the immediate pursuit of independence from, or unification with, the People’s Republic of China.”

China vows to take ‘all necessary actions’ in response to Biden’s tariffs

Wayne Chang and Mark Thompson

China has vowed to resolutely defend its interests in the face of huge new US tariffs and warned that the trade barriers would affect the wider relationship between the two economic superpowers.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced that tariffs on $18 billion worth of imports of Chinese electric vehicles and an array of other products would soar over the next two years.

The White House said the measures were designed to protect American workers and businesses in the face of China’s unfair trade practices, including “flooding global markets with artificially low-priced exports.”

China “firmly opposes” the new tariffs, the country’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement.

The Day After Iran Gets the Bomb

Stephen M. Walt

Will Iran ever acquire nuclear weapons? What would happen if it did? The answer to the first question seems increasingly to be yes. The second question, however, is as unclear as ever.

The Logic of Hungary

George Friedman

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece about mass demonstrations in Budapest in which protesters expressed resentment against alleged financial corruption running rampant through the country – corruption they believed the government was involved in or at least indifferent to.

The protests were enormous, peaking at a reported 100,000 participants. There have been four or five more demonstrations since, some in mid-sized towns where the ruling party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has strong support. I remember similarly large uprisings in other countries such as in France in 1968, when demonstrations, unable to be put down by security services, forced Charles de Gaulle from office. In Budapest, the protesters appeared to be anti-Orban, but police were generally trying to maintain the peace, rather than trying to forcibly remove them.

To me, it seemed as though Orban’s control was slipping given that there was no evidence of his own resistance. I was wrong – something I am morally required to admit. My mistake was in failing to recognize the difference between Budapest 2024 and Paris 1968. It is not that the demonstrations were insufficient, nor that the matter is closed. In fact, this weekend there were more demonstrations in the provincial town of Debrecen.

Why the Georgian people are rebellin

Georgia is in tumult. In the face of huge popular opposition, and even brawling among MPs, the ruling Georgian Dream coalition government has forced its Transparency of Foreign Influence Bill through parliament.

For several days, tens of thousands of people have filled the streets of the capital, Tbilisi, in protest against a law that will require all NGOs and media outlets that receive more than 20 per cent of their funding from abroad to register as ‘agents of foreign influence’. No doubt many object to the chilling effect the law will have on public debate, with dissenters potentially demonised as, well, ‘agents of foreign influence’.

In a sense, however, it’s not the bill itself that has driven so many Georgians to courageously face down their own amassed security forces. Yes, it is an illiberal piece of legislation, modelled, in part, on Russian president Vladimir Putin’s characteristically authoritarian foreign-agent law, introduced in 2012 and revised in 2022. But it’s hardly a remarkable piece of legislation. It’s worth remembering that such laws have been enacted in the West, too. Putin himself was following a trail blazed by America, which introduced its own Foreign Agents Registration Act way back in 1938 – all as part of an attempt to combat the influence of Nazi Germany in the US. Furthermore, the EU is now also planning its own law regulating ‘foreign influence’. As indeed is the UK. Laws regulating ‘foreign influence’ are all the rage, it seems, in these geopolitically fractious times.

Hamas’s Secret Plan to Establish Terror Base in Turkey: Report

The Hamas terrorist organization planned to establish a secret operating base in Turkey to launch attacks against Israeli targets throughout the region, according to captured documents seen by The Times of London.

The printed materials, titled “Founding a Base in Turkey,” were reportedly discovered by IDF forces in the home of senior Hamas leader Hamza Abu Shanab.

The unnamed author of the proposal suggests that because of the pressure placed on the group by Israel, “there is no choice but to act with a major effort to establish military hubs, which will be the base for special operations that can strengthen the forces of resistance militarily, diplomatically, and morally."

"Therefore, we suggest establishing a security branch abroad that will be capable of carrying out intelligence and military operations in the future.”

The newspaper reported that arrangements would be undertaken in a three-year program to develop ways to train for assassination, kidnapping, and sabotage missions against the interests of the Jewish state.

Unraveling the Zero-Sum in West-Russia Relations: The Case of Ukraine

André Hantke

As the war in Ukraine entered its third year, French President Emmanuel Macron gave in March a television interview that looked deep down into the state of West-Russia relations. Underlining the existential meaning of the war for France and Europe, Macron stressed that a Ukrainian defeat would jeopardize the stability of European security.

Macron signaled readiness to do everything to ensure that Russia cannot win the war—including sending troops. The French President’s statements were largely representative of the current situation between NATO countries and Russia. That Russia must not win the war has become a repeated phrase. This suggests a zero-sum mindset where gains for one side equate to losses for the other.

Accordingly, a Russian victory would not only endanger the survival of Ukraine but also precipitate an incalculable loss of security for the West since there could be no certainty about President Putin’s strategic objectives. Western observers argue that losing Ukraine could drag NATO into a permanent state of war in Europe. Since the outbreak of war in 2022, the Western debate has focused on supporting Ukraine against the perceived Russian aggression.

Europe gears up for war

David Averre

Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 saw the horrors of a large-scale war darken Europe's doorstep for the first time since the end of World War II.

For a short while, hope endured that a swift resolution to the conflict would materialise, but before long the prospect of a speedy diplomatic solution lay in tatters as Moscow's drones and missiles continued to batter Ukraine's cities.

Now more than two years into the conflict, Vladimir Putin has doubled down.

His forces have made noticeable gains on the frontlines in recent weeks as they pressure war-weary and ammo-starved Ukrainian defenders, and his decision to appoint civilian economist Andrei Belousov as defence minister suggests the Kremlin is committed to sustaining its war economy over the long run.

Lenin 100 Hundred Years Later

Daniel J. Mahoney

It has been a century since Vladimir Lenin, the father of the Soviet State, died in 1924 at the age of fifty-three, a victim of poor health and multiple strokes. He was once considered by Communists everywhere as a theoretician of the rank of Karl Marx, a philosopher and ideologist of the first order. But as the French political thinker Raymond Aron aptly noted, Lenin’s writings are of little philosophical interest, since hate and ideological fiat motivate them from beginning to end.

A narodnik or populist supporter of revolutionary violence turned Marxist doctrinaire, Lenin never ceased to ask the question “Kto-kogo”?,” “Who/Whom?,” that is, who would benefit from any particular choice or maneuver? Struggle was everything. Compromise or coalition building was completely alien to his conception of human and political life. He despised what he derided as economism, the view that working people and trade unions could promote their interests through participation in normal political and economic activity. He hated “social democracy,” or any effort to accommodate socialism to free politics or parliamentary procedures.

How strong is Hamas?


"Does Hamas still exist militarily? Yes. Is it organised? No. The path to completely dismantling them goes on."

That was the view of a senior Israeli military official in March this year, but two months later – and more than seven months since the 7 October attack that led to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pledge to "eliminate" the Islamist group – Israel has "failed to destroy Hamas as a military and political force" Beverley Milton-Edwards, co-author of a forthcoming book "HAMAS", wrote in The Times.

What did the commentators say?

At the time of the surprise assault that claimed the lives of more than 1,200 people and saw hundreds more taken hostage, Israel put Hamas's military strength at between 30,000 and 40,000 fighters.

Putin to meet Xi in Beijing as world convulses from global conflicts

Simone McCarthy

Chinese leader Xi Jinping will welcome Vladimir Putin to China on Thursday for the Russian president’s second visit in less than a year – the latest sign of their growing alignment amid hardening global fault lines as conflict devastates Gaza and Russia makes advances in Ukraine.

Putin will arrive in China just over a week since entering a new term in office, extending his autocratic rule until 2030 – the result of an election without any true opposition.

His visit, set to take place May 16-17, according to Chinese state media, mirrors Xi’s own state visit to Moscow just over a year ago, where he marked the norm-shattering start of a new term as president – like Putin, after rewriting rules around how long leaders can serve.

Their meeting comes months ahead of the American presidential elections and as Washington faces mounting international backlash over its support for Israel’s war on Gaza. It’s set to provide a platform for the leaders to discuss how all this can advance their shared ambition to degrade and offer an alternative to American power.

Every Marine A Drone Defender Under Three Part Counter-UAS Plan


Despite daunting technological challenges with no clear solution, the Marine Corps is forging ahead with a comprehensive counter-drone strategy that leaders say will have a role for every service member, whether infantry or those in administration.

Of the three components of the Corps' drone defense plan, as laid out by officers leading the effort at the Modern Day Marine Expo in Washington, D.C., that wrapped up on May 2, the unit protection tranche is the most developed. Some eight years after officers deployed to the Middle East began citing an urgent need for a weapon that would dispatch hostile unmanned aerial systems, the service is now getting close to fielding the vehicle-based Marine Air Defense Integrated System, or MADIS, and L-MADIS, its lighter counterpart specialized for ship defense.

An early version of L-MADIS made headlines in 2019 when it shot down an Iranian drone from the deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer during its operational debut. The current system is designed to be mounted on two Polaris MRZR all-terrain vehicles and be transportable via MV-22 Osprey or CH-53 Super Stallion/King Stallion.

Russia recruiting far-Right extremists to launch attacks in the West

Sean Rayment

Russia is recruiting far-Right extremists to carry out attacks in the UK and Nato countries, The Telegraph understands.

Intelligence sources have said that terrorists recruited by Russian GRU agents have been responsible for a series of attacks in Western Europe and the US in the last six months.

The Telegraph understands that extremists are being recruited by undercover officers of the GRU – the Russian military intelligence service – and members of the mercenary group Wagner.

It comes after the expulsion of Col Maxim Elovik, the Russian defence attache to the UK, who is believed to be a GRU operative.

An intelligence source told National Security News: “The GRU are cultivating a network of Right-wing terrorists to deploy against Nato targets.

U.S. spending on interest tops national defense, Medicare

Brett Rowland 

Congress has spent more money on interest so far this year than it has spent on both national defense and Medicare.

Spending on net interest hit $514 billion in the first seven months of fiscal year 2024. That's more than spending on both national defense ($498 billion) and Medicare ($465 billion). Medicare is the federal health insurance program for those 65 and older and younger people with disabilities. During the same time period, the U.S. spent $873 billion on Social Security, the federal program that provides retirement, disability, survivor, and family benefits to more than 67 million Americans.

Overall spending has totaled $3.9 trillion so far this fiscal year.

"Spending on interest is also more than all the money spent this year on veterans, education, and transportation combined," according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Navy ship ran aground when officer went to dinner, investigation finds

Jonathan Lehrfeld

A Navy cargo ship that ran aground in Bahrain last year experienced the mishap while a top officer briefly stepped away for dinner, a summary of a service investigation revealed.

The dry cargo ship Alan Shepard, a Military Sealift Command vessel, was on its way for repairs ahead of sea trials when it hit ground near the Middle Eastern island country’s Khalifa Bin Salman Port on July 15, 2023, according to the report, which a spokesperson from Naval Forces Central Command shared with Military Times Wednesday.

The investigation, which wrapped up last August, found that within roughly 20 minutes of the ship’s master leaving to eat, a loss of situational awareness and poor procedural compliance led to the grounding.

Adekeye Adebajo Says More

Adekeye Adebajo: Halting the trend toward “global apartheid” is becoming more difficult almost by the day, and Israel’s war in Gaza is a key reason why.

Much of the Global South sees Western governments (and some media) as not just condoning, but actively supporting Israel’s aggressive offensive, which has already killed over 35,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children. This gives an impression of real hypocrisy, as those same governments decry Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Winning support for the fight against Russia – including in the United Nations General Assembly, where a majority of members come from the Global South – will remain an uphill battle, as long as countries can hold Gaza up as a mirror to Western countries. Heavy-handed police responses to pro-Palestinian protests on American college campuses do not help matters, as they invite accusations that the United States is failing to live up to the principles of free speech that it preaches to the rest of the world.

It is because of such developments that the 120-strong Non-Aligned Movement is gaining renewed relevance. After the Cold War, this grouping struggled to define a role for itself in a US-dominated unipolar world. But the global order is evolving, and China – which has traditionally worked with NAM countries at the UN – has gained superpower status. In the emerging new order, NAM countries will seek to maintain more distance from China.

PS: You have pointed out that UN peacekeepers have a “credibility problem” in Africa, despite the “integral role” the UN has played in “restoring peace and democratic rule” in some countries. Where have UN peacekeeping missions in Africa been most effective, and why did they succeed?

AA: First, I should stress that UN peacekeeping missions are, by their very nature, short-term fixes. The objective is to give warring parties the time and space they need to devise long-term solutions to their security challenges. But these long-term solutions – including activities such as rebuilding state institutions, restructuring security forces, and reintegrating soldiers into local communities – cost money. Insufficient funding for peacebuilding efforts is a major reason why countries often slide back into conflict.

Facing Russian Advance, a Top Ukrainian General Paints a Bleak Picture

Constant Méheut, Maria Varenikova and Michael Schwirtz

Ukraine’s military is confronting a “critical” situation in the country’s northeast, facing troop shortages as it tries to repel a Russian offensive that has been advancing for several days, a top Ukrainian general said on Monday.

Russian troops surged across the border last week to open a new line of attack near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city after Kyiv, capturing at least nine settlements and villages and forcing thousands of civilians to flee.

“The situation is on the edge,” Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said in a video call from a bunker in Kharkiv. “Every hour this situation moves toward critical.”

An Army drone branch? Idea advances in House subcommittee


The Army would gain a drone branch under proposed language in the 2025 defense authorization bill, a move intended to further professionalize the field and put it on par with the service’s other disciplines.

The Army currently fields 22 branches, from air defense artillery to transportation. The branches are the building blocks of the Army, with each job, or military occupational specialty, organized under a branch.

The change is proposed in the version of the 2025 policy bill advanced by the tactical and land forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

In addition to drone operation, the branch would also handle counter-drone work, said a congressional staffer, speaking on background. The branch would address “not only small UASs”—unmanned aerial systems—“but also counter-small-UAS capabilities,” the staffer said.


Shane Reilly

In April 1966, one year after US conventional forces’ entry into Vietnam, the Army chief of staff, General Harold K. Johnson, and the Air Force chief of staff, General John P. McConnell, signed a capabilities memo that influenced battlefield transportation into the twenty-first century. General Johnson agreed “to relinquish all claims for CV-2 and CV-7 aircraft and for future fixed-wing aircraft designed for tactical airlift” (exceptions were made for “administrative mission support fixed wing aircraft”). In return, General McConnell relinquished “all [Air Force] claims for helicopters and follow-on rotary wing aircraft which are designed and operated for intratheater movement, fire support, supply, and resupply of Army Forces.”

This agreement was one of several that shaped aviation operations within the Department of Defense. The 1948 Key West Agreement separated the carrier-borne mission from that of the Air Force, for instance, and a 1952 memorandum signed by Secretary of the Army Frank Pace, Jr. and Secretary of the Air Force Thomas K. Finletter also specified rotary- and fixed-wing roles for each service. Coming after those, the 1966 agreement signaled that the Army was out of the fixed-wing business, and in the decades since an idea has taken root that it should be. 

Perplexity AI: has Google finally met its match?


Starting a search business has long "been a nearly impossible hill to climb", said industry news site Digiday, because new contenders are "invariably up against" the "Mt. Everest" of Google. But a start-up called Perplexity AI is aiming to reach that peak by using artificial intelligence to offer answers to questions rather than simply links.

What is the new product?

Recently valued at $1 billion, Perplexity AI is the creation of Aravind Srinivas. After interning at OpenAI and Google's DeepMind, both of which became leaders in generative artificial intelligence, Srinivas co-founded his challenger tool, which provides fast, Wikipedia-like responses to search queries. So it's "bye bye" to the "10 blue links" of Google, said The Verge, and "hello direct answers to all my weird questions about the world".

It’s the End of Google Search As We Know It


Google Search is about to fundamentally change—for better or worse. To align with Alphabet-owned Google’s grand vision of artificial intelligence, and prompted by competition from AI upstarts like ChatGPT, the company’s core product is getting reorganized, more personalized, and much more summarized by AI.

At Google’s annual I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California, today, Liz Reid showed off these changes, setting her stamp early on in her tenure as the new head of all things Google search. (Reid has been at Google a mere 20 years, where she has worked on a variety of search products.) Her AI-soaked demo was part of a broader theme throughout Google’s keynote, led primarily by CEO Sundar Pichai: AI is now underpinning nearly every product at Google, and the company only plans to accelerate that shift.

OSINT overdose: Intelligence agencies seek new ways to manage surge of open-source intel


WASHINGTON — AI-powered machine translation, big data analytics, and now large language models are sucking up data from social media, smartphones and other “open source” to generate unprecedented amounts of open-source intelligence. That means the 18 agencies of the Intelligence Community need new contracting and technical approaches to tap the rising power of OSINT without being overwhelmed by it, IC officials said last week.

“It’s amazing what’s there. It also scares me,” said Randall Nixon, director of the Open Source Enterprise at the CIA, which leads the IC as “functional manager” for OSINT. “The next intelligence failure could easily be an OSINT failure, because there’s so much out there.”

It’s often overwhelming for analysts just to pull together the OSINT they already have access to and put it in context of classified information, said Casey Blackburn, assistant director for emerging technology at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “We need to integrate that open source into the environments where our people work,” he said. “As long as analysts … have to separate their attention between multiple different terminals of unintegrated information, we will never take full advantage of open source.”

“We can do it securely,” Blackburn emphasized. It’s not technology that’s the problem, he said: “It’s acquisition and process and something of policy that’s getting in the way right now.”

“We have to change our model, our approach, our way of obtaining information, our way of purchasing information,” agreed Jason Barrett, the IC-wide open source intelligence executive at ODNI. “It’s not up to the commercial sector at this point to come to us. It’s up to the government to start to change how we do our business.”