24 June 2016

*** Britain’s Vote to Leave

June 24, 2016
By George Friedman
The United Kingdom has voted to leave the EU.
The British people have voted to leave the European Union. It was not by an overwhelming majority at 52 percent, but it couldn’t have been imagined 10 years ago. We have been seeing this fragmentation throughout Europe, but we now have the first case of a nation deciding to leave. I doubt that it will be the last. But as the first, we should try to understand clearly why the British voted as they did. We should also be thankful that we will never hear the word Brexit again. I really hated that term.
The issue is what prompted this outpouring of votes to leave. There were three reasons, in my view, that drove it. 

The first was simple. Supporters of remaining in the EU made the case that there would be substantial economic costs. Opponents of the EU noted the obvious, which is that the EU is a dysfunctional economic entity that has been unable to address the economic problems that have developed since 2008. It has not addressed the condition of southern Europe, where unemployment has remained at more than 20 percent for years, nor the high unemployment in France. The profound difference between the lives of southern Europeans, including the middle class, and Germans, who enjoy 4.2 percent unemployment, is profound. Europe as a whole has stagnated economically. 
The argument for remaining in the EU was that the alternative was economic disaster. It made little sense to the opponents of membership to try to solve British problems through a close link to an organization experiencing regional economic disaster and organization-wide stagnation. These voters were not persuaded by the idea that leaving the EU would lead to economic disaster. Their sense was that remaining in the European Union would force Britain to share Europe’s fate. 
Obviously they did not think that Europe would throw up trade barriers against Britain. The U.K. is Germany’s third most important export target; The last thing Germany wants is a trade war with Britain. Similarly, the threat that London’s banks would decamp for Frankfurt is not only logistically implausible, but doesn’t take the banks’ clients into account. Clients from around the world like visiting London and it is the clients that matter in finance. By moving to Frankfurt, New York would become a unique magnet. Frankfurt, not so much. In the end, the Europeans need the financial services London provides. They will not lock it out. The European Union did not create the financial relationships that exist. Britain’s financial role goes back almost two centuries. The EU is a system that aligns with financial reality. It does not create it. The threat of consequences was not persuasive.

The second reason had to do with a global trend toward nationalism. There is a sense that the multinational financial, trade and defense organizations created after World War II have ceased to function effectively. The EU is an example, but the International Monetary Fund and NATO are other examples. More than not serving any purpose, these institutions do harm in malfunctioning and most important, take control away from the nation. For supporters of remaining, such organizations are self-evidently valuable and may need to be tweaked but not abandoned. For those voting to leave, these organizations take away sovereignty from the nation, and therefore the nation loses control over its own fate. Lacking trust in these entities and fearing the consequences of losing control, nationalism becomes a powerful attraction. 
The immigration crisis in Europe was a trigger. While leaders of some countries and of the EU argued that aiding the refugees was a moral obligation, opponents of the EU saw this as a national issue, as it affected the internal life of the country. The attempt to take control of this issue away from Britain was a particularly important driver for the “leave” vote. The EU has trouble understanding the power of nationalism. It attempts to retain nationality as a cultural right, but deprive the nation of power to make many decisions. This strategy was embraced before 2008, but became difficult to accept after.

Political Elitism
Finally, there was a profound loss of the political leadership of Britain, with the leaders of both the Conservative and Labour parties rejected by the “leave” voters. Both parties had endorsed remaining with the EU, and both parties saw many of their members go into opposition on the issue. Indeed, in many ways this was a three-way struggle, with the two established parties wanting to remain in the EU and a third faction, drawn from both parties, opposing it. People in this third group saw both establishment parties as hostile to their interests.
This should be considered in the broader sense. The financial markets panicked at the possibility of an anti-EU vote. They said so loudly. What they did not grasp was the degree to which they had lost legitimacy in 2008. It appeared to this third group that the financial industry’s recklessness and incompetence had created a disaster for many. In addition, many of the voters saw no benefit to themselves in the success of the financial industry or its location in London. While in Britain, the financial industry would have disproportionate influence, that would harm the voters. 
The degree to which this was a vote that was directed against the British elite is vital to understand. Politicians, business leaders and intellectuals were all seen as having lost their right to control the system. The elites had contempt for their values – for their nationalism and their interests. This is not a new phenomenon in Europe, but it is one that the EU had thought it had banished. 
This is not a British phenomenon by any means. It is something that is sweeping Europe and China. It is also present in the United States, in the figure of Donald Trump whose entire strategy is to attack both the Democratic and Republican leadership and the elite who have contempt for the nationalism and moral principles of those beneath them. It is a general process the West is undergoing, and it came to London yesterday.

***Why is NSG Membership important for India?

By Ashok Sajjanhar
23 Jun , 2016

The issue of India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has been the focus of significant public and media attention over the past few weeks. It appears to have emerged as the single most critical foreign policy priority for the Modi government. The government is according so much importance to the issue that Prime Minster Modi hurriedly decided at the last minute to include visits to Switzerland and Mexico during his tour to USA and some other countries to raise this issue and obtain categorical support for India’s membership at the forthcoming NSG plenary at Seoul on 23-24 June 2016. It is a reflection on Modi that he was able to get unequivocal support from Mexico and Switzerland although they had initially opposed the grant of a unique waiver to India by the NSG in 2008. They had also expressed concerns about India’s NSG membership when the issue came up in informal discussions in recent years.

Under normal circumstances, the issue would probably not have assumed such a high profile. What appears to have brought it so completely under the floodlights is the uncharacteristic and open opposition by China to India’s membership in this body. Over the last few weeks, China has issued several statements, officially as well as through its mouthpiece media publications, maintaining that no single country waiver should be granted to India as was done in 2008. It stated that, in any case, India is not eligible to become a member of the NSG as it is not a member of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), adherence to which latter is necessary for membership in the former. 

*** The numbers RBI governor Raghuram Rajan did not get: 2014 and 282

Jun 21, 2016 

The author is an Indian political commentator and policy analyst, currently serving as honorary senior fellow, Centre for Policy Research. He has been editor for numerous financial publications and served asManmohan Singh's media advisor and chief spokesperson from 2004 to 2008.

I have a completely different take on L’affaire Rajan — or #Rexit as the media has dubbed it — the decision of the Government of India not to offer a second term to the incumbent governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Raghuram Rajan.

To appreciate my theory one has to understand the significance of the electoral verdict of May 2014, the political importance of the ruling party’s 282 members in Parliament and the political economy of policy in India.

From 1989 till 2014, New Delhi has lived in the era of coalitions. The so-called ‘ruling party’ in New Delhi often felt it was not ruling at all. The authority of the executive was increasingly challenged by the judiciary, the legislature, the media, civil society, a range of regulatory institutions and the executive’s own arms like the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). From the days of VP Singh to those of Manmohan Singh, especially in his second term, the prime minister and his office became increasingly besieged. Every occupant of that high office longed for the authority that an Indira Gandhi and even a Rajiv Gandhi enjoyed.

** War. What Is It Good For?

by Reverse Engineer, Doomstead Diner
20 June 2016

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

A while back I wrote a 5 part series analyzing the relationship between Money, Energy, Waste and Thermodynamics I titled "The Money Valve". The effort there was to show that the way the monetary system works is to regulate the downhill flow of an energy stock as it is dissipated and turned into waste of various kinds.

The physical waste that stacks up in landfills, the CO2 that collects in the atmosphere, the pollution that works its way into the groundwater, rivers, lakes and finally into the biggest toilet of them all, the world oceans, etc.

I looked at the major players in this game, Goobermints, Banks, Industry, the Military and Consumers, but I missed a very important connection. How the War Machine itself directly produces Waste! In fucking COPIOUS QUANTITY AND FAST!

** Russian Air Force Continues to Attack U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebels


June 21, 2016

A Brazen Russian Gambit in Syria

Whether a ploy to draw the United States into coordinating with its forces or an attempt to undercut a potentially threatening rebel group, Russia took a bold step in Syria a few days ago. Russian aircraft carried out a series of airstrikes June 16 against U.S.-backed New Syrian Army forces close to al-Tanf, a border crossing between Iraq and Syria near Jordan. Russia has denied conducting an attack there, despite video evidence of damage and remnants of Russian cluster bomblets at the site. The United States even detailed how its fighter aircraft were sent to warn away Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers, which then returned to the site to carry out more strikes once the U.S. fighters left to refuel. No matter how one examines it, this is a brazen move on Russia’s part.

The Russians and their Syrian loyalist allies regularly carry out airstrikes on U.S.-backed rebel forces in Syria. But until the al-Tanf bombing, the strikes had not targeted groups engaged only in the fight against the Islamic State, such as the New Syrian Army. A relatively small force trained and equipped principally by the United States, the United Kingdom and Jordan, the New Syrian Army has operated close to the Jordanian border in the desert areas of southeastern Syria, where it plans to seize more territory from the Islamic State in an eastward advance toward Deir el-Zour.

The New Syrian Army receives considerable coalition air support, and British and Jordanian forces have often embedded with its troops in an advisory capacity, so the Russian airstrikes carried a significant risk of escalation. But Russia’s strategic aims in the region were motivation enough for it to conduct the airstrikes, however dangerous. Russia has been trying to get the United States to cooperate with its forces since the beginning of Russian involvement in the Syrian conflict. It joined negotiations to end the fighting in hopes of sparking a process that would yield an understanding with the United States on other substantive issues, including sanctions and the conflict in Ukraine. And if Moscow could get Washington to work directly with Russian and Syrian loyalist forces, that would, in turn, force Washington to recognize the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. 

MTCR and membership of NSG: Implications for India

By Col (Dr) Tej Kumar Tikoo (Retd.)
23 Jun , 2016

Ever since Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s fourth visit to the United States of America a fortnight back, India’s membership of Missile Control Technology Regime (MTCR) and its push to get into the elite club of Nuclear Suppliers Group ( NSG), has continued to hog headlines, both in the print as also in the electronic media.

India’s quest and claim for a seat as permanent member of the United Nations Security Council will only get legitimised and strengthened if it becomes a part of various elite clubs of the world…

Needless to say, India’s assessment centres around the fact that its quest and claim for a seat as permanent member of the United Nations Security Council will only get legitimised and strengthened if it becomes a part of various elite clubs of the world, which decide on crucial issues of international affairs. Becoming a member of MTCR as also of NSG, besides having other strategic implications is, therefore, a logical objective of our strategic planners.

Any country wishing to become a member of the MTCR can only achieve that status if a consensus emerges among the existing member states about granting such membership to the new entrant. The United State’s own policy has been that any country which is not recognised as a nuclear-weapon state (which includes India) must do away with ballistic missiles with a capacity of 500 kg payload and a range of at least 300 km. But as on many other issues, the U.S. in 1998, made an exception for its new found ally, Ukraine, which possessed Scud missiles, falling well within these parameters.

India’s Stakes in SCO

By Ambassador P Stobdan
23 Jun , 2016

What does SCO membership actually hold for India? Pursuing the goal of multi-polarity apart, are there direct potential gains for India?

For India, the SCO has been about increasing its political, economic and security stakes in Central Asia – a reason why New Delhi keenly pursued its formal entry into the grouping despite critics at home challenging the wisdom of joining a Chinese-led body as a junior member with a lesser political voice.

From India’s perspective, SCO membership would open a new opportunity to reconnect with Eurasia after a century of disruption. Prime Minister Modi said at the Ufa summit that membership of SCO would be “a natural extension of India’s ties with member countries.”

SCO could offer India with some unique opportunities to get constructively engaged with Eurasia to address shared security concerns, especially for combating terrorism and containing threats posed by ISIS and the Taliban.

SCO aims to focus on combating terrorism, separatism and extremism. The measures undertaken by the grouping may have served China’s fight against its ‘three evils’, as also effectively dealt with imminent threats being posed to the Central Asian states as well.

India could benefit from stepping up cooperation especially by tapping into the existing SCO processes such as the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) that shares key information and intelligence on movements of terrorists and drug-trafficking. Similarly, participation in the SCO’s counter-terror exercises and annually conducted military drills could benefit our armed forces understand the operational tactics of other militaries which could also instil greater confidence at the regional level.

Havaldar Kirpa Ram, the hero of the battle of Walong

Jun 21, 2016
He was a goalkeeper, the man who tamed a panther, and an all-round hero while fighting the Chinese in 1962

On the face of it, Kirpa Ram would have seemed like an ordinary man. In actuality, he was anything but that. He was an Equipment and Boot Repairer (EBR) in 4 Sikh and could handcraft shoes that would cost a fortune today. More importantly, he was the unit hockey team goalkeeper and had represented the Indian Army. Kirpa Ram was also the one who had tamed and looked after the unit mascot, Rani, a female panther. She followed him like a lamb and, if Kirpa Ram was to be believed, she was the reason 4 Sikh got the good grades it did in inspections.

As the unit mascot, Rani was always on parade along with the Officers and Junior Commissioned Officers for introduction to the visiting officer. She even had a military number, wore a coat with unit insignia, was given promotions like the soldiers and was even authorised rations. She used to shake hands with the VIPs and Kirpa Ram then made her do numerous other tricks. By the time, the VIP finished with Rani, there was little time left for the inspection. In the early 1970s, we repeated Kirpa’s stratagem, using Raja, a six-feet plus Himalayan Black Bear!

Torkham Clash with Afghanistan: Is it Pakistan’s Conscious Design

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
23 Jun , 2016

Torkham is in the news with Pakistan firing heavy artillery and mortars at Afghan forces across the Khyber Pass border since June 14. What the escalation will lead to is anybody’s guess. Would there be a repeat of 2011 when Afghan media had reported that Pakistan fired some 470 missiles and artillery in Kunar, Nangarhar, Khost and Paktia provinces of Afghanistan followed by Pakistani Taliban raids backed by helicopters, killing dozens of civilians in June 2011? Significantly on July 4, 2011 the Afghan Parliament had passed a resolution urging the UNSC and the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) to mount diplomatic pressure on Pakistan, describing the Pakistani attacks in Kunar, Nangarhar, Khost and Paktia provinces as an “act of invasion” by the country. 

Trouble began on June 12 when Pakistani authorities began constructing a new post border gate at the main crossing point in Torkham area of Khyber Pass, some 45 kms west of Peshawar.

It is unclear which side initiated the fighting, but Pakistan alleges it was the Afghans. Pakistan says it is constructing the gate to stop militants from crossing the border, but then a gate may stop vehicles along the road, not cross-border movement across a porous border. More significantly, Pakistan maintains that the new gate was being constructed on the Pakistani side of the border and that construction of this gate was agreed upon by both sides during a bilateral meeting for the construction of the gate to be done during Ramazan after iftar.

Pakistan Resumes Cyber-Espionage Operations Against India

Catalin Cimpanu
June 6, 2016

Pakistan Resumes Cyber-Espionage Operations Against India

FireEye security researchers have discovered a new wave of attacks against Indian government officials, yet again linked to Pakistan, just like Operation Transparent Tribe in February and Operation C-Major in March.

The security firm reports that, starting May 18, Indian officials have been receiving a wave of spear-phishing emails masked as news items from a Times of India look-alike domain.

The emails either contained malicious file attachments or they included a link redirecting users to a domain where a drive-by download attack would secretly take place and download malware on the user’s computer.

If the users received a malicious attachment instead of a link, then the file would be a Microsoft Office document that exploited the CVE-2012-0158 vulnerability to install malware.

APT group used a new RAT called BreachRAT

FireEye says the group used a new Remote Access Trojan, which the company named BreachRAT. Previously, the organization had used the njRAT, DarkComet, and the MSIL/Crimson RATs.

Afghan War Rules Leave U.S. Troops Wondering When It’s OK to Shoot

June 20, 2016 

U.S. is no longer at war with Taliban, so Special Forces remaining in Afghanistan have to weigh every situation to decide whether striking them is justified

A U.S. Army helicopter crewman gave a 'hang ten' sign as he dangled his legs off the rear ramp of a Chinook helicopter high over northern Afghanistan in late May. The U.S. still has some 9,800 troops in Afghanistan, many of them special operations forces, but limits the circumstances in which they can fire on the Taliban. PHOTO:MICHAEL M. PHILLIPS/THE 

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan—U.S. spy drones had no trouble spotting the Taliban fighters. There were more than 20 figures snaking through sparsely wooded hills, trying to outflank the Afghan government commandos in the village below.

In the starry darkness overhead, American helicopters loitered armed with precision-guided missiles, along with a flying gunship capable of drenching the area with cannon-fire. It would have been a hard shot to miss.

But before they could fire, the Americans knew they would have to get past the lawyers.

In the amorphous twilight of the Afghan war, it isn’t enough to draw a bead on the enemy. Before they shoot, U.S. troops have to navigate a tricky legal and political question: When is it OK for them to kill Taliban?

Chinese Have Dramatically Reduced Their Cyber Attacks on American Targets, Report

David E. Sanger
June 21, 2016

Chinese Curb Cyberattacks on U.S. Interests, Report Finds

WASHINGTON — Nine months after President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China agreed to a broad crackdown on cyberespionage aimed at curbing the theft of intellectual property, the first detailed study of Chinese hacking has found a sharp drop-off in almost daily raids on Silicon Valley firms, military contractors and other commercial targets.

But the study, conducted by the iSight intelligence unit of FireEye, a company that manages large network breaches, also concluded that the drop-off began a year before Mr. Obama and Mr. Xi announced their accord in the White House Rose Garden. In a conclusion that is largely echoed by American intelligence officials, the study said the change is part of Mr. Xi’s broad effort to bring the Chinese military, which is considered one of the main sponsors of the attacks, further under his control.

As a result, the same political forces that may be alleviating the theft of data from American companies are also responsible for Mr. Xi’s stunningly swift crackdown on the Chinese media, bloggers and others who could challenge the Communist Party.

“It’s a mixed bag,” said Kevin Mandia, the founder of Mandiant, now part of FireEye, which first detailed the activities of a People’s Liberation Army cyber-arm, called Unit 61398, that had been responsible for some of the most highly publicized thefts of American technology. “We still see semiconductor companies and aerospace firms attacked.”

When China and Vietnam Went to War: Four Lessons for History

June 21, 2016

Last month, during President Barack Obama’s recent barnstorm through East and Southeast Asia, he announced in a joint press conference with his Vietnamese counterpart Tran Dai Quang that the embargo on weapon sales to Vietnam was to be lifted. Though the White House had hitherto reassured human-rights watchers that any negation of this Cold War–era policy would be directly tethered to Hanoi’s record of improvement on issues of freedom of conscience (admittedly described by Obama as “modest”), what ended up proving more important in the eyes of Washington officialdom was what Harold Macmillan once described as the primary determining factor in politics: “Events, dear boy, events!”

For Obama, the event foremost in mind is the frightening potential for a hollowing-out of the ambitious Pivot to Asia he christened seven and a half years ago. While the president has allowed his foreign-policy focus to be distracted by the Middle Eastern maelstrom as well as a revanchist Russia, he is not entirely to blame; indeed, both the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees have done nothing to massage Pacific Rim interests. Despite much of the language of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) having been crafted and negotiated in Secretary Hillary Clinton’s State Department, Candidate Clinton, sensing a rising gale coming in from her left, wrenched her campaign’s tiller sharply to port, tacking with the wind of Bernie Sanders’ “Revolution.” She survived the tempest, but her ability to swing back toward a pro-TPP position is effectively nil—to paraphrase yet another British prime minister, Winston Churchill, politicians can easily rat; it’s the re-ratting that comes far harder. And of course, Donald Trump’s rhetoric regarding the Japanese and South Korean alliances has caused its share of tremors.

Here Is Why the US Military Is Not In Panic Mode Over China's Carrier-Killer Missiles

June 20, 2016

The United States Navy will have to live with the proliferation of anti-ship ballistic missiles that have the potential to threaten an aircraft carrier. However, the threat from such weapons is not insurmountable, and in many cases, the danger might be overblown.

“I think there is this long-range precision strike capability, certainly. Everybody says A2/AD [anti-access/area-denial],” Adm. John Richardson, the U.S. Navy’s chief of naval operations, told an audience at the Center for a New American Security’s annual conference on June 20. “A2/AD is sort of an aspiration. In actual execution it’s much more difficult.”

While U.S. Navy officials—and many Washington, D.C., think tanks—have talked about the potential threat to the service’s aircraft carrier fleet from weapons such as the Chinese DF-21D and DF-26, the difficulty of developing a true A2/AD capability is seldom discussed.

As Richardson pointed out, A2/AD strategies have existed since the dawn of warfare. What makes the new Chinese capability different is the combination of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability with long-range precision weapons. “The combination ubiquitous ISR, long-range precision strike weapons take that to the next level,” Richardson said. “It demands a response.”

New Clues About Iran’s Previous Work on Nuclear Weapons

Jay Solomon
June 21, 2016

Uranium Provides New Clue on Iran’s Past Nuclear Arms Work

An Aug. 13, 2004, satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe and the Institute for Science and International Security showing the military complex at Parchin, Iran, about 19 miles southeast of Tehran. Photo: DigitalGlobe/Associated Press

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration has concluded that uranium particles discovered last year at a secretive Iranian military base likely were tied to the country’s past, covert nuclear weapons program, current and former officials said, a finding that contradicts Tehran’s longstanding denials that it was pursuing a bomb.

After ISIS: A Smarter Way to Fight Radicalization

June 21, 2016

Last week’s tragic attack in an Orlando nightclub once again underscores the resonance of Islamic State’s message for seemingly unaffiliated individuals around the world. However, it also brings to light the real challenge of measuring and dealing with the influence of jihadist ideas—a challenge that both predates and will outlive today’s issue of defeating Islamic State.

For the last two years, the Obama administration has declared the defeat of ISIS to be a top foreign-policy priority. Congress and a large majority of the American public strongly support this idea. But it’s precisely the wrong objective.

While defeating Islamic State should be on the counterterrorism agenda for the next administration, the real objective should be to adequately meet the challenge of twenty-first-century global jihadism. Air campaigns, multinational coalition building and political solutions in Iraq and Syria, all integral to significantly downgrading ISIS, are only means towards defeating the group territorially. However, ISIS remains a symptom of a larger cause, and defeating it should be seen as a means towards an end, not as an end in and of itself. Being prepared and agile in the face of the new global jihadist threat requires a fundamental reorientation of our analytical, operational and bureaucratic resources.

The Iran Deal's Future Remains Uncertain

June 21, 2016

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has now been in effect for a year. It has withstood multiple political tests in Washington and Tehran and its key provisions have thus far been implemented by Iran and its seven partners (the P-5, Germany and the European Union). The short-term success of the agreement in peacefully rolling back worrisome aspects of Iranian nuclear activity and subjecting the remainder to more rigorous verification arrangements is reassuring—certainly if we bear in mind that the core of the JCPOA should remain in force for another decade or more. Yet, the future of the agreement nevertheless seems highly uncertain.

Barring an existential crisis it seems highly unlikely that Iran will break out from the nuclear restraints of the JCPOA in the next ten years, or, conversely, that Iran will totally pacify its nuclear program. Four different and more ambiguous scenarios are more plausible for the future. They could unfold in combination, perhaps sequentially. Uncertainty will remain for quite some time. These four scenarios may be described in shorthand as routinization, renegotiation, death spiral and time bomb. Each entails serious risks and few opportunities. Taken together these scenarios suggest the danger of resting on negotiating laurels hoping that the short-term gains of the JCPOA will automatically translate into a satisfactory, enduring peaceful solution to the nuclear challenge presented by Iran.


Qatar: The Shape of Tomorrow

Huang Yong Ping’s “Wu Zei” (2010) at Qatar Museums Gallery Al Riwaq / Photo: Wen-You Cai
Doha: Plastic and ready-made, it’s a city built for Jeff Koons. When I run into him in March at the elevator bank at the
 W Doha Hotel, it feels staged. House music plays at a tasteful volume for nine o’clock in the morning. Koons’s smile is cartoonish and his gray skinny tie impeccably knotted. A frequent guest of the Qatari royal family, the artist is in the desert peninsula’s capital to headline the New York Times Art for Tomorrow conference. For a cool $1,995, attendees from around the globe enjoy a three-day confab, which also features Marina Abramović, Jeffrey Deitch, Marc Spiegler, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, as well as cyborg artists (“an art movement where artists express themselves through new senses created by the union between cybernetics and their organism,” according to the newspaper of record), sheikhs, and corporate philanthropists, all in conversation with Times journalists Roger Cohen, Robin Pogrebin, and Farah Nayeri. The convener of the event is Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani — chairman of Qatar Museums Authority, sister of the country’s emir, and 
one of the world’s wealthiest art collectors.

Art for Tomorrow boasts 
a buffet of international perspectives on cultural and urban change, highlighting Qatar’s role in this New World Order. Wandering through Doha’s museums and speaking with artists, I am wowed by the scale of the state’s ambitions. All the art that money can buy is a lot of art indeed. But the inflammatory issues of the region’s present — censorship, labor rights, dynastic succession — are left unaddressed in the Times’s plenary sessions. Rather, the proceedings circulate around the placid lexicon of ted Talks, platitudes of futurism veering into the apolitical and commercial. But in Qatar, you cannot separate politics from art, in large part because the emir’s family is the patron of the arts.

The Durability of Ethnicity: Intra-state and Non-state Violence

June 20, 2016 

The Durability of Ethnicity: Intra-state and Non-state Violence

There have been only 51 interstate wars and 418 internal, ethnic conflicts since 1945.[1] The militarily weak actors in these ethnic conflicts have steadily increased their ability to achieve their political objectives. The trend continues: In 2014, there was only one state-on-state conflict and thirty-nine intrastate, largely ethnic conflicts.[2] Additionally, in 2014, there were 61 organized, non-state groups causing at least twenty-five deaths a year.[3] The effectiveness of sub-state groups in achieving their goals has dramatically increased. In the past two hundred years, states have gone from winning some eighty percent of internal conflicts to less than half that by the end of the twentieth century.[4] Ties of ethnic identity primarily drive these conflicts. Still ethnic conflict lacks proper study in most military institutions because they cannot be replicated under controlled conditions, unlike the massive, digital wargames and field maneuvers conducted by countries like the U.S. and policy makers can rarely provide preventive policies as in normative international relations.

The rise of the sovereign state and its privileged position as the primary unit of the international system has failed to stem these conflicts these conflicts as new space is created to facilitate the integration of marginalized groups. In this paper, I attempt to uncover what makes ethnicity and ethnic conflict so durable exploring the idea that conflict is a social act rooted in identity. The ability of language, religion and ancestry to bind people together in turn is a powerful motivator of violence. As marginalized groups tender feelings that the distribution of resources, be they economic or political, is unfair, then violence becomes a way to bypass political stalemate.[5] Hostility and frustration produces insecurity, a feeling that the group’s special identity is under attack. In ethnic wars, the killing is personal, rooted deeply in social contexts in which victims know the killers.

Survey of Russian Military Activities in Syria and Elsewhere

June 21, 2016

Russia: Clever Solutions

Russian military efforts continue to be concentrated on Syria. There the beleaguered Assad government, backed by Russian and Iranian military aid, has regained ground from rebels and is encouraged because they, with the help of Iran and Russia, are really hurting ISIL. Now Syrian troops are advancing into eastern Syria and the ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) capital in Raqqa. While Assad forces are advancing on Raqqa city from the west U.S. backed Kurdish and Arab rebels are advancing from the north. Iran has spent over $10 billion to support the Assads since 2011, while Russia has spent less than a third of that. But it is all paying off as Iran has expanded its mercenary force of Afghan, Iraqi and other Shia volunteers recruited, trained, armed and paid for by Iran for service in Syria. The largest and most effective Shia paramilitary force is Hezbollah from Lebanon. Thus only about half the Syrian government force advancing into Raqqa province are from the Syrian Army. The rest are largely controlled by Iran while air support and logistics is provided by Russia. The Kurds have been raiding into Raqqa province since late 2015 and often showed up on the outskirts of Raqqa city. But this time the move south is much more than a few hundred raiders. 

The several thousand Kurdish fighters are accompanied by American and other (mostly NATO) commandos to ensure that there is plenty of air support. This does not mean that Russia, Iran and NATO are allies in the fight against ISIL. There is some communication and Russian leaders recently admitted that Russia and the United States communicate twice a day and share information on operations in Syria. This is apparently to prevent inadvertent clashes (especially from the air) between the two forces advancing on Raqqa city. Nothing has been revealed about how these two forces would operate once they reached Raqqa city. The easiest way to take Raqqa city is to surround it and cut off the defenders from reinforcements or supply and then coordinate an air and ground attack. But who would end up controlling Raqqa city? This unofficial anti-ISIL alliance won’t survive the capture of Raqqa. Meanwhile Turkey accuses Russia, Iran and the United States of forming a secret alliance to defeat the Syrian rebellion and do a lot of other evil stuff. Many Arabs believe the same thing and believe it is all part of a Western effort to destroy Islam.

Early American signals intelligence satellites

Dwayne Day
June 21, 2016

The wizard war in orbit (part 1)

Tales of espionage are filled with lanky men in trenchcoats walking through cold Berlin streets at the height of the Cold War. But the most important intelligence—in terms of volume and reliability—was gathered by reconnaissance satellites far overhead. These satellites were precise, they collected vast amounts of information, and unlike spies, they did not forget, embellish, lie, or go rogue. Photographic reconnaissance satellites like CORONA, GAMBIT, HEXAGON, and KENNEN were in many ways the most prolific spooks. But they were also accompanied by other satellites, signals intelligence, or SIGINT, satellites that listened for the electronic whispers of radars and radios, engaged in a high-tech war of electrons against an enemy that could vanish and emerge at will.

During the Cold War the United States intelligence community gathered signals intelligence from the Soviet Union via a variety of means. These included ground stations, cable-tapping and bugging operations, airborne platforms such as the RC-135 Rivet Joint and RB-47 Stratojet, and signals intelligence satellites. Any history of SIGINT satellite operations during the Cold War is going to be limited in scope because much of the story remains classified, and unlike the reconnaissance photographs, signals intelligence is an arcane and esoteric subject.
What the history reveals is that SIGINT satellite operations by the United States during the 1960s were far more complex than independent observers ever imagined.

Why Doesn't Bernie Sanders Have a Socialist Foreign Policy?

June 21, 2016

With the Democratic primaries coming to an end, the fate of Bernie Sanders is sealed. His insurgent campaign surprised everybody in advancing so far, and gave a good fight to a powerful establishment figure like Hillary Clinton. The question of whether he could have done better if he had focused on foreign policy is one that, while vital, hasn’t really been asked. The usual assumption is that Hillary is a hawk and that Bernie is to her left on foreign policy. That is a fairly honest answer, given their voting records; however, the fact that the first man to call himself a socialist in a Democratic primary has a foreign policywith not much difference from a mainstream liberal raises the question of whether there exists a socialist foreign policy in the U.S. context.

If one looks to the tradition of American socialism, one can argue that there is certainly an anti-imperialist tradition, represented especially by Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas. On the other hand, there is another viable theory—call it “Trotsky in the White House.” In the George W. Bush years, libertarians and paleocons pointed that the ones promoting interventionist foreign policy weren’t limited-government conservatives, but rather former socialists—especially Trotskyites—and that while they rhetorically abandoned socialism, they never gave up the theory of permanent revolution, now disguised as promoting democracy abroad. There is now a third tradition, represented by Bernie Sanders, that is concerned with preserving the architecture of international relations and includes defending not only the UN but also NATO.

The Feds Aren’t Just Russians In North Caucasus: And Five Other Keys To Understanding Region – OpEd

JUNE 22, 2016

Leonid Nikitinsky, a member of the Presidential Human Rights Council, who accompanied a delegation of that body to the North Caucasus May 30 – June 9 offers six lessons for Russians who know less about that region than people there know about Russia (novayagazeta.ru/comments/73492.html).

First of all, in the North Caucasus, the journalist says, “the feds have no nationality” and thus are “not the same thing as ‘[ethnic] Russians.” They include all those, Russian and non-Russian alike who do not develop relations with the local people, and therefore do not understand how the locals think but instead impose the standards of outsiders on them.

“The secret dream of all residents of the Caucasus is that ‘the feds’ will disappear from there as in Chechnya, preferably of course without shooting.” But the senior officials in the republics there know that if that happens, “the sleeping volcanoes” of traditional life will erupt and create instability everywhere, as in fact is the case in Chechnya as well.

Our best defence is to stand apart and save Europe by our example

20 JUNE 2016

Tradition is the essential force that binds the British Army together

Watching the Queen’s Birthday Parade, I was struck by the extraordinary precision of the Coldstream Guards, my old regiment. This was commitment, discipline and a determination to achieve the highest possible standards, as befits a regiment that is 366 years old. For British soldiers, such tradition is not an exercise in sloppy-minded nostalgia. It is the essential force that binds them together, in peace and war. No other army in the world can claim such long and distinguished ancestry as ours.
Trooping the Colour: highlightsPlay!01:39

This is as far as it is possible to get from the proposed European Union defence force. The combat effectiveness of our Armed Forces has already been much damaged by European legislation that seems to regard soldiers merely as civilians in uniform. I believe that, in a time of great insecurity in Europe, it would be madness to become involved in what will only ever be a hollow force . 

Bigger than Brexit: This Could Be the Start of an EU Crack-Up

June 20, 2016

Brexit is a fascinating prospect. The idea of a member state potentially leaving the European Union is new terrain—at least to the degree that it is within reach of actually happening. The debate is exposing deep ruptures in the governing Conservative Party, and deeper divisions in British society over issues such as immigration, welfare, public spending and security. However, what is more fascinating is the debate that is not being had. That debate is arguably a more fundamental one, and it involves the fate of the European Union itself.

Most, if not all, of the coverage in Britain over the referendum has revolved around the “Leave” and “Remain” campaigns, and the array of experts and figureheads each have assembled to present their cases. There has also been vibrant reporting on polls, which now show the Leave camp edging ahead. Polls themselves have recently taken a battering after they spectacularly failed to even come close to the actual result of the last British general election. In the case of a referendum like this, with such a large proportion of the population undecided and being influenced by the daily news cycle, poll data is equally unlikely to present an accurate picture of the final result.

What seems most likely is that the British public will vote to remain, and do so by a majority of at least five points. This analysis would base itself on data and research before the campaign began and points to a more settled picture of public opinion. It also assumes that a vast majority of those undecideds, who may have been swaying between one position and the other (explaining the volatility in the polls), will step behind the curtain on voting day and vote Remain out of a fear of the unknown—a safety-first instinct.

Georgia’s NATO, EU, and Russia Challenge

JUNE 20, 2016

After just under six months in his post as Georgian prime minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili has the unenviable task of clawing back public support for his party, Georgian Dream, before the next parliamentary election on October 8.

Since it was elected in 2012, the party has plummeted in the opinion polls. Its ratings fell from 42 percent in August 2014 to 18 percent in December 2015. Squabbles and resignations inside the coalition haven’t helped, nor has the fact that ministers are at odds over what policy to adopt toward Russia, which invaded Georgia in August 2008.

When I sat down with Kvirikashvili during his recent visit to Berlin to discuss Georgia’s foreign and domestic priorities, he was adamant about one thing: staying the Euro-Atlantic course didn’t exclude having a relationship with Russia.

“We don’t see any alternative for ensuring long-term stability for Georgia to joining this Euro-Atlantic family of countries,” he said. “It’s not only the military dimension that attracts us to this family. There are also common values of democracy and freedom, which incentivize us to continue very important reforms that will transform the country into a European country. Nothing can derail us from this track.”

Even though NATO, at its summit in Warsaw on July 8–9, will not grant Georgia a Membership Action Plan, which would put the country on the irreversible path of joining the military alliance, Kvirikashvili says Georgia is not in a security vacuum. He is even sanguine about NATO’s stance when compared with Georgia’s defense minister, Tinatin Khidasheli.


09 Jun2016

It’s not just about shooting down drones. During this year’s cadet summer training, the Army Cyber Institute at West Point has assisted West Point’s Department of Military Instruction by introducing an “enemy” drone during Urban Operations training. This addition has enabled cadets to integrate common warrior tasks and battle drills to that of modern warfare by requiring them to defeat a remotely piloted aerial vehicle during their mission.

Cadet Austin Neal watches a drone of the opposing forces from his fighting position during Cadet Leader Development Training at West Point June 2. The introduction of drones during enabled cadet to integrate cyber warfare into common warrior tasks and battle drills. (U.S. Army photo by: Staff Sgt. Vito T. Bryant)

“It’s to help Soldiers and all branches think about cyber and how it’s going to affect the modern battlefield,” said Capt. Matthew Hutchison, a research scientist assigned to ACI.

Another ACI research scientist, Lt. Col. Daniel Huynh, agrees.

“We think it’s important to help show cadets what the future may look like. It’s more the idea of being able to look further down the road,” he said.

In this particular scenario, an infantry platoon of cadets is enabled with a cyber operator and bolstered with the capabilities of a cyber rifle, a device specifically created by ACI to disable drones.


JUNE 21, 2016

Several months ago, we — members of the Army Cyber Institute and Defense Innovation Unit Experimental — built and wrote about a cyber-electromagnetic tool lovingly referred to as the “cyber capability rifle” (CCR) for about $150 and ten man-hours. Shortly after its debut at Cyber Talks, we tested it against a network-connected home automation system to open an electronic door lock and once again to take over the control system of a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) drone. Each demonstration served as a glimpse into what the future of war might look like and the need to increase the military’s pace of innovation, particularly at the tactical level. In the true spirit of open innovation, we iterated a few times on the idea, producing more robust prototypes and better interfaces at each turn. The true test, however, would occur during the tool’s integration into West Point cadet infantry platoon maneuver training, which we completed last week.

Over a thousand cadets participate in West Point’s annual Cadet Leader Development Training (CLDT), a summer training event designed to immerse rising junior and senior cadets in dynamic environments, testing their leadership abilities under stress, how they can employ tactical problem-solving skills and, most importantly, how they adjust to an ever-changing battlefield environment. In all, about 18 cadet “infantry” platoons conducted the cyber-enhanced training mission, or “lane,” against a formidable and tech-savvy opposing force (OPFOR) who was equipped with COTS drones employed as mobile surveillance and mobile munitions platforms. Below is a brief synopsis of the tactical scenario that we gave the cadets before they conducted their training lane’s mission:

Will there be a war to end cyber warfare?

If ever the famous aphorism, dating back a century or more, about generals always fighting the last war rings true, it is in the war against cybercrime.

The essence of the venerable line is we may well learn from the last battle but we don’t appreciate the same lessons won’t apply in the next one. The lessons of trench warfare didn’t apply when conflict shifted to the air.

With cybercrime, it is the essence of the threat that it constantly changes. The threat is always evolving, changing shape, and defences designed to defeat last week’s breach may not work next week.

It is with this reality firmly in mind that the Basel-based global regulator, the Bank for International Settlements, has had a committee looking at cyber resilience for financial market infrastructures.

The project, under the auspices of the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures and the Board of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions, has just released submissions by major market players in response to itsposition paper of November 2015.

More global cooperation needed to win cyber war, Israeli guru says

June 21, 2016

Head of team that set out Israel’s national cybersecurity policy says country sees up to 2 million attacks a day

More cooperation is needed globally among companies and governments to fight the ever changing threats to the cyber universe, Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel, who led a task force that set out Israel’s national cyber security policy, said in an interview.

“There is not enough being done globally,” Ben-Israel, who heads the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center at the Tel Aviv University, said on the sidelines of a cybersecurity conference.

“Everyone agrees that international cooperation is very important in the war against cyber crime or attacks, but no one really knows what is the meaning of international cooperation in cyber space. There are small steps here and there but it is very difficult to get international cooperation. People say let’s share intelligence, but no one is sharing intelligence. We can say it, but no one is doing it, so we should find other ways.”