22 April 2018

Demographic dividend, growth and jobs

Ejaz Ghani
The benefit of a demographic dividend depends on whether the bulge in working population can be trained, and enough jobs created India has one of the youngest populations in an aging world. By 2020, the median age in India will be just 28, compared to 37 in China and the US, 45 in Western Europe, and 49 in Japan. Demographics can change the pace and pattern of economic growth. While China’s spectacular growth has already benefited from a demographic dividend, India is yet to do so.

Demographic dividend

The Not-So-Missing Case of Indian Innovation and Entrepreneurship

By Hitendra Singh

Recently, an article published in Modern Diplomacy caught our attention. The author has cited Mr. Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, and found his famous statement on Indians lacking enterprise and innovation to be ‘music to his ears’. He has then gone on to paint Indians in broad strokes – ironic, for it is something he has accused Indians of doing – and labelled them as a nation lacking entrepreneurial and innovative spirit. While his reasoning certainly has an element of truth and an instant appeal, our response looks to add nuances to his argument and provide a more realistic and complete picture of enterprise and innovation in India.

The Latest on the Forgotten War in Afghanistan

Afghanistan: Changing Attitudes And Alliances

Peace talks with the Taliban are still on the agenda, as are similar negotiations with the Haqqani Network. There have always been peace talks going on between the government and some Taliban factions and over the last decade, the Taliban has lost the support of many Pushtun tribes because of this. But now factions within the Taliban senior leadership are considering a peace deal. Even Haqqani Network factions are interested. The reason for this growing interest in peace deals is the realization that the Taliban did not, as leaders had assured everyone, roll to victory after the foreign troops left in 2014. That was four years ago and the Afghan government and most Afghans put up a lot more resistance than the Taliban expected. Another problem was the drug gangs, who continue to thrive but produce a product that is hated by most Afghans and regularly denounced by tribal leaders and Moslem clergy for the way the drugs turn so many young Afghans in addicts and a disgrace to their families. Can’t blame this one on the Americans. It is also obvious who is getting rich from the drug trade. Afghans making a lot of money in the drug trade are not shy about showing it off.

The U.S. government is vulnerable to Chinese espionage or cyberattack because of its dependence on electronics and software made in China

David J. Lynch

The U.S. government is dangerously vulnerable to Chinese espionage or cyberattack because of its dependence on electronics and software made in China, a risk that threatens to grow as Beijing seeks global technological dominance, according to a study for a congressionally chartered advisory commission. Information technology products made by enterprises owned or influenced by China could be modified to work poorly, conduct espionage or otherwise interfere with government operations, said the report for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which is scheduled to be released Thursday. Much of the government’s annual $90 billion in spending on information technology is devoted to Chinese products, offering Chinese officials an opportunity to seed U.S. government offices with spyware and electronic back doors that could be exploited for cyberattacks, said Jennifer Bisceglie, chief executive of Interos Solutions, which conducted the study.

How China became a global power of espionage

Erica Pandey

As China’s influence spreads to every corner of the globe under President Xi Jinping, so do its spies. Why it matters: China has the money and the ambition to build a vast foreign intelligence network, including inside the United States. Meanwhile, American intelligence-gathering on China is falling short, Chris Johnson, a former senior China analyst for the CIA who’s now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, tells Axios: “We have to at least live up to [China’s] expectations. And we aren’t doing that.”

The playbook

A Tariff-Free American Containment Strategy for China

James Roberts

To wage the hot peace of the twenty-first century against a newly expansionist Communist China, the United States must develop another tariff-free menu of options.The wise American policy architects of the Cold War who successfully walled-in the expansionist Communist Soviet Union behind its Iron Curtain didn’t need any tariffs in their tool kit. The only thing the USSR exported in any quantity was tyranny. Like their other products, it was an inferior good—dangerous and destabilizing.To maintain and promote a stable and prosperous postwar world, America contained and pushed back against Moscow by leading the West in building and maintaining a robust international institutional infrastructure for policy coordination and dispute resolution.

China’s Belt And Road Initiative: Ambition And Opportunity – Analysis

By Vincent Lofaso

For centuries, the Silk Road’s web of trading routes connected major civilizations in East Asia with the Middle East and the European continent. It facilitated not only commerce, but also the exchange of communication and thereby determined the development of the ancient world. In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jingping proposed to revive the Silk Road by developing a transportation network that would link China to the rest of the world. This flagship project called the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) combines two main roadmaps. The first component is the Silk Road Economic Belt which is a land-based travel route that runs through six corridors and covers most of the nations in Asia and Europe.

ISIS Is Making A Comeback In Syria As Trump Pushes To Leave And Bring In Arab Forces

Joseph Trevithick

Despite the U.S.-led coalition making significant progress in curtailing the group’s activities, ISIS terrorists are making a comeback in certain parts of Syria, especially in areas under the control of the Syrian regime of Bashar Al Assad. The possibility of an ‘ISIS 2.0’ is a worrying development that comes as President Donald Trump and his administration are looking for ways to extricate U.S. forcesfrom the conflict and replace them with a potentially problematic predominantly Arab coalition consisting of troops from countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Falling Into Old Habits at the 38th Parallel

After decades of lamenting the Korean Peninsula's division, South Koreans increasingly regard reunification as unnecessary and undesirable. he split between North and South Korea along the 38th parallel, though seemingly arbitrary, follows approximately the same border that divided the peninsula's northern and southern kingdoms in antiquity. he division reflects the reality of contemporary geopolitics, which suggests that if reunification does happen, it will more likely occur under Beijing's wing than under Washington's. 

Soros foundations to quit Hungary amid political hostility

George Soros’ Open Society Foundations will close their office in Budapest and move their eastern European operations to Berlin, Austria’s Die Presse newspaper reported on Thursday. activists of Egyutt (Together) opposition party removes a government billboard displaying George Soros in monochrome next to a message urning Hungarians to take part in a national consultation about what it calls a plan by the Hungarian-born financier to settle a million migrants in Europe per year, in Budapest, Hungary, October 5, 2017. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has blamed Soros, a Hungarian-born U.S. financier, for a host of ills and pushed through legislation cracking down on non-governmental organizations called the “Stop Soros” laws which drew international criticism.

Ships gather off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California as a sailboat makes it way past them in this aerial photo taken February 6, 2015. The loading and unloading of cargo freighters has been suspended at all 29 U.S. West Coast ports this weekend because of chronic slowdowns on the docks that shippers and terminal operators have blamed on the dockworkers' union, the companies said Friday. Picture taken February 6, 2015 REUTERS/Bob Riha Jr To wage the hot peace of the twenty-first century against a newly expansionist Communist China, the United States must develop another tariff-free menu of options. James Roberts April 19, 2018 TweetShareShare Printer-friendly version The wise American policy architects of the Cold War who successfully walled-in the expansionist Communist Soviet Union behind its Iron Curtain didn’t need any tariffs in their tool kit. The only thing the USSR exported in any quantity was tyranny. Like their other products, it was an inferior good—dangerous and destabilizing. To maintain and promote a stable and prosperous postwar world, America contained and pushed back against Moscow by leading the West in building and maintaining a robust international institutional infrastructure for policy coordination and dispute resolution. To wage the hot peace of the twenty-first century against a newly expansionist Communist China, however, the United States must develop another tariff-free menu of options for an increasingly interconnected world that is extremely allergic to trade wars. The mid-twentieth century containment strategy should be the Trump administration’s model. Communism in practice has always failed. To stay in power amid the inevitable economic ruination it produces, the Soviet Union’s fascistic leaders grabbed land from neighboring territories and projected power at key geostrategic points around the globe. The goal was to ensure cheap imports of food and commodities from vanquished neighbors and to stoke Russian nationalism at home and fear among their foreign enemies. Chinese products are far superior to Soviet ones, but only because a generation of pragmatic leaders in Beijing were willing to honor the principles of Marxist-Leninism in the breach—averting their eyes from the animal spirits of the efficient private actors who drove the economy and tolerating enormous corruption to allow them to use state assets to turn a profit. Beijing has also had to prop up heavily indebted and inefficient—but job-creating—state-owned enterprises. The social costs of the Chinese regime’s hypocrisy are growing, as resentment of massive corruption and waste builds and undermines its legitimacy. Let’s not kid ourselves, then. Behind the placid and confident façade of wannabe Chinese president-for-life Xi Jinping lurks a Communist Party of China that is increasingly anxious, bedeviled by the same worries that confronted first Stalin and now Putin. The self-contradictory hybrid of mutually exclusive governing philosophies—capitalism in practice but communism in theory—is simply not tenable in the long term. But Xi and his large cohort of party faithful want to cling to their power and ill-gotten gains, so they have doubled down on communism, re-branding it as “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” The social contract that Emperor Xi struck this year with his subjects is pretty simple: in exchange for their consent to his unlimited hold on authoritarian power, they get “China 2025,” which is a blueprint for China to become a global leader in the cutting-edge technologies that will define future American economic and military power (e.g. aircraft fabrication, robotics, semiconductors, electric vehicles, biotechnology, artificial intelligence and quantum computing). The promise of China 2025 slakes the Chinese people’s historic appetite for international prestige. But to make good on that promise, Beijing must continue doing what it has done for years: engage in cyber-theft of intellectual property and unfair trade and investment practices that force U.S. companies to transfer their proprietary technology. President Trump has diagnosed this threat correctly. But he must recalibrate his policy response so that it inflicts punishment on China’s leadership and without penalizing American workers, farmers, and consumers. Instead of implementing his initial response—a slew of counterproductive and economically destructive tariffs—the president should consider pursuing a tariff-free containment strategy. For example, the White House could wage an aggressive campaign at the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the global regional development banks (e.g. the Asian and Inter-American Development Banks), and other international financial institutions to penalize unfair Chinese practices. This could begin with President Trump directing U.S. Executive Director-designate Mark Rosen to commission IMF-led audits of the one-sided, nontransparent loans China has made to strategically located developing countries as part of its “Belt & Road Initiative.” Critics of BRI argue persuasively that these loans are structured to set those countries up to fail, which will allow the Chinese to declare them in default and move in to take ownership of vital assets such as ports, railroads, and airports. The United States should then use its power to impose loan conditionality on any unrepentant BRI beneficiary countries that refuse to renegotiate their BRI loans if IMF audits expose their flaws. America should also work with democratic, like-minded, and free-market member countries of the World Trade Organization that benefit from robust rule of law to use their own court systems to impose and enforce their own, tougher and quicker sanctions on China when the WTO finds China guilty of engaging in unfair and illegal trade practices. These steps would be in addition to some excellent actions already taken by the White House and Congress, including more aggressive challenges of Chinese intellectual property practices under the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Despite’s Xi’s outward bravado, China has serious problems. It would be quite vulnerable to these pressure tactics. And while this tariff-free menu might cause indigestion in Beijing, it would improve the health of the U.S. economy and avoid the risks it currently faces from a trade war. James M. Roberts is research fellow for economic freedom and growth in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for International Trade and Economics.


Bottom Line: The Kremlin employs an array of often overlapping and competitive security and intelligence services to create multiple sources of intelligence, encourage risk-taking and keep a wary eye on each other. This has enabled Russian President Vladimir Putin to consolidate power by playing agencies off of each other to avoid uninvited power grabs. But these redundancies can also create inefficiencies that Russia can’t afford as its economy continues to falter.

The world learns to ignore Trump


Diplomats and investors are starting to dismiss Trump’s policy tweets and other quickly shifting statements. The whipsaw nature of President Donald Trump, in which obsessions come and go and positions change by the day, has flipped the old Wall Street maxim "buy on the rumor, sell on the news" on its head. Wall Street, corporate America and the diplomatic world are settling on a strategy to deal with President Donald Trump’s rapidly shifting statements on critical issues like trade deals and Russia sanctions: Just ignore him.

The Confused and the Confusing


Nikki Haley, America’s ambassador to the United Nations, is not confused. “With all due respect,” she said in a pithy and empowering statement to Fox News anchor Dana Perino, “I don’t get confused.” She issued this pointed assertion in response to National Economic Council chief Larry Kudlow, who accused Haley of getting “ahead of the curve” and suffering a “momentary confusion” when she announced on Sunday morning that the Trump administration planned more punitive sanctions on Moscow over its support for the murderous Assad regime in Syria. But Haley seems to have been on firm ground when she made those remarks.

Israeli intelligence: Objectives of Western strike in Syria not achieved

Ronen Bergman

The US-led attack on Syria’s chemical weapons facilities did not achieve most of its objectives and will not deter President Bashar Assad, according to Israeli intelligence assessments. “If President Trump had ordered the strike only to show that the US responded to Assad’s use of chemical weapons, then that goal has been achieved,” according to a senior defense establishment official. “But if there was another objective—such as paralyzing the ability to launch chemical weapons or deterring Assad from using it again—it’s doubtful any of these objectives have been met.”

How Social Media Built the Case for Trump’s Strike on Syria

by Colum Lynch and Elias Groll - Foreign Policy 

Social media has emerged as a key battleground in the U.S. and Russian media campaign to promote their sharply divergent accounts of chemical weapons in Syria. The intelligence assessments presented over the weekend by the United States and France to justify missiles strikes against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb relied to an unusual degree on information gleaned from open source material and social media. Russia, meanwhile, is mustering an army of internet trolls to shift blame for the chemical weapons attack.The development reflects the evolution of social media as a key source of propaganda on Syria but also as a critical source of evidence in building a case for airstrikes…

The Future of the United States and Europe: An Irreplaceable Partnership

The partnership between the United States and Europe has been an anchor of the world’s economic, political and security order for more than seven decades. The U.S. relationship with the European Union is the deepest in the world – but we should not take it for granted. Transatlantic relations are at a critical point in their history, and it is necessary to reassess their trajectory, as well as the prospects for EU-U.S. cooperation. In a new publication, CSIS, in partnership with Chatham House, assesses the top policy priorities on both sides of the Atlantic, identifying areas of potential cooperation as well as growing divergences to be managed. United States cooperation with Europe is essential to meeting global challenges – this is a conclusion that every U.S. administration has reached in the past 70 years. Our recommendations seek to strengthen that relationship and promote that community of democratic values that upholds the international order.

How 3D Printing Could Help Replace Russian Rockets


The Pentagon could field an alternative to the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engine faster, but the technology is unproven. As the Pentagon looks to develop a replacement for the Russian engine that blasts the Atlas V rocket into orbit, two U.S. companies have been working on a little-known project that could speed up the process. Dynetics, of Huntsville, Ala., and Aerojet Rocketdyne, of Sacramento, Calif., are already building a replacement engine that could power the Atlas V for military launches and future NASA manned space launches. Much of the engine has been built using a 3-D printing technique know as additive manufacturing. “Going to additive manufacturing is going to be one of the biggest cost and time savers on this engine,” said Steve Cook, director of corporate development at Dynetics. The team has built a key rocket engine part, know as the pre-burner, with a new manufacturing process for this type of part. What typically takes 15 months, Cook said, they did in 15 days. 

Eric Schmidt Didn’t Know That Google Was Working the Pentagon’s AI Project


When more than 3,100 Google employees signed a letter in April saying that they did not want the company working on one of the Defense Department’s most important artificial intelligence initiatives, former Google leader Eric Schmidt was unaware that two the entities were even working together on that project at all. That was very much by design, the former head of Google’s parent company Alphabet said Tuesday. “I didn’t know that we [meaning Alphabet] were doing it until I read about it in the press,” Schmidt told Defense One, after a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Google is preparing a bid for a multi-billion dollar Pentagon cloud contract called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, according to multiple sources. That could present a conflict of interest for Google and for the Defense Department, or at least create the appearance of one, since Schmidt occupies board positions with both organizations.

Everything That Zuckerberg Said Last Week About Facebook Working to Protect the Privacy of Its Users Was a Lie

Nancy Scola

Facebook asked conservative groups for help last week in heading off European-style privacy rules, just as CEO Mark Zuckerberg prepared to apologize to Congress for his company’s data scandal. The company’s outreach comes as the European Union is preparing to enforce strict new privacy rules that take effect in late May. Among other things, the EU’s rules allow regulators to impose fines as high as 4 percent of a company’s global revenues for serious violations. The emailed invitation to a sit-down to discuss the policy, obtained by POLITICO, also shows how Facebook is seeking an unlikely alliance with conservatives, who frequently accuse the the social network of bias against their views but oppose most forms of government regulation. The email did not disclose the recipients but came from Facebook’s liaison to conservative organizations.

How Obama’s drone playbook could influence future cyber operations

By: Mark Pomerleau

The head of U.S. Cyber Command said the government is currently working its way through how the military can exercise cyber capabilities outside areas where U.S. forces are engaged in active combat. The head of U.S. Cyber Command, Adm. Michael Rogers, indicated that Department of Defense leaders are discussing the possibility of U.S. military cyber operations in nations where the United States is not actively involved in a conflict. During testimony April 11 before the House Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities, Rogers explained he is comfortable with his authorities to use offensive cyber tactics in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Do We Need a Digital Geneva Convention?

by Tom Simonite

The Geneva Convention, signed by war-weary nations in August 1949, now binds 196 countries to protect civilians in war zones. Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, argues that the U.S. and other countries now need to draw up a digital equivalent to protect civilians and companies caught in the crossfire of constant cyber war. In recent years, computing and security companies have uncovered or been the victims of malware and network attacks that appear linked with military or intelligence agencies. Smith told an audience at the world’s largest security conference Tuesday that international diplomacy is needed to mitigate the negative effects on private companies and citizens.

Tech Firms Sign ‘Digital Geneva Accord’ Not to Aid Governments in Cyberwar


“This has become a much bigger problem, and I think what we have learned in the past few years is that we need to work together in much bigger ways,” said Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, who was largely behind the effort to create a “Cybersecurity Tech Accord.” More than 30 high-tech companies, led by Microsoft and Facebook, announced a set of principles on Tuesday that included a declaration that they would not help any government — including that of the United States — mount cyberattacks against “innocent civilians and enterprises from anywhere,” reflecting Silicon Valley’s effort to separate itself from government cyberwarfare.

Signing pledge to fight cyberattacks, 34 leading companies promise equal protection for customers worldwide

The Cyber security Tech Accord is a public commitment among 34 global companies to protect and empower civilians online and to improve the security, stability and resilience of cyberspace. Companies across every layer of internet communication vow to defend against misuse of their technology; promise to protect all customers regardless of nationality, geography or attack motivation. On Tuesday, 34 global technology and security companies signed a Cybersecurity Tech Accord, a watershed agreement among the largest-ever group of companies agreeing to defend all customers everywhere from malicious attacks by cybercriminal enterprises and nation-states. The 34 companies include ABB, Arm, Cisco, Facebook, HP, HPE, Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle, and Trend Micro, and together represent operators of technologies that power the world’s internet communication and information infrastructure.

Casino Hacked Through Its Internet-Connected Fish Tank Thermometer; Whether It Is This Technique/Method, Or, Compromising A Network Through A E-Cigarette Charger — The Vulnerabilities In The Internet-Of-Things Is Almost Endless

Wang Wei posted an April 15, 2018 article in the security and technology publication, TheHackerNews.com, with the title above. “Internet- connected technology, also known as the Internet-of-Things (IoT), is now part of daily life, with smart assistants like Siri and Alexa, to cars, watches, toasters, fridges, thermostats, lights, and the list goes on, and on,” Mr. Wei wrote. But, as I have written many times on this blog, the IoT, has also become — ‘The Internet of Threats (IoT).’ The more and more we become connected to the IoT, the more expansive our digital footprint becomes; thus, providing cyber thieves and other malcontents, with more ways to compromise our sensitive data. An unnamed casino recently found out the hard way, that anything connected to a wifi, or network — is susceptible to being hacked.

CAAI Blog For the first time, Russia is showcasing unmanned military systems at a military parade

Source Link

On April 18, 2018, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that this year’s military parade in Moscow that commemorates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in WWII will feature new and advanced weaponry. Specifically, he noted that for the first time ever, “the Uran-9 combat multifunctional robotic system, the Uran-6 multipurpose mine-clearance robotic vehicle and Korsar short-range drones” will be showcased along other land and air weapons.

21 April 2018

China and Russia are 'aggressively pursuing' hypersonic weapons, and the US can't defend against them, top nuclear commander says

Amanda Macias 

America's top nuclear commander said the U.S. doesn't have defenses against hypersonic weapons. "Both Russia and China are aggressively pursuing hypersonic capabilities," said Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command. Earlier this month, Russia announced a slew of new nuclear weapons as well as hypersonic missiles. America's top nuclear commander described a grim scenario for U.S. forces facing off against a new breed of high-speed weapons that Russia and China are developing. "We don't have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us," Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. This means that, as of now, the U.S. has to rely on deterrence against these so-called hypersonic weapons, he said.

U.S. politicians get China in Africa all wrong

By Deborah Bräutigam 

Loans from China helped Uganda build a speedy new road to its main airport. But critics say the country is now too deep in debt to Beijing. Deborah Bräutigam is the Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy and director of the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her latest book is Will Africa Feed China? In Washington, Republicans and Democrats generally look at China as a new imperial power in Africa: bad news for Africans. But is this really the case? Just before his visit to Africa last month, former secretary of state Rex Tillerson accused China of using “predatory loan practices,” undermining growth and creating “few if any jobs” on the continent. In Ethiopia, Tillerson charged the Chinese with providing “opaque” project loans that boost debt without providing significant training. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton sang the same tune, warning Africans to beware of this “new colonialism.” China, we are often told, is bringing in all its own workers or “grabbing” African land to grow food to send back to feed China. 

Should the West suspect Chinese tech?

Karishma Vaswani

Both the US and UK have issued warnings about the Chinese technology and telecoms giant ZTE. The decision by the US Commerce Department to ban American firms from selling equipment to ZTE for the next seven years dates back to a case from a few years ago, when ZTE was accused by the US government of violating sanctions against Iran. At the time, the US said if ZTE refused to comply, there would be consequences. This week, the US made good on those threats and is hitting ZTE where it hurts. A shortage of US components is likely to cause ZTE to miss shipment deadlines and lose orders, according to investment firm Jefferies. It has cut its estimates for ZTE sales by 13.5% in 2018 and 7.6% in 2019.

Chinese Influence Activities with U.S. Allies and Partners in Southeast Asia

This report originally appeared as testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Thank you to the Commissioners for convening this hearing today and inviting me to testify. The Commission has asked me to focus on assessing China’s relations with U.S. allies and partners in Southeast Asia—specifically, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Singapore. I was also asked to address the various tools with which China seeks to influence these countries and their relations with the United States, and to provide related recommendations to the United States Congress.


The Horn of Africa is one of the most geo-strategically important regions of the world, and one of the main theatres in which the Sino-African four-pronged approach – based on economic, ideological, political and security interests – unfolds.This Policy Brief unpacks the dynamics of Chinese engagement with the Horn of Africa, with Ethiopia as a case study. The brief maintains the view that although European Union (EU) and Chinese activities in the Horn of Africa often differ in ideological and political interests, there is significant complementarity in economic and security interests.


China’s new J-10C fighter jets have been put into service, which marks an improvement in the combat capabilities and defense of the Air Force of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Air Force announced in a statement on Monday. The J-10C is a third generation home-made fighter with multiple functions and is equipped with an avionics system. It is also equipped with multiple advanced armament and be effective in land or sea combat, said the statement released on the official Weibo account of the PLA Air Force. The fighter jet was first revealed to the public at the military parade marking the 90th founding anniversary of the PLA in July 2017 and has attracted wide attention.

Are Iran and Israel Headed for Their First Direct War?

Thomas L. Friedman

SYRIA-ISRAEL BORDER, Golan Heights — Ever since the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran and Israel have been fighting each other in the shadows — through proxies, assassination squads and cyber-virus attacks, but never as rival armies meeting on the field of battle. That may be about to change, and if it does, it will have vast implications for Syria, Lebanon and the whole Middle East. I’m sure neither side really wants a war. It could be devastating for Israel’s flourishing high-tech economy and for Iran’s already collapsing currency. But Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force seems determined to try to turn Syria into a base from which to pressure Israel, and Israel seems determined to prevent that. And in the past few weeks — for the first time ever — Israel and Iran have begun quietly trading blows directly, not through proxies, in Syria.

A Norm in Crisis: Implications of Persistent Chemical Weapons Use

By Natasha Lander

The recent chlorine attack in Douma, Syria, which reportedly killed over 40 men, women and children, prompted a predictable reaction from the international community. Governments around the world issued statements condemning the attack. The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting in response. Russia dismissed reports of the attack as false and traded insults with the U.S. Doctors scrambled inside Syria to treat those afflicted, while aid workers searched homes to locate more victims. 

United States-Russia Military Confrontation 2018 & its Implications for Indian Foreign Policy

By Dr Subhash Kapila

United States and Russia are in a state of edgy military confrontation which has all the potential of a flare-up and military showdown. Inherent in this are serious implications for India and its foreign policy would be severely tested. Geopolitically, strange is the emerging reality that the United States has chosen the Middle East for a showdown with Russia where the strategic challenges to United States are much lower in scale than in Indo Pacific Asia where China has already thrown the military gauntlet in the South China Sea against the United States. Here perceptionally, the United States has shied away from a military showdown with China and where United States for safeguarding its Superpower image in Asian capitals should have challenged China.

Operational-Level Strikes Finally Enforce Obama’s Red Line | National Review

by Lauren Fish

A Syrian firefighter is seen inside the destroyed Scientific Research Centre in Damascus, Syria, April 14, 2018. (Omar Sanadiki/Reuters)Plenty of future challenges remain, in Syria and elsewhere around the globe. But Friday’s strikes are victory worth celebrating.By all accounts, Friday night’s strikes against the Assad regime’s chemical-weapons facilities were successful — they reduced their targets to rubble, and there were no reported threats to allied forces or equipment in their aftermath. Armchair strategists are quick to point out that the strikes didn’t fit into any broader American Syria strategy. But the chemical-weapons attack of April 7 demonstrated, once again, the Syrian regime’s flagrant disregard for international moral and legal norms. And unlike last April’s retaliatory American strike on aircraft used for chemical-weapons delivery at Shayrat Air Base, Friday’s strikes sought to hit the heart of the regime’s chemical-weapons capabilities, and were coordinated with our oldest and closest allies.

America and China duel for influence over North Korea


North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un met with Chinese president Xi Jinping last week for the first time since coming to power in 2011. Such a meeting between the two leaders would normally be not be surprising since China and North Korea are allies. But these are not normal times. The meeting between Kim and Xi took many experts by surprise because the relationship between Pyongyang and Beijing has been tense for some time. Since Kim came to power, there have been fewer high-level exchanges between Chinese and North Korean officials, and reports indicate that bilateral trade significantly decreased in recent months.

Could Russia and West be heading for cyber-war?

By Gordon Corera

The latest warning of Russian intrusions is another sign that cyber-space is becoming one of the focal points for growing tension between Russia and the West.But so far, much of the talk about cyber-war remains hypothetical rather than real. It is true that Britain's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is on high alert for the possibility of some kind of Russian activity. More people and resources have been devoted to monitoring and investigation. There has also been outreach to companies to warn them on what to look out for and what to do.

The Future of the United States and Europe: An Irreplaceable Partnership

How the EU responds to the Trump administration will be the hallmark of how it sees its role in the world, and how successful it will be in promoting its worldview. European Council President Donald Tusk speaks to US President Donald Trump as he welcomes him at EU headquarters in Brussels as part of a NATO meeting, 25 May 2017. The partnership between the United States and Europe has been an anchor of the world’s economic, political and security order for more than seven decades, but we should not take it for granted. The transatlantic relationship faces many dangers. However, the issues that bring the two sides together ultimately carry much greater weight than those that might divide them.

Greece and Turkey Are Inching Toward War

The relationship between Greece and Turkey has never been easy. The neighboring countries have been at war with each other several times in the 20th century and were close to military conflict over the Greek islet Imia in 1996, before the United States stepped in to avert disaster.The NATO allies are now at the brink again, goaded by populists on both sides — and this time, Washington is nowhere to be found. On Monday, a Greek-Turkish confrontation rekindled old memories. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, during an event in Ankara, claimed that the Turkish coast guard had removed a Greek flag from an islet near the island of Fournoi, after it was placed there earlier by three Greeks. The Hellenic National Defense General Staff responded that no Turkish boat had been seen in the area in the last 48 hours; the mayor of Fournoi then visited the islet and reported that the Greek flag was still there.


John C. Hale

Operationalizing the Decisive Point: Operation OQAB “Eagle” – Combined and Unified Action “The fight against the guerrilla must be organized methodically and conducted with unremitting patience and resolution. Except for the rare exception, it will never achieve spectacular results, so dear to laurel seeking military leaders.” -- Roger Trinquier. Modern Warfare—a French View of Counterinsurgency. 1964.[i]  Trinquier accurately assessed that a deliberate and methodical process must be conducted, to defeat an insurgency that does not present a single decisive battle that turns the tide of war. The development of a methodical campaign plan for Counter-insurgency (COIN) requires planners to use a new method of thinking in the way they approach their mission. Campaign Design for COIN incorporates many non-traditional aspects to planning that many have practiced in the field yet have not be codified into doctrine until recently.

How Social Media Built the Case for Trump’s Strike on Syria


Portraits of the Russian and Syrian presidents are displayed at the government-held Wafideen checkpoint on the outskirts of Damascus on April 3. Social media has emerged as a key battleground in the U.S. and Russian media campaign to promote their sharply divergent accounts of chemical weapons in Syria. The intelligence assessments presented over the weekend by the United States and France to justify missiles strikes against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb relied to an unusual degree on information gleaned from open source material and social media. Russia, meanwhile, is mustering an army of internet trolls to shift blame for the chemical weapons attack.

US and UK blame Russia for 'malicious' cyber-offensive

Ewen MacAskill

Security officials issue alert directly blaming Kremlin for attack as US warns Moscow it is ‘pushing back hard’ The decision of the US and UK governments to go public reflects a loss of patience with Moscow after a series of cyber-attacks and hacks allegedly originating from within Russia. Photograph: Yui Mok/PAThe cyberwar between the west and Russia has escalated after the UK and the US issued a joint alert accusing Moscow of mounting a “malicious” internet offensive that appeared to be aimed at espionage, stealing intellectual property and laying the foundation for an attack on infrastructure.

Russia Vs The West: A War Scenario And A New Logic Of Confrontation – Analysis

By Ivan Timofeev*

The aggravation of rivalry between Russia and the West in the past few months is raising the urgent question of a possible further escalation of tensions and its forms and consequences. Political relations between Moscow and Western capitals have gone beyond the critical point. The threadbare thesis about the lack of trust can be confidently discarded. Things are much worse. The sides do not want to and cannot listen to each other. Official positions and signals are perceived as provocations and trolling. Any opinion is described from the very start as manipulation, propaganda or diversion. Pragmatic voices are sinking in the growing flow of populism. The small islands of dialogue on common issues are rapidly narrowing or disappearing altogether. Hysteria in the media, hostility and vulgarity of rhetoric far exceed Cold War levels. We have entered a new and much more dangerous stage of the conflict, a stage that did not exist several weeks ago.

Trump's Syria Strategy Actually Makes Sense


The Trump administration is coming in for an avalanche of complaints that it conducted military operations against Syria without having a strategy for Syria. This is inaccurate.
President Obama had grandiose goals that he omitted to attain. He wanted Bashar al-Assad to go. He wanted the Russians to leave Syria. He wanted to promote democracy and protect human rights unless it became too costly (see: vacillation on military aid to Egypt). He wanted to advance the remit of international organizations and international law. His administration talked about “whole of government operations” but failed to conduct them.


By Michel Gurfinkiel

The Lubyanka building (former KGB headquarters) in Moscow, photo via Wikimedia Commons The Soviet Union was not vanquished by the West in the Cold War. It simply disintegrated in the late 1980s, the result of cumulative failures. A military defeat or a popular insurrection might have resulted in the elimination of its seventy-year-old totalitarian infrastructure and superstructure (the Soviet “deep state”). A mere collapse, however, had very different consequences. Beyond the abandonment of the Eastern European glacis and the formal independence of the fifteen Soviet Republics, the ruling Soviet elite stayed largely in place. This was especially true in the very heart of the Empire, the former Federative Socialist Soviet Republic of Russia, rebranded as the Russian Federation. The army and secret police stayed intact, the planned economy was turned into a state-controlled oligarchy, and nationalism was substituted for communism. Soon, Russia began to engage in systematic rebuilding and reconquest.

War and the Asymmetry of Interests

By George Friedman

This past weekend, I attended a re-enactment of the Battle of Lexington, the battle that started the American Revolutionary War, in Massachusetts. The pleasure of being with children and grandchildren was my primary motive. But as I watched the superb re-enactment, an obvious question came to mind: Why did the Americans defeat the British, not just at Lexington but in the war itself? The British forces were better armed and better trained, and there were potentially far more of them. On a purely military basis, the British should have won, yet they didn’t.

Globalization Helps Spread Knowledge And Technology Across Borders

by Aqib Aslam, Johannes Eugster, Giang Ho, Florence Jaumotte, Carolina Osorio-Buitron, and Roberto Piazza

It took 1,000 years for the invention of paper to spread from China to Europe. Nowadays, in a world that has become more integrated, innovations spread faster and through many channels. Our research in Chapter 4 of the April 2018 World Economic Outlook takes a closer look at how technology travels between countries. We find that the spread of knowledge and technology across borders has intensified because of globalization. In emerging markets, the transfer of technology has helped to boost innovation and productivity even in the recent period of weak global productivity growth.

Tech firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, vow not to aid government cyber attacks

Dustin Volz

SAN FRANCISCO, April 17 (Reuters) - Microsoft, Facebook and more than 30 other global technology companies on Tuesday announced a joint pledge not to assist any government in offensive cyber attacks. The Cybersecurity Tech Accord, which vows to protect all customers from attacks regardless of geopolitical or criminal motive, follows a year that witnessed an unprecedented level of destructive cyber attacks, including the global WannaCry worm and the devastating Not Petya attack. “The devastating attacks from the past year demonstrate that cyber security is not just about what any single company can do but also about what we can all do together,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a statement. “This tech sector accord will help us take a principled path toward more effective steps to work together and defend customers around the world.”

The Machine That Can Never Be Hacked: ‘Random Number Generator’ Is Created Using Quantum Physics — And, Even Supercomputers Can’t Steal Its Data

Tim Collins posted an April 12, 2018 article, with the title above, in London’s the DailyMail.com. Mr. Collins begins by noting that “random number generators are never truly random. Most, rely on mathematical formulas to produce their sequences; and, these formulas can be uncovered by supercomputers,” he wrote. “But now, scientists say they have created a generator, using the weird behavior of quantum mechanics, which they believe really is unpredictable,” Mr. Collins noted. “The technology could lead to new encryption methods that are unbreakable using traditional ‘brute force,’ trial-and-error methods.”

Army Service Could Be the Answer to Europe’s Integration Problem

France’s Foreign Legion is the stuff of military legend: a band of mostly foreign men serving the French government essentially as mercenaries — and doing so with extraordinary success. Though the legion was formed in the 19th century to police France’s far-flung dominions, it has evolved into an all-purpose combat force. Indeed, thanks to its dependability in combat, the legion has become so useful that the French government is now significantly expanding it. Other European countries should follow France’s lead. All European Union nations need to do more for the Europe’s security — but their armed forces are struggling to find enough new recruits. The answer may be in plain sight; many of these countries have a growing population of young male immigrants who could be an asset to the military.

20 April 2018

Pakistan shuns US for Chinese high-tech weapons

Pakistan shuns US for Chinese high-tech weapons In sign of shifting balance of power, Islamabad buying advanced military equipment from Beijing Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save Save to myFT Kiran Stacey in Islamabad 13 HOURS AGO Print this page92 In the last few months of the Obama administration, the US state department made an announcement which caused a new breach in Washington’s tumultuous relationship with Pakistan. John Kirby, then the department’s spokesman, said Congress had decided to approve the sale of eight fighter aircraft to Pakistan. 

Pakistan’s Growing Dependency on China

By Shirin Naseer

For several years now, Chinese financial assistance has been an important source of support for Pakistan’s economy. China was Pakistan’s largest lender in the year 2017. Since then, Chinese support has only further intensified; according to reports, China recently offered commercial loans worth $1 billion to Pakistan. There are additional reports suggesting China and Pakistan are presently deliberating signing another deal of perhaps about the same estimated value. While these events may allow room for some optimism regarding the future of Pakistan’s economy, with the country’s recent inclusion in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s grey-list (to take effect in June), there is perhaps a need to exercise some caution in increasing dependency on China.