7 July 2017

*** Asia’s colossus threatens a tiny state


Bhutan, one of the world’s smallest nations, has protested that the Asian colossus, China, is chipping away at its territory by building a strategic highway near the Tibet-India-Bhutan trijunction in the Himalayas. Bhutan has security arrangements with India, and the construction has triggered a tense standoff between Chinese and Indian troops at the trijunction, with the Chinese state media warning of the possibility of war.

Bhutan says “China’s construction of the road inside Bhutanese territory is a direct violation” of its agreements with Beijing. China, however, has sought to obscure its aggression by blaming India for not respecting either the trijunction points or the boundary between Tibet and the Indian state of Sikkim, which is also contiguous to Bhutan.

*** How is each country spending on their military forces?

A military expenditure also known as the defence budget is the amount of financial resources dedicated by a nation to raising and maintaining armed forces or other essential for defence purposes.

As defence is a necessary evil, each country spends on their defence as per their economy and the time of necessity like border countries problem and other wars to strengthen their country and protect its people.

At Rediff Labs, we analysed the data on military expenditure by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The military expenditure is shown as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product of the country, as a percentage of government spending and as per capita in $. The charts show the top three countries compared with India and its neighbouring countries over the period of time.

*** A Different Ever Closer Union

By George Friedman

The G-20 summit, slated to take place in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, will generate many headlines but little substance. The press will portray this meeting as a showdown between U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as if Barack Obama and Merkel did not have their differences, as if the only sticking point between two countries could be the esteem in which their leaders held each other.

Germany and the United States have become hostile toward each other not because of the personalities of their leaders but because they have fundamental differences, including their positions on NATO. The U.S. wants NATO to be a military alliance with all members having a significant military capability. Germany wants NATO to be primarily a political organization with a secondary military role.

Before attending the G-20 meeting in Germany, Trump will visit Poland for what has been called the Three Seas summit, so named because it will include countries bordering the Baltic, Black and Adriatic seas. The U.S. and Poland have shared interests, particularly when it comes to Russia. But while their approach to Moscow brought these two countries closer together, it also pushed them further away from Germany.

** American Strategic Interests in the Gulf States: Looking Beyond the 48-Hour Deadline

The United States needs to be far more careful in dealing with the current crisis over the embargo and deadlines that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have imposed on Qatar. The current split within the Trump Administration—in which two critical cabinet members, Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Mattis, are calling for compromise and mediation, while the members of the President's staff have pushed him into siding with the Saudis and UAE—poses an unacceptable risk to U.S. strategic interests.

The President's erratic statements that have taken the side of Saudi Arabia and the UAE risk dividing the southern Arab Gulf states, pushing Qatar towards Iran and Turkey, and losing focus on deterring Iran and on dealing with the real-world threat of Islamic extremism. They also undermine U.S. influence and credibility in the region, and tie the United States to the long-standing rivalries and bickering between the southern Gulf states at a time when America has far higher strategic priorities to deal with.

Three common sets of strategic interests are involved. The first is the fight against violent extremism and terrorism—and many of the Saudi and UAE demands are little more than a strategic sideshow. Al Jazeera is largely an irritant—one that mixes reasonably competent reporting with some of the most biased commentary and panels imaginable, but still an irritant and not a threat.

** We Didn’t Kick Britain’s Ass to Be This Kind of Country


On July 4, 1776, church bells rang out across Philadelphia. The Continental Congress had approved a Declaration of Independence to inform the world that the goal of the colonial revolt, which had begun more than a year earlier, was not mere autonomy within the British Empire. Rather, the rebels were seeking the creation of an independent republic the likes of which the world had never seen. Their demands were couched in the then-novel language of natural rights; “all men are created equal,” they wrote, and “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The authors of this revolutionary text warned all governments to respect these rights or else face the consequences: “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.”

This was a radical stance to take in a world still dominated by kings who claimed to rule by divine will, and it would have profound implications for the new republic’s foreign policy. Unlike their cynical, Old World counterparts, American statesmen could never be content with a realpolitik foreign policy based on Thucydides’s admonition that “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” The Founding Fathers, writes Robert Kagan in his history of American foreign policy, Dangerous Nation, had “unwittingly invented a new foreign policy founded upon the universalist ideology that the Revolution spawned.” As Thomas Jefferson said, “We are pointing out the way to struggling nations who wish, like us, to emerge from their tyrannies.”

Bhutan as target: Fear is the key

Abhijit Bhattacharyya

The writer is an advocate practising in the Supreme Court. The views expressed here are personal.

Bhutan and India have always respected, honoured and treated each other well in the best of South Asian traditions.

China had mentioned that Donglang is being considered in their territory since “ancient times”. (Photo: China's Foreign Ministry)

Why is one of the world’s most powerful countries, and its most populous one, now targeting tiny Bhutan in the Himalayas, with which it doesn’t even have diplomatic relations. Neither Beijing nor Thimphu has embassies in each other’s capital, and so the Chinese ambassador to New Delhi handles his country’s ties with the kingdom, one of 11 landlocked nations in Asia. (The others being Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Laos, Nepal and Afghanistan.)


Manish Chand
Agreements signed between India and Israel are set to have a transformational impact on partnership but Modi’s visit will go down in history as marking the end of ambiguity about this empowering bilateral

In the sacred and smart city of Jerusalem, a new language and idiom of India-Israel partnership was born to encapsulate the quintessence of India-Israel relations. It was exemplified in the resonant formula coined by the Israeli leader: I2T2 — Indian Talent X Israeli Technology = India-Israel Ties for Tomorrow.

“This is a marriage made in heaven but we are implementing it here on earth.” It may sound rhapsodic, but this is how Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu evocatively captured the spirit of India-Israel relations and lavished praise on Narendra Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the Jewish nation, ending a hiatus of seven decades. The bonhomie and camaraderie between Modi and Netanyahu was all too visible as the two leaders generously praised each other and unveiled a new transformative agenda by elevating their relations to the level of strategic partnership and signing seven pacts in key areas, including agriculture, space and development cooperation.

Netanyahu described July 5 as a ‘good day’ for advancing partnership between the two ancient nations that are navigating their way to modernity today. “Our talks focused on not just areas of bilateral opportunities but also how our cooperation can help the cause of global peace and stability,” said Prime Minister Modi.

Sikkim Stand Off – Saner Voices Need To Prevail

A lot has been said and written about the present stand-off in Sikkim. Many of the writings have been far from truth. As an example, the incident of a bunker broken in 2008 by the Chinese in this sector has been referred to in many writings. Actually it happened in 2007. The shrill of war mongering in the visual and print media leaves one astounded. Well, this has been the trend with every stand-off either in the India – Pakistan or India – China context. The need of the hour is to deal with the issue with maturity and patience and for the saner voices to prevail.

Before we move on further to look at the present stand-off, we need to know and understand a few issues.

One, India and Bhutan stand out for not being able to resolve their boundary disputes with China. Same can be said about China. One of the tri junctions that is along the Line of Actual control lies in the area of Chumbi Valley. The perception of the tri junction in Chumbi valley has two connotations. Firstly, India and Bhutan perceive the Tri Junction; the point at the boundary between India, Bhutan and China to be at a point near Batangla (marked as ‘Tri-Junction on the map). This perception is based on the Watershed principle on which the boundary between India and China has been orchestrated. Secondly, China perceives the tri junction to lie at Gyemochen. The Chinese spokesman released a map of this area. That map is given below. Her perception is based on a 1890 Agreement between the Great Britain and China.

The dotted line in the map that goes through Sinchela shows the Indian and Bhutanese perception of the Tri Junction and Boundary. As per China the Tri Junction lies at Gyemochen. The present stand-off is in the area in between these two lines.

India’s Costly Embrace of Israel

By Rob Jenkins

India is importing not just weapons from Israel, but a paranoid political mindset as well. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave President Donald Trump an awkward hug last week at a public appearance in Washington. No one knows if Benjamin Netanyahu will get the same treatment when Modi arrives in Jerusalem for a state visit on July 4. But one thing is certain: India’s embrace of Israel is increasingly intimate. It also comes at a price.

Modi is the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel. India recognized Israel in 1950, but its principled support for Palestinian self-determination and a practical desire to remain on good terms with the Arab world prevented India from establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel until 1992. The end of the Cold War and the changing landscape of Middle East politics had provided India powerful incentives to change course.

For the past 25 years, India has generally conducted its Israel policy with little fanfare and with careful attention to the sensitivities of Palestinians and their international backers. Under Modi, this has changed. His government has officially delinked India’s relationship with Israel from the question of Palestinian self-determination. India’s ambassador to Israel recently stated that “we can deal with the Palestinians and Israelis separately, on their own merits.”

China Claiming Sizeable Bhutan Territory, Jawaharlal Nehru Tells Zhu Enlai In His 1959 Letter

Contrary to the Chinese government’s assertion that Jawaharlal Nehru had accepted the 1890 Sino- British treaty over Sikkim to buttress Beijing’s claim over the Dokalam area, the former prime minister had pointed out to China that it is claiming sizeable part of Bhutan’s territory.

“It is not clear to us what exactly is the implication of your statement that the boundaries of Sikkim and Bhutan do not fall within the scope of the present discussion,” Nehru wrote in a letter to his then Chinese counterpart Zhou Enlai on September 26, 1959.

“In fact, Chinese maps show sizable areas of Bhutan as part of Tibet,” Nehru said in the letter accessed by PTI here.

In the lengthy letter highlighting India’s stand on the boundary dispute, Nehru wrote that under treaty relationships with Bhutan, the Government of India is the only competent authority to take up with other Governments matters concerning Bhutan’s external relations, and in fact it has taken up with China a number of matters on behalf of the Bhutan Government.

“The rectification of errors in Chinese maps regarding the boundary of Bhutan with Tibet is therefore a matter which has to be discussed along with the boundary of India with the Tibet region of China in the same sector,” he wrote.

Chinese ship in Indian Ocean ahead of U.S., India, Japan drill

By Elizabeth Shim

July 5 (UPI) -- A Chinese intelligence-gathering ship was deployed to the Indian Ocean as the United States, India and Japan prepared to conduct naval drills in the Bay of Bengal.

China's Haiwingxing was seen in the region, along with a Yuan-class diesel-electric submarine, India's Times News Network reported Wednesday.

The drills known as the Malabar exercises are expected to begin on Monday and were originally a joint exercise involving U.S. and Indian naval forces.

Japan's maritime self-defense force joined the exercises in 2007, and became a permanent partner in 2015, a move that significantly expanded cooperative training.

The U.S. Navy is to deploy the nuclear-powered supercarrier USS Nimitz, including its squadron of F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters. It is part of a carrier strike group that includes a Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser, a Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

India's navy is planning to dispatch the 44,570-ton aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, to lead a flotilla of six to seven frontline warships and a Kilo-class submarine for the 10-day drill.

Tokyo is deploying the 27,000-ton Izumo-class helicopter destroyer.

How China's cyber command is being built to supersede its U.S. military counterpart

BYChris Bing

As U.S. leaders contemplate a proper definition for “cyberwar,” their counterparts in China have been building a unit capable of fighting such a large-scale conflict.

China’s rival to U.S. Cyber Command, the ambiguously named Strategic Support Force (SSF), is quietly growing at a time when the country’s sizable military is striving to excel in the digital domain.

Though the American government is widely considered to be one of the premier hacking powers — alongside Israel, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom — China is rapidly catching up by following a drastically different model.

The SSF uniquely conducts several different missions simultaneously that in the U.S. would be happening at the National Security Agency, Army, Air Force, Department of Homeland Security, NASA, State Department and Cyber Command, among others.

If you combined all of those government entities and added companies like Intel, Boeing and Google to the mix, then you would come close to how the SSF is built to operate.

Examining the development of the SSF in relation to Cyber Command provides a view of how two of the world’s most influential countries see the future of conflict. The U.S. agency is a similarly nascent organization but with a more narrow focus and three definitive missions: to protect Defense Department networks, to launch computer network attacks in support of combatant commanders and to “ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace.” Cyber Command has yet to be elevated to a unified combatant command and as a result, remains tied at the hip to the NSA.

The Chinese Military's Secret Weapon against America

Zachary Keck

As Alexander de Tocqueville observed nearly two centuries ago, Americans are by nature an optimistic people. This optimism has often been a source of national strength, propelling us to seek ever greater heights.

In certain instances, however, optimism can be dangerous. One such instance is in dealing with China’s rise. Many Americans have failed to grapple with the magnitude of China’s rise, confident that Beijing will go ultimately go the way of the Soviet Union or Japan in the 1980s. Those making this case can marshall some impressive statistics to bolster their case that America remains far and away the most powerful country in the world. One of the more popular data points they use is defense spending: specifically, that America still spends about four times as much as China on its military.

But comparing the raw numbers is misleading in a number of ways. Some of these are relatively well known: for example, it is generally acknowledged that America is a global power with its military assets dispersed around the world, while China can concentrate its armed forces in Asia. Similarly, military spending fails to account for what is often called the “tyranny of distance.” That is, to project military power in Asia, the United States must cross the largest ocean in the world. By contrast, China is located in the center of the action. And, as anyone who works in Washington understands, proximity to power is a power unto itself. Being so close to the battlefield also enables China to implement an anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy by using its territory to deploy large amounts of missiles, aircraft, surveillance systems and radar. In effect, these are unsinkable aircraft carriers.

The Crumbling ISIS Caliphate

By David Ignatius

TABQA, Syria -- The Islamic State's headquarters in this city at the western gateway to Raqqah has been crushed like a sand castle by American bombs. At a dam complex on the Euphrates River where ISIS was torturing prisoners and hurling alleged homosexuals from a giant concrete tower, all that's left of the extremists are militant slogans scrawled on the wall and a pile of trash.

It's far too soon to say that life is returning to normal here after liberation, but much of the horror is over. Mines and improvised explosive devices were cleared here last week. Young children flash "V" for victory signs. Islamic beards have nearly disappeared. The most visible people sporting full beards on Thursday were American special operations soldiers who accompanied visiting U.S. special envoy Brett McGurk.

The city is strewn with rubble, and Ahmad al-Ahmad, the co-president of the newly formed Tabqa Civil Council, described it as a "city of ghosts," with perhaps 40 percent of its buildings damaged. The electricity, water-distribution and school systems have been largely destroyed. Young boys who were indoctrinated at ISIS training camps are trying to find their balance in a new world where beheadings and the chanting of Islamic slogans are over.

How ISIS Will Go On Without Mosul

Long after the city is back in the hands of the Iraqi government, it will continue to be a prop for the Islamic State—although an altogether different one.

Eight and a half months into the coalition-backed campaign to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s second city looks like it is finally on the brink of freedom. After launching the last phase of the battle in mid-June, the Iraqi security forces slowly but surely penetrated the Old City, one of the final ISIS redoubts in Mosul. And, on Thursday, just after recapturing the Nuri Mosque—at which ISISleader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi accepted his role as “caliph” in June 2014, and which ISIS demolished one week ago—the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the “end of the Daesh [ISIS] state of falsehood.”

While this is indisputably good news, we must rein in our optimism. The truth is, ISIS has been planning for defeat in Mosul for months, if not years. Losing the city has long been part of its global plan. And even though the loss of its self-declared Iraqi capital will be a genuine blow to the group’s territorial pretensions, ISIS is not going to evaporate just because it has fallen.

Since October 2016, when the campaign to retake Mosul was first launched, ISIS has been putting up an immensely stiff resistance: thousands of its fighters have been killed by coalition forces, and hundreds more blown up in suicide operations. But no matter how fiercely it fought, the group was never realistically going to repel the onslaught. The few thousand fighters that ISIS had holed up in the city faced about ten times as many members of a reconstituted and determined Iraqi security forces that was backed by U.S. air power.

Postscript to the proxy war

Mohamad Bazzi
On June 18, a U.S. warplane shot down a Syrian regime jet after it bombed American-backed rebels in northern Syria — the first time the U.S. has downed a Syrian warplane since the start of the country’s civil war in 2011. Two days later, the Pentagon announced it had shot down an Iranian-made drone in the country’s south-east, where American personnel have been training anti-Islamic State fighters, and where a complex geopolitical battle is unfolding.

Since President Donald Trump took office, the U.S. military has struck the Syrian regime or its allies at least five times. Even if the Pentagon may not want to directly engage Syrian forces, or their Russian and Iranian-backed allies, there’s a danger of accidental escalation, especially as various forces continue to converge on eastern and southern Syria to reclaim strategic territory from the Islamic State (IS).

Mr. Trump’s willingness to use military force against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his chief supporters risks sparking a widening confrontation, while distracting from what Mr. Trump insists is his top priority: defeating the IS in both Iraq and Syria. As a presidential candidate, Mr. Trump campaigned on a pledge to avoid direct U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict. Today, he has become a major player in a regional proxy war that could determine West Asia’s dynamics for decades.

From Osirak to Yongbyon

By Dr. Alon Levkowitz

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: North Korea is moving forward with its development of an ICBM that can carry a nuclear warhead. Will Pyongyang test it, challenging Washington to strike its nuclear reactor in Yongbyon? If Washington does strike, will Pyongyang choose to react passively as Syria did in 2007, or will it respond by starting a war with South Korean and American forces in the region? Although both sides use militant rhetoric, neither will choose to challenge the other. They will instead upgrade their deterrence capabilities. 

On June 7, 1981, the Israeli Air Force attacked and destroyed Osirak, the Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad, Iraq. The attack was very successful and Iraq never retaliated. The message was heard loud and clear across the Middle East – Israel will not tolerate a nuclear threat to its national interests, not even from a country with which it does not share a border and from which the likelihood of an attack is relatively low.

Twenty-six years later, on September 6, 2007, the Israeli Air Force attacked the Syrian nuclear reactor in Deir ez-Zor, in northeast Syria. Unlike Iraq, Syria does share a border with Israel. Then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his advisors had to calculate the likelihood that Syria would perceive the attack as a casus belli. If it did, the strike on the reactor was tantamount to going to war with Syria.

Syria decided against starting a war with Israel; nor did it respond with a limited attack. The only state to condemn Israel for the strike was North Korea, which had assisted Syria in building the reactor.

America's Insane Plan to Survive a Russian Nuclear Attack

Zachary Keck

America emerged from World War II as the most powerful nation on earth. Not only did it produce half of the world’s economic output, but it was also in sole possession of the most devastating weapon ever created. Initially, U.S. officials believed America’s nuclear monopoly would endure for some time. After the war, Gen. Leslie Groves, the brilliant manager of the Manhattan Project, predicted the Soviet Union would not explode its first atomic bomb for two decades.

The United States was therefore shaken when the Soviet Union entered the nuclear club on August 29, 1949. As harrowing as this experience was, it was quickly overshadowed by the prospect of Moscow acquiring thermonuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to the U.S. homeland.

The implications of this was brought into sharp relief on March 1, 1954, when the United States conducted its first test of a deliverable hydrogen bomb. Known as Castle Bravo, the scientists badly misjudged the yield of the bomb, which was about fifteen megatons compared to the five or six megatons they were expected. The resulting radioactive fallout went far beyond what the test team was expecting, nearly killing themselves. It did containment nearby islanders as well as the unlucky inhabitants of a Japanese fishing boat, Lucky Dragon, that happened to be in the area at the time of the test. All of the crew became sick, and one person died shortly after returning to Japan.

Why the World Should Fear North Korea's Chemical and Cyber Weapons

Patrick M. Cronin

The hopeful news is that leading officials in Seoul and Washington understand the stakes and the need to work together to preserve deterrence in the face of emerging threats. Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently stated that using force to settle the North Korea problem by would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale.” And President Moon Jae-in’s new national security advisor, Chung Eui-yong, has emphasized that “there is ample room for the U.S. and South Korea to calibrate and plan their joint engagement with the North.”

The bad news is that the bizarre publicity campaign about a fantastical conspiracy to assassinate Kim, coupled with suspicions about Pyongyang’s growing cyber hijinks, suggest a regime bent on acquiring multiple weapons of mass disruption and destruction. Even if leaders can make headway on reining in the looming nuclear dossier, the dual threats of biochemical and cyber weapons will remain a gathering peril.

In reminding the world why Iran poses an array of threats to regional security, President Donald Trump preempted the argument of those who believe that a nuclear deal would significantly reduce hostility with North Korea.

The VX nerve agent that killed Kim Jong-un’s half-brother and the WannaCry malware that infected the global Internet represent a dangerous convergence of two threats far more likely to be used in anger than missiles carrying nuclear warheads. Like Iran, North Korea poses multiple hazards to international security.



The war against the Islamic State (ISIL) has hit a pivotal, dangerous phase in eastern Syria. For the Trump administration, this poses a slew of challenges.

Even as a U.S.-backed offensive makes headway into Raqqa, policymakers in Washington must simultaneously address the danger of escalation between rival allies, a complex post-ISIL governance dilemma, and a rising risk of direct escalation with the Syrian regime and its patrons, Iran and Russia. The latter appears especially urgent, following the June 18 downing of a Syrian fighter jet by a U.S. aircraft, and several U.S. strikes on pro-regime forces advancing toward (or otherwise deemed threatening to) U.S. personnel and partner forces since May 18.

Thus far, the White House has emphasized two priorities in Syria: to gain ground from ISIL as quickly as possible, and to limit U.S. investment to the minimum required for immediate military objectives. A third priority, countering Iran’s influence, features prominently in the administration’s messaging, but has yet to be fleshed-out within its Syria policy.

The United States needs to address the tension among these objectives. What is fast and cheap often proves fragile and costly in the long run. And sliding into an escalatory cycle with Iran would not only endanger progress against ISIL, but also potentially redound to Tehran’s advantage. Two lessons from the post-2003 U.S. experience in Iraq seem apt: First, impressive military gains may give way to jihadist resurgence if fundamental threats to stability are left unaddressed. And second, Iran’s patience and proxy network render it formidable in a war of attrition.

The History of Fake News

David V. Gioe
Why can’t America reliably separate out fact, falsehood, opinion and reasoned analysis?

It was a clear autumn day in Washington, DC on October 27, 1941, when President Franklin Roosevelt delivered his Navy Day speech to the American people. Halloween was later that week, but Adolf Hitler and his Wehrmacht war machine were scaring the administration. Roosevelt used his address to highlight the threat posed to the Western Hemisphere—America’s hemisphere—per the longstanding Monroe Doctrine. The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was six weeks hence, and Americans were leery of getting involved again in Europe’s perennially bloody wars. Charles Lindbergh and the “America First” movement, which represented America’s isolationist current, objected to greater involvement. Roosevelt needed to make the case that the Nazi threat to America was real. He noted, earlier that month, that a German U-boat had attacked an American destroyer, the USS Kearny, causing eleven American combat fatalities. “America has been attacked,” Roosevelt declared. “The USS Kearny is not just a navy ship. She belongs to every man, woman and child in this nation. . . . Hitler's torpedo was directed at every American.”

Roosevelt left out the minor detail that the Kearny was busy raining down depth charges on a German U-boat when she was torpedoed. In case the attack on the Kearny wasn’t enough to convince skeptical Americans of Hitler’s devious transatlantic designs, Roosevelt pressed his point with further evidence: “Hitler has often protested,” Roosevelt continued, “that his plans for conquest do not extend across the Atlantic Ocean. But his submarines and raiders prove otherwise. So does the entire design of his new world order,” Roosevelt stated ominously. “For example, I have in my possession a secret map made in Germany by Hitler's government . . . of the new world order.”

The Increasing Salience of 3D Printing for Nuclear Non-Proliferation

A growing number of defense-industrial 3D printing fairs, print-a-thons and the amount of defense dollars, particularly in the US, going into the technology of 3D printing speak to the fact that the defense industry and some countries’ armed forces recognize the great potential of the technology. 3D printing indeed allows the quicker, cheaper, and easier development of weapons, and even entirely new weapon designs. This applies to the full range of weapons categories: Small arms and light weapons (e.g. guns, guns, guns and grenade launchers), conventional weapon systems (drones, tanks, missiles, hypersonic scramjets) – and possibly even weapons of mass destruction.

3D printing, or additive manufacturing (AM), is increasingly adopted by various industries for rapid prototyping, the production of very complex objects in small numbers, and even the rapid production of end parts. Because of the features associated with 3D printing, particularly the high flexibility, the technology is, in a sense, the epitome of dual-use: One and the same 3D printer can produce both tools and weapons. A growing concern in the international security realm is that 3D printing could help a proliferating state in its quest for a secret nuclear weapons program.

Trends in world nuclear forces, 2017

Shannon N. Kile and Hans M. Kristensen

At the start of 2017 nine states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea—possessed approximately 4150 operationally deployed nuclear weapons. If all nuclear warheads are counted, these states together possessed a total of approximately 14 935 nuclear weapons. While the overall number of nuclear weapons in the world continues to decline, none of the nuclear weapon-possessing states are prepared to give up their nuclear arsenals for the foreseeable future. This Fact Sheet estimates the nuclear weapon inventory of the nine nuclear-weapon possessing states and highlights some key aspects of the states’ recent nuclear-force developments.

Why Bombers Were the Kaiser's Secret Weapon in World War I

Warfare History Network

On May 25, 1917, a fleet of 21 bombers lumbered in a line at 12,000 feet over the English coast. The biplanes, each carrying 13 bombs, had wingspans exceeding 70 feet, immense for World War I aircraft. German military leaders called the planes Gothas, hoping the name would add an element of terror to English citizens in their homes below.

Earlier that day the Gothas, a top-secret weapon carefully concealed at Belgian airfields, had taken off and headed toward England, about 175 miles away. The super-bombers were led by Ernst Brandenburg, personally selected to head Kagohl 3, the elite of Kaiser Wilhelm’s bombing squadrons organized for raids on England. The target was London. Because the British weren’t expecting these newly designed warplanes, they were not prepared to spot their arrival or to stop them.

Ironically, in the spring of 1917, British residents believed the battle for the skies over their country was already won. They had been able to sleep soundly in their beds for about eight consecutive months with no German Zeppelins daring the North Sea with their deadly bombs. The Gothas now heading toward London had a much greater potential for causing damage than the Zeppelins, which could muster only small bomb loads.

Why It's Time for the Carrier Battle Group

James Holmes

Let’s do away with the “carrier strike group.” Mind you, I don’t mean scrap the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers and logistics ships—the elements that comprise a carrier strike group. Heaven forfend! We need more hulls, airframes and gadgetry of all types to face down the Chinas and Russias of the world. What the service should jettison is the carrier strike group as an organizing concept. The navy leadership should replace it with the “carrier battle group” of old—a formation outfitted generously with warplanes, surface combatants and logistics ships to punish seaborne foes while warding off attack.

Why? Because the strike group is a concept designed for safe seas, where U.S. Navy forces can venture close to land with little fear of encountering opposition. Such hospitable surroundings prevailed for ten, maybe fifteen years after the Soviet Union’s fall in 1991. No more. The world’s oceans and seas are less and less hospitable by the day, as “peer competitors” build up imposing navies and back them with shore-based missiles and aircraft. As its moniker implies, the battle group is a concept fitting for the embattled age now taking form. And martial sages—the Niccolò Machiavellis and John Boyds of the world—remind us how crucial it is to keep pace with changing times.

Fail to keep up, and you court defeat and disaster.

Think about what a carrier strike group is, and does. Relative to brawny Cold War battle groups, it’s a lean, lightly defended force that operates from waterways where antagonists pose a nuisance at best. Fewer escorts accompany it. The carrier air wing, or aircraft complement, falls far short of the flattop’s carrying capacity. Nowadays the air wing numbers about sixty warplanes, while the ship’s flight and hangar decks, maintenance shops and other infrastructure can accommodate over eighty. Fewer warbirds and escort ships, less firepower. Less firepower, less capacity to duel a peer fleet for mastery of the waves.

Three "Warhacks" for Urban Combat

By John Spencer

The Army does not have a school for learning how to operate in dense urban terrain. Beyond simply training soldiers for such a complex setting, one of the reasons the Army should establish such a school is to create a laboratory for innovation. Units in an urban warfare school, trying to solve this challenging environment’s unique tactical and operational problems, could spawn a wide range of new solutions across the DOTMILPF-P spectrum (Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities, and Policy).

Solutions can come in the form of integrating new technologies, developed in the Defense Department’s various research and development agencies, or they may come from combining old things in new ways or employing them in ways never imagined before. Lifehack is a term coined to define a tool or technique that makes some aspect of one’s life easier or more efficient, thus saving time, minimizing chaos, and avoiding stress. Warhacks could be the lifehacks for combat. And warhacks for urban operations would emerge from learning and experimentation at an Army urban operations school.

I wrote about one urban operations warhack in a recent article explaining how large, cloth sheets and climbing anchors fired from a grenade launcher can be used to provide emergency concealment for soldiers in urban environments. Here are three more:

Army soldiers encounter simulated Russian cyberattacks

By Kris Osborn

Army soldiers tried to detect and fend off simulated Russian cyberattacks in a recent Cyber Quest exercise aimed at preparing the service for fast-evolving current and future cyber threats.

The month-long Army event included as many as 27 vendors and more than 300 participants gathered to assess the ability of soldiers to detect anomalies and explore networks for evidence of a cyberattack; the scenarios included simulated attacks and various kinds of automated actions to replicate anticipated threats, intrusions and malicious actors.

“We were looking to find operational gaps and pass those along to industry by putting capability into the hands of soldiers to help inform our doctrine and operational concepts,” said Maj. Gen. John Morrison, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence, Fort Gordon.

While many specifics of future high-tech attacks are not expected to be known currently, the emphasis of the training was to prepare for the fast pace of technological change and be ready for adaptations to be made by potential adversaries, such as Russia or China. Participants in the exercise experimented with more than 40 capabilities geared toward responding to attacks from near-peer adversaries, Morrison said.

Are cryptocurrencies about to go mainstream?

Experts call for caution about digital currencies, such as bitcoin and Ethereum, but financial firms are considering adopting them or even establishing their own

Last Sunday a message posted on message board 4Chan started the rumor that Vitalik Buterin, the founder of cryptocurrency Ethereum, had been killed in a car crash. News of the 23-year-old, Russian-born programmer’s demise was soon proved false – but not before 20%, or roughly $4bn, had been wiped from Ethereum’s soaring market value.

The hoax not only drew attention to Ethereum, the second largest digital currency after bitcoin, which had seen its value rise fiftyfold since the start of the year to $300 a coin, but also to the booming market in other so-called cryptocurrencies that could now be on the cusp of mainstream financial credibility.

Analysis Why the US government wants to bring cryptocurrency out of the shadows

The IRS has issued a summons for data on millions of users of the bitcoin exchange Coinbase, but some are dismayed by sweeping nature of the request

The Development of Cyber Norms at the United Nations Ends in Deadlock. Now What?

The prospects of developing norms of state behavior in cyberspace have been looking positively bleak recently. The Lazarus Group, which appears to have ties to North Korea, is suspected of being behind the WannaCry ransomware attacks that spread to 150 countries and hobbled the UK’s National Health Service. Russian hackers have been named as the culprits in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and are suspected of being responsible for blackouts in Kiev in 2015 and 2016. This week’s attack, Petya/NotPetyta, first looked like a new version of ransomware, but now seems designed for disruption and destruction. The attack appears to have originated in Ukraine, on the day before a holiday marking the 1996 adoption of that country’s first constitution, so early suspicion is that Moscow is behind the attacks, though this is still highly speculative (Russia itself has also suffered from Petya).

Despite the proliferation of state-backed attacks, for a brief window, there did seem to be some forward movement on cyber norms. This week China and Canada agreed not to conduct cyber espionage for commercial gain against each other. Beijing has now signed similar agreements with the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and the G-7 and G-20. In 2013, a group of government experts (GGE) at the UN agreed that international law, and especially the UN Charter, applies to state activity cyberspace. In 2015, the same group agreed to four peacetime norms promoted by the United States: states should not interfere with each other’s critical infrastructure; they should not target each other’s computer emergency response teams; they should assist other nations investigating cyberattacks; and they are responsible for actions that originate from their territory.

Facebook’s Secret Censorship Rules Protect White Men from Hate Speech But Not Black Children

by Julia Angwin, ProPublica, and Hannes Grassegger

In the wake of a terrorist attack in London earlier this month, a U.S. congressman wrote a Facebook post in which he called for the slaughter of “radicalized” Muslims. “Hunt them, identify them, and kill them,” declared U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, a Louisiana Republican. “Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.”

Higgins’ plea for violent revenge went untouched by Facebook workers who scour the social network deleting offensive speech.

But a May posting on Facebook by Boston poet and Black Lives Matter activist Didi Delgado drew a different response.

“All white people are racist. Start from this reference point, or you’ve already failed,” Delgado wrote. The post was removed and her Facebook account was disabled for seven days.

A trove of internal documents reviewed by ProPublica sheds new light on the secret guidelines that Facebook’s censors use to distinguish between hate speech and legitimate political expression. The documents reveal the rationale behind seemingly inconsistent decisions. For instance, Higgins’ incitement to violence passed muster because it targeted a specific sub-group of Muslims — those that are “radicalized” — while Delgado’s post was deleted for attacking whites in general.

Cyber Week in Review: June 30, 2017

This week: NotPetya, Canada orders Google to take down search results, and Facebook's algorithm for removing hate speech. 

Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:

1. Is it Petya, NotPetya, nPetya, Janus, or GoldenEye? In any case I WannaCry. Six weeks after WannaCry, another piece of malware spread like wildfire, encrypting data and disrupting the operations of shipping giant Maersk, pharmaceutical company Merck, and U.S. law firm DLA Piper. The malware--which has a different name depending on whom you talk to--is believed to have originally exploited a vulnerability in software necessary to file taxes in Ukraine, and spread to those using it according to Ukrainian authorities. Though originally believed to be ransomware, cybersecurity companies are coalescing around a theorythat the malware's intended purpose was to destroy data by encrypting it and never providing a way to decrypt it once a ransom was paid--though there's little evidence to support that claim. Like WannaCry, this latest malware used a vulnerability originally discovered by the National Security Agency as one of its attack vectors. That renewed criticism in the NSA's role in developing malware, though that criticism may be misplaced.