23 August 2015

Strategic Airlift Capability for India

By Danvir Singh
21 Aug , 2015

India’s security challenges along with the growing economic needs and interests thereon will result in a continuous shift and changing profiles of threat and power equations. Its area of interest will expand way beyond the borders right up to Antarctica in the South, Africa to the East, Central Asian Region (CAR) in the North and South China Sea to the South East. Therefore, the nation’s strategic airlift capability supported by sea controlling Navy and long reach fighter aircraft will be imperative to support India’s futuristic security needs.

The role of India’s armed forces in future will extend thereon beyond the role of defending traditional land borders…

India surges ahead in underscoring its strides into the Asian age with a fast growing economy at an astounding rate of nearly eight per cent. As per the report of February 09, 2015, published in the Indian national daily ‘The Hindu’ India is set to grow 7.4 per cent and cross the $2.1-trillion mark this year against 6.9 per cent in 2013-2014. India grew 7.5 per cent in the October-December quarter, according to the estimates released, overtaking China’s 7.3 per cent growth in the same quarter, to become the fastest growing major economy in the world.

NSA talks: Will Modi's new approach of engaging Nawaz Sharif & responding to General Sharif's provocations be fruitful?

By Pranab Dhal Samanta
21 Aug, 2015

NSA talks: Will Modi's new approach of engaging Nawaz Sharif & responding to General Sharif's provocations be fruitful?

“We want an opening in Pakistan…something we can work on while we don’t let their army get away with anything,” a senior official said.
NEW DELHI: Indo-Pak talks are on, the day's drama over the house arrest and release of Hurriyat leaders notwithstanding. And India goes into the August 23-24 National Security Advisor (NSA) level talks with a clear strategy - two approaches for the two Sharifs.

Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif is eager to maintain dialogue, senior Indian officials said. They said the Indian PM's strategy is to keep engaging with the civilian government while being tough when provocations come from the Pakistani army - led by General Raheel Sharif. The idea is to not let General Sharif derail talks sought by Prime Minister Sharif.

The Quiet Demise of the Army’s Plan to Understand Afghanistan and Iraq

AUG. 18, 2015 

Ted Callahan, a United States Army Human Terrain Team social scientist, talking to local residents to investigate a tribal dispute in the village of Wum Kalay, Paktia Province, Afghanistan on Aug. 12, 2009. CreditMarco Di Lauro/Getty Images

One dreary winter day in 2010, I joined a Georgia National Guard unit on a routine patrol in Zormat, a ragged mountain town in easternAfghanistan, not far from the Pakistani border. With us were two American civilians in military uniforms who worked for a United States Army social-science program called the Human Terrain System. The Army had begun developing the program as an experiment in 2006; it expanded quickly as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan foundered and American policy makers cast about for novel approaches. The idea was to send teams of social scientists, including anthropologists, to gather ethnographic, sociocultural and economic information and advise front-line soldiers on a range of delicate topics, from the mechanics of forging tribal alliances to how to respond to local offers of hospitality.


Aug 18, 2015

The Afghan government announced the death of former Taliban leader Mullah Omar on July 29, 2015, and the Taliban confirmed the report the subsequent day. Widespread knowledge of Mullah Omar’s death will exacerbate existing fractures within the Taliban and accelerate a power grab among several prominent individuals who have fundamental disagreements over the objectives of the movement. 

The Death of Mullah Omar and the Rise of ISIS in Afghanistan

CFTNI Job Posting: Senior Fellow, U.S.-China Relations

August 20, 2015

The Center for the National Interest seeks to hire a Senior Fellow to lead projects on U.S.-China relations and U.S. policy toward China. As the Center’s principal full-time professional staff member focused on Asia, the Senior Fellow will play a key part in shaping this program and will be expected to build a highly visible role in Washington’s policy community.

The successful candidate will be a competent and accomplished self-starter with expertise on one or more key areas including: U.S.-China political and security relations, U.S.-China economic relations, U.S. policy toward China, Chinese foreign policy, China’s economy, and Chinese domestic politics.

Key responsibilities will include:

- Working with the management and with a part-time senior colleague to define program priorities and leading the Center’s pursuit of the agreed goals on a day-to-day basis;

- Planning and organizing a monthly series of meetings focused on topical issues in U.S.-China relations, including political, economic and security issues as well as China’s domestic politics;

Foreign Policy by Bumper Sticker

August 20, 2015

THE WORLD today is quite different from the one of thirty years ago, whenThe National Interest published its first issue. Since then, immensely important changes, both at home and abroad, have taken place that continue to confound American political elites.

Among the most significant was the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union, a state which TNI’s founding editors described as “the single greatest threat to America’s interests,” saying it would “continue to [be] so for the foreseeable future.” Yet the USSR ceased to exist in 1991, just six years after the magazine’s start.

This is certainly not a reflection on The National Interest’s founding editors, Owen Harries and Robert Tucker, both of whom set a very high bar indeed for their successors. No one, including inside the Soviet Union itself, anticipated how and when it would fall—to use Ronald Reagan’s language—into the ash heap of history. Conventional wisdom on both the left and right was that the Soviet Union would remain a viable enterprise.

How similar is Chinese investment in Africa to the West’s?

China’s economic engagement in Africa has generated a lot of controversy. Headlines in Western newspapers have read: "Into Africa: China’s Wild Rush," or "China in Africa: Investment or Exploitation?" At the same time, China is more popular among African populations (70 percent with a favorable view) than it is in Asia, Latin America, or Europe, according to Pew surveys. The popularity is no doubt linked to the fact that African growth rates have accelerated between the 1990s and the 2000s, and China’s trade and investment is part of the reason.
A snapshot of Chinese investment in the continent

In our new paper, “"Why is China investing in Africa? Evidence from the firm level," we investigate one part of this engagement, China’s direct investment (called overseas direct investment, ODI by the Chinese). Our main innovation is to work with the firm-level data compiled by China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). All Chinese enterprises making direct investments abroad have to register with MOFCOM. The resulting database provides the investing company’s location in China and line of business. It also includes the country to which the investment is flowing, and a description in Chinese of the investment project.

Washington on the Tigris: Reorganization Hits Iraq

August 20, 2015

The grand neoconservative aspiration underlying the invasion of Iraq twelve years ago involved an image of Iraq becoming more like the United States, with more free market economics and more resemblance to a liberal democracy. Iraq then would be, it was hoped, a model for similar political and economic change elsewhere in the Middle East. It is an understatement to say that this plan didn't quite work out as intended. But post-Saddam Iraq has come to resemble American governance and American politics in a few respects, one of which is reflected in the “reform” plan that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced earlier this month with much flourish and has been approved by the Iraqi parliament. The resemblance involves an urge to reorganize when one doesn't have any better idea, or at least any better politically feasible idea, for dealing with current problems.

The phenomenon has become familiar in Washington. Some of the most salient recent examples involve counterterrorism and homeland security, such as a reorganization of the intelligence community a decade ago. The attraction of the technique is obvious; it is a way of being seen to do something and to make changes, and more visibly so than many other possible steps that might actually have a better chance of ameliorating a problem. Reorganization also is the sort of thing that, unlike many other measures more worthy of the name “reform,” can be shaped without colliding with too many entrenched interests and thus has a chance of getting broad political support.

Newsflash: Time Is Running Out to Defeat ISIS

"A brutal battle against nationalist identity is being waged by ISIS, and a response is needed before it is too late." 

Turkey’s recent decision to permit American warplanes to use the Incirlik base to launch air attacks is a much needed shot in the arm for the Obama administration’s battle against ISIS. But alone it is unlikely to be the game changer the United States hopes for. Any strategy is doomed to failure if it ignores that ISIS is not merely killing people, but also killing the ideas that have served as the region’s defense mechanism against Islamic extremism for the past several decades. While the U.S.-led coalition is focused on rolling back ISIS from territory it has captured in Iraq and Syria, it is missing the fact that this group’s strategy is to systematically destroy the idea of the nation and nationalist identity as the organizing principles for the Middle East. And ISIS is playing out this strategy in Syria and Iraq, currently the soft underbelly of the Arab world, where national bonds have already been weakened by colonial legacies and civil wars. Unless ISIS’s strategy is countered, it is quite possible that the ideological carnage could spread more widely throughout the region, weakening even stronger countries with more coherent national identities, like Turkey and Egypt. While the United States can’t fight the ideological battle directly, by using military and diplomatic means it can buy the time necessary for regional leaders to marshal a response and launch a more effective ideological counterattack. If this doesn’t occur, it is possible that the ideological damage inflicted by ISIS could become permanent, even if the group itself is eventually defeated.

Three reasons the West is failing to halt Islamic State

David Murphy

The execution of a Croatian hostage and the massive truck bomb in Baghdad this week have been claimed by IS 

The aftermath of a truck bomb explosion, claimed by Islamic State, in Baghdad’s northern Shiite district of Sadr City on August 13th, 2015. 

Despite the fact the so-called Islamic State has resulted in a new wave of global radicalisation and has also precipitated population displacement on a scale unseen since the second World War, the West has proved unable to develop a coherent strategy to counter this threat. Recent months have shown that IS poses an existential threat to all countries and peoples in the Middle East and that it also has the ability to “inspire” terror attacks in the West. This week, Sinai Province, a IS affiliate operating in Egypt, posted photographs purporting to show the remains of Croatian hostage Tomislav Salopek, whom they had executed. This is the first killing of a European by an IS-related group in Egypt and it demonstrates the capacity of the IS movement to promote such actions outside its hinterland in Syria and Iraq. A massive truck bomb in Baghdad’s Sadr City yesterday was also claimed by IS. However, the western response to IS has remained unfocused. 

Islam and slavery The persistence of history

Aug 22nd 2015

Islamic State’s revival of slavery, extreme though it is, finds disquieting echoes across the Arab world 

“SPOILS of war,” snaps Dabiq, the English-language journal of Islamic State (IS). The reference is to thousands of Yazidi women the group forced into sex slavery after taking their mountain, Sinjar, in August last year. Far from being a perversion, it claims that forced concubinage is a religious practice sanctified by the Koran. In a chapter called “Women”, the Koran sanctions the marriage of up to four wives, or “those that your right hands possess”.

Literalists, like those behind the Dabiq article, have interpreted these words as meaning “captured in battle”. Its purported female author, Umm Sumayyah, celebrated the revival of Islam’s slave-markets and even proffered the hope that Michelle Obama, the wife of America’s president, might soon be sold there. “I and those with me at home prostrated to Allah in gratitude on the day the first slave-girl entered our home,” she wrote. Sympathisers have done the same, most notably the allied Nigerian militant group, Boko Haram, which last year kidnapped an entire girls’ school in Chibok (pictured above).

How ISIL Out-Terrorized Bin Laden

August 19, 2015 

Brutality and doomsday visions have made ISIL the world’s most feared terrorist group. 

The American journalist James Foley was beheaded a year ago by an Islamic State fighter in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes on the group. In a video of the brutal act circulated online, Foley’s masked executioner promised more beheadings if the United States didn’t stop attacking the newly-proclaimed caliphate. Three months later, the same fighter beheaded American aid worker Peter Kassig and 18 Syrian soldiers outside the small Syrian town of Dabiq. Although Kassig had converted to Islam, the fighter proclaimed his death to be the first step in fulfilling an ancient Islamic prophecy of an apocalyptic showdown in Dabiq between Muslims and infidels.

“The Iranian Threat” Who Is the Gravest Danger to World Peace?

Throughout the world there is great relief and optimism about the nuclear deal reached in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 nations, the five veto-holding members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. Most of the world apparently shares the assessment of the U.S. Arms Control Association that “the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action establishes a strong and effective formula for blocking all of the pathways by which Iran could acquire material for nuclear weapons for more than a generation and a verification system to promptly detect and deter possible efforts by Iran to covertly pursue nuclear weapons that will last indefinitely.”

There are, however, striking exceptions to the general enthusiasm: the United States and its closest regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. One consequence of this is that U.S. corporations, much to their chagrin, are prevented from flocking to Tehran along with their European counterparts. Prominent sectors of U.S. power and opinion share the stand of the two regional allies and so are in a state of virtual hysteria over “the Iranian threat.” Sober commentary in the United States, pretty much across the spectrum, declares that country to be “the gravest threat to world peace.” Even supporters of the agreement here are wary, given the exceptional gravity of that threat. After all, how can we trust the Iranians with their terrible record of aggression, violence, disruption, and deceit?

How Fast Could America Build More Aircraft Carriers?

August 21, 2015

On Saturday, Newport News Shipbuilding will hold a keel-laying ceremony for USS John F. Kennedy, the second of the Gerald Ford-class carriers. Ohio Governor John Kasich is running for president, and he wants yet more aircraft carriers. About five more super-carriers, though over time, as he was careful to stress at a Republican Party forum in South Carolina on Monday. Left unclear in his remarks was just how much time he meant. Cutting the carrier fleet has occupied most of that sort of discussion recently, but let’s also consider how feasible expanding it might be. Building a bunch more Fords would take decades, but the Navy could get some smaller ships much more quickly.

How’s that? Consider the investment during the Cold War. Between 1968 and 2009, Newport News built, and the Navy commissioned, ten Nimitz-class carriers—about one every four years. The Navy currently buys one every five years. Just about everyone at Huntington Ingalls Industries would be delighted to return to the faster building rate, but that’s still just an extra ship every twenty years. At that pace, the Navy would graduate back from 10 to 15 carriers, Fords or follow-ons, in about a century. That’s probably not what the governor had in mind.

Revealed: North Korea's 5 Most Lethal Weapons of War

August 21, 2015

Tensions are certainly rising in Asia--especially on the Korean peninsula--and the world is watching to see what could happen next. 

North Korea, for lack of a better term, is one hell of a hot mess. And its one that if South Korea and its ally the United States ever had to go to war with would create all sorts of problems.

From a leader who has more in common with the fictional Dr. Evil than any other normal head of state to rants about going to war against the United States and South Korea on an almost weekly basis to much more serious and deadly temper tantrums (like attacking a South Korean naval vessel and opening up its artillery to shell islands), one never knows what Pyongyang is capable of—just look how it treats it own people.

And that is what makes it one of the most dangerous regimes on the planet today.

The Soviet Union's 5 Most Lethal Weapons of War

August 22, 2015

The Soviet Union was one of the most powerful collections of states that ever existed. Born in the Russian Civil War, the Soviet Union boasted one of the strongest armies on Earth.

It was a repressive regime that killed millions of its own citizens and saw itself as surrounded by ideologically incompatible and hostile states. It maintained a large standing army ostensibly for defensive purposes, but that did not stop it from invading neighboring Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Finland.

The Soviet Union placed a premium on science, technology and industrial production. As a result, the USSR fielded some of the most advanced weapons of its time, in large numbers, with millions continuing to serve today.


Mr. Oren’s Planet: A Bogus Account from Israel’s Man in Washington

August 21, 2015

Michael B. Oren, Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide (New York: Random House, 2015), 432 pp., $30.00.

MICHAEL OREN’S Ally, which offers his account of his four years as Israeli ambassador to the United States, has certainly caused a stir. The Times of Israel has published twenty “revelations” emerging from his book, ranging from trivial tidbits about his family, to biting critiques of President Barack Obama and his administration’s policy toward Israel, to claims that the idea for a U.S.-Russian arrangement for the disposition of Syria’s chemical weapons originated with then international-relations minister Yuval Steinitz. (Steinitz subsequently acknowledged his role but said that Israel had preferred not to reveal it; one might ask why Oren chose to do so.) In a series of prepublication interviews and articles, Oren has sharpened his criticism of the president and his team—his article in the Wall Street Journal was entitled “How Obama Abandoned Israel,” and a poll revealed that 49 percent of Israelis agree with him that Obama is mostly responsible for the recent damage to U.S.-Israeli relations.

Get Ready, NATO: Russia Plans to Build Nuclear-Powered Battlecruisers

August 20, 2015

The Russian defense industry has always had a flair for the dramatic. The Soviet military-industrial complex carried so much sway in the Politiburo that at times, it operated with little oversight from the General Secretary. It produced wonder weapons and prestige platforms with little regard for their cost and strategic value.

The past few years have seen a resurgence of this mindset. Russia has embarked on a massive recapitalization project, seeking to replace aging Soviet-era platforms that were often built to lax production standards. Their military-industrial complex takes great pride in trumpeting its achievements and ambitious projects through Russian language media and state-owned foreign language outlets, such as RT.com. While it is important to listen to what an adversary is saying, it is also important to see what is behind the bluster. In fact, many of Russia’s wonder weapon projects are far too grand to come to fruition — and may even signal a revival of the same discord within the Russian defense industry that plagued the Soviet Union; a discord that acted as a key forcing-function in the destabilizing Cold War arms race that brought the world to the brink of ruin.

We Asked John Mearsheimer: What Should Be the Purpose of American Power?

August 21, 2015

Editor’s Note: The following is part of TNI’s special 30th anniversary symposium. We asked twenty-five of the world’s leading experts: What is the purpose of American power? You can find all of their answers here. You can also find our exclusive interview with Henry Kissinger here.
The purpose of American power is to keep the United States safe so its people can prosper economically and live in relative freedom. There is little agreement, however, on how to achieve that goal.

Since the Cold War ended, and especially since 9/11, the ruling elites in Washington have believed that the best way to protect the United States is to dominate the world and remake it in America’s image. They have relied upon military power and other forms of big-stick diplomacy to topple unfriendly governments and promote democracy. Thus, it is unsurprising that the United States has fought seven wars since 1989.

Unfortunately, this strategy has led to a string of disasters and is the main cause of the growing instability around the globe.

We Asked Ruth Wedgwood: What Should Be the Purpose of American Power?

August 21, 2015

Editor’s Note: The following is part of TNI’s special 30th anniversary symposium. We asked twenty-five of the world’s leading experts: What is the purpose of American power? You can find all of their answers here. You can also find our exclusive interview with Henry Kissinger here.
American power is an offshore balancer—deterring pugilistic regimes that fancy the land or resources of neighbors, and serving as a caution to dictators possessed of outlandish ambitions. The global reach of America’s navy and air force, the intelligence capability and readiness of our armed forces, and the attractiveness of our democratic form of government have allowed the United States to function as a cop on the block—a public service that was, in a more naive view, supposed to be undertaken by the United Nations.

To be sure, the American press has forsaken serious coverage of foreign affairs, and Washington’s ability to influence the course of events through an overstretched foreign service is often limited. We have been mistakenly swayed by personalities—Washington’s overripe infatuation with Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame is a case in point. But America’s diverse population and the worldwide rise of Internet news sources have also permitted the United States to sound the alarm in human-rights crises through the press, diplomacy and the voices of NGOs. It was not by chance that the United Nations—with its convocation of all the governments of the world—was placed in New York as a central locus for negotiation and decision making.

We Asked Robert Zoellick: What Should Be the Purpose of American Power?

August 21, 2015

Editor’s Note: The following is part of TNI’s special 30th anniversary symposium. We asked twenty-five of the world’s leading experts: What is the purpose of American power? You can find all of their answers here. You can also find our exclusive interview with Henry Kissinger here.
My first professor of diplomatic history directed the class to study the back of the one-dollar bill. His aim was not to suggest the commercial motivations of American foreign policy, but instead to help us find the Great Seal of the United States, which is conveniently printed on the back of the dollar.

In seeking the approval of that seal in June 1782, Charles Thomson, secretary of the U.S. Congress, explained that the reverse portrays an uncompleted thirteen-tiered pyramid of states, overseen by the eye of Providence. The Virgilian phrase above the image, “Annuit Coeptis,” reveals that a higher force has favored our undertaking. Thomson observed that the phrase below the pyramid, “Novus Ordo Seclorum” (New Order of the Ages), signified “the beginning of a new American era” that commenced with the Declaration of Independence in 1776. As James A. Field explained, “It remains unclear whether [Thomson’s use of] the adjective ‘American’ is to be construed as geographically limiting or as broadly descriptive . . . [and] much of American history is implicit in this question.”

Who Threatens America Most?

AUG. 12, 2015 

In what order does the Obama administration rank the biggest external threats to America’s national security? The short answer: It depends on whom and which agency you ask.

Official opinion is all over the lot, a sign of a rapidly changing world, different bureaucratic priorities and confused thinking. Which raises this question: If officials cannot agree on what the most pressing threats are, how can they develop the right strategies and properly allocate resources?

Start with America’s military establishment. Last month, the Pentagon put Russia at the top of its threat list. Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, branded Russia the No. 1 “existential threat” in his confirmation hearings, followed by North Korea, China and the Islamic State, or ISIS. Other top military officials have said much the same thing in testimony before Congress.

There is no doubt that relations with Russia have taken a dangerous turn, given Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and reckless exercises over NATO airspace. The Pentagon is also chafing under budget cuts, and rattling Cold War sabers may be a good way to pry more money out of Congress. But the idea that Russia is America’s top threat is not shared by other important players in Washington, including the White House. General Dunford’s comments reflected “his own view and doesn’t necessarily reflect the view of — or the consensus — analysis of the president’s national security team,” Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, said last month.

Higher Education in India – A Critical Assessment

AUGUST 21, 2015

India is witnessing a transformation, considering the past, present and future trends in overall Higher Education sector; especially in the ever rapidly advancing Engineering domain, and is equally true in other domains as well.

Post-Independence, commendable Scientific/Technical Institutions like Indian Institutes of Technology, and subsequently Regional Engineering Colleges and select Government Institutions were set up. This resulted in creation of worthy Scientists/Engineers who subsequently contributed towards the National Development in diverse disciplines in Research Institutions and also in evolution of the Indian Industrial scenario. Towards National Security and Frontier Technologies evolution, as per the priorities of Government of India, a large chunk of engineering community were absorbed by Atomic Energy, Defence Research and Space Organisations. However, during this period, a majority of workforce mainly from IIT’s went abroad for better pastures.

Making a State by Iron and Blood

August 19, 2015 

Britain built an empire on the slave trade. Germany perpetrated the greatest genocide in human history. Who says the Islamic State won’t be a U.S. ally someday? 

The self-styled Islamic State has killed thousands in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, and states and media outlets around the world continue to decry its brutal tactics, which include a penchant for public decapitations, the mass slaughter of unarmed prisoners, and the sexual enslavement of women and girls.

Still, if Western history is any guide, the Islamic State could well be on its way to global legitimacy.

History assures us that the commission of mass atrocities is no bar to future success. During the “reign of terror” that followed the French Revolution, France’s revolutionary government publicly beheaded an estimated 30,000-40,000 people — all in the name of liberté, égalité, and fraternité. In the early 1790s, at least 150,000 other unfortunate French citoyens were shot, burned to death, hacked to pieces, or deliberately drowned in France’s Vendée region. “I crushed the children under the feet of the horses,” French Gen. François Joseph Westermann is said to have written after one particularly brutal campaign. “[I] massacred the women who, at least for these, will not give birth to any more brigands…. I have exterminated all. The roads are sown with corpses.” Well, tant pis! “Mercy,” Westermann concluded, “is not a revolutionary sentiment.”

Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, Rogue States and Nuclear Dangers

August 20, 2015.

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Just a little late summer reminder that TomDispatch gets by largely thanks to the generosity of its readers. In other words, your contributions truly matter, even -- perhaps especially -- in the dog days of summer. They ensure that we can continue to bring you voices like Noam Chomsky’s with the kind of sharp analysis and reporting you’re unlikely to find elsewhere. Do check out our donation page. Right now, for a contribution of $100 (or more), you can get a signed, personalized book from Nick Turse, Christian Appy, Rory Fanning, or me -- with our eternal thanks! Tom]

The first prime-time Republican primary debate of 2015 was an eye-opener of sorts when it came to the Middle East. After forcefully advocating for the termination of the pending nuclear deal with Iran, for example, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker unleashed an almost indecipherable torrent of words. “This is not just bad with Iran,” he insisted, “this is bad with ISIS. It is tied together, and, once and for all, we need a leader who’s gonna stand up and do something about it.” That prescription, as vague as it was incoherent, was par for the course.

Greece's Austerity Deal: Welcome to Power Politics in the Eurozone

August 22, 2015

Even as new dramas erupted in Greece’s parliament over the last two weeks, the country’s debt crisis was headed for a conclusion dictated by the ineluctable logic of power politics. Opposition parties provided the votes necessary to approve a new bailout by Greece’s foreign creditors despite a rebellion against the measure by a faction of the government’s own Syriza party. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, parliamentarians have passed hundreds of pages of laws—many of which they were unable to read—in order to legislate economic reforms required by foreign officials, all to secure a bailout whose logic of austerity baffles many prominent economists.

Yet despite opposition from within Greece, across Europe, and around the world, a better deal is unlikely for the simple reason that the course of the crisis is prescribed not by policy but by power. German leaders, together with a coalition of hardline creditors, are doggedly pursuing their own rational political interests to the likely detriment of European solidarity. What’s more, they have been and will continue to be successful in this pursuit because the German economy is the largest and most productive on the continent—in other words, because Germany is the most powerful European state.

A Frightening Thought: Congress’ Flip Flop on War and Diplomacy

August 20, 2015

Little should now surprise us about politics in Washington, D.C., but we must note when it upends the historical balance of power between the President and Congress on matters of national security and foreign policy. With its silence on authorizing the use of force against ISIS and arguments opposing a diplomatic deal with Iran, such actions would surely confound the Founding Fathers, who explicitly vested solely Congress with the power to declare war, while giving the Executive Branch wide latitude to negotiate treaties and reach international agreements. That Washington has strayed so far from such a deep-seeded historical precedent speaks volumes about not only today’s dysfunctional politics, but also the increasing primacy of the Executive Branch in matters of national security.

The flip-flop in divisions of power has been in sharp relief for the past year, as Congress continues to ignore Authorizations for the Use of Military Force against ISIS that were suggested by the Obama administration and proposed by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) on a bipartisan basis. The delay is often ascribed to the fact that Republicans want a clearer strategy on defeating ISIS, while Democrats want a finite scope to such an authorization. Unable to compromise on either matter, Congress achieves neither. This deadlock results in an abdication of responsibility in weighty matters of war.

History’s Black Hole: The Holocaust in Eastern Europe

August 21, 2015

SEVENTY YEARS after it ended, the Holocaust remains the black hole at the heart of modern history. We possess mountains of meticulously collected information about it. Historians have produced libraries’ worth of sober, careful and often quite remarkable analysis. Even so, something about this evil still slips out of our grasp, resists interpretation and refuses illumination.

Timothy Snyder, the latest historian to propose an overall account of the Holocaust, is no stranger to the subject. His highly acclaimed bookBloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin traced the immensity of the slaughter that took place between 1933 and 1945 in the spaces where the old German, Austrian and Russian empires bumped up against each other. It did not really try to explain why the Holocaust happened, but it did make an argument about how the slaughter became possible. 

Military1 is Hiring a Part-time Military Blogger

August 18, 2015

Military1 is looking for a military blogger to join its award-winning editorial team and write about current military news and trends.

The ideal candidate is looking to gain experience in an online news environment and has a military background. Topics will include current events in the U.S. and abroad, active duty lifestyle, veterans’ affairs, careers, and other issues affecting military members of all rank and file.

You also must have: a generally outstanding sense for news that will resonate with an online audience; creativity in utilizing the online medium to engage users; the ability to write and edit quickly and thoroughly; and an understanding of the content needs of military personnel, vets and families.

This position is a part-time (a few hours Mon-Fri), remote position and pays $150 per week.

Duties for the position break down primarily into two categories: 

What’s Behind Google’s Alphabet Restructuring?

David Wessels and Jeffrey Sonnenfeld discuss Google's reorganization.
Aug 14, 2015 

Google’s move to restructure itself under a new holding company named Alphabet will help protect its core brand, gives greater independence for its riskier investments — such as driverless cars or human longevity — and also brings greater accountability and transparency in those investments, observers say. However, they caution that Sundar Pichai, Google’s 43-year-old new CEO elevated from his prior role as product chief, also has his job cut out for him. Pichai’s Google will continue to battle rivals at home, including Facebook and Apple, and globally, such as China’s Tencent. In addition, the new independence for Google’s non-Internet investments raises the bar for it to demonstrate results.

As an Alphabet subsidiary, Google will retain the Internet products — including the search engine business, YouTube and Android — that formed about 90% of its $66 billion in revenues in 2014. The rest — Google’s non-Internet arms like research and development biotech firm Calico, venture capital arm Google Ventures and growth equity investment fund Google Capital — will become other Alphabet subsidiaries. “[Google co-founder] Sergey [Brin] and I are seriously in the business of starting new things,” said Google co-founder Larry Page in announcing the restructuring. “Fundamentally, we believe this allows us more management scale, as we can run things independently that aren’t very related.”

Russia And China Have A Cyber Nonaggression Pact

By Elaine Korzak 
August 20, 2015 

The two powers are advancing a vision of security in cyberspace that is markedly different from Western approaches. 

On May 8, the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China signed a bilateral agreement on cooperation in the field of international information security. The treaty, which some have dubbed a “nonaggression pact” for cyberspace, details cooperative measures both governments pledge to undertake, including exchange of information and increased scientific and academic cooperation. With this, Russia and China continue to advance their vision of “information security,” a view of security concerns in cyberspace that is markedly different from Western approaches of “cybersecurity.”

Elaine Korzak, PhD, is a W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and an Affiliate at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), Stanford University. Many observers have characterized the agreement as a largely political move at a time of heightened tensions with the United States and Europe. The alignment of Russia and China is seen as a response to growing Western pressure. Accordingly, Russia’s pivot to the East follows Western sanctions over its actions in Ukraine.

Coming to a War Near You: Hypersonic Weapons

August 21, 2015 

There are a lot of questions when it comes to hypersonic weapons. We have the answers.

There is a great deal of talk about hypersonic weapons and their possible impact on the battlefield. Some consider them the ultimate weapon of war, others feel they are merely an evolutionary development along a predictable track.

So just how dangerous could these weapons become in the future? Who is developing them? Would America be able to defend against them? To get some answers, I put these questions to Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments senior fellows Bryan Clark and Mark Gunzinger.

Kazianis: Hypersonic weapons are all the rage in defense circles these days—a recent article in Politico seems to suggest as much. Which country would you say at this point is furthest along in its research on deploying an actual usable hypersonic weapon? What are the potential bottlenecks in such advanced R&D?

Hitting Back After China Cyber Attack

August 20, 2015

When the news broke earlier this summer that hackers had breached the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and accessed the records of more than twenty million current and former federal employees, it prompted calls to punish China, which was believed to have orchestrated the cyber attacks. 

But what Chinese hackers allegedly did [China denies any involvement in the OPM hack and the US government has not officially blamed China for the attack] is no different from what spy agencies around the world, including in the United States, do all the time.

“That feeling that you are violated right now, that’s how everyone else feels after Snowden,” said Jason Healey, Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council.

Healey was referring to revelations by former government contractor Edward Snowden of the extent of spying by the National Security Agency (NSA), including allegations that the NSA had tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone.