4 June 2015

Watch Out, China: Why the 'Asian Century' Might Just Belong to India

June 2, 2015

With the conclusion of his three-nation tour of China, Mongolia and South Korea last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi capped a frenetic first year of diplomacy. It is becoming apparent that the emphasis on the Asian region will continue to be an imperative for the rest of his term. In this past year alone, the Indian Prime Minister has invested about twice as many days visiting the 'east' — Asia, the Indian Ocean Region and the Pacific — as against his 'westward' travels.

Is this a reinvigoration of India's Look East policy? Does it mean relatively less importance to the West? And, what are the drivers of this policy? Barring the notable absence of West Asia from his travel schedule, it is clear that 'Engage Asia' has been the predominant mantra of Modi's early days in office.

India's Hindu Nationalists Push for Broader Education on 1962 India-China War

June 03, 2015

India’s defeat in the 1962 war against China continues to reverberate in the country—particularly for Hindu nationalists. 

A report in India’s Economic Times notes that the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) wants Indian schoolchildren to closely study and learn more about the 1962 war between India and China. India, led by Jawaharlal Nehru and the Indian National Congress at the time, lost the war. Even today, India’s defeat in 1962 continues to persist as a source of embarrassment, informing Indian strategic thinking toward China. The RSS is closely ideologically aligned with many members of India’s current ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government—Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his political career in part with a boon from his role as a pracharak (campaigner) for the RSS.

Narendra Modi to Become First Indian PM to Visit Israel


Narendra Modi will become the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to become the first prime minister of India to visit Israel. He will travel there later this year and will discuss strategic and economic cooperation with the Israeli leadership.

The specific date of Modi’s visit remains uncertain, but, according to statements by India’s external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, the visit will come at some time after July, after preliminary high-level bilateral diplomatic talks with the Israeli government. Swaraj served as the head of the Indo-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group from 2006 to 2009, and has long seen Israel as a “reliable partner” for India. Ahead of Modi’s visit, Swaraj will visit Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories.

How the Chinese fooled Nehru in Tibet


While the Indian archives are still jealously kept by the Ministry of External Affairs (and other Indian ministries), the Chinese are slowly (and selectively) declassifying their archives.

A cable from General Zhang Jingwu, ’On Issues of Relations between China and India in Tibet’ dating October 21, 1953, is one example.

During the first months of 1953, Nehru may have felt that the situation was settling down in Tibet and slowly the Tibetans were accepting the invasion of their country by the Liberation Army as a fait accompli.

A translation was recently released by Digital Archive of the Wilson Centre (International History Declassified). It belongs to the History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.

Zhang Jingwu was one of the signatories of the infamous Seventeen-Point Agreement between the People’s Republic of China and a Tibetan delegation (the so-called local government of Tibet).

National Security: Do we need State Law or NCTC or Something else?

02 Jun , 2015

PhD Scholar in Centre for European Studies, School of International Studies, JNU, and a Research Assistant at Foundation for National Security Research, New Delhi.

The priority need to be addressed, but the means and end should have a clear seer of apparatus. Organised Crime and terrorism has a negative kinetic power in the South Asian region. Porous border, stagnant cooperative security mechanisms has laid to the emergence of this complex cycle of threats. India is an enthusiastic super power in global level, it has to rethink its internal security architectures which is subsequently targeted by (un)conventional forces.

Pakistan MUST Protect Religious Freedom


"The State Department should designate Pakistan a 'country of particular concern' or its continued record of failure in protecting religious freedom."

A court in Afghanistan recently sentenced eleven police officers to one-year jailterms for failing to stop a mob in March from lynching Farkhunda, a Kabul woman falsely accused of burning a Quran. Four men earlier had been convicted of and sentenced to death for her murder. If such justice is possible even in Afghanistan, hardly a bastion of protection for religious freedom and other human rights, why not in neighboring Pakistan? Why is there rarely any accountability in Pakistan for killing people accused of blasphemy? Why are law enforcement officials not held responsible for failing to apprehend the killers? And what, if anything, can the United States and the world community do about it?

Why Australia Must Stay Out of the South China Sea Showdown

June 2, 2015
We all owe thanks to Sam Bateman for his excellent East Asia Forum article on June 1st in which he explains that the situation in the South China Sea around the Spratlys is not at all simple according to maritime law, that “innocent passage” is hedged with many conditions, and that freedom of navigation operations “are inherently dangerous”.

He also points out that “other countries...have also undertaken extensive reclamation works on their occupied features, including building airstrips and adding military fortifications.” The Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and Malaysia have all built airstrips on their islands; the Philippines airstrip is over 1km long and can take C-130s.

Of course, none of those countries is a rising power like China (though Vietnam is widely regarded as having defeated China in their 1979 war). However, China is other things as well. Most relevantly, it is a great trading nation, as no country is more aware than Australia. Most of the sea traffic in the South China Sea is headed to or from Chinese ports.

Can America, Japan and Australia Combined Stop China in the South China Sea?

June 2, 2015
The Asian security dialogue is about verbal jabs and thought balloons. And policy signaling and point scoring. And, ideally, some meeting of minds, reaching towards actual agreement.

The Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, the 14th Asia Security Summit, had plenty of the usual show and shove.

Compared to the last couple of years, though, the verbal biffo from the Chinese delegation was dialed down a few notches. Having been busy creating new geographic features in the South China Sea, terraforming with mountains of sand, the Chinese at Shangri-La seemed keen to judge the effect of their recent show, rather than do much shoving.

What response would they get to their fast build towards a fait accompli? The leader of the Chinese delegation was a Navy man, so they came prepared. The relative calm of China’s pushback suggested a certain comfort with the jabs they got.

The Dangerous Battle for the South China Sea


All gloves are off, as the United States, China and the rest of Asia stake their positions.

As China emerges as the predominant indigenous power in Asia, it has become a pivotal force to a simultaneous process of integration and fragmentation in the region. On the economic front, China’s various initiatives, from the Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank (AIIB) to the "One Belt, One Road" new Silk Road megaproject, hold the promise of addressing growing infrastructure needs in Asia, further deepening existing trade and investment linkages in an increasingly prosperous region.

Although, it must be said, China is most likely also driven by broader, long-term geopolitical motivations in pushing for these seemingly business-oriented ventures, especially since heavily investing in other countries’ infrastructure is also a bet on a lasting strategic partnership—if not a chokehold on their strategic sectors.

Big Vs, New Media, and China's 'United Front'

June 03, 2015

Forming a “united front” shouldn’t mean eradicating China’s new media voices. 

President Xi Jinping recently gave a significant speech at the Central United Front Work Conference, in which he outlined the roles of non-Party intellectuals, overseas students, and representatives of the new media. These points, especially the last, have become hot topics on the internet.

Xi urged the central government to “learn how to make contacts with non-Party intellectuals, especially those skilled at ideological and political work.” He said that “there needs to be a strengthened relationship with well-known representatives of new media, setting up regular contact and interaction both online and offline, encouraging them to make contributions to purifying cyberspace.” He also emphasized that the central government “shall fully promote democracy, respect and embrace differences and, as far as possible, carefully and patiently seek out the greatest common divisor.”

Can the Chinese Dream and the American Dream Coexist?

By Xie Tao
June 02, 2015

Can U.S. claims to global leadership exist alongside China’s dream of national rejuvenation? 

In his 1931 classic The Epic of America, James Truslow Adams defined the American Dream as “a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.” The American Dream has since been understood — and preached — in terms of individualism, social mobility, and “inalienable rights [such as] life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Happening Now: Ask Us Anything on Defense in the Asia-Pacific!

June 02, 2015

Join us over at Reddit’s Geopolitics forum and discuss the most recent defense trends in the Asia-Pacific region 

Franz-Stefan Gady, Ankit Panda, Prashanth Parameswaran, and Van Jackson are authors for The Diplomat‘s Asia Defense blog. As most of you are aware, the blog focuses primarily on security, and defense issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the People’s Liberation Army? Can the ambitious Indian submarine program succeed or is New Delhi still arming without aiming? Are Pakistan’s naval ambitions a pipe dream? Has the main battle tank become obsolete in Asian militaries? Will Japan step up its active defense posture in cyber space? Will the United States Navy continue to rule the Asian seas? And what about Russia’s re-emergence as an Asian naval power?

China to Hold First Meeting With ASEAN Defense Ministers in Beijing

June 03, 2015

China will host ASEAN defense ministers for the first time in Beijing later this year, a military official said at Asia’s premier security summit this weekend.

According to Admiral Sun Jianguo in a speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, China will host the China-ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Special Meeting in October this year, reportedly on the sidelines of the 6th Xiangshan Forum in Beijing. The Forum, which was upgraded to an annual, track 1.5 event last year, is one of several ways that Beijing is trying to promote its new Asian security concept, which envisions an ‘Asia for Asians.’ Some have even seen the Xiangshan Forum as China’s answer to the Shangri-La Dialogue itself.

“We are ready to discuss with other countries the way ahead for defense and security cooperation,” Sun said.

The US Prefers China to Russia in Central Asia

June 03, 2015

State officials are quick to mention Russia’s economic troubles, ignore the EEU, and compliment China. 
Although his June 2 remarks at the Washington International Business Council focused primarily on India’s regional leadership, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard E. Hoagland had a number of things to say about Central Asia that are worth examining. While he certainly read from the Department of State’s standard book of lines in reference to the region, Hoagland notably omitted any reference to the Eurasian Economic Union, and had some kind works for China.

China vs. America: The South China Sea Showdown at Shangri La

June 1, 2015
There was considerable anticipation around the remarks of U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Chinese Admiral Sun Jianguo, PLA Deputy Chief of General Staff, at the just concluded 14th annual Shangri La Dialogue.
Secretary Carter's speech was widely praised for its balance, including by many Chinese present. Carter noted that America has been in the region for decades ensuring stability, and will continue to do so. China was portrayed as a bemusing troublemaker, throwing the stability of the region into question.

There were some expectations that after last week's U.S. Navy's surveillance flight near Fiery Cross Reef with a CNN crew aboard, Carter would make a strong statement of what U.S. actions will come next. The mood in Washington is getting tougher on China, with calls to 'put skin in the game' and impose costs on China's behavior. Carter's speech did not give a clear indication of what future U.S. action might look like. He did make two concrete calls to South China Sea claimants: stop land reclamation, and don't undertake further militarization.

Could the South China Sea Spark the Deadliest Conflict of Our Time?

June 1, 2015
Source Link

In his undergraduate years the U.S. Defense Secretary, Ashton Carter, did a double major in Medieval History and Physics. It was perfect preparation for Asia today—arcane and complex history speaking directly to modern mysteries.

At the 14th Asia Security Summit in Singapore, the Shangri-La dialogue, Carter was two-thirds of the way through his text before he got to any substantive discussion of China or the South China Sea. It was like those medieval theological debates where the Devil was a major factor in discussion, even if it wasn’t named.

As Malaysia’s Defense Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, commented later: the South China Sea was the elephant in the room. Hishammuddin delivered the starkest line of the first morning, worrying that the confrontation in the South China Sea could “escalate into one of the deadliest conflicts of our time or our history.”

Potential Chinese Anti-Ship Capabilities Between the First and Second Island Chains

June 2, 2015

Chinese Active Defense Layers (Office of Naval Intelligence graphic). Note that the range lines reflect where PLA aircraft and submarines might be expected to operate in wartime based on evidence to date. While PLA aircraft would be unlikely to fly further east from the second layer's line if U.S. and allied air coverage from bases along the Second Island Chain was strong, the same might not be true for PLAN SSNs. Also note that the maritime approaches to Luzon and the northern/central Ryukyus fall within the PLA's middle layer, and Taiwan and the southern Ryukyus within the inner layer. 

Why India must pay attention to China's defence plans


In the case of India, there are no specific references in China’s white paper. However, there are several takeaways for India, says Srikanth Kondapalli.

China released its 9th White Paper on defence issues recently. These have been issued in alternate years since 1998, although it had called the latest paper as the first such paper on ‘China’s military strategy’.

Many of the paper’s positions are well known and sometimes have been repeated from the previous papers. However, one major direction of the paper signifies that China is contesting the United States global and regional dominance by openly advocating ‘protection of its interests abroad’ -- a phrase frequently seen in US documents.

Firstly, as the major beneficiary of globalisation process by which today China had become the 2nd largest economy in the world and largest trading partner for 128 countries, it realises that it is invariably tied to the global economy. Yet, in the light of the United States’ global dominance, China’s challenge is to create a niche for itself, without at the same time becoming a target of the US bipolar ire that cost the Soviet Union dearly. The white paper made it clear on this issue thus: “International competition for the redistribution of power, rights and interests is tending to intensify”.

Exclusive: Key Rebels Ready to Quit U.S. Fight Vs. ISIS

Michael Weiss
05.31.15

They were ready to accept American guns and training. But a key rebel group can’t accept the Obama administration’s insistence that they lay off Syria’s dictator.

A centerpiece of the U.S. war plan against ISIS is in danger of collapsing. A key rebel commander and his men are ready to ready to pull out in frustration of the U.S. program to train a rebel army to beat back the terror group in Syria, The Daily Beast has learned.

The news comes as ISIS is marching on the suburbs of Aleppo, Syria's second-largest city. Rebels currently fighting the jihadists there told The Daily Beast that the U.S.-led coalition isn't even bothering to respond to their calls for airstrikes to stop the jihadist army.

The Iraqi Army is Too Exhausted to Fight

By MITCHELL PROTHERO 
May 31, 2015

Iraq's army grows smaller by the day. Sectarian militants are picking up the slack.
The lighting seizure of the Iraqi city of Ramadi by the Islamic State doesn’t just represent the loss of one of the last government-held population centers in Sunni Muslims areas of the country, but it laid bare the notion that Iraq’s government is capable of facing the existential threat posed by the Islamic State’s highly disciplined troops.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter infuriated his Iraqi allies last Sunday when he blamed the loss of Ramadi on the Iraqi Army’s unwillingness to fight, a bold and accurate statement by a U.S. official, perhaps the most candid and realistic I’ve heard from a U.S. official in the 12 years I’ve been covering Iraq. As harsh an assessment as that might have been, it still doesn’t come close to recognizing the myriad of problems that any coalition hoping to free much of Iraq and Syria—where the Islamic State now controls three provincial capitals spanning two countries—must address.

Iraq's incompetent military is in even worse shape than it appears

JUN 1, 2015

Members of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces take their positions during clashes with the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the city of Ramadi June 19, 2014.

On June 10, 2014, Mosul, which is Iraq's second-largest city, fell to ISIS as the Iraqi army fled. Today, Iraq's national military is in even worse shape, and may have as few as 5,000 "effective troops" under its command,according to Politico.

Despite over a decade's worth of US training and military support for the Baghdad government, along with 11 months of US-led coalition airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and the mobilization of Iranian-backed Shiite militias to fight the jihadist group, ISIS has continued to gain ground in the country.

At the end of May, ISIS overran the Iraqi provincial capital of Ramadi. The loss of the city, located only 77 miles from Baghdad, spurred US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to comment that the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) had "no will to fight."

While nobody was looking, the Islamic State launched a new, deadly offensive

By Liz Sly 
June 1, 2015

Syrian rebels try to turn back Islamic State in Aleppo(0:47)

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the Islamic State is now able to move along a road that connects Aleppo with Turkey. (Reuters)

GAZIANTEP, Turkey — Syrian rebels appealed for U.S. airstrikes to counter a new offensive by the Islamic State in the northern province of Aleppo that could reshape the battlefield in Syria. 

The surprise assault, launched over the weekend, opened a new front in the multi-pronged war being waged by the extremist group across Iraq and Syria, and it underscored the Islamic State’s capacity to catch its enemies off guard. 

How the West Can Still Lead the World


Listen to any European or American leader talk about the transatlantic relationship these days and you will hear a handful of common refrains. Major policy addresses of this kind often start with the recognition that the world has changed. Europe and the United States face unprecedented challenges on the world stage, ranging from asymmetric warfare to non-state actors to the diffusion of technology to the return of great power politics. The speaker then reassures the audience by noting that, contrary to those arguing that the West is in decline, Europe and the United States come at these challenges from a position of strength. It has been the West, after all, that spent the last sixty years establishing the world order, and it is the West that has the ability to maintain and further develop the international order according to its common values.

Time for America to Woo Back Israel

June 3, 2015
The United States is currently facing an alliance conundrum in the Middle East. As the Obama administration struggles to maintain positive ties with its Arab allies in the region, one country is securing large strategic gains: France, a NATO ally.

This became more evident with the Saudi king’s cancelled participation in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Camp David last month, which took away some of the steam from the meeting, and intensified concerns about U.S. success in the Middle East. In recent months, however, France has grown surprisingly close to the GCC, and is currently an Arab favorite in the region. In the backdrop of this complex alliance quagmire, America is probably better off wooing back its traditional ally, Israel, despite recent sparring between the two over Iran’s nuclear program.

Barack Obama's Sluggish Economy



The U.S. economy shrank by 0.7 percent last quarter, according to Friday’s revised estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The contraction may be a temporary aberration, as it was last year. Or, it might signal the onset of a more troubling slowdown. But one thing is for sure: the Obama recovery is unusually lethargic.

Since 1960, this nation has experienced six other recessions and subsequent recoveries. At twenty-three quarters in, the current recovery has been the weakest of all seven. The other post-1960 recoveries at this point had produced average cumulative growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of just over 25 percent. The current recovery has achieved barely half that—13.29 percent. The difference in GDP growth amounts to nearly $1.9 trillion in constant 2009 dollars.

The Reagan recovery (which began in late 1982) offers an even greater contrast. At the equivalent point in the Reagan recovery, cumulative economic growth stood at nearly 31 percent. The gap in cumulative growth between that recovery and the current one totals more than $2.7 trillion in constant 2009 dollars.

US to Help Vietnam Bolster Maritime Security

June 02, 2015

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced $18 million in U.S. funding to help Vietnam beef up its coast guard. 
The United States will help Vietnam bolster its maritime security by providing $18 million to Hanoi for the acquisition of coast guard patrol vessels. The initiative marks the first major development on defense cooperation between the two erstwhile enemies since the partial lifting of the decades-old U.S. arms embargo against Vietnam late last year (the embargo still excludes lethal arms). Carter’s visit comes just weeks after the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, the event that marked the end of the Vietnam War.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter remarked that he hoped the U.S. financing offer would lead to a growing security partnership between the two countries: “After 20 years there is more we can do… [to] enhance our capabilities and the capabilities of Vietnam,” he noted.

Will Egypt Join the Eurasian Economic Union?

June 03, 2015

The short answer is no, and that’s not even what is being discussed. 
Today, a headline on Russia’s Sputnik News read: “Egypt to Join Russia-Led Eurasian Economic Union in 2016.” It’s a misleading claim — dispelled immediately in the lede, which says Egypt is working on establishing a free trade zone with the countries of the EEU. This development is less exciting than the headline, but serves as a testament to Russia’s relentless focus on building the EEU, naysayers be damned. Russia’s ongoing disputes with Europe and the United States over Ukraine has Moscow looking to firm up friendships where it finds them.

Russia Threatens to Deploy Nuclear Weapons in Crimea


Russia emphasized that it retains the right to deploy nuclear weapons anywhere on its territory, including Crimea.
In an interview with Russian news media, Mikhail Ulyanov, the Director of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms control at the Russian Foreign Ministry, said that Russia could deploy nuclear weapons to Crimea.

“Russia obviously retains the right if needed to deploy its nuclear weapons anywhere on its national territory, including on the Crimean Peninsula,” Ulyanov said.

This is not the first time that Russia, or even Ulyanov himself, has said that Russia has a right to deploy nuclear weapons in Crimea. Back in March of this year, Ulyanov told reporters, “Naturally, Russia has the right to put nuclear weapons in any region on its territory if it deems it necessary. We hold that we have such a right, though Kiev has a different opinion on this matter.”

Primacy of Deterrence in Nuclear Age

02 Jun , 2015

A real ‘revolution’ in history of warfare was ushered in 1945 when the human beings tapped the forces of nature trapped in tiny atom, a force of vast proportion that has the capability of destroying the entire planet earth. This led to a turnaround in the relationship between politics and warfare. Nuclear war/weapons were no longer a ‘means to achieve political ends’ but instead the principal aims of politics today is to avoid nuclear war.

In the pre-thermonuclear age security strategies had two basic dimensions – defensive and offensive.

Meet the PLA’s Deadly New 'Carrier Killer' Drone

June 03, 2015

Last week, new pictures emerged on Chinese websites of the Project 973 or Shen Diao (“Divine Eagle”) prototype, perhaps the world’s largest twin fuselage drone – and a new formidable long-range strike weapon in the arsenal of the People’s Liberation Army.

Developed by China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corporation and influenced by the Russian Sukhoi S-62 twin-fuselage high-altitude, long-endurance UAV (some media reports indicate that China stole key design features from Russia), the Divine Eagle is Beijing’s latest addition to its burgeoning anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities.

The UAV prototype is a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) multi-mission platform with both long-range surveillance as well as strike capabilities and “has been the subject of speculative conceptual drawings since 2012,” according to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly. It boasts anti-stealth capabilities, a special purpose radar andreportedly first flew in February 2015.

Who Represents Labor Market Outsiders in South Korea?

June 03, 2015

If South Korea’s left won’t represent the poor, who will? 

Political scientist Joseph Wong recently tweeted, “Who does the Left represent today? Unions or the very poor? Labor market insiders or outsiders?” It is a pertinent question for most, if not all, democratic countries. Given the setbacks for leftist and liberal politics, the questions seem particularly appropriate in South Korea.

The United Progressive Party (UPP), which claimed to represent labor, was recently disbanded by court order after a band of politicians with questionable motives pushed the party hard left. The mainstream New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) is better off, but only marginally so. It is racked by intraparty strife and an inability to nail down anything resembling a programmatic party platform — a set of consistent and predictable policy positions with a clear ideological foundation. The South Korean left is, like the left elsewhere, reeling from an identity crisis. What is to be done?

Time to Revisit an ASEAN-EU FTA?


Much has changed since 2007, when FTA talks were first attempted. 
On May 19, 2015, the European Union (EU) adopted a Joint Communication: The EU and ASEAN: a partnership with a strategic purpose. The communication calls for taking “trade relations with ASEAN to a different level and working towards an ambitious region-to-region free trade agreement (FTA) building on bilateral agreements between the EU and ASEAN Member States.” Senior officials of ASEAN and the EU will gather towards the end of 2015 to take stock and explore the way forward after identifying the advantages and pitfalls that a ASEAN-EU free trade initiative might entail.

The GOP's Odd Stance on the Patriot Act

June 2, 2015
Let’s get this straight. Republican senators are outraged by government overreach, which is why they are manning the barracks against theEnvironmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) water rule.

They are also outraged by Rand Paul, who has forced warrantless bulk telephone metadata collection ensnaring millions of ordinary Americans to lapse.

The EPA is indeed out of control. There is also a legitimate debate to be had over how to balance liberty and security, both goods the federal government is tasked with preserving. But there is a bit of cognitive dissonance here.

Maybe there’s a compelling case for the expired provisions of the Patriot Act, but relatively few of Paul’s GOP detractors have deigned to make it. For the most part, they have operated with a strong presumption in favor of government power that they would otherwise reject if it was a domestic program.

Red Neckties and Defiance from Ukrainian Separatists

June 1, 2015

Across Russia, the media is celebrating the one-year anniversary of declarations of independence by two separatist entities in Ukraine - the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics - and the start of war against Kiev. According to the Russian military's official online magazine, Krasnaya Zvezda, or RedStar, "due to Kiev's termination of funding and support for (Donetsk) state institutions, its curtailment of banking activities, and its failure to fulfill social obligations... people's republics set up their own management structures and social security agencies."

Russian authorities and the media are highlighting their view that the war in Donetsk had nothing to do with Moscow, but was a reaction to events in Kiev in early 2014: "This armed struggle was not the choice of Donbas residents," the journal insisted, using the name given to the regions of Southeastern Ukraine, "they were forced to confront the military actions of Ukrainian politicians who seized power in Kiev as a result of the February 2014 revolution.

Military technology: Laser weapons get real

27 May 2015 

Long a staple of science fiction, laser weapons are edging closer to the battlefield — thanks to optical fibres. 
Silently, the drone aircraft glides above the arid terrain of New Mexico — until it suddenly pivots out of control and plummets to the ground.

Then a mortar round rises from its launcher, arcs high and begins to descend towards its target — only to flare and explode in mid-flight.

On the desert floor, on top of a big, sand-coloured truck, a cubic mechanism pivots and fires an invisible infrared beam to zap one target after another. This High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) is a prototype laser weapon developed for the US Army by aerospace giant Boeing of Chicago, Illinois. Inside the truck, Boeing electrophysics engineer Stephanie Blount stares at the targets on her laptop's screen and directs the laser using a handheld game controller. “It has a very game-like feel,” she says.

Sorry: Obama Didn't Lose Iraq

As a result of the fall of Ramadi and other Sunni areas in Iraq to the forces of ISIS, many critics are blaming President Obama for “losing Iraq.” According to his critics, for example, people like Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and columnist Charles Krauthammer, if Obama had only left thousands of American troops in Iraq after 2011, there would be no ISIS or Iranian-dominated Shiite militias in Iraq. The Iraqi military would be a well-trained, well-disciplined, and well-equipped fighting force, willing and able to defend their country. This view, though widely-shared by the more hawkish conservatives, is an exercise in wishful thinking and trying to cast blame on Obama, rather than a serious counterfactual. Let’s review the false claims:

Here's How to Avoid World War Three

June 3, 2015
http://nationalinterest.org/feature/heres-how-avoid-world-war-three-13027?page=show

Provocative moves by great powers are pushing the world one step closer to the ultimate disaster.
Although wars between even small nations are tragic for the populations involved and can cause wider problems in the international system, the prospect of armed conflict between major powers is the true nightmare scenario—especially in an era of nuclear weapons. The two world wars that so horribly scarred the twentieth century provide important reminders of the dire consequences of great-power conflicts. It follows that all responsible major countries should avoid actions that increase the risk of needless confrontations. Unfortunately, the level of danger from such conduct appears to be rising rather than declining.