29 January 2016

Negotiating with the Taliban

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January 29, 2016 

Delegations from Afghanistan, Pakistan, U.S.A and China discuss a road map for ending the war with the Taliban at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. Representatives of four countries met in the Afghan capital for a second round of talks aimed at bringing an end to Afghanistan's war by charting a roadmap to peace, a Foreign Ministry official said. 

The Taliban’s newfound willingness to engage in a negotiated power-sharing arrangement is a good sign for the Afghan peace and reconciliation process. India should play a more proactive role.

The recently concluded Doha Dialogue on ‘Peace and Security in Afghanistan’ presents a number of opportunities for the international community, as well as India, in dealing with the resurgent Taliban phenomenon.

The second round of the unofficial Doha Dialogue, organised by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs with support from the state of Qatar, comes at a time when the official Quadrilateral Coordination Group on Afghan Peace and Reconciliation, with participation from the governments of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, and the U.S., has become a non-starter due to the non-participation of the Taliban.

China’s long game in West Asia

January 29, 2016 

APDEEPENING FOOTPRINT: “It is natural for China to see Tehran as an entry into West Asia, historically a region of U.S. influence, at a time when the U.S. is pivoting to East Asia.” Picture shows Chinese President Xi Jinping with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at an official arrival ceremony, at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran.

Iran’s strategic location connecting West Asia and Central Asia is key to President Xi’s One Belt, One Road initiative.

For decades China remained on the sidelines of West Asia’s stormy waters. Even when the country was rising as an economic powerhouse and stepped up cooperation with the major powers in West Asia, the cornerstone of this engagement was non-interference: be it the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the Saudi-Iran rivalry, the Chinese would continue to sit on the fence. Beijing looked at the region through its own prism. It didn’t want to get swamped in the complex geopolitics of the region at a time when its primary focus was on economic development. So it built ties with West Asian nations based on three principles — secure energy supplies, expand markets for finished goods and find investment opportunities — while leaving the U.S.’s primacy in the region unchallenged.

'India under threat from Al Qaeda, ISIS'

January 27, 2016 23:15 IST
'India is a major target for ISIS and Al Qaeda because it has a very large Muslim Diaspora, regular conflicts with a Muslim country and experiences violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims on a regular basis.' 
'This provides for a very stable breeding ground for jihadist radicalisation and recruitment.' 
In early 2015, New Zealand -- located thousands of miles and two oceans away from the Syria-Iraq battlegrounds, with a negligible Muslim population of less than 1 percent -- had 6 fighters enlisted with Islamic State or Da'esh, which had till mid-2015 recruited 25,000 people from over 100 countries. 
In spite of ISIS's ferocious social media presence, partly responsible for successful enlistments -- its affiliates posted 129,600 tweets in 2014 alone, before some 500 accounts were deactivated -- till late 2015, ISIS had lured and converted only some 17 Indians to its cause, according to United Nations and the US National Counterterrorism Centre statistics. 
Experts have suggested that young Indians have been immune to a certain type of radicalisation that makes the ISIS cause attractive because they do not cope with the feelings of alienation that young Muslims elsewhere face. 
Daniel Koehler, director, German Institute of Radicalisation and De-radicalisation Studies, Berlin, has devoted his career to understanding terrorism, radicalisation, and de-radicalisation. 
In the wake of last week's arrests of ISIS synmpathisers all over India, Koehler discussed ISIS-inspired radicalisation with Vaihayasi Pande Daniel/Rediff.com

What is the Indian situation vis-a-vis ISIS? 
India is one major target for ISIS and Al Qaeda because the country has a very large Muslim Diaspora, regular conflicts with a Muslim country (Pakistan) and experiences violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims on a regular basis. 
This provides for a very stable breeding ground for jihadist radicalisation and recruitment. 

Does India figure in any ISIS plan in a larger and more sinister manner?Is there something the Indian national security establishment needs to be worried about?
Right now, I would say that the biggest problem for India, with regard to ISIS, is the threat of recruitment to join the jihad in Syria and Iraq and the returnees. 
The bigger threat currently could come from Al Qaeda, which has proclaimed the 'caliphate' in Myanmar, Bangladesh and parts of India. The competition between the two groups forces Al Qaeda to be more aggressive and commit terrorist acts. 
On the other hand, ISIS has shown a great deal of attraction for the Taliban in Pakistan and other violent network already present. 
India lies right at the centre of two jihadist terrorist groups fighting each other for power. 

Journalism today: Will social media turn mainstream media irrelevant?

by Vedam Jaishankar Jan 24, 2016 09:38 IST
There is something intriguing happening at the “subaltern” level that is sensitising “India, that is Bharat” to issues that were never debated for the last 200 years. The past few days in Bengaluru, a city that boasts of being open to ideas, technology, concepts and outlook have been educative, to say the least.
Interestingly, the die was cast when two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Steve Coll, in a discussion with Rohini Nilekani, chairperson of Arghyam, spoke of the challenges thrown at main stream journalism by social media and corporates.
Coll, the dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism believed journalism was vital in forging accountability and transparency while at a discussion held in a five-star hotel attended by a select gathering of around 150. Many of them were drawn from the media and extremely inquisitive on how to push back the onslaught coming from Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools.

Now cut away to a series of lectures and lively discussions taking place across the same city (at Karnatak Samskrit University Auditorium, Chamrajpet; Bharati Vidya Bhavan; Aksharam, Samskrita Bharati, Girinagar; IISc, Satish Dhawan Auditorium; Amrita College of Engineering, Kasavanahalli; The Art of Living Campus, and a workshop in Jayanagar) where Rajiv Malhotra, arguably one of the foremost thinkers of our time according to his fans, was drawing packed crowds on the first leg of his five-city (Bengaluru, Chennai, New Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad) whirlwind tour of India during which he would also launch his seminal book, The Battle For Sanskrit: Is Sanskrit Political or Sacred? Oppressive or Liberating? Dead or Alive? Most of Malhotra’s lectures were being slotted at big brand institutions like IIT, IISc, JNU, Delhi University etc and aimed at a discerning audience.
Additionally, the current Malhotra tour has been enriched by the presence of some really big names at the discussions. For instance, at IISc, those sharing the dais were Padma Vibhushan awardee and well-known aerospace scientist Roddam Narasimha and the erudite Mohan Das Pai, both of whom pulled no punches during their addresses. Among the packed audience of professors, research students and others was the whiz-kid Balaji Srinivasan of Counsyl and other fame.

India Beefs Up Maritime Surveillance Near Malacca Strait

India's recent announcement that it will deploy two of its new Boeing P-8 maritime surveillance and strike aircraft to the Andaman & Nicobar Islands could create new opportunities for enhanced cooperation with Australia and the US.
The islands, which run some 800km from the top of Indonesian Sumatra to Myanmar, are India's strategic outpost in Southeast Asia, potentially allowing India to dominate the western approaches to the Malacca Strait just as China's artificial islands in the South China Sea dominate the sea lanes at the other end of the Strait.
India has been building its military capabilities on the islands for decades, but its capabilities in intelligence, surveillance & and reconnaissance (ISR) have been limited. But the Indian Navy's air station on Great Nicobar island in the south of the archipelago is now being developed to accommodate large aircraft such as the P-8. Great Nicobar is near the western end of the Malacca Strait and the Six Degree Channel through which most commercial shipping passes.

India's response to China
The most immediate driver of these deployments is China's growing presence in the Indian Ocean. The PLA Navy has made continuous deployments to anti-piracy operations in the Arabian Sea since 2008. But deployments of Chinese conventional submarines to the Indian Ocean in the last couple of years have caused considerable disquiet in Delhi. Port calls by a Chinese submarine in Sri Lanka in 2014 were especially controversial, and were essentially seen as a hostile act against India by Sri Lanka's former Rajapaksa regime. Last December, Beijing announced the establishment of its first foreign military base in Djibouti to support Chinese forces operating in the western Indian Ocean.
This means the Chinese navy has now become a permanent feature of the Indian Ocean, and one day this could include deployments of Chinese ballistic-missile submarines.
The growing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean has led the Indian Navy to rebalance its fleet more towards its east coast and the Bay of Bengal. The development of new capabilities in the Andaman & Nicobar islands will help India to potentially dominate the entire Bay of Bengal and the western approaches to the Malacca Strait. The P-8 deployment will also enhance India's surveillance and strike capabilities further afield, potentially including in the South China Sea.

Watching the gateway
But the deployment of P-8 aircraft to the Nicobars could also have broader strategic consequences for India's defence relations with Australia, the US and Southeast Asian partners.
For one thing, India's maritime surveillance efforts could complement Australia's activities in the area. For more than 35 years, as part of Operation Gateway, Australia has conducted maritime surveillance in the Malacca Strait itself and at each end of the Strait in the South China Sea and Bay of Bengal. Operation Gateway was instituted by the Fraser Government in 1981 in response to the growing Soviet presence in the Indian Ocean and throughout the 1980s, Australian P-3 aircraft, operating from or staging through Butterworth in Malaysia, actively 'prosecuted' Soviet submarines transiting the Malacca Strait between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. These ISR operations continued after the Cold War and from 2017 will include Australia's new fleet of P-8 aircraft.

Navigating the changing geo-economic landscape

This Special Report is based on some of the most important ideas shared amongst participants in ORF's roundtable on Changing Geo-economic Landscapes, held on 21 December 2015 in New Delhi. The discussion examined current patterns in world economy, initiatives being taken by the Indian leadership to steer domestic economy, and the need for the country to carefully integrate its domestic economic priorities, including those of reforms, with its foreign policy.


Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from an essay that first appeared in Frontline Allies: War and Change in Central Europe, published by the Center for European Policy and Analysis.
Looking back at history, one might reasonably conclude that small states are destined to be on the losing end of geopolitics. Events of the last decade in particular do not give us much reason for optimism about the destiny of small states facing coercion at the hands of their larger and more powerful neighbors. Russia used force against Georgia in 2008, has been using force against Ukraine since 2014, and could prospectively use force against a number of its other neighbors. China, for its part, has used a variety of coercive techniques in its territorial disputes with its neighbors. One common feature of these situations is an explicit effort by the coercing state to stay below the thresholds of a military response and, in particular, outside military intervention. As a result, small states have largely been left to their own devices to defend themselves against their more powerful neighbors.
Small, frontline states do not, however, lack options in the face of coercion. To the contrary, they could pursue a number of competitive strategies in an effort to make coercion less attractive. These include strategies of denial, which seek to harden a state against coercion; cost-imposing strategies, which seek to force an adversary to bear burdens sufficient to cause a reconsideration of coercion; efforts to attack and render ineffective the adversary’s coercive strategy; and strategies that seek to exploit divisions within the enemy’s political leadership to end the coercive campaign. The United States can, and in many cases should, assist small, frontline states in developing and implementing competitive strategies against their larger neighbors seeking to coerce them.

The Competitive Strategies Approach
Strategy has to do with how a state or other political actor arrays its resources in space and time in order to achieve its political objectives against a competitor. The key features of any strategy are rationality (the existence of political objectives and a plan to achieve them) and interaction with a competitor who seeks at the very least to achieve different objectives if not thwart our ability to achieve our aims. Competitive strategies are a particular family of strategy with two aspects that deserve consideration.

How to Prevent: Extremism and Policy Options.

The Tony Blair Faith Foundation has released the second volume in our Global Perspectives series, How to Prevent: Extremism and Policy Options. 

This volume engages our practical support to counter religious conflict and extremism, with the thinking of academic and policy experts in this field. It focuses on our core areas of work: analysis of the interaction of religion and conflict, education and supporting leaders. 

Edited by the Foundation in collaboration with Khalid Koser, Executive Director of the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, the volume outlines some of the increasingly vital policy options for preventing extremism. 

Taliban Blow Line Transmitting Uzbek Electricity to Kabul

Electricity pylons are also known as transmission towers.
One blown pylon illustrates the vulnerability of electricity transmission lines in Afghanistan
By Catherine Putz, January 27, 2016
Taliban blew up an electricity pylon in Baghlan province Tuesday. According to TOLOnews, the Chairman of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), Afghanistan’s state-owned utility company, confirmed that the Taliban blew up a “major electricity pylon in Dand-e-Shahabuddin area near Baghlan-Kunduz highway.” The chairman, Mirwais Alimi, told TOLOnews that it can be repaired in a day, provided the fighting ends. This attack nonetheless highlights the vulnerability of electricity transmission infrastructure in Afghanistan to militant attacks.
Baghlan province is situated south of Kunduz province and is bisected by the only highway to cross the Hindu Kush, a vital lifeline between Kabul and the north. Tuesday, as reported by the Pajhwok news agency, Afghan security forces launched a clearing operation outside of Baghlan’s capital in Dand-i-Ghori, saying that the area has been under Taliban control for nearly nine months. TOLOnews suggested that the blowing up of the electricity pylon was retaliation for the ongoing security operation.
In October, Taliban seized control of the city of Kunduz for 15 days. As noted by Gran Hewad in an excellent piece for the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), the Taliban’s strong presence in Baghlan to the south was hugely important. Taliban were able to delay government reinforcement along the road. Indeed, it seems the taking of Kunduz was prefaced by the securing of Baghlan — something Afghan forces are now trying to correct. In early September a controversial understanding was reached between the government and local elders in Dand-i-Ghori in which the elders pledged to maintain order and prevent the targeting of government forces. Hewad goes into more detail but the key criticism of the agreement likened it to a surrender of the area to the Taliban.
As Afghan security forces battle Taliban in the province, the Taliban retaliated by blowing up a pylon carrying electricity from Uzbekistan to Kabul. This exposes a crucial vulnerability in Afghanistan’s energy infrastructure and underscores concerns some analysts have about regional initiatives to supply energy to South Asia from Central Asia. Afghanistan’s power infrastructure has been the focus of billions in development funds, yet the country remains energy insecure. In another AAN report, Mohsin Amin noted in February 2015 that in the winter Kabul receives 260 MW of electricity from abroad, namely Uzbekistan.

In Afghanistan, US spent more than $300 million spent on a dam – and it's still not done

As the US attempts to withdraw from Afghanistan, there is perhaps no better example of its botched efforts to rebuild and stabilise the country than the Kajaki Dam.
A US Senate subcommittee is looking at waste by a Pentagon task force. It would do well to review the reasons why a major hydroelectric power plant sits unfinished.
ProPublica is investigating how billions of US tax dollars have been spent on questionable or failed projects and how those responsible for this waste are rarely held accountable.
The five-day mission was dangerous and grueling. Thousands of troops hauled a 220-tonne turbine piecemeal on trucks the entire length of a Taliban-infested province in southern Afghanistan. The feat was hailed by the British military as on par with the logistics of World War II and cost about $1 million.
The herculean effort was for USAID’s marquee reconstruction project, the Kajaki Dam, the lynchpin of an ambitious and expensive plan to bring electricity to southern Afghanistan.
That was 2008. The turbine has sat, unassembled, in rusting containers at Kajaki ever since.
As the US attempts to withdraw from Afghanistan, there is perhaps no better example of its botched efforts to rebuild and stabilise the country than the Kajaki Dam. For the past year, ProPublica has been scrutinising the tens of billions spent on reconstruction in Afghanistan by the military, the State Department and the US Agency for International Development. Project after project has foundered because the US ignored history, warnings, local culture and common sense. Last month, ProPublica analysed and, for the first time, added up the cost of these failures and found at least $17 billion in questionable spending since 2009.
On Wednesday, a subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the activities ofcontroversial Pentagon task force responsible for some of this spending. The task force was supposed to develop the Afghan economy, but has little to show for five years and hundreds of millions spent. Instructive context about how these types of failures come to be can be found in the story of the Kajaki Dam.

Misplaced optimism
Trumpeted as a symbol of America’s visionary support for Afghanistan, the dam has become instead a monument for all that has gone wrong: Project planners were overly ambitious, oblivious to conditions on the ground and unable to meet key deadlines or keep costs from ballooning. For the Afghans, it meant that promises were broken. For American taxpayers, upwards of $300 million could end up wasted.

China’s Relations With Iran: A Threat to the West?

Trade between the two countries is set to explode.
By Sara Hsu, January 27, 2016
China and Iran agreed last Saturday to increase trade to $600 billion in the next ten years, as President Xi Jinping met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after the lifting of international sanctions aainst Iran. China has been conducting economic relations with Iran in recent years, despite the presence of international sanctions on Iran for continuing to develop its nuclear program. Iran plays an important role in China’s One Belt One Road initiative, and is to become an important railway connection and remain an oil supplier to China. Should China’s relations with Iran be viewed as a threat to the West?
Maybe. China’s relations with Iran may support the latter’s military capabilities, particularly as China sells arms and transfers nuclear technology to Iran. China’s overall trade with Iran lessens the power of international sanctions. This relationship has reduced the power of sanctions and embargoes for decades, starting in 1979 when the U.S. and the West imposed arms embargoes on Iran, inducing Iran to purchase weapons from China instead. Iran acts as an important transport hub between China and Europe.
Or maybe not. Iran has curbed its nuclear program according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which means that Iran has restricted its possession of enriched uranium, limited centrifuge operations, shipped out all spent fuel reactors, and met other conditions under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. In addition, China is not the only nation Iran is attempting to openly court, now that sanctions have been lifted. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani traveled to Europe to rebuild political and economic relations in that region. Rouhani’s visit appeals to European leaders due in part to his stated commitment in fighting terrorism. Rouhani has underscored Iran’s desire to bring solidarity among all Muslims and combat discord.

China’s Bumpy New Normal

Joseph E. Stiglitz, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001 and the John Bates Clark Medal in 1979, is University Professor at Columbia University, Co-Chair of the High-Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress at the OECD, and Chief… read more
JAN 27, 2016 2
SHANGHAI – China’s shift from export-driven growth to a model based on domestic services and household consumption has been much bumpier than some anticipated, with stock-market gyrations and exchange-rate volatility inciting fears about the country’s economic stability. Yet by historical standards, China’s economy is still performing well – at near 7% annual GDP growth, some might say very well – but success on the scale that China has seen over the past three decades breeds high expectations.

There is a basic lesson: “Markets with Chinese characteristics” are as volatile and hard to control as markets with American characteristics. Markets invariably take on a life of their own; they cannot be easily ordered around. To the extent that markets can be controlled, it is through setting the rules of the game in a transparent way.
All markets need rules and regulations. Good rules can help stabilize markets. Badly designed rules, no matter how well intentioned, can have the opposite effect.
For example, since the 1987 stock-market crash in the United States, the importance of having circuit breakers has been recognized; but if improperly designed, such reforms can increase volatility. If there are two levels of circuit breaker – a short-term and a long-term suspension of trading – and they are set too close to each other, once the first is triggered, market participants, realizing the second is likely to kick in as well, could stampede out of the market.
Moreover, what happens in markets may be only loosely coupled with the real economy. The recent Great Recession illustrates this. While the US stock market has had a robust recovery, the real economy has remained in the doldrums. Still, stock-market and exchange-rate volatility can have real effects. Uncertainty may lead to lower consumption and investment (which is why governments should aim for rules that buttress stability).
What matters more, though, are the rules governing the real economy. In China today, as in the US 35 years ago, there is a debate about whether supply-side or demand-side measures are most likely to restore growth. The US experience and many other cases provide some answers.
For starters, supply-side measures can best be undertaken when there is full employment. In the absence of sufficient demand, improving supply-side efficiency simply leads to more underutilization of resources. Moving labor from low-productivity uses to zero-productivity unemployment does not increase output. Today, deficient global aggregate demand requires governments to undertake measures that boost spending.

The Sky Is Not Falling in China

Much in China’s economic slowdown looks reasonable, even favorable.
Milton Ezrati, January 26, 2016
With the Chinese stock market crashing, many have focused, with no small measure of fear, on that economy’s slowdown. Beijing’s statistical office reported recently that the real economy grew 6.9 percent in 2015, down from 7.3 the year before, below the government’s 7.0 percent target—and, as many have noted, also in fear, at the slowest pace in quarter of a century. Other indicators are no more encouraging. Industrial production in the twelve months ended last December grew 5.9 percent, down from earlier reports, while retail sales registered a gain of 11.1 percent, also down from the past. TheInternational Monetary Fund (IMF) expects only 6.3 percent overall growth in the coming year and 6.0 percent in 2017.

While Americans, Europeans and Japanese would delight at such statistics in their own economies, the news has nonetheless created considerable pessimism about China’s prospects. Some contend that growth in China is really closer to 4.0 percent, while Chinese business people were rumored to have spoken of only a 2.2 percent growth rate. These many pessimists also note that electricity usage in China has hardly risen at all during the past year and that weak corporate earnings confirm a softer economy than the government figures imply. And because recent government efforts to stabilize financial markets have failed and past government stimulus programs have encouraged a tremendous build up in private debt outstanding, forecasts of a Chinese collapse have multiplied.
Surveying this almost universal pessimism, anyone with a memory cannot help but wonder how quickly perceptions change. Not too long ago, while China’s economy averaged real growth of 10-12 percent a year, consensus opinion saw it on the verge of overtaking the U.S. economy as the world’s largest—that China would soon eat America’s proverbial lunch. Now consensus thinking characterizes that once seemingly unstoppable power as a risk to itself and to the global economy. 

Chinese Army Revamps Its Cyberwar and Intelligence Organizations

Chinese Military Revamps Cyber Warfare, Intelligence Forces
Bill Gertz, Washington Free Beacon, January 27, 2016
A recent Chinese military reorganization is increasing the danger posed by People’s Liberation Army cyber warfare and intelligence units that recently were consolidated into a new Strategic Support Force.
The announcement of the military reorganization made on Dec. 31 by the Chinese government provided few details of what has changed for three military intelligence units formerly under the now-defunct General Staff Department.
However, U.S. officials and China analysts say the major cyber warfare and intelligence-gathering groups were elevated into the new Strategic Support Force, a military service-level force equal in standing to China’s army, navy, air force and missile services.
They include the 3rd Department, or 3PLA, that is believed to have as many as 100,000 cyber warfare hackers and signals intelligence troops under its control. The group includes highly-trained personnel who specialize in network attacks, information technology, code-breaking, and foreign languages.

Five members of a 3PLA hacking group were indicted by the Justice Department for commercial cyber attacks against American companies in 2014.
The 4th Department, China’s separate military electronic intelligence and electronic warfare service, is also part of the new support force. Additionally, the traditional military spy service devoted to human spying known as 2PLA was combined into the new support force.
“From a strategic perspective, the PLA will now be able to move forward with the concept of integrated network electronic warfare and better manage the use of satellites for [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance],” said former military intelligence officer Larry Wortzel.
James Lewis, a cyber specialist with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the new force will enhance the capacity of the PLA.
“They have a ways to go, but this is their effort to compete with the U.S. in the information domain,” Lewis said. “It fits with their improved [anti-satellite] and cyber attack capabilities.”
The 3PLA was identified by the National Security Agency as one of China’s most aggressive cyber spying agencies.

Did Goebbels Win?

Irina Bokova, Irina Bokova is Director-General of UNESCO.
Sara Bloomfield Sara Bloomfield is Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. JAN 25, 2016 
PARIS – In 1930s Germany, Nazi Party leaders understood the power of mass communication to disseminate hatred and anti-Semitism. “Propaganda,” Hitler wrote, “is a truly terrible weapon in the hands of an expert.” In their rise to power, the Nazis deployed sophisticated modern communications technologies, including radio and film, to win the battle of ideas – and thus to shape public opinion and behavior – among a well-educated population in a fledgling democracy.
The Nazis are gone but propaganda lives on, and its potential is deadlier than ever. As we commemorate the 71st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27, extremist groups around the globe wield new technologies to incite hatred and perpetrate new mass killings and genocides. That’s why UNESCO has decided to base this year’s International Day of Commemoration on the theme From Words to Genocide: Anti-Semitic Propaganda and the Holocaust. On this occasion, UNESCO and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) are joining forces to present at UNESCO headquarters the exhibit State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda.
During the early 1930s, a period of severe economic distress, many Germans were willing to overlook the Nazis’ anti-Semitism, because they were attracted to other aspects of the party’s message. The Nazis knew this: In the run-up to the 1932 election, the party relied on the emerging field of public opinion research to probe the needs, hopes, and fears of blue- and white-collar workers, the middle class, women, farmers, and youth. Accordingly, Nazi propagandists toned down anti-Semitic rhetoric and presented the party as the only political force capable of creating jobs and putting food on German tables. Likewise, they won over newly enfranchised women voters by portraying themselves as the defender of traditional German womanhood and the family.
Hitler’s extreme nationalism resonated with many audiences, including young people who wanted to restore Germany’s lost territories and military might. But rabid anti-Semitism remained at the center of the Nazi worldview. As soon as the party came to power, in 1933, it began to implement anti-Jewish policies. The Nazis eliminated alternative sources of information, burning books and arresting journalists as they prepared to advance their goal of establishing a united “Aryan” Europe.
In today’s interconnected world, individuals and non-state groups motivated by extremist ideologies can use the power of new technologies to shape attitudes and beliefs, and incite violence on a global scale. Since 2014, the Islamic State (ISIS) has disseminated more than 700 propaganda videos, tailored to various audiences, in all major languages, to maximize the reach and impact of its message.
Nearly 50,000 Twitter accounts are propagating these vehicles of hatred, seeking to exploit ignorance, intolerance, and divisions within societies. Young people are being targeted for recruitment. Within the territories it controls, ISIS persecutes and kills individuals on religious and cultural grounds, with a recent USHMM report concluding that the group has committed acts of genocide against the Yazidi minority population under its control.

A SWOT Analysis of US–Russian Relations

27 January 2016
We’ve all done a SWOT analysis at one time or another. Well, here is Alexander Sergunin and Valery Konyshev’s look at current US-Russia relations. As they see it, asking “who lost Russia?” is now passé. For reasons they describe here, they see a new “reset” gradually emerging between Moscow and Washington. 
By Alexander Sergunin and Valery Konyshev for Center for Security Studies (CSS) 
This article, which originally appeared in Russian Analytical Digest No. 178, was published by the Center for Security Studies (CSS) on 11 January 2016. 

Is the Pessimism Warranted? 
Until recently, the leitmotif of discussions examining the state of U.S.–Russian relations was: Who (again) lost Russia? and Why was it lost? The whole tone of the discourse was quite pessimistic or even alarmist. However, with the Iranian nuclear program deal and the beginning of cooperation between Moscow and Washington on fighting the Islamic State (ISIS), the narrative describing the need for a new U.S.–Russian “reset” is gradually reemerging. Whether one is pessimistic or optimistic, it is clear that U.S.–Russian relations are at a turning point again. In the current situation, conducting a SWOT analysis of U.S.–Russian relations will help clarify the issues. 
According to business planning theory, SWOT analysis is a summary of a company’s current situation. The strengths and weaknesses of a company are identified, along with opportunities and threats in its environment. SWOT analysis makes it possible for analysts to measure the current state and future potential of a company. If the strengths and opportunities outweigh the weaknesses and threats, the company is in a good position. And vice versa a company is in a bad situation if the weaknesses and threats are dominant. SWOT analysis can also be used to build strategies for the future by considering how weaknesses can be turned into strengths, and how threats can be turned into opportunities. 

To begin our analysis from strengths, it should be noted that U.S.–Russian relations are based on a solid historical background and rich cooperative experiences that can be helpful not only for survival in difficult times but also for developing forward-looking strategies. For example, both countries never stopped a dialogue seeking to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The Iranian nuclear deal reached in July 2015 has only confirmed this fact and demonstrated the cooperative potential that the two countries have in this sphere. The U.S. and Russia managed to observe bilateral arms control regimes, including their obligations to reduce strategic offensive armaments. Such cooperation allowed the two largest nuclear powers to maintain the stability of the global strategic system. 

Why is Israel so cautious on the Islamic State? A recent war game explains why.


By David Ignatius Opinion writer January 26 
TEL AVIV, Let’s say Islamic State fighters attack an Israeli military patrol along the Syrian border. They try unsuccessfully to kidnap an Israeli soldier, and they kill four others. A Jordanian border post is hit, too, and the Islamic State proclaims it has control of Daraa province in southern Syria.
How do Israel and other key players respond? In a war game played here last week, they retaliated, but cautiously. The players representing Israel and Jordan wanted to avoid a pitched battle against the terrorists — they looked to the United States for leadership.
This simulation exercise was run by Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) as part of its annual conference. The outcome illustrated the paradoxical reality of the conflict against the Islamic State: Israel and Jordan act with caution and restraint, hoping to avoid being drawn deeper into the chaotic Syrian war, even as the United States escalates its involvement.
“We all believe that keeping Israel out of the conflict is important,” said Brig. Gen. Assaf Orion, a retired officer who served as head of the Israel Defense Forces’ planning staff. He led the Israeli team in the simulation. In the war game, Israel retaliated for the killing of its soldiers but avoided major military operations.
Jordan, too, wanted to avoid escalation. The players representing Jordan didn’t want to send their own troops into Syria. They worried about refugees and terrorist sleeper cells inside Jordan. They hoped that the combined military power of Russia and the Syrian regime could suppress the conflict and evict the Islamic State from its foothold in southern Syria. They looked for U.S. leadership but weren’t sure it was dependable.

Friends and Refugees in Need

Thomas L. Friedman JAN. 27, 2016 
STOCKHOLM — Now in his last year in office, President Obama is in legacy mode. He has much to be proud of. But if he doesn’t want his achievements muddied by foreign policy, he’ll spend his last year redoubling his efforts to contain the Middle East refugee crisis before it goes from a giant humanitarian problem to a giant geostrategic problem that shatters America’s most important ally: the European Union.
I know — putting “European Union” into the lead of a column published in America is like a “Do Not Read” sign. Maybe I should call it “Trump’s European Union.” That would go viral. But for the two of you still reading, this is really important.
The meltdowns of Syria, Somalia, Eritrea, Mali, Chad and Yemen and our takedowns of Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan — without proper follow-up on our part, NATO’s part or by local elites — has uncorked the worst refugee crisis since World War II. This tidal wave of migrants and refugees is a human tragedy, and their outflow from Syria and Libya in particular is destabilizing all the neighboring islands of decency: Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Kurdistan and Turkey. And now it is eating away at the fabric of the E.U. as well.
Why should Americans care? Because the E.U. is the United States of Europe — the world’s other great center of democracy and economic opportunity. It has its military shortcomings, but with its wealth and liberal values, the E.U. has become America’s primary partner in addressing climate change, managing Iran and Russia and containing disorder in the Middle East and Africa.

This partnership amplifies American power and, if the E.U. is hobbled or fractured, America will have to do so many more things around the world with much less help.
At a seminar in Davos, Switzerland, sponsored by the Wilson Center, I interviewed David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, which oversees relief operations in more than 30 war-affected countries. He made several key points.
First, one in every 122 people on the planet today is “fleeing a conflict” at a time when wars between nations “are at a record low,” said Miliband, a former British foreign secretary. Why? Because we now have nearly 30 civil wars underway in weak states that are “unable to meet the basic needs of citizens or contain civil war.”

Russia’s Military Is Punching Above Its Weight

Is Russia’s Military Really Punching Above Its Weight?
Dave Majumdar, The National Interest, January 26, 2015
“Is Russia Punching Above its Weight?” That was the supposed to be the title for RuslanPukhov’s— director of the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST)—presentation at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington yesterday. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather in the nation’s capital, the presentation had to be cancelled. Pukhov, however, provided me with his slides for the event.
The answer to the question—according to Pukhov’s analysis—is yes, Russia does indeed punch above its weight militarily. “Russia’s military might considerably exceed its economic, technological and demographic capacity,” Pukhov states in his slides. Further, he notes: “Russia is an undisputable hegemon within the post-Soviet space which is the sphere of its vital interests.”
But that doesn’t mean that Russia doesn’t face significant geopolitical challenges. Russia’s two allies—Belarus and Kazakhstan—are of almost no military value. “In the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Belarus and Kazakhstan are both equivalent to Romania in the Warsaw Pact,” Pukhov notes. “Negligible military value [to the] the rest [of the] CSTO member states.”
That situation is made all the more troubling because of deteriorating relations with Poland, the Baltic states, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. There is also the issue of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Effectively, that means Russia has to prepare to defend its interests in every direction, Pukhov stated in his slides.
Meanwhile, Russia can’t hope to match the United States and it allies technologically. “Russia can hardly compete with the ‘Collective West’ in regards to investments in engineering development and fundamental research,” Pukhov noted. Which means Moscow has to invest smartly a new generation of weapons.

How Much Should the United States Still Care About Central Asia?

January 25, 2016
The United States has struggled in the post-Soviet era to define a durable framework for its relations with Central Asian states. Initially, securing the Soviet Union’s nuclear legacy was the main focus of US policy. Then, after 9/11, policy was shaped by Washington’s need for Central Asian support for US military operations in Afghanistan. But as Washington redefines its global priorities, what should guide its policy toward Central Asia?
It is perhaps easier to determine what should not be a guiding factor: not the region’s energy reserves at a time of falling oil prices; not visions of democracy that are not shared by Central Asian governments; not Afghanistan, as Washington tries to disengage from 15 years of war there.
The only thing that is clear is the United States needs to adjust its relations with Central Asian states to a new set of realities.

Before pondering the future, it is worth taking a moment to consider the past. US engagement in Central Asia has paid off: nuclear weapons have been removed and Kazakhstan has emerged as a champion of global non-proliferation. Central Asian states served as valuable partners in the US military campaign in Afghanistan. Washington helped the Central Asian states establish their sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence. No single country has established its hegemony over the region, and Russia no longer has a monopoly on the flow of Central Asian oil and gas. Ultimately, America has fulfilled its promise of partnership.
But many of America’s hopes for the region have not materialized. Central Asia has made little progress toward democratic, open societies based on free markets, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. The US project to connect Central Asia to Afghanistan and Pakistan via a “New Silk Road” has failed to take off. And China, not the West, is the prime beneficiary of Russia’s lost monopoly on the region’s energy resources.
Looking ahead, it is unrealistic to believe that Washington can fulfill its transformational goals in the region, especially as it is looking to downsize its commitment there and focus on other, pressing challenges in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East. As the United States continues on a glide path toward a substantially smaller military footprint in Afghanistan, Central Asia’s role as the gateway to Afghanistan has declined in America’s strategic calculus—and that means less US time, energy, and resources will be devoted to the region.

Latest Developments Inside NSA’s INFOSEC Organization

NSA’s Information Assurance Directorate at a crossroads
Sean Lyngaas, FCS.com, January 26, 2016
The National Security Agency is at a crossroads, and the key to its compass is the agency’s Information Assurance Directorate.
Although overshadowed by the bigger — and, for some, more intriguing — Signals Intelligence Directorate, IAD’s mission of protecting sensitive information on national security systems is more important than ever. There are not enough hours in the day and, some say, not enough hands on deck at IAD to deal with the incessant stream of vulnerabilities surfacing on government and private-sector networks.
In essence, IAD’s mission includes discovering software flaws, and part of the Signals Intelligence Directorate’s mission is exploiting them. NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers is keen on forging closer interaction between the two directorates, which, despite years of inching toward each other, are still too far removed from each other for his taste.
“This traditional approach we had where we created these two amazing cylinders of excellence and then we built walls of granite between them really is not the way for us to do business,” he said at an Atlantic Council event in January.
“I don’t like these stovepipes that sit in IAD,” added Rogers, who also leads the military’s five-year-old Cyber Command. “I love the expertise and I love when we work together, but I want the integration to be at a much lower level, much more foundational.”

He is on the cusp of unveiling what he says is the biggest reorganization of NSA in more than 15 years. Details are still under wraps, but Rogers has made it clear that the agency must do better at blending signals intelligence and information assurance to reap a good harvest in the age of big data.
He is not the first NSA chief to push the two directorates closer together. Not long after becoming director in 1996, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minihan decided to put information assurance resources in the agency’s signals intelligence hub, the National Security Operations Center, said Chris Inglis, who was then a senior operations officer at NSOC.
Minihan’s change “was a big deal” because it helped operationalize information assurance, said Inglis, who retired as deputy NSA director in 2014.
He said another turning point for the role of information assurance at NSA was Operation Buckshot Yankee, the Defense Department’s response to a 2008 breach of its classified systems. IAD specialists played a key role in detecting and mitigating the malicious code, Inglis added.
“That put information assurance on a very solid operational footing,” he told FCW.

Refugee or Terrorist? IBM Thinks Its Software Has the Answer

January 27, 2016 By Patrick Tucker 
A new tool to turn unstructured data into actionable intelligence could change the way law enforcement fights terrorism, and challenge the data-collection debate. 
Tools for turning unstructured data into actionable intelligence are getting better, and that could alter the risk-reward calculation at the heart of the data-collection debate. 
Take IBM’s i2 Enterprise Insight Analysis, or i2 EIA. IBM purchased i2 EIA back in 2011 and added in some of the company’s patented cognitive computing capabilities, the most famous of which is Watson, the AI that beat Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings.
IBM believes the tool could help governments separate real refugees from imposters, untangle terrorist cells, or even predict bomb attacks.
Last October, as many European countries were straining to make room for Syrian refugees, other nations were shutting doors, saying that ISIS attackers might try to blend into the throngs.
“Our worldwide team, some of the folks in Europe, were getting feedback that there were some concerns that within these asylum-seeking populations that had been starved and dejected, there were fighting-age males coming off of boats that looked awfully healthy. Was that a cause for concern in regard to ISIS and, if so, could this type of solution be helpful?” said Andrew Borene, strategic initiatives executive at IBM.
IBM hoped to show that the i2 EIA could separate the sheep from the wolves: that is, the masses of harmless asylum-seekers from the few who might be connected to jihadism or who were simply lying about their identities.
“Could we look at a quick background of ISIS leadership based off of existing knowledge stores using unstructured data analytics? Could we identify people who were potentially traveling under false identities or passports? Which identities might they be using? If someone was a sleeper that we came across, would they be building a new legend [or alias]?… How would they be getting those passports?” said Borene.

Netanyahu: Islamic Terrorists Increasingly Embracing Cyberwarfare

Speaking at Israeli cybersecurity conference, PM says militant Islamist groups are trying to take the world back to the Dark Ages using the sophisticated tools of cyber terrorism.
Danna Harman Jan 26, 2016 1
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The forces of militant Islam today may be medieval in their philosophies, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tuesday – but they are increasingly modern in their methods.
“These militants are using the technologies that we use,” he said, addressing the crowd of international cyber technology experts gathered at the Tel Aviv Trade Fair and Convention Center for the Cybertech 2016 conference. 
The two-day annual event drew some 3,000 participants, organizers say, including representatives of leading multinational and Israeli corporations and startups, investors and entrepreneurs from the various fields of cybersecurity, as well as government and military officials from around the world. Among those present were U.S. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Colonel Andre Lourenco Eiras, head of Brazil’s Cyber Defense Program, who is charged with cyber protection for the upcoming Olympics in that country.
“We are facing… a force that challenges modernity, and that force is a savage… primitive medievalism that seeks to take our world back to the dark ages of humanity, over a thousand years ago,” said Netanyahu.
“This is one of those few times in history in which the forces that seem to take humanity back are using some of the forces that take humanity forward. And this presents a greater challenge to us,” continued the prime minister, echoing a similar warning he made last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Netanyahu boasted that Israel was on the forefront of that fight, as one of the top five major cyber powers in the world, and accounting for about 10 percent of global sales in the cyber-security business. But, still, he admitted, in the cyber war against the “the forces of medievalism,” Israel could not stand alone. “There is a critical need for like-minded governments to have serious discussions about cooperation in the broader international realm,” he said.

The new IDF Cyber Defense Brigade divided between two military branches
Exclusive Report January 26, 2016, 
A cyber defense war room was integrated for the first time in one of Israel’s large-scale national military exercises which took place last week. When he launched the drill, IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen, Gady Eisenkot noted the three main threats facing Israel: Hizballah’s vast missile arsenal, Palestinian terrorist attacks, and ISIS poised on two borders. He made only a cursory reference to cyber war, without elaborating.
Compared with the civilian sector, the IDF has been awarded high marks for the way it has grasped the dangers of cyber warfare, prepared for them and trained and activated personnel for the pursuit of countermeasures.
Appreciation of the peril has led the IDF to run two cyber warfare and defense divisions, one in the Military Intelligence (MI) Directorate’s elite Unit 8200 and another in its counterpart the C41 (Telecommunications and Signal) Corps.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the new Cyber Defense Brigade has been given an MI brigadier general as commander
But the Achilles heel of Israel’s military system for combating the cyber threat,DEBKAfile’s military experts note, is the division of its responsibilities between two separate branches.
Following a study led by Military Intelligence (MI) chief, Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, which was presented in the summer of 2015 to the chief of staff, it was decided to place the IDF cyber warfare system under a command like the air, ground and sea arms.
But instead of merging the two specialized entitities, Eisenkot decided, in the interests of keeping the peace among his generals, to leave the separate units of the MI and the Signals corps in situ - at least in the first stage.
This decision, say the experts, is bound to mar the effectiveness of IDF operations - both against hostile computer systems and in the defense of the military’s own information networks.

To function effectively, offensive and defensive operations depend on a continuous stream of intelligence from every possible open, digital and human source, for the critical task of collecting technological and operational data to define and identify the peril.
MI is naturally best qualified for clandestine work. It has access to superior intelligence sources and materials and its personnel, moreover, attracts the most technologically skilled young people, who aspire to join its ranks and are ready to stay on for careers, after their discharge from compulsory service.
The Teleprocessing and Signal Corps certainly possesses exceptional skills in communication, encryption and information networks. But devolving on this corps a section of the counter-cyber war defense system will stand in the way of the IDF’s undivided focus on the defense of its operational and administrative computer systems. It will also hamper the armed forces’ cooperation with other bodies dealing with cyber defense, such as the Shin Bet internal security service and the Mossad. They are all used to cooperating with Military Intelligence; working with a separate cyber warfare body would be a stretch.
A single IDF cyber command, had the chief of staff approved a merger, would have had the added advantage of being able to pull together the plethora of unconnected agencies set up to protect the civilian sector against the very real threat of cyber attacks, such as the National Cyber Bureau, the National Operative Cyber Defense Authority, the National Information Security Authority and the cyber warfare departments of the Israel Police and the Shin Bet.
But first, the new IDF branch must get into stride.

Ensuring privacy in a digital age

Citizens are unaware of how their personally identifiable information is collected, stored, used and shared
On 28 January 1981, the Eropean Council signed the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, popularly known as Convention 108. It is the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. The day has since been celebrated as Data Protection Day in Europe and as International Data Privacy Day around the world. In today’s era of digitization, it is imperative that we understand the concept—and importance—of data privacy.
According to an Internet and Mobile Association of India report, India has around 400 million Internet users. This number took a decade to reach 100 million from 10 million, three years to reach 200 million and just another year to reach 300 million. The Internet is essentially a data ecosystem where every node is engaged in generation, transmission, consumption and storage of data. The scale of this data ecosystem can be gauged from the fact that by 2019, the gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made will cross India’s Internet protocol networks every hour.
But the situation is such that while we are generating such high volumes of data—most of which is of the “identifier” type that is used to identify a person, a thing or an entity in the ecosystem—we do not have in place measures that safeguard the privacy of this data, nor regulate data retention by platforms collecting it. As a result, ordinary citizens are unaware of how their personally identifiable information is collected, stored, used and shared. Further, as governance-driven digitization (Aadhaar, digital lockers, direct account transfers) fuels large-scale sensitive data collection and storage, the Information Technology Act, with its limited scope to penalize government agencies for breach of data privacy, is the only legal instrument available to citizens against contravention of their privacy in the data ecosystem. This leaves citizens exposed—as in 2013, when the Maharashtra government simply lost the personal data of 300,000 Aadhaar card applicants.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Study of Urban Conflict and Multinational Operations

Major Michael Jackson, Cadet Samuel Ruppert, and Cadet David Stanford

Abstract: In July 2015, a team of cadets and faculty conducted a research trip in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH). This was the first contemporary battlefield assessment conducted through the Modern War Institute (MWI) and focused on military operations in densely populated urban environments as well the complexity of multinational operations. A significant finding from this trip is that no force had an effective approach to urban warfare – they lacked the warfighting concepts to move beyond positional warfare and assert military control over either Sarajevo or Mostar. A second finding was that there is a significant difference between two organized militaries fighting in an urban environment and hybrid warfare in an urban environment. Another interesting note about the defense of cities was the importance of having an organizational framework during the initial formation of hybrid defense forces from the local population. Perhaps our most significant finding with reference to multinational operations was that the U.S. Army should increase opportunities to work in multinational efforts, not only to strengthen ties with other nations, but also as way for U.S. Army officers to develop experience working in a multinational environment.

General Votel to SECDEF: Shut Up About What U.S. Special Forces Are Doing in Iraq!

Exclusive: Chief of U.S. Commandos Warns Loose Lips Could Risk American Lives
Dan de Luce, Foreign Policy, January 27, 2016
The general overseeing U.S. special operations forces has written a memo to Defense Secretary Ash Carter demanding the Pentagon stop talking about what his elite troops are up to in Iraq or elsewhere, saying the commandos require a veil of secrecy to do their job, Foreign Policy has learned.
Gen. Joseph Votel, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) who has been nominated to take over U.S. Central Command, issued the complaint in a Dec. 8 memo — days after Carter and White House officials announced that a force of about 200 special operations forces (SOF) would be deployed to Iraq to target Islamic State militants. 
“I am concerned with increased public exposure of SOF activities and operations, and I assess that it is time to get our forces back into the shadows,” Votel wrote, according to an excerpt newly provided to FP by a defense official.
Votel added that discussing operations makes it more difficult for commandos to conduct those missions, and he “requested the department support him with an approach to avoid public discussion of SOF activities,” the official said, paraphrasing the brief memo.
It was unclear precisely what public comments Votel was referring to in his memo, which was also addressed to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford.
Still, it’s not the first time that commanders and top officials have expressed frustration about the disclosure of sensitive information about the elite forces. In the immediate aftermath of the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, senior officials — including then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates — privately lambasted their White House counterparts for publicizing key details about the raid. 
More recently, some senior officers have privately complained and congressional critics have suggested the administration is hyping the deployments of special operations forces for political gain, either to push back against accusations of not doing enough to combat foes like the Islamic State or to help Obama burnish his legacy as a bold wartime commander willing to chase down America’s enemies anywhere in the world.
The new memo came amid a renewed effort by the White House to defend its strategy in Iraq and Syria in the face of sharp criticism in Congress, with officials frequently citing the deployment of commandos to take on the Islamic State. The force includes members of elite units such as the Navy SEALs and the Army’s Delta Force as part of a plan to “intensify” the war against the Islamic State — a push long demanded by critics who note that more than a year of coalition airstrikes has failed to defeat the militants or dislodge them from their strongholds in Raqqa, Syria, and the Iraqi city of Mosul.