21 August 2016

It Loks Like the NSA Was Hacked. Edward Snowden Thinks It Was Russia.

By Jeremy Stahl

In what is either an incredibly elaborate hoax or a historic public breach of national security, hackers claim to have gained access to a set of files from a hacking group that is thought to be an offshoot of the National Security Agency.
If the hack is real, experts believe a foreign government must have helped the group in order for it to have exploited NSA resources in this way. On Tuesday, Edward Snowden speculated on Twitter that the Russians were responsible for the attack—and that it was connected to speculation about the country’s involvement with the recent breach and leak of Democratic National Committee emails.
Russia is widely believed to have been behind the July release of hacked DNC emails, and last week it was reported that the top lawmakers in the country had been briefed a year ago that Russia had infiltrated the DNC’s servers.

On Saturday, a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers sent notices to media outlets about its purported hack of the Equation Group, an organization that was exposed last year by Russian security firm Kaspersky Lab as likely one of the world’s most sophisticated hacking collectives. As Foreign Policy wrote, Kaspersky Lab called Equation Group “a threat actor that surpasses anything known in terms of complexity and sophistication of techniques.” Without directly calling Equation Group an NSA organization, Kaspersky linked the group to the intelligence agency and pointed to involvement with the Stuxnet malware software that was widely believed to be a U.S.–Israeli cyberattack against Iran’s nuclear program.
Then on Monday, the Shadow Brokers released on Tumblr a series of files it claimed had been taken from the Equation Group. In a bizarre post written in broken English, the hackers said they had released 60 percent of the material they had and would release the additional 40 percent if they were paid 1 million bitcoin (currently worth more than $500 million). Forbes reported that its sources were saying the bitcoin auction was likely just an attempt to gain media attention.

Here is what the hacking group said in its release of the files:
Q: Why I want auction files, why send bitcoin? A: If you like free files (proof), you send bitcoin. If you want know your networks hacked, you send bitcoin. If you want hack networks as like equation group, you send bitcoin. If you want reverse, write many words, make big name for self, get many customers, you send bitcoin. If want to know what we take, you send btcoin.

Q: What if bid and no win, get bitcoins back? A: Sorry lose bidding war lose bitcoin and files. Lose Lose. Bid to win! But maybe not total loss. Instead to losers we give consolation prize. If our auction raises 1,000,000 (million) btc total, then we dump more Equation Group files, same quality, unencrypted, for free, to everyone.

*** The art of war We need to think creatively about the proposed defence university

We need to think creatively about the proposed defence university 
Written by Harsh V. Pant | Published:August 19, 2016 
With the draft bill for the proposed Indian National Defence University (INDU) now in public domain, this is perhaps the right time for Indian defence intellectuals to start thinking creatively about the proposed institution. It was in 2013 that then prime minister, Manmohan Singh, had laid the foundation for the nation’s first defence university at Binola in Gurgaon with the hope that when completed, INDU “will become [a] world class institution of higher defence studies in which we will be able to take justifiable pride”. Given the dismal state of other institutions of higher learning in India, this might be a tall order but at least a first step has been taken towards establishing INDU, a project that has been part of the national discourse for decades now. Though various committees had recommended the setting up of a national defence university, the government had been dragging its feet on the project. Things are finally moving now. 

The nature of the challenges facing defence in the 21st century emphasises the vital requirement of education in a military officer’s career. While a key strength of the military organisation is its cohesiveness, it is also true that the challenges posed by the use of military force in the world today require officers who can think and act independently of formulaic guidelines. These challenges flow from changes in the strategic environment driven by social, economic and political factors which in turn affect the character of warfare and security as a whole. As a consequence, there is a need to focus on enhancing the level of professional military education (PME) in India. 
The aims of modern PME should be to develop the military officers’ understanding of defence in the modern world; demand critical engagement with current research on defence and its relationship with the fields of international relations, security studies, military history, war studies and operational experience; encourage a systematic and reflective understanding of contemporary conflicts; promote initiative, creativity and independence of thought in identifying, researching, judging and solving fundamental intellectual problems and develop relevant, transferable skills, especially communication, use of information technology and organisation and management of the learning process. Indian PME lacks every single one of these dimensions. 

A key point to note about the development and application of knowledge in the military context is it is generally considered an “art” rather than a “science” because warfare is essentially a human and social activity. Some debate on the issue notwithstanding, the overwhelming consensus is that the analytical tools and assumptions for theory-building in the military setting should be derived from the social rather than the natural sciences. As a military professional, the quality of abstract and theoretical analysis will increasingly underpin the utility and value of the armed forces to its clients (government and society). And here PME in India continues to lag behind. This needs to be rectified if India wants to produce officers who are capable of operating in a complex security environment. 

*** The Evolving Scourge of Global Terrorism: Avoiding a Multi-City Mumbai

August 16, 2016 
The global terrorist threat, already dangerous, is on the cusp of a rapid evolution. A recent report by the Joint Staff, describes a future featuring sharp, global, and violent ideological competition with transnational terrorist groups. Moreover, it describes a United States threatened by a range of violent ideological groups and even state sponsored Special Forces capable of both conducting sustained, coercive terrorist operations and actually building relatively advanced lethal weapons within the territory of the United States or its allies and partners.
Security measures after the September 11, 2001 attacks encouraged terrorist groups to develop a highly decentralized model of operating. This approach relies on social media activation of small cells and even “lone wolf” disaffected individuals. It relies on surprise, makeshift bombings like the Boston Marathon attack, vehicular attacks, or mass shootings by individual gunmen.

The Mumbai attacks of 2008 revealed how a small group of determined individuals could bring a megacity to a standstill. More recently, attacks in France, Turkey, Germany and the U.S. all show that even very low-tech attacks can kill dozens of people and, through press and social media, amplify the coercive power of committed, murderous ideological groups.
Just as we begin to understand and adapt to a particular threat, terrorists innovate. These operations will soon mutate and evolve in new and troubling directions – but in several very specific and foreseeable ways. This imminent – and rapid – evolution of terrorist tactics and operational approaches demands our attention.

The future terrorist threat – armed and operating within the U.S. itself may be capable of conducting operations to not only challenge U.S. power through disruption and violence, but also win as time goes on. More troubling, these technologies may improve the ability of very small groups to sustain lethal attacks over time without significant local popular support.
These new terrorist operations will be built on several rapidly evolving and proliferating technologies. Each increases the potential for the successful planning and execution of ongoing, multi-city terrorist campaigns – not unlike an urban insurgency by allowing them to communicate securely and build and use lethal force within the U.S. homeland.

Global Encrypted Battle Networks

The first of these important emerging technologies is the widespread commercial introduction of end-to-end encryption in messaging applications such as Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp. In an environment featuring vastly improved and widely available encryption techniques, adversaries may have a far greater ability to build private, hard to find, and secure communications networks. Moreover, these encryption technologies will enable a wide array of untraceable peer-to-peer financial transactions to allow these groups to move money where and when it is needed by its agents.

Contest on two fronts Balochistan and Kashmir have become key strategic points in Sino-Pak ties, upsetting India’s traditional engagement with the two countries.

Written by C. Raja Mohan | Published:August 19, 2016
What’s up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies towards Pakistan and China? The initial hopes for a significant transformation in India’s two most difficult relationships, under Modi, have soured badly. Two years ago, Modi reached out to Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif and China’s Xi Jinping. He had invited Sharif to the inauguration of his administration in May 2014. And, in an effort to regenerate momentum in the bilateral relationship, when it had stalled over Kashmir and terrorism, Modi landed at Sharif’s residence near Lahore at short notice, last December. In September 2014, Modi walked with Xi on the banks of the Sabarmati and pushed hard against Delhi’s reluctant bureaucracy to promote economic relations with Beijing. 

Yet, Pakistan seems unwilling to reciprocate the PM’s goodwill and China is reluctant to accommodate India’s core interests. If Modi took political risks to advance ties with Pakistan and China, two years ago, he may now be moving the other way to secure India’s interests. Modi’s call to expose Pakistan’s atrocities in Balochistan, his public arguments with China on India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and and Delhi’s opposition to China’s economic corridor in Pakistan appear to be part of a shifting strategy towards Islamabad and Beijing. This change is rooted in the recognition that you can’t clap with one hand. Modi’s bet on a positive transformation of ties with Pakistan and China had inevitably run into the structural problems that beset India’s engagement with both the countries. These problems come together in Kashmir and Balochistan. 
China, which occupies swathes of territory in Jammu and Kashmir that India claims, has ended its past neutrality in Delhi’s disputes with Islamabad over the province. The China-Pakistan Economic corridor runs through Gilgit Baltistan and connects with the sea in Balochistan. The prospect of a Chinese military base in Balochistan links India’s problems with Beijing in the Himalayas with the challenge of PLA’s rising maritime profile in the Indian Ocean. Throw in a fresh bout of turmoil in Srinagar into the mix, you have the explosive cocktail that is blowing up the traditional frameworks of India’s engagement with Pakistan and China. 

*** India draws clear red lines for Pakistan, 5-point agenda for talks

End incitement in J&K, stop sheltering Dawood Ibrahim, prosecute Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed, discuss vacation of PoK, said Foreign Secy. 
Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published:August 19, 2016
hese red lines form part of Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s letter to his Pakistan counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary. 

Hardening its stance on resuming dialogue with Pakistan, India Thursday announced it had set a five-point agenda for talks on terrorism in a letter submitted a day earlier by Indian envoy Gautam Bambawale to the Pakistan Foreign Ministry. 
New Delhi asked Islamabad to end incitement to violence and terrorism from Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, stop cross-border terrorism, detain and prosecute terrorists like Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed, deny a safe haven to fugitives like Mumbai underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and close terror camps where terrorists like Bahadur Ali have been trained. 
India also proposed discussing “vacation of Pakistan’s illegal occupation of J&K” — a reference to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir — and sought a briefing from the Pakistan Foreign Secretary on the progress in the 26/11 trial in Pakistan and its probe into the Pathankot airbase attack. 
These red lines form part of Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s letter to his Pakistan counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary. 
The Pakistan Foreign Ministry, which did not offer any comment on the letter, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi crossed the “red line” by talking about Balochistan and said it will “forcefully” raise the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly session next month. 

According to a PTI report from Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria, referring to Modi’s remarks on Balochistan and PoK in his Independence Day speech, said: “It is the violation of the UN Charter… He (Modi) crossed the red line by talking about Balochistan.” 
In his letter, Jaishankar recalled “Pakistan’s long history of violence and terrorism against India” — from 1947 to the 1965 war and the Kargil war. He reminded Pakistan of the past commitments of its leaders and of not allowing Pakistani soil to be used for anti-India activities by terrorists. 
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Jaishankar had conveyed he was accepting his counterpart’s invitation to visit Islamabad but discussions should focus first on the “more pressing aspects” of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. 

Which is the most profitable retail chain in India?

August 17, 2016 
CSD was created to provide easy access to quality products of daily use, at prices less than market rates to the soldiers, ex-servicemen and their families
Is it D'Mart, Kishore Biyani promoted the Future Retail or Mukesh Ambani promoted Reliance Retail? The answer is a resounding no.
According to a report published in The Economic Times, the Canteen Stores Department, a not-for-profit organisation under the defence ministry, earned Rs 236 crore (Rs 2.36 billion) during FY14-15, which is far more than D'Mart's Rs 211 crore (Rs 2.11 billion), Future Retail's Rs 153 crore (Rs 1.53 billion) and Reliance Retail's Rs 159 crore (Rs 1.59 billion).
The ET report further adds that in terms of sales, too, CSD fared well. With a revenue of Rs 13,709 crore (Rs 137.09 billion) it trailed only Future Group and Reliance Retail.
The defence canteen stores sell more than 5,000 items ranging from toiletries to liquor to food and medicinal items to cars and two-wheelers.
Started in 1948, CSD boasts of over 12 million customers comprising personnel of the army, navy and air force, ex-servicemen and their families.

The report further points out that it is the biggest customer across South Asia for Hindustan Unilever, India's largest FMCG company, and United Spirits Ltd.

*** Crimea: Russia's Little Pawn

 AUGUST 16, 2016 |  

Unmarked Russian military equipment and troops moved into Crimea as the peninsula's leaders sought to join Russia in early 2014. After annexation, Russia continued to move its forces into the region. (VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)

The escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine has apparently abated for now. The situation was fraught after Russia claimed that on Aug. 6 Ukrainian saboteurs made an incursion into Crimea. But on Aug. 15, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for calm in the region, and Ukrainian security officials have acknowledged a decline in Russian troop movements in Crimea in recent days. Nevertheless, taking stock of the political, economic and security evolution of Crimea is important to gauge the likelihood of another spike in tensions.

Since the Euromaidan uprising in February 2014, Crimea has played an important role in the standoff between Moscow and the West over Ukraine. The peninsula, populated largely by ethnic Russians and long home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet, was the site of the initial Russian reaction to the events in Kiev. Shortly after the ouster of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, unmarked Russian soldiers known as "little green men" took over key air and road facilities in Crimea. Crimean officials expressed a desire to join Russia, and a referendum on the question was organized the next month. After a vote of more than 95 percent in favor (a result disputed by Western observers), Russia formally annexed Crimea on March 18, 2014.
An Equal and Opposite Reaction

Ukraine and its Western backers still hotly contest the annexation, but it went virtually unchallenged by the Ukrainian military. Ukrainian troops who were on the peninsula before the annexation either defected to the Russian military or returned to Ukraine. And though the near-unanimous results of the referendum raised suspicions in the West, the reality is that most of Crimea's inhabitants wanted to become part of Russia. Crimea has traditionally been the most pro-Russian part of Ukraine, and many on the peninsula viewed Yanukovich's ouster as a coup orchestrated and supported by Western powers.
Crimea's turn toward Russia could therefore be seen as a logical counterpoint to Ukraine's turn to the West. Although the Anti-Maidan rebellion quickly spread from Crimea to the eastern and southern portions of Ukraine that have historically been oriented toward Russia, the movement gained a real foothold only in the breakaway territories of Donetsk and Luhansk, where pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian security forces are still battling. And though the conflict in eastern Ukraine has been the subject of regular negotiations in Minsk among Moscow, Kiev and the West, Russia has made it clear that Crimea's political and security status is not up for discussion.

*** A New Plan: Using Complexity In the Modern World


Eisenhower’s sentiment that “in preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”[1] is remarkably similar to that of Von Moltke the Elder that “no plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force.”[2] If this was true in the 19th and 20th centuries, surely it is worth reflecting on in contemporary times, especially when we consider the importance placed on planning processes within our defense institutions.
In an earlier article, I argued that due to the fissures within the strategic environment Australia and other western democracies needed to adopt a political warfare approach to achieve their desired political objectives. My remedies focused on implementing institutional, structural, and cultural proposals at the so-called strategic level. I called for a “strategy of long term sustainable warfare through integrating government’s capabilities into a wider strategy rather than focusing on war itself.”

But if we need to incorporate other elements of national power into our strategic approach, we might need to review how we design military plans. Or at least, we need to redesign planning tools and processes for integrating military operations into broader national efforts. Few tools exist for coordinating elements of national power; in fact, it is usually the military who has the only complex planning capacity within government. This makes it more appealing for governments to look at military processes with some level of confidence. Militaries prepare for operations through the application of operational art, "linking resources (means) and tactical actions (ways) to the attainment of national and military strategic end states and objectives (ends), while taking into account possible costs (risk)."[3]

The modern way of applying this art is through operational design—a schematic that represents the commander’s method of prosecuting a campaign. "Operational design must help the commander provide enough structure to an ill-structured problem so that planning can lead to effective action toward strategic objectives."[4]
Australian doctrine notes that military operations have always been structurally complex, made up of a system of many parts interacting in a predictable and usually linear way.[5] But contemporary military operations are also interactively complex, made up of many parts interacting with the environment in many possible ways and changing their form significantly over time. Often called complex adaptive systems, they are difficult to predict, and effects of actions cannot be taken for granted. But the 'directing staff' solution to resolving the interactive complexity is to deal with these as a traditional structural problem.

How Kautilya’s Arthashastra Shaped The Telling Of Ancient Indian History

http://swarajyamag.com/culture/how-kautilyas-arthashastra-shaped-the-telling-of-ancient-indian-historySumedha Verma Ojha - August 19, 2016, 
The Arthashastra gave in-depth examinations on matters such as history, economics, politics, management, among many other subjects.
It has often been cited as an important source for understanding Mauryan times.
Beyond the controversy of the date and time of the Arthashastra, it can be read simply for its sheer brilliance in the area of statecraft and economics.
The Arthashastra is so much a part of modern Indian vocabulary on politics, economics and society that it is hard to imagine that this was a book unknown to the English-speaking world until an old manuscript was discovered in 1904. It was translated and presented to the world by R. Shamasastry of the Mysore Oriental Research Institute in Sanskrit, in 1909, and in English in 1915.

It created a storm for all the wrong orientalist reasons— similar to the upheaval caused by the discovery of remains in Harappa and Mohenjodaro. In that case, history was known to have begun with Alexander’s arrival in India. So what was to be made of the spectacular ruins on the banks of the Indus and lost Saraswati, dating to millennia before 323 BCE? Similarly, to find an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft and economics upset the ideas of the rulers about the uncivilised and unsophisticated nature of the colonised Hindus.
Since then, the Arthashastra has enjoyed a revival of sorts with its precepts being used and quoted in books on history, economics, politics, management, religion, spirituality and any other subject on which books are written in English. A cursory search of the internet will throw up pages of purported quotes from Chanakya, many of them being untrustworthy.

What Exactly Is The Arthashastra?
It is a treatise on artha written about 2,300 years ago and attributed to a person named Kautilya. It consists of 15 adhikaranas or books, mainly in prose, with 380 shlokasoccurring at the end of the various chapters. The first sutra contains the statement that the Arthashastra was composed by bringing together all treatises on this subject written by earlier authors. It is, therefore, a compilation.
It can be thought of as an encyclopaedia of information on the ancient Indian world, the subjects ranging from kings to spies and ministers, from cotton to spices and pearls, from inheritance to divorce and municipal law, foreign relations to forts and cities, magic incantations to justice and political administration.
It has most immediately been associated with the Mauryas. Lengend has it that Kautilya or Chanakya, a pundit, was humiliated by the Nandas and took an oath to extirpate them. He sees the qualities of kingship in a young goatherd, adopts and brings him up to be a warrior and a statesman and then, when the young boy reaches adulthood, the two of them together establish Mauryan rule over Jambudwipa. The young boy was, of course, Chandragupta Maurya.

Legend also has it that he explored the science of the Arthashastra to make it a weapon against the Nandas and wrote it during the long years before he finally overthrew the Nandas with Chandragupta, and the nucleus of an army collected from Swat. Interestingly, the Sanskrit play Mudrarakshasa by Vishakhadatta (fourth century CE), which tells the story of Chandragupta’s accession to the throne, describes events which could be straight out of the Arthashastra playbook of defeating enemies— if we indeed accept it as a historical play based on Mauryan times.
Along with the Indika and the inscriptions of Ashoka, the Arthashastra has often been cited as an important source for understanding Mauryan times. As is often the case with ancient Indian history, which is a battleground for different ideologies and persuasions, the date and authorship of the Arthashastra is also the subject of many controversies. Who was it written by and when? Does it describe Mauryan times or not? What kind of society is it set in?
Answers for these questions range across a spectrum with the date of the Arthashastra being posited from as early as 600 BCE to as late as the fourth century CE, and the book being attributed to a person named Kautilya, or someone else, or to multiple others. A useful way to look at this is in the words of the 17th century German Indologist, H. Jacobi:
Without weighty grounds, one must not push aside the unanimous Indian tradition; else one practises scepticism not criticism.

Government Interventions Will Turn Smart Cities Into A Rozgar Yojana For Urban Planners

Shreyas Bharadwaj - August 18, 2016,
Developing infrastructure isn’t enough to attract talented people to a city and, thus, make it smart. 
The presence of talented people is necessary and that takes time, economic freedom and the existence of social institutions.
A few years ago, the United Arab Emirates started building a new city from scratch— Masdar City. A few readers might have even seen a documentary about it on the television, extolling its fantastic infrastructure and superb planning. It ticks all the right boxes too— “great vision”, “sustainable”, “well-planned”, “smart city”, “impressive use of technology” and more.

One might start thinking about Prime Minister Modi’s “Smart City Mission” in India, possibly giving you people an “out” from the city they currently live in. It turns out that Masdar City is on the verge of becoming a ghost city with only about 300 inhabitants— students will be paid to live there. 
Masdar City and many similar smart city failures reveal something very fascinating. Despite all our cribbing about pathetic urban infrastructure, there is something about cities which we value even more. That something is “other people”. Urban infrastructure has only one major purpose— to increase the ease and safety with which we can interact with other people. 
Developing infrastructure isn’t enough to attract talented people to a city and, thus, make it smart. The presence of talented people is necessary and that takes time, economic freedom and the existence of social institutions. 

Coming back to India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s focus on Urban India is a remarkable departure from the previous government’s agrarian povertarianism. A few months ago, while launching many projects in cities all over India from Pune, the Prime Minister remarked that the days when urbanisation was seen as a problem are over, and it is now seen as an opportunity. He also spoke about how cities are not only growth centres but also centres for mitigating poverty. This is good news. The better news is the fact that the mission does not aim at building brand new cities.

*** A complex nuclear situation, in a complicated world

8 AUGUST 2016

A complex nuclear situation, in a complicated world
Robert Gallucci

Editor's note: What follows is the text of an address given at the Asahi Shimbun Symposium in Nagasaki, Japan, late in July 2016.

Ladies and gentlemen, just two months ago, President Obama noted, in his speech in Hiroshima, that it has been 71 years since “death fell from the sky” onto that city. And today we observe that the instantaneous, catastrophic death of an atomic bomb fell on this city, too, just three days later.
President Obama said that it was important to commemorate, to mourn, to think about what it must have been like that terrible day in Hiroshima. Today, we should do the same in Nagasaki. Some here may even be able to remember—or, more likely, cannot forget—what it was like so many years ago.

I cannot remember. I was not born until six months later, but most of my adult life has been shaped by those events nonetheless. Much of my education and most of my professional life has been devoted to study and work to understand and prevent another detonation of a nuclear weapon anywhere on the planet. I was 15 years old, a high school student, when I checked out a book from the public library: Herman Kahn’s On Thermonuclear War. I was horrified—and mesmerized—as I came to understand the magnitude of the energy released when the bonds that bind atoms together are broken. I would learn that this can happen suddenly, in a fraction of a second, in a nuclear explosion, or over years in a nuclear power plant. As it turns out, notwithstanding the common phrase, “peaceful nuclear energy,” used to describe the operation of nuclear power plants, special care must be taken whenever man plans to harness the binding energy in atoms, even if the goal is only to boil water to drive a turbine and produce electricity.

Arms control and disarmament. From the beginning, world leaders understood that a new era had begun. The incredible explosive power and radiation effects of nuclear weapons, when combined with penetrating intercontinental delivery systems of bomber aircraft and ballistic missiles, would soon make the people of every country in the world vulnerable to annihilation. True defense was not possible in 1945. Indeed, it is still not possible. Pause, please, and think about that. No government in the world can defend its population by denial, by preventing sophisticated ballistic missiles armed with nuclear weapons from causing the death, in seconds, of millions of its citizens.

Instead, governments have embraced deterrence, the promise of retaliation, as a way to deal with the threat and discourage attack. Deterrence is actually a curious concept with some perverse characteristics, about which I will want to say more. But for now, suffice it to say that deterrence offers no hope of physically protecting a nation’s population, only the hope that a potential attacker will be dissuaded from launching his missiles by the knowledge that his country would inevitably be destroyed in a counterattack. Deterrence is, therefore, as much psychological as physical, and nations that depend on deterrence for their security, as we do, are betting that they understand foreign leaders’ risk propensities and tolerance for pain, as well as their belief in the credibility of the threat to retaliate. I note, parenthetically, that one may wonder if our faith in the rationality of world leaders in the midst of crisis is based on much evidence from history; but that is a topic for another day.

War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft. Robert D. Blackwill and Jennifer M. Harris. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016.

War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft. Robert D. Blackwill and Jennifer M. Harris. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016.
There isn’t much grand about America’s post-Cold War grand strategy. Such is the consensus among the academic scholars, think-tankers, pundits, and many former national security officials who have chastised U.S. foreign policymakers for lacking strategic sophistication, or worse, failing to craft a coherent grand strategy at all.[1] For the last twenty five years, these critics claim, Washington has sought the wrong goals, under-resourced its efforts, and failed to anticipate the likely second-order effects of its policies.[2] In the main, these critical assessments have understandably focused on the military-security dimension of grand strategy. America’s national security policies since the mid-1990s cost much blood and treasure, degraded regional security environments, and inspired hostile reactions by other powers.[3]
To secure its national interest in the years to come, Washington must relearn how to employ economic resources in the service of its geopolitical objectives.

In their well-crafted and important new book, War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft, Robert Blackwill and Jennifer Harris join this discussion orthogonally, arguing that the United States has altogether abandoned the economic dimension of grand strategy. Since the mid-1960s, Washington has been gripped by a debilitating neoliberal (or, neoclassical economic) dogma that works as an ideological firewall separating the operation of markets from the pursuit of international political objectives. As a result, America’s substantial and diversified economic resources have been woefully underutilized as tools of grand strategy. At the same time, the United States’ most formidable challengers (China, Russia, and Iran) are all effective practitioners of economic statecraft. To secure its national interest in the years to come, Washington must relearn how to employ economic resources in the service of its geopolitical objectives. To do otherwise would cede the contest to states whose interests and actions will continue to undermine American security and prosperity. 

War by Other Means is structured around three main themes. In the first three chapters, Blackwill and Harris examine economic statecraft generally, defining “geoeconomics” as “the use of economic instruments to promote and defend national interests and to produce beneficial geopolitical results; and the effects of other nations’ economic actions on a country’s geopolitical goals.”[4] The authors argue that rising powers now turn first to economic statecraft because it effectively buttresses their geopolitical objectives while mitigating the risk of armed conflict. Unlike past eras, state-capitalist challengers to the prevailing liberal order have many more economic instruments at the ready. Due to the expansion of global markets and their structural transformations over time, economic factors now impinge substantially on states’ geopolitical choices. By way of example, the authors note that “the fate of the European Union—perhaps the West’s greatest foreign policy achievement of the twentieth century and the closest U.S. foreign policy partner—for several years rested at least as much in the hands of bond markets as in European political capitals.”[5] In sum, the current international system entails new economic and financial challenges and opportunities, offering states many powerful geoeconomic assets to employ against targets large and small.

A trial and a travesty

Harish Khare
Stop worshipping false gods
The chilling news item was tucked away in an inside page. And not many newspapers had even bothered to publish the agency copy. But every honest, sincere and dedicated bureaucrat, serving or retired, must have felt a cold shudder down the spine as s/he read the news item: a former Coal Secretary, HC Gupta, who has found himself accused in the so-called coal scam, has told the court that he would rather “face the trial from inside the jail” than apply for bail. Mr Gupta told the CBI court that he was unable and unwilling to spare his limited financial resources on hiring legal counsel. For good measure, he declined the court's offer of legal aid.
Simply put, this fine bureaucrat, whom everyone unhesitatingly certifies to be “the most honest officer” of his generation, has refused to cooperate with the judiciary-monitored sham that bogus righteousness has inflicted on the nation. In very measured words, Mr Gupta told the court: “Whatever I did as Chairperson of the Screening Committee or as Secretary Coal was done with a clear conscience…I also believe that the coal block allocation was no scam. The Screening Committee did its job sincerely and in good faith.”

Yet, he finds himself arrayed as an accused in a number of cases, brought against him by the CBI. An honest man with the very limited means accruing to an honest official, he is pitted against the organisational resourcefulness of a premier investigating agency, infused with a misplaced missionary zeal and bureaucratic clumsiness. His reputation, character and record stand besmirched: perhaps, a minor collateral victim in a larger battle. But he refuses to give in to the sordid logic of “let the law take its own course” bogusness.
“For me, one approach could be to remain on bail and deal with the case in a normal manner. However, my conscience tells me not to do so. I am an elderly man suffering from many diseases. It is quite possible that I may not survive the period of trial getting completed. I will not like anyone to think that I escaped punishment because of the time taken in trial.”

Any person with sensitive nostrils can smell the stench of a Bleak House banality at work in the so-called investigation and trial in the so-called coal scam. While all the powerful businessmen and politicians have escaped the CBI dragnet, a man like HC Gupta has to go through the ordeal of a trial. By refusing to submit to this dehumanising charade and refusing to feel diminished, Gupta has shamed us all and made us feel small in our vindictive pursuit of partisan agendas.
Gupta’s ordeal would be worth it only if we are able to understand the conceit and conspiracies that were at work five years ago when the country was grandly summoned to the barricades by that great revolutionary, Anna Hazare. And, feeling noble, empowered and appropriately angry, we had all responded. The civil society had experienced its finest and its headiest moment. We were intoxicated with hope and optimism that we would flush the corrupt down the drain, once and for all. Nothing of the kind happened, though.

Clinical psychologist explains how Ayn Rand helped turn the US into a selfish and greedy nation

Ayn Rand via Last Week Tonight (YouTube)
The ‘Atlas Shrugged’ author made selfishness heroic and caring about others weakness. 
Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” is nearly perfect in its immorality, which makes the size of her audience all the more ominous and symptomatic as we enter a curious new phase in our society….To justify and extol human greed and egotism is to my mind not only immoral, but evil.— Gore Vidal, 1961 
Only rarely in U.S. history do writers transform us to become a more caring or less caring nation. In the 1850s, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was a strong force in making the United States a more humane nation, one that would abolish slavery of African Americans. A century later, Ayn Rand (1905-1982) helped make the United States into one of the most uncaring nations in the industrialized world, a neo-Dickensian society where healthcare is only for those who can afford it, and where young people are coerced into huge student-loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. 

Rand’s impact has been widespread and deep. At the iceberg’s visible tip is the influence she’s had over major political figures who have shaped American society. In the 1950s, Ayn Rand read aloud drafts of what was later to become Atlas Shrugged to her “Collective,” Rand’s ironic nickname for her inner circle of young individualists, which included Alan Greenspan, who would serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board from 1987 to 2006. 
In 1966, Ronald Reagan wrote in a personal letter, “Am an admirer of Ayn Rand.” Today, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) credits Rand for inspiring him to go into politics, and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) calls Atlas Shrugged his “foundation book.” Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) says Ayn Rand had a major influence on him, and his son Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is an even bigger fan. A short list of other Rand fans includes Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Christopher Cox, chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission in George W. Bush’s second administration; and former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford. 

An Inheritance of Incompetence

By John Mauldin | Aug 13, 2016

“Always remember that the future comes one day at a time.”
– Dean Acheson

“Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”
– John Maynard Keynes

I don’t often agree with Keynes, but he is the most quotable of all major economists. The above sentence was one of his best. He was right about defunct economists. Of course, he was talking about all those other defunct economists who no longer kept up with his new and improved way of thinking about all things economic. Now his quip comes back to haunt his legacy and his followers.
Theories and practices often outlive their usefulness in our fast-changing world. So do institutions, including those chartered at the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference. In today’s letter we are going to look closely at the International Monetary Fund and a scathing report from its own internal auditors. For those of us who have been following the IMF for decades, the report is not all that surprising.

My real purpose here is not to point the finger at the IMF but to point out where its problems are part and parcel of a greater problem in global institutions. During the next global recession we are going to see a continuation of the same approaches to crisis solving that we’ve seen in the past, based on the theories of defunct economists mixed with personal and institutional biases. Their prescription is a witches’ brew that we will be told is good for us but that will in fact ensure that those of us least able to cope will bear the brunt of its impact.

Let’s be generous to the World War II generation. In a war-torn world that had yet to recover from a depression that began 15 years earlier, revamping the existing economic order probably seemed a good idea. And the results did look positive for the first few decades. With US help, Europe and Japan launched huge rebuilding projects. Here in the States we enjoyed rapid growth and a Baby Boom that produced me and perhaps you.

What's Happening in Pakistan's 'Most Complicated' Region?

Last week a suicide bomb killed 70 people in Balochistan, the scene of decades of unrest involving separatist rebels, the military, and jihadi groups.
Aug 15, 2016 
A suicide bomber in Pakistan killed 70 people last week, many of them lawyers, who had come to a hospital to mourn the death of a colleague. ISIS and a local Taliban faction both claimed credit for the attack in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, the scene of a longtime separatist rebellion.
The roots of conflict in the province date back to 1947, when British India gave way to two countries, Pakistan and India. For decades the separatist movements have been crushed by the Pakistani military, which blames India for fomenting the unrest. In one five-year period in the 1970s, more than 8,000 people were killed in a fight to separate from Pakistan . Today, bodies turn up on the side of roads, mysterious mass graves are uncovered, security forces kill Baloch leaders, and human-rights groups say nearly 10,000 people have vanished in the past decade

There is little journalism in the area, because, as one Pakistani paper put it, not being dead is itself a victory for reporters. Balochistan’s lawyers filled this void, campaigning for human rights amid the fight between the military and separatist rebels. This is why the loss of so many attorneys this week is so devastating. Barkhurdar Khan, a local lawyer in Quetta, said nearly every colleague who had mentored him, or even anyone who had given him a lift home after work, was now dead. The bombing killed an entire generation of legal minds.To understand the gravity of such loss, and what it means for the region, I spoke with Hussain Haqqani, a former ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. What follows is some of our conversation, edited and condensed for clarity.
J. Weston Phippen: Can you tell me a little about the history of violence with militant extremists, the military, and the separatists in the region?
Hussain Haqqani: The Baloch have been mounting an insurgency against the Pakistani state for several decades. It has always been a low-level insurgency, and Pakistan has occasionally accused Afghanistan and India of supporting the Baloch, although it has not been able to prove that allegation. 
Balochistan was also the staging ground for the war against the Soviets during the 1980s. But it became even more important during the rise of the Taliban, and for many years the U.S. government and the international community have accused Pakistan of providing safe haven to the Taliban in Bolochistan. There have been suggestions that the Pakistani intelligence service uses the area—especially in Quetta—for activities it wants hidden form the view of the international community. 
Phippen: How would you explain the political situation today?
Haqqani: Significant parts of Balochistan are not necessarily controlled by Pakistan’s central government. The ethnic Baloch areas have a greater sympathy for nationalists who would like to see either an independent or autonomous Balochistan. The army tries to suppress them, sometimes with the help of religious extremists. 
Also, the elected government in the province did not get significant mandates because the Baloch parties boycotted the last election and many people were elected with the low turnout of 10, 12, in some places 15 percent. So these political leaders are seen by the majority of Baloch as the puppets of Islamabad. 

Why the South China Sea is on the Verge of an Environmental Disaster


August 13, 2016
Of all the “strategic” challenges confronting the Asia-Pacific region, none is as underrated as the destruction of the marine ecosystem. The South China Sea’s status as a critical waterway draws attention away from the fact that littoral Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most diverse global marine bio-systems, hosting 76 percent of the world’s coral species and 37 percent of reef-fish species. Over the past two decades there have been documented instances of Chinese fishermen in the Spratly Islands and surrounding waters indulging in large-scale illegal capture of fish using cyanide, dynamite, and detonating cords. The wide range of sea life targeted has included endangered sea turtles, giant clams, giant oysters, sharks, eels, and large pieces of highly ornamental coral.

In the wake of a UN tribunal’s quashing of Beijing’s claim to historic rights in the South China Sea, what has been largely overlooked is the court’s censure of Beijing’s rampant destruction of marine life around the sites of its reclamation and other activities in the Spratly Islands. The construction, the judges held, had “caused permanent and irreparable harm to the coral reef ecosystem.” Yet Chinese leaders refuse to accept the tribunal’s criticism. Beijing, in fact, denies its island-building posed any danger to the natural habitat of the region, even calling it a model “green project”.
Nor was the damage inadvertent. The tribunal found that Chinese authorities were fully aware of the nature and scope of activities undertaken but failed to prevent them. Despite its obligation under Articles 192 and 194 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to preserve and protect the marine environment, Beijing supported activities that harmed the fragile ecosystem of the South China Sea.

For years, China’s most destructive activity in the South China Sea has been giant clam poaching, which is said to have destroyed more than 40 square miles of some of the most bio-diverse coral reefs in the world. Chinese poachers reportedly use boat propellers to loosen the valuable clams, whose shells are sold as luxury items in China. Not only does digging up a reef destroy its ecosystem, but because of the interconnected nature of South China Sea fisheries, damage in once place causes repercussions elsewhere.
Evidence notwithstanding, Beijing claims its activities provide a public good. At the Shangri-La Dialogue earlier this year, Admiral Sun Jianguo, the People’s Liberation Army’s deputy chief of general staff, said that apart from “meeting the necessary defense needs,” China was carrying out construction on some islands and reefs in the South China Sea to better perform its international responsibilities, including environmental protection. If anything, Chinese analysts say the widespread damage to the regional marine bio-system must beblamed on rampant poaching that regional states collectively failed to prevent.

China’s First Homemade Aircraft Carrier Almost Ready for Launch

China’s first indigenous aircraft carrier nearing completion
Sean O'Connor
IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly
August 17, 2016
Airbus Defence and Space imagery showing the Type 001A hull in dry dock at Dalian. The hull is largely complete, with just one aircraft elevator, superstructure, and some deck sections left to be added. Source: CNES 2016, Distribution Airbus DS/© 2016 IHS
Airbus Defence and Space imagery captured on 11 August 2016 shows significant activity related to China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) projects at Dalian Shipyard, including the assembly of the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier (CV), the Type 001A, and the production of Type 052D guided-missile destroyers (DDGs).
The imagery shows that, with the addition of the bow section and other exterior components, the assembly of the Type 001A CV is nearly complete. Two of the component fabrication areas adjacent to the dry dock are largely clear of materials, indicating that work on the Type 001A hull is nearing an end. Few uninstalled components remain present, including the forward aircraft elevator.

Additional components awaiting installation relate to the superstructure. Two modules, consisting of portions of the forward and aft sections of the superstructure, can be seen in one of the component fabrication areas.
Apart from sections of deck plating, which remain uninstalled to facilitate access to internal areas, the superstructure is the final significant external feature awaiting installation. The presence of superstructure modules suggests installation could occur in the near term.
Across the harbour from the Type 001A’s dry dock, work on Dalian’s three Type 052D DDG hulls is progressing. One hull remains in dry dock, with two pier side. The first hull is visibly complete and is undergoing sea trials, while the second hull, launched on 3 August 2016, awaits the installation of various components.

Berthed at the northern end of the ship yard, the second hull lacks many sensor and weapon fittings. Notably absent are the forward 130 mm gun, the forward vertical launch system, and various sensor fittings, including the Type 366 radar mounted atop the bridge.

Here's how ISIS was really founded


Trump says comments were sarcastic
Posted: Aug 12, 2016 
(CNN) - Plenty has been said about Donald Trump calling President Barack Obama the "founder of ISIS." The GOP presidential candidate added to the conversation himself on Friday, tweeting that he was being sarcastic when he made the remarks.
A day earlier, he told a radio host that Obama deserves blame for the Muslim terror group's rise because of the US military withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, which left a power vacuum for the terror group to exploit.
"He was the founder. The way he got out of Iraq ... that was the founding of ISIS, OK?" Trump said on Hugh Hewitt's radio show Thursday morning.

Of course, a distinction can be drawn between the actual founding of ISIS and its rise to the murderous, land-holding terror force that it is today. So how did ISIS begin and evolve? Here's a refresher:
The group's roots are in the Sunni terror group al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), started in 2004 by Jordanian Islamist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. It was a major player in the insurgency against the US-led forces that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, and against the Shiite-dominated government that eventually replaced Hussein.
ISIS has also targeted the Shiite community in general, starting with a deadly suicide bombing at a mosque in Samarra in 2006.
Hussein had led a secular government, but it was dominated by members of Iraq's Sunni minority and it brutally repressed opposition. When Saddam was ousted, power went to the majority Shiites, who wanted revenge.

There was a growing perception among Sunnis that they were being persecuted and excluded from power by Shiite officials.
AQI recruited Sunni fighters to its cause -- trying to establish a Sunni Islamist control of the country.
After Zarqawi was killed in a US airstrike in 2006, Egyptian Abu Ayyub al-Masri took over and announced the creation of the Islamic State in Iraq. (The words "and Syria" would come later.)
By 2006, ISI controlled much of western Iraq's Anbar province. But then in 2008, a surge of US troops, with the help of Sunni tribesmen who were at odds with al Qaeda, largely defeated the group in Iraq.
Masri was killed in a 2010 US-Iraqi operation. That opened the door to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a militant who'd joined previously.

The British Female Fighters of ISIS and the Changing Face of London

Are we sure the East End is entirely "heartbroken" about its daughter's radicalism?

Seventeen-year-old ISIS volunteer Kadiza Sultana was killed by a Russian bombing strike in Syria, according to the BBC. One extraordinary thing about her is that she was already, at her age, a widow: The ISIS fighter she had married (or been married off to) had lately been killed in action. What brought her to the attention of the BBC is that she was from Bethnall Green, in the heart of London's historically cockney East End. Within the memory of, say, someone who went to London for graduate school in 1966, romantics could still think of Bethnall Green as a backwater of Dickensian proles who picked pockets, sold vegetables out of barrows and sang garrulous songs about booze and adultery

Today "London's cockney East End" is "London's Muslim East End." Thirty-eight percent of the population of Bethnall Green is of Bangladeshi background, including the late Sultana's family. In February of 2015, she boarded a flight to Turkey with two of her Muslim school chums in hopes of waging jihad. The network ITV reported on its website, "Three heartbroken families were left behind." 
British Girl Who Joined ISIS Killed In Syria
Are we sure of that? They will certainly have been nervous about the fates of their daughters. But whether they were heartbroken depends on how they feel about Islamism. In such neighborhoods there is a full range of opinions on such matters. 
Odd that people are so reluctant (or unable) to see the parallels between the idealistic Western youths who went to Spain to fight for Communism in the 1930s and the similarly idealistic Muslim youths coming out of the same neighborhoods, in some cases, to fight for what they see as a more just international order. 
In the 1930s, there was such a vogue for Communism among London's well-educated young that Noël Coward wrote one of his great ditties about it: 

*** Georgia's Long Road to Europe How the West Forgot About Tbilisi


 August 11, 2016 

In 1713, King Vakhtang VI of Georgia sent his former teacher, the famed polymath and writer Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani, to France and Italy on an urgent diplomatic mission. Squeezed on all sides—by the Persian Empire to the southeast, the Ottoman Empire to the southwest, and Russia to the north—Georgia needed Western allies. Orbeliani seemed the perfect choice to petition the French monarch and the pope, the power brokers of the time, for help. His eloquence and erudition, according to historical records, charmed Louis XIV. Orbeliani made the case that as a Christian nation Georgia was a natural pro-Western ally and a gateway to the Caucasus and farther east. But in the end, he failed.
Although the Turks, the Persians, and the Russians were France’s rivals as well, Louis the Great was consumed by problems closer to home and had no appetite for intervening in the Caucasus. For Georgia, it meant another period of conquest and subjugation by its neighbors. First, the Ottomans grabbed chunks of territory in the west. Then, as the Persian threat from the south grew, the king of what was by then eastern Georgia signed a treaty with Catherine the Great of Russia in 1783 to protect what was left of the country. But for Georgians, it proved an early lesson not to trust their giant northern neighbor. When the Persians did invade the following decade, sacking Tbilisi in the process, Russia sat on the sidelines. Then, after pushing the Persians out, it annexed Georgia, in 1801. Georgia begged the West to come to its aid again after World War I, when it was briefly independent under British protection, but then the Red Army marched in during the winter of 1921 and installed the Bolshevik regime.

Orbeliani is revered today in Georgia as the standard-bearer for the country’s aspirations to join the West, as the “man who paved the road to Europe.” But this week, which marks the anniversary of its 2008 war with Russia, brings a discomfiting reminder that more than 300 years later, the tiny country is still only part of the way there, as Moscow is firmly blocking its path. 

Ostensibly, the brief conflict, which lasted August 7–12, was a battle for control of the breakaway Georgian territory of South Ossetia. But for the Kremlin it was also about asserting its power in what it sees as its backyard and preventing its neighbor from getting any closer to the West by joining NATO. It ended with Russia sending its forces deep into Georgian territory and occupying both South Ossetia and the other breakaway region of Abkhazia. Eight years on, it has turned into another frozen conflict, largely forgotten by the outside world but ensnaring Georgia in a nervy limbo. And as some predicted at the time, it was a precursor of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 
Moscow has recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as “independent republics,” even as it steadily entrenches its presence there. The Georgian government calls this behavior “creeping annexation.” Russian-language media use the same rhetoric in covering the conflict in Ukraine, portraying Moscow as defending Russian speakers in the breakaway territories against Western-backed Georgia, even as its troops and tanks are positioned just an hour’s drive from the capital of Tbilisi. Tens of thousands of people, displaced by the fighting and previous flare-ups with Russia since 1991 over the two breakaway regions, face the possibility of never returning home.

“My mother is buried in South Ossetia,” said Marina, who fled her home the day the war began as pro-Russian militias closed in on her village. “I can’t bear the thought of never seeing her grave again.” Marina, who would give only her first name, now lives with her family in a two-room prefab cottage donated by the government. Khurvaleti, the windswept settlement where she resides, holds hundreds of internally displaced. I spent several days there talking with and sketching its residents. Our conversations were sometimes interrupted by the sounds of explosions from Russian military drills across the boundary fence, which is just beyond the camp. Minutes away in the other direction is the main east–west highway to Tbilisi. Russian President Vladimir Putin can cut Georgia in half in an afternoon if he wants to.

“What’s happening in Ukraine is what happened to us first,” said Khatuna Songilishvili, one Khurvaleti resident, as I drew her. “We had a good life before, living in our own house and selling fruit and vegetables in Tskhinvali [the regional capital].”

Does Russia Want War With Ukraine? Not Really—Or Not Yet

Nothing short of occupying Kiev would achieve Russia's goals in Ukraine—and that won't happen.
August 18, 2016
The recent escalation of hostilities in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region and increased military-political tensions around Crimea bring to mind the refrain of a popular song from the times when both these territories were still part of one country: “Do Russians want war?” Upon examining conflicting reports of allegations that Ukrainian agents crossed into Russian-controlled Crimea on August 7 to attempt acts of sabotage and of Russia’s reaction to that alleged incursion, my answer is: “Not yet.” While pro-Russian forces in Donbass may be ratcheting up armed violence, the “full-scale Russian invasion” feared by Ukrainian leaders appears unlikely, if only because no territorial gains, short of an occupation of Kiev, would advance Russia’s main, minimally acceptable demand vis-à-vis Ukraine: the latter’s military-political neutrality.

Known Unknowns
A number of questions about the events of August 7-9 in Crimea remain unanswered to date. Did Ukrainian saboteurs clad in camouflage fatiguesreally sneak into Crimea under cover of night August 7-8 to realize an evil plot for “killing tourism” in the peninsula, as Russian authorities insist? Or did Russian secret services kidnap an innocent Ukrainian citizen and force false confessions out of him, as Ukrainian law-enforcers would want us to believe? Russia seems to have produced greater volumes of what Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has described as “irrefutable evidence” of the alleged Ukrainian sabotage. Yet Kiev continues to deny that any Ukrainian “green men” crossed into Crimea. In doing so, the Ukrainians may be borrowing a page from the Russians’ own playbook for Operation Crimea-2014, which redefined the notion of what constitutes a covert operation: In an age when multiple nations maintain 24/7 eyes in the sky, “covert” is no longer what you manage to expertly conceal, but what you staunchly deny.

Russia announces war games after accusing Ukraine of terrorist plot

Thu Aug 11, 2016 
By Andrew Osborn | MOSCOW 

Vladimir Putin summoned his security council and the Russian Navy announced war games in the Black Sea a day after the Russian president accused Ukraine of trying to provoke a conflict over Crimea, which Moscow seized and annexed in 2014. 
The belligerent posture heightened worries in Ukraine that Russia may plan to ramp up fighting in a war between Kiev and pro-Russian eastern separatists that had been de-escalated by a shaky peace process. 
Using some of his most aggressive rhetoric against Kiev since the height of the war two years ago, Putin has pledged to take counter-measures against Ukraine, which he accused of sending saboteurs into Crimea to carry out terrorist acts. 
Ukraine has called the accusations false and says they look like a pretext for Russia to escalate hostilities. Such an escalation could be used by Putin to demand better terms in the Ukraine peace process, or to inflame nationalist passions at home ahead of Russian parliamentary elections next month. 

The Russian leader met his top military and intelligence service brass on Thursday and reviewed "scenarios for counter-terrorism security measures along the land border, offshore and in Crimean air space," the Kremlin said. 
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he had ordered all Ukrainian units near Crimea and in eastern Ukraine onto the highest state of combat readiness. He was seeking to urgently speak to Putin, the leaders of France and Germany, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and European Council President Donald Tusk. 
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said the United States was extremely concerned and called on both sides to reduce tension and rhetoric. 
In New York, the U.N. Security Council held a closed-door meeting at Ukraine's request to discuss the growing tensions. 

Ukrainian U.N. Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko warned that Russia had amassed more than 40,000 troops in the region and said the build-up could reflect "very bad intentions." 
Oleh Slobodyan, a spokesman for the Ukrainian border guards, said he had observed an uptick in Russian military activity in northern Crimea in recent days after heavier fighting in eastern Ukraine. 
"These troops are coming with more modern equipment and there are air assault units," he told a news briefing in Kiev. 
The Russian Defence Ministry said its navy - whose Black Sea Fleet is based in Crimea - would start to hold exercises in the area to practice repelling underwater attacks by saboteurs.

Cyberwar is not coming to the US – it’s already here


As recent high-profile hacks show, cyberwar is a very real danger and is likely to get much worse, says a US security expert
Dan Tynan in Las Vegas
Thursday 4 August 2016 

As the recent hacks of the Democratic National Committee and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign have shown, cyberwarfare has reached US shores – and it’s likely to get much worse, says Kenneth Geers, a senior research scientist with cyber security firm Comodo.
Speaking to an audience at this year’s BlackHat security conference in Las Vegas, Geers declaed cyberwar a real and present danger.
“There is no question cyberwar exists,” he says. “Whether it rises to the level of weapons of mass disruption is another question. We don’t have a decisive answer yet.”
For the past two years, Geers has been working with Nato, observing cyber warfare in Ukraine. At its Warsaw Summit in July, the international treaty organisation recognised cyberspace as “a domain of operations in which Nato must defend itself as effectively as it does in the air, on land, and at sea”.

Russia accused of series of international cyber-attacks
Using malware, denial of service attacks, website defacements and disinformation campaigns, Russia is waging a war just as real, if less deadly, than the one it waged with tanks in Crimea, he says.
The first acknowledged incidence of cyberwar occurred in Estonia in 2007, when attackers launched a huge distributed denial of service attack against the Baltic nation’s computer infrastructure. Though the source of the attacks has never been confirmed, forces friendly to the Kremlin are widely assumed to be behind it.
For the past four years, adversaries sympathetic to Vladimir Putin’s claims on Crimea have been waging a multifaceted cyberwar on the Ukraine. They have cut network cables, commandeered communications satellites, even changed the Wikipedia entries of Ukrainian officials, says Geers.
FacebookTwitterPinterest For the past four years, adversaries sympathetic to Vladimir Putin’s claims on Crimea have been waging a multifaceted cyberwar on the Ukraine. Photograph: Dan Tynan/Kenneth Geers at BlackHat