21 May 2015

From ‘carrot & stick’ to just ‘carrot’

G Parthasarathy
May 21 2015

Ever since the Nixon-Mao honeymoon commenced in 1971, India has periodically faced an alliance of the US, an avowed champion of democratic freedoms, China, a one-party communist state, and Pakistan, a theocratic Sunni state, more often than not, ruled by its military. The visceral dislike that these three countries displayed in 1971 towards India is well documented. The Clinton Administration thereafter spent its first six years in office almost exclusively focused on an effort to "cap, roll back and eliminate" India's nuclear programme, while deliberately turning a blind eye to China's transfer of nuclear weapon designs, uranium enrichment capabilities, plutonium production and reprocessing technology and missile production facilities to Pakistan. This was coupled with not-so-subtle pressure on India on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, including through the establishment of contacts with Hurriyat separatists. Even today the US seldom raises its voice against the violation of NSG guidelines by China when it supplies nuclear reactors to Pakistan.

There’s no free Chinese lunch...

May 21, 2015

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is being termed as a ‘game and fate changer’ for Pakistan. But if the past is prologue, the new projects under it may not have much of a future, and both Pakistan and China know this.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), around which 51 agreements were signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan in April 2015, promises such massive investments that it is not surprising that the Pakistani government gushes over it as being a “game and fate changer”. Against the $46 billion announced, American baksheesh for Pakistan’s tenuous support in Afghanistan seems mealy-mouthed; its Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 tripled economic assistance to $7.5 billion, spread over five years, but only $5.5 billion was actually appropriated. The annual aid to Pakistan from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including the United States, has rarely risen above $3 billion. And most private investors, like tourists, have stayed away. Therefore, this Chinese largesse in the financial desert in which Pakistan wanders is a blizzard of manna.

Telescope: Here, there, everywhere

May 21, 2015

Shanghai: Narendra Modi in kurta-waistcoat tells the Indian diaspora that while they holiday on Sunday, he will work (their fault?). Mongolia: Modi in a hat stands beside the horse gifted to him. Seoul: Modi, in a casual jacket and scarf snaked about his neck, asks Korean CEOs to see “the change” in India.

Here’s a striking feature of the Indian prime minister in the last year: even when he is far away from us, he is just a remote control button away. Or, to use the Delhi Police slogan— with you, for you, always.

By stringing Doordarshan along, by going tweet-tweet all day long, Modi has been the overwhelming presence in our lives.

We are unable to ignore him. He is always going places (literally and metaphorically), declaiming grandly on live broadcasts and cutting a fine figure. You may or may not approve of his fashion statements but he makes them all the time, and they say something about the man: He wants his presence known, felt. Can anyone forget his monogrammed suit?

The show chugs along

May 21, 2015

A fair assessment of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to China is impossible without considering alternative policies that might deliver better results. New Delhi essentially has three choices in dealing with Beijing. One is to treat it as an outright adversary and adopt a confrontational policy. The second is to jump on the Chinese bandwagon and become Beijing’s junior partner. The third is to avoid a premature and costly conflict, seek opportunities for cooperation, but maintain vigilance at the same time. Obviously, the first is risky, costly, and dangerous, while the second is not appealing.

What is notable about Modi’s China policy is that, despite his hawkish rhetoric, he has preferred the third — and quintessentially pragmatic — approach to Beijing. Such pragmatism will disappoint many of his supporters, who want to see him take a harder line and bring back more concessions (such as progress on the unresolved border disputes and changes in China’s policy towards Pakistan). But, given the low probability of this outcome, because of China’s relative strength vis-à-vis India and the high price Modi will have to pay (such as severe deterioration in bilateral relations and even more hostile Chinese behaviour), advocates for pragmatism have a much stronger case.

Kargil: India’s first Televised War

20 May , 2015

‘Their’s not to reason why’

The Kargil conflict, India’s first televised war, more than anything else, reinstated the Indian Army to its rightful status in the public minds of being the finest fighting force in Asia, after the by-then fading images from the bad dream that was Sri Lanka. But that doesn’t mean that whatever happened that made this war necessary was an inspiring commentary on the way the security of the country’s borders was being handled. It was very definitely an instance of our entire intelligence gathering mechanism, civilian as well as military, miserably failing to do their job. No wonder the Pakistanis managed to have a few thousand of their soldiers, masqueraded as ‘jihadi’ militants, intrude into our territory right under our army’s nose.

Fake Diplomas, Real Cash: Pakistani Company Axact Reaps Millions

MAY 17, 2015 

Axact, which has its headquarters in Karachi, Pakistan, ostensibly operates as a software company. CreditSara Farid for The New York Times

Seen from the Internet, it is a vast education empire: hundreds of universities and high schools, with elegant names and smiling professors at sun-dappled American campuses.

Their websites, glossy and assured, offer online degrees in dozens of disciplines, like nursing and civil engineering. There are glowing endorsements on the CNN iReport website, enthusiastic video testimonials, and State Department authentication certificates bearing the signature of Secretary of State John Kerry.

“We host one of the most renowned faculty in the world,” boasts a woman introduced in one promotional video as the head of a law school. “Come be a part of Newford University to soar the sky of excellence.”

Ukraine's Geopolitical Spillover Officially Makes it to Afghanistan

May 20, 2015

Russia’s closure of the NDN marks the end of an era. 

Last Friday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedevsigned a decree closing the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). NATO had used the NDN to deliver supplies to the war in Afghanistan since 2008. Although the route, according to the Moscow Times, hasn’t been used in recent months and the UN Security Council resolution under which Moscow agreed to allow NATO passage through its territory expired at the end of last year, the closure still takes on a geopolitical light.

Moscow linked its choice to close the route to UNSC resolution 1386, which was the 2001 resolution that authorized the original ISAF mission in Afghanistan and encouraged regional states to allow transit and overflight. A subsequent resolution in 2013 set December 31, 2014 as resolution 1386′s expiration date.

Growth of Fundamentalism in Pakistan and Its Repercussions

20 May , 2015

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, but Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the father of the nation, wanted a secular Muslim state and not a theocratic Islamic state controlled by fundamentalists. In 1947, when Pakistan was carved out, the population was not fundamentalist, but with passage of time, the inhabitants have become more and more fanatical, turning into religious zealots.

The majority of Pakistanis feel that total Islamisation of the country would be disastrous.

Islamisation was used as a tool by General Zia to legitimise his rule. In his speeches, press conferences and deliberations, he criticised politicians for not promulgating Islamic laws. The Shias, who are 30–35 million in Pakistan, opposed the implementation of Nizam-e- Mustafa as well as the wanton killings of the Shias by Sunni extremists.

Afghanistan, Pakistan to Cooperate on Counter-Terrorism

Afghanistan and Pakistan will cooperate formally on counter-terrorism. Is this a seachange in their bilateral ties?

Last week, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif led a delegation of Pakistani officials to Kabul, Afghanistan, where they met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and senior Afghan political and military leaders. The primary outcome of that trip, it seems, is a bilateral commitment between the two South Asian neighbors to enhance their cooperation on security matters. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan have faced a persistent domestic threat from extremist militants, many of whom use the mountainous borderlands between the two countries as a base of operations. Historically, enmity and suspicion between Kabul and Islamabad (or rather Rawalpindi, where the Pakistani military is headquartered) have prevented much cooperation on this front, resulting in a porous border across the Durand Line to the advantage of militant groups.

India-Pakistan: My Sanctuary Or Yours

May 17, 2015: Pakistan has been pressuring Afghanistan to either go after Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah, who has moved his headquarters to eastern Afghanistan (Nuristan Province, northeast of Kabul), or allow Pakistani troops to do it. Afghanistan is still (after nearly two weeks) debating what to do. Mullah Fazlullah has tribal allies in eastern Afghanistan (where many tribes straddle the Pakistani border) and making a major effort to get him might cause long-term problems between the national government and the tribes in Nuristan Province. This area is remote and thinly populated (130,000). It has long suffered a large Taliban presence. Mullah Fazlullah has been active in the area for several years and has lots of allies. Afghanistan is also reluctant to go after Mullah Fazlullah with Afghan troops because the Americans are already seeking to kill the Taliban leader via a UAV air strike.

Infantry: The Pakistani Secret Weapon

May 14, 2015: The Pakistani Army recently made public one of the reasons why they were able to run thousands of Islamic terrorists out of North Waziristan in the last ten months, killing nearly 2,000 of them, while losing only 200 of their own troops. Pakistan had adopted the American practice of realistic training centers. The American effort began when the National Training Center (NTC), a 147,000 hectare (359,000 acre) facility in the Mohave Desert at Fort Irwin, California was established in 1982. There the United States Army revolutionized the training of ground combat troops with the development of MILES (laser tag) equipment for infantry and armored vehicles and the use of MILES in a large, "wired" (to record all activities), combat training area. Other countries soon realized the importance of these innovations and a growing number of nations built their own NTC clones. NTC type training centers are usually built to enable a combat battalion or brigade to go through several weeks of very realistic combat exercises. The Pakistani version concentrated on training individual soldiers and small units. After 2001 the United States established more training centers that specialized in irregular warfare. Most NATO allies, plus Israel, Russia and China eventually followed with their own versions of NTC.

Afghanistan and Pakistan Sign Intelligence Sharing Agreement

May 19, 2015

Pakistan, Afghanistan sign accord to share intelligence 

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The spy agencies of Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to share intelligence and carry out “coordinated intelligence operations” against militants operating along their porous border, in the latest sign of improved relations following years of mistrust that undermined the fight against the Taliban.

Pakistan’s army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa announced the signing of the Memoranda of Understanding between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security in a Twitter post late Monday. Bajwa did not say when the accord was signed.

The announcement came days after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, along with the country’s army chief and the head of the ISI, visited Kabul to step up cooperation in the fight against militants.

The Osama bin Laden Killing Story and Pakistan’s Overlooked Perfidy

Jeff Stein
May 17, 2015

Hersh Furor Bares Pakistan’s Perfidy More Than Obama’s 

Everybody seems to have a story about Seymour Hersh. Mine goes way back to sometime in 1971, about two years after I got back from Vietnam. Late one night in Boston, my phone rang. It was Hersh, asking what I knew about the CIA’s Phoenix assassination program. He’d heard that I’d given testimony about it from my time as a military intelligence spy-handler in Vietnam. He didn’t waste time on niceties.

Of course I knew who he was. He was already world famous from his recent exposé of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. What more could I tell him? he demanded. Could I corroborate what somebody else had said about the torture of a captive? Did I know about so-and-so, such-and-such? The questions came ratatatat, more of an interrogation than an interview. And then he was gone. The 1972 publication of his book Coverup, which showed how high-level U.S. Army officers buried the facts of yet another Vietnamese massacre, got far less attention than his original Pulitzer Prize-winning My Lai story, which focused on the soldiers.

Russian Troops Begin Big Military Exercise Along Afghan Border

May 17, 2015

Russia Flexes Central Asia Military Might

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan — Russia has deployed hundreds of troops for drills in Central Asia with its ex-Soviet allies in a show of force as anxiety grows over a surge in fighting in neighboring Afghanistan.

Around 2,500 personnel from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) are taking part in joint exercises due to run to Wednesday in Tajikistan. The move is seen as re-enforcing Moscow’s role as the main guarantor of the fragile region’s security after US troops leave Afghanistan.

The Russian deployment of about 500 troops for the drills started last week, bolstered by soldiers from Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Belarus.

Tajikistan is in a strategic spot, bordering Afghanistan’s Kunduz province where over 200 people have died and 10,000 been displaced by a militant offensive.

6 Chinese Men Charged With Economic Espionage in US

What will be Beijing’s response? 

Yesterday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco, in consultation with the U.S. Justice Department’s counterespionage section, charged six Chinese citizens– including two Chinese professors – with economic espionage and theft of trade secrets, and conspiracy to commit economic espionage and theft of trade secrets.

“According to the charges in the indictment, the defendants leveraged their access to and knowledge of sensitive U.S. technologies to illegally obtain and share U.S. trade secrets with the [People’s Republic of China] for economic advantage,” Assistant Attorney General John Carlin, head of the national security division told theWashington Post.

One of the defendants, professor Hao Zhang, 36, was arrested last Saturday at Los Angeles International Airport. He had been invited to deliver a lecture at a conference. The other five co-conspirators, including professor Wei Pang, 35, are believed to be still in China.

Have China and Russia Agreed Not to Attack Each Other in Cyberspace?

May 20, 2015

Probably not, as one expert recently told The Diplomat. 

This month, China and Russia signed a memorandum stipulating that the two countries would not conduct cyberattacks against each other and that they also would jointly thwart technology that could potentially ”destabilize the internal political and socio-economic atmosphere,” “disturb public order” or “interfere with the internal affairs of the state,” the Wall Street Journalreported.

Additionally, Beijing and Moscow agreed on closer cooperation in combating cybercrime, and joint efforts to improve critical information infrastructure protection in both countries. According to one expert “perhaps 70 percent” of the language in the document has been directly taken from a previous agreement worked out under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

China's Master Plan to Become a 'World Manufacturing Power'

Made in China 2025 outlines a 10-year plan for strengthening China’s manufacturing capabilities. 
China revealed its plan to become a “world manufacturing power” by 2025 on Tuesday. According to Xinhua, the “Made in China 2025” plan, endorsed by Premier Li Keqiang, “is the country’s first action plan focusing on promoting manufacturing.”

It may sound odd that China, often called the “world’s factory” is focusing such high-level attention on strengthening its manufacturing capabilities. But China’s leaders effectively want to move up the supply chain – they want China to become known as a leader in manufacturing innovative technologies. In Li’s words, Beijing wants to go from “Made in China” to “Created in China.”

It will come as no surprise, then, that the plan includes a heavy focus on innovation and technology, two themes that have been heavily promoted by current leadership. Li emphasized the important of fostering innovation in his recent visit to China’s “Silicon Valley.” For Beijing, cutting bureaucratic red tape is one key to unlocking China’s creativity – Li has made this into a personal quest, repeatedly promising to eliminate unnecessary government approvals and streamline the remaining processes.


May 20, 2015 

Some analysts argue that China’s new artificial land formations in the South China Sea are not worth worrying about as they could be easily “taken out” if war broke out. But those who take that view are failing to see how these islands fit intoChina’s slow motion strategy to achieve regional hegemony in the Asia-Pacific.

Since the United States and others throughout the region seek to maximize cooperation with a reemerging China while minimizing conflict, we are caught between a rock and a hard place as to how to handle brash acts of forcefulness such as the creation of artificial islands. China is well on its way to doubling the preexisting land mass in the South China Sea, seeking to make its ambiguous nine-dash-line claim to most of the sea — which, in its most expansive forms, the U.S. government has stated has no basis in international law — a de facto reality. Beijing also refuses to participate in the current case lodged by the Philippines before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, thereby calling into question China’s interest in abiding by international law. Australian academic Alan Dupont describes what China is trying to do as terraforming its way to control over the South China Sea. China’s strategic intent may be as simple as a desire to exercise greater capability over its near seas, consistent with its growing power, capability, and confidence and infused by a sense of historical injustice, nationalism, and political exigency.

Meeting the long-term Chinese Challenge

20 May , 2015

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of China Xi Jinping at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, at Shaanxi Province, in Xi'an, China

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent trip to China was eminently successful – no matter by which yardstick success is measured. It resulted in agreements to facilitate US$ 10 billion Chinese investment in India’s infrastructure, business-to-business deals worth US$ 22 billion and a host of measures to enhance educational, healthcare, cultural and people-to-people contacts, including Visa on arrival for Chinese visitors.

…Modi would have politely but firmly told the Chinese President that the PLA must be reined in and told to stop vitiating the atmosphere by repeatedly launching trans-LAC incidents.

What Did China's Top Graft-Buster Have to Say to Francis Fukuyama?

May 19, 2015
Wang Qishan’s conversation with foreign experts reveals a lot about the governing strategies of China’s current leaders. 

On April 23, Wang Qishan, the head of China’s anti-corruption agency, met with three scholars in Zhongnanhai – renowned political scientist Francis Fukuyama, former Citic Securities manager Tatsuhito Tokuchi, and economist Masahiko Aoki. Wang’s remarks, given in a forceful and unconstrained style, revealed much about how the current Chinese administration views governance. Below, I excerpt some passages from Wang’s remarks and add my own comments.

Wang Qishan:

Speaking of the concepts of the nation, the rule of law, and accountability, these three elements are part of China’s historical “DNA,” meaning that Chinese culture has this DNA. First, we need to clarify our own history and civilization – this excellent DNA should play a role in China’s modernization… And the Chinese nation needs to absorb the good aspects of Western culture. China should absorb the admirable pieces of every nation in the world.

Don't Be Fooled: America's ISIS Crisis Is Just Beginning

May 20, 2015 

While this weekend's targetted killing shows some progress, U.S. forces have a much bigger problem on their hands...
Developments over this last weekend have left many Americans (and many of our allies) wondering about the progress (or lack thereof) of our fight against ISIS. First came news that U.S. Special Operations Forces had conducted a daring raid into Syria, killing a major ISIS leader. Then came word that ISIS had captured the city of Ramadi in Iraq. What does each development mean, and which is more important?

Ramadi is the capital and largest city in the mainly Sunni province of Al Anbar. It was purported to be the place where the Iraqis would turn the tide on ISIS and drive it further to the west, away from Baghdad and eventually out of the country. Instead, ISIS drove what were some of Iraq’s best troops out of the city.

Iran, Israel, and the North Korea Analogy

May 19, 2015 

One of the lines of attack against the agreement to limit Iran's nuclear program is to liken it to the case of North Korea, with which the United States and other powers reached a deal in 1994—the so-called “Agreed Framework”—that did not stop North Korea from building and testing nuclear weapons. The most prominent opponent of any agreement with Iran, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been among those who have tried to make this comparison. The comparison ignores many large and important differencesbetween the two cases.

Even just a few of those differences are sufficient to show how misplaced the comparison is. Start with the nature of the regimes involved. Iran, despite its complicated institutional arrangements that constitute departures from full democracy, has a political system in which responsiveness to public demands and expectations matters. The political futures not only of President Rouhani but also of the supreme leader depend in large part on satisfying expectations for economic improvement that could come only from adherence to an agreement with the West that would bring some relief from economic sanctions. In Pyongyang, in contrast, is a family-led band of thugs posing as a government that has had no compunction about pursuing policies that have caused mass starvation among the North Korean population.

Newsflash: Iran's Revolutionary Guards Support the Nuclear Deal

May 20, 2015 

Contrary to claims in the West, the IRGC will not block a nuclear agreement.

A great myth in the West has always held that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is opposed to any nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1—the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. Since the Lausanne Accord was announced, neoconservatives and their allies have continued to claim that the high command of the IRGC opposes the agreement, and may even try to scuttle it. This claim is demonstrably false.

After the Geneva interim agreement between the two sides was announced in November 2013, this author opined that the IRGC would not try to scuttle it. As it turned out, Iran kept its commitments to the interim agreement, and—according to numerous reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—carried out its obligations under the agreement. Thus, now that the Lausanne Accord has been reached, the question again is: will the IRGC block the final agreement, to be signed by the end of June?

I argue once again that the answer to the question is a firm no.

News of the Surreal: Pentagon General Says Iraqi Army Is Winning the War Against ISIS

Bill Roggio
May 18, 2015

‘Strategy to defeat Islamic State is working,’ US Department of Defense claims

This Department of Defense news article (reproduced in full below) on the status of the fight against the Islamic State couldn’t have been more poorly timed. Published on May 15, the same day that the Islamic State overran the government center in Ramadi, the report provides a pollyannaish view from Brigadier General Thomas D. Weidley of the US military’s air campaign and the Iraqi military’s fight against the Islamic State. Weidley is the chief of staff for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led coalition that was put together to “defeat and dismantle” the Islamic State.

Weidley described Ramadi as “contested” and claimed that Iraqi forces repelled most attacks in the city when in reality the Islamic State took control of the government center and most neighborhoods in Ramadi by May 15. By May 17, the Islamic State was in full control of Ramadi and overran the Anbar Operations Command and 8th Brigade Headquarters at Camp Ar Ramadi. Iraqi forces are said to be in complete disarray in the Fallujah-Ramadi corridor.

Still Not Ready for Primetime: ‘Elite’ Iraqi Army Units Routed at Ramadi

Mitchell Prothero
May 18, 2015

Elite Iraqi units abandon Ramadi in biggest Islamic State win since Mosul

IRBIL, IRAQ — Iraqi security forces attempting to retake control of the western city of Ramadi were routed in heavy fighting Sunday, the worst defeat for Iraq’s central government since Islamic State militants stormed across the country last June.

In a replay of last year’s military debacle, elite units abandoned their U.S.-provided equipment to Islamic State fighters and fled the area, leaving several hundred soldiers surrounded in the last government-held enclave in the city.

Multiple security sources, none of whom agreed to be identified, speaking from both within the besieged Anbar Operations Center as well as with the units fleeing the city, described the fight for control of the capital of Iraq’s largest province as essentially over after reinforcements sent on Saturday to retake the city were crushed by Islamic State fighters.

Countering ISIS, the Adaptive Enemy

May 18, 2015

The ISIS Defense in Iraq and Syria: Countering an Adaptive Enemy

Some have claimed that ISIS is on the defensive inside Iraq and Syria. A defensive strategy, however, is not a sign of organizational weakness, but rather a sign that ISIS intends to preserve its holdings in Iraq and Syria and keep its claim to a caliphate. ISIS’s defensive strategies include expanding elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, while also maximizing combat power and future opportunities to launch offensives inside Iraq and Syria. Iraq and Syria are the physical foundation for ISIS’s expanding caliphate.

The U.S. must recognize that its policy of defeating ISIS is insufficient. The U.S. and other anti-ISIS actors are facing a new environment in 2015 in which the underlying assumptions that allowed the U.S. to promote limited wars and surgical counter-terrorism strategies are no longer valid. Policymakers must now make strategic planning decisions assuming that disorder in Syria and the fragility of Iraq’s security will continue into the future. This strategic inflection requires that the U.S. reconcile its policy of defeating ISIS with the absence of a regional policy to stabilize the Middle East region.

Russia Reveals New 'Super' Aircraft Carrier Plans

May 19, 2015 

Russia has revealed key details of a new supercarrier it plans to build.

In a new interview with IHS Jane’s, Valery Polyakov, the deputy director of Russia's government-owned Krylov State Research Center, the company designing the new carrier, outlined some new details about the ship, which is being billed as Project 23000E or Shtorm (Storm).

According to Polyakov,, the vessel will displace between 90,000 and 100,000 tons, roughly double the size of any carrier Russia has built to date. It will also be 330 meters in length, 40 meters wide, and have a draft of 11 meters. The carrier will have a cruising speed of 20 knots (kt), with a top speed of 30 kt. The vessel will also have an endurance of 120 days and require a crew of between 4,000-5,000 sailors.

Is U.S. Foreign Policy Making Americans Less Safe?

May 19, 2015 

Senior U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials increasingly warn of the threat of “lone wolf” individuals attempting terror attacks within the United States. These potential perpetrators are characterized as externally motivated, but predominantly self-directed in plotting and attempting acts of politically and/or ideologically motivated violence. They need not travel to purported foreign “safe havens” to receive training or guidance, nor be in direct contact with terrorist organizations based abroad. Rather, their inspiration, in large part, appears to stem from the principles and narratives promoted by Islamist jihadist groups.

On February 12, National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:

Abandoned: The Kiev Government's Isolation of Eastern Ukrainians

May 20, 2015 

"[W]hen governments strip people of their identity, they create a vacuum that will inevitably be filled with something else, like extremism, religiosity, nationalism, etc."

Growing up in Horlivka, Ukraine, I never took to public holidays. Celebrations of religious holidays seemed too pagan and pretentious, while others lacked a sense of purpose, besides offering an excuse to eat, drink and be merry. Regardless of what many of the holidays commemorated, they did create a sense of culture and social identity—essential to any society’s existence.

The only holiday that seemed to unite everyone was Victory Day on May 9. On this day, not only Ukrainians, but people across the post-Soviet space, commemorate victory in World War II and the “Great Patriotic War,” a term used to describe the war during June 22, 1941 to May 9, 1945 along eastern fronts of World War II fought between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

The Pentagon's South China Sea Overkill

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) conducts routine patrols in international waters of the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands in May 2015.

The military edginess that the DoD has been consistently displaying over the South China Sea appears to be overkill. 
Australians woke to the news last Friday that the United States would be sending long-range B-1 strike bomber aircraft to the southern hemisphere country to help deter China’s intentions in the South China Sea. As the Middle East and its people face escalating wars and civil strife, as the world stares down terrorism from Islamic State, and as the world struggles with escalating human trafficking, there was disbelief in Australia. It appeared, on the surface at least, that someone in the Pentagon had his or her priorities wrong.

The story was scotched later in the day, when the Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, said there was no plan for B-1 deployments to the country. The Pentagon recanted and said that the senior official who had made the statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Wednesday had “misspoken.”

The Truth About Anti-China Discourse in the United States

There are some real problems with discourse analysis of this ilk. 

I’ve noticed a pattern of analysts and scholars who, being either sympathetic to Chinese government views or critical of U.S. Asia policy, point to an “anti-China” discourse in U.S. scholarly and policymaking circles. These discourse analyzers express concern that the United States is provoking China and, at the most logical extreme, threatening regional stability. Their concerns are mostly misplaced. Blaming U.S. discourse for Chinese assertiveness would be amusing were it not irresponsible; it alleviates China of any accountability for its own actions.

To the extent that there’s an “anti-China” discourse in U.S. circles, its roots are not inherently with hawkish propensities of U.S. policymakers but with regional and U.S. perceptions of Chinese word and deed.

A Net Assessment of the World

MAY 19, 2015

A pretentious title requires a modest beginning. The world has increasingly destabilized and it is necessary to try to state, as clearly as possible, what has happened and why. This is not because the world is uniquely disorderly; it is that disorder takes a different form each time, though it is always complex.

To put it simply, a vast swath of the Eurasian landmass (understood to be Europe and Asia together) is in political, military and economic disarray. Europe and China are struggling with the consequences of the 2008 crisis, which left not only economic but institutional challenges. Russia is undergoing a geopolitical crisis in Ukraine and an economic problem at home. The Arab world, from the Levant to Iran, from the Turkish border through the Arabian Peninsula, is embroiled in politically destabilizing warfare. The Western Hemisphere is relatively stable, as is the Asian Archipelago. ButEurasia is destabilizing in multiple dimensions.

America Needs an Open Source Intelligence Fusion Center

May 19, 2015

The humanitarian world often has a healthy suspicion of the military. This is understandable. It can be very dangerous for humanitarian organizations and USAID personnel to be conflated with the military, which skeptical locals sometimes consider the same thing as the CIA overseas. However, as a former member of the military I have seen military Civil Affairs units doing good, genuine humanitarian work in dangerous areas . . . winning the hearts and minds. And I have been out in Iraq interacting daily with the local Iraqis, as have many of my fellow soldiers.

The Power and Influence of the CIA Today Inside the U.S. Government

May 18, 2015

Dennis Blair was itching for a fight. In May 2009, the retired U.S. Navy admiral was serving as the director of national intelligence (DNI). Theoretically, Blair’s title gave him oversight of the CIA and Washington’s constellation of 16 other spy agencies. Yet, in reality, the director was powerless even to designate the senior American spy in a given country—a rank that, for decades, had traditionally been given to the CIA station chief in capitals from London to Beirut. Blair felt entitled to have charge over this. So sidestepping the White House, he sent a written order codifying that the DNI would now be the one to select the most senior spies. But there was one more important change: That person could be associated with any agency within the intelligence community. Though Blair said that the designee would almost always continue to be selected from the CIA, this didn’t sit well with the agency’s then director, Leon Panetta. He responded by shooting off a cable to all of the CIA’s overseas stations effectively telling them to ignore Blair’s memo completely.

The media dubbed it a “turf war,” but it was surely an asymmetrical one: Blair’s office was rendered impotent, simply shoved aside by a CIA bent on securing its hold on power.

DOD Has Conducted Nuclear Weapons Accident Response Exercise at Naval Station Kitsap-Bangor, Washington

By Cheryl Pellerin
May 18, 2015

DoD Exercise Simulates Home-grown Terrorists, Nuclear Incident

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2015 - In a geopolitical environment with proliferating threats, a Defense Department whole-of-government exercise held May 5-8 provided a realistic way for federal, state and local experts to interact in simulated situations involving mock home-grown terrorists and a nuclear incident.

This year’s Nuclear Weapon Accident Incident Exercise, or NUWAIX 2015, took place on Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, located on the Kitsap Peninsula in the state of Washington. The Defense Department whole-of-government exercise was held May 5-8, 2015, and involved home-grown terrorists and a nuclear incident. Here, assessors evaluate elements of the exercise after its completion May 8. 

This year’s Nuclear Weapon Accident Incident Exercise, or NUWAIX 2015, took place on Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor located on the Kitsap Peninsula in the state of Washington.

Are We Exaggerating China’s Cyber Threat?

A new Harvard report suggests that China may not be much of a threat to U.S. cybersecurity. Is that really the case? 
On May 8, U.S. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke complained that China had used an offensive cyber capability “to interfere with the ability of worldwide internet users to access content hosted outside of China.” Experts feared China had hijacked traffic intended for domestic servers and re-routed to conduct a malicious attack on American sites.

In March, the American coding repository, GitHub, reported intermittent outages amid a multiday cyber attack, which redirected traffic from the popular Chinese search engine Baidu to pages linked to The New York TimesMandarin-language site and GreatFire.org — a tool utilized by Chinese netizens to steer around the Great Firewall. Both sites are banned in the mainland. Researchers say an offensive Chinese cyber attack system called the “Great Cannon,” which captures traffic in China and fires it out at offending sites, perpetrated the attack.

Navy to launch new cyber strategy

Amber Corrin

The Navy's cyber component will soon release a new cyber strategy that centers on five key goals for modernizing the service's cyber operations, according to a top Navy official.

The most significant of the five goals involves operating the Navy network as a warfighting platform, which requires "assured command and control across all networks, ashore and afloat environment [and] different technical environments," said Kevin Cooley, executive director and command information officer for Fleet Cyber Command/10thFleet.

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"That's a pretty interesting problem and we're excited," Cooley said April 7 at the C4ISR & Networks Conference in Arlington, Virginia.

Transforming the network into a warfighting platform involves a number of aspects, Cooley said, including reducing the attack surface through measures such as assuring compliance and defending against a range of threats. It also means striking a balance in IT investments, weighing cost savings against defense in depth, as well as influencing the programming, budgeting and acquisition processes.

DoD sets sights on weaponizing cyber

Amber Corrin

The Defense Department appears to be preparing to make major moves in the military's cyber domain, with several components advancing their capabilities and policies, and the Defense secretary eyeing a specialized cyber corps.

At the Defense Information Systems Agency, the sweeping Joint Regional Security Stack initiative to overhaul IT infrastructure across military bases also is serving as means for DoD to empower troops to act in cyberspace. DISA is helping to implement JRSS at dozens of sites in the U.S. and abroad, but the agency also is changing the way it trains in and conducts cyber operations, starting at Fort Meade, Maryland, where DISA, U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency all are housed.

"When you start looking at the command and control and the capabilities that we are going to put at the combatant commander's fingertips, not necessarily at the signal, communicator, cyber fingertips, we are getting ready to change the way we work," DISA Director LTG Ronnie Hawkins said April 7 at the C4ISR & Networks conference in Arlington, Virginia. "In fact within DISA, within the joint force headquarters, we are even training differently…I would tell you that we have to get it to where we treat the JRSS as a weapons system and we are operationalizing that within DISA and within the Department of Defense."