16 September 2016


SEPTEMBER 14, 2016

India’s Kashmir Valley has been the scene of a Pakistan-backed insurgency since the 1990s. The Indian army and its associated security forces have been engaged in fighting this insurgency and assisting the civil administration in maintaining law and order. On July 8, the Pakistani terrorist group Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s commander in Kashmir,Burhan Wani, was killed in an encounter with security forces in Kashmir’s Anantnag district. Wani’s death plunged the state into deep turmoil, pitting Indian security forces against a large number of disenfranchised Kashmiri youth sympathetic to Wani’s anti-India resistance movement and calls for jihad. A full-blown confrontation between incensed youth and Indian security forces followed that resulted in 68 civilian deaths and over 2000 injured protestors, leaving an embarrassed Indian state facing a crisis of governance with no clear plan to prevent escalating violence. Exposing the fragility of the Indian state further, the Indian military publicly declared its frustration with political directives. In an unprecedented step, a strict curfew imposed in the Kashmir valley during Eid celebrationshas renewed a fresh cycle of violence between protestors and security force, killing two protestors and injuring several more. New Delhi appears to be running out of options to de-escalate levels of violence.

This precarious turn of events and the cyclical waves of violence affecting the Kashmiri state indicate that the Indian counterinsurgency approach in Kashmir is failing. New Delhi must conduct a fundamental reappraisal of its counterinsurgency strategy in Kashmir, as a predominantly military approach is unlikely to mitigate future violence. To prevent Kashmiri youth from becoming easy tools of radicalization by the Pakistani state, India should reduce its military presence in the valley, clearly separate the roles of its police and military, reformulate its military laws, and develop a robust political strategy that grants Kashmiris more autonomy and favors engagement over detachment.

Seeds of Unrest

Why Modi Govt’s Assaults On Pakistan Are Empty And Only Verbal – OpEd

By Manoj Joshi 
SEPTEMBER 14, 2016

The Modi government’s Pakistan policy remains intriguing.

We have seen the flip-flops of 2014 and 2015, ranging from border bombardments to hearty embraces and cold vibes.

But the direction it is taking now is baffling. In international meeting after meeting, the prime minister has attacked Pakistan’s support of terrorism and the need to sanction Islamabad.

Take the past week for instance.

On September 4, in Hangzhou, addressing fellow BRICS leaders, Modi said that there was need to intensify joint action against terrorism which had become the primary source of instability and biggest threat to the world.

Alluding to Pakistan he said, “Clearly someone funds and arms them.”

On September 5, Modi intensified the attack saying that “one single nation” in South Asia was spreading terror and that there was need for that nation to be sanctioned.

On September 7, addressing the ASEAN summit in Vientiane, Modi declared “one country has only one competitive advantage: exporting terror”. And again reiterated the need to “isolate and sanction” the country which was a threat to everyone.

Kashmir: The Soldier Betrayed

By Danvir Singh
14 Sep , 2016

As per the media reports, “in the next 48 hours, thousands more soldiers will be deployed in south Kashmir, with an emphasis on rural areas. The military is moving back into areas that it vacated in the last two years as they were considered militant-free”(TOI).

Ironically all those voices that said AFSPA was draconian and should be removed are keeping silent.

Probably they are waiting for that opportune moment to strike back and blame the soldier, curse him, redicule him and demonise him.

Finally put the complete burden of continued insurgency in the valley as a direct fallout of the soldier’s misdeeds.

Elide the truth by questioning his medals and citations; gross human rights violation as they killed the innocent civilians for professional gains. Well! Such a moment may take many many months.

The Left leaning Lutyenati is also quiet. While the Maharaja who could not be is giving interview to a Kashmiri daily, claiming to be holding a lasting solution, but waiting for a right moment.

Omar Abdullah is talking of pre 1950 autonomy status in an effort to revive his fortunes.

Don’t Give India a Chance to Amuse themselves by Our Failure

By Claude Arpi
14 Sep , 2016

The Tibetan factor impeded longer military operations against India in the fall of 1962. With discontent brewing on the Roof of the World, the supply lines to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), had been greatly weakened.

This is an important to understand the ‘short’ Sino-Indian border war.

Tibet’s instabilty appears clearly in the 70,000-character petition sent by the Panchen Lama to Zhou Enlai in May 1962.The Tibetan Lama who had been made Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region when the Dalai Lama left for India in 1959, dared (‘with anger’) to criticize the policies of the Party in Tibet.

The Chinese Premier requested Xi Zhongxun, Vice-Premier and father of Xi Jinping, Li Weihan, the minister of the United Front Work Department dealing with ‘Minorities’, General Zhang Jingwu, the Representative of the Central Committee in Tibet and General Zhang Guohua, the Secretary of the CPC Tibet Committee and main commander during the 1962 war, to read and study the Panchen Lama’s petition.

Interestingly, when the Panchen Lama died in 1989, Xi Zhongxun wrote in The People’s Daily that the Tibet experts found “most of the comments and suggestions [of the Panchen Lama were] good; they could be implemented, but some had gone too far.”

Indeed, he had gone ‘too far’ for the Communist leadership; Mao called it a ‘Poisonous Arrow”.

The Panchen Lama listed several problems such the ‘suppression of the Rebellion’ in 1959.

Afghan Forces Don't Need Air Support

September 13, 2016

The Afghan National Defence and Security Forces frequently complain that they are unable to capture Taliban positions without air support and that such support, if it arrives at all, is insufficient. However, a recent episode in a mountainous part of Afghanistan suggests that these claims might be fallacious and that the real problem lies somewhere else.

Staying in Ziraki, the centre of Raghistan, a remote district located among the hilly high pastures of the mountains of Afghanistan’s northeastern province of Badakhshan, I hear the sound of a distant aircraft coming closer. It is, however, not the sound of the rotors of the Russian-made Mi-17 transport helicopter that I was hoping for to hitch a ride out. It is the low hum of a high-flying turboprop aircraft.

Like the other men – all Afghans, be it pro-government vigilantes, soldiers or ordinary local residents – I search the cloudless light blue sky for the plane. Given its flight altitude it takes me a while to spot it. When I finally see it, it is so tiny that I can just make out the shape of a fixed-wing aircraft. But the circumstances make the designation simple: given that there is no airstrip up here where a small transport plane like the Afghan Air Forces’ Cessna 208 Caravan could land and that the international coalition does not field any turboprop attack aircraft in Afghanistan, it has to be one of the A-29 Super Tucanos. The Afghan Air Force received the first eight of a total of twenty such light attack aircraft from the United States of America in January and March of this year. I lose sight of the aircraft, but still hear it circling around to the north of my position, arguably doing reconnaissance. There is also, most probably, a second A-29 in the sky. Then, the distant thunk of a loud explosion rips through the steady, monotonous hum. Afterwards, the planes continue to circle above the area and the sounds of other explosions follow. In total, the A-29s drop at least six bombs on insurgent positions before they leave and the sky is once again quiet.

Pakistan: Media Under Siege – Analysis

By Ambreen Agha* 
SEPTEMBER 14, 2016

My family has been falsely implicated in drug racket. It is distressing to see that my family is suffering because of my profession. It is difficult to be a journalist in Pakistan and that too in tribal areas. You are punished for bringing out stories that do not sit well with the military establishment, which is ubiquitous here. We see Taliban commanders visiting military quarters in the tribal belt. What happens inside is not for us to know. We are caught between the military and the terrorists. Being a journalist has cost me my family, who disowned me after the slapping of false charges. And now I am without money, looking for alternative means of sustenance. — An unnamed journalist from an unspecified location in tribal areas to SAIR .

Media in Pakistan, particular in the tribal regions, is under siege. Working under constant threat to life and livelihood, media personnel have faced a backlash from both state and anti-state elements. These include the warring political parties, military intelligence agencies and terrorist formations operating across the country.
As freedom becomes increasingly elusive for media personnel in the country, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) report, released on February 3, 2016, noted that Pakistan runs fourth on the list of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists, recording a total of 115 killings since 1990. According to partial data compiled by Institute for Conflict Management (ICM), a total of 57 journalists have been killed in targeted attacks since 1994 (data till September 11, 2016).

Meanwhile, the World Press Freedom Index – 2016, published by Reporters without Borders (RWB), ranked Pakistan at 147 out of 180 countries. The RWB Report on Pakistan, “Targeted on all Sides”, states,

India’s Military Engagement in Afghanistan Could Ruffle Many Feathers

By Amitava Mukherjee
14 Sep , 2016

The apprehension has come true. The Taliban has now expressed its displeasure over India’s decision to supply arms to the Afghanistan government. New Delhi has already supplied to Afghanistan three Russian made Mi-25 gunship helicopters and the fourth one is likely to be delivered soon. But Afghanistan has requested for more lethal arms of different kinds. There is a buzz in concerned circles that Afghanistan has requested for supply of Mi-35 attack helicopters also. 

This could be a complete departure from India’s earlier policy on Afghanistan when New Delhi chose to restrict itself to giving economic aid only – up to USD 2 billion till now which has gone towards capacity buildings in the field of infrastructure, education, agriculture etc. This apparent change of attitude on the part of India may have been prompted by a sustained deterioration of Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations and rapid spread of Islamic State (IS) influence in the eastern part of Afghanistan.

But, by sticking its neck out into the Afghan quagmire India has certainly taken a great amount of risk. It maybe a calculated one given the fact that Pakistan is now raising barbed wire fences on a two kilometer stretch near Torkham which is situated on the Durand Line, the cartographical border between Pakistan and Afghanistan ,which the latter never accepted as.

Recently there was heavy fighting between the Pakistani and the Afghan army at Torkham, as Pakistan tried to build up a post on its side of the border and the Afghans tried to stop it. Relation between the two countries is likely to deteriorate further as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is wreaking havoc inside its own country with active support from the Afghan Taliban.

Uzbekistan Juggles Ties With Russia, China, Other Great Powers – Analysis

By Dilip Hiro* 
SEPTEMBER 14, 2016

Death of Karimov, ruler for 27 years, won’t end Uzbekistan’s exploiting its geostrategic location in Central Asia.

A quick glance at a map of Asia reveals the geostrategic primacy of Uzbekistan. The country has common borders not only with the four former Soviet “stans” –Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – and but also Afghanistan. And its population of 32 million exceeds the total number of people in the rest of the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia.

Little wonder that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, acting as special envoy of President Xi Jinping, attended the funeral service of Islam Abduganievich Karimov, Uzbekistan’s ruler for 27 years, on September 3 US President Barack Obama issued a statement reiterating America’s commitment to “partnership with Uzbekistan.”

Overall, the event highlighted how Karimov succeeded in getting the better of all three world powers, offering them what each needed at a particular time: local oil and gas resources for energy-hungry China; participation in the waging of Washington’s “war on terror”; and joining the Moscow-led military alliance to back up Russia’s insistence on maintaining influence on its “near abroad.”

The Uzbek constitution mandates that the senate chairman become acting president until a presidential poll can be held within three months. But on September 8, the Uzbek Parliament elected Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the country’s premier since 2003, the interim president. Backed by long-serving intelligence chief Rustam Inoyatov, Mirziyoyev will likely be the official candidate set to garner the usual 90-plus percent of the vote. Though lacking Karimov’s brutal cunning, he will likely follow his master’s policies of repressing Islamists at home and making opportunistic decisions in foreign policy.



SEPTEMBER 14, 2016

Turkey’s military intervention in northern Syria (Operation Euphrates Shield) has raised both hopes and concerns about defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). While some regard it as a positive turning point in the anti-ISIL fight, particularly after Turkish and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces quickly expelled ISIL from thestrategically important border town of Jarablus, others see the incursion as a further setback. Turkish attacks on the U.S.-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Forces (YPG) — the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), an affiliate of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and the most effective anti-ISIL force in Syria — may leave Washington trapped between allies fighting each other in Syria. Underlying these scenarios are assumptions that Ankara has fundamentally changed its strategy, that Syrian Kurds are vital to defeating ISIL, and that a portendingU.S. “betrayal of the Kurds” will undermine their will to fight and the effectiveness of the campaign.

Neither of these predictions is fully accurate. Turkey’s incursion in Syria represents continuity of policy rather than dramatic change. While becoming more engaged against ISIL over the past year, Turkey still prioritizes the PKK and its affiliates as a strategic threat — just like it did at the war’s outset. Nor does Turkey-YPG fighting create a new dilemma for the United States. The U.S. strategy of defeating ISIL “by, with, and through” local partners has meant balancing competing interests and differentiating between tactical and strategic allies. CENTCOM commander Gen. Votel made this distinction clear by affirming continued U.S. backing for the YPG while requesting its forces depart the territories west of the Euphrates. This upholds Ankara’s redline and keeps the Kurdish communities of northern Syria from linking up a geographically contiguous zone of territory along Turkey’s border. Vice President Biden did the same by warning Kurds that they “cannot, will not, and under no circumstances will get American support” if they do not keep their commitment to withdrawing to the other side of the Euphrates. These dynamics are unlikely to undermine the YPG’s will to fight — they benefit greatly from U.S. support — but they could forge regional alliances committed to keeping Syria’s borders intact while further embroiling Turkey in Syria’s cross-border quagmires.

Turning Point or More of the Same?


SEPTEMBER 13, 2016

On August 3, 2016, Jordan MacTaggart, a self-described radical leftist and atheist, was killed in action while fighting with a Kurdish militia against the Islamic State. It was his second tour of duty in Syria. McTaggart was seriously wounded during his first. Born and raised in suburban Colorado, he was a high school dropout, a reformed drug user, and a fan of punk rock. MacTaggart followed the conflict in Syria, discovered the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit, or YPG, and decided that fighting with them was worthwhile and a welcome break from his mundane life. MacTaggart was the second American killed fighting the Islamic State this summer and the third overall. With over 100 U.S. citizens estimated to have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the fight against the Islamic State, stories like MacTaggart’s raise an important question: Why do individuals volunteer to fight in a war with which they have no connection?

When we began our research, which we presented at the Midwest Political Science Association’s annual meeting this past spring, we encountered a fundamental challenge. Most of academia and the media did not consider or call these (mostly) men fighting against the Islamic State “foreign fighters,” which they obviously are. In previous research, they were mostly ignored, and in the press, they were almost invariably referred to as “volunteers” or “vigilantes,” but they seemed more like foreign fighters to us, even if they were on the other side of the war. The most widely used definition of “foreign fighter,” at least in the academic world, comes from David Malet’s exceptional book on the topic. The fundamental criteria for inclusion were that the individual was not a citizen of the state he was fighting in, that he was a volunteer and unpaid, and that he was not a government agent of any kind. This specifically disqualifies mercenaries, employees of private military companies, and people who volunteer for foreign militaries. This allows us to distinguish people who volunteer to fight in foreign wars for reasons other than money or other personal gain from those that chase wars for the monetary benefit.

New Tricks Make ISIS, Once Easily Tracked, a Sophisticated Opponent

Sept. 11, 2016

A mix of encrypted chat apps, face-to-face meetings, written notes and misdirection leaves few electronic clues for Western intelligence agencies 

Weeks before Islamic State militant Abdelhamid Abaaoud led the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris, French authorities thought he was holed up in northern Syria. Western Intelligence agencies pursuing Abaaoud had tracked him there using cell-phone location data and other electronic footprints.

The Paris attacks, which killed 130 people, showed how badly they were fooled. Abaaoud had slipped past the dragnet and entered the city unnoticed.

Drawing from a growing bag of tricks, Islamic State accomplices located in Syria likely used phones and WhatsApp accounts belonging to Abaaoud and other attackers to mask the group’s travel to Europe, said a Western security official: “We relied too much on technology. And we lost track.”

Terror attacks in Europe, which have killed more than 200 people in the past 20 months, reflect new operational discipline and technical savvy by the Islamic State terrorists who carried them out, security officials said.

Google's battle to stop Isis from recruiting online

Flagship ‘Redirect Method’ targeted at potential jihadis brings up anti-propaganda adverts and videos which are disguised as pro-Isis 

Undated screenshot from footage shared on a Telegram messaging account used by Isis AFP/Getty

A new programme from Google’s tech wing is using the tech giant’s most obvious strength to debunk Isis propaganda by serving aspiring fighters targeted ads and videos which undermine extremist ideology. 

Jigsaw, which was known as Google Ideas up until earlier this year, created the programme dubbed the 'Redirect Method' in collaboration with London start-up Moonshot CVE and Beirut-based Quantum Communications.

It works by using Google’s search algorithms - so if a would-be recruit typed in keywords people seeking Isis content usually look for, they will be served adverts and YouTube video playlists in Arabic and English which look pro-Isis on the surface, but are actually links subtly refuting the group's propaganda.

Some of the videos are surreptitiously filmed footage from inside the caliphate, for example, showing long lines outside food shops in Raqqa, Isis’ defacto capital, or interviews with young people with their faces obscured about what it’s like being forced to live under the militants' rule. Other videos feature interviews with defectors, or imams who point out Isis’s teachings are not in line with Islam.

Google's SECRET WAR on ISIS: Search giant in covert bid to WIPE OUT poisionous jihadis

Sep 9, 2016
Source Link

GOOGLE has launched a massive online fightback against evil Islamic State (ISIS) in a bid to wipe out the group’s poisonous propaganda.

GETTY Google is taking the fight to ISIS

The Internet search giant has developed an ingenious programme designed to put off would-be jihadis who search the web looking for information about the twisted terrorist group.

Under the radical new scheme youngsters at risk of falling prey to Islamist extremism are greeted not with gruesome ISIS propaganda, but instead material showing the true nature of the barbaric death cult.

A pilot of the project has proved to be a huge success, with more than 300,000 would-be jihadis worldwide potentially being put off the terrorist group for good in a matter of months.

The system works by targeting internet users who enter search terms into Google closely associated with Islamist radicalisation.

Technicians at the online giant have combed through reams of data associated with extremist youngsters who have gone to fight for ISIS in Syria to find out which terms they searched.

The subtle way Google plans to use its greatest skill to combat ISIS

Sep. 11, 2016

The 13-year-old girl's explanation for why she had decided to leave her happy family in London to fly East and join ISIS was frighteningly naive:

"She told me, 'Well, I was looking at photos online and I thought I was going to go live in the Islamic Disneyworld,'" quotes Yasmin Green, head of research and development at Jigsaw, the think-tank spun out of Google earlier this year. 

"It's so incredible because what you and I see in the media, nothing would support the impression that this is an 'Islamic Disneyworld,'" Green says. "But this is what this 13-year-old thought she was signing up for." 

The militant group has become adept at radicalizing people through digital propaganda like what the child found online. Ultimately, authorities only prevented her from joining the Islamic State's jihadist group because they pulled her off the plane before it took off. Green met the girl during Jigsaw's extensive research into ISIS's online recruiting narratives and how people get sucked into them. 

Fast-forward more than a year, and Jigsaw has turned its research into a formula it hopes will dissuade potential recruits. The initiative takes advantage of Google's main skill: Advertising. 
Debunking ISIS propaganda through ads 

Isis is as much an offshoot of our global civilisation as Google

9 September 2016

Isis is as much an offshoot of our global civilisation as Google 

In the wake of terror attacks, and as Europe unravels, it feels as if we live in divided times. But civilisation is more united than ever. The challenges of the future – climate change, AI, biotechnology – will only bring us closer 

 ‘The challenges we face will make us ever more interdependent.’ Photograph: Deco/Alamy

Recent events in the Middle East and Europe seem to breathe fresh life into the “clash of civilisations” thesis. Western incursions into the Middle East have triggered an Islamic backlash that has driven millions of Muslim refugees westwards and inspired terrorist attacks from Orlando to Nice; now the EU is unravelling as European voters abandon multicultural dreams in favour of xenophobic local identities. Allegedly, this has happened because the west has chosen to ignore the deep logic of history. According to the clash of civilisations thesis, humankind has always been divided into diverse civilisations whose members view the world in different and often irreconcilable ways. These incompatible world views make conflicts between civilisations inevitable, and these conflicts in turn fuel long-term historical processes. Just as in nature different species fight for survival, so throughout history civilisations have repeatedly clashed, and only the fittest have survived. Those who overlook this grim fact do so at their peril.

The clash of civilisations thesis has far-reaching political implications. Its supporters contend that any attempt at reconciliation between “the west” and “the Muslim world” is doomed to failure. They further maintain that the EU can work only if it renounces the multicultural fallacy in favour of an unabashed “western” identity. In the long run, only one culture can survive the unforgiving tests of natural selection, and if the EU refuses to save western civilisation fromIslamic State and its ilk, Britain had better go it alone.

Google’s Clever Plan to Stop Aspiring ISIS Recruits

Yasmin Green, Jigsaw’s head of research and development, who's leading its anti-ISIS search advertising campaign.JIGSAW

GOOGLE HAS BUILT a half-trillion-dollar business out of divining what people want based on a few words they type into a search field. In the process, it’s stumbled on a powerful tool for getting inside the minds of some of the least understood and most dangerous people on the Internet: potential ISIS recruits. Now one subsidiary of Google is trying not just to understand those would-be jihadis’ intentions, but to change them. 

Jigsaw, the Google-owned tech incubator and think tank—until recently known as Google Ideas—has been working over the past year to develop a new program it hopes can use a combination of Google’s search advertising algorithms and YouTube’s video platform to target aspiring ISIS recruits and ultimately dissuade them from joining the group’s cult of apocalyptic violence. The program, which Jigsaw calls the Redirect Method and plans to launch in a new phase this month, places advertising alongside results for any keywords and phrases that Jigsaw has determined people attracted to ISIS commonly search for. Those ads link to Arabic- and English-language YouTube channels that pull together preexisting videos Jigsaw believes can effectively undo ISIS’s brainwashing—clips like testimonials from former extremists, imams denouncing ISIS’s corruption of Islam, and surreptitiously filmed clips inside the group’s dysfunctional caliphate in Northern Syria and Iraq. 

“This came out of an observation that there’s a lot of online demand for ISIS material, but there are also a lot of credible organic voices online debunking their narratives,” says Yasmin Green, Jigsaw’s head of research and development. “The Redirect Method is at its heart a targeted advertising campaign: Let’s take these individuals who are vulnerable to ISIS’ recruitment messaging and instead show them information that refutes it.” 

The Folly of Urging Even Greater Syria Intervention

September 12, 2016

There’s been a lot of silliness over the past two weeks on the subject of Syria’s civil war. And I’m not only referring to the verbal banana peels of Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who recently wondered aloud on “Morning Joe” what an Aleppo was. The real sophistry has been emanating out of that august paper of record, the Washington Post.

It began with an op-ed by Anne Applebaum, a distinguished Russia scholar who tends to fall on the hawkish side of the foreign-policy spectrum. Applebaum, flipping the script on restraint advocates, deplores the calamitousnon-intervention in Syria. Though she concedes that a marshaling of American military forces might have “ended in disaster,” she counters that “sometimes it’s important to mourn the consequences of nonintervention too,” which include Syria’s sanguinary death toll, the destabilization of the Middle East and Europe’s migrant crisis.

Where to begin? America did intervene in the Syrian conflict through at least two operations, one run by the CIA and one run by the Pentagon, to arm the anti-Assad rebels, a strategy that proved wildly ineffective and lucrative for terrorists. All the way back in 2013,intelligence officials were warning that the Nusra Front, then Al Qaeda’s franchise in Syria, was the strongest and best equipped of the rebellious factions, and the future Islamic State was lurking nearby, too. A better question to pose is: what would have been the consequences of deeper intervention, as originally mulled by President Obama? It likely would have made matters worse by bolstering the side that’s teeming with Sunni jihadists.

Europe Rediscovers the Military Draft

September 13, 2016

In 2010 the Swedish parliament, having decided it no longer needed the large armed forces that had for centuries defended the country, suspended the mandatory draft. The following year, so did Germany. Other European countries including France, Italy, Latvia and Lithuania likewise scrapped or suspended conscription as they concluded that large-scale defense was no longer necessary. But now the draft is making a comeback in Europe.

Johan Wiktorin, a Swedish former army officer who is now a security columnist and consultant explained the difficulties his country faced in transitioning to an all-volunteer force: “Volunteer soldiers are not in our culture, and it has been difficult for the armed forces to compete on the labor market.” As a result, the Swedish Armed Forces are having trouble recruiting soldiers, even at the reduced manpower requirements for a volunteer military. With the country’s healthy economy generating plenty of job opportunities, only the most dedicated young men and women will voluntarily join the armed forces—and there have turned out to be too few such people.

What’s more, with Russia looming larger than it has in decades, Sweden is moving to address its manpower shortage. This month, a government-appointed rapporteur is expected to recommend a return to the draft. According to the daily Svenska Dagbladet, the rapporteur—Annika Nordgren Christensen, a former Green Party MP who served on the parliament’s defense committee—will recommendthat starting next year, all seventeen-year-olds will be registered for the draft, with selection taking place when they are eighteen. Unlike the previous draft, the new one will—if passed by parliament, as is likely—also include women. That will bring Sweden in line with Norway, which has already expanded its draft to women, and several other European countries that are consideringdoing so.

Waiting For A Syrian Miracle – OpEd

By Mahir Ali 
SEPTEMBER 14, 2016

It will take something approximating a miracle for any substantive good to flow from the temporary truce that was meant to take effect in Syria from sundown on Monday, following last week’s agreement in Geneva between Russia and the US.

No one can seriously deny that among nations deserving of a miracle, Syria is decidedly at the top of the list after five years of a brutal war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and uprooted millions of others. Analysts such as the BBC’s Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, have predicted that the conflict could conceivably drag on for another decade.

In the circumstances, even the vaguest glimmer of hope has a novelty value. It is perhaps equally inevitable, though, that the prospect of even a partially sustainable cease-fire is viewed with considerable skepticism, notwithstanding the fact that key protagonists – from the Bashar Assad regime and Hezbollah to US allies among the rebels – tentatively support the US-Russian initiative.

From what has thus far been made public, we know that if the truce holds for a week – and that’s a big if – the Russians and the Americans will begin coordinating their airstrikes against Daesh and the group formerly known as Jabhat Al-Nusra, which has lately disavowed its links with Al-Qaeda and altered its nomenclature with the apparent aim of reflecting its exclusive focus on toppling the regime in Damascus.

Strategic decisions: When can you trust your gut?

Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and psychologist Gary Klein debate the power and perils of intuition for senior executives. 

For two scholars representing opposing schools of thought, Daniel Kahneman and Gary Klein find a surprising amount of common ground. Kahneman, a psychologist, won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2002 for prospect theory, which helps explain the sometimes counterintuitive choices people make under uncertainty. Klein, a senior scientist at MacroCognition, has focused on the power of intuition to support good decision making in high-pressure environments, such as firefighting and intensive-care units. 

In a September 2009 American Psychology article titled “Conditions for intuitive expertise: A failure to disagree,” Kahneman and Klein debated the circumstances in which intuition would yield good decision making. In this interview with Olivier Sibony, a director in McKinsey’s Brussels office, and Dan Lovallo, a professor at the University of Sydney and an adviser to McKinsey, Kahneman and Klein explore the power and perils of intuition for senior executives. 

The Quarterly: In your recent American Psychology article, you asked a question that should be interesting to just about all executives: “Under what conditions are the intuitions of professionals worthy of trust?” What’s your answer? When can executives trust their guts? 

Gary Klein: It depends on what you mean by “trust.” If you mean, “My gut feeling is telling me this; therefore I can act on it and I don’t have to worry,” we say you should never trust your gut. You need to take your gut feeling as an important data point, but then you have to consciously and deliberately evaluate it, to see if it makes sense in this context. You need strategies that help rule things out. That’s the opposite of saying, “This is what my gut is telling me; let me gather information to confirm it.” 

How to test your decision-making instincts

By Andrew Campbell and Jo Whitehead

Executives should trust their gut instincts—but only when four tests are met. 

One of the most important questions facing leaders is when they should trust their gut instincts—an issue explored in a dialogue between Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and psychologist Gary Klein titled “Strategic decisions: When can you trust your gut?” published byMcKinsey Quarterly in March 2010. Our work on flawed decisions suggests that leaders cannot prevent gut instinct from influencing their judgments. What they can do is identify situations where it is likely to be biased and then strengthen the decision process to reduce the resulting risk. 

Our gut intuition accesses our accumulated experiences in a synthesized way, so that we can form judgments and take action without any logical, conscious consideration. Think about how we react when we inadvertently drive across the center line in a road or see a car start to pull out of a side turn unexpectedly. Our bodies are jolted alert, and we turn the steering wheel well before we have had time to think about what the appropriate reaction should be. 

The brain appears to work in a similar way when we make more leisurely decisions. In fact, the latest findings in decision neuroscience suggest that our judgments are initiated by the unconscious weighing of emotional tags associated with our memories rather than by the conscious weighing of rational pros and cons: we start to feel something—often even before we are conscious of having thought anything. As a highly cerebral academic colleague recently commented, “I can’t see a logical flaw in what you are saying, but it gives me a queasy feeling in my stomach.” 

Will the Next President Restore U.S. Primacy?

September 11, 2016

Assuming Hillary Clinton wins in November (if Donald Trump wins, all bets are off for we will be in uncharted territory, perhaps even the Bermuda Triangle, in both domestic and international policy), the issue of U.S. primacy will reappear with a vengeance. To her credit, both as secretary of state and as a presidential candidate, Mrs. Clinton has not made much of her foreign-policy differences with Barack Obama. But it is fairly obvious what she would have done differently, most notably: intervened aggressively in Syria, built up U.S. forces in Iraq far more quickly than Obama did, and been much more confrontational with Russia over Ukraine and the Baltic states. In contrast, given that Obama succeeded in getting his universal health-care plan through Congress, which had been Mrs. Clinton’s “signature” issue in the first two years of her husband’s first term, there are not many major reforms that she can undertake (gun control, the most obvious one, remaining in my view a political nonstarter). Whether she will keep her word to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership, there is nothing in her past to suggest that she is any less of a liberal interventionist than she has been since the mid-1990s.

The “national greatness” conservatives such as Robert Kagan and Max Boot who have already endorsed her see this clearly. So Mrs. Clinton will come into office with virtually the entire U.S. foreign-policy elite, liberal interventionist and neoconservative alike, having strongly backed her. The differences between the two wings of the policy establishment were never as pronounced as it sometimes appeared during George W. Bush’s first term. Though even while Mrs. Clinton has acknowledged that she was wrong to back the invasion of Iraq in 2003, if not quite Blairite, her support was certainly enthusiastic. And if she has changed her views since, and become more cautious about what foreign wars in the name of democracy can achieve, well, so have many of the neoconservatives who have come round to supporting her.


SEPTEMBER 13, 2016

It’s back-to-school season, and the smell of defense reform is in the air. Depending on how much of a wonk you are, the mere mention of the U.S. defense acquisition system will either make you fall asleep (normal person) or tear your hair out (Hill staffer, Pentagon drone, etc.). The word most associated with the defense acquisition system is probably “broken.” Sen. John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has described it as “a national security crisis.” And he is right. McCain has led the charge to reform the system, and while this cause is noble, it might also be lost. It could be that the defense acquisition system is so far gone — so inefficient, unwieldy, and misaligned with commercial incentives — that any hopes of reforming and repairing it on a reasonable timeframe are unrealistic.Steve Blank lecturing at the first H4D class at Stanford

So what, then, is the answer? When I was visiting Stanford University earlier this year, the state of the defense acquisition system came up in conversation with Steve Blank, a guru in the world of Silicon Valley entrepreneurialism and one of the leaders behind a new course, Hacking for Defense (H4D), that is changing the future of defense innovation. Blank is perhaps best known as the founder of the Lean Startup movement, which was popularized by his former student, Eric Ries, who wrote theeponymous book that has become a must-read in the entrepreneurial canon (Ries, also a successful businessman, is up to somepathbreaking work of his own by rethinking the modern stock exchange). But beyond Blank’s fame in the tech sector, he is a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran who cares a lot about defense. Blank is more familiar than most with the historically tight relationship between Silicon Valley and the Pentagon, which he documented in his “Secret History of Silicon Valley.”

Offering a novel view on cybersecurity and cyberwar

September 6, 2016 

Tim Compston, Features Editor at Security News Desk, catches-up with P.W. Singer, the author of ‘Cybersecurity and Cyberwar’, and Ghost Fleet – ‘a novel of the next world war’, for his thoughts on how states are turning to the cyber domain as part of their current and future military planning.

P.W. Singer, who as well as writing a number of cyber-related books is a Strategist at New America, reckons that no other issue has grown more important to the 21st Century, more rapidly, affecting more people in government but also in regular civilian life, than cybersecurity, yet he suggests that: “There is no issue, arguably, less understood.”

Singer goes on to say that, to date, work on this area has been caught between two poles, either being framed as highly technical and tending to be focused on the hardware and software, but not dealing well with the wetware – the people side of things, or at the other end of the spectrum verging on the histrionic: “‘Get scared’, ‘cyber war is coming’, ‘the power grid is going down’ there is nothing you can do or you can ‘give me lots of money and I will solve all of the problems for you’.”

A realistic approach

It matters who counts the votes

By Jed Babbin 
September 11, 2016

Cyber Security Threat Against Elections Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times 
The statement, “The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything” is usually attributed to the late Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Whoever said it, that thought is probably in the mind of Russian President Vladimir Putin as November 8 approaches.

For months, the reported hacking into Democratic National Committee emails and the release of confidential DNC documents has been linked to possible Russian cyber attacks. Last week it was revealed that U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies are investigating what may be a broadly-based covert Russian cyber operation designed to discredit and possibly interfere with ballot counting in the November election.

The election processes in Arizona and Illinois have reportedly been subjected to attempted or successful cyberattacks probably performed by the Russians. The FBI has reportedly alerted all state and local officials to the possibility of cyberattacks on the voting process.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said, “We should carefully consider whether our election system, our election process, is critical infrastructure like the financial sector, like the power grid.”

America’s states have controlled the election process since the colonial era. Having the federal government seize control of it seems almost as frightening as if the Russians did.

Cyber red lines: ambiguous by necessity?

September 8, 2016

Members of Congress, academia, industry and policy circles have derided the lack of clear red lines in cyberspace -- cyber acts that would, without question, warrant a response. However, from the government’s perspective, some level of strategic ambiguity in red lines allows for critical political wiggle room.

“Currently most countries, including ours, don’t want to be incredibly specific about the red lines for two reasons: You don’t want to invite people to do anything they want below that red line thinking they’ll be able to do it with impunity, and secondly, you don’t want to back yourself into a strategic corner where you have to respond if they do something above that red line or else lose credibility in a geopolitical sense,” said Sean Kanuck, who most recently served as national intelligence officer for cyber issues within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. "There’s an interest in ambiguity from a strategic sense that also leads to a strategic uncertainty. So it’s two sides of the same coin…If you don’t have specific red lines, you don’t have specific necessarily action plans in certain scenarios.”

Kanuck spoke Sept. 7 at the 2016 Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington.

While attribution, an elusive component in the cyber domain, appears to be much less convoluted in the physical world, at least one military official expressed a contrary view.

“While cyber is difficult and we’re still maturing, it’s not like it’s easy in lots of other domains. You look at questions about who shot down the [Malaysia Air passenger jet] over the Ukraine [in 2014], who’s doing what in other countries -- often it’s not quite clear, it’s hard to prove exactly who was behind it,” said Lt. Gen. Kevin McLaughlin, deputy commander at Cyber Command. In the case of the downed jet in Ukraine's disputed Crimea region, many believe the plane was shot down using by separatists with Russian-supplied surface -to-air missiles, however, there is still some doubt.

Here's how I verify data breaches

Other headlines went on to suggest that you need to change your password right now if you're using the likes of Hotmail or Gmail, among others. The strong implication across the stories I've read is that these mail providers have been hacked and now there's a mega-list of stolen accounts floating around the webs. 

The chances of this data actually coming from these service providers is near zero. I say this because firstly, there's a very small chance that providers of this calibre would lose the data, secondly because if they did then we'd be looking at very strong cryptographically hashed passwords which would be near useless (Google isn't sitting them around in plain text or MD5) and thirdly, because I see data like this which can't be accuratelyattributed back to a source all the time. 

That's all I want to say on that particular headline for now, instead I'd like to focus on how I verify data breaches and ensure that when reporters cover them, they report accurately and in a way that doesn't perpetuate FUD. Here's how I verify data breaches. 
Sources and the importance of verification 

I come across breaches via a few different channels. Sometimes it's a data set that's broadly distributed publicly after a major incident such as the Ashley Madison attack, other times people who have the data themselves (often because they're trading it) provide it to me directly and increasingly, it comes via reporters who've been handed the data from those who've hacked it.