29 December 2015

Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, U.S. Commander in Gulf War, Dies at 78

Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf answered questions during an interview in Riyadh in 1990.
David Longstreath / Associated Press
By ROBERT D. McFADDEN, December 27, 2012

Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded the American-led forces that crushed Iraq in the 1991 Persian Gulf war and became the nation’s most acclaimed military hero since the midcentury exploits of Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur, died on Thursday in Tampa, Fla. He was 78.
The general, who retired soon after the gulf war and lived in Tampa, died of complications arising from a recent bout of pneumonia, said his sister Ruth Barenbaum. In 1993, he was found to have prostate cancer, for which he was successfully treated.

In Operation Desert Storm, General Schwarzkopf orchestrated one of the most lopsided victories in modern warfare, a six-week blitzkrieg by a broad coalition of forces with overwhelming air superiority that liberated tiny Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, routed Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard and virtually destroyed Iraq’s infrastructure, all with relatively light allied losses.
Winning the lightning war was never in doubt and in no way comparable to the traumas of World War II and the Korean conflict, which made Eisenhower and MacArthur into national heroes and presidential timber. But a divisive Vietnam conflict and the cold war had produced no such heroes, and the little-known General Schwarzkopf was wreathed in laurels as the victor in a popular war against a brutal dictator.

A combat-tested, highly decorated career officer who had held many commands, served two battlefield tours in Vietnam and coordinated American landing forces in the 1983 invasion of Grenada, he came home to a tumultuous welcome, including a glittering ticker-tape parade up Broadway in the footsteps of Lindbergh, MacArthur and the moon-landing Apollo astronauts.
“Stormin’ Norman,” as headlines proclaimed him, was lionized by millions of euphoric Americans who, until weeks earlier, had never heard of him. President George Bush, whose popularity soared with the war, gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Congress gave him standing ovations. Queen Elizabeth II made him an honorary knight. European and Asian nations conferred lavish honors.

In his desert fatigues, he was interviewed on television, featured on magazine covers and feted at celebrations in Tampa, Washington and other cities. He led the Pegasus Parade at the Kentucky Derby in Louisville and was the superstar at the Indianapolis 500. Florida Republicans urged him to run for the United States Senate.

** India’s National Identity and Its Impact on Security Policy under Modi

Open Forum , December 10,2015
post navi
The consensus on India’s national identity has been slowly fragmenting over the last twenty-five years, especially since the emergence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in 1998 displacing the Congress Party, India’s dominant political party since independence. After being out of power for a decade, the BJP came back to power with a decisive showing in May 2014 under Narendra Modi. There were varying expectations regarding how the new government would project its worldview onto the international stage, but a prior question for many was what exactly was the new prime minister’s own worldview, left unclear given that he had spent his career in state-level politics.
The best indication came from the self-avowed nationalist image of the BJP. Based on this, it was assumed that under Modi, New Delhi could be expected to focus on building up the country’s hard power, i.e., military capabilities, and fashioning a more assertive defense and security policy. In other words, India’s “great power” ambition would be underwritten by bigger military prowess and stronger security policies.

This article looks at the extent to which these expectations have held up. Admittedly, eighteen months is a relatively short time period for detecting changes in something as deep seated as national/state identity and its impact on security policy. Still, the question may be posed as to whether there are any trends and indicators that foretell changes in India’s foreign and security policy worldview. It should be noted that there is a good deal of churning domestically over India’s internal ethos focusing on whether Indian pluralism is at risk since Modi came to power. There are likely to be interactive dynamics between this internal unsettling and external consequences, and it is not at all clear that these spheres can be kept separate by the government, but that is not the focus of this article.

I begin by laying out the competing foreign policy worldviews in India and how they have fared in relative strength. This is an important exercise because the historical weight of Indian national identity is considerable, especially when measured against the short timeline that Modi has been in power. I then extract what I see as two, long-held normative foreign policy values, which would allow us to more specifically assess any differences in approach under the Modi government. These are: 1) aversion to the use of force or exercise of military power; and 2) attachment to strategic autonomy. Both offer a barometer into whether a more nationalist oriented worldview is taking hold.

Given the central importance of the military variable in most nationalist perspectives, in this article I concentrate on the first value and consider the defense policy trends under the Modi regime to see how far there has been a break with the past. I focus on the aversion to the use of force partly because it is easier to observe change in that context, and partly because of its paramountcy. Is thinking on this value showing signs of a significant shift by observing a lessening distaste for the use of force? Simply put, is the military instrument trumping diplomatic means?

2016: A time for Manohar Parrikar to deliver on Defense —and what about OROP?

Manohar Parrikar will have to find a way to soothe frayed tempers sooner rather than later lest it snowballs into another OROP-like intractable issue.
Written by Sushant Singh, Published:Dec 28, 2015
Manohar Parrikar took over as the defence minister from Arun Jaitley in November 2014 and so 2015 has been the first full calendar year he has been in-charge. With his IIT education and record as the chief minister of Goa, Parrikar came to South Block with a heavy burden of expectations.

This year, the defence ministry was mostly in news for something which doesn’t directly concern the serving military personnel: the demand of One Rank One Pension (OROP) made by ex-servicemen. It’s been quite a drama: prolonged protests followed by a decision on OROP announced by the government, its rejection by the ex-servicemen and a renegotiation between the two sides — and finally, a government order while protests continue. With the recommendations of Seventh Pay Commission likely to be implemented in 2016, the OROP issue is likely to meld into the Pay Commission announcement.

However, the armed forces are dissatisfied with the recommendations of the Pay Commission and have conveyed their concerns to the defence minister. Parrikar will have to find a way to soothe frayed tempers sooner rather than later lest it snowballs into another OROP-like intractable issue.
To Parrikar’s credit, he has been able to finally announce the construction of a National War Memorial in Delhi. It was one of the election promises made by the BJP and one of the four announcements made in the President’s first inaugural address to Parliament in June 2014.

Last month, Parrikar also received the report of the committee of experts constituted to review service and pension matters including potential disputes, minimising litigation and strengthening institutional mechanisms related to redressal of grievances. Implementing its forward-looking recommendations will require a concerted political push from the defence minister to overcome the institutional inertia.

Parrikar has publicly committed himself to the creation of the post of a Chief of Defence Staff or a Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee. This is a recommendation of the Group of Ministers pending from the era of the earlier NDA government. In his address to the Combined Commanders Conference earlier this month, the Prime Minister spoke of the need for an integrated command. That is an ambitious call and if the post of CDS or Chairman COSC is linked to the creation of integrated commands, Parrikar will find it difficult to keep his commitment in the coming year.

Why we can't progress on Make in India

Sandeep Bamzai, 21 December 2015

In the political and economic theatre of India, it is normally one step forward and several steps backwards. While we keep moaning about improving the ease of doing business and ensuring that India takes baby steps towards becoming a manufacturing hub through the Make In India programme, our bureaucracy refuses to unshackle itself from the licence raj mindset which was replete with a draconian inspector raj regime. As we know nothing has really changed and foreign investment continues to find impediments and imponderables strewn in its path as it ventures into India. Making them irascible and crabby, the fear of the unknown stalking them at all times. Beginning with the inability to repeal the swingeing land acquisition bill, the very tentpoles required for a Make In India scenario are not available in India. 

In the continuing litany of woes, here is another very recent example which is symptomatic of the prevailing situation in India where the bureaucracy and inspector raj is so deeply entrenched in the system that it is impossible to evict them. 

On December 1, Assistant Commissioner - special investigation and intelligence branch in the Office of Commissioner Customs - Imports and General, New Custom House, near IGI Airport sent an innocuous but very curious and dangerous missive to the Deputy Commissioner - Import Shed All Cargo Complex - Import, New Delhi on the import of mobile parts and mobile phones in CKD (completely knocked down) and SKD (semi knocked down) condition by the manufacturers of mobile phones without payment of duty.

The terse order went onto say: It is requested that no consignment of mobile parts in CKD/SKD condition imported without payment of duty by mobile phone manufacturers be allowed clearance without a NOC (no objection certificate) from ACC - SIIB. This issues with the approval of Joint Commissioner SIIB - Import. 

The Challenges of Civilian Control Over Intelligence Agencies in Pakistan

Frederic Grare, Book Chapter December 18, 2015 Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs
Despite the constitutional and statutory limits, Pakistan has failed to curb the political interference of intelligence agencies.

Despite more than eight years of continued civilian power, Pakistan can be labeled as a transitional democracy at best. True, the country has experienced two successive and relatively democratic elections in February 2008 and May 2013, and the mainstream political parties--essentially the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz faction (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)--are no longer willing to let themselves be played off the other by the military, thereby limiting the margin of maneuver of the security establishment. Yet despite these limited successes, there has been little structural change in civil-military relations. The army, to a large extent, remains the dominant actor in Pakistan’s political life.

The political role of the intelligence agencies, which has always been controversial, has become even more crucial for the military despite (or, perhaps, because of) Pakistan’s democratic progresses in recent years. Today, as much as in the past, “operations against dissenting politicians, objective intellectuals, and other activists, are still carried out through systematic harassment, disinformation campaigns, fictitious trials, kidnap, torture, and assassinations”, as demonstrated by the de facto genocide in Balochistan or the ongoing political crisis, in which the government is being challenged by fringe political and religious movements (Malik 1997: 104). Such tactics, however, are not intended to protect the military regime, but instead to preserve and increase military power in a more constrained domestic and international environment which, for the time being, precludes a return to direct military rule. As a result, the impact of the agencies’ exploits extends beyond the tension inherent to any struggle for political power--it further damages the perceptions of democracy in a country where democratic institutions are already fragile and flawed.

The previous and current civilian governments, which are (or have been) the victim of the intelligence agencies’ manipulations, have thus far been able to stay in power, but often at the cost of the renunciation of their own prerogatives. Yet since the end of Musharraf’s dictatorship and the return of civilian power in 2008, little or nothing has been done to tame the intelligence agencies, which have taken an increasingly active role in undermining the civilian government.

A year of Taliban gains shows that ‘we haven’t delivered,’ top Afghan official says

The front lines of Afghanistan's fight against a Taliban resurgence
The Washington Post traveled to the front lines of the fight against a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan, the Marja district in Helmand province. (The Washington Post)
By Sudarsan Raghavan December 27
MARJA, Afghanistan — As the Afghan convoy entered the battered village, Taliban fighters opened fire. U.S.-trained Afghan policemen poured out of their Humvees and began wildly shooting their AK-47 rifles in every direction.
“The enemy is firing one bullet, and you are responding with dozens!” their commander, Col. Khalil Jawad, screamed into his radio in frustration. “Aim, then fire!”

A minute later, the militants melted away. On this day in early December in the southern province of Helmand, they had delivered their message: The Taliban is back, its fighters showing a battle discipline and initiative far superior to the Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the United States.
In private, top Afghan and American officials have begun to voice increasingly grim assessments of the resurgent Taliban threat, most notably in a previously undisclosed transcript of a late-October meeting of the Afghan National Security Council.

“We have not met the people’s expectations. We haven’t delivered,” Abdullah Abdullah, the country’s chief executive, told the high-level gathering. “Our forces lack discipline. They lack rotation opportunities. We haven’t taken care of our own policemen and soldiers. They continue to absorb enormous casualties.”

With control of — or a significant presence in — roughly 30 percent of districts across the nation, according to Western and Afghan officials, the Taliban now holds more territory than in any year since 2001, when the puritanical Islamists were ousted from power after the 9/11 attacks. For now, the top American and Afghan priority is preventing Helmand, largely secured by U.S. Marines and British forces in 2012, from again falling to the insurgency.

Parlous State - Fifth Column

Gwynne Dyer
If the Taliban were not so busy fighting the rival Islamic State jihadis who began operating in Afghanistan early this year, they might now have been within reach of overthrowing the Afghan government that the Western powers left behind when they pulled out most of their troops last year. Even with that distraction, the Taliban are doing pretty well.

Recently, a Taliban suicide-bomber on a motorcycle managed to kill six American soldiers who were patrolling the perimeter of the Bagram air base near Kabul. On the same day, Taliban fighters took almost complete control of Sangin in Helmand province, a town that over 100 British troops died to defend in 2006-10.

As Major Richard Streatfield, a British officer who fought at Sangin, told the BBC: "I won't deny, on a personal level, it does make you wonder - was it worth it? Because if the people we were trying to free Afghanistan from are now able to just take it back within two years, that shows that something went badly wrong at the operational and strategic level." It was probably a mistake to invade Afghanistan in the first place. Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorists could have been dealt with without invading an entire country, and there was never any evidence that the Taliban government of the day knew about his 9/11 attacks on the United States of America in advance.

Is Pakistan’s economy out of the woods?

27 December 2015 , Author: Mohsin Khan, the Atlantic Council

Looking back over 2015, there are two quite distinct views on how Pakistan’s economy has fared. The first, expounded frequently by the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and supported by the IMF, is that there has been a significant turnaround in the economy and Pakistan is now basically on track to become a vibrant and dynamic emerging market economy.
The second, voiced by many independent Pakistani economists, argues that on most counts the economy is still in the doldrums and that the data do not bear out the government’s or the IMF’s rosy view of the current state of affairs — or the prospects for 2016.

So what do the main macroeconomic indicators tell us? Tackling low growth and high inflation were two immediate challenges for the government. Some progress on these fronts is clearly evident in 2015.
According to the IMF, growth in 2015 increased very modestly to 4.2 per cent from 4 per cent the previous year and is projected to rise to 4.5 per cent in 2016. While this is a move in the right direction, the size of the increase is not much to brag about. This rate of growth is certainly not making a significant dent in the unemployment rate, which is still over 6 per cent. And youth unemployment is running at about twice that rate. The reality is that Pakistan must grow by over 7 per cent a year on a sustained basis just to absorb new entrants into the labour force.

Inflation is down significantly from 8.6 per cent in 2014 to 6 per cent in 2015 and is expected to fall further to 4.5 per cent next year. This is largely due to the fall in energy and food prices as monetary policy has remained relatively unchanged.
But these were not the only challenges.

Though reducing energy shortages was a high priority for the government, the power sector remains a major bottleneck for growth and a drain on public finances. The system is still operating below cost recovery levels, resulting in underutilisation of capacity and a build-up of arrears in government payments to the power companies.

The View From Olympus: My List for Santa

Author: William S. Lind

All American military officers will read the canon, the list of seven books which, if read in the correct order, will take the reader from the first to fourth generation of modern war. Without the roadmap the canon provides, our officer corps will continue to stumble around in the dark, losing one fourth generation war after another.
The Marine Corps will face the fact that it remains a second generation military. Its formal, written doctrine is third generation, i.e., maneuver warfare. But what the Marine Corps says and what it does are two different things. Its culture remains second generation: inward-focused, centralized, preferring obedience to initiative, and relying on imposed discipline. Such a military can talk about maneuver warfare but it can’t do it. The Corps is the only American armed service with the potential to join the third generation. It’s time to turn potential into reality.
The foreign policy establishment will realize that war between states has become obsolete because the losing state will often disintegrate and become another stateless region, a petri dish for 4GW elements. That is more of a threat to us than is any other state. What we and all other states need is an alliance of all states against 4GW forces. At stake in the 21st century is nothing less than the state system itself. 
All women seeking to join the combat arms will insist on serving as comfort women, the one useful role they can play.
The F-35 program will crash and burn, saving the taxpayer around a trillion dollars and freeing our fighter pilots from having to fly a real dog. The aircraft already ordered can be sold to the Chinese, thereby wrecking their fighter force for a generation.
The CNO will realize a real littoral combat ship is a converted trawler and start buying some. Shallow waters are the important waters when facing 4GW enemies. We can safely leave blue water warfare to dreadnoughts and zeppelins (I’d like the movie rights, please.).
Congress will order the Air Force to reopen the production line and buy more A-10s, the only combat aircraft we have that can do something useful. 
The Army will dry up and blow away. It is beyond reforming. All it can do for the country is offer up more defeats. Put the money into the National Guard, which is our land force of the future, useful in peace and in war.
All police departments will start using the grid. The grid (available in the FMFM-1A here or in The Fourth Generation Warfare Handbook) allows police to understand the likely effects of their actions at the mental and moral levels, not just the physical. At a Boyd conference a couple years ago, some cops from Massachusetts told me their department now uses it for all operations. If other police departments were to do so, it would take away much of the ammunition the Left uses in its war on cops.

Pakistan's State of Denial

Tahmima Anam DEC. 26, 2013

DHAKA, Bangladesh — It was a Pakistani journalist, Anthony Mascarenhas, who gave the world the first detailed account of Bangladesh’s war of independence. In April 1971, soon after the army of Pakistan started suppressing the secessionist movement in what was then still the eastern part of the country, it invited Mr. Mascarenhas to report on the conflict, believing he would buttress the false propaganda of a just war. Mr. Mascarenhas promptly moved his family, and then himself, to Britain knowing that soon he would no longer be able to live in Pakistan.
“For six days as I traveled with the officers of the 9th Division headquarters at Comilla I witnessed at close quarters the extent of the killing,” Mr. Mascarenhas wrote in a lengthy, damning report published under the headline “Genocide” in the June 13, 1971, edition of The Sunday Times.
“I saw Hindus, hunted from village to village and door to door, shot off-hand after a cursory ‘short-arm inspection’ showed they were uncircumcised. I have heard the screams of men bludgeoned to death in the compound of the Circuit House (civil administrative headquarters) in Comilla. I have seen truckloads of other human targets and those who had the humanity to try to help them hauled off ‘for disposal’ under the cover of darkness and curfew.”

Four decades later, Mr. Mascarenhas’s government still insists on denying the past: the mass killing of civilians (perhaps as many as three million), the targeting of Hindus, the systematic rape of thousands. On Dec. 16, Pakistan’s National Assembly adopted a resolution expressing concern over the recent execution of Abdul Quader Mollah, a leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh’s leading Islamic party, who was convicted by a Bangladeshi court of committing murder and rape while collaborating with the Pakistani Army during the 1971 war. Calling Mr. Mollah a Pakistani sympathizer — and the independence of Bangladesh “the fall of Dhaka” — a multiparty majority of the assembly complained that Mr. Mollah was sentenced because of his “loyalty to Pakistan” and asked the Bangladeshi government to drop all other cases against the Jamaat leadership.

There is no doubt the Pakistani Army committed war crimes in 1971. Yet in history books and schoolrooms throughout Pakistan, the army’s atrocities are glossed over.

"Why China Won't Abandon Its Nuclear Strategy of Assured Retaliation"

December 2015 ,  Authors: Fiona S. Cunningham, M. Taylor Fravel
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Quarterly Journal: International Security
This policy brief is based on "Assuring Assured Retaliation: China's Nuclear Posture and U.S.-China Strategic Stability," which appears in the fall 2015 issue of International Security.

A renewed U.S. threat to China's nuclear deterrent. Chinese analysts worry that advances in U.S. strategic capabilities could undermine China's ability to retaliate against a U.S. nuclear attack.
Continuation of China's strategy of assured retaliation. China is unlikely to dramatically increase its relatively small nuclear force or abandon its second-strike posture. Instead, China will modestly expand its arsenal, increase the sophistication of its forces, and allow limited ambiguity over its pledge not to use nuclear weapons first.
Potential pitfalls of limited ambiguity over no-first-use. Limited ambiguity over no-first-use allows China to avoid an arms race, but it could increase risks of nuclear escalation in a U.S.-China crisis. Limited ambiguity might also energize U.S. pursuit of strategic superiority, if the United States sees it as a broad exception to China's no-first-use policy.

Whether China will abandon its long-standing nuclear strategy of assured retaliation for a first-use posture will be a critical factor in U.S.-China strategic stability. In recent years, the United States has been developing strategic capabilities such as missile defenses and conventional long-range strike capabilities that could reduce the effectiveness of China's deterrent. Writings by Chinese strategists and analysts, however, indicate that China is unlikely to abandon its current nuclear strategy.

China's strategists perceive missile defense as the most serious future threat to China's nuclear arsenal. They worry that the current, limited U.S. development and deployment of a missile defense system could be expanded in scope and effectiveness to give the United States an effective shield against Chinese nuclear missiles. Even if the system cannot reliably intercept ballistic missiles after they are launched, Chinese analysts are concerned that missile defense deployments could trigger a regional arms race if other countries see the U.S. commitment to the system as a proof of concept that it may be effective.

Chinese assessments of the threat posed by conventional long-range strike capabilities are more mixed. Some Chinese analysts do not think that a U.S. conventional attack on China's nuclear arsenal would be very likely or effective. They believe that China's efforts to protect its arsenal from a nuclear attack, including hardening, dispersal, and mobility, would be sufficient to protect China from a conventional attack as well. At the same time, analysts worry that the United States may be more likely to use conventional weapons than nuclear weapons against China's nuclear arsenal. Further, some analysts are concerned that U.S. conventional long-range strike capabilities, if paired with improvements in U.S. intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems, could reduce the amount of strategic warning that China would receive of an incoming attack. These capabilities could, therefore, undermine China's deterrent.


China will not abandon its nuclear strategy of assured retaliation in response to an increasingly clear U.S. commitment to strategic primacy. Instead, to avoid Cold War–style nuclear competition and the risk of arms racing, China is altering how it implements assured retaliation.

First, China is allowing limited ambiguity over the application of its no-first-use policy. Debate among Chinese strategists over the definition of "first use" has created uncertainty over how China would respond to attacks with conventional weapons on its nuclear forces and infrastructure. The main purpose of such limited ambiguity is to deter the United States from conducting such conventional counterforce attacks. Chinese strategists are also debating whether a launch-on-warning posture would be desirable and consistent with China's no-first-use policy.

The Latest Indication of the PLA’s Network Warfare Strategy

Publication: China Brief Volume: 15 Issue: 24
December 21, 2015  By: Elsa Kania

The Science of Military Strategy 2013. A new edition released through China's National Defense University provides additional details about PLA Cyber warfare.
Comparing the Strategic Guidance for Military Struggle in Cyberspace from the 2013 and 2015 editions of The Science of Military Strategy

The 2015 text of The Science of Military Strategy (战略学), published by the PLA’s National Defense University (NDU) in April, offers an interesting contrast with the 2013 Academy of Military Science (AMS) edition. These authoritative texts, which are used as teaching and reference materials for senior PLA officers, articulate the PLA’s thinking on and approach to military strategy in multiple domains and contexts. [1] Since the AMS has a more direct role in the formulation of military strategy, the 2013 text of The Science of Military Strategy might be more authoritative than the 2015 edition.[2] However, this NDU text also presents an influential perspective that merits closer examination. [3] Notably, the 2015 text includes not only sections on ‘military struggle in cyberspace’ (网络空间军事斗争) and network-electromagnetic space operations (网络电磁空间作战) but also a full chapter on measures to establish and develop the PLA’s cyberspace forces. [4]

There are sections within this 2015 text that seem to reflect a relatively distinctive approach to certain issue areas, including military struggle in cyberspace. The various differences and divergences between these two texts might indicate variance in perspective at the institutional level and/or a discernible change in the PLA’s recent strategic thinking on conflict in this new domain. [5] Although this limited, preliminary comparison of the 2013 and 2015 texts hardly allows for a definitive assessment of the potential shifts in China’s strategic thinking on cyber warfare during this timeframe, this recent edition ofThe Science of Military Strategy does introduce certain concepts that are new relative to the 2013 AMS text, including the prioritization of defending China’s cyber sovereignty (网络主权) and “cyber borders” (网络边疆), while also articulating the intention to establish a “cyberspace forces leadership structure” (网络空间力量领导体制), analogous to U.S. Cyber Command. [6]

New Perspectives on Cyber Reconnaissance and Cyber Deterrence?

At a basic level, the AMS and NDU texts differ in their respective categorizations and definitions of the forms of cyber warfare, especially with regard to cyber reconnaissance and cyber deterrence. [7] In the 2013 text, cyber reconnaissance is discussed as inherently related to and potentially the precursor for cyber attack; in the 2015 text, on the other hand, the espionage-related aspects of cyber reconnaissance are emphasized. By the AMS text’s characterization, cyber reconnaissance is typically “the preparation for probable future cyber attack operations.” However, the 2015 text does not mention the technical or operational linkages between cyber reconnaissance and cyber attack. Rather, according to that text, “cyber espionage struggle has become the most apparent form of peacetime military struggle in cyberspace.” Here, the U.S. National Security Agency’s program Prism is discussed as an indication of the extensiveness and sophistication of U.S. cyber espionage activities. This allusion to U.S. cyber espionage and the addition of “counter-reconnaissance” could perhaps reflect the impact of Edward Snowden’s revelations upon the PLA’s perceptions of China’s vulnerability to U.S. cyber capabilities.

CIA director Brennan admits ISIS was “decimated” under Bush, but has grown as much as 4,400% under Obama

Marc A. Thiessen @marcthiessen, November 17, 2015

In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies yesterday, CIA director John Brennan made a startling admission: The Islamic State was “decimated” under George W. Bush and had just “700-or-so adherents left” following the surge in Iraq. Said Brennan:

[ISIS] was, you know, pretty much decimated when US forces were there in Iraq. It had maybe 700-or-so adherents left. And then it grew quite a bit in the last several years, when it split then from al-Qaida in Syria, and set up its own organization.
But in September 2014, a CIA analysis found that:
[ISIS] can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria … This new total reflects an increase in members because of stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate, greater battlefield activity, and additional intelligence.
This means that, by the CIA’s own estimate, ISIS has grown on President Obama’s watch from just 700 fighters to between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters.
That is an increase of between 2,700 and 4,400 %.
Moreover, Brennan tacitly acknowledged that the Obama administration had underestimated the ISIS threat. At CSIS, Brennan declared that:

Not content to limiting its killing fields to Iraqi and Syrian lands, and to setting up local franchises in other countries of the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, ISIL has developed an external operations agenda that is now implementing … with lethal effect.
That now obvious assessment directly contradicts the assessment of ISIS’ intent and capabilities delivered by Obama administration officials just one year ago.
In August 11 2014, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes wrote in a White House blog post:
While both [al-Qaeda and the Islamic State] are terrorist forces, they have different ambitions. Al-Qaeda’s principal ambition is to launch attacks against the west and US homeland…Right now, ISIL’s primary focus is consolidating territory in the Middle East region to establish their own Islamic State. So they’re different organizations with different objectives.

US military drafting 'new narrative' for ISIS war

By Kristina Wong - 12/27/15
The U.S. military is seeking to craft a “new narrative” for the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), in part to push back on the growing perception that President Obama does not have a strategy.

Military officials on the Operation Inherent Resolve task force have recently formed a working group to formulate a "new narrative," defense officials told The Hill. Separately, the Joint Staff has drafted its own messaging document. The steps are preliminary, and are part of a larger effort to better communicate the U.S.'s military strategy amid heavy criticism from Republican presidential candidates who say Obama is losing the battle against the terrorist group.
"To say there's no strategy is just flat out wrong," said Army Col. Christopher Garver, public affairs officer for the Combined Joint Task Force -- Operation Inherent Resolve.

"If you want to have a debate about it, that's good, let's talk about it. But there is a strategy," he added.
The new working group will look at "how best to articulate what it is we're trying to do ... and do it in a concise easy to understand way," Garver said.

It is not clear who is overseeing or directing the effort, which appears to be internally driven within the military.
Still, the focus on messaging is in sync with the White House, which has said it needs to do a better job communicating the ISIS strategy to the public.

"In recent months and weeks we've been encouraging principals across the [U.S. government] to get out more to talk about their aspects of the counter-ISIL campaign and to new audiences," a senior administration official told The Hill on Thursday, using another name for ISIS.
Obama earlier this week in an interview with NPR suggested that the administration has not done enough to publicize progress in the ISIS war.

ISIS and al-Qaeda: Tactical Twins, Strategic Enemies

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 13 Issue: 24
December 17, 2015  By: Michael W. S. Ryan
How can “Daesh” and al-Qaeda be both tactical twins and strategic enemies? [1] Their tactics are very similar. Even their strategies have the same roots in classical guerrilla doctrine. In a short article, one cannot review all the points of convergence and difference between the two organizations. However, one can begin to define how their respective strategies diverge and why the two are now mortal enemies. Without clarity on these points, no effective counter-strategy can be devised against either.

A good approach to these questions begins with a description of the overarching political military context for Salafist-Jihadist groups, what I would like to refer to as the "strategic wrapper" into which their tactics fit. What I am calling a strategic wrapper is, in broad strokes, the model by which the success of their guerrilla and terrorist tactics may be judged. Without this strategic orientation, we are doomed to interpret temporary tactical adjustments as changes in strategic direction. Or, we might conflate legal and social doctrines with military doctrine and the desire for power of individuals at the center of these organizations. This is a difficult task unless we find the key to interpret al-Qaeda and Daesh thinking about war and politics.

Determining the strategic wrapper of Daesh or al-Qaeda cannot be solely an academic question, if we hope to defeat them. Fortunately, we do not need to guess at the strategic wrapper for either organization, but let us first be clear about what it is not. It is not an apocalyptic vision of end times, as some have suggested recently. The apocalyptic vision is used as a powerful mobilization narrative, but it does not influence military strategy, let alone tactics, for either organization.

By using it as a teaching tool, both organizations have endorsed The Administration of Strategy by Abu Bakr Naji, which states clearly that the path to establishing an Islamic state is exactly the same as the path to establishing any other state. [2] Another major influence on both organizations, Abu Musab al-Suri, did collect over 100 pages of ahadith (the traditions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) about jihad. Many of these were apocalyptic, which were meant as assurance that jihadists would win in the end no matter how long it might take or how powerful their enemies might seem. To amplify this point, al-Suri also quoted a number of European thinkers on the decadence of the West. In his days of darkest but defiant despair, al-Suri placed these 100 pages as an appendix to over 1500 pages about how to defeat jihadist enemies, especially the United States. [3] In all of those pages, the military strategy was rational and modern, based on an adaptation of historic guerrilla warfare to the context of jihadist warfare.

Counter-Terrorism: Something Special For the Young And Obsessed

December 21, 2015: ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria) has become a fearsome media presence because it has senior leaders who understand how social media works on theInternet and has developed and widely distributed useful advice to members about how to manipulate Internetresources like Instagram, Facebook and especially Twitter to work around efforts to halt the growing avalanche of gruesome execution videos and pictures and hostile rants. This innovation has been late in coming because education and Internet user levels are so low in Moslem countries, especially the ones that provide most of the ISIL recruits. This has made it much easier for uneducated and gullible young Moslems to die young and be seen as heroes by many fellow Moslems.

ISIL is basically a renegade faction of al Qaeda that now sees all other Islamic terrorist organizations (especially al Qaeda and the Taliban) as the enemy because they are not radical enough. Mix this with ISIL’s communications skill and you have a perfect storm of mutual destruction among the largest Islamic terror groups. ISIL does not see this as a bad thing because the more radical members of these other groups are always welcome to join ISIL and realize their full badass potential.

ISIL was long a troublesome branch of al Qaeda before it split completely and sought to replace al Qaeda and all other Islamic terrorist groups. The core of ISIL leadership are men who founded an Iraqi al Qaeda franchise in 2004 and were constantly trouble for al Qaeda leaders ever since. Eventually the Iraqi al Qaeda developed what they believed was a superior strategy (more violence, fewer restraints and more intense and sustained Internet presence). Al Qaeda Central did not agree, nor did most Moslems. But the Iraqi Islamic terrorists didn’t care because the al Qaeda approach to Islamic terrorism wasn’t working for them (or anyone else) and a sense of desperation produced what we now know of as ISIL.

The Art of (Cyber) War

By Newsweek Special Edition On 12/27/15

The following article excerpted from Newsweek's Special Edition, 2016: The Year Ahead,
The newest battleground isn’t on land or by sea—it’s over bandwidth. And everyone is susceptible to attacks. In July, the federal government database was hacked, and 21 million government employees’ information was published. Cyber warfare has emerged as a new threat in a short period of time, with countries such as China, North Korea and Russia emerging as threats to our nation’s cyber security. By 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense plans to roll out a new cyber defense program that includes creating a task force aiming to protect America on all sides from cyber terrorism to intellectual property attacks. by Assistant Editor Alica Kort.

There's no doubt technology has made our lives easier. With one click or touch of a screen, you can buy a Babybjörn, set up an apartment viewing or lock your front door from miles away. But having everything at your fingertips comes with a price: your security.
According to the Identity Theft Center, 641 data breaches happened in 2015 alone, making private information very public. In 2016, these breaches will likely become even more commonplace. Some airing of information is done for the greater good—call it “hacktivism”—but most data leaks are done with malicious intent. Corporations lose billions of dollars as well as the trust of their customers when their security is compromised. Meanwhile, cybercriminals run rampant online, using stolen credit cards to make off with millions of dollars. Most businesses don’t have the means to detect fraud, so they’re turning to cyber security companies in Silicon Valley. "I believe that data breaches are a fact of life, and they’re going to happen," says Jason Tan, CEO of Sift Science. “Ten years from now, my social security number will be floating around on the Internet somewhere. As unfortunate as that is, we need to prepare for that inevitability so that just having someone’s social number is not enough to steal someone's identity."

Tan’s company uses machine-learning to detect and ultimately stop online fraud. These machines analyze thousands of patterns in data to look for warning signs to detect fraud in nanoseconds. “We thought, ‘Why don’t we make this kind of technology that Amazon and Google use internally accessible, so that everyone can benefit from a world-class anti-fraud system built using the latest technologies?’ ” Tan says. “Under the hood, we offer a large-scale, machine-learning system.”

Inequality and Modernization Why Equality Is Likely to Make a Comeback

By Ronald Inglehart

During the past century, economic inequality in the developed world has traced a massive U-shaped curve—starting high, curving downward, then curving sharply back up again. In 1915, the richest one percent of Americans earned roughly 18 percent of all national income. Their share plummeted in the 1930s and remained below ten percent through the 1970s, but by 2007, it had risen to 24 percent. Looking at household wealth rather than income, the rise of inequality has been even greater, with the share owned by the top 0.1 percent increasing to 22 percent from nine percent three decades ago. In 2011, the top one percent of U.S. households controlled 40 percent of the nation’s entire wealth. And while the U.S. case may be extreme, it is far from unique: all but a few of the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for which data are available experienced rising income inequality (before taxes and transfers) during the period from 1980 to 2009.

The French economist Thomas Piketty has famously interpreted this data by arguing that a tendency toward economic inequality is an inherent feature of capitalism. He sees the middle decades of the twentieth century, during which inequality declined, as an exception to the rule, produced by essentially random shocks—the two world wars and the Great Depression—that led governments to adopt policies that redistributed income. Now that the influence of those shocks has receded, life is returning to normal, with economic and political power concentrated in the hands of an oligarchy.


The rise and fall of the microcredit movement


Microcredit, which was viewed as a perfect market-affirming solution to poverty in developing countries, has collapsed. In 30 years it's gone from Zorro to Zombie.
Milford Bateman, The Conversation · Dec 24, 2015
Thirty years ago, the international development community was in a state of high excitement. The perfect market-affirming solution to poverty in developing countries had apparently been found. Microcredit, also known as microfinance. This involved giving micro-loans to the poor that allowed them to establish a range of very simple self-employment ventures that would generate income.

Spearheading the concept was the US-educated Bangladeshi economist and future Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr Muhammad Yunus. Yunus portrayed microcredit as a panacea for a range of development ills. He said it would rapidly eradicate endemic poverty and under-development by creating jobs, raising incomes and including previously excluded groups (notably women) into economic activity.
His laudable objective would be reached by bringing capitalism down to the poor.

With significant funding, especially from aid agencies and private foundations based in the US, Yunus was able to establish his own “bank for the poor”, the iconic Grameen Bank.

The birth of hundreds of Grameen clones
The Grameen Bank was quickly positioned as the “role model” financial institution for poverty reduction. It was then joined by international donor-financed “Grameen clones” across all developing countries. Yunus had effectively given birth to the global microcredit movement.
Not surprisingly, for the neoliberal-oriented World Bank and USAID, the ideological case for microcredit was compelling. Microcredit resonated with their fixation on promoting self-help, individual entrepreneurship and market forces as the only way that the poor would escape poverty.

Theory Talks: Dirk Messner on the Dynamics of Global Change and the Significance of International Science and Technology Cooperation in the Post-Western World

24 December 2015

Dirk Messner has a lot on his mind. Today, he discusses how shifting global dynamics and emerging powers are transforming 1) multinational governance; 2) international cooperation in science and technology; and 3) the way institutions such as the World Bank are adapting to these changes.
By Dirk Messner for Theory Talks
This article was originally published by Theory Talks on 30 January 2015.

In recent years, the analysis of new emerging powers and shifting global order has become central to the study of international relations. While International Relations, aiming to evolve into a truly global discipline, is only just about to start opening up towards Non-Western perspectives, global power shifts have already led to a restructuring of global governance architecture in large fields of political reality and practice. Dirk Messner illustrates how far global power shifts have to lead to new patterns of international cooperation using international science and technology cooperation as a case in point. He argues that investment in joint knowledge creation and knowledge exchange is vital for managing the earth system. Messner also points to the multitude of tasks related to socio-technical systems which the political sphere is currently facing, particularly with regard to the challenge of managing the climate system.

What is the most important challenge facing global politics that should be the central debate in the discipline of International Relations?

The biggest challenge of the next decades which we have to come to terms with is governing the big global commons. When I say global commons I do have in mind the atmosphere, the climate system, and other parts of the earth system, but also international financial markets and global infrastructures, such as the Internet – stability of these and other global commons is a public good much required. We need to stabilize the global commons and then manage them in a cooperative manner.

Facebook is misleading Indians with its full-page ads about Free Basics.

Mahesh Murthy, Dec 24, 2015

Today it has ads around India saying "What net neutrality activists won't tell you".
I'm a net neutrality activist and I'm happy to tell you anything you'd like to know. In fact, we're a small group, working unpaid, taking breaks from our regular jobs, and we've always been happy to tell you anything at all you wanted to know.

We don't have a business axe to grind, we're not working for Facebook's rivals, and if anything, we've been part of Digital India far, far longer than Facebook has existed. We're open to questioning.
Unlike Facebook, who tried to silently slime this thing through last year when it was called Internet.org, and then are spending about Rs. 100 crores on ads - a third of its India revenue? - to try and con us Indians this year again. This is after we'd worked hard to ban these kind of products, technically called "zero rating apps" last year. (Remember the million signature campaign last year? That was us.)

This Facebook ad spend doesn't include the full-on Mark Zuckerberg love event put up for our Prime Minister when he visited the US, aimed again at greasing the way for this Free Basics thing through our government. (It worked. I think TRAI opened up this closed issue so Facebook could get another shot at pushing it through again.)
And the ad spend is above and beyond all the other ads and messages they've put on your timeline asking you to save "the free internet" etcetera that you may have even clicked on.
I'll take on each of the 10 points that Facebook says that we don't tell you about in a bit. But first you should know why we're making a fuss and going up against this billion dollar giant. What's it all about?

Simply it's this. Our airwaves and wireless spectrum belong to us, the citizens of India. The government of India temporary licenses this on our behalf to telcos under some terms and conditions, and those terms have always pushed for the development of all of India, including our poor.
In fact, India's telecom policies so far have produced a minor miracle, with over a billion connections in our country changing and improving all our lives. The basis for this has always our policies which have forced our mobile operators to offer a full and open internet, accessible by anybody. Many poorer countries look to us for inspiration on how to do things right.

US prepares to take the cyber fight to ISIS

By Mark Pomerleau, Dec 23, 2015

Because secrecy is the nature of their business, the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency would prefer to keep their cyber capabilities under wraps. But as Peter Singer, a strategist at the New America Foundation, wrote recently: “While [Edward] Snowden’s disclosures obviously angered his former employers, they also show that the folks at [the NSA] have much to be proud of. They have developed unmatched, amazingly exotic capabilities, from a mindboggling scale of global monitoring devices to new classes of cyberweapons that use radio signals to jump software over the previously protective physical divides between systems.”

Some of the U.S. capabilities are known to have been deployed, with the most daring and destructive example being the Stuxnet virus that disrupted parts of Iran’s nuclear processing capability.
Now, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has indicated that these advanced cyber capabilities could be used to combat ISIS. “And, as our military campaign intensifies on the ground and in the air, the Defense Department is also developing more strategic options in the cyber domain,” Carter wrote in prepared testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in December. When asked by a member of the Senate panel about the information war against groups such as ISIS, Carter said: “We do operate in the cyber domain. I alluded to that and we’re at war and we have authorities to use our Cyber Command, in this case and are identifying opportunities to do that.”

In a recent trip overseas to evaluate the military and U.S.-led coalition’s efforts against ISIS, Carter further clarified his position on the use of cyber tools against ISIS. “I was referring to the use of our Title 10 Cybercom forces as part of the military campaign. I think that's an important dimension of the campaign that we can use more… [the] great use of Cybercom, and actually prosecuted the campaign,” he told reporters. “You'll have to wait until we devise that, I'm not prepared to talk about that right now, but I gave you the characterization of what kind of capabilities I mean.”

Sepp Hasslberger: The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) with Comments from Phi Beta Iota Editors

Sepp Hasslberger
This is about de-centralising the net, distributing the data to the periphery where it’s needed, rather than running everything through big data pipes and central servers…
HTTP is obsolete. It’s time for the distributed, permanent web

HTTP is broken. It’s time for the distributed, permanent web. The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is a new hypermedia distribution protocol, addressed by content and identities. IPFS fundamentally changes the way we look for things, and this is it’s key feature. With HTTP, you search for locations. With IPFS, you search for content. IPFS is still in Alpha release, but you can find out more here

ROBERT STEELE: The complete post above is highly recommended. It does a marvelous job of deconstructing HTTP as a flawed web — an archipelago of walled gardens badly maintained by one and all concerned. It must be said that HTPP was and will remain for some time a world-changing accomplishment equal to the Gutenberg Press. What the IPFS write-up does not do is present all the flaws in the Alpha concept, nor does it address the educational, decision-support, and research aspects (holistic analytics and true cost economics), or the open source everything engineering that is the only way to avoid what Stephen E. Arnold calls “technical debt,” or in plainer terms all too familiar to IBM and Google, “a losing proposition where revenue does not match expenses over time.” I asked a few of our contributing editors to comment, below are their preliminary views. Of particular note is their view that this initiative, once fully developed, will not be subject to NSA, Google, or Goldman Sachs back doors and data corruption such as I warned about from 1998 onwards. We’ve wasted a quarter century and trillions of dollars because of a reluctance on the part of the mandarins in both government and the private sector to LISTEN, and to do the right things instead of the wrong things righter. I end with a tribute to Robert Garigue (RIP), whose work I have sought to preserve here at Phi Beta Iota.

Click on Image to Enlarge

Neal Rauhauser

Neal Rauhauser: IPFS is a fusion of bittorrent, a high volume, censorship proof means of distributing digital content, and a couple of other technologies – more interestingly the blockchain concept, and git, which is a software version control system.Once IPFS has taken root on a large scale it will be possible to publish content, have it distributed globally so its impossible to root out, and it’ll be subject to the same security as the Ethereum blockchain provides.Looks very good, has both a polished face and something one can download. Next step in validating it would be checking the contributors – some projects are FOSS, but a single company’s stalking horse, while genuine efforts have breadth and depth of involvement.I suspect it’s on the right side of things, given the places I’ve seen the acronym appear prior to this.
IPFS is a file system with hashes being used as pointers to actual data, with a directory system to map those hashes to actual services. This is akin to Tor’s hidden services, as far as finding things, but there is no concealment offered.
IPFS does not protect traffic in flight beyond using TLS (latest SSL), which is pretty good, but … could be done better.
IPFS does not protect one’s location the way Tor does, although the protocol appears it could be encapsulated and used via Tor.
IPFS does nothing more to protect the data it mirrors once its saved on the local disk. There is no encryption unless the content was shipped in encrypted form.