18 August 2015

A Nation Shamed - and the mafia marches on

By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
17 Aug , 2015

Early last year, the former COAS, Gen VK Singh (now MoS in the Modi government) went to lay a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate accompanied by 7-8 veteran General Officers – all wearing their regimental side caps and some even their medals. Army Headquarters, or shall we say the misnomer Integrated HQ of MoD (Army) had been informed in advance and so a serving Colonel from Ceremonials and Welfare Directorate of Army HQ was present at the site. But as the veterans came forward to lay the wreath, a company of baton wielding police accompanied with water cannon fitted vehicles charged forward.

This is not the first time that veterans have protested for OROP at Jantar Mantar. On earlier occasion, veterans even returned their medals and gallantry awards to the President, with letters written in their blood.

Plate to Plough: The hands that feed us

Written by Ashok Gulati
August 17, 2015 

Indian agriculture has made remarkable progress since 1947 and credit for this goes mainly to the farmer. Now we need to repay our debt to the agricultural community

Whom should we salute for such a turnaround in India’s agri-fortunes? (Illustration C R Sasikumar)

As India celebrates its 68th year of independence, it is time to pause and look back at the major challenges we have faced since Independence and how they were overcome, as well as at the mistakes and follies we committed so that we don’t repeat them.

In 1947, undivided India had a population of 390 million. But overnight, on August 15, India was responsible for the destiny of 330 million people. The other 60 million went to Pakistan — 30 million in West Pakistan and another 30 million in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. A majority of these 330 million people were rural, quite poor, illiterate, and had a very short life expectancy.


AUGUST 14, 2015

The quest for historical analogies that parse Chinese military strategy is a rich one, but comparing Chinese A2/AD to the Maginot Line has its limits.

Robbie Gramer and Rachel Rizzo wrote a nifty article this week likening China’s anti-access/area-denial strategy (A2/AD) and forces to the Maginot Line, the defensive works that ringed interwar France. Rather than batter against this A2/AD frontier, say Gramer and Rizzo, U.S. and allied forces should try to outflank them. Avoid strength, attack weakness: classic wisdom from the strategic canon.

This all makes sense from a tactical and operational standpoint. It says little about strategy or politics. And indeed, the idea of vaulting over or bypassing the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) thicket of anti-ship and anti-air defenses isn’t especially novel. The debate over whether and how American naval forces should mount a “distant blockade” far from Chinese shores has raged for adecade or so now. Aviators, particularly of the U.S. Air Force variety, are big proponents of flying over Chinese ramparts to strike at vulnerable places behind them. To deploy a metaphor from siege warfare, some proposedstrategies amount to erecting ultramodern counterwalls parallel to China’s anti-access zone — hemming in shipping without hitting the mainland. Everything old is new again, it seems.

A Frightening Thought: China Erodes America's Submarine Advantage

August 17, 2015

In January 2011, the cover of the Chinese naval magazine 现代舰船 [Modern Ships], which is published by giant state-owned shipbuilding conglomerate CSIC, carried a simple and elegant headline: “056来了” [The 056 has arrived]. In an impressive display of shipbuilding muscle, Beijing has proceeded in the 4.5 years that followed in building nearly 20 of this new type of light frigate or corvette. 

For an interesting comparison, the U.S. Navy has launched less than half that number of its own small surface combatant, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) over a longer span of time. Never mind that LCS still lacks for an anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM), so it is quite clearly “out-sticked” by the Chinese variant. But what is really impressive about the Type 056 is its ability to fill in a much needed niche-capability in China’s naval arsenal: the requirement for a small, cheap, versatile, rugged and well-armed patrol ship to show the flag in proximate maritime disputes. One obvious lesson from the conspicuous buildup described above is to watch the cover of现代舰船 [Modern Ships] carefully.

Watch Out, America: China Unveils New Massive Missile Launcher

August 15, 2015

China has built a massive new mobile missile launcher likely intended to carry its new anti-ship missile.
This month, Chinese citizens began posting pictures of a new Transporter Erector Launch (TEL) vehicle seen driving on the streets of China. The new TEL is much bigger than China’s current TELs used to carry CJ-10 land attack cruise missile (LACM).

As Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer note on their spectacular Eastern Arsenal blog:

This new TEL vehicle is similar to the all-terrain 8X8 TEL for the CJ-10 land attack cruise missile (LACM), but it's much, much bigger. It appears to share a similar powertrain to the CJ-10 TEL and has the same width, but it's much longer; it has 6 axles with 12 all-terrain wheels. There's an extended section above the first and second axles, which would likely hold additional personnel and equipment for missile launch and flight corrections. 

Devaluation and Despair: Breaking Down China's Currency Dilemma

August 16, 2015

On Friday, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the Chinese central bank, reversed course and set the renminbi on an upward path. That followed three straight days of devaluation that shook global stock, currency, and commodity markets, sending them downward.

Friday’s reversal looks responsible. Nonetheless, the PBOC’s actions last week show policy disarray in the Chinese capital. The net result is that Beijing rattled the world, ruined its reputation for stable management, and did almost nothing to help China’s faltering economy.

The daily devaluations follow months of government statements that the central bank would keep the currency stable.

Every trading morning, 15 minutes before the 9:30 opening bell, central bank officials announce the day’s reference rate against the U.S. dollar. The renminbi, informally known as the yuan, is then allowed to rise or fall 2% from that rate.

Taiwan and the Prospects for War Between China and America

By Alex Littlefield and Adam Lowther
August 11, 2015

For the United States and its allies and partners in Asia, China’s aggressive efforts to assert questionable claims in the South and East China Sea, enforce a disputed Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), build the rocket/missile and naval capabilities needed to invade Taiwan, and build a substantial ballistic missile capability all work to create a situation where conflict between the U.S. and the PRC could occur and rapidly escalate. Given that American political and military leaders have a poor understanding of Chinese ambitions and particularly their opaque nuclear thinking, there is ample reason to be concerned that a future conflict could escalate to a limited nuclear conflict.

Thus, it is worth taking a look at the PRC with an eye toward offering insight into Chinese motivation and thinking when it comes to how a possible crisis over Taiwan could escalate to the use of nuclear weapons.

Chinese Capabilities


AUGUST 13, 2015

How the Islamic State tells its own history is critical to understanding everything important about it. And if we cannot understand the Islamic State, we are unlikely to defeat it.

The headlines told the story. In late June 2014, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was supposedly “celebrating” its “birthday,” the one-year anniversary of declaring itself an “Islamic State” after capturing the Iraqi city of Mosul. Indeed, ISIL’s Nineva province reportedly forced Mosul residents to celebrate the city’s conquest and the group’s Wilayat Sinai distributed a videorecognizing the milestone. There was plenty of Twitter chatter among supporters of the group as well. Despite those yelps, however, a much larger dog did not bark.

ISIL’s vaunted media team did not release a glossy documentary about the anniversary. There was no statement from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (who, granted, may be injured) and no statement from Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the group’s official spokesperson. Perhaps such propaganda remains in the offing, and is simply delayed. But six weeks and one-year after Abu Muhammad al-Adnani declared ISIL the Caliphate, it seems appropriate to consider an alternative: this anniversary is more important in Washington and London than it is in Raqqa or Mosul.

Bad Move: The Backfiring of Israeli Strategy on Iran

August 15, 2015

Those paying attention both to the Israeli government's implacable opposition against the agreement restricting Iran's nuclear program and to the issue of Iran's other activity in the Middle East might take note of some background that several analysts, including Shibley Telhami and Aaron David Miller, have noted: that Israeli agitation about the Iranian nuclear program was a principal impetus for negotiating the agreement on that subject that was finalized in Vienna last month. Miller goes so far as to suggest (presumably with tongue firmly in cheek) that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ought to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his activism that motivated other governments to negotiate the deal that he now is doing his utmost to shoot down.

Law in the Time of Endless War

August 17, 2015

President Obama verbally aligns himself with critics of his counterterror policies—while continuing to carry them out.
“This is, in my view, an illegal war right now.”

Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) spoke those words last week, at a public eventat the Cato Institute. He was referring to America’s military campaign against the Islamic State, which, as of this past Saturday, has been going on for one full year. According to U.S. Central Command, in that time the U.S.-led coalition has conducted almost six thousand airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, and 3,300 U.S. troops are currently deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

And, as Kaine noted, Congress has yet to vote to authorize this war. Instead, the White House has argued that the Islamic State is covered under the terms of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). Thatlegislation authorizes the president to use force against “those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” At Cato, Kaine—a member of the president’s own party who serves on both the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees—described the White House’s legal rationale as “ridiculous.”

Off-Target: The Folly of Removing Sanctions on Iran’s Ballistic Missiles

August 17, 2015

UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which enshrines the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement, stipulates that restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missiles will expire eight years after the deal’s implementation. This expiration date is a strategic blunder. Permanent relief for ballistic missiles will allow Iran to not only reinforce its deterrent capacity, but to redouble the offensive threat it poses to the region.

Iran’s ballistic missiles have long been at the top of the list of asymmetric threats posed by Iran. While initially envisioned under the late Shah, missiles ultimately grew to be a core part of Iran’s security doctrine after its bloody eight-year war with Iraq. During that conflict, it was none other than a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who proposed to “reverse-engineer” Scud missiles Tehran had procured from the Libya and Syria to give it an edge in projectile manufacturing.

Thus began the Guards’ decades-long affiliation with the Islamic Republic’s missile program. Since then, Iran hasbecome home to “the largest and most diverse ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East,” including copies and variants of North Korean and Russian platforms, with both solid and liquid-fueled weaponry.

Why Congress Must Derail Obama's Iran Nuclear Deal

President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is going to reward and embolden Tehran to continue its belligerent policies and give it a dominant position in the Middle East, to the detriment of American national security.

President Barack Obama would have the Congressional debate on his nuclear pact with Iran focus on its technical details contained in the publicly released document, although reports of numerous side agreements and letters that have not been released raise questions about the full scope of the pact. The Obama administration, however, habitually suffers a preoccupation with tactical minutia and neglect of sound strategic thinking. Focusing exclusively on the technical details of the nuclear deal in the Congressional debate would be akin to examining tactical “weeds” at the risk of missing the strategic “forest.”

Tehran masterfully parlayed President Obama’s hunger for a foreign-policy legacy showcase into a pact that would preserve Iran’s robust, diverse and sophisticated nuclear program. Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran clandestinely operated for years in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), would be legitimized in the eyes of the international community, releasing Iran from international economic, political and military sanctions. Tehran diplomatically accomplished all of this without altering its militant Islamic ideology, authoritarian repression at home, or its aid and abetment of terrorism and paramilitary operations abroad. In short, Iran has shown the world that crime does indeed pay.

End Of Sanctions Opens Iran To India

16 Aug, 2015

It opens the doors to central Asia, Afghanistan, Russia, Caucasus region and Turkey

My earlier columns about the ramifications of US-Iran N deal in the Middle East were not flattering for Iran at all. The Iranian leadership also proved me correct with its usual penchant for pin pricks and rabble rousing.

When Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif touched New Delhi’s base on Friday, the eyes turned eastward from Syria, where Zarif had spent considerable time with President Bashar al Assad amid intense diplomacy between Russia, the US and the Arab world to end the raging strife. The nuclear deal’s implications are no less complex in South Asia, albeit with less stakes.

Foreign Minister of Iran, Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif calling on Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.


AUGUST 15, 2015

The West will not contain Communism; it will transcend Communism. We will … dismiss it as a sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written.

Ronald Reagan, May 17, 1981, Notre Dame University

As I wondered through the Reagan Library in the hours before Governor Jeb Bush’s first major foreign policy speech this past week, I was struck by the similarities between what Reagan found when he entered office to the world the next U.S. president will encounter. By 1980, America had been embarrassed by Iran, was on the back foot against the Soviet Union, had seen its military forces “hollowed” out, and generally believed it was in an inevitable decline — a “crisis of the spirit in our country” as President Carter put it. Our policy against the global expansion of communism was to contain it and to cut deals with our enemies rather than try to defeat them.

Revealed: The Most Powerful Nuclear Bomb Ever

August 16, 2015

Maj. Andrei Durnovtsev, a Soviet air force pilot and commander of a Tu-95 Bear bomber, holds a dubious honor in the history of the Cold War.
Durnovtsev flew the aircraft that dropped the most powerful nuclear bomb ever. It had an explosive force of 50 megatons, or more than 3,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima weapon.

Over the years, historians identified many names for the test bomb.

Andrei Sakharov, one of the physicists who helped design it, simply called it “the Big Bomb.” Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev called it “Kuzka’s mother,” a reference to an old Russian saying that means you are about to teach someone a harsh, unforgettable lesson.

The Central Intelligence Agency blandly dubbed the test “Joe 111.” But a more popular name born out of Russian pride and a sheer awe sums it all up —theTsarBomba, or “the King of Bombs.”

America Dithers While the Middle East Burns

August 17, 2015

"Underneath the diplomacy, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey view an agreement with Iran as Washington’s green light for Tehran to continue subversive and destabilizing support for proxy forces in the Arab world." 

While apprehension among Gulf states about the Iranian nuclear agreement has been widely circulated, responses to the deal from Washington’s non-GCC Arab allies have been less publicized. U.S. allies like Egypt, Jordan and non-Arab Turkey have not had a Camp David of their own to voice concerns to Washington, but their reticent responses are telling symptoms of unease about Iranian subversion and hegemonic aspirations.

In initial diplomatic reactions, surface-level optimism failed to cloak fears of Iran’s mounting regional influence. In Ankara, Economy Minister Mehmet Simsek and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu touted the economic boost Turkey will receive from the agreement, but demanded that Tehran “abandon sectarian politics” and discontinue its regional policies. Cairo’s response likewise zeroed in on the deal’s broader implications for Iran's regional interventionism, as evidenced by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s uninspired statement expressing hope that the agreement “prevents an arms race in the Middle East...ensuring the region is free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.” Similarly, Jordan’s Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications said that the kingdom supports “any deal which asserts peace and security in the Middle East” and “prevents arms race in the region,” but added that it was “following up” on the deal’s details and that Jordanian ministers remained in contact with main parties to the agreement, including Secretary Kerry.

Washington's Fondness for 'Friendly' Dictators

August 17, 2015

Whatever enthusiasm the Obama administration may have once had for the democratic upheavals of the Arab Spring has virtually disappeared. That point was underscored with Secretary of State John Kerry’s just-completed meetings with Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The administration’s decision todeliver a shipment of F-16 fighter planes to Cairo on the eve of Kerry’s trip further emphasized that Washington’s affections lie with Egypt’s military autocrats, not the supporters of Mohamed Morsi, the elected president Sisi and his fellow generals deposed and imprisoned.

The Obama administration’s Egypt policy is a microcosm of a troubling pattern in U.S. foreign policy. At least with respect to the Third World, throughout both the Cold War and the so-called war on terror, U.S. policy makers seem to prefer compliant autocrats to feisty, unpredictable democratic leaders.

Can Digital Educate India?

Written by Maya Escueta 
August 17, 2015

The one laptop per child scheme, adopted by many national governments, was scaled before being rigorously evaluated.
Speaking at the Saarc Summit in Nepal last November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that “information technology has removed all barriers to quality education”. With the launch of Digital India, state governments and education practitioners have become increasingly interested in the potential of technology to address low learning levels in primary schools.

Behind Modi’s assertion is a theory that technology can solve fundamental problems with India’s education system. Digital India, Modi’s Rs 1 lakh crore scheme, seeks to provide free broadband wifi in all schools. But before promoting technology as the next big solution, decision-makers should consider how existing research can inform these investments. A handful of high-quality randomised impact evaluations have provided insights into the potential of technology to improve learning. So far, these evaluations have shown mixed results.

Five reasons behind radicalisation in Kashmir


The Army says the total number of active militants in the entire state, including the new recruits, is somewhere between 170 and 180.

For more than a year now there is an intense debate in the Kashmir Valley, whether a sizeable number of educated youth with reasonably good socio-economic status are joining militant ranks in some parts of south and north Kashmir. In various intellectual circles, people are also deliberating an important issue: the new and fearless face of militancy and possibly growing intellectual "radicalisation" in Kashmir.

Does intellectual radicalisation actually exist?

Why are the educated youth from rural Kashmir "crossing the line", though not the one (Line of Control, or LoC) they did in hordes in 1989-90?

On these issues, there is a strong difference of opinion between the Indian Army, paramilitary and Jammu and Kashmir Police, and between officials of India’s internal security and soldiers at ground zero.

If one were to believe top police officials, at least 34 young Kashmiri boys from Pulwama, Awantipora, Islamabad (Anantnag) and Kulgam districts of south Kashmir, and Bandipora, Baramulla and Sopore areas of north Kashmir have embraced militancy, from January until June this year. Twenty two boys, out of the 34, are residents of Pulwama, Shopian and Awantipora — all south Kashmir districts.

At ground zero, there is also a growing perception that the new face of militancy is more effective and intelligent than before.

Number of Russian Troops Deployed In and Around Ukraine Reportedly Rising

Adam Nathan
August 16, 2015

Ukraine fears ‘big war’ as Russia sends in more troops 

Military authorities in Ukraine believe the number of Russian troops within and close to its borders has risen to more than 50,000, raising fears of a substantial escalation in the conflict raging in Ukraine’s eastern regions

Almost 9,000 Russian Federation Armed Forces personnel are believed to be based inside Ukraine, according to reports from the country’s National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) seen by The Independent on Sunday. The rest are based in the neighbouring Rostov region of Russia, including mechanised assault units and communications command systems.

This is in addition to 33,400 so-called “illegal armed formations” of Russian-backed separatist soldiers inside eastern Ukraine, with 400 main battle tanks and close to 2,000 armoured troop carriers reported to be at “full combat readiness”.

Western countries have repeatedly accused Russia of becoming involved in the conflict, a claim Moscow has denied – despite what Ukraine and other observers see as evidence of troop build-up.

Team Obama Knows China Is Behind the OPM Hack. Why Won’t They Say So?


It’s one of the worst hacks of the government in history, doing incalculable damage to U.S. intelligence. But the Obama administration has refused to finger the culprit: Beijing. 

The Obama administration’s top intelligence and law enforcement officials have concluded that China was almost certainly responsible for the massive hack that exposed highly sensitive information on millions of U.S. government employees. 

But the Obama administration has so far refused to publicly accuse Beijing, despite their private conclusions. According to individuals familiar with internal deliberations on the subject, the White House has been reluctant to offend the Chinese in the midst of sensitive international negotiations. And there are concerns that exposing China could compromise U.S. intelligence-gathering techniques. 

Naming China would likely lead to calls for the administration to produce evidence of its claims. In that case, “there could be an issue with revealing sources and methods” of intelligence-gathering, James Lewis, a top computer security expert who has spoken to senior administration officials about the hack against the Office of Personnel Management, told The Daily Beast. 

Why Humans Need To Ban Artificially Intelligent Weapons

AUGUST 14, 2015

Unlike self-aware computer networks, self-driving cars tricked out with machine guns are possible right now — as are any number of AI-augmented weapons far deadlier than their human-aimed counterparts. 

Unfortunately, much of the recent outcry against artificial-intelligence weapons has been confused, conjuring robot takeovers of mankind. This scenario is implausible in the near term, but AI weapons actually do present a danger not posed by conventional, human-controlled weapons, and there is good reason to ban them.

Bryan W. Roberts is an assistant professor of philosophy, logic and scientific method at the London School of Economics. 

Zach Musgrave is a senior software engineer at Google. 

We’ve already seen a glimpse of the future of artificial intelligence in Google’s self-driving cars. Now imagine that some fiendish crime syndicate were to steal such a car, strap a gun to the top, and reprogram it to shoot people. That’s anAI weapon.

A Congressman Goes toDEF CON

AUGUST 13, 2015

Amid the fun and fanfare of the world’s largest hacking conference, the cyber-political battles of the future are taking shape.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — At some point last weekend, Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, woke up, shut off his phone, and made his way through the smoky, noisy, blinking floor of Bally’s Casino to meet with a few of the world’s hacking elite.

Patrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One. He’s also the author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? (Current, 2014). Previously, Tucker was deputy editor for The Futurist for nine years. Tucker has written about emerging technology in Slate, The ...Full Bio

Turning off your phone, or at very least putting it on a secure private network, is a necessity at the annual DEFCON conference.

“It’s wise to consider the public network at DEF CON profoundly hostile! You’ll want to take some precautions,” reads a typical warning sent to the media who cover the event. If your data isn’t locked down, your phone number or email address might wind up on the conference’s public shaming board, the so-called Wall of Sheep — and everywhere else.

Hacking Critical Infrastructure: A How-To Guide

JULY 31, 2015

Cyber-aided physical attacks on power plants and the like are a growing concern. A pair of experts is set to reveal how to pull them off — and how to defend against them. 

How easy would it be to pull off a catastrophic cyber attack on, say, a nuclear power plant? At next week’s Black Hat andDEF CON cybersecurity conferences, two security consultants will describe how bits might be used to disrupt physical infrastructure.

Patrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One. He’s also the author of The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? (Current, 2014). Previously, Tucker was deputy editor for The Futurist for nine years. Tucker has written about emerging technology in Slate, The ...Full Bio

U.S. Cyber Command officials say this is the threat that most deeply concerns them, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report. “This is because a cyber-physical incident could result in a loss of utility service or the catastrophic destruction of utility infrastructure, such as an explosion,” the report said. They’ve happened before. The most famous such attack is the 2010 Stuxnet worm, which damaged centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment plant. (It’s never been positively attributed to anyone, but common suspicion holds that it was the United States, possibly with Israel.)

The Legal Problems with Cyber War Are Much Bigger Than You Think

Much of the unchartered territory begins with questions of what it takes to trigger self-defense in cyberspace, and what does it mean for a nation-state to have 'effective control' of a hacker?

Claims that technical experts have solved attribution ignore legal challenges that could slow or limit how states might lawfully respond to a major cyberattack. First, a country hit with a major cyberattack would face the novel challenge of persuading allies that the scale and effects of a cyberattack were grave enough to trigger a right to self-defense under theUN Charter. No simple task, given that the UN rules were drawn up seven decades ago by countries seeking to end the scourge of traditional, kinetic warfare. Jurists still debate how self-defense applies in cyberspace and U.S.officials admit building a consensus could be a challenge.

Benjamin Brake is an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a foreign affairs analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the U.S. Department of State. Full Bio

Breaking the US government’s hold on the internet won’t be easy

Aug 15, 2015

If there's to be one committee to rule them all, it needs to be handled right.
The internet today is far bigger and more inextricably linked to our daily lives than its creators in the 1970s and 1980s could have imagined. So perhaps it is not surprising that some of the structures put in place decades ago may have failed to keep pace with its rapid evolution.

Indian fiction: Why the English vs Bhasha debate no longer makes sense

Aug 15, 2015 

A new idiom for contemporary English fiction makes a “bhasha” out of English.

Across the board, the Indian novel had its more spectacular start in the bhashas – Malayalam, Odia, Marathi, Bengali – than in English. English was of course a colonial language, brought to India by colonial education and instituted by means of a deliberate policy, as articulated most famously by Thomas Babington Macaulay in 1835, “to form a class who may be interpreters between [the British] and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect intellect.” With literacy rates in any language at 3.5 percent in 1881, and even lower in English, one can see how tracing the rise of the English novel might simply offer a highly selective genealogy of India’s native elite.

Building the New Silk Road

Author: James McBride, Online Writer/Editor, Economics
May 25, 2015

More than two thousand years ago, China's Han Dynasty launched the Silk Road, a sprawling network of commerce that linked South and Central Asia with the Middle East and Europe. Today, the idea of a "New Silk Road," an intertwined set of economic integration initiatives seeking to link East and Central Asia, has taken hold in the United States and China—for very different reasons.

In 2011, the United States launched its vision of greater Central Asian economic and infrastructure integration in the hopes of supporting political stability as it withdrew from Afghanistan. By 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping was assertively articulating his own vision for a China-led Silk Road that would streamline foreign trade, ensure stable energy supplies, promote Asian infrastructure development, and consolidate Beijing's regional influence.

These Nations Use VPNs The Most

by Mathias Brandt
August 15th, 2015 

Virtual private networks or VPNs allow internet users to send and receive data across public networks, as if their devices were connected to a private network, bypassing barriers such as geo-blocking and opening up access to protected content.

At present, 11 percent (166 million people) of the world’s population use VPNs to access restricted sites and social networks and the majority of them are in Asia. 23 percent of Indonesia’s internet users access content via VPN, placing it first worldwide, according to GlobalWebIndex. Several high profile websites including Vimeo, Reddit and Imgur are censored in Indonesia as the government has accused them of hosting content including nudity.

Turkey is in second place with 22 percent, unsurprising considering the country has banned networks like Twitter in the past. Vietnam rounds off the top three with 20 percent. The growth in global VPN use has prompted Netflix to add a paragraph to its terms and conditions, reserving its right to ban any users accessing content of a Netflix service abroad, via VPN.

Senior Pakistani Minister Forced to Resign Because of His Claim of Coup by Pak Spy Agency

August 15, 2015

Pakistani minister resigns over allegations of spy agency coup 

A senior Pakistani minister has resigned after claiming that the country’s former spy chief wanted to overthrow the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, through violent demonstrations in Islamabad last year. Mushahid Ullah Khan submitted his resignation as environment minister on Saturday, the information minister, Pervez Rashid, said. It was not clear whether Sharif would accept Ullah Khan’s offer to quit. 

The resignation of Ullah Khan, a senior leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N) party, came a day after the BBC’s Urdu service broadcast an interview in which he claimed that Zaheer-ul-Islam, a former head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, was behind last year’s anti-government rallies organised by opposition leader Imran Khan and fiery cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri. 

Three people were killed and more than 500 wounded in the two months of protests. Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri had vowed to bring down the government over allegations of election-rigging and corruption.

Ullah Khan alleged that a civilian intelligence agency had recorded Zaheer-ul-Islam instructing protesters to cause chaos. The tape had been played to the prime minister and chief of army staff, Ullah Khan said, but he had not personally heard it. The military denied Ullah Khan’s claim and Sharif’s government said it was not aware of any such conspiracy.

New Leaked Documents Reveal Decades-Old NSA Relationship With AT&T Essential for Agency’s Internet Spying

By Julia Angwin, Charlie Savage, Jeff Larson, Henrik Moltke, Laura Poitras and James Risen 
August 16, 2015

The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T.

While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as “highly collaborative,” while another lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.”

AT&T’s cooperation has involved a broad range of classified activities, according to the documents, which date from 2003 to 2013. AT&T has given the N.S.A. access, through several methods covered under different legal rules, to billions of emails as they have flowed across its domestic networks. It provided technical assistance in carrying out a secret court order permitting the wiretapping of all Internet communications at the United Nations headquarters, a customer of AT&T.

Pentagon and Intelligence Community Creating New Joint, Interagency, & Coalition Space Operations Center (JICSPOC) to Control Space Operations

Sydney J. Freedberg, Jr.
August 14, 2014

New IC, DoD Space Center May Take Over From JSPOC

HUNTSVILLE, ALA.: The new Intelligence Community-military space operations center the military is creating may replace the long-established JSPOC, two top commanders said, but a lot has to happen first. The nascent JICSPOC — Joint, Interagency, & Coalition Space Operations Center — will start as an experiment before potentially becoming a backup to JSPOC and then one day, maybe, taking over from it.

JIPSOC is being created at the direction of Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work. Its objective: to improve the sharing of data between the IC and the military and to help counter rising Russian and Chinese threats to US satellites and space-based systems. By bringing together intelligence agencies and foreign allies alongside the military services, it will act as a “JSPOC on steroids,” said Lt. Gen. David Mann, the chief of Army Space & Missile Defense Command.

Malaysia’s Helpless Liberals

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” So goes the poem by William Butler Yeats, a line that could easily be used to sum up the state of affairs in Malaysia.
The Malaysian liberal can be a curious character. Holding views considered liberal when compared against many of his countrymen, but which may well run into the conservative in Western societies, he (or she) is a tragic figure, his way of life often under attack by his country’s ruling party and the groups aligned with it.

For news, he eschews the government-controlled press – the vapid broadcasts of RTM, the propaganda sheets of Utusan or The New Straits Times – looking instead to more independent media outlets. He listens to BFM 89.9 and reads The Edge and The Malaysian Insider, or foreign publications like the BBC, The New York Times, or The Wall Street Journal. He learns about the latest crackdown or the latest Malaysian fiasco to grab international headlines and he fumes or laughs in disgusted disbelief. He decries it later with his friends and acquaintances over supper at a mamak stall, or dinner at a restaurant, or drinks at a country club.

North Korea and the Diplomatic Utility of Violence

With threats producing diminishing marginal returns, it is not surprising Pyongyang resorts to actual violence
North Korea has threatened “to retaliate against the U.S. with tremendous muscle” if the latter doesn’t cancel military exercises scheduled to begin tomorrow. The exercises are going ahead as planned. Earlier in the month, two South Korean soldiers were wounded along the border with North Korea. The blast came from landmines placed along a regular patrol route. The attack quickly produced a response, with the South resuming propaganda exercises within the North.

The North has once again turned to provocations and bellicosity in a bid to gain international attention. This is hardly unexpected, as it fits within a longstanding pattern of actions around the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

But after years of threatening violence, the North faces a situation where threats alone were producing diminishing returns. Where once nuclear threats were treated with the utmost gravity and pledges to attack South Korea made the North international enemy number one, the world has essentially stopped listening. As a result, actually engaging in violence is the only real method the North has left to sustain the diplomatic returns it seeks.


AUGUST 14, 2015

Marines do comedy, the Navy debates command, and we talk about how August is a huge month in the history of war. Also nukes.

“Humor and liquor are ingredients in most things I do.” With these words, Paul Mooney, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, won us over at Task & Purpose. He is behind a new sitcom called “Vetted,” which is about a veteran transitioning back into civilian life. Money is in the process of trying to sell it to a network. How can you help? You can watch the pilot on YouTube, where it is divided into four parts, and start some buzz about it. Here’s part one, which has 471 views as this sentence is being typed. Let’s see how much higher we can get it.

Don’t Say “Missile Gap.” At RealClearDefense, Kingston Reif pushes back hard against the argument that the United States needs to expand its nuclear arsenal to meet the threat from Russia.