6 April 2015

Grooming women for jihad

PARVATHI MENON
April 6, 2015 

Muslim girls in U.K. are leaving for Syria to ensure long-term stability of the IS by managing the domestic front & bearing children of fighters.

The number of British women who have gone to Syria to join the jihadist forces of the Islamic State has been slowly growing. Women are believed to account for around 10 per cent of the approximately 600 British citizens who have left for Syria since the conflict began in 2013. Most of them are young, some no more than 15 and 16. They are won over after a phase of “grooming”, primarily conducted online in a parallel world hidden from home, family and school. Though the numbers of foreign women, at least from Britain, crossing over to Syria, are relatively small, they are significant as they point to a new phase of occupation of Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State (IS). For the long-term stability of the new power structure, jihadist fighters who have come from abroad must be allowed to start families that will eventually replace the families they have left behind and may never see. Obedient wives who can manage the domestic front and bear children are therefore important for the consolidation of the IS, and must be recruited from the same countries and societies as the fighters come from.

Deep anxiety - Why are young people from Europe joining the Islamic State?

Kanwal sibal
April 6 , 2015

It is anomalous that European youth, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, should be attracted to the violent ideology of the Islamic State. That non-Muslim European youth should be beguiled by such an inhumanly violent ideology is baffling. In the case of European Muslims, it is also not easily comprehensible that having been brought up in liberal, democratic and secular societies, they should be attracted to the anti-human freedoms, anti-modern, anti-progress, anti-women, anti-minorities ideology of these jihadi groups that is devoid of economic ideas and does not offer any forward-looking vision of society.

One can object to the policies of one's country, but to join groups abroad that have such little regard for human life is another thing. One can feel strongly about injustice being perpetrated against another people, of violence being inflicted on them in the name of geopolitics, but joining groups that are dubious in their origin and are not led by particularly pious people is difficult to understand.

PAKISTAN: MQM UNDER SIEGE – ANALYSIS

By Rana Banerji

Not since Pakistan’s former Interior Minister, late Nasrullah Khan Babar’s, crackdown in mid-1995, has the Mohajir/ Muttahida Quami Movement – Altaf (MQM- A) been subjected to such a relentless siege by the Pakistan Rangers and the Sindh Police in Karachi. On March 11, 90, Azizabad, or `Nine Zero’, the home of Altaf Hussain in Federal B Area, the sanctified MQM headquarters, was raided by Pakistan Rangers. Several MQM-A party workers were arrested, arms and ammunition allegedly stolen from NATO containers seized, and five criminals wanted in the January 2011 murder of journalist Wali Khan Babbar were apprehended. The current operations in Karachi have been ongoing since August 2014.

The effort of the law and order authorities, assisted by the para-military Pakistan Rangers, has been to attempt to cleanse the greater metropolitan area of Karachi from the endemic violence, a peculiar mix of drug mafia-related crimes, extortions, kidnappings, sectarian reprisals and even `gang-warfare’, which has plagued the city for the past two decades, causing a systematic outward flow of business capital and investments from what used to be the economic hub of Pakistan.

Pakistan submarine deal won't please India

2 April 2015

A couple of weeks ago, after a visit to India, I wrote an op-ed for the Indian weekly Open with my impressions of the Indian strategic debate. The biggest take-away was how openly suspicious the Indians are about China and its intentions in the Indian Ocean.

That suspicion got another boost yesterday, with Islamabad announcing that it has approved, in principle, the purchase of eight Chinese submarines for the Pakistani navy.

This is big news for a number of reasons. First, it's a large order for a navy that currently only operates five submarines. Second, it will be the first time China has exported its submarines, which says something about the improvements in its military technology (granted, Pakistan is probably buying on price as well as capability, but this is a navy that has previously bought advanced European submarines, so its not an undiscerning customer).

What Is Behind China’s Growing Attention to Afghanistan?

Zhao Huasheng Q
MARCH 8, 2015 

In the past year, Beijing has become more diplomatically engaged with Afghanistan, raising the potential for China to play a helpful role in Afghanistan’s future economic and security prospects.

China has been intensifying its diplomatic efforts to help build a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, by hosting a regional meeting on the issue and deepening its bilateral ties with Kabul. In a new Q&A, Zhao Huasheng examines China’s growing attention to Afghanistan as well as the interests that are motivating Beijing. He says China is not seeking to fill a void left by the withdrawal of U.S. forces, but that it, in the future, could play a useful role in the reconciliation process between the Afghan government and the Taliban. 

Conflict and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region: A Strategic Net Assessment


The Asia-Pacific region is undergoing enormous change, fueled by high levels of economic growth and deepening levels of integration. These and other forces are generating a shift in the distribution of economic, political, and military power across the region. This changing security environment poses a major challenge for the United States, the historically dominant power in maritime Asia. Efforts to enhance regional cooperation, reassure allies, and deter and shape potentially destabilizing behavior are demanding a more complex mixture of U.S. skills and understanding. An array of current and likely long-term forces will drive both cooperation and conflict across the Asia-Pacific region.
Key Findings

There are five different security environments that could emerge in the Asia-Pacific region over the next twenty-five years (in order of likelihood):

Sand Pebbles: Why Are Superpowers Squabbling Over Rocks?

BY KEITH JOHNSON
APRIL 2, 201

Over the past year, Beijing has significantly raised the temperature in the South China Sea with a series of provocative actions that have unsettled nearby neighbors and furrowed brows in Washington. At question is just how the U.S. should respond to a frontal challenge that directly affects the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia without risking escalation or upending the need for broader cooperation between the world’s two great superpowers.

Since early last year, China has pushed drilling rigs into Vietnamese waters, built air-defense zones over disputed islands, and most recently has embarked on a massive land-reclamation effort on a spate of deserted reefs and rocks in the vital waterway. It appears to be part of a pattern of more assertive Chinese behavior that has intensified under the leadership of Xi Jinping, and it has policymakers, military leaders, U.S. lawmakers, and outside experts grappling with just how Washington should respond.

Iran’s Leaders Begin Tricky Task of Selling Nuclear Deal at Home


APRIL 3, 2015

TEHRAN — As word made its way around the globe that an understanding had been reached with the United States and other powers to limit Iran’snuclear program, Iranians themselves greeted the news with optimism and skepticism on Friday.

While the political climate remained uncertain, the government was allowed to promote the deal at Friday Prayer, a sign that the plan was broadly supported by Iran’s establishment.

In a nationally televised speech on Friday, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, praised the deal as a development that “benefits everybody.”

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL: A SIGNIFICANT STEP – ANALYSIS

By Arka Biswas
Iran and P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany), also referred to as EU3+3, have agreed on parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Lausanne, Switzerland on April 2, 2015. This was announced in a joint statement issued by the EU High Representative, Federica Mogherini, and the Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif. While the negotiators have only agreed upon the parameters for the JCPOA and the “implementation details” are yet to be worked out, this nevertheless is a significant step. Considering that most of the obstacles to the deal, which have been addressed in the joint statement, were primarily about the political differences between the two sides, it will be important to examine what the agreed parameters and the concessions made by each side are.

Houthi and the Blowback Saudi Arabia Steps in to Yemen

MARCH 29, 2015

With the intervention in Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s military is trying to kill several birds with one stone. In the near term, it is safeguarding the country from what Riyadh perceives as an immediate military threat posed by advancing pro-Iranian Houthi rebels. In the medium-term, it is asserting its leadership of the Arab world and consolidating its control over what has recently been a tension-ridden Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In the long term, it is redressing what it sees as a geopolitical imbalance in the Middle East between itself and Iran. In recent years, power has tilted heavily toward Iran, in no small part due to U.S. retrenchment.

Prophecy & the Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent



Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) are competing with each other for recruitment on the South Asian subcontinent. As has been the case in other regions where radical Islamists have congregated (including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria), jihadi recruitment in the region covering Pakistan, India and Bangladesh is aided by competing claims of divine support. 

Radical Islamists invoke the Hadith (the oral traditions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) to prophesize a great battle in India between true believers and unbelievers before the end-times. These references in the Hadith to the Ghazwa-e-Hind (Battle of India) infuse South Asia with importance as a battleground in the efforts to create an Islamic caliphate resembling the social order that existed at the time of the Prophet Muhammad and the Rightly Guided Caliphs (632-661 AD). 

Saudi Air War Over Yemen Leaves U.S. on Sidelines


Mark Thompson 
April 2, 2015

When it came time to bomb Libya—both times, in fact, in 1986 and 2011—American airpower led the way. When Iraq was in the crosshairs—all three times, in 1991, 2003 and 2014—the stars and bars of the U.S. Air Force led the charge. Same thing in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria and even Iran (against oil platforms and small boats in the Persian Gulf in 1987-1988). 

That history makes it almost relaxing for the U.S. military to be sitting out the latest air war launched by Saudi Arabia against the Houthi rebels now occupying a growing chunk of Yemen. The kingdom, which kicked off aerial attacks March 25, is nervous about the Iranian-backed rebels along its southern border. But Riyadh’s hardly flying solo: it has been joined by Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates. 

Egypt’s Vietnam Lessons from the last time Cairo waded into war in Yemen.

BY JESSE FERRIS
APRIL 3, 2015

In the spring of 1967, Egypt’s president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, lamented to the U.S. ambassador in Cairo that the war in Yemen had become his “Vietnam.” He subsequently explained to an Egyptian historian how the conflict spiraled out of control: “I sent a company to Yemen and ended up reinforcing it with 70,000 troops.”

Over the course of the five-year war, from 1962 to 1967, Nasser lost more than 10,000 men, squandered billions of dollars, and painted himself into a diplomatic corner from which the only way out was through war with Israel. As Nasser himself would realize by the war’s end, Yemen was to Egypt what Vietnam was to the United States — and what Afghanistan was to the Soviet Union, what Algeria is to France, and what Lebanon is to Israel.

Into the Maelstrom: The Saudi-Led Misadventure in Yemen

MARCH 26, 2015

Citing a request for outside intervention by Yemen’s deposed President Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi, the governments of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and Jordan have launched an aerial intervention against the so-called Houthi movement in Yemen. Egypt has four warships en route to Aden in southern Yemen and has expressed willingness to “send ground troops if necessary,” while Turkey is considering providing logistical support. Sudan and Pakistan are also reportedly joining the operation.

The Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah in Arabic, or God’s Partisans, are a Zaidi Shia movement that began a rebellion in northern Yemen in 2003–2004. In the chaos following the Arab Spring revolutions and the internationally overseen removal of Yemen’s long-serving authoritarian ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012, the Houthis expanded their power base—apparently with Iranian support—to undermine the Saudi-backed Hadi government.

In the Iran Talks, Does a Missed Deadline Matter?

APRIL 1, 2015

The Obama administration has slipped past self-imposed deadlines and minced words over red lines before. Although certainly an embarrassment for the White House, another missed deadline in the seemingly never-ending Iran nuclear negotiations — which stretched beyond the latest deadline of March 31 — may not matter much in the end.

From Iran's point of view, it was a deadline to be exploited, not one to fret over. Iranian leaders, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, had expressed misgivings about a framework agreement, insisting that the deal is not done until all core issues are resolved in a final deal. The White House imposed the March deadline to prove to Congress that enough progress was being made to hold off on sanctions. Still, a dodged deadline and a diluted progress report are unlikely to calm dissenters in Congress. Even if a bill calling for additional sanctions in the event of a violation of an agreement makes its way through Congress, it will be vetoed in the Oval Office. Congress overturning that veto is a less likely prospect.

Saudi Arabia and Iran Compete in Yemen

STRATFOR
MARCH 25, 2015 
Source Link

While the al-Houthi movement struggles to manage multiple regional challenges to its north, its rise to power in Yemen is a setback for Saudi Arabia on its southern flank. After the fall of the Yemeni government, Riyadh will have to capitalize on the al-Houthis' need for political and financial support to re-establish its influence in the country. But because Iran is trying to fill that support gap, too, Yemen has become another battleground where the two sectarian rivals will struggle against one another.

After being driven from the capital of Sanaa in September, Yemen's government is at war with itself. President Abd Rabboh Mansour Hadi issued a statement March 19 denouncing the airstrikes on his compound in the southern port city of Aden as an attempted military coup by forces loyal to his predecessor and one-time ally, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Earlier that day, soldiers and militiamen loyal to Hadi battled their way into Aden's airport and stormed a nearby military base, both of which were under the control of Gen. Abdel-Hafez al-Saqqaf, a Saleh loyalist.

The Middle East’s Thirty Years’ War?

By Martin Zapfe
30 March 2015

Is the Middle East on the verge of falling into a catastrophic regional conflict? The CSS’ Martin Zapfe thinks so. As he sees it, there’s more than just the stability of the region at stake – the very concept of the nation-state is at risk in the Arab world.

The Middle East seems to be on the verge of a ‘New Thirty Years’ War’ that is characterized by a disintegrating regional order, a contest between secular and religious concepts of domestic and regional politics, and the potential for new and unlikely alliances. What is at stake in 2015 and beyond, in short, is not only the future of the states in the region, but the concept of state­hood in the Arab world per se.

Resurgent Radicalism

By Prem Mahadevan
1 April 2015

The growing profile of the ‘Islamic State’, and its rivalry with al-Qaida, has heightened fears of terror attacks on Europe. The group has injected new enthusiasm into the global jihadist project by declaring itself a ‘Caliphate’ and thereby creating an illusion of military progress relative to the opera­tionally stagnant al-Qaida. Europe needs to brace itself for the dual task of combating threats to its citizens at home while remaining alert to the strategic implications of Islamist insurgencies overseas.

A spate of terrorist attacks in the West since summer 2014 has alerted analysts to a fresh wave of radicalism from the Middle East. The rise of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (IS) in Iraq and Syria is the most visible explana­tion of this phenomenon, but its roots lie deeper. ‘Leaderless jihad’, wherein terrorist groups devolve long-range operations to unaffiliated amateurs, has developed a forward momentum alongside ‘territorial jihad’, which aims to seize control of government struc­tures. The two types of insurrection­ary doctrine are complementing each other at a global level, confronting the West with a simultaneous threat of lone-wolf attacks at home and Islamist insurgencies in the developing world.

Bargaining with the Great Satan


Apr 2nd 2015

FOUR places: four contrasting snapshots of a relationship. In Lausanne, Iranian and American delegations are ensconced as diplomatic partners at the Beau Rivage hotel: after eight days of talks, they reach agreement greatly limiting Iran’s uranium-enrichment programme in exchange for the gradual lifting of sanctions. 

In Tehran, Iranians watch President Barack Obama in the White House explaining the reasons for the deal. It is the first time an American presidential speech has been shown live on Iranian television.

The Week In Review : ISW INTELLIGENCE SUMMARY

April 4, 2015

This report is derived from open sources collected and processed at ISW during the reporting period. The report includes analysis on Iraq, Syria, ISIS, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Ukraine.

Competition among geopolitical, sectarian, and ideological rivals in the Middle East continues to intensify into armed conflict. The U.S. -Iranian nuclear deal announced on April 2 comes as many Sunni Arab states have continued the military operation “Decisive Storm” to roll back Iranian and al-Houthi influence in Yemen. The U.S. announced it would reinstate shipments of military aid to Egypt for the first time since 2013, adding to Egyptian President Sisi’s elevated regional position in support of the Saudi-led operation against Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen. Afghan President Ghani publicly supported the Saudi operation, despite strong resistance from political rivals already upset by Ghani’s decisions this week to centralize administrative power.

The Surrealism of Realism: Misreading the War in Ukraine


Most general readers following events in Ukraine may not be aware that much of the debate and many of the policy prescriptions among “experts” have been dominated by a school of thought in international relations scholarship known as “realism.” In a nutshell, realists have argued that US policy toward the Russo-Ukrainian conflict should be driven by pragmatic American interests and by the realities of Russia’s regional great-power status—two propositions few would disagree with. Realist arguments become more controversial, however, when they go on to insist that Russia’s behavior toward Ukraine is actually a reasonable response to Western attempts to wrest Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence and that the culprit behind the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war is, thus, the West in general and the United States and NATO in particular.

Legacy of Ukraine: The Need to Engage Central Asia in the Wake of Russian Aggression

BY BLAKE FRANKO
APRIL 2, 2015

Despite the ongoing battles raging in Ukraine, more focus should be placed on the less obvious and often ignored opportunities for the West in Central Asia. 

Kazakhstan and others fear that they may be next on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s revisionist and expansive foreign policy agenda and are making cautious attempts to reach out to the United States, Europe, and China in response. Not wanting to be subjected to more of Russia’s imperialist actions, such as its stranglehold on energy and the establishment of regional trade dependence, Central Asian states are seeking to diversify their international ties, while concurrently working with their large northern neighbor. To stabilize Central Asia, the United States needs to think in the long term and cast aside the thought of the “Russian zone of influence”, even if it means angering Russia now. This will help cut down on Islamic extremism, while also developing regional trade partners and fostering the development of a stable region between Russia and China. 

The Extraordinary Tales of Central Asia’s Princelings

March 31, 2015

It’s no secret that Central Asia is one of the most corrupt regions on the planet. Among the 175 nations surveyed in Transparency International’s most recent Corruptions Perceptions Index, only Kazakhstan landed within the top 130, coming in at 126th place. Awash in nepotism, strong-arm tactics, and heavy-handed statism, Kyrgyzstan (136), Tajikistan (152), Uzbekistan (166), and Turkmenistan (169) have helped turn Central Asia into one of the most corruption-prone regions this side of the Horn of Africa.

Nonetheless, wholesale looks into the depths of regional corruption are relatively few and far between. (There’s little coincidence that such corruption dovetails with wide-scale media repression.) As such, last week presented a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the region’s first families. A pair of reports helped illustrate the preferred methods of the first families, both current and former, for swindling billions from the broader populations.

Deadly Malaysia Helicopter Crash Kills 6, Including Ex-Ambassador to US

April 05, 2015

A helicopter crashed outside Kuala Lumpur this weekend, killing all six people on board including Malaysia’s former ambassador to the United States and an aide to Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Malaysian national news agency Bernama reported that an eyewitness had said the helicopter burst into flames at around 4:55 p.m. local time before crashing in a rubber plantation in the town of Semenyih. The rescue team has since found all six bodies.

Amongst the passengers was a minister of parliament and former ambassador to the United States, Jamaluddin Jarjis, who had played an important role in boosting U.S.-Malaysia relations first as ambassador and then as special envoy to Washington. Others included Robert Tan, a businessman, and Azlin Alias, the principal private secretary in the Prime Minister’s office.

What Is the US Policy for Central Asia?

April 04, 2015

The United States is often – and often fairly – maligned for a distinct lack of strategy in its relations with Central Asia. Tacked on to Chinese or Afghanistan policy, bogged in securitization or stilted democratization efforts, Washington has seemed unable to formulate a distinct, coherent policy for the region for years. Unlike Beijing’s economic expansion or Moscow’s military ties, Washington’s Central Asian policy, if one appears, often comes across as an afterthought.

That’s not to say efforts haven’t been made to bring a policy to bear. Earlier this week, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke at the Brookings Institute, attempting to provide a sketch of Washington’s current regional plans. But in lieu of innovation or revamp, Washington appears content to continue along the muddled path it’s followed prior, with stale plans and retread ideas bundled once more.

Russia’s Top Paratrooper Wants Airborne Snowmobiles

By ROBERT BECKHUSEN

The Russian military is working on an air-dropped snowmobile for its paratroopers. No, it’s not a scene from a James Bond movie.

Earlier this year, Col. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov — Russia’s airborne forces chief — ordered the development of “airborne snowmobiles” after a visit to the northern Yaroslavl region.

“Airborne snowmobile flies, shoots and keeps the driver warm,” Shamanov said according to the newspaper Komsolskaya Pravda.

What Shamanov is talking about is an ordinary Taiga-551 snowmobile dropped from the back of an airplane. The vehicle weighs about 705 pounds and powers itself with a liquid-cooled 65-horsepower engine.

Time For US Strategy Review; Then Tackle Goldwater-Nichols

April 03, 2015 

The combination of an excellent quartet of lawmakers leading the armed services committees; the markedly complex and global set of threats from ISIL to North Korea to China and back to Russia;and Sen. John McCain and Rep. Mac Thornberry‘s commitment to a review of Goldwater-Nichols all make this a good time for a complete strategy review, said Andrew Krepinevich, head of the respected Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, in an interview with me earlier this week.

Russia to give Tajikistan multi-billion military aid to fight ISIS

April 03, 2015

Russia is ready to supply about $1.2 billion worth of weapons and military equipment to the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan, which is currently threatened by invasion from the Islamic State, a leading Russian business daily reported.

The Kommersant Daily newspaper quoted unnamed sources in the Russian General Staff as saying the amount of planned military aid to Tajikistan could reach 70 billion rubles (over $1.2 billion at current rate) within the next few years.

Washington’s Headbanging Diplomatic Duo

BY JAMES TRAUB
APRIL 3, 2015

April 2, 2015 may well be remembered as one of the finest days of Barack Obama’s presidency. Of course, Obama hasn’t had many fine days. Virtually all of his successes in foreign policy have been subtractive ones, achieved by unwinding onerous commitments made by his predecessor. That’s why the nuclear framework deal signed with Tehran stands out: Obama has achieved something affirmative, fundamental, long-sought. He has demonstrated the value of old-fashioned diplomacy—a discipline he has rarely seemed to believe in, or practice, as ardently as his Secretary of State, John Kerry.

THE VIEW FROM OLYMPUS: AN ABSENCE OF STRATEGY


In World War II, however indifferently the U.S. Army performed at the tactical and operational levels, America did strategy right. Before we entered the war, we agreed with Britain that Europe would be the main theater because Germany was a far stronger opponent than Japan. We stuck to that strategy despite Pearl Harbor and Japan’s string of victories in the first six months of the war. While General Eisenhower was at best an uninspired field commander, he grasped and held on to the decisive strategic fact of the war in Europe: unless the Allies’ coalition fractured, they were certain to win. Hitler expected such a fracture right up to the end, a “miracle save” like that which had rescued Frederick the Great in the Seven Years’ War. Thanks to Eisenhower’s good strategic leadership, it did not happen.

Putin’s Russia: Exploiting the Weaknesses of Liberal Europe

By Jonas Grätz
31 March 2015

Jonas Grätz thinks that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine poses a threefold challenge to liberal Europe. To start with, Moscow has already sabotaged the EU’s peaceful attempts to transform its neighborhood. It has the added options, however, of exploiting Brussels’ ‘weak’ economic policies and a growing disinterest in the European project.

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has brought war back into Europe. In addition, it presents a threefold challenge to an already weakened liberal Europe: With regard to security, Moscow has spoiled the EU’s approach of transforming its neighborhood while disregarding the power of military coercion. Furthermore, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin can also exploit the existing weaknesses of the EU’s economic policies and the waning en­thusiasm for the EU’s liberalism in member states. Collectively, those chal­lenges result in a crisis of the EU’s liberal order.

The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050

APRIL 2, 2015

Why Muslims Are Rising Fastest and the Unaffiliated Are Shrinking as a Share of the World’s Population

The religious profile of the world is rapidly changing, driven primarily by differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world’s major religions, as well as by people switching faiths. Over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion. If current trends continue, by 2050 … 

The number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world. 

Know Your Oil: Creating a Global Oil-Climate Index

MARCH 11, 2015

Oil is changing. Conventional oil resources are dwindling as tight oil, oil sands, heavy oils, and others emerge. Technological advances mean that these unconventional hydrocarbon deposits in once-unreachable areas are now viable resources. Meanwhile, scientific evidence is mounting that climate change is occurring, but the climate impacts of these new oils are not well understood. The Carnegie Endowment’s Energy and Climate Program, Stanford University, and the University of Calgary have developed a first-of-its-kind Oil-Climate Index (OCI) to compare these resources.

Are Obama’s New Cyber Sanctions Powers Directed at Chinese Companies Who Benefit From Chinese Cyber Espionage?

Robert Farley
April 4, 2015

The new executive order from the Obama administration significantly increases the stakes for Chinese and American firms. In the belief that private Chinese companies often benefit directly from industrial espionage (both state supported and privately conducted) against U.S. firms, the administration has determined that individual Chinese companies will be subject to financial and legal reprisal.

As several commentators have noted, the Chinese government may respond to this order by sanctioning U.S. firms working in China. This could dim the prospects of a wide swath of U.S. companies that depend on integration with the PRC, especially given that China has already evinced a willingness to respond to U.S. sanctions, and that U.S. companies face a tough environment with Chinese local government in the best of times.

DON’T LET AMERICA BE BOXED IN BY ITS OWN COMPUTERS

BY GEN. (RET.) MICHAEL HAYDEN
April 3, 2015

Michael V. Hayden is a principal at the Chertoff Group, a security and risk management advisory firm with clients in the technology sector. He was director of the National Security Agency from 1995 to 2005 and the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006 to 2009.

As director of the National Security Agency and then the Central Intelligence Agency after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, I fought to provide our intelligence officers with every possible advantage in their work to detect and confront threats from our enemies.

We were entering a new kind of conflict. I had grown to professional maturity in an era in which it was NATO vs. the Soviet Union, and our enemy – with its tank divisions in Eastern Europe and intercontinental ballistic missile silos in our sights – was easy to find, though hard to defeat. Today, our enemies are relatively easy to defeat, but they often are damnably difficult to find. Hence the need to create timely, actionable – even exquisite – intelligence.

Are Nuclear Weapons Worth the Cost?

By John J. Klein
27 March 2015 

Is it wasteful for the United States to spend $348 billion on its nuclear forces over the next decade, as the Congressional Budget Office predicts? John Klein isn’t convinced. He argues that a robust nuclear arsenal is essential for international stability and therefore worth the high cost.

The role of nuclear weapons and their associated expense are topics of debate among defense analysts and nonproliferation advocates. The information in a January 2015report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will likely continue to fuel this debate. In this report, the CBO estimates that over the next decade (2015–2024), the United States will spend $348 billion on its nuclear forces. Many critics have concluded that spending money on nuclear weapons is wasteful and that conventional forces are just as capable of providing the same level of security and deterrence. Despite the seemingly high expense, however, maintaining a robust nuclear arsenal is a cost-effective means of providing needed stability in the international community.

Should America Really Fear China's Military?

April 5, 2015 

China’s military is growing in terms of raw power and basic power projection. Many of Beijing’s defense investments over the last two decades are aimed at limiting Washington’s ability to intervene in areas that China describes as being of “core interest.” But just how much should Washington worry about it? A good question, for sure. The answer, however, is as not as black and white as many might want it to be. And just how much should America prepare to duel with such anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) forces in the future?

The British Air Force Is Flying in South Sudan

By KEVIN KNODELL

It isn’t easy to travel in South Sudan. It’s a harsh land that quickly changes from scorching deserts to inhospitable swamps. Supplying an army or a peacekeeping force in the country comes with its own special set of frustrations.

Thankfully, the British Ministry of Defense just boosted the United Nations Mission in South Sudan with a deployment of a Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules. The planes will help peacekeepers resupply before the rainy season starts.Troops serving with UNMISS have it rough. A civil war rages between soldiers loyal to Pres. Salva Kiir and those fighting for Riek Machar — the country’s rogue ex-vice president. Peacekeepers are trying to protect civilians caught in the middle.

Help Make This Documentary About a German Soldier During World War II

By MATTHEW GAULT

Dorian Warneck’s father — Diether — is a World War II veteran. He fought for the Third Reich in Hitler’s army. It wasn’t something Dorian’s family talked a lot about growing up.

“These are stories that I don’t think he has felt comfortable talking about for most of his life,” Dorian told War Is Boring.

“I certainly did not grow up hearing these stories. It was never the cliche — ‘Well back when I was in the war…’ situation that people often have with their parents or grandparents.”

Today, Dorian works for the production company Lunch & Recess, which is working to finish The Color of Fire, a documentary about his father.

It looks to be an intimate portrait of one man’s time fighting for Germany during the darkest period of its history.

(W)ARCHIVES: THE BATTLE OF OKINAWA AND THE OBSCENITY OF WAR

April 3, 2015

On April 1, 1945 the U.S. Tenth Army, consisting of an Army corps and a corps of Marines, started coming ashore on Okinawa after a lengthy period of naval bombardment of the island and its 130,000 Japanese defenders. Operation ICEBERG was underway. This was the last great island battle of the Pacific War. The Americans wanted air fields on Okinawa from which they could attack the main islands of Japan. Of course, the defenders fought tenaciously to stop them. Theirs was a losing effort. The Battle of Okinawa lasted 82 brutal days during which 77,000 Japanese died. They took with them 14,000 Americans.

The Gestalt of Warfare in the Flow of Time Preparing Leaders for the #FutureOfWar and


Polarised emission from Milky Way dust. Copyright ESA and the Planck Collaboration. 

Irene Tamaru is an applied mathematician-in-training, with some study in historical and mathematical sociology, interested in robust models that describe the human world. 

War as economics, war as politics, war as security: war as survival by any other name. Not much will change about the faces of war in the future. What will change is warfare, as Brett Friedman (paraphrasing Clausewitz) so aptly pointed out. The drift of strategy over time is beyond my realm of comfortable address, however common sense says that tactics change as our tools, skillsets, and enemies change. What will not alter is our need for capable leadership. To prepare for an uncertain future of amorphous threats, we must find and/or train leaders who can see past the confines of their professions so to speak, leaders who can balance the abstraction necessary for this vision with their connection to the people they lead and who have the deep organizational and operational skills necessary to implement swift changes as circumstances demand.

The Perils of Peacekeeping in Unstabilized Environments

By Sofia Sebastian 
26 March 2015

MINUSMA operations in Mali confirm that peacekeeping missions are increasingly being conducted in complex and asymmetric environments. For Sofia Sebastian, how the UN addresses the dilemmas posed by such missions will have a big impact on which tools it has available to resolve future global security problems.

In January, Head of UN Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous told the UN Security Council that the situation in northern Mali remains “extremely volatile” in light of the presence of terrorist groups and almost daily attacks on peacekeepers, including the latest rocket assault on a UN base on March 8. Since the initial deployment of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), a peacekeeper has been killed or wounded, on average, every four days, making northern Mali one of the deadliest settings for peacekeepers in recent history. The situation in Mali is illustrative of the complex and asymmetric environments in which peacekeeping missions have been deployed in recent years. How the UN addresses the dilemmas facing today’s peacekeeping missions will be critical in determining the future of peace operations and the tools available for the resolution of today’s most pressing global security challenges.