8 September 2015

Military’s Izzat – who is responsible?

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
07 Sep , 2015

Much that remains under cover various administrations, by now it is well known that as per the Rules of Business of Government of India, the responsibility of the defence of the country remains officially with the Defence Secretary, not the Defence Minister. While some 100 amendments have been made to the India Constitution, no government has made any effort to amend the Rules of Business, the second major advantage being that the Army, Navy and Air Force headquarters remain as ‘Attached Offices’, which implies that the MoD bureaucracy remains unaccountable and yet supreme because the military has been kept away from higher defence organizations and even the official defence-industrial set up. This system suits the mafia with many successive governments who have used the Defence Minister for boosting the ruling party’s kitty, as well as lining individual pockets.

Indo-Pak Conflict of 1965 - Surrendering Victory

By Vice Admiral Mihir K. Roy
05 Sep , 2015

Field Marshal Ayub Khan brushed aside the corrupt civilian coterie and with the support of bureaucrats assumed the presidentship of Pakistan in 1958. This military dictatorship within the Commonwealth was meekly accepted by those who had fought to remove dictators in Europe. India continued to be the only big nation practising democracy but her security needs were sidelined, both by the United States and Britain.

The Nehru era had also ended with the debacle in the Himalayas. But nonetheless, the political stability endured under Lal Bahadur Shastri, a staunch follower of Gandhiji, who maintained his faith in non-alignment and the moral force of non-violence. In a conflict-ridden decolonizing environment the military power blocks became the link between big powers and pliable client states in the Indian Ocean.

Islamabad was encouraged to confront India which they felt was flabby and divisive with Kashmir being the prize which Ayub Khan was sure would make him President for life.

Lieutenant did you die in vain?

By Sarvar Bali
Issue: Net Edition | Date : 05 Sep , 2015

I learnt about your demise from the ticker tape on one of the news channels, last evening. It was a big encounter and a very fierce one at that. A feeling of deep saddness enveloped me as I reflected on your youth which had been sacrificed in Gurez Sector, in the line of duty. What does your death mean?

Your name will not be read out in any obituary reference in Parliament, as is done in the UK for all soldiers who fall in combat in the line of duty.

By now your mortal body would be lying embalmed at the Base Hospital and will be flown out of Srinagar later in the day, on its final journey to the cremation ground in your native town or village.

You were too young to die, far too young! For whom and for what did you die then? This question haunted me last night and I will attempt to answer you.

Mountbatten on CDS

By viewpoint
07 Sep , 2015

Letter from Lord Mountbatten of Burma to Lt Gen (then Major General) ML Chibber, (Retd) PVSM, AVSM, PhD.

Broadlands, Ramsey
Hampshire, S05 9ZD
27th September 1977

Dear Chib,

Thank you so much for your letter of the 20th September which I have read with the greatest of interest.

It is nice to see a Subaltern from the days when you mounted guard at Viceroy’s House now a Major General and Director of Military Operations. Many congratulations.

To answer your questions in your paragraph 6 :

One Rank One Pension Scheme for Ex-Servicemen

By IDR News Network
Issue: Net Edition | Date : 05 Sep , 2015

The Government has announced the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme for the Ex-Servicemen. This was announced by the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on 05-September-2015. The following is the statement of the Defence Minister:

…to implement OROP, the estimated cost to the exchequer would be Rs. 8,000 to 10,000 crore at present, and will increase further in future.

“Government of India respects its Defence Forces and Ex-Servicemen for their valour, patriotism and sacrifices. The Government is proud of their devotion to duty and bravery. Our forces, besides vigilantly and gallantly defending the nation, have displayed exemplary standards of courage and bravery in natural calamities, law and order situations and other difficult circumstances.

Veterans call off indefinite hunger strike after Modi issues clarification on OROP

Relay hunger strike to continue
Veterans protesting the delay in the implementation of the One Rank One Pension scheme called off their indefinite hunger strike after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday ssued a clarification on the programme. Modi said that those seeking early retirement from the armed forces would also be eligible to receive the benefits of the pension programme. However, some ex-servicemen said that they would continue to hold a relay hunger strike until all their demands were met. They added that they would hold a “mega rally” in New Delhi on September 12. Veteran's associations have listed four points of disagreement with the government's plan, including the time period set for the equalisation of pensions and the base year for the calculation of salaries.

VHP calls on Muslims to control population



I recently spoke with journalist, filmmaker, and author Ben Anderson about his recent episode of VICE on HBO. In his film, Afghanistan After Us, Anderson chronicled the current state of the Afghan Local Police. In our conversation, he expands on how a village in Helmand Province came to have a 53-year-old woman in charge of a local police unit (ALP), the challenges that Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) face, as well as his opinion of recent negotiations with the Taliban. Anderson’s observations are of particular interest considering the reporting of Mullah Omar’s death, and accounts of further fragmentation occurring daily.

Suzanne Schroeder: In December 2013, the New York Times reported that an Afghan National Army (ANA) commander and the Taliban had reached an agreement in Sangin. The Army then launched a quick investigation. Obviously, this news was problematic, as it was without official approval. But what is to keep ALP groups from entering into similar arrangements?

Germany and Sweden Helping the U.S. Target Its Drone Strikes in Afghanistan

Rod Nordland
September 4, 2015

Germany and Sweden Are Said to Help Make Afghan ‘Kill Decisions’

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two European allies of the United States have been directly participating in so-called kill decisions against insurgents in Afghanistandespite rules prohibiting them from doing so, according to two senior Western officials with knowledge of the operations.

The accusations concern airstrikes, mostly by drones, that American officials have justified as part of a lasting counterterrorism mission agreed to with the Afghan government. However, some of the strikes have come under question as being far more aggressive than the security deal allows for.

The two countries said to be improperly involved in approving strike decisions —Germany, a NATO member of the coalition in Afghanistan, and Sweden, which is not a member of NATO — as well as a spokesmen for the American-led military coalition all denied that anyone other than the United States military had been involved in targeting insurgents.

But the two senior officials said that the issue, which has not been publicly disclosed previously, has been quietly increasing tensions between the American military and its NATO and other allies. And the accusations are likely to cause a particular stir in Germany, where constitutional rules forbid offensive military operations in most cases and where human rights groups have joined lawsuitsthat alleged even indirect German assistance for American drone strikes.

If Pakistan Wants a 'Normal' Nuclear Status, It Must Give Up Terrorism

By Seema Sirohi
September 05, 2015

Ever since India and the United States concluded their 2005 civil nuclear agreement, which essentially recognized India as the sixth nuclear weapons power in the global order, Pakistan has argued for a similar agreement with the U.S., despite its dubious record of proliferation.

Pakistan seeks parity with India in every realm, even if its size and history make that a questionable project. Undeterred, it has mounted a massive diplomatic campaign in Western capitals over the last several years to block India from reaching the next stage of legitimacy for its nuclear program, i.e. entry into the four international technology-control regimes starting with the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Islamabad’s anti-India campaign can be considered somewhat successful, since it has managed to chip away at the resistance against its own proliferation record while raising questions about accepting India as a de factonuclear power. Conventional wisdom in Washington, which once considered Pakistan as a nuclear pariah because of A.Q. Khan’s enterprise of selling nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea, has shifted to finding ways of rationalizing its behavior.

The reasons are two-fold: Pakistan is apparently making 20 nuclear weapons a year and in a decade could amass the world’s third largest arsenal. Some U.S. experts believe that something must be done to treat this suicidal/homicidal behavior.

Russia’s turn to China: A gap between rhetoric and reality

By Julia Smirnova 
September 6 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, observe a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's World War II defeat from Tiananmen Gate in Beijing on Sept. 3, as South Korean President Park Geun-hye, seated at left, looks on. (Ng Han Guan/AP)

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping share a love of military parades.

Both Russian and Chinese presidents appreciate the symbolic meaning of tanks and missiles rolling and soldiers marching through squares, showing their domestic and international audience that they are fully in control and their countries are superpowers.

On Thursday, Putin visited Beijing to celebrate with Xi Japan’s defeat in World War II. He watched Russian soldiers marching together with Chinese, and Russia also staged its own parade – on a much smaller scale – on the same day in the far eastern city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

Could China's Economic Troubles Spark a War?

September 6, 2015

Global attention has focused on the plunge in the Shanghai stock market and mounting evidence that China’s economic growth is slowing dramatically. Moreover, the contagion appears to be spreading, characterized by extreme volatility and alarming declines in America’s own equity markets. Those worries are compounded because there always have been doubts about the accuracy of Beijing’s official economic statistics. Even before the current downturn, some outside experts believed that Chinese officials padded the results, making the country’s performance appear stronger than it actually was. If China is now teetering on the brink of recession, the political incentives for officials to conceal the extent of the damage would be quite powerful.

The focus on the possible wider economic consequences of a severe Chinese economic slowdown is understandable, since the ramifications could be extremely unpleasant for the U.S. and global economies. But we should also be vigilant about how such economic stress might affect Beijing’s diplomatic and military behavior. It is not unprecedented for a government that feels besieged to attempt to distract a discontented public by fomenting a foreign policy crisis. In Henry IV, Shakespeare pithily described that process as the temptation to “busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels.”

Chinese Animators Envision a Future War in Asia—and Blow Up the Internet

September 5, 2015

Alongside the military spectacle that passed through Tiananmen Square in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Chinese media conglomerate Tecent also released a new computer-generated video, “Battle to Capture an Island: a Full View of Chinese Military Strength.” Available via the social media platform QQ, the five-minute video appears to show a Chinese aerial attack and subsequent invasion of a tropical island.

Set ambiguously in the year “20XX” after maritime tensions have led to an attack on a Chinese airbase, the aggressive tone and intense narrative of the hypothetical conflict are well worth paying attention to. China announces its intention to “comprehensively fight back,” using the full strength of the Chinese military to promote “peace through war.” The first unit into action is the Second Artillery Corps (SAC), which is shown launching a variety of Dongfeng-series ballistic missiles. The ground-launched missiles are complemented by CJ-20 Land-Attack Cruise Missiles (LACMs) fired by H-6 bombers.

The missile attacks succeed at destroying an airbase and a naval fleet, both of which are clearly meant to depict U.S. forces as the video includes unmistakably American platforms such as an F-22 Raptor and a ship with a strong resemblance to a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

The Central Bank Dilemma

September 4, 2015

Referring to gold and all physical money as a “barbarous relic” (a phrase “coined” … please excuse the misuse of the term … by Lord Keynes, see Monetary Reform(1924), p. 172) is the favorite pastime of gold-bashers and fiat currency worshippers everywhere. In attempting to convince the public that real, hard money should be an object of derision, fiat fanatics, some wittingly and some unwittingly, are advancing the cause of “statism” (socialism and fascism) and its American analogue “cronyism”.

There is, indeed, a barbarous relic, but it is NOT gold. The real barbarous relic is central banking, and it is central banking, especially as practiced by the U.S. Federal Reserve (“Fed”), the European Central Bank (“ECB”), the Bank of Japan (“BOJ”) and the Peoples Bank of China (“PBOC”), that deserves the public’s derision. Sooner rather than later, the practices of central bankers are sure to incur the public’s wrath.

America Must Take a Stand in the South China Sea

September 5, 2015

Navigating the stormy waters of the South China Sea will require a realistic U.S. foreign policy anchored by comprehensive power, deep engagement, and enduring principles.

The South China Sea is center stage for Asia’s intensifying maritime competition. China is incrementally but inexorably moving to assert its claim over the vast majority of that semi-enclosed body of water, which covers more than twice the area of Alaska. Back in 2010, when Chinese heavy-handedness was resonating throughout the region, Beijing hinted that the South China Sea was now a “core interest.” Yet it is not just China (and Taiwan) that border on that marginal sea, but also six Southeast Asian states harboring their own legitimate concerns about sovereignty and security.

Beyond Asia, the South China Sea is at the nexus of the global economy upon which all major trading nations’ prosperity depends. About 90 percent of global commercial trade is seaborne, and more than a third of all that trade crosses the South China Sea. Yet the South China Sea is the epicenter of China’s maritime buildup, and the same vicinity within the so-called “first island chain” where America’s ability to project power in support of freedom of the seas is increasingly open to question.

Qatar Sending 1,000 Troops to Fight in Yemen

September 7, 2015

Qatar Sends 1,000 Ground Troops to Yemen Battle: Al Jazeera

SANAA — Qatar has sent around 1,000 ground troops to Yemen, Doha-based Al Jazeera television said on Monday, their first reported involvement in a Saudi-backed offensive against the dominant Houthi group.

Military sources said Qatari forces were on their way to Yemen and preparing to join a new push on Houthi positions in the capital Sanaa - though they told Reuters the soldiers had not yet entered the Arabian Peninsula country.

Qatari pilots have joined months of Saudi-led air strikes on the Houthis, an Iran-allied group that seized Sanaa last year, advanced across the country and forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile in March.

The reported involvement of Qatari ground troops came amid an escalation of the conflict days after a missile strike that killed dozens of Gulf Arab soldiers.

Al Jazeera’s English website said 1,000 Qatari soldiers, backed by 200 armored vehicles and 30 Apache helicopters had been deployed.

The Qatari foreign ministry made no immediate comment on the report.


Syria Policy: White House Is Selling Inaction in Syria As a Necessary Evil and an Achievement

Fred Hiatt
September 7, 2015

Opinion: Obama’s Syria achievement

This may be the most surprising of President Obama’s foreign-policy legacies: not just that he presided over a humanitarian and cultural disaster of epochal proportions, but that he soothed the American people into feeling no responsibility for the tragedy.

Starvation in Biafra a generation ago sparked a movement. Synagogues and churches a decade ago mobilized to relieve misery in Darfur. When the Taliban in 2001 destroyed ancient statues of Buddha at Bamiyan, the world was appalled at the lost heritage.

Fred Hiatt is the editorial page editor of The Post. He writes editorials for the newspaper and a biweekly column that appears on Mondays. He also contributes to the PostPartisan blog.

Today the Islamic State is blowing up precious cultural monuments in Palmyra, and half of all Syrians have been displaced — as if, on a proportional basis, 160 million Americans had been made homeless. More than a quarter-million have been killed. Yet the “Save Darfur” signs have not given way to “Save Syria.”

One reason is that Obama — who ran for president on the promise of restoring the United States’ moral stature — has constantly reassured Americans that doing nothing is the smart and moral policy. He has argued, at times, that there was nothing the United States could do, belittling the Syrian opposition as “former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth.”

After Series of Failures, the Pentagon Is Completely Overhauling Its Syrian “Moderate” Rebel Force

Eric Schmitt and Ben Hubbard
September 7, 2015

U.S. Revamping Rebel Force Fighting ISIS in Syria

WASHINGTON — In an acknowledgment of severe shortcomings in its effort to create a force of moderate rebels to battle the Islamic State in Syria, the Pentagon is drawing up plans to significantly revamp the program by dropping larger numbers of fighters into safer zones as well as providing better intelligence and improving their combat skills.

The proposed changes come after a Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda attacked, in late July, many of the first 54 Syrian graduates of the military’s training program and the rebel unit they came from. A day before the attack, two leaders of the American-backed group and several of its fighters were captured.

The encounter revealed several glaring deficiencies in the program, according to classified assessments: The rebels were ill-prepared for an enemy attack and were sent back into Syria in too small numbers. They had no local support from the population and had poor intelligence about their foes. They returned to Syria during the Eid holiday, and many were allowed to go on leave to visit relatives, some in refugee camps in Turkey — and these movements likely tipped off adversaries to their mission. Others could not return because border crossings were closed.

Exposing Russia’s Secret Army in Syria

Some wear uniforms, some don’t, but from highway checkpoints to jet fighters, Russians are being spotted all over the Assad dictatorship’s heartland.

Russian military officers are now in Damascus and meeting regularly with Iranian and Syrian counterparts, according to a source with close contacts in the Bashar al-Assad regime. “They’re out in restaurants and cafes with other high officials in the Syrian Army,” the source told The Daily Beast, “mainly concentrated in Yaafour and Sabboura, areas that are close to each other, and in west Mezze,” referring to a district in the capital where Assad’s praetorian Fourth Armored Division keeps an important airbase. “The Russians aren’t in uniform, but they’re constantly hanging out with officers from the Syrian Army’s central command.” 

Other Syrians claim to have seen Russians in uniform. 

Iran's elite military is entangled in regional wars. Mission creep?

By Scott Peterson, Staff writer 

ISTANBUL, TURKEY — President Obama appears to have the votes to ensure congressional approval of the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, a key plank of which is an easing of economic sanctions. And one of the beneficiaries will be Iran’s primary tool for projecting power – the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and especially its elite Qods Force, which handles operations abroad.

But are Iran’s wizened generals, who mostly cut their military teeth in the 1980s as teenage volunteers during the brutal Iran-Iraq War, already in danger of overreach?

For decades, American military planners aimed to be capable of simultaneously fighting – and winning – two full-blown wars in different regions. It was a challenge, even for a superpower. Today, on a much smaller scale and with a sliver of the military means, Iran is attempting the same thing in the Middle East: It is deeply engaged in Syria and Iraq; waving the flag in Yemen; and very influential in Lebanon.

Stopping a Dirty Bomb

SEP 4, 2015 3

VIENNA – Nuclear terrorism is, in the words of US President Barack Obama, “the gravest danger we face.” But while few would dispute this characterization, the world has unfinished business in minimizing the threat. Ten years after world leaders agreed to amend the landmark 1987 Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) to make it harder for terrorists to obtain nuclear material, the new measures have yet to enter into force. The resulting vulnerability needs to be addressed urgently.

In July 2005, signatories to the CPPNM agreed to amend the Convention to address the risk of terrorism more effectively. The new measures that were introduced would make it more difficult for terrorists to cause a widespread release of radioactive material by attacking a nuclear power plant or detonating a radioactive dispersal device – commonly known as a dirty bomb.

But before the amendment can enter into force, two-thirds of the 152 signatories to the original convention must ratify it. While significant progress has been made – in July, the US, Italy, and Turkey did so – at least 14 more countries are needed.

Iran’s interpretation of the nuclear deal is not an easy sell

September 2, 2015 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has had to sell the nuclear deal to his people as energetically as President Obama has. He and his technocratic assistants have been forced to clarify their interpretation of the agreement in the process, yielding some interesting insights into what the Iranians think they have committed to and gained. (Click here for quotations and links to sources.)
Not a treaty…but binding. Rouhani and the negotiators have been explicit that the deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) is not a treaty, protocol, or convention, and thus does not need to be ratified by the Iranian Parliament. They face criticism from various Parliamentary and clerical factions for refusing to submit it for a vote. They have not suggested, however, that the agreement is any less binding for that.

Obama’s Syria achievement

By Fred Hiatt 
September 6 2015
Source Link

Smoke rises from the detonation of an ancient temple in Palmyra, Syria, in this photo on a social media site used by Islamic State militants. (Uncredited/Associated Press)

This may be the most surprising of President Obama’s foreign-policy legacies: not just that he presided over a humanitarian and cultural disaster of epochal proportions, but that he soothed the American people into feeling no responsibility for the tragedy.

Starvation in Biafra a generation ago sparked a movement. Synagogues and churches a decade ago mobilized to relieve misery in Darfur. When the Taliban in 2001 destroyed ancient statues of Buddha at Bamiyan, the world was appalled at the lost heritage.
Fred Hiatt is the editorial page editor of The Post. He writes editorials for the newspaper and a biweekly column that appears on Mondays. He also contributes to the PostPartisan blog. 

US Government Fears That Russian Military Intervention in the Syrian Civil War Is Forthcoming

Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt
September 5, 2015

Russian Moves in Syria Pose Concerns for U.S.

WASHINGTON — Russia has sent a military advance team to Syria and is taking other steps the United States fears may signal that President Vladimir V. Putin is planning to vastly expand his military support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, administration officials said Friday.

The Russian moves, including the recent transport of prefabricated housing units for hundreds of people to a Syrian airfield and the delivery of a portable air traffic control station there, are another complicating factor in Secretary of State John Kerry’s repeated efforts to enlist Mr. Putin’s support for a diplomatic solution to the bloody conflict in Syria.

The Russians have also filed military overflight requests with neighboring countries through September.

American officials acknowledge that they are not certain of Russia’s intentions, but some say the temporary housing suggests that Russia could deploy as many as 1,000 advisers or other military personnel to the airfield near the Assad family’s ancestral home. The airfield serves Latakia, Syria’s principal port city.

Twin Attacks in Tajikistan Highlight Tensions

September 05, 2015

A pair of incidents in Vahdat and Dushanbe early Friday bring into sharp focus several complex layers of tension in Tajikistan. Eurasianet’s early report is a must-read, laying out the initial news and reporting from local sources. According to Eurasianet:

Raids on police stations and military bases early on September 4 appeared well-coordinated and involved individuals that only recently occupied important government posts. According to the Interior Ministry, 17 were killed, including eight law enforcement officials and nine militant gunmen.

The sequence of events is unclear, but one of the first flashpoints seems to have been at a military base near the airport in Dushanbe, where a group of people intruded and carried away large amounts of small arms and ammunition.

Photos Appear in Social Media Posts of Russian Soldiers in Syria Despite Kremlin Denials

Helen Mukhina
September 7, 2015

Investigation reveals the presence of Russian military in Syria

As authorities in Russia deny the country’s military presence in Syria, dozens of photos of Russian soldiers posted in various parts of Syria appear to suggest otherwise.

Photographs of soldiers and military equipment posted in social media with geotags indicating that they were taken in various parts of Syria from January through August were published in a Sept. 5 investigation by RFE/RL Russian service.

The photos show military personnel in Russian uniforms and equipment on the territory of the country torn by civil war between army of President Bashar al-Assad, ISIS fighters and anti-government rebels. Their geotags show they were taken in Tartus, Homs, Latakia and other locations in Syria. The investigation also established that equipment and personnel were shipped from Russian port of Novorossiysk and Sevastopol in Russian-annexed Crimea.

On Sept. 5, during an official telephone call Secretary of State John Kerry said to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the U.S. government expressed concern about Russia’s intentions to move toward a military buildup in Syria.

The U.S. Stakes Its Claim in the Arctic Frontier

September 6, 2015

The Arctic is fast becoming a more important geopolitical region, and the United States is rushing to protect its claims in it. Changing climate and meteorological conditions have opened previously inaccessible areas of the region. By the 2030s, the largely ice-covered Arctic is expected to become seasonally ice-free. While melting polar ice may be detrimental elsewhere, in the Arctic it will enable more shipping traffic to travel through the Northern Sea Route over the next decade and eventually through the Northwest Passage. As a result, mineral extraction, fishing and other commercial, military and research endeavors will increase. According to the 2008 U.S. Geological Survey, the Arctic may also contain 25 percent of the world's oil and natural gas resources, of which approximately 20 percent lies in U.S. territory.



Is Vladimir Putin a strategic genius or not? In a recent War on the Rocks article, the scholar Joshua Rovner comes down hard in the “not” camp, arguing thatPutin is a terrible strategist and laying out the ramifications of his strategic incompetence for the United States and its NATO allies. This is another salvo in a long-running debate between competing Western narratives of Russia: an alarmist position perpetually worried that “the Russians are coming,” and a dismissive one that believes Russia is a giant Potemkin villagedestined to fall apart as a result of self-defeating behavior. Unfortunately both views are wrong, but Western analysis often see-saws between these two perspectives as soon as one falls out of favor. One of the shortfalls of Rovner’s article is that it fails to explain what Russia’s strategy is, which in turn raises a more important question: Does American failure to understand Russia’s strategy make it a poor one?

Russia in perspective

US raises concern about Russian military movements in Syria

News from around the world.

US warns Russia against build-up
The United State on Saturday warned Russia against increasing its military presence in Syria, saying it could escalate the conflict and lead to a confrontation with the anti-Islamic State coalition. It added that greater Russian presence could lead to more civilian deaths and increase the outflow of refugees.

UN calls for evacuation of refugees

The United Nations refugee agency has called for an emergency evacuation of 17,000 refugees trapped on the Greek island of Lesbos on Sunday. The refugees are waiting for the Greek authorities to issue them with travel permits that would permit them to board ferries to Athens and from there journey through the Balkans to northern Europe. Some refugees have been stuck on the island for two weeks or more and are living in shanties.

Airstrikes rock Sanaa after rebel attack

Netanyahu’s Lobbying Campaign Against Iran Nuclear Deal Has Infuriated White House and Worries Israeli Defense and Intelligence Officials

Adam Entous
September 5, 2015

Inside Israel’s Bid to Derail Iran Pact

JERUSALEM—In early August, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood in front of 22 Democratic U.S. lawmakers. He closed the door and instructed an aide to clear his schedule for the afternoon. There was nothing more important, he told the members of Congress, than answering their questions on the Iranian nuclear deal, however long it took.

For the next two hours, the prime minister worked the room, according to many of the lawmakers present. His props included a large white board on which he wrote their questions. At one point, he drew what he called a “nuclear gun” to underline his fears. Although Mr. Netanyahu didn’t explicitly tell them to vote against the deal, his feelings were clear. It would seriously jeopardize Israel’s security, he told them.

“They weren’t twisting my arm but they were certainly trying to convince me,” said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, a New Jersey Democrat, one of the House freshmen attending the meeting. “What a showman!” another lawmaker said.

The Aug. 9 session in the prime minister’s office was a telling moment in an extraordinary campaign by Mr. Netanyahu to scuttle the agreement. Both supporters and opponents say they can’t recall any other foreign government inserting itself so directly into an American political debate, especially against a deal the White House considers a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s legacy.

Clandestine Nuclear Intelligence (NUCINT) Sensors Have Been Developed Which Could be Used to Police Iran Nuclear Deal

September 5, 2015

AS NUCLEAR blasts go, North Korea’s first test in 2006 was small. The detonation of an underground device produced an explosive force well below one kiloton (less than a tenth of the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945). Even so, the vibrations it caused were recorded half a world away in the centre of Africa. Advances in the sensitivity of seismic sensors and monitoring software are now good enough to distinguish between a distant nuclear detonation and, say, a building being demolished with conventional explosives, says Lassina Zerbo, head of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test-Ban-Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), the international organisation that seeks to enforce the agreement ratified, so far, by 163 nations.

The CTBTO operates 170 seismic stations worldwide, 11 underwater hydroacoustic centres detecting sound waves in the oceans, 60 listening stations for atmospheric infrasound (low-frequency acoustic waves that can travel long distances) and 96 labs and radionuclide-sampling facilities. More sensors are being installed. Crucially, however, the optimal number for global coverage was recently reached. It is now impossible, reckons Dr Zerbo, to test even a small nuclear weapon in secret anywhere on Earth. And on top of that, the United States Air Force runs a detection network that includes satellites that can spot nuclear-weapons tests.

Revealed: NATO's Cold War Nuclear Battle Plan Would Have Killed Millions

September 6, 2015

Throughout the Cold War, the prospect of nuclear war hung over Europe like a recurring nightmare. But in the early years of the Atomic Age, most people only dimly understood the consequences of tactical nuclear war. It wasn’t until nearly a decade into the superpower contest that Europe’s nightmare gained a vivid, terrifying clarity.

That clarity came from Carte Blanche, NATO’s first major exercise to simulate what a nuclear exchange with the Soviets on the continent would look like.

When officials finally tallied the numbers, the theoretical war’s toll on Germany included 1.7 million dead and 3.5 million wounded — killing more people in a matter of hours than strategic bombing had taken during the entirety of World War II.

The results of exercise shocked and horrified citizens in NATO countries, especially in West Germany — ground zero for any war with the Soviets, and alarmed their leadership. For years afterward, Carte Blanche shaped attitudes toward nuclear weapons and their role in defense of Europe.

Russia's Lethal Yak-130 Fighter: The Tiny Terror NATO Should Fear

September 5, 2015

In the world of Russian jet fighters, Moscow’s finest — such as the Flanker and the fifth-generation Sukhoi T-50 — tend to grab the most headlines.

But the Yakovlev Yak-130, a comparatively non-glamorous twin-seat jet trainer, is quietly turning heads … because it’s obviously more than just a trainer. The twin-engine jet dubbed “Mitten” by Western intelligence is now showing its credentials as a genuine multi-role fighter.

When an air force wants to maximize its combat potential, a trainer — even a jet-powered one — might not be the most obvious choice of aircraft.

But today’s multi-role combat trainers are a viable and comparatively low-cost alternative to conventional fighters — even one that originates from behind the former Iron Curtain.

Like many post-Soviet military projects, it took a long time before any pilots got their hands on the Yak-130. But now the aircraft is showing up at the Russian air force’s advanced flight training schools.

Barack Obama: A Good, Bad or Just Mediocre President?

September 6, 2015

If presidential elections are largely referendums on the White House incumbent or incumbent party, as I have argued in these spaces and in my most recent book, Where They Stand, then the man who will exercise the greatest impact on the outcome of next year’s general election is President Obama. If his second term is adjudged by the American people to have been successful, then Democrats likely will retain the White House; if not, they won’t.

Under this analytical thesis—which, I acknowledge, raises skepticism among some political scientists, political journalists and political professionals (but they’re wrong)—presidential elections don’t turn on frivolous matters such as candidate gaffes, clever slogans or negative ads. Rather, the electorate operates on a higher plane, sorting out the unimportant debris of campaigns and rendering decisions based mostly on more fundamental questions of national direction and the performance of the incumbent (or incumbent party). In other words, there is a collective judgment in the electorate that emerges at the end of campaigns and brings a certain logic to the process.

NATO's 5 Most Lethal Weapons of War

September 6, 2015

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed on April 4th, 1949. A political military alliance, it was the result of Cold War tensions between the United States and Western Europe on one side and the Soviet Union on the other.

The continued stationing of large amounts Soviet forces in Eastern Europe made a common defense organization necessary. It was also a way to keep the United States and Canada engaged in the defense of Western Europe from the outset of any conflict, furthering the alliance’s deterrent value.

Article 5 of the NATO charter is the real meat of the alliance agreement. An attack on one member is considered an attack against all. Interestingly, although Article 5 was long associated with a possible Soviet attack on Western Europe, the only time it was invoked was after the September 11th attacks.

Spy Wars in the South Caucasus

September 3, 2015
As former republics of the USSR - home of the KGB - it should come as no surprise that Armenia and Azerbaijan both have dedicated national intelligence services, respectively called the National Security Service (NSS) and the Ministry of National Security (MNS). Since these two countries are essentially in a state of war over the contested territory of Nagorno Karabakh (NK), both intelligence services are assuredly tasked with stealing each other’s secrets (collecting intelligence) and preventing the other from doing the same (counterintelligence). To this end, the NSS and the MNS periodically announce the arrest of citizens accused of conspiring with the enemy. These press reports are typically fairly brief and do not disclose the techniques used to detect the alleged espionage. Nevertheless, they do occasionally contain nuggets of information, which provide a window into the inner workings of the NSS and MNS. The objective of this article will be to comparatively assess each country’s intelligence and counterintelligence capabilities, objectives, and operations based on publically available information.

How NSA Spies From San Antonio, Texas

Bill Lambrecht
September 5, 2015

S.A. a hub for Internet spying Documents show a long history here 

WASHINGTON — Documents from fugitive former government contractor Edward Snowden spell out new details of AT&T’s cooperation with National Security Agency spying and an NSA operation with teams of elite hackers in San Antonio breaking into computers around the world. 

NSA Texas hackers aimed at Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela and unspecified targets in the Middle East, documents showed. An offensive targeting Mexican leaders — called “WhiteTamale” — proved especially productive. 

Documents from Snowden’s archive disclosed this month by the New York Times and Pro-Publica detailed AT&T’s involvement in NSA’s interception of email traffic at a time when AT&T made its headquarters in San Antonio. AT&T moved its corporate offices to Dallas in 2008. 

Among those documents, a slide presentation shows San Antonio among the hubs of fiber-optic circuitry used in data interception under an NSA program called Fairview.