30 September 2016

*** Between Geopolitics And Technology

27 September 2016

Roughly 500 years ago, Nicolaus Copernicus theorized that the Earth revolved around the sun, a fact that Galileo Galilei confirmed a century later. The breakthrough helped usher in a new era of scientific discovery, sparking numerous technological revolutions in the following centuries.

The advent of the printing press and Galileo's challenges to the church represented inflection points in the advance of science and technology. From then on, technological growth was no longer incremental but exponential, as new ideas, technologies and theories emerged at an ever-increasing rate of speed.

Today, the pace of technological change continues to accelerate. Advances in areas such as nanotechnology andmaterials science, smart factories, additive manufacturing, autonomous cars, gene-editing techniques, and battery technology stand to alter life on Earth, not only for individuals but also for the nations they inhabit. The world's countries will experience the radical transformation that disruptive technologies bring at different times and to different extents, some more favorably than others. But technological development and diffusion do not happen at random; geopolitical factors play a determining role in the process. Recognizing which countries are best situated to take advantage of emerging technologies can help us understand what the geopolitical order will look like two decades from now.

Determining Factors

*** Former R&AW chief: How we can fix the Pak problem

September 28, 2016 

'The response to terror is not always reciprocal terror, nor is launching a conventional response the best response.'

'The best response is to make the sponsor pay a price he cannot afford,' says former R&AW chief Vikram Sood.

The Uri terror attacks certainly originated from Pakistan occupied Kashmir or Pakistan and were sponsored by Pakistan. Eighteen brave men, mostly from the Bihar Regiment and Dogra Regiment, were killed. A readout of their names shows that they had come from all over India.

Clearly, this was war on India. This was terror at its ugliest. It also must be admitted that the jihadists had much better intelligence about their target, were well equipped and had some local help.

One has only to read what Pakistani leaders have been saying about India over the years and this does not mean only 'leaders' like Muhamed Saeed or Masood Azhar, but even many of their democrats like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto or eminences like A Q Khan, and then understand their visceral hatred for India.

For this lot, and many more, they were the rightful heirs to the throne in Delhi after the British left and today's Hindu BJP majority is a particular anathema. This attitude pervades the thinking in their army, civil service and the political circles although some may be too suave to say so.

** Towards Solving Problems in the Kashmir Valley

By Lt Gen NS Bawa
28 Sep , 2016

The Kashmir Valley has been on the boil for nearly three months now following the killing of Burhan Wani – a terrorist – by the security forces. Efforts by the ruling political parties at the Centre and the State as well as by various functionaries including Shri Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister and the All Party Delegation to the Valley have not helped to assuage the people’s hurt feelings. Quick fix solutions like clamping of curfew in affected areas, assurance of replacement of pellet guns by non lethal means of crowd control, induction of additional companies of security forces etc. have not helped. That Pakistan has been providing fuel to this smouldering fire of discontent is quite clear to all and sundry.

The Uri attack has been one of the worst since the insurgency broke out in J&K in 1989 and the most audacious one targeting the Army personnel.

The Establishment has been feeling helpless and groping in the dark to find some solution which can bring the situation under control. It hasn’t succeeded so far. In the meanwhile, number of casualties, many of them being children, resulting from the clashes between the locals and the security forces have been rising with each passing day.

As though the internal problem within the Valley was not grave enough, four terrorists heavily equipped with weapons and ammunition infiltrated from across the border in the Uri Sector and launched a lightning attack on an Administrative area of the Army, near the Uri Brigade Headquarters, in the wee hours of the morning of 18 Sep 2016 and killed 17 soldiers of two infantry battalions engaged in handing/taking over of operational responsibilities. More than two dozen soldiers were seriously injured with bullet and burn injuries, one of whom later died in the hospital.

The attack has been one of the worst since the insurgency broke out in J&K in 1989 and the most audacious one targeting the Army personnel.

*** Modi discovers B-Bomb against Pakistan

By Vijay Dutt
29 Sep , 2016

Balochistan is now being discussed at the international forums and western capitals are abuzz with the alleged atrocities by the Pakistani government on Balochis, almost all of whom resent being ruled by Islamabad, How it came to be a province of Pakistan is also been looked into, whereas Kashmir, although currently in turmoil for almost 63 days, is not on the world radar as yet. This despite Nawaz Sharif reportedly dispatching 22 envoys to various countries to inform the people about alleged violence and repression in the Valley.

He himself has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue and alleged human rights violation. But world has not reacted. Its obvious that Pakistan’s credibility is very low, because of its notoriety as incubator and exporter of terrorists. Its cross-border terror attacks are well-established, whereas India is seen to be a victim of terror attacks from across the LoC and Narendra Modi’s personal stature is very high in the world capitals. He almost casually mentioned during his address to the nation on Independence Day from the ramparts of the Red Fort that people of Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir had expressed their gratitude to him for his sympathy for them. And then he talked about atrocities by Pakistan in Balochistan.

The initial reaction was that it was a sort of tit-for-tat, he was subtly telling Pakistan that it should look into its backyard before accusing India of human rights violations and repression in the Valley. If Islamabad could incite people in the Valley, Delhi could do the same. It is only later we realised that it was realpolitik, his mention of Balochistan, Gilgit and Baltistan (G & B) and PoK was not just a gentle warning to Pakistan that India too could internationalize the Balochi issue but his seemingly casual reference to the territories under Pakistan triggered a paradigm change in the geopolitics of the region.

A new game begins, Saarc in sleep mode

K.C. Singh

Pakistan may now be made to pay for any adventurism across the LoC or international border. Saarc, in its current form, appears set for a long slumber, or even untimely last rites.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision announced earlier this week to boycott the next Saarc summit, due to be held in Islamabad in November, was almost expected. Television anchors hyperbolically asked if that spelt the death of the South Asian regional grouping. Then news came on Thursday morning that the Indian Army had carried out “surgical” strikes “along the Line of Control” against launch pads from where fresh militants were regrouping to infiltrate across the LoC. This is perhaps India’s first pre-emptive strike against Pakistani militants.

Diplomatically, there was merit in not responding to Uri, showing the world India was committed to strategic restraint and would resort to an armed response only as a last resort. Pakistan’s high commissioner Abdul Basit was summoned twice by foreign secretary S. Jaishankar, and shown specific proof of terrorists having crossed the LoC. An arrested guide even identified one such terrorist. But the Pakistani response was of utter denial. It became a dialogue with the deaf.

Defining moment

Strikes along LoC send a strong message to Pakistan — government must retain control of script it has rewritten

IN its unprecedented announcement that it had conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads along the Line of Control, India has opened a new front in its battle against terrorist groups operating from bases within Pakistani territory. The military operation has been officially described to be against infiltration and as pre-emptive in nature — “focused on ensuring that these terrorists do not succeed in their design to cause destruction and endanger the lives of our citizens”. The operation has since ceased and “we do not have any plans for further continuation”, said the DGMO. Yet, this is certainly no full stop, a new situation is here, and Thursday may be its Day 1. For now, India is balancing carefully on the step it has taken up the ladder of escalation vis a vis an adversary that had been counting so far on its incapacity or restraint or both. But for all the calibration, it is clear that this is also uncharted territory. Having sent out a strong message — to Pakistan, to the domestic audience and to the international community — that Pakistan cannot continue to gamble on India’s inaction against terror, it will now need all the wisdom and restraint of India’s leadership to ensure that it remains in control of the script it so dramatically redrew on Thursday.

A different leader…

Ram Madhav

... and a different government in India — that’s what Pakistan didn’t realise until yesterday

At least 17 attempts by the infiltrators were foiled by the army in the last eight months.

In the last two years, the Indian army has repeatedly foiled attempts by Pakistan-sponsored terrorist groups to infiltrate into India. Ninety-seven terrorists were gunned down in 2015, of whom 59 were Pakistanis. The number has crossed 110 in the last eight months. Again 84 of them were of Pakistani origin. At least 17 attempts by the infiltrators were foiled by the army in the last eight months.

As is said, the terrorist has to be lucky just once, whereas the security forces have to be lucky every time. Despite best efforts by our security forces, the country couldn’t escape a couple of incidents of terror, at Pathankot and Uri. The important point to bear in mind is that at a time when terror has struck many European and American cities, India has largely remained terror-free in the last couple of years. It is a well known fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made sincere and genuine efforts to convince the neighbour of the futility of supporting, sponsoring and launching terror. He has met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a couple of times in the last two years. He made an impromptu visit to Lahore on his way back from Kabul. The two prime ministers met in Russia and decided to have a three-tier dialogue process set in motion between the two countries.

Crossing the Line of Control

After running through a variety of non-military responses to the September 18 terrorist strike at an Army camp in Uri, the Centre on Thursday announced that Indian forces had carried out “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control. With this, India’s next steps, post-Uri, are in uncharted terrain, with New Delhi abandoning the self-proclaimed policy of “strategic restraint” adopted in the face of earlier provocations by terrorists believed to be backed by Pakistan. The operation, that began and concluded in the early hours of Thursday, was claimed to be a military success, with no injuries to the Indian para-commandos who went across the LoC into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to attack several locations. The decision to strike in this manner was evidently taken after specific intelligence that terrorist groups were planning attacks in India. This may not be the first time India has undertaken quick cross-LoC operations, but it has never before chosen to share information so publicly.

Lessons from the Uri Attack

By Lt Gen Philip Campose
28 Sep , 2016

The Pakistan Army has been using suicide modules of the Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) and Jaish e Mohammed (JeM) to launch terror attacks against targets in India, especially in J&K, for a long time now. After the Mumbai terror attack of November 2008, there was a five year lull, due to fear of conventional retaliation by the Indian military. Subsequently, the terror attacks re-commenced three years ago in September 2013 with the attack against the police station at Hiranagar and the armoured regiment at Samba in the Jammu region. Significantly, a month earlier, Pakistan had claimed to have commenced induction of tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) into service.

There is a direct link between the nuclear weapons and the rogue terror policy of the Pakistani state because the former provides cover to the latter, inasmuch as the nuclear weapons are meant to neutralize the threat posed by a possible response based on India’s pro-active conventional military strategy. The terror attacks against military targets are meant to kill as many Indian security personnel and civilians as possible, to ‘bleed’ and demoralize the Indian state, while highlighting the J&K problem internationally. And the J&K problem is important (the jugular vein!) to be kept alive for Pakistan because it justifies the ‘two nation theory’ on the basis of which Pakistan was born and has existed since.

To that extent, there was nothing different in the source, nature and intent of the Uri cross-border terror attack from the numerous other such attacks by Pakistani suicide terror modules, which have been launched repeatedly since 1999 as manifestations of the Pakistani state’s diabolical terror policy.

Why India can’t Afford a Chinese Dalai Lama

By Bhaskar Dutta Baruah
29 Sep , 2016

A country’s defence strategy is not made after an enemy attack – steps taken during war time (or signs signalling a war) are more of a tactical nature rather than strategic. Strategy is a long term and comprehensive approach which involves various elements like geopolitics, military strategies, international relations, territorial or base expansion, deemed enemy psychology etc. Since India is not a warmonger or expansionist by nature and history, we need to consider a more aggressive geopolitical strategy in order to protect our borders, considering the fact that we share boundaries with neighbours who are un-hesitant from hitting us below the belt.

While India was divided in 1947 and ceded further territories in the following decades, China was adding to its territories since the 19th century and is now geographically connected with Pakistan through the Karakoram Highway.

There is no doubt that Pakistan and China are allies and the former is in many ways a pawn in the latter’s far-sighted strategies. While India was divided in 1947 and ceded further territories in the following decades, China was adding to its territories since the 19th century and is now geographically connected with Pakistan through the Karakoram Highway. Although they created a behemoth and an unofficial super power through their often forced occupation strategies, China also created schisms among their ethnic communities through their autocratic political system.

Observers should note a stark contrast in the Chinese policy towards religion. On one end, the officially atheist Communist Party crushes religious institutions but on the other hand, they have thoroughly co-opted the Tibetan religious sphere as can be seen from their forced appointment of the 11th Panchen Lama (after kidnapping six year old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima who was recognised as its actual 11th reincarnation) and their confused stance on Buddhism.

The Uri Fiasco and Ensuring Accountability

By Brig Deepak Sinha
28 Sep , 2016

While it is not known as to what conclusions the Army’s Court of Inquiry has arrived at over the Uri fiasco, it needs little intuition or professional knowledge to conclude that there were serious lapses in following Standard Operating Procedures. There can be little doubt that this has deeply embarrassed the Army, especially the battalions involved, and must be attributed to what the military terms “command failure”. If there was a shining light in this dark episode it is the fact that the PARA (SF) Quick Reaction Force that was employed neutralized the militants within 15 minutes of engaging them as per media reports.

Under no circumstances can the Army behave as if it is a victim of “terrorism”, as it seems intent on doing.

Surely, the Army is fully cognizant that in the prevailing environment its establishments are logical and legitimate targets for enemy action and must be defended as we would any other military outpost based on a clear cut and detailed operational plan. Under no circumstances can the Army behave as if it is a victim of “terrorism”, as it seems intent on doing. No other mindset can otherwise explain why the Army has meekly submitted to the Governments’ direction for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate the Uri disaster, just as the Air Force had earlier, after the fiasco of the attack on Pathankot Air Force Station.

Defence Offsets Are Not Working. Foreign Companies Give Indian Vendors Low Tech Work

28 Sep, 2016

As a part of its new defence procurement policy adopted in 2005, the government introduced a clause for ‘defence offset’ in order to boost manufacturing capacity and technological capability of the local military complex. The offset clause binds foreign defence manufacturers to invest a portion of the total revenue in Indian defence firms.

Vendors often look at the offset as a burden and try to find ways to bypass the clause. A report published by Bloomberg reveals that offset obligations on 25 contracts signed by the government since 2008 show a shortfall in implementation in 13 cases. In other cases, the investment is often offered for low-technology products. These deals don’t involve the transfer of technology and do not contribute to technological innovation and capacity building. With this being the state of offset investment, defence vendors in India have hardly reaped any benefits from the revised policy.

Being the largest importer of defence equipment in the world, the country needs sustained investment in the defence industry to reduce dependence on foreign vendors. Vendors have often complained about the complexity of India’s procurement procedures and the offset clause. Refined policies, that promote foreign investment in the Indian defence industry and also addresses the concerns of the investors, should replace the existing framework. This, in turn, will help in capacity building and technological innovation.

The Fantasy of a Silver Bullet

What should be the goal of an Indian military cross-border excursion? Many observers, myself among them, do not believe that India presently has the requisite military capability to carry out any strike into Pakistan that would hurt the Pakistani military or degrade the infrastructure of its jihadist allies while simultaneously remain below Islamabad’s nuclear threshold. There are yet others who argue that such options simply do not exist because any conceivable strike would either be of limited strategic use or risk escalation of the crisis past the nuclear limit. Or both. However, it is important to be clear about the aims of a cross-border mission before we discuss utility or capability.

One kind of cross-border strike is a precise attack from the air. Presumably, stealth helicopters or fighter aircraft would slip into enemy airspace, unleash their deadly payload of precision guided munitions, and return before anyone is the wiser. Critics say that India lacks the material capability as well as training to carry out such missions. However, such high standards for these sorts of operations are achieved only in Hollywood or on the X-Box: as ample examples illustrate, real life is a lot messier. In perhaps the most famous and significant case of an airstrike gone awry, in May 1999, the United States air force mistakenly bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. More recently, according to the United Nations, over 1,250 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan in just the past seven years.

The possibility of collateral damage or a failed strike – when the targets have already fled – is always there. Faulty intelligence, bad data, or a fast-evolving situation on the ground is usually to blame. Robert Farley, a professor at the University of Kentucky who studies the American military, explains, “One of the core aspects of air power theory is this idea that with enough reconnaissance, with enough data with enough data crunching, we can paint an extremely hyper-accurate picture of the battlefield that is going to not only eliminate accidental strikes, but it’s going to make it so we can strike directly and precisely.” The situational awareness in reality is never that good, admitted Scott F Murray, a retired US air force colonel who coordinated the US air campaign in the Middle East and Afghanistan. While India needs to hone its skills in surgical airstrikes, the benchmark can never be an ideal that has rarely been achieved.

Withdrawing The MFN Status To Pakistan: Legality And Implications – Analysis

By VP Haran*
SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

The Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment is the fundamental basis of multilateral trade conducted under the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. It simply means that WTO members will not discriminate among other members, except as specifically provided for in the rules. Multilateral trade rules embodied in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade [GATT], were framed in the immediate years following the World War II, which probably prompted the framers of the rules to provide for exceptions to the general rule on grounds of National Security, via Article XXI. There are other exceptions as well, in Article XX of the GATT. In the context of reports that India will be reviewing its 1996 decision to extend the MFN status to Pakistan, it will be useful to understand the legal position, in view of our commitments in the WTO and under SAFTA.

Pakistan, which is bound by WTO rules to extend the MFN status to India has not done so, using the provisions of Article XXI. India has not taken the issue to the WTO dispute settlement mechanism, partly because it is difficult to challenge Pakistan’s subjective assessment on security issues. Nor has New Delhi reconsidered withdrawing the 1996 decision – probably because it gives us bragging rights that we have been extremely reasonable in dealing with Pakistan. Article XXI ‘Security Exceptions’ of GATT states that:

“Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed…(b) to prevent any contracting party from taking any action which it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests…(iii) taken in time of war or other emergency in international relations; or (c) to prevent any contracting party from taking any action in pursuance of its obligations under the United Nations Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security.”

Russia’s Unfriendly Political Signalling to India on Pakistan

By Dr Subhash Kapila
29 Sep , 2016

Russia’s promiscuous relationship with Pakistan while at the same time professing enduring commitment to its long-standing ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ with India should no longer fool India. Contextually, Russian troops landing in Pakistan for joint exercises with Pakistan Army is an unfriendly act against India.

With India-Pakistan relations at an all-time high inflexion point due to the provocative attacks by Pakistan Army affiliated Jihadi terrorist groups on the Indian Army Base Camp at Uri and with Indian public opinion incensed to a point demanding strong reprisals against Pakistan Army, in the interests of its ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ the least that Russia could have done was to postpone the joint exercises till things cooled down, even if it did not want to cancel this exercise with the Pakistan Army.

That Russia decided to go ahead with this joint exercise with the Pakistan Army displays an utter Russian disregard for Indian political sensitivities. Ironically, the joint Russian-Pakistan military exercise is focused on ‘counter-terrorism operations’ with a country that is involved in de cades long proxy terrorist war against India. Pakistan is also widely recognised as the incubator of global terrorism. It is doubly ironical that this joint Russian-Pakistan military exercise is being held on Pakistani soil, the defiled soil from which Pakistan Army affiliated Jihadi terrorists groups have inflicted wanton death and destruction on hundreds of Indian lives and property.

Still more ironical and adding insult to injury is the reality that initial reports after the Uri attacks indicated that Russia had called off the Russia-Pakistan joint military exercise in Pakistan, seemingly out of respect for Indian political sensitivities. That Russia did a U-TURN on its earlier declared intentions logically indicates that Russia has succumbed to Chinese pressures as China is Pakistan’s much vaunted strategic patron. Chinese pressure would have been intense on Russia so as to bail out Pakistan from a virtual global isolation.

U.S.-Backed Effort to Fight Afghan Corruption Is a Near-Total Failure, Audit Finds

SEPT. 27, 2016

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan at his office in Kabul. Of 83 of the most senior officials in the country, only Mr. Ghani has fully complied with financial disclosure laws — and even his declaration form was filled out incorrectly. CreditSergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — An effort to fight corruption by monitoring the financial assets of top Afghan officials, underwritten by the United States, has been a near-total failure, according to American auditors.

Out of 83 senior officials in the past two Afghan governments, only one — the current president, Ashraf Ghani — fully complied with financial disclosure laws, according to a report issued by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction last week.

The United States and its allies have long seen fighting corruption as crucial to long-term success in Afghanistan. Public anger over rampant graft in the country is a major reason many Afghans are dissatisfied with the Western-supported government and have turned toward the Taliban insurgents.

The auditors’ report focused on the High Office of Oversight, or HOO, an Afghan agency that examines the assets of Afghan officials when they take office and after they leave. The officials are required by the Constitution to disclose their assets at those times.

Is Al Qaeda’s Presence in Afghanistan Growing?

Bill Roggio
September 24, 2016

US military is hunting al Qaeda in at least 7 Afghanistan provinces

The US military’s top commander in Afghanistan said yesterday that American forces are hunting al Qaeda leaders and members in at least seven Afghan provinces. General John W. Nicholson Jr., who leads NATO’s Resolute Support and US Forces Afghanistan, listed the provinces in response to a question about how many senior al Qaeda leaders remain in eastern Afghanistan. He specifically mentioned the provinces of Kandahar, Zabul, Paktika, Ghazni, Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar.

In October 2015, Gen. Nicholson reminded reporters, “there was an operation conducted down in the Shorabak District of Kandahar where…Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda [in the] Indian subcontinent were present” in a “training base that was destroyed.” After the Shorabak raid, General John Campbell, then the commander of Resolute Support, said the al Qaeda base was “probably the largest training camp-type facility that we have seen in 14 years of war.” At approximately 30 square miles in size, it is easy to see why this is true.

“We…see them [al Qaeda] in the east, stretching from you know, to Zabul, Paktika, Ghazni area in the Southeast and then up in the areas to the Northeast which you are familiar with, Kunar, Nuristan, Nangarhar, there’s some very mountainous area which — which lends itself to a sanctuary,” Gen. Nicholson explained. Al Qaeda and affiliated groups, including jihadist organizations that draw members from neighboring countries in Central Asia, are operating in other provinces as well.

US strengthens military ties with Pakistan

September 28, 2016

'Here in Delhi, the Modi government is supposedly looking at 'options' to hit back at Pakistan in any whichever way it can, while in Washington, the Obama administration is looking for ways to strengthen US military cooperation with Pakistan,' says Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar.

The meeting of the United States-Pakistan Defence Consultative Group, which was held in Rawalpindi on September 21, carries profound symbolism.

Although the attack on the Indian Army camp, which India insists was Pakistan-sponsored, took place only on September 18, and ignoring the Indian elite's threat of 'jaw for tooth' et al, Washington nonetheless decided to go ahead with the meeting.

So much for the India-US 'defining partnership'!

So much for Pentagon chief Ashton Carter being a 'Friend of India'!

So much for the US-India logistics agreement, too!

Yet, the government continues with its grovelling at the American feet.

The Indian Express newspaper reports today that Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar is frogmarching Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet to post-haste approve the Paris Agreement, overruling the scepticism of the environment ministry and a host of sister ministries.

EXPERT COMMENTARY The Changing Nature of Terrorism in China

SEPTEMBER 27, 2016 

The Changing Nature of Terrorism in China

On August 14, Director of International Cooperation at China’s Central Military Commission, Rear Admiral Guan Youfei, reached a deal to provide humanitarian aid, military training, and intelligence sharing with the Syrian government.

Two weeks later on August 30, there was a suicide bomb attack on the Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan. According to Bishkek, the terrorist attack was ordered by Uighur jihadists in Syria, financed by the rebranded al Nusra Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS), coordinated from Turkey, and carried out by a member of the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP/ETIM).

It appears the nature of terrorism against China is changing, and so is Beijing’s response.

The central front

From the 1990s to the late 2000s, China’s anti-terror efforts were largely localized in Xinjiang and bordering countries—their central front against Uigher jihadists in the Global War on Terror. After 9/11, when the U.S. asked China for anti-terror cooperation, Beijing responded that they would contribute by clearing their house in Xinjiang. At the U.S. Guantanamo Bay detention facility there were 22 Chinese Uyghur detainees caught fighting with al Qaeda. At one point in 2006, Chinese citizens were the fourth largest group held in detention, behind citizens of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

For threats emanating across the border, China relies on bilateral cooperation with Central Asian states in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and largely outsource Afghanistan and Pakistan (AfPak) to the U.S. and NATO.

The CEO guide to China’s future

How China’s business environment will evolve on its way toward advanced-economy status.

For ten years or more, China has been a uniquely powerful engine of the global economy, regularly posting high single-figure or even double-digit annual increases in GDP. More recently, growth has slowed, prompting sharp falls in international commodity prices and casting a shadow over the near-term prospects for developed and emerging markets.

What will happen next? Pessimists struggle to see what China can do for an encore after what they say was an extraordinary, one-off period of catching up. Optimists believe that during the next 10 to 15 years, China has the potential to continue to outperform the rest of the world and to take its place as a full-fledged advanced economy (see summary infographic, “What’s next for China?”).

While most observers look at China at the national or, at most, the sector level, recent research from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) analyzes more than two thousand companies in order to identify a set of opportunities for policy makers and business to speed up the transition. This CEO guide discusses this and other recent research to help executives plot their course in China’s fast-changing economic landscape.
A new growth model

Front and center in any discussion about China these days are concerns about the country’s economy. Last year, GDP and employment growth dipped to the lowest levels in 25 years, corporate debt continued to soar, foreign reserves fell by around $500 billion, and by mid-2015 the stock market had dropped by 43 percent—all signs, pessimists say, that China could be on track for a financial crisis.

Don’t Defeat ISIS, Yet

SEPT. 27, 2016

Peshmerga forces during an operation to liberate villages under the control of the Islamic State southeast of Mosul, Iraq, in August. CreditAndrea Dicenzo/European Pressphoto Agency

ERBIL, Iraq — A military push to recapture Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and the rest of Nineveh Province from the Islamic State is expected soon. Unfortunately, even if the campaign is successful, the liberation of Mosul will not stabilize the country. Nor will conquest resolve the underlying conditions that originally fueled the extremist insurgency.

Instead, the legacy of the Islamic State, or ISIS, will endure. Its rise and fall have altered the country’s society and politics in irreversible ways that threaten future cycles of conflict. Throughout history, victorious wars have often forged national identities, expanded state power and helped centralize political authority. But the war against the Islamic State is having the opposite effect: fragmentation.

In parts of Iraq recaptured from the militants where I’ve traveled, signs of any central authority are nonexistent. Instead, what has emerged from the conflict is a complex patchwork of ethnic, tribal and religious militias that claim fief over particular territories.

This was the case in liberated parts of Sinjar, where the massacre of Yazidis, a religious minority, perpetrated by the Islamic State with local Sunni collaborators compelled the United States to intervene militarily in 2014. Now the remaining Yazidi community is divided and militarized, with each militia backed by a different Kurdish faction, and each Kurdish faction in turn backed by a different regional power.

‘We Do Not Need America’s Support’

SEPTEMBER 25, 2016 

Iraq's Shiite militias are gearing up to retake the Islamic State's last major city in Iraq, with Tehran's backing — and despite Washington's opposition. 

ERBIL, Iraq — The northern Iraqi village of Bashir has been all but flattened by war. Abandoned houses lie in heaps of rubble along the eerily quiet streets. Upon first glance, the village appears uninhabited, but every now and then a solemn-looking child will appear in a doorway. Down one dusty alley, a teenage boy plays with a live electrical wire, causing showers of sparks to dance across the ground.

A man emerges from a nearby building, rolling a wheelbarrow full of broken stones. He moved back to Bashir after the Kurdish Peshmerga liberated the town in May from the Islamic State, also referred to by the Arabic acronym Daesh. The Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a collection of Shiite volunteer militias with varying ties to Iran, also participated in the battle in a support role. Following the liberation of Bashir, though, the Peshmerga ceded control of the village, with its Shiite Turkmen population, to the PMF, which is now completely responsible for administration and security in Bashir.

“I am not afraid,” the man with the wheelbarrow stops to say. “Daesh still attacks us sometimes, but the Hashd al-Shaabi are here to protect us. Besides, it’s been two years now since we fled. We were paying rent we couldn’t afford in Kirkuk. We had to come home.”

The Current Syrian Issue – Analysis

By Giancarlo Elia Valori*
SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

In spite of confidentiality, which is obvious in these cases, President Obama’s plan for Syria was announced a few days ago. Firstly, the secret Presidential directives aim at conquering Mosul by mid-December next and the forces that will liberate the city will be some groups of the US Special Forces, in addition to five US-led Iraqi army divisions.

Furthermore, the agreement between President Obama and the Head of the Autonomous Province of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massud Barzani, envisages that: a) the Kurdish Peshmerga will attack Mosul from the North and from the East; b) the United States will ensure a safety zone from Mosul up to the borders of Barzani’s Kurdistan; c) the United States will prevent the Shiite militias from taking part in military actions and will undertake not to let the Shiite militias enter the cities with a Sunni majority.

Incidentally, the plan for liberating Mosul is the same as the one developed by the United States to leave ISIS out of Tikrit, Ramadi and Fallujah, which indeed failed, as you may recall.

The United States will also coopt the Al-Mutahidun coalition led by Osama Al Nujaifi. As Speaker of the Iraqi House of Representatives, Al Nujaifi, is the highest-ranking Sunni politician in a country with a Shiite majority where, indeed, the longa manus of Iran is often felt.

Where Can We Expect Russia’s Strike – OpEd

SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Upsetting as it might seem, Ukraine needs to prepare for the worst. After the failure of the multilateral negotiations between the leaders of the United States, Germany, France and Russia on the “Ukrainian issue”, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China (4-5 September this year, Hangzhou), the parties have moved to a new level of confrontation.

On the one hand, the United States and the European Union have expanded sanctions against Russia, which will continue for as long as Moscow ignores international law, threatening the territorial integrity, security and sovereignty of Ukraine, and on the other — Moscow within the latest unannounced inspection of combat readiness of its troops (forces) of the Southern Military District, with the participation of the Western and Central Military Districts of the Russian Federation (RF) Armed Forces (August 25-31, 2016) and the Strategic Command Post Exercises (SCPE) “Caucasus-2016”, the active phase of which was held September 5-10 this year in the Southern Military District of the RF Armed Forces on the South-Western Strategic direction, and in fact — on the Ukrainian direction, demonstrated it being ready to use all possible means of warfare (including weapons of mass destruction) by 100,000 strong group of forces to achieve its geopolitical goals.

All this, unfortunately, is very similar to the pre-war situation of a possible large-scale Russian aggression against Ukraine and united Europe (including NATO). It was exactly the same or nearly so before the First and especially before the Second World War.

What Will All This Mean to Ukraine and Europe (NATO)?

Safety of Nuclear Power Plants

May 13, 2016 

Safety of Nuclear Power Plants

In all nuclear power plants, safety is accorded utmost priority in all phases of siting, design, construction, commissioning and operation. A systematic approach using well-defined principles is followed in the design of the nuclear power plants to provide the required safety features adopting principles of defence-in-depth, diversity and redundancy. Nuclear Power Plants are constructed in accordance with the design intent and with strict quality standards. The operations are performed strictly in accordance with laid out procedures by highly trained and licensed personnel. There is a robust regulatory mechanism in place and periodic safety reviews are carried out both by NPCIL and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

As far as security is concerned, nuclear installations are provided with multilayer security arrangements and are under security cover of the Central Industrial Security Force and other security agencies in the country with additional manpower and equipment, whenever necessary. Integrated security systems including Perimeter Intrusion Detection System (PIDS) and other electronic surveillance systems are in place at all nuclear power plants in the country. These security arrangements are reviewed and updated periodically based on various inputs received from Central and State Agencies.

All the safety and other plant parameters are monitored in the control room of nuclear power plants continuously. The parameters are also physically monitored at respective locations. The safety functions can be performed from supplementary control room in the unlikely event of the control room not being accessible in case of an emergency.

Improving the Security of All Nuclear Materials

Mark Fitzpatrick, Elena Sokova, Miles Pomper, Laura Rockwood, Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, Matthew Cottee
September 20, 2016

Legal, Political, and Institutional Options to Advance International Oversight

Report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS),

the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) and

the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP)

Elena Sokova, Rolf Stalder, Laura Rockwood, and Mark Fitzpatrick
Read the Report

The following is an excerpt of the executive summary:

About four-fifths of the weapons-usable nuclear materials in the world are in non-civilian programmes. This means not only as the explosive core in active or reserve nuclear weapons, but also as fuel in naval and military research reactors, highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium at production sites, in storage, or declared excess to military uses, but not yet transferred to other programmes or eliminated. Yet coordinated global efforts to enhance the security of nuclear materials have been almost exclusively concentrated on the estimated 17% of such nuclear materials in the civilian sector.

A Voice Cuts Through, and Adds to, the Intrigue of Russia’s Cyberattacks

SEPT. 27, 2016

Vladimir M. Fomenko in Biysk, Russia. Mr. Fomenko is the owner of King Servers, which rents server space, including to those implicated in recent hacking attempts on election systems in Arizona and Illinois.CreditBrendan Hoffman for The New York Times

BIYSK, Russia — Living anonymously, down a winding road in the wilderness of western Siberia, not far from the Mongolian border, the only person so far implicated in the flurry of Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other political sites was obviously enjoying the moment.

“We have the information, but nobody contacted us,” said Vladimir M. Fomenko, a tattooed 26-year-old who snowboards in his free time and runs a business out of a rented apartment.

“It’s like nobody wants to sort this out,” he added with a sly grin.

Mr. Fomenko was recently identified by an American cybersecurity company, ThreatConnect, as the manager of an “information nexus” that was used by hackers suspected of working for Russian state security in cyberattacks on democratic processes in several countries, including Germany, Turkey and Ukraine, as well as the United States.

Rather than issuing blanket denials, Mr. Fomenko is apparently eager to discuss his case, lending another, if still cryptic, dimension to the intrigue, restricted before now to digital codes and online fingerprints.

Military intelligence cyber programs get boost from fund shift

By Scott Maucione | @smaucioneWFED
September 26, 2016 
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The Defense Department is beefing up its cyber investments in the military intelligence arena by shifting some of its 2016 funds.

DoD moved nearly $20 million in funds from failing programs and contract savings early this summer to prioritize cyber, stated a reprogramming action released this week and signed by DoD Comptroller Michael McCord.

A large chunk of the funds will go to expanding the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM). The command, which conducts intelligence, security and information operations for military commanders, is set to receive about $6.2 million.

That money will go toward rapid research and development of low-density, non-standard technologies for cyberspace intelligence operations.

The funds will specifically go to upgrades for back-end enclaves, command and control device integration, integration of data storage capability supporting analytics and proxy and exit nodes.

“Without immediate funding, INSCOM will not be able to conduct the necessary system engineering changes to optimize the cyberspace platform, develop and modify cyberspace payloads, or conduct developmental and operational testing evaluation that enables the cyberspace mission,” the reprogramming action stated.

DoD is also dropping money into the military services’ IT, cyber and intelligence funds.

DARPA Picks BAE’s Smart Handheld EW Sensor

September 27, 2016
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BAE Systems has been awarded a DARPA contract that may help address one of the most pressing threats the US Army has identified — Russia’s increasingly impressive and powerful use of Electronic Warfare on the battlefield.

The technology for a new handheld tactical sensor that soldiers can easily carry to monitor and analyze the electro-magnetic spectrum on the battlefield was developed under DARPA’s Computational Leverage Against Surveillance Systems (CLASS) program and the Cognitive radio Low-energy signal Analysis Sensor ICs (CLASIC) program.

As Sydney has reported, the brand new Army Rapid Capabilities Office is studying proposals to spend between $50 and $100 million on urgently needed electronic warfare gear. Those options include sensors to detect radar and radio signals, and jammers to block them, mounted on ground vehicles, soldiers’ backpacks, and drones. It’s unclear at this point whether the DARPA system might be considered by the Army’s RCO.

The system is part of a wider effort by BAE Systems to develop something close to the heart of Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work’s Third Offset, a system using artificial intelligenceto read and analyze an enemy’s communications and EW emissions, providing soldiers at the tactical level with tools to manage something that used to be handled back in the command center.

Key to this is work BAE Systems has done to greatly boost the efficiency and power of microprocessors and to build in algorithms that create “systems that leverage as much knowledge as possible ahead of time,” instead of forcing a system to rely on highly classified traditional threat libraries, Joshua Niedzwiecki, director of BAE’s sensor processing and exploitation, says.

Army’s ‘Multi-Domain Battle:’ Jamming, Hacking & Long Range Missiles

September 27, 2016 
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An Army soldier sets up a highband antenna.

Days before the biggest defense conference of the year, one of the Army’s top thinkers is unveiling the service’s new push to expand its role beyond its traditional domain — land — to air, sea, space, and cyberspace. Even as the US defense budget shrinks, the Army is prioritizing new investments in downing drones, hacking networks, jamming transmissions, and even sinking ships at sea. Far from triggering inter-service rivalry, however, the Army’s ambitious concept seems to have buy-in from its sister services and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Just look at the lineup for Tuesday’s panel on “Multi-Domain Battle” at the massiveAssociation of the US Army conference. Besides Army brass like Training & Doctrine chief Gen. David Perkins, you have the

Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, chief architect of the sweeping modernization scheme known as the Third Offset Strategy

head of US Pacific Command, Navy Adm. Harry Harris (via VTC);

Navy Undersecretary Janine Davidson;

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller;

Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. David Goldfein and;

Australia‘s Army’s head of modernization, Maj. Gen. Gus McLachlan;

The Army first embraced what it called “cross-domain operations” with the Army Operating Concept that Gen. Perkins promulgated in 2014. As it’s evolved since, multi-domain battle concept “really has resonated with the deputy secretary and his priorities,” said Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the iconoclastic warrior-intellectual who works for Gen. Perkins as the Army’s chief futurist.