17 December 2017

In One Corner of Afghanistan, America Is Beating Islamic State

Michael M. Phillips

The Afghanistan war is at a stalemate, but in Achin, on the Pakistan border, the U.S. and its Afghan allies have driven militants from farms and villages 

ACHIN, Afghanistan—The Special Forces captain gestured to the Takhto Valley, a brown-hued no man’s land of fallow fields and abandoned mud-brick compounds within easy reach of Islamic State gunners.

“Everything over there is bad,” he said.
Then the captain turned toward the Pekha Valley, an expanse of emerald-green fields of corn and wheat....

All That Could Go Wrong When Jihadists Return Home — to China


Once separatists, now jihadists, some Uighurs returning from the ISIS battlefield could threaten — and test — Beijing.

Most of the foreign fighters that flooded into in Syria during the past few years came from the West, but some jihadists also arrived from the Far East, including as many as 300 of Western China’s Uighurs, the Sunni Muslim indigenous ethnic minority. Now that the Islamic State’s caliphate is collapsing, it seems inevitable that some will return to China, bringing with them more of the jihadist ideology and influence that has leaders in Beijing worried.

Satellite imagery offers clues to China’s intentions in Djibouti

By: Mike Yeo 

MELBOURNE, Australia — Chinese President Xi Jinping has told People’s Liberation Army troops stationed at an overseas base in Djibouti to “promote international and regional peace and stability,” according to China’s Ministry of National Defense. However, satellite imagery reveals information that could further detail China’s intentions.

Speaking via video feed during a visit to a joint battle command center in Beijing, Xi encouraged the overseas force to promote a good image of China’s military.

The 36-hectare base is located to the southwest of the Doraleh Multi-Purpose Port under construction by China State Construction Engineering Corporation, and it is just a few miles from Camp Lemonnier, currently the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa.

Where is China targeting its development finance?


China has emerged as one of the world’s largest providers of development finance. Between 2000 and 2014, China extended a total of $354 billion in loans, grants, and other resources to countries across the globe. As China continues to establish itself as a major source of development finance, it is important to consider how this spending intersects with Beijing’s growing political and economic interests.

“The Rise of a Not-So-New World Order”



Summary: The world’s nations are forming new alliances. Last month we looked at the Saudi-Israel alliance. Here Stratfor looks at major nations allying against America (other powers always organize against a hegemon), starting with Russia and China. How this plays out will shape the 21st century.

For decades the United States has sat atop a unipolar world, unrivaled in its influence over the rest of the globe. But now that may be changing as a new, informal alliance takes shape between China and Russia. The two great powers have a mutual interest in overturning an international order that has long advantaged the West at their own expense. And as the Earth’s sole superpower turns inward, they will seek to carve out bigger backyards for themselves. Will their marriage of convenience once more give rise to the bipolarity that characterized the Cold War, or will it unravel in the face of a natural rivalry rooted in geopolitics?

Sri Lanka, Struggling With Debt, Hands a Major Port to China

By KAI SCHULTZ

NEW DELHI — Struggling to pay its debt to Chinese firms, the nation of Sri Lanka formally handed over the strategic port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease last week, in a deal that government critics have said threatens the country’s sovereignty.

In recent years, China has shored up its presence in the Indian Ocean, investing billions of dollars to build port facilities and plan maritime trade routes as part of its “One Belt, One Road” initiative to help increase its market reach.

Chasing The Ghosts: Investigating The Attribution Of Transnational Cyber Attacks

By CAN KASAPOĞLU

Cyber attacks fall under a misty and gray area which could be best depicted as ‘below the threshold of armed conflicts’, a hard-to-recognize hole within the margins of international law. Thus, cyber tools extraordinarily fit well with hybrid warfare and espionage purposes. Although the bulk of contemporary hostile cyber activities are related with state actors, these intrusions mostly take place in the form of proxy war which enables the states to keep being concealed in complex secrecy. In fact, high–end computer, network and telecommunications technologies help states to sustain the abovementioned ambiguity in their cyber operations.
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China's Americanized Military

By Don Tse

The PLA is set to become the largest “American” military force to pose a threat to the U.S. 

Two Chinese armored brigades clashed in a week-long training exercise at the Zhurihe Training Base in Inner Mongolia in 2015. Both brigades were equipped with identical armored vehicles and weapons. The Blue opposing forces brigade (OPFOR), however, was organized and fought in the fashion of a United States brigade combat team. The Red friendly force was crushed. “Within an hour we were hit with airstrikes, enemy satellite reconnaissance, and cyberattacks … Frankly, I never imagined it would be this hard,” said Wang Ziqiang, the armored brigade commander of the Red force. Wang’s political commissar Liu Haitao was caught on camera sobbing after the defeat. In a documentary aired on state television days before the 19th Party Congress in October, Liu said that his unit was initially very confident of victory over the Blue team, which was formerly a sister unit. “But over the course of seven days, we were beaten … we lost because we didn’t meet realistic combat standards when training our troops,” he said.

Struggle Over Scripture: Charting the Rift Between Islamist Extremism and Mainstream Islam


Download the full report, Struggle Over Scripture.

Concerns about Islamist extremism are growing both in the West and in Muslim-majority countries as it continues to kill tens of thousands each year around the globe. Yet there is a deficiency in evidence-based research into how the supremacist ideology that drives this violence warps mainstream religious principles.

There must be greater consensus among policymakers and thought leaders that the battle against the extremism of groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda is not against Islam, but rather against a perversion of the religion. This report aims to clarify the nature of that perversion, to enable a religiously grounded response to Islamist extremism, in both its violent and its nonviolent forms.

The Four Faces of China in Central and Eastern Europe

By Michał Romanowski

An American, a German, and a Chinese gentleman walk into a bar in Prague. The first two order a beer, and the bartender then turns to the Chinese man to ask, “What can I get you?” He simply replies, “The accounts please, I own the place.”

The joke is not entirely removed from reality. The Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI – an economic agenda billed as the Silk Road reincarnated – is putting meat on the bones of Chinese interaction with Central and Eastern Europe. BRI investments play a role in the increased priority attached to the “16+1” – a political format that brings China and the region together. The sixth meeting of heads of states of the Central and Eastern Europe countries and China in Hungary has revealed four faces of Chinese activity in the region: connector, shaper, investor and challenger.

Behind the Rapid Development of Russian Unmanned Military Systems

By Samuel Bendett

Over the last five years, the Russian Federation has made great strides in designing, testing, evaluating, and fielding a variety of unmanned military systems, including land, air, and sea-based models. Russian media is full of announcements and analyses of the use and specification of what I call red robots, while Russia’s foray into Eastern Ukraine and Syria afforded Moscow a rare opportunity to field and operate such machines in combat. The Western response to Russia’s entrance into the club of nations capable of building and using unmanned systems has varied from surprise to alarm to stoic objectivity. Much of this reaction stems from the realization that the United States and its allies are no longer unchallenged in the ways and means of using unmanned systems on the battlefield. With Russia rapidly gaining expertise in building and using unmanned air and land vehicles, many in the American policy, defense, and manufacturing establishment are concerned with the impending fight for elbow room with competitors who, only recently, were far behind the West in battlefield robotics. This essay will look at the major trends in Russia’s unmanned military systems to shed light on how they may influence Moscow’s military conduct and impact its potential adversaries in the next several decades.

Beyond the 2017 North Korea Crisis: Deterrence and Containment


1. Introduction

It may seem presumptuous to begin considering medium term strategic stability in the Korean peninsula when the 2017 crisis has not yet fully deescalated. Nevertheless, there is distinct difference between the urgency of crisis management – which is an appropriate characterization of the dramatic events surrounding North Korea’s sixth nuclear weapon test and incessant missile launches – and learning to live with the altered reality that these advances in its military prowess are ushering in.




Does Russia Bear Responsibility for War in Ukraine?

Vladimir Dzhabarov

“Actually, there is a civil war in Ukraine between the DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic], the LNR [Luhansk People’s Republic], and the rest of Ukraine. It is completely unclear why Russia should bear any responsibility for this.” On December 2, RT’s Russian-language Web site published a report on statements made by the U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Huntsman during his interview with the Russian St. Petersburg TV channel.

What Will ‘Actually Solve’ Terrorism Problem?

By JAMES KITFIELD

At the height of its powers several years ago, ISIS was attracting an estimated one thousand new foreign fighters each month. While U.S. officials always believed that the U.S.-led coalition would take back ISIS-held territory, they worried that as the caliphate collapsed, the tens of thousands of foreign fighters would spread across the world to wreak havoc on a mass scale.

Hard Lessons from America’s Longest Wars

By JAMES KITFIELD

This is one of two pieces by our contributor James Kitfield, who’s won more Gerald Ford Defense Reporting awards than anyone else (3), on the challenges and mistakes America has made in grappling with the complex threat of global terrorism. As James puts it in his summary sentence: U.S. counterterrorism forces continue to learn and adapt after fifteen plus years of fighting a global jihadist insurgency, as have our determined and adaptive enemies. Read on! The Editor.

Nuclear Deterrence In a New Age

By Keith B. Payne

Carl von Clausewitz writes that the nature of war has enduring continuities, but its characteristics change with different circumstances.[1] Similarly, the fundamental nature of deterrence has endured for millennia: a threatened response to an adversary’s prospective provocation causes that adversary to decide against the provocation i.e., the adversary is deterred from attack because it decides that the prospective costs outweigh the gains. The character of deterrence, however, must adapt to different circumstances. In one case, the necessary deterrent threat may be to punish the adversary; in another, to deny the adversary its objectives; in yet another, a combination of punishment and denial threats may be necessary to deter. Such specific characteristics of deterrence—its goals, means and application—change, but the fundamental threat-based mechanism of deterrence endures.

The Human Face of Trade and Food Security

Katrin Kuhlmann

The system of rules and regulations governing agricultural trade and market activity, or the enabling environment, directly affect global food security. In the summer of 2017, a team from the CSIS Global Food Security Project and the New Markets Lab traveled to Kenya and India to explore how policies shape agricultural trade and affect the lives of smallholder farmers, traders, and consumers. The team met with farmers, donors, and government and private-sector leaders to better understand connections in the market from production through export, focusing specifically on beans in Kenya, rice in India, and horticulture (fruits and vegetables) in both countries. The resulting study explores the different dimensions of trade and how the regulatory environment shapes the market. It provides targeted recommendations for U.S. policymakers to consider to strengthen support for food security, market-based regulation, mutually beneficial trade, and economic development worldwide. 

Will Robots Take Our Children’s Jobs?

By ALEX WILLIAMS

Like a lot of children, my sons, Toby, 7, and Anton, 4, are obsessed with robots. In the children’s books they devour at bedtime, happy, helpful robots pop up more often than even dragons or dinosaurs. The other day I asked Toby why children like robots so much.

“Because they work for you,” he said.

What I didn’t have the heart to tell him is, someday he might work for them — or, I fear, might not work at all, because of them.

It is not just Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking who are freaking out about the rise of invincible machines. Yes, robots have the potential to outsmart us and destroy the human race. But first, artificial intelligence could make countless professions obsolete by the time my sons reach their 20s.

Here’s how to shut down the internet: Snip undersea fiber-optic cables


WASHINGTON - Hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber-optic cable lay on the ocean floors, a crucial part of the global internet’s backbone, and only rarely do ship anchors, undersea landslides or saboteurs disrupt them.

Still, a few voices now call for stronger global mechanisms and even military action to protect the cables against future malicious activity by states, saboteurs or extremists.

“The infrastructure that underpins the internet – these undersea cables – are clearly vulnerable,” said Rishi Sunak, a British member of Parliament and champion of more vigorous action to protect submarine networks. “They underpin pretty much everything that we do.”

Next-Gen Drones: Making War Easier for Dictators & Terrorists

LEVI MAXEY 

The introduction of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) permanently altered the modern battlefield. New technological advances in drone technology could do it again: from advanced materials that allow drones to fly, roll, run or swim in less forgiving environments, to thinking software than makes them more independent, to stealth technology that renders them even less visible. On the positive side, the intelligence that drones provide helps focus lethality on the intended target and limit the risk of civilian casualties and friendly fire incidents. But drone advances also will get cheaper to copy, so non-state actors will be able to employ them as well, giving insurgents or terrorists an outsized advantage. 

Army Reorganizes, Accelerates EW: Synergy Or Hostile Takeover?

By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.

ARLINGTON: Outgunned in the airwaves by Russian jammers, the US Army has a new plan for electronic warfare. The Army hopes to rebuild the long-neglected EW branch more quickly — in part, paradoxically, by partially submerging it in other branches, namely military intelligence and cyber. The ground-based portion of the Multi-Function Electronic Warfare (MFEW) program will be folded into the intelligence branch’s Terrestrial Layer Intelligence System (TLIS). The argument is both branches need to sense and understand the radio spectrum before signals intelligence (SIGINT) can eavesdrop on transmissions or EW can jam them. TLIS will have both sensing and electronic attack (jamming) capabilities, cyber branch chief Maj. Gen. John Morrison told reporters, saying the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) recently approved an Initial Capabilities Document (ICD) for this approach. 

U.S. MILITARY AND NATO MAY NOW TARGET RUSSIA WITH CYBER WEAPONS, MARKING HUGE POLICY CHANGE


BY TOM O'CONNOR

Western military alliance NATO's recent decision to integrate cyber warfare into its command could be its biggest policy shift in decades and represents a stark 21st-century warning to foes, especially Russia, according to one of the leading officials to help draft the new strategy. Capitalizing on the multinational coalition's recognition of cyberspace as a theater of operations at last year's Warsaw Summit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced last month the creation of Cyber Operations Center as part of an overall effort to update and adopt a more expansive and efficient command structure. Last week, retired Air Force Colonel Rizwan Ali revealed how the decision, which he helped write and implement, could affect the way NATO conducts operations and counters threats from abroad.

The power play in peacekeeping

Manmohan Bahadur

Media coverage of peacekeeping operations is an area with many gaps. Consider for example, an incident last week, where at least 15 peacekeepers and five soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) were killed and numerous peacekeepers wounded by armed militants in one of the worst attacks on United Nations personnel. A local Islamist extremist group overran the remote base. Most of the dead and wounded are from Tanzania. Was there any media coverage in India? It would have been a different story had they been troops from the West. In the midst of this, one must focus on China as its grip on UN affairs tightens and it starts deciding policy, to the detriment of India.

How drone swarms could change urban warfare

By: Maj. John Spencer  

DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program envisions future small-unit infantry forces using small unmanned aircraft systems and/or small unmanned ground systems in swarms of 250 robots or more to accomplish diverse missions in complex urban environments. By leveraging and combining emerging technologies in swarm autonomy and human-swarm teaming, the program seeks to enable rapid development and deployment of breakthrough capabilities to the field. (DARPA) 

For the first time since the Korean War, the U.S. military has to worry about enemy bombs dropping on them in combat.

THE NEXT MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, PART II: GLOBAL BUSINESS AND NATIONAL SECURITY

PHILIP D. O’NEILL, JR.

In the future, the American defense establishment’s engagement with the private sector will vary with the mission. The arms-length procurement requirements of a dedicated industrial base for big-ticket weapon systems are different from the requirements of frenetically paced software development through co-investment. In turn, sovereign “joint venturing” abroad through private enterprise can help solve thorny security issues or facilitate diplomatic openings. However, such relationships nevertheless morph because private and public-sector interests differ, especially when it comes to allocating risks and rewards.

16 December 2017

Internet Governance - How do we select people representing India

INTERNET GOVERNANCE - HOW DO WE SELECT PEOPLE REPRESENTING INDIA
--  Maj Gen P K Mallick,VSM (Retd)

I do attend lot of seminars in Delhi. In cyber domain related discussions one does come across terms like cyber governance, ICANN, UN GGE, Multi Stake holder model, Net Mundial and what have you. Certain things come to my mind which I thought I should share. I must admit in the first place I do not have any inside knowledge of the issues I am trying to raise. So the people concerned must correct me.

I find one particular Think Tank is much more concerned than any other in Cyber Governance issues. Naturally many people from that Think Tank attend all the official deliberations on internet governance all over the world. Mostly same set of people attend these. I have no issue on that either.

In the multi stake holder model the country is represented by Government agencies, civil society, industry, technical experts, legal experts, some time academics also. I want to know how do we decide who is going to represent what. What is the selection process. Who decides. In today's world when we are crying hoarse in international fora about multi stakeholder model we ourselves also have to be more transparent. I don’t see any transparency here. Again I am not casting any aspersions on anybody. They may be the most competent people to represent our country in the respective fields. I am talking about the process.

External funding is an important resource for Indian stakeholders who engage with ICANN. A majority of them who engaged with ICANN had been awarded external funding at some point.

When you represent the country in whatever field there is a need to speak in the same language in different forum. The Government has to ensure that by having discussion in a most transparent manner before going abroad. 15 persons from India actively participated at ICANN Meetings in 2015. Were they on the same wave length. The civil society people may have some different views. That has to be tampered with the national views. At least an honest effort has to be made. I am sure some efforts must have been made in the form of some Round Table Discussion organized by MeitY. Point is are those adequate?

I have nothing against anybody. I find there is one person who represents India in all deliberations concerning internet governance in ICANN, net mundial, UN deliberations etc. That person is a member of Carl Bildt chaired Global Commission on Internet Governance, Co chair of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace. Some of the other commissioners are : Michael Chertoff who was the second United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Chairman of the Board of Directors of BAE Systems, a member of East West Institute’s Board of Directors and Sean Kanuck. Sean Kanuck has a decade of experience in the Central Intelligence Agency, He was at the US National Intelligence Council as National Intelligence Officer for Cyber Issues from 2011 to 2016. He has been appointed as a Distinguished Fellow by the Observer Research Foundation in India. The person I am referring to is with ORF which is funded heavily by American companies, also with American East West Institute which may have vested interests, is Distinguished Fellow in the East West Institute in the US, the Observer Research Foundation in India, and the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Canada. My point is can there be a conflict of interest somewhere.

As per networking is concerned many of the persons involved in these commissions are regular visitors/ speakers in ORF events including the recent CyFy. You don’t get ex Prime Minister’s of countries like Sweden for such events just like that.

I am told Google India, Microsoft Ondia, Facebook India or such big US companies are now considered as Indian companies and represent India in these deliberations. Can these people contradict the views of their head offices sitting across the table.

Again my point is simple : How do we select, what is the criterion, where is the transparency?

I want to be educated.

PS.

I did come across a paper analysing Indian Engagement at Global Internet Governance Institutions 2011-2015 by Puneeth Nagaraj & Aarti Bhavana ,MULTISTAKEHOLDERISM IN ACTION, Centre for communication Governance, available at http://ccgdelhi.org/doc/%28CCG-NLU%29%20Multistakeholderism%20in%20Action%20-%20Analysing%20Indian%20Engagement%20at%20Global%20Internet%20Governance%20Institutions%20%282011-15%29.pdf

A Strong U.S.-India Partnership Is in Our Strategic Interest

James Jay Carafano

Congress has created numerous rules regarding how America goes about establishing strategic relationships. Unfortunately, those rules don’t work well in the world as it exists in the twenty-first century. Over many decades, the United States has established a two-tier system. In the top tier are our formal allies. Alliances were—and to a large extent remain—the coin of the realm for U.S. statecraft and security relationships.

Pakistan’s Military: The Fire Brigade and the Arsonist?

BENNETT SEFTEL

Tensions that mounted during a deadly, Islamist protest in Pakistan last month were resolved not by the country’s civilian government, but by leaders of its military and intelligence agency. The incident was another reminder of who really holds the reins in a tumultuous nation that the U.S. has leaned on to help defeat terrorist adversaries and bring stability to Afghanistan. This reality has serious consequences for U.S. policymakers engaging with Pakistan.

Current Trends in Islamist Ideology


Analysis on The Muslim Brotherhood, Islamism in Turkey, Jamaat-ud-Dawa,jihad in India and Algeria, and Shiite militias in Iraq...View PDF

Pakistan Army as a Politically Disruptive Force in Nation-Building

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Pakistan Army having ruled over Pakistan for nearly half its existence since 1947 has no credits to distinguish itself in terms of Pakistan’s nation-building; the contrary is true in that despite its pretentions of being the “Glue that Holds Pakistan Together”, Pakistan as a nation in 2017 is unstuck and dysfunctional.  Pakistan as the minor inheritor of British India along with much larger India with much larger challenges in nation-building could have emerged as an equally democratic, progressive and economically vibrant nation like India. But what picture does Pakistan project as the second decade of the 21st Century draws to a close?

Why China Won’t Rescue North Korea

By Oriana Skylar Mastro

U.S. officials have long agreed with Mao Zedong’s famous formulation about relations between China and North Korea: the two countries are like “lips and teeth.” Pyongyang depends heavily on Beijing for energy, food, and most of its meager trade with the outside world, and so successive U.S. administrations have tried to enlist the Chinese in their attempts to denuclearize North Korea. U.S. President Donald Trump has bought into this logic, alternately pleading for Chinese help and threatening action if China does not do more. In the same vein, policymakers have assumed that if North Korea collapsed or became embroiled in a war with the United States, China would try to support its cherished client from afar, and potentially even deploy troops along the border to prevent a refugee crisis from spilling over into China.

What to do about China’s “sharp power”


WHEN a rising power challenges an incumbent one, war often follows. That prospect, known as the Thucydides trap after the Greek historian who first described it, looms over relations between China and the West, particularly America. So, increasingly, does a more insidious confrontation. Even if China does not seek to conquer foreign lands, many people fear that it seeks to conquer foreign minds. Australia was the first to raise a red flag about China’s tactics. On December 5th allegations that China has been interfering in Australian politics, universities and publishing led the government to propose new laws to tackle “unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated” foreign efforts to influence lawmakers (see article). This week an Australian senator resigned over accusations that, as an opposition spokesman, he took money from China and argued its corner. Britain, Canada and New Zealand are also beginning to raise the alarm. On December 10th Germany accused China of trying to groom politicians and bureaucrats. And on December 13th Congress held hearings on China’s growing influence.

US forces could potentially lose next war to Russia or China, warns sobering Rand report

By Jeff Daniels

U.S. defense modernization efforts are “failing to keep pace” when compared with its two big adversaries, and American forces are “poorly postured to meet key challenges in Europe and East Asia,” according to a starkly worded new report from think-tank Rand. As tensions with North Korea heighten, Rand’s 190-page report, entitled “U.S. Military Capabilities and Forces for a Dangerous World,” also discussed war scenarios with NATO-Russia involving the Baltic states. It also broke down a possible U.S.-China clash over Taiwan and gaps in existing U.S. capabilities.

Assessment of the Lone Wolf Terrorist Concept


Linda Schlegel holds a BA in Liberal Arts from the University College Maastricht (NL) and an MA in Terrorism, Security and Society from King’s College London (UK). Her main topics of interest are radicalization, the role of identity in extremism, and societal resilience. She can be found on Twitter at @LiSchlegel. Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.

North Korean Nuclear Reactor Safety: The Threat No One is Talking About


The ability of North Korea to safely operate its nuclear reactors, according to many experts, is increasingly being called into question given the North’s isolation and lack of safety culture. Pyongyang’s ability to respond to a nuclear accident in a timely fashion will make the difference between a small-scale event and a catastrophic disaster. And while the actual contamination would be localized, the lack of transparency from North Korea in dealing with the situation is likely to cause political panic in the region in excess of the actual radiological exposure and environmental impact. The opening of nuclear safety talks with the North to help prevent such an accident from occurring would provide a rare opportunity for regional dialogue and could pry open the door for realistic and productive discussions of North Korea’s nuclear program. 

In a Second Korean War, U.S. Troops Will Fight Underground

Kris Osborn

There are many facets of a possible North Korean invasion of South Korea, not the least of which are North Korean conventional missiles and artillery would pose a substantial threat to populated areas south of the DMZ. But any kind of ground incursion, with or without the anticipated barrage of conventional missiles, would bring similar threats. Furthermore, mechanized ground conflict would unquestionably call upon a wide range of necessary tactics — large armored vehicle formations, long-range precision-guided weaponry, combined arms maneuvers and air-ground coordination, among other things.

What North Korea's ICBM Means for Japan's Defense Planning

By Yuki Tatsumi

Two weeks have passed since North Korea test-launched the Hwasong-15, Pyongyang’s most advanced nuclear-capable inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM). Prior to this November 29 test, there was debate among Korean affairs experts over whether a seeming suspension of missile tests by North Korea (no test had been conducted since September 15) might be a gesture on Pyongyang’s part to hint that they may be ready to talk. But the most recent test ended such debate, at least for now. More importantly, the latest test confirmed what U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said months ago — that North Korea is “the most urgent and dangerous threat to peace and security.”

North Korea is hacking bitcoin exchanges as currency value soars, expert says

By Katherine Lam

What is Bitcoin? Bitcoin, a digital currency, was created in 2008. Shares of Bitcoin are sold on internet exchanges where users remain anonymous. As the value of the cryptocurrency continues to hit record highs, here’s how it works. As bitcoin’s value continues to surge, North Korean hackers are taking advantage by targeting exchanges to gain financial profit, experts said on Friday as sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime threaten to impede on economic development.

The Ideologues Who Wrecked Libya

By MATT PURPLE 

Out of the New York Times last week came a report that slave auctions are now a reality in Libya. This was hardly breaking news—those who have followed the plight of that traumatized North African country know horrid human rights abuses have been rampant for years—but the existence of such auctions, unheard of by most Americans outside of weirdly macabre Disney World rides, still arouses fresh alarm. Lawless Libya has become an escape route to the Mediterranean for thousands of migrants seeking asylum in Europe, which has given rise to human traffickers promising them safe passage, only to brutalize them and even sell them as chattel. How did this happen? According to the Times: “The migrant crisis in Libya originated with the collapse of the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi six years ago.”

In the Middle East, Russia Seems to Be Everywhere


It can be difficult to separate the important from unimportant on any given day. Reflections mean to do exactly that — by thinking about what happened today, we can consider what might happen tomorrow. Russia's growing prominence in the Middle East was on full display Dec. 11 when Vladimir Putin visited three key Middle Eastern countries in one day. The Russian president followed a surprise trip to Syria with a quick stop in Egypt before ending his day's travels in Turkey. He met with his presidential counterparts in all three countries, and the economic deals, military agreements and political settlements he discussed highlighted Russia's role in the region. While Russia has its own reasons for bolstering its relationships with Syria, Egypt and Turkey, it also benefits from being visible where its regional rival, the United States, is not.

The True Danger of Repealing Net Neutrality

David Pring-Mill

In 2011, as Americans became increasingly angry at Wall Street, many Republican politicians felt the need to defend capitalism overall while condemning its corrupted elements. They invoked the phrase “crony capitalism.” Rep. Michele Bachmann accused her political rivals of crony capitalism. Mitt Romney said, “And if you want to get America going again, you’ve got to stop the spread of crony capitalism.” House Speaker John Boehner said that private-sector job creators had been “undercut by a government that favors crony capitalism and businesses deemed ‘too big to fail,’ over the small banks and small businesses that make our economy go.”

Kamikaze UAVs, Drones on Leashes, Information Bombs Top Pentagon’s Counterterror Wishlist


Want a glimpse of the irregular grey-zone battles of the near future? One great indicator is the annual wishlist of the Pentagon’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, or CTTSO. Released on Wednesday, the office’s broad agency announcement, or BAA, emphasizes drones and ways to counter misinformation. Here are a few highlights:

Loitering Death Drones

Estonia, the Digital Republic


Up the Estonian coast, a five-lane highway bends with the path of the sea, then breaks inland, leaving cars to follow a thin road toward the houses at the water’s edge. There is a gated community here, but it is not the usual kind. The gate is low—a picket fence—as if to prevent the dunes from riding up into the street. The entrance is blocked by a railroad-crossing arm, not so much to keep out strangers as to make sure they come with intent. Beyond the gate, there is a schoolhouse, and a few homes line a narrow drive. From Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, you arrive dazed: trees trace the highway, and the cars go fast, as if to get in front of something that no one can see.

The Most And Least Expensive Countries For Broadband

by Niall McCarthy

The research was conducted by UK-based Cable.co.uk and it found that a monthly bill for broadband in Iran would come to an average of $5.37. Generally, surfing the net is extremely cheap across Eastern Europe with the monthly price averaging $5.51 in Ukraine, $9.93 in Russia and $13.47 in Romania. In Western Europe, prices rise considerably and in Germany for example, somebody would pay an average of $34.07 every month for broadband.

Bitcoin And Financial Governance

by Derryl Hermanutz

Digital Money

The whole world already uses a globally-integrated digital money system: bank deposits. We pay each other bank deposits by check, wire transfer (direct deposit), online banking, debit card, etc; within the central/commercial bank-operated payments system of debiting payments out of payers' bank deposit account balances and crediting the payments into payees' bank deposit account balances.

Cyberattacks And The Digital Dilemma

by Tim Sablik

Over the past year, Americans have been inundated with news of one large-scale cyberattack after another. The Democratic National Committee's email server was compromised during the 2016 election, and the organization's internal emails were posted publicly by WikiLeaks. An October 2016 attack temporarily disrupted service to many of the most trafficked sites on the Web, including Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter. Ransomware - malicious code that locks a computer's files until users pay for a decryption key - infected business, government, and personal computers around the globe in May and June 2017. And in September, credit bureau Equifax disclosed that hackers accessed personal data used to obtain loans or credit cards for as many as 143 million Americans - making it potentially the largest data theft in history. No digital system seems safe.

One-third of US businesses hit by hacks, data breaches

By: Armin Haracic  
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A leader in business cyber-insurance reports how a lack of cyber knowledge and neglected hardware leads to data breaches and, in turn, lost resources and damaged reputations. A press release from The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company (HSB) found that one-third of U.S. businesses (29 percent) suffered from data breaches in 2016. The largest amount of said breaches were caused by business contractors and vendors, followed by employee negligence and stolen or lost storage and mobile devices. Furthermore, affected businesses tended to spend between $5,000 to $100,000 to ameliorate the damage.

Ten trends redefining enterprise IT infrastructure

By Arul Elumalai, Kara Sprague, Sid Tandon, and Lareina Yee

The IT infrastructure landscape is evolving rapidly. What will it look like in 2020?

When people think of enterprise IT infrastructure, they often imagine racks of hardware locked away in data centers and basements. But it is actually a focal point of disruption and innovation in every area, from servers and storage to networking and software. What are the trends that are giving rise to such disruption and innovation? And what are the implications for business-technology strategy? Both IT infrastructure providers and customers must answer these questions as they plan their futures. We have identified ten trends that are already having a major impact on IT infrastructure and will bring even more disruption over the coming years. Here is a look at what is changing and how companies can respond.
Familiar trends at a faster pace and greater scale

Looking Back to the Future: The Beginnings of Drones and Manned Aerial Warfare

Ulrike Franke
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This essay is part of the #WarBots series, which asked a group of academics and national security professionals to provide their thoughts on the confluence of automation and unmanned technologies and their impact in the conduct of war. We hope this launches a debate that may one day shape policy. On 8 December 1909, British Army Major Baden Fletcher Smyth Baden-Powell was invited to give a talk at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). Baden-Powell had been among the first soldiers to see the use of military aviation. He experimented with flying kites and built an aircraft with his sister Agnes, and he had just stepped down as President of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the oldest aeronautical society in the world. On that Wednesday afternoon in December 1909, he spoke about “How Airships are Likely to Affect War.”

Mission Still Not Accomplished in Iraq Why the United States Should Not Leave

By Emma Sky

In July 2017, Iraqi soldiers, backed by U.S. air strikes, liberated Mosul, the city where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), had declared a caliphate just three years before. It was a hard-won victory. For nine grueling months, Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Service, an elite group of U.S.- trained forces, suffered heavy losses as they fought street by street to uproot ISIS fighters, who used the local population as human shields. Thousands of civilians were killed, and a million or so were displaced from their homes. Mosul’s historic monuments have been destroyed. And the city’s infrastructure lies in tatters.