30 December 2016

*** The Soviet Union and Russia: Tragedy and Farce

By George Friedman

Russia’s recent military adventures have mostly aimed to create an illusion of strength. 

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union. Its collapse was inconceivable at the time. The Soviet Union loomed as a stone colossus astride the world, the equal of the United States, and in the minds of some, its superior. In fact, it was built on a base of sand, held together during its hardest times by the secret police. But as the KGB weakened from careerism and corruption, the glue dissolved and the regime collapsed. It was a surprise to the outside world and perhaps even to much of the Politburo. But it couldn’t have been a surprise to the people within the KGB. They knew what was coming and readied themselves to take advantage of the new world.

We now find ourselves in a new confrontation with Russia. For me, this is not a surprise, as I had forecast a resurgence of Russia in a book that was published eight years ago called “The Next 100 Years.” Russia was not going to do the world the favor of remaining in the chaos of privatization that President Boris Yeltsin had presided over. The men who had enriched themselves in the 1990s would emerge as the new elite in the 2000s. Their roots would be in the past, and their wish would be to return Russia to its former greatness, both out of nostalgia and to preserve their positions. Russian culture celebrates strong leaders, and leaders strengthen themselves with this admiration. The issue now is what shall we make of this second confrontation. 

*** The Rules of the Game: A New Electoral System

Source Link 
Eric Maskin and Amartya Sen

‘The Electoral Vote: Now Let Us Look at It from Another Point of View’; illustration by Thomas Nast, 1876

Americans have been using essentially the same rules to elect presidents since the beginning of the Republic. In the general election, each voter chooses one candidate; each state (with two current exceptions) awards all its Electoral College votes to the candidate chosen by the largest number of voters (not necessarily a majority) in that state; and the president-elect is the candidate with a majority of Electoral College votes. 

Primary elections for president have also remained largely unchanged since they replaced dealings in a “smoke-filled room” as the principal method for selecting Democratic and Republican nominees. In each state, every voter votes for one candidate. In some states, the delegates to the national convention are all pledged to support the candidate getting a plurality of votes (again, possibly less than a majority). In others, delegates are assigned in proportion to the total votes of the candidates. 

These rules are deeply flawed. For example, candidates A and B may each be more popular than C (in the sense that either would beat C in a head-to-head contest), but nevertheless each may lose to C if they both run. The system therefore fails to reflect voters’ preferences adequately. It also aggravates political polarization, gives citizens too few political options, and makes candidates spend most of their campaign time seeking voters in swing states rather than addressing the country at large. 

** 2017 Annual Forecast: South Asia

As in so many other regions, nationalism is on the rise in South Asia, and leaders there will use it to advance their political agendas. This will be particularly pronounced as India and Pakistan prepare for elections. And because this is India and Pakistan, nationalist rhetoric in one country will often demonize the other.

But they have very different domestic agendas. India will try to add to the modest progress it has made toward reform, particularly tax reform. And it will do so as its economic growth slows, thanks in part to recent demonetization schemes.

For its part, Pakistan's military will use the threat of India as an excuse to maintain the status quo in its civil-military balance of power. It will also ensure that Pakistan's ties with Afghanistan remain weak as instability in that country undermines progress on transnational energy projects, including the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline.

** An Oilman's Guide To Foreign Affairs

Regardless of politics, everyone seems to agree that Donald Trump will be an unconventional U.S. president. It comes as little surprise, then, that many of his picks to fill Cabinet posts are also unorthodox. Chief among these selections is Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. and Trump's nominee for secretary of state.

At first glance, Tillerson may seem a strange choice to fill Washington's top diplomatic post; after all, the past several secretaries of state have had backgrounds in government or diplomatic service. But Tillerson's experiences in the oil and natural gas industry have doubtless prepared him for the weighty and often delicate duties of the job. Though he lacks a diplomatic track record, Tillerson's actions as head of the world's largest oil company bespeak a pragmatism and view of reality that will guide him - and the future of U.S. foreign policy - if he is confirmed.

* Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time

On the evening before All Saints’ Day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg. In those days a thesis was simply a position one wanted to argue. Luther, an Augustinian friar, asserted that Christians could not buy their way to heaven. Today a doctoral thesis is both an idea and an account of a period of original research. Writing one is the aim of the hundreds of thousands of students who embark on a doctorate of philosophy (PhD) every year.

In most countries a PhD is a basic requirement for a career in academia. It is an introduction to the world of independent research — a kind of intellectual masterpiece, created by an apprentice in close collaboration with a supervisor. The requirements to complete one vary enormously between countries, universities and even subjects. Some students will first have to spend two years working on a master’s degree or diploma. Some will receive a stipend; others will pay their own way. Some PhDs involve only research, some require classes and examinations and some require the student to teach undergraduates. A thesis can be dozens of pages in mathematics, or many hundreds in history. As a result, newly minted PhDs can be as young as their early 20s or world-weary forty-somethings.

Lethal neglect

At Nagrota and Uri, flaws in security and training led to loss of lives of Indian soldiers. Lessons must be learnt.

Behind the grim toll 2016 has inflicted on Indian soldiers and police personnel in Kashmir lies one, little-noticed fact: Almost half of the 87 fatalities, the worst since 2009, can be attributed to events like the Uri and Nagrota attacks, which involved flaws in basic training or poor perimeter security at bases. This newspaper has revealed that the terrorists who attacked the XVI Corps headquarters scaled its wall simply by climbing a tree growing alongside the officer’s mess. The technique was almost identical to that used by terrorists in Pathankot, where they took advantage of Eucalyptus trees next to the boundary wall. Even though J&K Governor N.N. Vohra had ordered a security review of all bases after the Pathankot attack, the military experts who audited the Nagrota base were either careless or remiss. That terrorists wish to kill Indian soldiers does not surprise; the failure to address glaring problems, though, is shocking.

Lapses like these could be condoned if they did not involve the lives of women and men who serve the country — and if the means to protect them were not so easily available and affordable. In the wake of the Pathankot attack, the ministry of defence had tasked former army Vice-Chief Lieutenant-General Philip Campose with studying the problem. General Campose’s report recommended rectification of the training of base security teams, as well as acquisition of technologies like night-vision devices and movement sensors. These technologies were not purchased when the Uri attack took place; they were not available at Nagrota either.

Is the Naga peace deal dead?

Sudeep Chakravarti

The ongoing fracas in Manipur has raised a related question. Is the Naga peace process, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi revived in mid-2015 with fanfare, dead? Or stalled?

Admitting this is tricky: there is simply too much loss of face involved, but the process has a default bug of failure. It’s just too darn complicated, this chess game of lives and futures.

The “framework agreement for peace” signed on 3 August 2015 between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), or NSCN (I-M), is the flimsiest of deals to boost a ceasefire signed nearly 20 years ago, in 1997. A ceasefire that permits I-M to recruit, train, and arm—and for all purposes run a parallel administration that collects tax and interferes in elections!

The government and I-M have deflected calls to make the agreement public, while throwing in key words like “shared future” and “honourable”. Meanwhile, Modi got to project himself as peacemaker. And this largest Naga rebel group raised its profile, claiming pre-eminence. By extension, both became deciding factors in the future of the Naga people, whose homelands extend beyond Nagaland to contiguous areas of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.

The Geopolitics of India and Russia’s Disparate Interests

By Akhilesh Pillalamarri

Throughout the past few decades, India and Russia have maintained extraordinarily close relations. During the Cold War, India, though not formally allied with the Soviet Union, leaned toward it. The Soviet Union proved vital to India because it was able to provide superpower cover for its development as an independent nation, especially during bouts of tension with China or the United States, both of which were friendly toward Pakistan.

This has led to the view by many in foreign policy circles in India that India and Russia share a sort of special relationship, one which transcends temporary interests. As India’s president, Pranab Mukherjee said in 2015:

Our relationship stands apart. Russia is and will be a dependable partner in defense matters and energy security despite the relationships with other countries developed by Russia or developed by India….[the] India-Russia relationship is one of deep friendship and mutual confidence that would not be affected by transient political trends….Russia has been a pillar of strength at difficult moments in India’s history. India will always reciprocate this support. Russia is and will remain our most important defense partner and a key partner for our energy security, both on nuclear energy and hydrocarbons.

How Peace Between Afghanistan and the Taliban Foundered


OSLO — At a corner table of the Marriott Hotel in Pakistan’s capital, an emissary from the Taliban’s supreme leader arrived with a message of peace.

It was 2007, as the Afghan Taliban insurgency was growing bolder. The United States-led international coalition was fixated on defeating the Taliban militarily, and that mission would only intensify when President Obama sent in tens of thousands more troops starting in 2009.

But that evening at the Marriott in Islamabad, the talk was about diplomacy, and there were no Americans in the room. Alf Arne Ramslien, a senior Norwegian diplomat who had cultivated relationships and trust within the Taliban for years, was meeting with a confidant of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the movement’s reclusive founder, who was directing the insurgency from exile in Pakistan.

The Taliban emissary gave Mr. Ramslien a list of five names that Mullah Omar had tasked with exploring the possibility of peace talks. They needed the help of a facilitator, he said, and Mr. Ramslien was it.

That exchange would initiate an intense, secretive process that over three years involved two or three meetings a month between Norwegian diplomats and fugitive Taliban representatives across cities in Asia and Europe, including Karachi, Bangkok and Oslo.

The Strategic Support Force: Update and Overview

By: John Costello

The Strategic Support Force is commanded by former Second Artillery Force Major General Gao Jin (高津).

It has been nearly a year since the first round of military reforms responsible for the creation of the Strategic Support Force (战略支援部队; SSF). Although media reports were initially forthcoming with information, references to the SSF quickly dropped off, leaving far more questions than answers. However, as the PLA has started a more serious and concrete implementation of the hard work of reforms, more details have gradually emerged. A year on, there is enough information available to enable a basic understanding of the Force’s structure, unit composition, and future direction. The SSF has become a force optimized for combat in space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic domain that will enhance the PLA’s capability to fight and win future informatized wars.

Force Overview

It is important to note that, while the SSF is a unique product of the reforms, it is built from the familiar. The reforms have thus far employed a “bricks not clay” approach to reorganization, repurposing whole, existing institutions and reforming them into new organizations to align with new paradigms, presumably with more minute changes to follow. This is best seen in the reorganization of the former four general departments into the new Central Military Commission functional organs. [1] Following from this concept, the SSF appears to be wholly constructed from the operational units and organizations from the former general departments, particularly the General Staff Department (GSD), General Armament Department (GAD), and General Political Department (GPD) units responsible for space, cyber, and electronic warfare, the SSF’s main missions.

Averting water wars in Asia


China’s riparian dominance and maritime aggression have the potential to escalate conflict in the continent

Water is a precious resource, for which there is no substitute. One-third of the people in the world facing water stress or water scarcity live in India, which generously signed a treaty in 1960 reserving over 80 per cent of the waters of the six-river Indus system for its adversary Pakistan. Since then, water shortages in India’s Indus basin have become acute, triggering silent water wars between states in the north. The paradox is that India has failed to tap its treaty-allocated 19.48 per cent share of the Indus resources.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done well to initiate moves to correct this anomaly. The high-level inter-ministerial task force set up by Modi for this purpose held its meeting on December 23.

Averting water-related conflicts is actually a major challenge across Asia, which has less freshwater per capita than any other continent, except Antarctica. This reality has helped promote growing interstate and intrastate disputes over shared water resources. An MIT study this year found a high risk that Asia’s current water crisis could worsen, to severe water shortages by 2050.

The Chinese Navy's New 'Tall Ship' May Reveal Beijing's True Intentions

Lyle J. Goldstein

Over the summer, Chinese naval media announced the building of an entirely new kind of PLA Navy (PLAN) ship. This is not China’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier, nor the much-anticipated new class of nuclear strategic submarine or nuclear attack submarine. It is not the gargantuan Type 055 cruiser or the expected Type 081 helicopter carrier. Unlike the widely admired Type 056 light frigate that China has been producing “like sausages” of late to police the near seas, this PLAN ship most likely will be a class of one.

The new ship is actually a “tall ship” with billowing sails that will be used to train Chinese cadets. However, this odd duck among China’s emerging armada of sleek, well-armed vessels stands out. Indeed, it deserves some special attention, because it actually forms an important symbol of China’s emerging status as a naval power in the twenty-first century. Washington’s many China hawks will likely find a way to spin this development as a threat to U.S. national security. That should be entertaining, but as with most aspects of the venerated bubble’s thinking on China and Beijing’s maritime policies, don’t believe the hype.

Power Plays Across the First Island Chain: China's Lone Carrier Group Has a Busy December

By Ankit Panda

For the first time, China’s lone carrier entered the Western Pacific. What does the Chinese Navy have in mind? 

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy’s (PLAN) sole operational carrier group has had a busy Christmas weekend.

After conducting exercises in both the Bohai and Yellow Seas, the Liaoning, China’s sole carrier, accompanied by five other PLAN vessels, made its way south and — perhaps more significantly — east.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense released a statement acknowledging that its surveillance aircraft tracked six vessels in total — including the Liaoning — approach the Miyako Strait on December 25.

According to the Japanese Ministry of Defense, the Liaoning was accompanied by the PLAN Linyi and PLAN Yantai, Jiangkai-II-class (Type 054A) frigates with the PLAN’s North Sea Fleet, and the PLAN Zhengzhou, PLAN Haikou, and PLAN Changsha, Luyang-III-class (Type 052D) destroyers. The Changsha and Haikou are part of the PLAN’s South Sea Fleet while the Zhengzhou is part of the East Sea Fleet.

Christmas Day Gift: China Received 4 Su-35 Fighter Jets From Russia

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) took delivery of its first batch of four Russian-made Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighter jets on December 25, according to various media reports. A picture circulating on a Chinese social media website reportedly shows the landing of a Su-35 coated in the blueish gray camouflage pattern of the Russian Air Force.

The news was first reported by Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily News. As of today, the PLAAF has not officially confirmed the delivery of the four fighter aircraft. According to the website Russian Aviation, the aircraft arrived on December 25 at a flight training center of the PLAAF in Cangzhou in Hebei province in northern China.

The PLAAF plans to induct a total of 24 Su-35 fighter aircraft over the next two years with four fighter jets delivered in 2016, ten in 2017 and the remaining ten in 2018. As I reported in earlier (See: “China Will Receive 4 Su-35 Fighter Jets From Russia”), TASS news agency reported on December 14 that the “first four Sukhoi-35 are to fly over to China by December 25,” according to an unnamed Russian defense industry source.

Get Ready, America: Russia's Lethal Su-35 Fighter Is Now Part of China's Air Force

Dave Majumdar

Russia has apparently delivered an initial batch of four advanced Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E jet fighters to China.

The aircraft appropriately arrived at the People's Liberation Army Air Force training center in Cangzhou, in China’s Hebei province, on Christmas day from the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO) plant in Russia according to the BMPB blog—which is produced by Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow.

According to the Komsomolsk-on-Amur city government, the first four Chinese Su-35s were officially handed over to Beijing on Dec. 20, but flew out on Dec. 25. The Russians were originally expected to deliver the Su-35s in early 2017, but the Russians agreed to accelerate deliveries in time for Christmas. The Komsomolsk-on-Amur government sitenotes: “The fighters successfully flew to the destination.”

Moscow’s deal with the Chinese— which was signed in November 2015—stipulates that Russia will deliver 24 Su-35 for roughly $2 billion. Initially, the Russians wanted a considerably larger order, but had to acquiesce to Beijing’s terms. The Russians fear that the Chinese will try to harvest the Su-35 for its advanced technologies as they have done with previous weapons sales. “Russia and China have signed an agreement, which regulates the protection of intellectual property,” Komsomolsk-on-Amur government statement insists. “The fighter will be protected from unlicensed copying.”

Between Russia and China, the Black Dragon River

By Casey Michel

In 1900, as the Boxer Rebellion seared Beijing, officials hundreds of miles northward came to a decision. Community leaders in Blagoveshchensk, a Russian metropole along the Amur River – that great, gurgling run dividing southeastern Russia from northeastern China – found themselves rattled, rocked by the anti-Western forces suddenly rippling through China. As such, local leaders began gathering the Chinese residents throughout their city, some four or five thousand in all, in an attempt to expel anyone they thought may pose a risk to local stability. Led by contingents of Amur Cossacks, the Russian denizens of Blagoveshchensk rounded up thousands of ethnic Chinese to push back across the border – back across the Amur, the ninth-largest river in the world.

The other side, of course, was too far for a simple swim. The first into the water, caught in the current, drowned. The others attempted to plead, or to flee, to no avail. Soon the Cossacks were joined by old men and children alike, gunning or axing down those who refused to swim across. As Dominic Ziegler, The Economist’s Asia editor, recounts in Black Dragon River, his masterful examination of the Amur River’s bloodied history, “No more than one hundred reached the other shore. It was not, the official note stated, a crossing ‘but an extermination.”’

What’s new and what’s not in the U.N. resolution on Israeli settlements

Natan Sachs

The long-anticipated coda of the Obama-Netanyahu relationship did not disappoint in its drama: With a U.S. abstention, Ambassador Samantha Power allowed U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334 on Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to pass 14 votes to 0. This was a major diplomatic defeat for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and a major blow by President Barak Obama to the Israeli government, but it was not a surprise, nor was it unavoidable.

The widespread uproar in Israel focused first and foremost on Obama’s decision not to wield the U.S. veto, as well as on the inclusion of East Jerusalem in the scope of the resolution. The Security Council reaffirmed its determination that the West Bank and East Jerusalem are occupied territory and that Israeli settlements there “have no legal validity,” calling on countries to distinguish in all their dealings between Israel-proper and the West Bank. If East Jerusalem, including the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, is “occupied,” most Israelis feel, then the world has just denied Jewish connection to Judaism’s holiest site, as the Palestinian leadership has often done in recent years.

None of this—the determination of “occupation,” the inclusion of East Jerusalem, the U.S. abstention—was actually new. But two things were: the involvement of Donald Trump, not yet in office, in the process of tabling the resolution; and the sense that this was not merely a condemnation of Israeli settlements, nor an attempt to promote a two-state solution, but an attempt to prevent the worst of the no-solution reality. Perhaps the most notable line in the resolution is an oft-repeated yet rarely considered phrase, by now almost a cliché:

Donald Trump’s Pivot Through Asia


President Barack Obama will have to wait until after he leaves office to see if some of his most touted foreign-policy achievements — such as the opening to Cuba and the Iranian nuclear deal — survive his presidency. But even before he exits, it is already obvious that his signature policy in East Asia, the “pivot” or “rebalance,” is deader than a dodo. And, no, it’s not just resting; it’s nailed to the perch.
China’s brazen seizure of a U.S. underwater drone on December 15 in international waters makes that clear. That China handed it back a few days later hardly makes up for this act of thievery without any conceivable legal justification, given that the area in the South China Sea where the drone was taken is outside even the fanciful limits claimed by Beijing in its “nine-dash line.” Unless this was an insubordinate act of a lowly naval captain (which no one in Beijing has suggested), it was a message that China can do what it wants in the Western Pacific and the United States can’t stop it.

What China Didn’t Learn From the Collapse of the Soviet…
Xi Jinping sees the Soviet Union as a cautionary tale. But Beijing is learning all the wrong lessons.

That message is communicated even more potently by China’s ongoing efforts to fortify its man-made islands in the South China Sea, transforming them into unsinkable weapons platforms for threatening the U.S. Navy and the navies of neighboring states. 

Going Cashless

by Reverse Engineer

One of the hottest topics in Collapse Economics these days is the prospect of the "Cashless" society.

In debates about the future of cash money, Denmark is often cited as the possible World's first cashless society. Is that true? An investigation on the current state of cash in Denmark. 

Cash is dirty. 

Cash is expensive to print. 

Cash is for criminals. 

Opponents of paper money, such as established economists Bofinger and Haldane, have declared the war on cash. In 2016, this is more apparent than ever before. The European Commission for instance currently assesses a potential ban of the 500 Euro banknote, as "these notes are in high demand among criminal groups."

More so the finger is often pointed to Scandinavia, to show how some countries are already on the move to become 'cashless societies' - to eliminate cash whatsoever. And Denmark could be the World's first. Hold up - is that true? 

Will Trump Break the Special Forces?


The president-elect’s plans to defeat ISIS will rely heavily on elite soldiers already on the verge of burnout.

On December 6, Donald Trump delivered perhaps his most-detailed post-election comments on national security. Speaking at a stop on his victory tour in Fayetteville, North Carolina, he reiterated his commitment to expanding the fight against the Islamic State and, more broadly, against “radical Islamic terrorism.” Rather than toppling “foreign regimes that we know nothing about … our focus must be on defeating terrorism and destroying ISIS,” he said. He then predicted a seemingly busy future for the Green Berets, the largest component of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). “The motto of our Army Special Forces is ‘To free the oppressed,’ and that is exactly what they have been doing and will continue to do,” Trump said.

Fulfilling such pledges without breaking the special operations forces (SOF) likely to bear the brunt of the battle will pose a clear challenge to Trump’s national security team. After 15 years of waging secret wars that began in Afghanistan and spread to Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and Syria, while covering down on other responsibilities around the globe, SOF are already stretched thin and on the brink of burn out. Special operators and members of Congress alike are saying something’s got to give.


ML Cavanaugh

With the turn of a new administration and a new year, it’s fun to play king for a day. How about I go first? I would build a 21st-century American General Staff.

Several smart folks have called for this in front of Congress. Jim Thomas said he’d like to see a “true General Staff” that would “advocate for globally fungible power projection capabilities” and act as the “military’s global brain.” Adm. (Ret) James Stavridis also said he’d “stand up a truly independent General Staff,” to be “manned by the brilliant few, selected from their service at the [mid-career rank of major or lieutenant colonel], and permanently assigned to the General Staff.” Both made strong cases for a General Staff (GS) to meet current and coming challenges. And while they’ve put their fingers on a problem and argued that we should stand up a GS, and what this GS ought to do, they’ve skimped on specifically how we’d actually pull it together.

Moreover, prescient as Thomas and Stavridis are, they’ve missed the larger problem: for geographic and institutional reasons, we’ve dispersed our military’s strategic talent in command and staffs across the globe (AKA death by 1,000 commander’s initiatives groups)—we have no central hub for our finest minds to tackle our toughest problems. A GS, operating alongside the Joint Staff, would overcome this oversight.



One of the critical problems with much of the writing on strategic subjects is a failure to define the terms being used in a clear and universally applicable manner. When we fail to explain what we mean when we use terms such as “limited war” or “total war,” we build in a potentially fatal underpinning for the formulation of policy and strategy. This error also robs the discussion of any firm ground for critical analysis. Moreover, if we don’t understand what we mean by “limited war,” we don’t understand what we mean when we describe any war. Shoddy thinking lays a foundation for defeat.

The fuzziness of our approach to defining limited war can be seen even in classic texts on the subject. In 1981, John Garnett, one of the founders of modern strategic studies, wrote: “Only conflicts which contain the potentiality for becoming total can be described as limited.” Diplomat Robert McClintock wrote in 1967: “Limited war is a conflict short of general war to achieve specific political objectives, using limited forces and limited force.” Both of these typical definitions explain limited war in relation to other types of conflict (“total war” and “general war”) that also lack clear, generally agreed upon definitions. In his classic 1957 work, the best-known theorist of limited war, political scientist Robert Osgood, defined this kind of conflict in terms of the objective sought and (among other things) by the fact that the combatants “do not demand the utmost military effort of which the belligerents are capable.” This description is nebulous at best and fails to offer a firm and usable explanation of “effort,” or what some would term the means used. The definitions haven’t improved with the passing decades. A 2010 book noted:

The Crisis Manager’s Cheat Sheet for 2017


Speaking recently before a military-friendly audience in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Donald Trump indicated his intent to pursue a more constrained foreign policy in 2017 and beyond. “We’re all over the place fighting in areas that we shouldn’t be fighting in,” he decried. “This destructive cycle of intervention and chaos must finally come to an end.” Echoing noninterference perspectives more often heard in Beijing and Moscow, the president-elect further declared that “respect for mutual sovereignty helps form the basis of trust and understanding.”

Trump may aspire for a reduced U.S. global role, but international crises will emerge in the next year that test his rhetorical doctrine of restraint. To help the his administration prioritize and plan for such inevitable crises, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action (CPA) recently conducted our ninth annual Preventive Priorities Survey. The survey identifies plausible contingencies and ranks them based on their likelihood of occurring in the coming year and potential impact on U.S. interests. (For previous years’ surveys, see here.)

America's Master Plan to Turn the M1 Abrams Tank Into a Super Weapon

Kris Osborn

Algorithms are progressing to the point wherein they will be able to allow an Abrams tank crew to operate multiple nearby “wing-man” robotic vehicles in a command and control capacity while on the move in combat.

The Army is preparing to configure Abrams tank prototypes able to control nearby “robotic” wing-man vehicles which fire weapons, carry ammunition and conduct reconnaissance missions for units on the move in combat, service officials said.

Although still in the early stages of discussion and conceptual development, the notion of manned-unmanned teaming for the Abrams continues to gain traction among Army and General Dynamics Land Systems developers.

Algorithms are progressing to the point wherein they will be able to allow an Abrams tank crew to operate multiple nearby “wing-man” robotic vehicles in a command and control capacity while on the move in combat.

Cyberwar: The smart person's guide

By Steve Ranger

Could your hard drive get caught in the cyberwar crossfire? 

Cyberwarfare is real. Governments are pouring billions into making sure they can fight battles on the internet, and you might just get caught in the crossfire. Here's what you need to know.

Executive summary 

What it is: Cyberwarfare is the use of digital attacks to damage the networks or computer systems in another nation state. 

What it does: State-backed hackers aim to disrupt civilian and military services and potentially create real-world effects, like shutting down power grids. 

Why it matters: Most developed economies are now entirely reliant on web-based services: undermining confidence in these systems and networks could do serious damage. 

Who it affects: Potentially anyone who relies on digital infrastructure in their lives, regardless of location. 

China announces cybersecurity strategy

China's top Internet regulator released a cyberspace security strategy on Tuesday, advocating peace, security, openness, cooperation and order.

The government will guarantee cyberspace sovereignty and national security, protect information infrastructure and act against cyber terror and crimes, according to the 15-page strategy released by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).

Rules and their imposition will be improved and international cooperation expanded. 

Cyberspace is a new frontier as important as any other. "Cyberspace sovereignty is an important part of state sovereignty," the strategy reads.

All countries should be respected in their Internet development and management, playing equal parts in a cyberspace governance without hegemony or double standards.

China will use whatever means necessary -- scientific, technological, legal, diplomatic or military -- to ensure cyberspace sovereignty. No attempt to use the Internet to undermine or overturn China's national regime or sabotage sovereignty will be tolerated. OPEN MARKET