13 January 2017

*** 2017 Preview: A new red star over China – Part 2: China and the world

by Global Risk Insights

This is the second of a two-part analysis by a GRI Analyst working for the British government on what is in store for China in 2017. It explores China’s Catch-22 — the fact it is integrating itself further into the global economy and becoming a ‘responsible stakeholder’ in multilateral institutions, while concurrently showing signs of reliving the experience of the Ming Dynasty in turning inwards and becoming isolationist.

Although Chinese foreign policy has for a long-time been shaped by domestic developments, in the coming year more than ever, China’s diplomatic endeavours will be directly correlated to internal trends. Any change to the shape of its international agenda will be in reaction to developments of the uncertainty surrounding the recent events in the U.S and Europe.

China abroad in 2017

Abroad, 2016 was a particularly significant year for the Asian juggernaut. The Communist Party was handed an unprecedented legal ruling against them at the International Criminal Court, China ratified an important climate change agreement in Paris, Beijing agreed to sanction long-standing ally North Korea on Pyongyang’s illicit missile tests, and the country humiliatingly managed to secure only third place in the Rio Olympics.

*** Why Russia's Military Alliance Is Not the Next NATO


The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Eurasian military alliance led by Russia, will face mounting challenges to its cohesion and efficacy in the coming year. 

Because of tension among member states and Moscow's aversion to embroiling the bloc in foreign conflicts, the CSTO's scope and capabilities will remain limited. 

Nevertheless, the CSTO will continue to be a viable platform for joint military exercises and other forms of narrow security cooperation, though Russia will largely depend on other methods of extending its reach in the region. 

*** Pathankot attack aimed at probing Modi govt's red lines: C Christine Fair

Bhaswar Kumar

The Pathankot attack is not a spontaneous response to recent developments; it is a manifestation of Pakistan’s national security strategy to pursue its revisionist agenda against India, says C Christine Fair, author of Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War, and an associate professor in the Peace and Security Studies Programme at Georgetown University’s Edmund A Walsh School of Foreign Service. Fair, who earlier served as a political officer to the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan in Kabul, tells Bhaswar Kumar in a telephonic interview that there is a consensus within the Indian security establishment that India lacks the offensive capability to defeat Pakistan in a short war.

The January 2 attack on an Indian Air Force base in Pathankot was allegedly carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) operatives. What are the dynamics between organisations like JeM and Pakistan’s military and civilian establishments? 

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) set up JeM as a competitor to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which the ISI had formed earlier. Before the formation of JeM, three Pakistani terrorists – Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Maulana Masood Azhar – were released by Indian authorities in return for hostages taken during the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814 in December 1999. Azhar and the two other terrorists, upon their release in Kandahar, were ferried to Pakistan under ISI escort. Within a few weeks, Azhar announced the formation of JeM in Karachi.

** 2017 Preview: Russia takes aim at China

by Nicholas Trickett

Russia and China have appeared to edge closer together of late, yet Kremlin-backed deals from Rosneft are countering China. This trend will accelerate as Trump comes into office and the OPEC deal takes effect.

A very busy year

The last year was kind to Rosneft. Even with continuous low oil prices and the Western sanctions, the Russian state-owned oil giant signed a landmark refinery and supply deal with Essar Oil in India. In addition, Rosneft began offshore operations in Vietnam, signed a refinery deal with Indonesia’s Pertamina, began offshore operations with Statoil in the Sea of Okhotsk, reportedly got Japanese firms to agree to joint exploration of the Sea of Japan, bought a 30% stake in an Egyptian gas field from Italian firm Eni, and closed a deal for the privatization for 19.5% of its state-owned shares with Glencore and the Qatar Investment Authority. Domestic developments have gone well with the acquisition of Bashneft and the arrest of Russian Economy Minister Aleksandr Ulyukaev who supported more aggressive privatization. Igor Sechin, Rosneft’s CEO, has been busy.

Most observers point to increased cooperation between Russian and Chinese leaders on the world stage, yet underplay the extent to which it was Rosneft that took the lead in Russia’s Pivot to Asia back in 2013 through a $270 billion mega-deal with China National Petroleum Company (CNPC). Despite broader and deeper engagement with CNPC, Sinopec, and Chinese banks, Rosneft has pointedly avoided selling shares of upstream assets to Chinese firms. Mistrust is mutual. Chinese firms don’t trust Rosneft because it took a $60 billion prepayment for the 2013 deal to pay off dOPECebts when it acquired TNK-BP for its oilfields in the Russian East without offering Chinese stakes in those fields.

** The CIA, Russia and the American Election

By George Friedman

The CIA’s report on the Russian attempt to influence the American presidential election has been issued. The report asserts that the Russians stole emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and John Podesta to embarrass Hillary Clinton and cause her defeat. In addition, it says that the Russians engaged in propaganda and disinformation and had access to several state and local electoral boards, but did not tamper with the votes. Also according to the report, the Russians favored Donald Trump for president

The report may or may not create a controversy, but if it does, it has the potential to cause significant turbulence in the American system. It is useful to look at it from that perspective, as it reveals some of the deeper vulnerabilities of the American political system at this moment.

The report is potentially politically explosive in a number of ways. First, implicit in the CIA assertions is the idea that, except for Russian involvement, Trump would not be president. The CIA carefully avoids making this conclusion, but those who regard Trump as an inappropriate president will likely use this to further delegitimize him. His opponents already see him as illegitimate partly because he lost the popular vote and won the Electoral College only by narrow margins in the Rust Belt. 

* How to win in the age of analytics

There’s greater potential in big data. What’s ahead as the field matures? 

Since the concept took hold, big data has made big waves. The field of analytics has developed rapidly since the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) released its landmark 2011 report, Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity. But much value remains on the table as organizations wrestle with issues of strategy and implementation. In this episode of the McKinsey Podcast, MGI partner Michael Chui and McKinsey senior partner Nicolaus Henke speak with McKinsey Publishing’s Simon London about the changing landscape for data and analytics, opportunities in industries from retail to healthcare, and implications for workers. 

Simon London: Welcome to this edition of the McKinsey Podcast. I’m Simon London, an editor with McKinsey Publishing. Today we’re going to be talking about data analytics and how organizations can use the unprecedented volume of data at their disposal to transform industries, create new business models, and, frankly, make better decisions across everything they do. Joining me here in London to discuss the issues is Nicolaus Henke, the global leader of McKinsey Analytics and chairman of QuantumBlack, an acquisition McKinsey made in 2015. And joining us from San Francisco is Michael Chui, a partner with the McKinsey Global Institute. 

India’s Manufacturing Powerhouse: Threat To China? – OpEd

In a surprise revelation, a Chinese daily rang alarm for China’s manufacturing powerhouse to rally behind India. It warned of China losing its competitive edge in manufacturing and and which could dent job opportunities in China. Foreign investors were already on the spree to dislocate their manufacturing activities to low cost countries.

The target countries are India and Vietnam. In addition, US President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to bring back jobs in USA will be double whammy for Chinese manufacturing activities, the Chinese daily warned.

The recent decision of Apple for considering to set up manufacturing facilities in India after failing to retail due to tough domestic procurement rules and the exodus of Apple production chain, Foxconn, perked up concerns for loss of ten of thousand jobs in China. Foxconn is the contract manufacturer for Apple and is the world’s largest contract manufacturing company in electronic industry. Foxcon has decided to invest US $ 5 billion in India.

If Apple expands in India, it may lure other tech giants in India and China is likely to face more transfer of supply chains in India, the Chinese daily apprehended.

Review: International Affairs on India's Rise and Foreign Policy

By Akhilesh Pillalamarri

A new issue of International Affairs focuses on India’s rise and Modi’s role in that rise. 

International Affairs, a leading journal in the field of international relations, heads off 2017 with a special issue (Volume 93, Number 1, January 2017) dedicated to Indian foreign policy. The issue, which is co-edited by Manjari Chatterjee Miller of Boston University and Kate Sullivan de Estrada of Oxford University, presents the results of an international research network that has examined the impact of India’s rise and of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership on India’s foreign policy.

As Miller and Sullivan de Estrada note in the introduction, this special issue is particularly important because it is “the first time that Indian foreign policy has been the central focus of an English-language IR journal edited in ‘the West.’” This issue brings Indian foreign policy and its evolving geopolitical role to the forefront of Western academia, allowing leading scholars and policy-makers in the West to engage with the subject. Previously, “detailed discussions of Indian foreign policy tend[ed] to be scattered across and confined to regional or India-specific academic journals, think-tanks and the media. Rarely have western International Relations (IR) journals engaged seriously with India.”

Pakistan's Ex-Army Chief to Head Saudi-Led Islamic Military Alliance

Raheel Sharif, Pakistan’s former chief of army staff, will head a 39-nation coalition of states led by Saudi Arabia.

Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif confirmed Sharif’s appointment to lead the coalition last week, according to a report by Dawn.

According to Asif, the arrangement was finalized recently, but it’s unclear if Riyadh was able to offer Sharif the position with the Pakistani civilian government’s consent. When asked about the possibility of the decision having being made in Riyadh, Asif said: “No, definitely our government’s consent must have been part of this.”

Saudi Arabia has yet to publicly comment on the appointment. Sharif stepped down in late November 2016 without seeking an extension for his term as chief of army staff; he was succeeded by General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

China´s Overseas Investment in Critical Infrastructure: Nuclear Power and Telecommunications

Yang Jiang, Aki Tonami, Adam Moe Fejerskov 

This report 1) examines the interactions between China and other countries in the nuclear power and telecommunications industries, to include their security and safety dimensions; and 2) provides policy recommendations in these particular areas. The nuclear and uranium mining section concentrates on Beijing’s involvement (and investments) with the UK, Greenland, Pakistan, Middle Eastern countries and Ukraine. The telecommunications section zeros in on Chinese investments in Scandinavia, the US and UK, and selected African countries.


ISIS Has a New Weapon: Fire


“This is a quick option for anyone intending to join the just terror campaign,” says the latest issue of the ISIS magazine Rumiyah. 

“With some simple and readily accessible materials (i.e. flammables), one can easily terrorize an entire nation,” the magazine advises.

Issue #5 of Rumiyah has flames on the cover and a “Just Terror Tactics” section that has in the past called for mass shootings and the use of vehicles to mow down pedestrians. A lengthy article begins with a tribute to the “brothers” inspired by a previous issue of Rumiyah to employ vehicles at Ohio State and in Berlin. It then proceeds to detail an added method to murder innocents. 

“ARSON ATTACKS,” the headline reads.

The article advises, “Throughout history and until the present day, incendiary attacks have played a significant role in modern and guerrilla warfare, as well as in ‘lone wolf’ terrorism. Such attacks have been behind the destruction of towns, neighborhoods, and public, private, and governmental property, while likewise claiming numerous lives.”

Will Trump Attack North Korea?

Doug Bandow

In his New Year’s Day address, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un said his nation was close to testing an ICBM which could hit the United States. Put a nuclear warhead on top and the North will have developed an effective deterrent against the global superpower.

Predictably, President-elect Donald Trump responded via tweet: “It won’t happen.”

Which means precisely what? He doesn’t believe the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will be able to develop such a missile or miniaturize such a weapon? That’s unlikely, since Pyongyang’s weapons programs have developed further and faster than had been predicted. American officials might hope for technical difficulties, but it would be foolish to make hope the basis of U.S. policy toward the North.

Maybe the president-elect means, well, nothing. Going back to George H.W. Bush, every U.S. president has insisted that North Korea would not develop nuclear weapons. But it has. Last September, Kim’s regime staged the DPRK’s fifth nuclear test. Trump’s exclamation might be similar empty bombast. Many of his tweets seem likely to fall into this category.

Another possibility is that Trump expects to talk the latest scion of the de facto monarchy into abandoning the dynasty’s geopolitical ambitions. Indeed, during the campaign, The Donald indicated his interest in meeting Kim. But very few Korea watchers believe Pyongyang is prepared to voluntarily cede its nuclear program, irrespective of benefits offered. Trump might be impressed with his own negotiating skills, but he hasn’t been up against the Kim clan before.

Germany's plan to fight fake news

Rachel Stern

Warning that Russian disinformation campaigns are the new normal, German officials have proposed efforts to hunt down and eradicate fake news and other defamatory information from the internet. 

JANUARY 9, 2017 —In May 2015, hackers infected some 20,000 computers in Germany’s parliament with malicious software designed to steal sensitive data. The vast and damaging cyberattack was the most expansive in the government’s history. 

The culprits? Experts and officials blamed the hacking group "APT 28," the same outfit that the US government says hacked the Democratic National Convention in July 2015 and helped Russia execute an extensive influence operation to discredit Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Now, a growing number of German politicians are deeply concerned that Russia will interfere in their own elections this coming fall, seeking to discredit pro-European Chancellor Angela Merkel as she runs for a fourth term, and strengthen support for the burgeoning populist party Alternative for Germany (AFD). In response, Berlin is considering new ways of blunting any attempt from Moscow to influence its political process through cyberattacks and misinformation.


Source Link

Activists dressed as the artist Vincent van Gogh hold signs that say, "Don't listen to Russian propaganda," outside the Dutch embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, February 5, 2016As part of RAND’s ongoing “Beyond the Headlines” series, researcher Christopher Paul discussed his recent study on the Russian “Firehose of Falsehood” propaganda model on Dec. 7 at the research organization’s Pittsburgh office. A massive, ingenious, and concerning campaign of propaganda has been pumping westward for years, supporting the Russian agenda in Ukraine and Syria and likely attempting to influence the recent U.S. presidential election, said Paul, a senior social scientist at RAND.

According to Paul, the new propaganda model-a modern, media-savvy twist on Soviet-era propaganda methods-is distinguished by four characteristics:

1. High volume (hence the term “firehose”), using a wide range of modes and media, from news-media facsimiles like RT (formerly Russia Today), an English-language cable network; to proxy fake-news outlets and armies of paid trolls (provocateurs paid to start arguments, hurl insults, denigrate counterarguments, and pollute discussions on social media and other internet forums).

The Kindleberger Trap

CAMBRIDGE – As US President-elect Donald Trump prepares his administration’s policy toward China, he should be wary of two major traps that history has set for him. The “Thucydides Trap,” cited by Chinese President Xi Jinping, refers to the warning by the ancient Greek historian that cataclysmic war can erupt if an established power (like the United States) becomes too fearful of a rising power (like China). But Trump also has to worry about the “Kindleberger Trap”: a China that seems too weak rather than too strong.

Charles Kindleberger, an intellectual architect of the Marshall Plan who later taught at MIT, argued that the disastrous decade of the 1930s was caused when the US replaced Britain as the largest global power but failed to take on Britain’s role in providing global public goods. The result was the collapse of the global system into depression, genocide, and world war. Today, as China’s power grows, will it help provide global public goods?

In domestic politics, governments produce public goods such as policing or a clean environment, from which all citizens can benefit and none are excluded. At the global level, public goods – such as a stable climate, financial stability, or freedom of the seas – are provided by coalitions led by the largest powers.

Small countries have little incentive to pay for such global public goods. Because their small contributions make little difference to whether they benefit or not, it is rational for them to ride for free. But the largest powers can see the effect and feel the benefit of their contributions. So it is rational for the largest countries to lead. When they do not, global public goods are under-produced. When Britain became too weak to play that role after World War I, an isolationist US continued to be a free rider, with disastrous results.

Trump and Grand Strategy

By Jon Herrmann

Conventional wisdom, with the notable recent exception of Sergey Aleksashenko’s Brookings Institution article, is that Russia is America’s main threat. Stories from the Washington Post to FOX News highlight President-elect Trump’s contrasting views on Russia. Stories from the Secretary of State nominee to hacking and related investigations focusing on Russia, what if there is another, overlooked side to the story?

Consider what the American public thinks of as major potential threats: China, Iran, North Korea, ISIS/Daesh, and more. Some sources even describe several of these as an alliance or at least a cooperative alignment. In light of these potential threats, how might a president-elect try to set the conditions to make these thorny issues manageable?

Bringing experts into the administration can help address varied challenges. This method has inherent side effects, however. One side effect is that these experts influence foreign policy priorities and grand strategy. The priorities expressed by President-elect Trump’s nominees for key positions are worth considering. For example, Politico has presented a case for General Mattis having a grudge against Iran. Newsweek has noted that while Mattis is concerned with Russia, he may be more concerned with ISIS/Daesh and similar groups.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Journal news

Special Issue: Should nuclear power be a major part of the world's response to climate change


Page: 1

Published online: 22 Dec 2016

Choose the best tax saving instrument for you

Babar Zaidi

So many options, so little time. If you have still not completed your tax planning for 2016-17, don’t panic. 

ET Wealth’s annual ranking of tax saving instruments cuts through the clutter and tells you which is the most suitable option for you. 

ET Wealth Ratings 


James King 

The Infantry has a weight problem. The amount of weight soldiers or Marines are asked to carry has grown exponentially while their ability to carry that load has not. This issue was brought to the forefront recently when retired Army Col. Ellen Haring wrote an opinion piece for the Marine Corps Times in which she was critical of the requirement for Marine Corps infantry officers to carry a load of up to 152 pounds for more than nine miles, at a twenty-minute-per-mile pace—a standard that Haring argues is unrealistic and prevents women from successfully completing the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course. At first glance this may seem like a reasonable argument: 152 pounds seems like more than most humans can carry.

Many of the rebuttal articles, including one on Tom Ricks Best Defense blog by former Marine infantryman Aaron Ferencik, state that not only is this a realistic requirement, it happens regularly in Afghanistan. Ferencik writes that he was required to carry almost 200 pounds of gear, armor, and weapons.

Despite the robust back-and-forth argument related to the 152-pound Marine Corps standard that was spawned by Haring’s piece, one fundamental question was never answered: What is the right amount of weight an infantryman should be reasonably asked to carry? And how do we get these loads down to a reasonable weight that allows the infantry to be a flexible and agile force?

U.S. Military Successfully Tested Its Latest Super Weapon: ‘The Swarm’

The United States Navy and the Pentagon’s secretive Strategic Capabilities Office have demonstrated swarming autonomous drone technology in flight using over 100 unmanned aircraft. During the test—which was conducted over China Lake, California—three Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets launched 103 Perdix drones that demonstrated swarm behaviors such as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying and self-healing.

“Due to the complex nature of combat, Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature,” SCO Director William Roper said in a statement. “Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.”

The Quality Education Imperative for Military Children

Military life is a nomadic one. Every few years the order comes to move to a new duty station. While it can be challenging for adults, the test for military-connected children can be even worse.

The average military-connected child moves six to nine times between the time he or she starts kindergarten and the time he or she graduates high school.

That is a new school every 18 months to two years. It is not a situation that leads to a consistent educational foundation.

As an Air Force senior non-commissioned officer, my husband, also a senior non-commissioned officer, and I moved 12 times around the world while raising our four children. Our youngest son went to four different high schools in four years.

To handle the constant change, our family had our coping techniques. Besides doing our due diligence, we relied on the resources of the Air Force’s Airmen and Family Readiness Centers. We looked at issues such as the quality of the neighborhood and the level of excellence of the schools. 

When it came time for the move, we gave our children a backpack. Each of the children could put their favorite toys and some snacks into the backpack. It was our way of making them feel comfortable as military requirements sent them from the United States to Europe and Asia and back again.

2016 Security Report

Last year, unknown malware downloads rose over 900% with more than 970 downloads per hour compared to 106 previously. Known and unknown malware, bots and mobile vulnerabilities - find out where your organization is most exposed in the 2016 Check Point Security Report. The report also highlights other alarming cybercrime behavior that occurs in businesses every day.

You will learn: 

The latest trends in known and unknown malware; 

To recognize the attack patterns for both new and prior techniques; 

How mobile devices are changing the way organizations need to protect themselves and the ripple effects of insecurity; 

Best practices and specific recommendations to keep your organization secure. 

Opinion: The hackers are winning

Daniel Castro

Unless Washington stops politicizing the response to the US election hack and focuses on improving the nation's digital security, the country remains vulnerable to devastating cyberattacks. 

JANUARY 4, 2017 —As Washington continues to wrangle over technical details and diplomatic consequences of Russian hacking allegations, we may lose sight of the only undisputed fact in this saga: Hackers attempted to undermine the integrity of US elections. And, it wasn't hard to do.

Regardless of the culprits' identity or motives, Congress and the administration now have an urgent responsibility. They need to develop specific policies and a new strategic focus to fix America’s endemic cybersecurity vulnerabilities. 

Michael Morell, former acting director of the CIA, called the recent attacks the “political equivalent of 9/11.” Yet, the response has been underwhelming. Rather than prioritize actions that would improve cybersecurity, the major responses to these cyberattacks have been to impose sanctions on Russia and call for congressional investigations of foreign influence in the election and potential breakdowns at the FBI.

French military to boost defenses against cyber attacks: minister

France is no less vulnerable than the United States to cyber attacks from foreign countries and the French military will boost its resources to defend against them, the French defense minister said on Sunday.

In an interview with French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said there is a real risk of cyber attacks on French civil infrastructure such as water, electricity, telecommunications and transport, as well as against French democracy and the media.

U.S. intelligence agencies said in a report released on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had directed a cyber campaign to help Republican Donald Trump's electoral chances by discrediting Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Asked whether France was immune from such attacks, Le Drian said "No, of course not, we should not be naive".

France will hold presidential elections in April-May and leading conservative challenger Francois Fillon has said he wants to improve relations with Russia and has been praised by Putin. Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen also favors closer relations with Russia.

The world is on the verge of a cyber war

Predicting possible conflicts with a great degree of precision is somewhat difficult. Yet certain indications point to a possible escalation in the realm of cyberspace.

A combination of geopolitical and strategic circumstances is leading to an inevitable war. It’s not the type of war we traditionally envision – which includes kinetic weapons, physical destruction and most importantly, casualties. It’s a war that will undermine information systems, expose secret political, military and diplomatic documents, target the confidentiality, integrity and availability of critical computer systems, and more.

This grim prediction stems from recent developments that nearly eliminate any sort of deterrence the United States had in cyberspace. Most importantly, the US reaction to the Democratic National Convention hack. US President Barack Obama acknowledged that “when a foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections... we need to take action.”

And finally last week, he ordered some – the deportation of some Russian diplomats from the US. However, the absence of an immediate, strategic response to the hack is detrimental to deterring future attacks. That could signal to other foreign actors, China for example, that such attacks against critical infrastructure in the US will go unpunished, while giving a major political advantage to the attacker at nearly no cost.

Cyber Threats to the U.S. Electric Grid Are Real

Constance Douris

On December 30th, the Washington Post incorrectly reported that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid through a Vermont utility. While this story ended up being an error as malicious code was found in a computer which was not connected to the grid, it highlights the importance of protecting the U.S. electric grid from cyber-attacks. The federal government, some states and the private sector are implementing programs, especially ones that focus on information sharing, to keep the power grid safe from such threats.

Most industrial control systems used in the electric grid are connected to the Internet, making them vulnerable to a cyber-attack. U.S. officials have tracked efforts by China, Russia and other countries to implant malicious software inside computers used by U.S. utilities as far back as 2009. American officials believe that a cyber-campaign against the U.S. energy industry in 2014 resulted in the penetration of at least 17 companies’ systems, including four utilities, where hackers stole data and gained access to private networks. Such information and access could potentially allow them to remotely adjust equipment settings. Because the U.S. power grid is a large system with interconnected networks, taking down one or more utilities could easily destabilize large areas of the grid.