1 April 2015

Closing the military loop

April 1, 2015 

In remarks made last month, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar created a buzz in strategic circles when he accepted the need for appointing a chief of defence staff (CDS) on the grounds that “the integration of the three forces does not exist in the existing structure”. Without naming a date, he said that he needed some time “to work it out” and would bring up a note before the Cabinet Committee on Security within the next two to three months.

While giving hope to the (small) community of military reformers, the statement is also a cause for some alarm. The last thing India needs is a rush to a quick-fix solution imagined behind closed doors by a small team of bureaucrats — civilian or military. Parrikar should instead, if necessary, take a little while longer and implement a well-thought-out plan and also take advantage of a once-in-a-generation constellation of factors to transform the Indian military.

A bridge too far - Public-private partnerships have not worked so far

April 1 , 2015 

For 44 years since Independence, India has been a socialist country. This meant that public ownership was considered better for society. Private ownership was profit seeking. Profits were not held to be in the public interest. They meant exploitation of a very large and poverty-stricken population. So private investors were rigidly controlled by the government and taxed heavily to make a more equal society.

Simultaneously, many schemes gave free or cheap goods and services to the 'poor'. These policies to divide a small gross domestic product cake into equal parts led to poor economic growth, inhibition of enterprise, tax evasion on a large scale, corruption, favours given to crony business persons, monopolies and oligopolies, with market dominance leading to consumer exploitation, and growing differentials in living standards.

‘Building ties for the 21st century’

April 1, 2015 

Interview with Le Yucheng, Chinese Ambassador to India, who emphasises a new type of relationship with New Delhi that is based on win-win cooperation

On the eve of the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and India on April 1, 1950, the Chinese Ambassador to India, Le Yucheng, in written answers provided to a set of questions posed bySrinivasan Ramani, emphasised the need for a renewal of China-India ties in tune with the realities of the 21st century. Excerpts follow. Later, in an interaction in Chennai, the Ambassador identified several areas, which he suggested present new avenues for cooperation between India and China. These include infrastructure development and regional security apart from already expanding ties.

The West and its flawed anti-IS strategy

Suhasini Haidar
April 1, 2015

If the West genuinely wants to fight terror and promote a peaceful future in the troubled West Asia region, it will have to confront its selective silence and dual standard on the serious challenges that threaten the region today.

If there are any doubts about a global double standard when it comes to West Asia, then the reaction to the bombing of Yemen by Saudi Arabia and its partners will put them to rest. Here is a situation, where fighter jets of a Saudi-led coalition are pounding the capital of another country, Sana'a, without seeking any international mandate, and there is absolute silence from those who should object.

The great game folio: Pakistan in Yemen

By C Raja Mohan
March 31, 2015 
Source Link

Islamabad is under pressure from Saudi Arabia to join the military operations by the Sunni coalition that Riyadh is leading against the Iran-backed Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen. But there is little popular support in Pakistan for jumping into a war that has acquired such a sharp sectarian edge.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was summoned a few weeks ago to Riyadh as King Salman considered muscular options to reverse the Houthi advances in Yemen. Besides Pakistan’s longstanding special relationship with Saudi Arabia, Sharif personally owes much to the House of Saud that saved him from the wrath of General Pervez Musharraf after the army ousted him in a coup at the end of 1999.

Although supporting Riyadh will certainly bring some rewards for Pakistan, it also complicates relations with Iran, with which it shares a long and increasingly restive border. Further, Pakistan’s borders with India and Afghanistan are unstable and the army has enough on its hands countering the Islamist insurgency at home. A military adventure far from the borders, many in Pakistan argue, makes little strategic sense.

With Saudi Arabia now so fearful of a rising Iran, it is quite clearly Pakistan’s payback time. And Yemen could mark the beginning of a new and more significant phase in Pakistan’s involvement in the security politics of the Gulf.

India and the Culture of Innovation

By Asit K. Biswas and Kris Hartley
March 30, 2015

“Everyone under 18 has only one guru, Google guru,”said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a Nasscom event in early March. He insisted that India’s IT industry, where innovation plays a critical role, is successful because government is “not there anywhere.” By implying that state participation stifles industry growth, this widespread sentiment belittles industrial planning and the promotion of particular sectors or corporate champions. Does Modi’s statement about the absence of government support India’s commitment to R&D and innovative capacity? Innovation is a driver of national competitive advantage, and ultimately the individual is the primary source of innovation. Therefore, connecting human development and government intervention becomes a crucial task in supporting growth strategies.

Pakistan Using Its New Surveillance Drones to Spy on Indian Military Border Positions

Vimal Bhatia
March 30, 2015

JAISALMER: Pakistan Army through its unmanned air vehicle (UAV) named Jasoos is spying on the Indian security arrangements at Ganganagar, Bikaner and Jaisalmer area from across the border, said reliable sources. For last some days the activities of UAVs has increased.

During night time objects with red blinking light can be seen which is a subject of excitement and discussion among the security forces. These twinkling objects are nothing but Pakistan’s spying planes which are keeping an eye on India’s security arrangements and other activities.

Sources said that a few years ago Pakistan had developed UAVs with the help of America and Italy which are now being used. The activities of these UAV go on continuously across the Indian border opposite Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Ganganagar area in Rajasthan. These UAVs during daytime can be traced by the line of smoke that they leave behind.

Why Are American Military and CIA Operatives Staying On in Afghanistan?

March 29, 2015

Now that President Obama has decided to slow the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, he and the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, have an obligation to prove that the additional American investment will be worth it. It will not be easy, and it may not be possible. For more than a decade, the Afghan government has stubbornly resisted taking most of the political, economic and military steps needed to put the country on a firm footing.

Mr. Obama’s decision to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan at least through 2015 is a change from his previous plan to cut that force in half by the end of the year. Administration officials said it was a response to the expected resurgence of the Taliban in the spring fighting season and the need to continue training and assisting the struggling Afghan security forces.

Pakistan: Hapless (and hopeless?) status of minorities

By R. Banerji
Mar 24, 2015

Twin suicide attacks which occurred outside the Catholic St. John’s Church, Lahore and the Protestant Christ Church, half a mile away, on Sunday March 15 morning, killing at least 15 persons only confirmed the status of siege and persecution Christians in Pakistan, as indeed other hapless minorities have been living with in Pakistan. Their status worsened after the introduction of blasphemy laws to drastically alter the 1973 constitution during Zia ul Haq’s authoritarian rule, between 1980-1987.

In September 2013, the famous All Saints Church in Peshawar, built in 1883 in a unique design of an Islamic Saracenic mosque with a dome and minarets, located in the Kohati gate area of the old walled city, was attacked by suicide bombers during a crowded mass service, killing at least 87, including 37 children.

Pakistan troops to join anti-Houthi coalition


Islamabad, March 30 (Agencies): Pakistan will send troops to Saudi Arabia to join the coalition against Yemeni Houthi rebels, a senior government official said today.

"We have already pledged full support to Saudi Arabia in its operation against rebels and will join the coalition," the official said.

Pakistan is a regional ally of Saudi Arabia, the main Sunni power in the Gulf.

A Saudi-led military coalition is conducting air strikes against Shia Houthi forces in Yemen.

A Pakistani team, to be led by defence minister Khawaja Asif and foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz, had been due to arrive in Saudi Arabia today but delayed the trip at the request of the Saudis, the official said.

India’s Key to Sri Lanka: Maritime Infrastructure Development

By Nilanthi Samaranayake
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent trip to Sri Lanka highlights New Delhi’s reawakening to the strategic position that Sri Lanka holds in India’s neighborhood. Since 2008, India has watched as China built port facilities, highways, and other major infrastructure in Sri Lanka. People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy warships have also paid port visits to Sri Lanka, even taking in Trincomalee, where India has been sensitive to any extraregional presence for decades. Most recently, in September and October 2014, New Delhi became unsettled at the sight of a conventional Chinese submarine and a tender ship openly paying port visits in Colombo on the way to counterpiracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden. Despite the public nature of the docking and advance notice, Indian policymakers appeared to be taken by surprise and feared India had lost strategic ground to China regarding Sri Lanka. In essence, how did India go from once being offered the opportunity by Sri Lanka to develop Hambantota harbor to being caught off guard by Chinese submarine visits in its backyard?

China's Air Force Conducts Exercise Between Taiwan and the Philippines

March 31, 2015

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force carried out a one-day exercise over the Bashi Channel. 
On Monday, China’s air force held its first exercise in western Pacific Ocean airspace. As reported by the South China Morning Post, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) carried out drills in the air over the Bashi Channel, the body of water between Taiwan and the Philippines archipelago, considered the rim of the first island chain. The purpose of the exercise was to boost the PLAAF’s capability to carry out far-sea operations.

Little is known about the specifics of the exercise. Colonel Shen Jinke, the PLAAF spokesperson who was quoted by a Chinese military news outlet, gave little information about the number of aircraft involved or specific types. The PLA Daily‘s English-language article on the exercise was accompanied by pictures of PLAAF “new-type” strategic bombers, suggesting the exercise could have had a strategic bombing focus.

Evolution of China’s Military Strategy

31 Mar , 2015

Some of the major events of the recent past, that have influenced Chinese strategists in seeking a contemporary military strategy have been the Tiananmen incident of 1989; the weakening and then the fall of the Soviet Union; the Gulf War; the NATO operation in Kosovo and bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade; the imposition of the “No Fly Zone” in Iraq coupled with the punitive air strikes; and the creation of the state of East Timor through international intervention.

The traditional model for the sequential evolution of doctrine through the stages of weapon development, procurement and its effective deployment is as given below:



Traditional Model of Evolution of China's Military Doctrine

Taiwan's Master Plan to Defeat China in a War

March 31, 2015 

A consensus seems to have developed among a large number of defense analysts in recent years arguing that despite the balance of power having shifted in China’s favor, Beijing has no intention to use its military to invade Taiwan and thus resolve the Taiwan “question” once and for all. Doing so would be too costly, some argue, while others contend that Beijing can accomplish unification by creating enough economic dependence and incentives to convince Taiwanese over time of the “inevitability” of a “reunited” China.

Although these factors certainly militate against the desire to go to war over the island-nation, we cannot altogether discount the probability that the Chinese military would be called into action, especially if the rationale for launching an attack were framed in terms of a defensive war—China being “forced” to take action because of changing and “untenable” circumstances in its environment.

What does China having the largest GDP mean?


In assessing swings in the balance of power, economic reductionism is tempting but very misleading. To be sure, countries with a large gross domestic product (GDP) sometimes convert some of those economic resources into military power, and sometimes they actually use that military power in ways that upset the existing order. But there is no inevitability here. To take a current example, just because China will soon have the largest GDP in the world does not necessarily mean that it will seek to overturn the East Asian status quo. What will be important are the choices that Chinese leaders make about how to use their country’s growing economic clout. (Note: these estimates are on a purchasing power parity basis, which many economists believe makes an economy bigger than it actually is. But that’s a topic for a future commentary.)

Chinese Nationals Evacuate Yemen on PLA Navy Frigate

March 30, 2015

As the violence in Yemen worsens, with Saudi Arabia leading air strikes against Houthi forces, China has joined a number of countries in evacuating personnel from the country. China sent a PLA Navy frigate, the Weifang, to Yemen to assist in evacuations. According toXinhua, 449 Chinese citizens, plus six citizens of other countries, left Yemen Monday aboard the Weifang. An additional 122 Chinese citizens left on Sunday from the port of Aden, where Chinese warships were also used to help carry evacuees to safety.

According to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, the navy vessels were diverted from their primary mission, conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden, to conduct the evacuation. The 122 citizens who left Yemen on Sunday were taken to Djibouti, where the Chinese Embassy is helping arrange their return to China. The Chinese government “places great importance on the safety of Chinese citizens and entities in Yemen,” Hua said, noting that the evacuation operation began in earnest as the security situation “abruptly deteriorated” on Thursday.

China and Russia: Two Approaches to Integration

By Marcin Kaczmarski
March 30, 2015

The Eurasian Economic Union and the New Silk Road represent two very different approaches in Central Asia. 

The Eurasian Economic Union and the New Silk Road are two major foreign policy projects which Russia and China, respectively, have been pursuing since the early 2010s. The initiatives are the pet projects of the two states’ leaders.

Vladimir Putin proposed the Eurasian integration in October 2011, while running for his third presidential term. In an article published in Izvestia, Putin sketched out his ambitious vision of a Russian-led political-economic bloc in the post-Soviet space. Russia convinced Belarus and Kazakhstan to sign up to the project the following month but it took another three years to sign the treaty establishing the Eurasian Economic Union. 2015 marked the official inauguration of the union, which was almost immediately enlarged to include Armenia.

What China's hiked defence spending means for India

March 23, 2015

Assuming the official defence allocations represent the true picture, the $142 billion figure still represents a phenomenal increase and surpasses that of Japan ($42 billion), India ($40 billion), South Korea ($33 billion) and several other Asian countries put together and shows that China is flexing its military muscle, says Srikanth Kondapalli.

The latest hike in China's defence budget allocations to about $142 billion represent double digit increase -- a feature consistently maintained for the last more than two decades to make China the second largest defence spender in the world after the United States.

Rewarding Iran with a Bad Deal

March 31, 2015

Concerns with the deal designed to curb with the Islamic Republic's nuclear program have centered around the long-term dangers of the agreement. Aside from technical and oversight issues, the key focus has been on whether to suspend or terminate the crippling sanctions that brought the Islamic Republic to the negotiating table. But what about the immediate impact of lifting sanctions on Tehran? Rarely mentioned is the P5+1 group's plan to unfreeze more than $150 billion of Iran's restricted foreign assets as a first step toward sanctions relief. The intended move was revealed a few weeks ago by a European source close to P5+1 diplomats involved in the negotiations. BBC Farsi published a telling statement by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on March 28: "If there is an agreement, it is possible that the president would use his powers to temporarily lift some of the sanctions so that if Iran fails in the verification process,we could reimpose the sanctions swiftly." Officials sounded a like note to the Associated Press on March 19: "A draft nuclear accord now being negotiated between the United States and Iran would force Iran to cut hardware it would use to make an atomic bomb by about 40 percent for at least a decade, while offering the Iranians immediate relief from sanctions that have crippled the economy."

Obama’s Coming Break with Israel

By REIHAN SALAM 
March 30, 2015 

First, let me just say that I hope Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post is wrong and that President Obama has no intention of making a dramatic break with Israel in the coming months. But alas, the story he tells is very convincing. According to Diehl, the Obama administration is getting ready to back a U.N. Security Council resolution that would, in his words, “mandate the solution to the questions Israelis and Palestinians have been unable to agree upon for decades, such as the future status of Jerusalem.” Why does this matter? If Israel rejects peace terms imposed on it by outsiders, the effort to turn the Jewish homeland into a pariah state will gain enormous ground. This is a consequence that the president must fully understand. If Obama’s champions are to be believed, he is a subtle strategic thinker with a deep understanding of history. So no, his efforts to radically remake our relationship with Israel isn’t a reflection of ignorance or a lack of familiarity with the basics of the conflict. If the president chooses to pursue this dangerous course, let no American who values our alliance with Israel, or for that matter our national honor, ever forget it.

Redux: How Yemen Buries Foreign Powers

March 31, 2015 

In response to pleas from Yemen’s deposed President Hadi and out of concern for the uncertainty of a Houthi-led government, Saudi Arabia announced the beginning of a bombing campaign against the tribes allied with the Houthi movement.

As the number of participants in the Saudi-led coalition increases to include Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and even the United States and Turkey, one cannot help but hear the echoes of international intervention in the 1962 Yemen civil war.

Iran Claims U.S. Airstrikes are Killing Its Men in Iraq


03.30.15 

The Iranian-trained Shia militias fighting around Tikrit say they’ve been hit several times, and Tehran says two of its advisers were killed. 

The fragility of the makeshift alliance battling to dislodge the militants of the so-called Islamic State from northwest and central Iraq was highlighted Monday when Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps accused the United States of killing two of its military advisers in a drone strike on the outskirts of the city of Tikrit—an accusation vehemently denied by the Pentagon. 

The claim came as U.S. airstrikes in the effort to boost the stalled Iraqi government assault on Tikrit continued to draw the anger of Shia militias that have spearheaded the offensive while the Iraqi army is being reconstituted.

Still Not Ready for Primetime: The Sloth-Like Iraqi Army Will Not Move

Rpd Nordland
March 29, 2015

TIKRIT, Iraq — Here at the headquarters of Iraqi ground forces, after three days of American airstrikes that at times witnesses here described as “carpet bombing,” Iraq’s military seemed in no great hurry on Saturday to press its advantage.

It also seemed to be moving very slowly on promises to withdraw Shiite militias from the battlefield.

An Iraqi Air Force C-130 carrying 150 fresh militia volunteers, a dozen federal police officers, a few soldiers back from leave and two American journalists landed here late in the morning. Although the intensive bombardment of the night had eased, within half an hour two large explosions rattled the windows of the Salahuddin Operations Command building as bombs dropped by unseen aircraft brought satisfied smiles from the assembled military men.

Is ISIS In Trouble In Iraq?

By Susanne Koelbl and Christoph Reuter 
March 29, 2015 

The trip from Baghdad to Tikrit remains extremely dangerous. There may be bombs planted along the road and snipers occasionally lurk nearby. As such, nobody knows for sure which car Iraqi Interior Minister Mohammed al-Ghabban is traveling. His convoy, protected by heavily armed soldiers, is heading north, driving by walls and schools where the black flag of Islamic State (IS) is still flying. And it passes through empty villages and past trenches that reflect the ongoing fighting. 

The minister is headed for the front-line city of Tikrit, 180 kilometers (110 miles) north of Baghdad, from which IS has been forced to retreat in recent days. Ghabban, 53, is a wiry man in a simple police uniform. He was jailed at the young age of 18 during the Saddam Hussein regime and later joined the Iran-founded Shiite Badr Party. Tikrit is a place of some significance for him. This is where the hated dictator was born and it is not far from where he is buried.

Where George W. Bush was right

March 26

Yemen’s descent into chaos — with jihadist groups jumping in to fill the vacuum of authority — has startled many observers. Just months ago, the White House was touting the country as a model for its anti-terrorism campaign. But Yemen’s trajectory should not surprise anyone. It follows a familiar pattern in the Arab world, one that we are likely to see again — possibly in larger and more significant countries like Egypt. 

Yemen was ruled for 33 years by a secular dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh. He ruthlessly suppressed opposition groups, especially those with a religious or sectarian orientation (in this case, the Houthis, who are Shiite). After 9/11, he cooperated wholeheartedly with Washington’s war on terrorism, which meant he got money, arms and training from the United States. 

Ukraine's Bloody Civil War: No End in Sight

March 31, 2015 

MOSCOW–After spending several days in and around Donetsk last week, I found it hard to escape the conclusion that the second Minsk ceasefire is rapidly unraveling. Nearly continuous artillery shelling and machine-gun fire could be heard for the better part of Thursday morning in the city’s Oktyabrskaya neighborhood, not far from the airport, where fighting is said to have continued without surcease.

The OSCE reported that the main railway station in the city was shelled on March 25, and a visit to it the day after showed that to be so. Rebel tanks could be seen participating in exercises on the rural outskirts of Donetsk on the 26th. The sound of sporadic artillery fire could be heard in the city’s centrally locatedLeninsky District well into the early hours of the 27th.

No Escape: America Should Join China's New Bank

March 31, 2015

China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) got several major boosts this past week, when the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey and South Korea all announced plans to join, in addition to India and others already on board. This wave of U.S. allies flocking to join the China-led financial institution demonstrates the limits of Washington’s influence over its allies, at least in financial matters, for U.S. diplomats have been working overtime in recent months to discourage its allies from joining the AIIB.

Russia's Armata Super Tank: Part of a Master Plan

March 30, 2015

In March, a Russian motorist filmed a very unusual (see below), camouflaged tank rolling down a street outside Moscow. Most likely, it was the mysterious T-14 — or Armata — heavy tank, which could represent a major evolution in Russian tank design.

The Kremlin has largely kept the T-14 under wraps, both literally and metaphorically. But we have a pretty good idea of what it can do.

The T-14 weighs around 50 tons and has a 1,500-horsepower gas turbine engine. The tank’s three-man crew operates the vehicle and its weapons from a capsule in the front. It doesn’t lack for protection — packing both composite and reactive armor.

Harvard Faculty Share Lessons from Work and Life


The Harvard Gazette’s Experience series is a collection of interviews with some of the University’s most accomplished faculty members, including multiple Pulitzer Prize winners and a recipient of the National Medal of Science.

The conversations range from the indispensable guidance of early mentors, to useful mistakes, to career turning-points, sometimes making contact with wider cultural and political forces, such as barriers of race and gender. Animating them as a whole is an exemplary commitment to teaching and scholarship and a passion for lifelong learning. 

A fatal wrong turn suspected at NSA

March 30 

The overnight tryst began in Baltimore, with three men, two dressed as women. It continued at a motel on U.S. 1, and when one of the men woke up Monday morning, his two cross-dressing companions, and his Ford Escape, were gone. 

The dark-colored Escape was headed south on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Its driver, in what authorities believe could have been a mistake, took a restricted exit leading to a security post at the sprawling campus of the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Md. 

An NSA statement said the driver ignored police commands to stop and instead accelerated toward a police vehicle as at least one officer opened fire. The stolen SUV crashed into the cruiser. One man died at the scene, and the other was taken to a hospital for treatment. An NSA officer also was injured, though officials did not say how. 

Lessons from the new threat environment from Sony, Anthem and ISIS


The cyberattack on Sony Pictures entertainment left plenty of roiled waters in its aftermath: lawsuits from employees whose personal information was leaked; apologies to President Obama and other subjects of hasty emails; U.S. sanctions against North Korea and a war of words back and forth; and the irony of Sony turning to the entity most identified in those emails as a threat to its content distribution model, Google, to distribute “The Interview.”

The Anthem hack exposed a record number of customers. Such a large-scale attack on health records rather than payments (as in the comparable Target attack) was new and raises questions as to just what information the hackers were seeking.

Modelling the mob: How computers can predict violence


The United States’ efforts to ‘win hearts and minds’ as it fought the Taliban in Afghanistan seem to have created a cruel and fatal paradox.

When political scientist Jason Lyall of Yale University in the United States surveyed the mood of villages strewn across the country’s southern provinces he found that those with the most pro-US feeling were the most likely to draw punishment attacks from the Taliban. Worse, the US was no more likely to find improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in those supportive villages. 

Cyber what? (part 2 of 2)


Mar 30, 2015

This is part two of a two part series on cyber space, cyber war and other concepts. (See part 1.)
All the different “cyber” terms sure are confusing and it’s no help that many of the terms used to describe the threat actor behind a cyber attack are often used interchangeably. In part I, we established what constitutes a “cyber attack” within “cyberspace”. Now the real fun begins – we’ll dissect the four most commonly confused terms: “cyber war,” cyber terrorism,” “cyber vandalism” and “cyber espionage” and provide a common lexicon. The objective is to dispel myths and, by establishing common understanding, provide a way for managers to cut to the chase and understand risk without all the FUD. The graph below shows the four terms and attributes at a glance.

Iran nuclear talks race towards deadline

By Siavosh Ghazi and Simon Sturdee
March 30, 2015

Global powers were due to gather with Iran Monday, seeking to slot into place the last pieces of a complex puzzle to curtail Tehran's nuclear programme as diplomats said tentative agreement on some parts had been reached.

US Secretary of State John Kerry will lead the team of six world powers -- who hope an end to more than a decade of nuclear tensions with Iran may be in sight -- for their first full plenary session of the latest round of talks.

While diplomats said some key points appeared to have been resolved to ensure Iran cannot make a covert dash for a nuclear bomb, they cautioned that the outlines of a political understanding were not yet fully agreed.

What an Iran nuclear deal could look like

By Jo Biddle Lausanne
March 29, 2015

Global powers were Sunday narrowing in on a deal to stop any Iranian bid to develop nuclear weapons, with diplomats saying some key parts of an outline had been tentatively agreed.

The "framework" accord -- no one knows how detailed it will be -- is meant to be fleshed out into a comprehensive agreement by June 30 to end over a decade of tensions with the Islamic republic.

Here are the possible contours of such an agreement, which Iran and the so-called P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States -- have been negotiating since late 2013.

Doomsday: Stopping a Middle East Nuclear Arms Race


Imagine the imposition of financial sanctions on the central bank of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—the only Arab member of the G20 group of major economies. To this, add biting multinational trade sanctions to stop the the majority of Saudi Arabia’s oil production from being sold on international markets. If these measures seem preposterous, it is because they are. Yet American counter-proliferation policy in the Middle East may be premised on implementing this bizarre, nightmarish scenario.

During recent testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested that “the best way” to prevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle East is through “the model that’s being set” via the P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran. Blinken elaborated, saying that “I doubt any country would want to follow” the model set by Iran of “a decade or more of isolation and sanctions.” In short, the “answer” for how to prevent a Middle Eastern nuclear cascade “is exactly what we’ve been doing.”

Bomb Iran=A Nuclear Armed Iran?

March 29, 2015

That belief is a fantasy.Iran hawks are playing with fire. We are close to a nuclear deal with Iran, but opponents continue to step up attacks aimed at torpedoing efforts to reach a settlement. They insist that we must walk away from the negotiating table, and that there’s a better deal to be had.

The reality is that if negotiations with Iran fail, the wreckage will leave the United States without any good options. “If we undermine negotiations now, we’ll have only two choices — Accept the reality of an Iranian nuclear bomb, or use military force to attack Iran’s nuclear program,” former Sen. Carl Levin wrote in a recent op-ed for U.S. News & World Report.

Will Japanese Subs Be Built in Australia?

Remarks by a retired Japanese Vice Admiral could be a “game changer” in the race for Australia’s biggest-ever arms deal. 
Japan is perhaps softening its stance vis-à-vis the possible construction of Soryu-class submarines in Australia, according to Reuters. Last week, retired Japanese Vice Admiral Yoji Koda stated at Australia’s Future Submarine Summit that perhaps only the first out of a dozen such vessels could be built in Japan.

“At least some boats should be built in this country [Australia] (…) I used to be heavily involved in defense force planning … Maybe the best way is proportional to the number of ships to be built,” the Vice Admiral said.

COUNTER-SWARM: A GUIDE TO DEFEATING ROBOTIC SWARMS

March 31, 2015

Editor’s note: This is the last article in a six-part series, The Coming Swarm, on military robotics and automation as a part of the joint War on the Rocks-Center for a New American Security Beyond Offset Initiative. Read the first,second, third, fourth, and fifth entries in this series.

Swarming with a large number of low-cost autonomous systems can be useful for a wide range of applications in warfare,, and the U.S. military should move to harness the advantages of this approach. But so will others. While swarming provides numerous opportunities to expand U.S. combat effectiveness by enabling greater range, persistence, daring, mass, coordination, intelligence, and speed on the battlefield, it may be enemy swarms that are the real game-changer.

Many of the innovations that enable swarming – low-cost uninhabited systems, autonomy, and networking – are driven by the commercial sector, and thus will be widely available. Moreover, many states and non-state groups may be more eager to embrace them than the U.S. military, which is heavily invested in existing operational paradigms and the expensive and exquisite platforms they rely on. Swarms are more likely to be embraced by those who lack the institutional and cultural hurdles to their adoption that exist in the U.S. military.

WHAT COMES AFTER STRATEGIC SURPRISE?

March 31, 2015

Of all the potential threats tracked by America’s national security community, the most worrying is to be confronted with a menace that has not even been considered. The likelihood of being taken by surprise seems to increase each day. As highly disruptive military and civilian technologies like additive manufacturing, autonomous unmanned systems, and human bio-modification proliferate around the world, adversaries will pick from a lengthening menu for the next generation of asymmetric advantages to wield against the United States.

Still, these are known problems, and the United States has grappled with high-stakes asymmetric threats since the end of the Cold War. After all, this is part of DARPA’s charter: preventing strategic surprise. And at a moment when the United States warily eyes China’s military rise, it is also a mainstream mission thanks to the Defense Department’s recently announced “Third Offset” strategy.

The Pentagon Hangs Back in Yemen As American-Made Planes Pound Rebels

By JOSEPH TREVITHICK

To help the Saudi Arabian-led coalition attack Houthi militias in Yemen, the Pentagon is sharing intelligence information and helping Riyadh get ammunition and supplies into position.

On March 28, American warships and helicopters also pulled two Saudi pilots out of the Gulf of Aden after they ejected from their stricken fighter bomber.

“I cannot get into operational specifics,” a Pentagon spokesman told War Is Boring in an email. “However, our support is limited and not in a direct combat role.”