16 August 2015

From Kabul to Gurdaspur: Pakistan’s Reliance on Sub-conventional Warfare

By Rohan Joshi
August 14, 2015
On August 8, 2015, Kabul witnessed its deadliest day since the 2001 U.S. invasion, when a series of attacks in the city left over 50 dead and hundreds injured. A suicide bomber dressed in police uniform detonated explosives outside the National Police Academy that resulted in almost 30 deaths. Then, a truck laden with explosives was detonated, killing 15 people and injuring over 200. Finally, a commando-style assault on Camp Integrity, a NATO military facility killed 10 people, including a U.S. soldier.

The attacks in Kabul come at a time when “peace negotiations” between the Afghan government and the Taliban are in a precarious position. Just a few days prior to the second round of talks between Kabul and the Taliban, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and President Ghani’s office confirmed that Mullah Muhammad Omar, the reclusive leader of the Taliban, had died in 2013.

Iranian Foreign Minister Visits India

By Ankit Panda
August 15, 2015

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, still fresh from having successfully arrived at a final deal over the country’s nuclear program with a group of world powers in Vienna some weeks ago, arrived in India where he met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and a range of other senior officials. Zarif arrived in India after a visit to Pakistan where he met senior officials there as well. Though the details of what Zarif discussed with Indian officials remain sparse—there were no major joint declarations issued—it is likely that the two sides discussed ways to expand their cooperation in light of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program, which will largely open up Iran’s economy after years of crippling economic sanctions.

Nepal Earthquake may have 'Unzipped' Fault Line, Boosting Risk of Future Quake

by Eliza Berlage, Kristen Morell and CP Rajendran,
August 10th, 2015
Source Link

New research shows the earthquake that struck central Nepal in April this year was only a partial rupture of a regional fault line, meaning another strong quake could be due in future.

Follow up:

The study, published today in Nature Geoscience, suggests the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that killed more than 9000 people released, or “unzipped”, stress on only a portion of the Main Himalayan Thrust fault, leaving the western portion of the line at risk of a large earthquake in the future.

The research team, led by Jean-Phillipe Avouac from the University of Cambridge in the UK, analysed the April 15 event using synthetic aperture radar imagery along with seismological measurements to show the location, geometry and nature of the fault patch that ruptured during the Nepal earthquake.

Can Myanmar Manage Its Post-Election Risks?

Myanmar’s coming elections, scheduled for November 8 this year, have taken on growing significance after the key opposition 
party, National League for Democracy (NLD), determined in mid-July that it would take part. Both the Myanmar people and the international community are counting on the elections to help usher in genuine democracy together with lasting peace and prosperity.

The NLD, the most popular party in Myanmar, is expected to win a “majority” of the seats that it is permitted to contest under the controversial 2008 constitution – 75 percent of all seats, with the remaining 25 percent reserved for the military. The NLD already has a proven electoral record, winning 82.2 percent of the vote in 1990 elections and 97.7 percent in the 2012 by-elections. So although the outcome of the 2015 elections is still uncertain, it seems likely that the NLD will be well placed to shape Myanmar politics both in the next government and in the next parliament. That would certainly be a widely popular outcome.

How Pakistan Is Tightening Its Grip on the Taliban

"The appointment of Mullah Mansour to head the Taliban is an opportunity for Pakistan to solidify its control over the organization and finally help bring about a genuine reconciliation process in Afghanistan."

The Taliban is in transition. Its leadership council in Quetta—in Pakistan’s Balochistan province—announced recently that Mullah Akhtar Mansour would replace Mullah Mohammed Omar as the leader of the insurgent movement.

Al-Qaeda's Leader Pledges Allegiance to Mullah Mansour

 By Ankit Panda
August 15, 2015

In an audio recording posted online on Thursday, Ayman al Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, pledged his loyalty to Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour, the new leader and Amir al-Muminin (Leader of the Faithful) of the Taliban. The announcement was released by al-Sahab, al-Qaeda’s media arm. Zarahiri’s announcement resolves an outstanding question regarding the Taliban’s unity following the group’s confirmation that Mullah Mohammad Omar, the group’s long-standing leader, had died two years ago, in 2013.

In the message, Zawahiri offers his condolences and declares his support for Mullah Mansour’s leadership. The Taliban confirmed Mansour’s status as the group’s new leader shortly after Omar’s death after a shura (council) of leaders convened in Quetta, Pakistan. ”We pledge our allegiance … [to the] commander of the faithful, Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour, may God protect him,” Zawahiri notes in the message. “Allah has honored you and honored our emir, the emir of the believers, Mullah Muhammad Omar. May Allah have mercy on him.” For the moment, the authenticity of the message has not been independently verified.

Indonesia Foils Deadly Islamic State Attack

By Prashanth Parameswaran
August 15, 2015
Indonesia has foiled an alleged plot by three Islamic State supporters to bomb a police station and churches in the country during its independence day celebrations next week, police said Friday.

According to local police chief Nur Ali, elite counterterrorism police detained the men in the city of Solo on the main island of Java Wednesday, just days before the country celebrates the 70th anniversary of its declaration of independence on August 17.

“Due to the hard work of the police and help from the people, the police managed to foil their plan to conduct terror on August 17,” he said according to Agence-France Presse.

Ali said the individuals arrested were a 29-year old bombmaker, another man who helped mix explosives, and a third individual who helped with planning and surveying potential targets. Police also seized chemicals used in bomb-making, explosives, bomb detonators, and IS flags and shirts during a series of raids.

US doesn’t have the stomach to deal with Pakistan in a realistic fashion

Seema Sirohi
August 12, 2015

When it comes to Pakistan’s army intelligence complex, the sky’s the limit. Even dead men talk, issue fatwas, bless the peace process, name successors and generally conduct business from the dark beyond. When the lies are exposed, the Pakistanis flatly deny everything and start anew. Taliban chief Mullah Omar’s death was hidden by the ISI for more than two years while it created an illusion that Pakistan and only Pakistan could “deliver” the Taliban even as it claimed it was not sheltering the one-eyed leader or others.

Deliver they did and the man chosen as the new Taliban chief, Mullah Akhtar Mansur, has let loose a wave of violence in Afghanistan, forcing President Ashraf Ghani to publicly call out Pakistan. “We can no longer tolerate to see our people bleeding in a war exported and imposed on us from outside,” he said on Monday, adding that the suicide training camps and bomb factories continue to operate in Pakistan just as they have in the past.

Ending the Middle East’s civil wars

Kenneth M. Pollack 
August 10, 2015

The Middle East just gets worse and worse. It is beset by a plethora of immediate crises, themselves fed by deep structural flaws in the state system of the Muslim Middle East. For the United States, securing its interests in the midst of the region’s interlocking and overflowing conflicts has never been more challenging. The age-old debate over whether to focus finite American resources on the immediate symptoms or the underlying causes has never been so acute.

All that said, it has become self-evident that the first and most important set of problems facing the Middle East are the civil wars raging in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen. It is the civil wars that are generating the flood tides of refugees washing across the region. It is the civil wars that are spawning the hordes of terrorists, attracting foreign terrorist recruits to the region, and creating the vital “fields of Jihad” where groups like al-Qaida, the Islamic State, and their offspring are able to survive and thrive. It is the civil wars that have radicalized the populations of the Middle East, fomenting a Sunni-Shiite conflict where none really existed. It is the spillover from the civil wars that have already pushed Iraq back into civil war, and now threatens to do the same to the fragile states of Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, and possibly even Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Moreover, it is the civil wars that have so frightened the people of the region that the regimes have been able to justify renewed repression rather than reform as the only way to deal with the underlying political, economic, and social problems that are the true villains of the story of the modern Middle East.

China's 5 Most Lethal (And Forgotten) 'Weapons' of War America Should Fear

Kyle Mizokami 
August 15, 2015
Source Link

When it comes to combat power, a holistic approach that takes into account more than just military factors gives a more complete picture.

China’s military buildup has developed a broad array of new weapons systems that worry China’s neighbors, the United States and its allies. New, fifth-generation fighters like the J-20 and missiles like the DF-21D “carrier killer” are sounding the alarm in capitals from Hanoi to Washington.

But there are a whole class of other “weapons” in the People’s Liberation Army that should be causing just as much—if not more—worry. Some are hard to detect; others are hiding in plain sight. Still others are useful because of a lack of an American counter-capability, or are a reflection of socioeconomic changes going on across the nation.

China’s Surprise Currency Devaluation

By Sara Hsu
August 14, 2015
China devalued its currency on Tuesday, reportedly in order to make the RMB more responsive to market forces, although this gave rise to suspicion among global analysts, who fear that the devaluation is a sign of a deteriorating balance of payments. The RMB fell 1.9 percent against the dollar, the largest one-day decline in a decade. Worse, the following day, the RMB was weakened by 1.6 percent from the previous day’s midpoint. Asia Pacific stock markets and emerging market currencies declined as a result, on speculation that the change was made in order to prop up China’s slumping economy. Yet despite the negative market response, the official line still makes the most sense.

Twitter Says: South Koreans Not Satisfied with Abe’s Speech

By Steven Denney
August 15, 2015
In Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s much anticipated speech on the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender to end World War II (read the full text in English), Abe encouraged Japan’s postwar generations to move on and not feel as if they must continually apologize for a war they did not start.

While he affirmed that previous apologies and expressions of remorse “will remain unshakable into the future,” he did not renew those apologies or offer any new ones, as some in neighboring countries, particularly China and South Korea, had hoped. Indeed, media coverage across the board note Abe’s carefully crafted speech “stops short of new apology.” Martin Fackler, former Tokyo bureau chief for the New York Times, writes via Twitter, “Emerging media consensus is that Abe repeated #Japan’s past #WWII apologies, but didn’t offer new one of his own.”

Japan Gifts Vietnam Patrol Vessel Amid South China Sea Tensions

By Prashanth Parameswaran
August 15, 2015
The Hayato is a boost for Vietnam’s maritime security.

On August 5, Japan handed over a patrol vessel to Vietnam to use for maritime patrols.

The Japan International Cooperation System handed the ship over to the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance force at a delivery ceremony in Hong Ha Shipyard in the northern port city Hai Phong.

The vessel is part of a deal involving six used vessels that Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to donate to Vietnam during an August 2014 visit to Hanoi to help strengthen maritime safety. As I have noted previously, Japan has intensified its engagement with Southeast Asian countries under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, particularly in the defense realm (See for instance: “The Future of US-Japan-Vietnam Trilateral Cooperation”).

China's WW2 Remembrance: 'Patriotic Education' in Action

By Alexandre Dor
August 15, 2015

China’s WW2 remembrances are but the latest instance of a ‘new’ Chinese 
For the last 25 years, nationalism has proved to be the Chinese Communist Party’s favorite ideology. Under Xi Jinping the Party’s commitment to the patriotic narrative has only strengthened.

Last year Xi announced the creation of three new holidays, two of which are pointedly anti-Japanese. The first, on September 3, is called “Victory Day of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression” and will mark the end of the “World Anti-Fascist War.” The second, on December 13, is a national memorial day for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre.

After Tianjin Blast, China Takes a Close Look at Safety Regulations

By Shannon Tiezzi
August 15, 2015
Chinese media are questioning how Ruihai Company was able to get around safety regulations for storing dangerous goods.

The explosions in Tianjin on August 12, which killed at least 56 and injured over 700, occurred at a warehouse operated by Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics Co. Ltd. The warehouse was apparently storing dangerous and flammable materials – what, exactly, has not been revealed yet.

The incident raised questions about the safety procedures in place for the storing and transport of dangerous chemicals. As David Wertime pointed out for Foreign Policy, Chinese netizens and reporters alike have questioned the safety policies in place – particularly, the wisdom of placing a storage facility for hazardous materials so close to a residential area.

That led to an awkward moment in a press conference with a Tianjin government spokesperson. As The Nanfang recounts, a reporter asked how far hazardous material should be located from residential areas, “according to environmental regulations.” The spokesperson was unable to answer, and the press conference broadcast on CCTV cut out abruptly.

Caixin dug up the answer to the journalist’s question, saying that Chinese regulations require “large- and medium-sized hazardous chemical storage facilities” to be kept at a distance of 1,000 meters from public buildings, infrastructure (including highways, railroads, and water lines) and industrial companies. The Ruihai company’s warehouse, Caixin says, was only 800 meters away from the closest residential area. A resident from a nearby apartment building told Caixin the building was now “completely unlivable.”

China Stages Live Military Drills to Sharpen Joint Command

Ting Shi
August 11, 2015

China’s military has begun a series of live-fire drills involving more than 140,000 troops that aim to improve joint operational command.

The four main branches of the People’s Liberation Army have over the past two days launched exercises in the Chengdu and Nanjing military regions, state media said. The drills -- code named Joint Action-2015 -- are among five training sessions involving the army, navy, air force and the Second Artillery Corps, the nuclear weapons unit, the official PLA Daily said.

China plans 100 joint exercises this year as the country’s largely untested military steps up efforts to sharpen combat-readiness at a time of rising tensions over territorial disputes with Asian neighbors. President and commander-in-chief Xi Jinping has boosted military spending and pushed the PLA, the world’s largest military with 2.3 million active members, to enhance its ability to fight and win battles.

China’s Maginot Line

Robbie Gramer and Rachel Rizzo
August 11, 2015 


For the month of August, we have chosen to feature two original contributions in Strategic Outpost from our next generation of national security thinkers. We hope you enjoy these thoughtful pieces from young men and women already rising to be the future leaders in this field. We’ll return to our regular Barno & Bensahel columns in September. Meanwhile, best wishes for some great summertime reading!

In the 1930s, wary of a revanchist Germany, France constructed an elaborate fortification system stretching across its eastern border. This state-of-the-art defensive network, the Maginot Line, ultimately did little to protect France. Its effect was entirely negated by Nazi Germany’s innovative blitzkrieg strategy that wholly bypassed French defenses, unexpectedly striking through the Ardennes forest and neutral Belgium. The Maginot Line became a ubiquitous symbol of failure in defense planning; an adversary that adapted its offensive strategy to bypass the line quickly rendered one of the strongest and most elaborate defense networks the world had yet seen irrelevant. The lessons of the Maginot Line extend well into the 21st century, as China constructs a coastal and offshore defensive belt to defend both its maritime and territorial claims with high-tech and static capabilities.

Who Controls the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan?

By Catherine Putz
August 15, 2015
Weekend links for Central Asia:

Starting with something to listen to this weekend: Nate Schenkkan is back with a new Central Asianist podcast. He is joined by Obaid Ali, assistant country director and researcher at the Afghanistan Analysts Network, to discuss the increased activity of insurgents in northern Afghanistan. Ali notes a number of reasons for increased Taliban activity in Kunduz province, including less support from the central government, less confidence in local police, less coordination among security forces, and increased local Taliban propaganda.

Weighing In: Uzbekistan Airways Deletes Announcement of New Procedures

By Catherine Putz
August 14, 2015
Uzbekistan Airways announced on August 7 that it would begin weighing passengers with their hand bagged prior to boarding. The new procedure, an effort to ensure flight safety the company’s statement at the time said, would be confidential. The “special weighing machine…will only contain the corresponding passenger category (i.e. male/ female/ children).”

The airline said, “According to the rules of International Air Transport Association, airlines are obliged to carry out the regular procedures of preflight control passengers weighing with hand baggage to observe requirements for ensuring flight safety.”

The story got international attention, with pieces in the UK’s sensationalist Daily Mail, RT, USA Today, Fortune, the Telegraph and others. Eventually, on August 13, CNN picked up the story, and asked the IATA about the rule cited by Uzbekistan Airways. “An IATA spokesperson, however, tells CNN the organization isn’t aware of any such regulation.”

How Google is fighting ISIL in Syria

Written by Tim Fernholz
August 11, 2015

Google—or the many products and services now under the holding company Alphabet—provides the connecting tissue between US forces and Kurdish militias fighting against ISIL in war-torn Syria.

New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi writes from the battlefield that fighters are using Android-powered Samsung tablets and Google Earth to track their battle lines and coordinate close air support with the US military:

“Our comrades can see the enemy moving at the GPS address I just sent you,” [a Kurdish fighter] wrote in Arabic to a handler hundreds of miles away in a United States military operations room. Then he waited for the American warplanes to scream in. The strike that ensued soon after blasted a crater at exactly the coordinates provided by the Kurdish fighter. It left a circle of bodies, including one of an Islamic State fighter who died slumped over his AK-47.

Saudi Arabia may go broke before the US oil industry buckles

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
05 Aug 2015

Source Link

If the oil futures market is correct, Saudi Arabia will start running into trouble within two years. It will be in existential crisis by the end of the decade.

The contrac price of US crude oil for delivery in December 2020 is currently $62.05, implying a drastic change in the economic landscape for the Middle East and the petro-rentier states.

The Saudis took a huge gamble last November when they stopped supporting prices and opted instead to flood the market and drive out rivals, boosting their own output to 10.6m barrels a day (b/d) into the teeth of the downturn.

Imperial Japan's Last Floating Battleship

By Robert Farley
August 14, 2015
Only one of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s first class battleships survived to see the end of the Pacific War.

HIJMS Nagato entered service in November 1920. She displaced 33000 tons, carried 8 16” guns, and could make 26.5 knots, a combination that made her the world’s most powerful and versatile warship. Nagato and her sister Mutsu were the first two ships of Japan’s “eight and eight” program, designed to provide the IJN with eight modern battleships and battlecruisers, and ensure Japan’s regional dominance. The Washington Naval Treaty entered into force shortly after Nagato’s commissioning, freezing battleship development and extending her reign at the top.

How to Make Sense of 'Alarming' Sea Level Forecasts

August 10th, 2015
Source Link

You may have read recent reports about huge changes in sea level, inspired by new research from James Hansen, NASA’s former Chief Climate Scientist, at Columbia University. Sea level rise represents one of the most worrying aspects of global warming, potentially displacing millions of people along coasts, low river valleys, deltas and islands.

Follow up:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN’s scientific climate body, forecasts rises of approximately 40 to 60 cm by 2100. But other studies have found much greater rises are likely.

Global Carbon Intensity Rises: A Kaya Decomposition

by Timothy Taylor,
August 11th, 2015 http://econintersect.com/a/blogs/blog1.php/global-carbon-intensity-rises-a

One way to think about the issues involved in reducing global carbon emissions is to break down the underlying factors in this way.
Consider what is called the Kaya decomposition (named after an author who used this approach about 25 years ago):

The 'sanitised narrative' of Hiroshima's atomic bombing

By Rupert Wingfield-HayesBBC News
4 August 2015 

Out of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue. Media captionHiroshima survivor Keiko Ogura recalls the horror of what she saw

The US has always insisted that the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary to end World War Two. But it is a narrative that has little emphasis on the terrible human cost.

I met a remarkable young man in Hiroshima the other day. His name is Jamal Maddox and he is a student at Princeton University in America. Jamal had just toured the peace museum and met with an elderly hibakusha, a survivor of the bombing.

Standing near the famous A-Bomb Dome, I asked Jamal whether his visit to Hiroshima had changed the way he views America's use of the atom bomb on the city 70 years ago. He considered the question for a long time.

The Abe Statement: Did Abe Apologize?

By Shannon Tiezzi
August 14, 2015
“On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, we must calmly reflect upon the road to war, the path we have taken since it ended, and the era of the 20th century. We must learn from the lessons of history the wisdom for our future.”

So begins Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s hotly anticipated statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The official Cabinet statement, delivered on August 14, will be heavily scrutinized, particularly in China and South Korea, for evidence that Abe is attempting to avoid historical responsibility. In particular, outside observers were looking to see that Abe replicated key language from the 1995 Murayama Statement and the 2005 Koizumi Statement: the word “apology” and admissions of Japan’s “aggression” and “colonial rule.” In essence, the question was how Abe would explain what, exactly, Japan did wrong in World War II and the preceding years and how (if at all) he would offer an apology for those actions.

So how did Abe do? Let’s take a look.

What Did Japan Do?

Abe Focuses on Japan’s 'Lessons Learned'

By Sheila A. Smith
August 15, 2015


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has presented his statement on the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II (WWII). Much anticipated and debated, this Abe Statement included the language of statements made on the fiftieth and sixtieth anniversaries by former prime ministers Murayama Tomiichi and Koizumi Junichiro. But Abe took a different tack from his predecessors, identifying the lessons of that war and defeat, and articulating their link to Japan’s current and future ambitions.

Words matter. Four words in particular were seen as evidence of Abe’s attitude toward the past: “aggression (shinryaku),” “colonial domination (shokuminchi shihai),” “deep remorse (tsusetsu na hansei),” and “apology (owabi)”—Abe included all four phrases from the Murayama and Koizumi statements defined as markers of Abe’s intent. For those who saw the semantics as the key to success, Abe left little room for criticism. Yet opposition leaders in the Diet still found room for complaint, arguing that Abe simply quoted past statements rather than repeating them with conviction.

Myanmar Floods a Test for Political Leaders

By Paul Shortell
August 14, 2015
Widespread flooding in Myanmar presents a major test for political leaders ahead of much-anticipated elections. Torrential monsoon rains have claimed more than 100 lives and affected approximately one million of the country’s estimated 53 million residents. In many rural communities, the financial and psychological effects of devastation will persist well after waters recede. Responses to the natural disaster will help set the tone for historic polls set for November 8.

Stakes are high for the country’s two leading political organizations – the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) – as they compete head-to-head for seats nationwide for the first time. Effectively the civilian political arm of Myanmar’s armed forces, the USDP faces disapproval over an incomplete democratic transition, persistent inequality, allegations of corruption, and simmering tensions between the central government and ethnic minority groups. The NLD must overcome a lack of governing experience and fractious infighting in order garner the wide popular support it claims.

Satellite Imagery: North Korea Expanding Uranium Production

By 38 North / Jeffrey Lewis
August 14, 2015
This article was first published at 38 North, a blog of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins SAIS. It is republished with kind permission.

North Korea is expanding its capacity to mine and mill natural uranium. Recent commercial satellite imagery shows that, over the past year, Pyongyang has begun to refurbish a major mill located near Pyongsan that turns uranium ore into yellowcake (milled uranium oxide, a first step toward enriched uranium). The renovation suggests that North Korea is preparing to expand the production of uranium from a nearby mine.

Infographic Of The Day: 14 Countries On The Verge Of Bankruptcy

Granted, the current economic situation in the U.S. is far from great due to an ever-increasing national debt; but when looking at the financial dilemma on a global scale it quickly becomes obvious that other countries are even worse off than America.

While they may not be filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy like an individual would in America, these countries are still on the verge of financial emergency.

Here are 14 countries on the verge of bankruptcy, including the U.S.

Why Carly Fiorina Is Rising in the Polls (And Why It Matters)

Robert W. Merry 
August 13, 2015
Republican voters are restless. They don’t like the direction of the country. They don’t like politicians. So why not send them a message by casting votes for non-traditional candidates?

Carly Fiorina is on a roll. After the recent Fox News Republican presidential debates, she has enjoyed a significant bump-up in the polls—to 9 percent in the latest Rasmussen survey; 8 percent in the NBC/Survey Monkey poll; 9 percent in a New Hampshire poll; 7 percent in Iowa. A pollster at Suffolk University named David Paleologos tells the New York Post, “She has broken through….a real boost….She’s put herself in the game.”

What does this mean? And what does it say about the Republican electorate, the state of American politics, and Fiorina herself?

Remembering World War II in Asia: Dishonest Visions of History?

By Colin Jones
August 13, 2015
From the moment World War II ended, its legacy posed urgent questions to those who survived it. The brutality of the preceding years cast doubt on fundamental assumptions about politics, progress, and human nature. What misapprehensions—what unacknowledged evils—inhered in our societies, our sciences, and ourselves? So much of the second half of the 20th century followed from the answers, sincere and self-serving, that each generation offered. This year, 70 years later, we still live in a world haunted by the problems and memories that came flooding back as soon as the catharsis of peace lifted.

Indonesia’s Navy Captures Elusive ‘Slave Ship’

By Prashanth Parameswaran
August 15, 2015
On August 13, the Indonesian Navy pursued and seized a vessel believed to have been involved in slave labor in the fishing sector.

Following a weeklong chase by Indonesian authorities, the Thai-owned Silver Sea 2 believed to be loaded with slave-caught fish was located late Wednesday and escorted about 80 miles to a naval base, where it was found to not possess the right paperwork.

“I’m so overwhelmed with happiness,” Indonesia’s Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti told The Associated Press. “It was almost impossible, but we did it”. She added that the boat captain would be questioned and that an investigation would be launched into human trafficking, offloading at sea and the transport of illegal fish.

Should the United States Be Blamed for Japan’s Historical Revisionism?

By Franz-Stefan Gady
August 15, 2015

Given the controversy surrounding Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, it is perhaps worthwhile to briefly reexamine some of the root causes that lead to conservative Japanese revisionism. (Yesterday, I gave an interview to Asia News Weekly on the same subject.)

While it is of course reductionist to focus on one single cause for Japanese conservatives’ difficulties in dealing with Japan’s wartime past, I would like to briefly discuss the American decision to exonerate Hirohito, the 124th Emperor of Japan, and the entire imperial family for the policies and actions of the Empire of Japan during the 1930s and 1940s.

In short, this decision was a grave mistake and my reasoning is simple: If the commander in chief of Japan’s imperial forces and the most revered personality by all Japanese was absolved from any wrongdoing during the war, why should individual soldiers and politicians feel any obligation to take responsibility themselves?

As the historian John W. Dower once put it: “Emperor Hirohito became postwar Japan’s preeminent symbol, and facilitator, of non-responsibility and non-accountability.” In fact, the American occupation command was careful to exculpate Hirohito from even any moral responsibility for Japan’s actions during his reign, as Dower points out.

Rethinking Hollow Point Ammunition

By Deane-Peter Baker
August 11, 2015

With the minimum of fanfare, the US Army has made an announcement that challenges a long-standing prohibition in international humanitarian law: the banning of ‘expanding’ or hollow point ammunition from the battlefield. The announcement came in the context of a presentation on the updated requirements for the next-generation US Army handgun—designated the XM-17—which took place at a Picatinny Arsenal Industry Day last month.

Earlier discussion of the requirements for the XM-17 suggested strongly that the new handgun would need to be at least .40 or .45 calibre to achieve the ballistic effects specified by the US Army solicitation. However in this new statement, the US Army spokesman quietly added another consideration: that the new handgun be compatible with ‘special purpose ammunition’, specifically jacketed hollow point (JHP) ammunition. For those companies planning to submit one or more designs for the XM-17 competition (success in which will result in a massive order of 280,000 handguns at a minimum) this means that handguns chambered for the NATO standard 9mm round are now serious contenders alongside .40 or .45 calibre guns. That’s because JHP ammunition dramatically increases the lethality of ammunition, such that a smaller round like the 9mm can achieve effects similar to significantly heavier bullets like those fired from .40 or .45 calibre pistols.