17 August 2016

*** The Triumph of Geopolitics


Amoral geopolitics, more than any clash of civilizations, dictated Venetian-Ottoman relations.
August 12, 2016

Noel Malcolm, Agents of Empire: Knights, Corsairs, Jesuits and Spies in the Sixteenth-Century Mediterranean World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 604 pp., $34.95.

THOUGH HISTORIANS know about the vast difference between the early modern world and the modern world, journalists and policymakers are often confused about the distinction. But the distinction is crucial, and grants an insight into where human society might be headed next. The early modern period is often popularly defined as beginning with the Renaissance and ending with the Industrial Revolution. The modern period begins after that. A key to early modernism is how it generated identities far more multiple and elastic, and, therefore, benign compared to those wrought by the ethnic straitjackets demanded by modern nationalists. Indeed, the main point of the late Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order—a book that everyone owned an opinion about, but that few actually read—is that political identities based on culture and civilization are not primordial, but integral to the very process of modernization. Yet, if modernism is itself just a stage, are identities—despite the headlines of sectarian war and the conflict between Islam and the West—moving imperceptibly in the direction of something more flexible? Might the early modern era offer a relevant and more hopeful guide to the future?

Arguably the most accurate and finely shaded view into Europe’s early modern past has only recently been published: Noel Malcolm’s Agents of Empire: Knights, Corsairs, Jesuits and Spies in the Sixteenth-Century Mediterranean World. Malcolm is the definitive academic historian: a research professor at All Souls College, Oxford, intimidatingly multilingual, a trained archival detective and a fiercely engaging writer. He knows that the art of biography is to illuminate the entire period in question and can write a rich portrait of a country encompassed within a smartly drawn geopolitical panorama. Agents of Empire, which is roughly about the contest for supremacy in the Adriatic and the eastern Mediterranean between Venice and the Ottoman Empire in the late sixteenth century, is a “microhistory” of a family within an encyclopedic, almost Proustian, vision of early modern Europe. Malcolm is writing academic, not popular, history. Emotions don’t bleed off these pages: you are told only what the archives and other records reveal. The result is a dose of dryness combined with extreme erudition—the mark of the true academy.

Ulcinj, located on the Adriatic Sea in the far south of Montenegro, close to Albania, is where Malcolm’s narrative begins. Originally Illyrian, Ulcinj fell to the Romans, Byzantines and Slavs before coming under Venetian rule in 1405 and Ottoman rule in 1571. Of course, Ulcinj still mattered greatly to Venice in the sixteenth century because it stood on a vital frontier. For here was the messy Venetian-Ottoman borderland of periodic atrocities, where clan conflicts mattered more than religious ones, even as Christians fled the Ottoman conquest. Nevertheless, the Ottoman conquest fashioned subtle changes, not an upheaval. As Malcolm writes:

“It may seem that an alien element took over at every level. . . . This impression is false. With a few exceptions (soldiers, and some others), the Muslims were not immigrants brought in from distant Islamic territories; they were local Albanians who happened to convert to Islam. Reasons for conversion were various, and in many cases probably had more to do with advancing one’s social and economic position than with any religious concerns.”

*** Why It Is Necessary For AFSPA To Continue

Jaideep Mazumdar - August 14, 2016, 

The demand for repealing the AFSPA is often used as a cover by many in the left-liberal cabal to advance their anti-national agenda. 
Extraordinary situations demand extraordinary measures, and AFSPA is what is required to deal with anti-Indian terrorists whose stated objective is breaking up the country. 
Terrorism would never have been rooted out in Punjab or Mizoram without the AFSPA and without the tough measures that were taken by the security forces operating under the protection of the Act.

The decision by Irom Chanu Sharmila to end her 16 years long hunger strike demanding the removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has again brought to the fore the debate over the AFSPA that has been described by human rights activists and the so-called left-liberal cabal as “draconian” and “unconstitutional”.
The demand for repealing the AFSPA is often used as a cover by many in the left-liberal cabal to advance their anti-national agenda. Portraying the Indian state as a monster and the Indian army as an occupational force that kills, rapes and maims Indian citizens at will suits the agenda of the left-liberals who are hypocritically silent on the unspeakable depredations by, say, China in Tibet or even their Maoist comrades in the jungles of central India.
It is important to understand the Act and the context in which it was decreed before censuring it. The AFSPA does confer a lot of extra-judicial powers on the army operating in counter-insurgency theatres. Section 4(A) of the Act allows army officers, junior commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers (all ranks except the jawans) the power to shoot, or order to shoot, to kill for the following offenses: acting in contravention of any law or order for the time being in force in the disturbed area prohibiting the assembly of five or more persons, carrying weapons, or carrying anything which is capable of being used as a firearm or ammunition. To justify the invocation of this provision, the officer need only be “of the opinion that it is necessary to do so for the maintenance of public order” and only give “such due warning as he may consider necessary”.

Section 4(B) of the Act empowers the army to destroy any property if it is an arms dump, a fortified position or shelter from where armed attacks are made or are suspected of being made, if the structure is used as a training camp, or as a hide-out by armed gangs or absconders. Under Section 4(C), the army can arrest anyone who has committed, is suspected of having committed or of being about to commit, a cognisable offense without an arrest warrant and use any amount of force “necessary to effect the arrest”.
Under Section 4(D) of the Act, the army can enter and search without a warrant to make an arrest or to recover any property, arms, ammunition or explosives which are believed to be unlawfully kept on the premises. This section also allows the use of any amount of force necessary for the search.
Section 5 of the Act states that after the army has arrested someone under the AFSPA, they must hand that person over to the nearest police station with the “least possible delay”. Section 6 of the Act establishes that no legal proceeding can be brought against any member of the armed forces acting under the AFSPA, without the permission of the Central Government. All these sections, according to human rights activists and detractors of the AFSPA, give the army unbridled powers to kill, rape and maim at will and protection from being prosecuted for their crimes.

Redesigned Army Career Tracker helps soldiers more easily map, manage their careers


Redesigned Army Career Tracker helps soldiers more easily map, manage their careers
Michelle Tan, Army Times June 10, 2016

Soldiers looking for help to navigate their way to a successful career can now log on to a new and improved Army Career Tracker.
The tracker is a career management site that helps enlisted soldiers, officers and Army civilians map out their careers based on their specialties. And as of May 27, more than 1 million users — more than 670,000 enlisted, 135,000 officers and warrants, and almost 200,000 Army civilians — are now using the system, which pulls together in one place information from 14 different Army systems, including training opportunities and education requirements.
The redesigned version of the Army Career Tracker includes some new features and gives users a new look and feel. Using feedback from soldiers, the new site also offers improved navigation, officials said.

“A young soldier can look at it and see the career path from an E-1 all the way to a sergeant major, all the schools they must go through, all the different training they must attend,” said Aubrey Butts, the director of the Institute of Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development, which is part of Training and Doctrine Command. “And if you look at a career that’s 30 years, you can look on the site and it’ll take you to the source documents that tell you what you need to do and what you must accomplish. It’s a self-service feature to help guide soldiers to success.”
Sgt. Maj. James Thomson, the sergeant major for the Institute of NCO Professional Development, encouraged all soldiers to use the Army Career Tracker.
“What I would counsel a young soldier on is there’s no better advocate for their career than themselves,” he said. “As your supervisor, I’m here to support you and mentor you and help you, but the best way for you to help yourself is to act now and log in to the Army Career Tracker.”

The Army Career Tracker was redesigned using soldier feedback. (Photo: Army)

The Army Career Tracker was first launched in 2009 as a way to easily present to soldiers the “wealth of information” that’s out there, said Jeffrey Colimon, the Army Career Tracker functional program manager. The intent is to offer soldiers personalized career information based on their rank and military occupational specialty, Colimon said.

*** One Army dad's lessons to his son


Karl Zagorin 
Dear son: Be proud of me, as a soldier and your dad, for the things I experienced and learned. Here are five. 

Dear son:

Remember eight years ago? You were 5 years old, and I joined the Army. 

Before I enlisted, I visited a friend and mentor for his advice. He was a retired Army two-star general, the first African American to serve as sergeant at arms of the United States Senate.

I brought you with me. 

He smiled at you as you played nearby and then looked carefully at me. "If you make this commitment, there are two things you must understand," he said. "First, you will go to combat. Second, your family will make sacrifices no less important than your own."

The general was right.

You were too young to understand my motivations. But you were old enough to be confused and profoundly hurt by my absences over the years. We grew apart. Maybe because I stayed in the Army, or because your mom and I got divorced. I can't go back and fix it now.

But I wish more than ever to be in your life.

Your grandfather and great-grandfather were soldiers too. They never encouraged me to follow in their footsteps. My dad and grandpa just wanted the same things I want for you: read books and play sports, love and respect the women in your life, form your own opinions.

So I played ball and went to college. I established a civilian career. Along the way, I was lucky to meet your mom. We had you and your little brother. Only then did I want to serve.

You see, Americans always stand up and defend what we treasure most. Our families. Our Constitution. Our democracy and way of life.

Be proud of me, as a soldier and your dad, for the things I experienced and learned.

Here are five:

1. Our military is not for everyone.

It strips away ordinary choices we take for granted. You don't decide what you eat, when you sleep, or with whom you work — and you can't just quit.

But you always determine your effort and attitude.

Because the stakes are so high — the success of the mission and the safety of your buddies — our military belongs to those who work hardest and place the team, not themselves, first.

2. Our military truly is for everyone.

I trained and fought alongside the most dedicated and courageous Americans I will ever know. I trusted them with my life. And guess what?

They were of every race and religion. From big towns and small. Some immigrated from other countries. They were gay and straight. Men and women. I tell you because I've seen it: Women possess the courage and ability to succeed in any role.

3. It would not upset me if you never saw or touched an assault rifle in your life.

I never did. Until I joined the Army.

I learned to expertly maintain and operate an M4 Carbine. I didn't eat, sleep or breathe without it; but my rifle was designed, manufactured and issued to me for the sole purpose of combat.

Our country has to figure out how to keep these deadly weapons out of the hands of criminals and terrorists. If it means I don't get to keep one in our home — I'll be just fine without.

4. Our military is strong — and it's not at war with Islam.

I am awestruck by the competence of military leaders throughout our ranks.

We will defeat groups like ISIS, but we need help from our Muslim friends all over the world who want peace just as much as we do.

Anti-Muslim rhetoric and calls for immigration bans are not just against America's best values; they damage our efforts to defeat the real enemy.

5. Don't believe everything I say is true.

You are my son. There are times I expect you to listen and do as I say. In the Army, I follow the orders of my senior officers.

But I want you to discover your own ideas — based not on emotion or dogma but thoughtful study and observation. Welcome viewpoints that challenge your own and people who seem different than you.

You enjoy these liberties because Americans have always fought to protect them.

So go on and read a book.

Shoot some hoops with your brother — keep practicing your left hand.

Always do your best and, most of all, be good to your mother.



Karl Zagorin is a captain in the U.S. Army; his email is kzagorin@yahoo.com.

*** The Chinese President's Thirst for Power

Geopolitical Diary AUGUST 4, 2016 | 

Chinese President Xi Jinping is removing political and institutional barriers so he can implement the policies he thinks are necessary for China's and the Party's long-term survival. 
Beijing has delayed this year's National Financial Work Conference, the South China Morning Post reported Wednesday. Citing a vague comment from the National Development and Reform Commission, which historically has overseen the country's economic and industrial policy, the report said the conference will now be held no earlier than late September. The apparent delay of the conference, which takes place every five years and in the past has produced pivotal economic policy changes, lends credence to media speculation that China's leaders are not of one mind when it comes to the economy.
The report also comes a day after Chinese authorities announced a plan to overhaul the leadership, personnel and organizational structures of the Communist Youth League. Founded in 1920 to cultivate new generations of loyal cadres, the Communist Youth League has long been an important pipeline for future Party leaders and a powerful tool for dispensing Party patronage. Former President Hu Jintao once served as its first secretary, and many of his most prominent allies and proteges — including Premier Li Keqiang — rose to power through its ranks.

For more than two decades, the coherence and influence of the youth league network has been such that outside observers regularly refer to it as the Youth League "faction," or tuanpai. It stands out as being among a handful of national power bases, so its reorganization and streamlining — along with the downsizing of its committees on central and provincial affairs in order to focus on county and local affairs — marks an important step in President Xi Jinping's effort to consolidate control over the Party.
Ostensibly, these two developments are unrelated. The reorganization does not bear directly on economic policy, let alone on the final date of a single conference. But viewed through a wider lens, it is hard not to see the reform and the delay as pieces in a larger, if still unsolved, puzzle.

It is widely understood that Xi is concentrating political power, sidelining key potential opponents and breaking up patronage networks he has not historically controlled. Prominent among those opponents have been officials directly affiliated with the youth league and its intersecting networks, including Ling Jihua, Hu's former right-hand man who was sentenced to life in prison for corruption last July. Xi plans to secure both his position and his lasting policy influence by placing allies and proteges in key positions at next October's 19th Party Plenum, during which a number of officials selected by Hu and former President Jiang Zemin will step down.

Be warned! Bad times ahead for the Indian economy

August 08, 2016 23:49 IST
'We have a very difficult period ahead of us.'
'Fortunately we have a popular government and a popular leader who is ideally placed to take us into confidence,' says Aakar Patel.

India has begun the process of passing what many think is its most important economic reform in two decades.
The Goods and Services Tax will simplify indirect taxation in India and some think merely this simplification would add a couples of points of economic growth. Others disagree, but all believe that this is a key reform.

What other reforms can we expect?
Not many and none the size of GST.
If the expectation was that the Narendra Modi government would legislate dramatic change, this expectation has been let down.
The GST bill being pushed as a big reform is the idea of the previous Congress government and had actually been opposed by Modi as chief minister.
When he won the general election, he changed his position and I think that is very good and wise politics.

In an interview to The Wall Street Journal some time ago, Modi said he himself did not know what big reforms remained to be legislated in India. He said: 'When I came to the government, I used to sit down with all the experts and ask them to define for me what is the "big bang" for them,' Modi said. 'Nobody could tell me.'
He said much of the reform now concerned the states and he would look to states to further liberalise labour laws, an area seen as crucial and contentious.
'Labour reform should not just mean in the interest of industry,' Modi said. 'Labour reform should also be in the interest of the labourer.' These words show that Modi is cautious.
I think the prime minister is absolutely right. What exactly are the big bang reforms left to be legislated in a country which is no longer socialist?

Both the ruling party and the Opposition stand in favour of liberalisation. The fact is that not much remains to be liberalised. But if this is so, and not much legislative change is to be anticipated, what does that mean for our economic growth?
I believe that the present rate of six or seven per cent will not be exceeded in the medium term, meaning the next decade or so. And the passing of time will make maintaining even this growth rate more difficult because the base will become larger.
We should not expect 10 per cent growth simply because no big change is on its way and in the absence of big change things will continue the way they are.

The Night That Obama and Hillary Founded ISIS

It was late one night in the White House when Obama first came up with the idea for ISIS. He hadn’t been sleeping well. Michelle told him to take some deep breaths, have some hot milk, and rewatch Princess Bride, but he’d made it all the way to the Billy Crystal scene, and he was out of milk, and Michelle had started snoring. The snoring was loud and nasty and kind of wet-sounding, like a broken boat was giving birth to another boat. He had to get out of there.

First, he headed down to the Oval Office and tried to sleep on the couch, but it wasn’t long enough for his legs, and it smelled like generals’ butts. For a long time, he just wandered around the West Wing alone. He was sad and tired and had the nervous feeling that he was doing something he shouldn’t. He peeked into people’s desk drawers and found pictures of cats and dogs and babies. He was thinking about stealing a Kind bar off one of his interns’ desks, when suddenly a word appeared to him: ISIS. He grabbed a Post-It note and wrote it down. What was it? What did it mean?
It wasn’t until months later, at Coachella, that the idea started to take shape. Obama loved electronic music — the beats, the lights, the DJs, the wonderful fans — and every year, for just one day, the Secret Service allowed him to go to the music festival. They would hang back, and he would wear sunglasses, a flower crown, a neon tank top, and a tight European-style bathing suit and just dance. The people who did recognize him were too drunk and high to convince anyone of what they’d seen. (“Hey, bro, it’s the president!” “Yeah, bro!”) The president would block it all out and surrender to the thumping, sick beat. He had done a tiny bit of molly with a French Canadian woman named Bonjour when the word “ISIS” came back to him. Ever since he was a little boy, he had wanted to start an international terrorist organization of his own. He’d just never had the right idea. People had been starting terrorist groups for years, and he knew that if he wanted to break into the market, he needed some big new shtick. Wait. Of course. He went into his wallet and dug out the crumpled Post-It note. Yes. He would be the first American president to start an international terrorist organization, and it would be called ISIS. Bonjour was naked now, trying to bend a glow stick around one of her breasts. He gave her his flower crown, got in an Uber, and drove straight back to Washington. By the time he got home, he had a plan. 

PLA hawks fuel Pakistan’s push for limited war By MADHAV NALAPAT | New Delhi | 14 August, 2016


There are reports of significant transfers of missile systems from China to Pakistan to add to the stores already present in that country.
The rising level of tensions in the Kashmir valley is not accidental, but forms part of a design by GHQ Rawalpindi to boost tensions in that state and in the rest of India, so that the way gets cleared for a limited conflict which would depress investor sentiment about India for several years. Given the disposition and dispersal of forces, the Pakistan army is confident of holding its own in a limited and conventional conflict with India across the Line of Control (LoC) as well as the International Boundary (IntB) in Jammu & Kashmir. The perception at GHQ is that India could be deterred from opening more fronts (especially in the Punjab and Sindh sectors, as took place in 1965) by the threat of escalation through use of tactical nuclear weapons, which in their view, Indian forces are “yet to possess”. This time around, GHQ Rawalpindi is confident of support from China in the form of feints across the Line of Actual Control (LOAC) between that country and India. The Pakistan air force already has J17 fighters, the technology for which has been transferred to Pakistan, and there are reports of significant transfers of missile systems from China to Pakistan to add to the stores already present in that country. China has already signalled its acceptance of Pakistan as the legitimate owner of Kashmir by declaring the border between itself and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as the “International Boundary”, on which both countries now routinely and jointly patrol. Within the Afghanistan Quad, China has invariably taken the side of Pakistan, and has gone as far as to host three rounds of talks with the Taliban, despite that group’s record as a terrorist force. In a display of what may be expected in a future conflict situation, the PLA has made incursions into Uttarakhand, a sector that till now had been relatively free of such incidents, even as PLA troops in uniform have regularly been seen on the Indian side of the LoC. PLA hawks have, over the past year, increased their level of cooperation with the Pakistan army, including in ways that pose a direct challenge to India’s interests.

Concurrently, the Pakistan army is secretly gearing up to fight a limited war in the Kashmir theatre, which will take place on the excuse of “responsibility to protect”, relying on the spurious claim that there is a “genocide of civilians” taking place in the Kashmir valley, a false claim that surprisingly has found more than a few takers in India, besides the usual suspects abroad. Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif is lobbying for another term on the excuse of tensions with India, and has ensured that posters asking for him to take over and “save” the country have appeared all across cities in Pakistan. Public opinion surveys show that the general is certainly more popular than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been scarred by constant revelations (including in the Panama Papers) about the wealth of his family. Not that Nawaz Sharif would do anything to block offensive action against India. During the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, the 1999 Kargil incursions and the 2016 Pathankot terror attack, it was Sharif who was technically Head of Government in Pakistan. Also, in effect, much of the powers of the Prime Minister now vest with the Chief of Army Staff, as indeed has been the case throughout most of the history of Pakistan. It is COAS Sharif who okayed the plastering of a train with posters of Burhan Wani, and who has sanctioned fund collection in Pakistan, India and the GCC in the name of Burhan Wani by the JeM and the JuD, both international terror organisations protected by China in the United Nations. It was no accident that the PML (Nawaz) “won” the elections in PoK, a farce that is invariably scripted by the army. In September at the UN General Assembly, Pakistan is expected to focus on the situation in Kashmir, and this time around, India may not be fielding its most potent speaker, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and perhaps not even External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, perhaps in an effort to downplay the importance of what is usually simply a talking shop. Overall, the year ahead is planned by GHQ Rawalpindi to be exceptionally bumpy for the Modi government. In such a battle of both mind and muscle, courteous behaviour is a casualty, as was shown by the affront to Home Minister Rajnath Singh during his recent visit to Islamabad.

** Afghanistan's Long Road to Peace

How much sway does Pakistan hold over the Afghan Taliban?
August 10, 2016
THE FIRST significant round of negotiations between the Afghan state and the Taliban essentially came to an end on May 21, with the killing by an American drone strike of Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour on the Pakistani border with Afghanistan. The Obama administration, it appeared, had abandoned hopes of successful talks with the Taliban in favor of a military-led strategy of decapitating the movement and provoking its fragmentation as a result. Leading figures in the Afghan government and security forces have urged Washington to adopt this strategy.
The death of Mullah Mansour did not fracture the Taliban, as hoped. Its leadership has come together to choose a new titular head, Maulavi Haibatullah Akhunzada, a respected religious figure, with an enhanced role for his deputy, Sirajuddin Haqqani, successor to his father Jalaluddin as effective leader of the formidable Haqqani network. This leadership would seem to be, if anything, even less pragmatic than that of Mullah Mansour. Meanwhile, Washington has emphasized the Haqqani network’s links to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Afghanistan will likely endure years more of conflict, and the United States will have to retain air power and special-operations forces to prop up the faltering Afghan National Army and to prevent the country from succumbing to its fissiparous tendencies. America will also almost certainly have to intervene repeatedly in Afghan politics in order to prevent political and ethnic rivalries from tearing the state apart, as they have done so often in the past, and—judging by what I saw and heard during recent visits to Afghanistan—as they are quite capable of doing again, even without the Taliban’s help.
The collapse of the peace process has led to further deterioration of relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and between Pakistan and the United States. The Afghan government, and most U.S. officials, are convinced that Pakistan was never sincere about the peace process, and that its strategy is based on supporting the Taliban. The Pakistani establishment is convinced that Washington and Kabul were never sincere about the peace process, and that their strategy was to use peace talks to dismember the Taliban and provoke Pakistan into launching a new war against those remnants on its own soil. There is a good deal of truth to both propositions—but not the whole truth. Enough nuances remain in all sides’ positions to accommodate a renewed peace process, though probably not for several years.

America is losing its longest war


August 8, 2016 

Eight years ago, Barack Obama premised his foreign policy on the idea that the Iraq War was a distraction from the real task at hand in Afghanistan. Anyone think he has completed the task there?
Obama himself isn't so sure. In the past month, he announced a further drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan, from 9,800 to 8,400. It was an alteration of his plan to keep just 5,500 troops there. It seems he wants to keep just enough troops to prevent a disaster on his watch, but just few enough to look like he's living up to his promise of finishing the job.
But it is becoming clearer by the day that America is losing the longest war in its history. After it removed the Taliban from government 15 years ago, the Taliban is recapturing larger parts of the country, making governance of the nation's far-flung regions from Kabul impossible, and doing the most violence it has in years. Afghanistan's civilian casualty rates this year are near record levels.

What was it all for?
Obama's strategy in Afghanistan has been confused. He invested in a surge, which made America's operation there an extremely large counter-terrorism force. But he never went all-in for a counter-insurgency strategy or in building up the Afghan government. This meant more American casualties for a time. And it also meant more successes against the Taliban. But almost as soon as these victories started to come in 2012, Obama began withdrawing.
The president had soured on the war he had preferred to fight. And he showed it in the exact same way that George W. Bush did on Iraq. The much touted surge in Baghdad and Anbar province turned out to be less of a long-term strategy for Iraq than a face-saving strategy for America's eventual exit.
Just as in Iraq, instead of routing an insurgent force, the Obama administration temporarily overwhelmed it and drove it into hiding in its traditional redoubts. As the drawdown picked up speed in 2012 and 2013, the Taliban regained their momentum, and even some of their territory. Naturally, these gains eroded any efforts at improving the governance of the country.

Paul D. Miller relays:

The Defense Department reported at the end of 2013 that, "the insurgency has also consolidated gains in some of the rural areas in which it has traditionally held power." Real estate prices in Kabul fell and applications for asylum skyrocketed. Civilian fatalities, which had declined in 2012, rose to an all-time high in 2014. The number of internally displaced persons in Afghanistan exploded, nearly doubling from 352,000 in 2010 to 631,000 in 2013. [American Interest

Obama’s Last Chance to Terminate USNuclear Policy (Thanks to Trump)

AUGUST 15, 2016
Here are four ways Obama can make humanity safer from nuclear weapons before anyone else gets the launch codes.
Who would you rather have in control of America’s nuclear weapons, Skynet or Donald Trump?
Stay with me on this. In Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator films, humanity is nearly eliminated when Skynet, a computer program designed to automate missile defense, “wakes up” and decides that humans are the main threat to the planet. “It used our own bombs against us. Three billion died in the nuclear fire,” hero Kyle Reese explains in the latest movie, Terminator Genisys.

In this story, despite the obvious insanity of doing so, the public overwhelmingly supported the government plan to put Skynet in charge. By contrast, in the real world, polls show that only 27 percent of Americans trust Donald Trump to make the right decisions about the use of nuclear weapons.
The nuclear issue is the only issue that moves swing white voters on Trump, according to some independent focus groups. It is not his misogyny, or racism, or bankruptcies, but his ability as president to destroy the world that gives even dedicated supporters pause.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign seems to have unearthed the same results. It is likely not an accident that she lead her June 2 speechon national security with, “This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes.” Her most widely-cited conventionspeech quip was also on nuclear responsibility: “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”
But this is more than a campaign advantage. Fears of a nuclear-armed Trump have opened up a major policy opportunity for President Obama.

More people are discussing the dangers of nuclear use now than at any moment in the past six years. Thanks to Trump’s reported question to his briefers, “Why do we have nuclear weapons if we can’t use them?” millions of Americans have suddenly learned that the U.S. president can launch Armageddon without any check or balance.
Nuclear weapons policy and the king-like powers of the president to obliterate a city or a planet without debate, deliberation, or vote, are the most undemocratic aspect of our government. Congress never authorized this system and gives it little oversight. Congress devoted thousands more hours to the four who died in Benghazi than to the four billion who could die in a nuclear war.
Obama can now change that. In a policy review that is taking far too long and has suffered from far too many leaks, the president is considering several options to reducing the risks inherent in the current posture:

Afghanistan political crisis: Entitlement vs democracy


Only legitimate, effective and sustainable politics can untangle the country from its multitude of challenges.The domestic dimension of the Afghan conflict is the absence of agreement among the elites on the framework and principles of political power, writes Moradian [Reuters]
Davood Moradian is the director-general of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies and former chief of programmes in President Hamid Karzai's office and chief policy adviser to Afghanistan's ministry of foreign affairs.
If war is the continuation of politics by other means, then the four-decade-old Afghan war has become one of the world's most entrenched political puzzles, involving many actors and dimensions.
The growing political crisis within the Afghan National Unity Government is compounding the ongoing security and economic crises in the country.
According to the agreement that was brokered by the United States Secretary of State John Kerry, the National Unity Government would have to implement a number of electoral and political reforms by September 2016, including organising parliamentary elections and conveying the constitutional Loya Jirga, the grand assembly.

No meaningful step has been taken to honour those promises. Many are anxiously watching how Washington and the Afghan government will handle the looming September deadline.
Former President Hamid Karzai has begunexpressing his desire to challenge Washington for the US' perceived role in delaying the required reforms.
Moreover, Washington is consumed by its own electoral fever and its reliance over its leverage.
Unfortunately, the underlying causes and possible corrective measures are being overshadowed by Washington and Karzai's macho duel, Ashraf Ghani's clever strategy of delay and deception, and Abdullah Abdullah's haplessness.
US' doublethink approach
The US military intervention in late 2001 heralded a prompt victory over the Taliban and initiating a promising and inclusive political process. It also enjoyed an unprecedented local and international consensus and legitimacy.
However, soon Iraq proved more attractive to Washington and hence its diversion from the Hindu Kush mountains to the Tigris-Euphrates river.

‘China’s stance makes cooperation on counter terrorism difficult’

By JAYADEVA RANADE | 13 August, 2016

China will require to conform to the international definition of terrorism as its involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan deepens.
The increase in activities of international terrorist groups in areas of China’s specific interest like Afghanistan and Pakistan and their potential to fan further violence in China’s already troubled Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) would be of concern to Chinese leaders. There is the possibility too that extant discontent in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) could erupt into violence. While China accelerated strengthening of its security architecture after the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) 18th Congress in November 2012, the apprehension that terrorist activity could spread across China was a prime consideration in enacting stringent counter-terror laws which came into force from 1 January 2016. China will additionally require cooperation from the international community to tackle the menace.

In an article in October 2015, Xue Li, director of the International Strategy Research Office, World Politics and Economy Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, identified “religious extremism” as a “big challenge that confronts Xinjiang and the central government”. Emphasising the Chinese government’s success in attacking “Xinjiang Independence” forces he, however, admitted that these are now spreading outside Xinjiang to other Chinese provinces and beyond China’s borders. Confirming that terror attacks have taken place in big cities like Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenyang and Kunming as well as medium-size cities like Wenzhou, Xue Li said “splittist forces” have appeared in some Southeast Asian countries and the incidence of these elements leaving China for training and then returning to carry out terror attacks has increased. He regretted that China could not expect much cooperation from governments of other countries.

Meanwhile, there is increasing independent evidence of the involvement of Uyghurs with ISIS. Chinese officials estimate that 300 Uyghurs have joined ISIS. Credible reports reveal that ISIS is enlisting a thousand fighters from among Uyghur families it had helped escape from China to Turkey. Other reports state that “20,000 Turkistanis are being organised by Turkish intelligence” and that the Turkistani Islamic Party is preparing an army that will first fight in Syria and whose survivors will return to “Chinese Turkistan” some day. China’s state-run Global Times confirmed Turkey’s complicity and reported in July 2015 that Turkish embassies and consulate generals in Southeast Asia had “knowingly processed proof of citizenship and issued passports and travel documents to Chinese people from Xinjiang”. It disclosed that in 2015, police had arrested 10 Turkish nationals in Shanghai on suspicion of supplying fake passports to ethnic Uyghurs,

CLASH OF THE SUPERPOWERS China will match American military power within a decade experts warn, as they predict conflict between the countries will ‘shatter’ the world’


Chinese forces, with soldiers marching on Tiananmen Square pictured, are expected to grow over the next decade
Report warns conflict should be avoided at all costs as the US and China remain at loggerheads over regional disputes
BY DEBRA KILLALEA , 15th August 2016

CHINA could match the military might of the US in a decade and any conflict between them would rock the entire world economy.
That is the frightening warning issued by research organisation, Rand Corporation, which highlights how the US and China remain at loggerheads over several regional disputes with large military forces operating closely together.
By 2025, Rand predicts China will have built up its ability to saturate enemy naval forces with missiles (stock image)

In its new report War With China, Thinking Through the Unthinkable, Rand warn any conflict would ultimately be intense, destructive and protracted.
“If an incident occurred or a crisis overheated, both have an incentive to strike enemy forces before being struck by them,” the report warns.
“And if hostilities erupted, both have ample forces, technology, industrial might, and personnel to fight across vast expanses of land, sea, air, space and cyberspace.”
The report also warns while the US has the military might to win any such conflict now, that may not be the case within a decade as the Asian powerhouse catches up.
By 2025, Rand predicts China will have built up its ability to saturate enemy naval forces with missiles and a US victory at this stage would be more uncertain.

Reinventing the Levant

These countries should incorporate themselves into a single economic zone.
August 9, 2016
AMERICAN POLICY toward the Middle East has been a dismal failure for the past thirty-five years, if not longer. Officials have approached policymaking in the Middle East without a clear sense of the region’s history, poverty, predominance of authoritarian rule or intraregional relationships. The failure begins with the concept of “separate peace”—the basis of the 1978–79 U.S.-sponsored negotiations between Egypt and Israel—which never led to a broader settlement. It has continued with Washington’s haphazard response to the tumult of the past five years since the Arab Spring, the rise of Daesh (ISIS) and the continuing stream of dislocations flowing from the invasion of Iraq. Each failure has only deepened the sense that the region is beyond repair. Hence, the American public and many elites are tempted by simplistic solutions—draw back from the region even further; deepen support for authoritarian regimes; take extreme measures to end refugee flows; provide Syrian rebels advanced arms; “carpet-bomb.” The sense of frustration is understandable, but doubling down on failed policies will not work.

There is a yearning for a more organic solution, one in which the governments and the people of the region have equal stakes. And, indeed, there is a model rooted in the region’s history that could be a solution. It enabled nearly four hundred years of peace and prosperity in the Levant. At its core is economic integration, with the free movement of goods and people across a broad swath of territory. Such an approach contrasts sharply with the present-day reality, to put it mildly. But the region is approaching a point of exhaustion, and the United States will have a new opportunity, as it did after the first Gulf War, to advance this model. It will find a receptive region. The habits of integration are deeply ingrained in Levantine culture and reside just beneath the surface, waiting to be tapped. A recent experiment suggests that this model is more than a historical artifact and can be successfully adapted to the modern context.

Six years ago, without American assistance, a movement seemed to be emerging that provided a new framework for economic and political cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean—including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and possibly even Israel—and offered a different vision of regional stability, one essentially integrationist. Though American media and officialdom paid it little attention, it represented the most significant development in the politics of the peace process in some years, and deserves close and careful examination. Now is the time for the United States to reflect on an honest historical accounting of the Mashriq’s (the Arab world east of Egypt) recent history, and then take action. Now is the time to advance “Integration for Peace.”

IN JUNE 2010, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan announced a “free-trade zone” and visa-free travel among the four countries. This development built on the rapid expansion of trade relations between Turkey and its Arab neighbors. Trade among the countries of the Arab League and Turkey doubled between 2007 and 2011, to a value of approximately $30 billion annually. Cities like Gaziantep, which had long languished economically, were booming as a consequence of the rapid and dramatic expansion of trade with Syria and Iraq. One source estimated that half the region’s goods were bound for the Middle East, compared with just a quarter going to Europe. The language of the agreement struck a tone of inclusivity, noting that the “quadripartite mechanism . . . will be open to the participation of all the other brotherly and friendly countries in the region.”

Is Selling Tanks to Saudi Arabia Such a Good Idea?

The relationship with Riyadh has been bumpy but lucrative.
August 11, 2016
Washington has made another major arms sale to Saudi Arabia to replace tanks destroyed in the war in Yemen. The sale underscores the Obama administration's deep role in backing the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels as the war is escalating.
The State Department this week notified Congress of an impending sale of 153 M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks and twenty heavy tank recovery vehicles plus assorted ammunition, weapons and other kit to the Saudi army. Buried in the fine print of the notification is the statement that twenty of the Abrams tanks are intended to replace tanks destroyed in combat. The only place Saudi tanks are in combat are along the Saudi–Yemeni border in the Kingdom's southwest where the Houthi rebels have been surprisingly effective in striking targets inside Saudi Arabia since the start of the war sixteen months ago. It's probably a good bet that more than just twenty Saudi tanks have been damaged. The Kingdom has an inventory of 400 Abrams.

Since the start of the war, the Zaydi Shia Houthis have released videos of their troops destroying Saudi tanks and other targets with missiles. They have also shelled towns inside the Kingdom, some of which have been evacuated. Yemeni troops loyal to the Houthis ally former President Ali Abdullah Saleh have launched Scud missiles at Saudi airbases and other targets. The Saudis have used Patriot missiles to intercept at least a dozen Scuds, and this week reported two more ballistic missiles were intercepted by Saudi defense measures.
The Houthis have been a thorn in the Saudis’ side for over a decade. Before the Arab Spring toppled Saleh, the Houthis fought a series of small border clashes with Saudi forces along the border and generally got the best of the fighting. The Houthis have their own strongholds right across the border in Sa'ada province.

Another indication of the war's cost to Riyadh came last month when the Grand Mufti and President of the Senior Islamic Scholars Abdul-Aziz Al ash-Sheikh, the top Wahhabi cleric in the Kingdom, called on private firms, banks and businesses to donate money to help support the families of soldiers killed in the war and on the country's universities to give "martyr" children free tuition. He also appealed for donations to help the border towns under attack. This appeal underscores the expense of the war and the government's challenge in paying for what is an open ended quagmire.
The tank deal is only the latest in a series of arms sales to the Kingdom since the Saudis announced the start of Operation Decisive Storm last year. The Royal Saudi Air Force has received billions in munitions and spare parts to keep up its aerial bombardment of Yemen. Without U.S. and UK support and logistics, the RSAF would be a diminished war machine.

Did a U.S. think tank sponsor a military coup? Turkey thinks so.


Tracy Wilkinson and Laura King 
Bespectacled and slightly balding, Washington academic Henri J. Barkey hardly appears the type to mastermind political revolt and foreign intrigue.
But as Turkey’s government seeks to cast blame for a recent failed military coup, Barkey — and the prominent Washington think tank where he works — have come into Ankara’s cross-hairs. 
“Now I plotted the coup,” Barkey, director of the Middle East program at the nonpartisan Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said sarcastically Tuesday.

Barkey, who was born in Turkey, was attending a long-planned academic conference on an island off Istanbul on July 15 when Turkish army, navy and air force units sought to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 
The failed putsch left about 250 people dead, hundreds injured and widespread allegations that a Turkish cleric living in rural Pennsylvania, the White House, the CIA — and now a widely respected U.S. think tank — secretly orchestrated the attempted overthrow of a key American ally. 
In recent days, pro-government newspapers in Turkey have splashed Barkey’s supposed CIA connections across their front pages — he worked on the State Department’s policy planning staff from 1998 to 2000 — all but accusing him of James Bond-like subterfuge. 

The accusations “have become more and more salacious, more and more outrageous,” said Barkey, who is a keen and oft-quoted critic of his native land’s politics.
The Wilson Center, which was established by Congress in 1968 as part of the Smithsonian Institution, has denied any involvement, and no proof has emerged suggesting otherwise. In a statement, the center expressed concern about “possible reprisals” against the researchers and scholars who attended the conference. 
“Not all that long ago, Turkey was an example of the possibility of democracy in the Middle East,” Barkey’s colleague Haleh Esfandiari wrote Tuesday on the center’s website. “But it has started down the slippery slope of its neighbors. Internal disorders are blamed on CIA machinations. Academic activity is being criminalized.”
For its part, the Obama administration roundly condemned the attempted military overthrow of one of the two Muslim members of NATO. It also has criticized the Erdogan government’s harsh crackdown since mid-July, sparking anger in Ankara.

Are Turkey and Russia on the Road to Rapprochement?

Business and political interests may thrive.
August 11, 2016
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Russia has sparked all sorts of speculation. To some, it marks a supposed transformation of Turkish–Russian relations, a pivot by President Erdoğan toward Vladimir Putin that somehow signals a turn away from the West that the Turkish leader found uninterested in, if not perhaps supportive of, the attempt to overthrow him and his government in July. Turkish public disappointment with a tepid Western media and public reaction to the assault on their elected government is a fact, but nothing about Ankara’s rapprochement with Moscow is unwelcome or obviously threatening to U.S. interests.
Erdoğan’s visit to Moscow was a final step in fixing the problem of relations with Russia created by military’s shooting down of a Russian fighter jet in November 2015. That event ruptured ties between the two countries that were very important in economic and commercial terms and politically gave both Ankara and Moscow options in handling regional issues and their respective relations with the West. The economic losses in Turkey were quite significant, especially for the tourism industry, construction, investment and agricultural exports. These losses particularly affected constituencies important to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.

In the wake of Ahmet Davutoğlu’sdismissal as prime minister in May 2016 and replacement by Binali Yıldırım, the Turkish government moved to step away from some of the recent confrontations that had complicated and limited Turkey’s ability to pursue its interests in foreign affairs. This was partly Erdoğan cutting his losses, but it also reflected Yıldırım’s personal pragmatism and the opportunity his taking over the government to turn a new leaf. Yıldırım’s government similarly took halting steps toward restoring relations with Egypt that were broken after Abdel Fattah el-Sissi overthrew the government of Mohamed Morsi 2013. It moved to complete the restoration of ties with Israel. There was talk of a new approach on Syria and perhaps even a new push to take up the normalization of relations with Armenia that was abandoned in 2010.
Outreach to Russia was another new pragmatic line that included both an exchange of letters and an apology from Erdoğan for the shoot down. The effort to fix relations with Moscow found a welcome response in Russia, which also suffered economic losses because of sanctions it imposed on Ankara and, in any case, wanted to restore reasonably normal ties with Turkey as a way to nibble at the isolation imposed upon it after its forces invaded eastern Ukraine and threatened Western interests elsewhere in Europe. For both countries, rapprochement is normal and, in general, an unthreatening thing for the United States.

Russia's Big Gamble for the Black Sea

Putin is making moves all around the region.
August 11, 2016
It has been a busy week for Russia's president Vladimir Putin—and the course of events in the Black Sea basin over the past several days suggest that the things that are happening are no coincidence.

On Monday, in Baku, Putin met with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani andAzeri president Ilham Aliyev for a Russia-Iran-Azerbaijan trilateral meeting. The three leaders inked documents to move ahead with new infrastructure projects designed to make the so-called north-south corridor that will link Europe and South Asia via Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran much more of a reality. Iran, having already experienced the troubles caused by international sanctions and Russia, currently dealing with Western sanctions, is anxious to develop and sustain a major keystone of the international economic system that will not be subject to U.S. or European pressure, while, for Azerbaijan, having two major trading lines—the north-south and one batch of the east-west running New Silk Road (and the southern energy corridor to Europe)—intersect in Baku heightens Azerbaijan's geoeconomic importance. Beyond these matters, however, the three presidents also found common ground in another matter: internal political security. All three believe that the United States is quite interested in fomenting "color revolutions" against the current rulers in the Kremlin, the Saadabad Palace, and the presidential building onBaku's Istiglaliyyat Street. Despite their political and policy differences—the three countries do not always see eye to eye on every issue (including on how the maritime zones of the Caspian Sea ought to be divided up among the littoral states), they have agreed on the principle that maintaining the status quo in one country benefits the surrounding states—and that they ought to cooperate to prevent any sort of revolutionary changes from occurring.

Rouhani reportedly asked Putin to carry this last message onward to his second meeting of the week, on the next day in St. Petersburg, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived to mend fences with Russia. The Turkish president appears to still be rattled by the coup attempt against his last month, and he and his advisors seem inclined to believe that, even if the United States did not directly inspire the coup, Washington would have been happy to live with the results.
More pragmatically, Erdogan has begun to reassess his Syria policy. Unlike American policymakers, who sometimes doggedly insist on doing the same thing (hoping that endurance or more resources thrown at the problem will bring about a different result), Erdogan can see the negative ramifications of continuing to confront Russia over Syria. Not only is Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad much less likely to fall now that it appeared last summer, the heightening of tensions with the Russians (alongside the American need to find reliable allies capable of taking the fight to the Islamic State) has made the emergence of a Syrian Kurdistan much more of a reality than at this point in 2015. In Ankara's eyes, it would be preferable for "Assad to go" but not at the expense of seeing yet another autonomous Kurdish entity emerge on Turkey's border.

Cyber is the new nuclear, changing the world through mutually assured disruption

By Graham Templeton on August 13, 2016 

Lately, there have been a lot of articles and specials about cyber conflict — in particular cyber crimes carried out by states, which seems to be slowly winning as the colloquial definition of cyberwar. The primary reason for this is that enough time has passed to generate more thoughtful and researched reactions to the most important cyber-story of the year: Russia’s alleged role in the theft and later release of private emails from the US Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Cyber or otherwise, it’s a strident attempt to interfere in an American election — but is it “unprecedented” in the way it is often described? More generally, are these particular sorts of cyber attacks really changing the world all that much?
Political espionage through the years

First, let’s dispense with the idea that foreign countries, and even Russia in particular, have never before tried to influence an American election. Justified worries about misinformation (and just plain information) planted by the French to affect Americans’ thinking on international issues led to the anti-free speech Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, some of which are still in force today. The founders of America thought foreign meddling was a big enough problem that they wrote a whole provision of the constitution trying to prevent bribery by foreign powers: Article I, Section 9, Clause 8.

During the Cold War, the Soviets developed political meddling into almost an art, and the KGB became notorious for its various attempts to influence American electoral outcomes. From pushing conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination to strategically fanning the flames of racial tension throughout the 1960’s, Russia has never viewed politics as off-limits to its espionage establishment. And, more specific to this situation, the espionage in question didn’t always involve the dissemination of lies; the US really did need to face up to its race problem in the 1960’s, just like the DNC really did have inappropriate conversations behind the scenes.
In other words, political interference in American politics, both with true facts and false ones, is much older than the cyber age. There’s nothing more old school “spy” than getting your hands on papers you’re not supposed to — in principle, there’s nothing new about this cyber-incursion beyond the fact that it was easier and less dangerous than it would have been to physically break into the same office and steal the same files in the traditional fashion.
The scale and scope of cyber

Cyber also takes old attacks and blows them out of all proportion. While spies were always able to steal personal information, it would be quite the spy indeed who could physically smuggle 21.5 million personal records out of a physical government office.
As pointed out in a recent Politico article, “these attacks do not live up to the visions of doom and mass hysteria described in many cyberwar scenarios”. So how is cyber conflict living up to its reputation for being revolutionary?
First and foremost, it’s changing how we think about the use of force. To a great extent, the global conversation now lumps together hacks that steal information with those that cause outages in systems, and occasionally even those that cause damage to systems. Many have referred to the DNC hack as an act of “cyberwar,” though none of them have to my knowledge called it an act of “regular old war.” This perceived lesser severity of cyberwar has allowed nonviolent cyber attacks to become more brazen than even Cold War espionage.

The New York Times produced what is still the seminal piece of reporting on the Russian cyber-propaganda industry, and teams of aggressive hackers have been known to operate in much the same capacity as remote limbs of the Russian government. Computer skills are a hell of a lot more common than spy skills. Unlike with physical espionage, you don’t have to use people whose life histories can be traced to your agencies — you can use recent university grads, or even former/current criminals, and keep it all casual enough that no definite link ever develops between you and your de-facto agents. Not only is it generally easier to pull off a cyber-theft, you also don’t have to worry nearly as much if the target does manage to identify their assailants.

Why the US military is supposed to stay out of politics

August 02, 2016 · 

Very few Americans question the idea that the military should be subservient to the nation's political leaders. But in many other parts of the world, generals and armies meddle in politics all the time.
So how did this come about?

Well, the principle has been there from the beginning. It's enshrined in Article II of the constitution: that the president is commander in chief, and thus a civilian is always in charge of the military
But why? I always enjoy reminding people that the Founding Fathers were all very keen students of history, ancient and modern.
They were well aware that the biggest threat to a republic — and we must remember how unique the US was in the 18th century in choosing to not have a king — historically, was a military dictatorship.
The Founding Fathers wrote and spoke a lot about the city states of ancient Greece, but more especially about ancient Rome, which was a republic long before it became an empire. And they were well aware that the Greeks fell prey to their tyrants, and that the Roman republic was effectually destroyed by Julius Caesar — a hugely successful general with huge ambitions.
The US’ creators idealized a very different Roman general, Cincinnatus, who lived in the time of the republic. After winning a vital war, he simply retired to his farm — something deliberately emulated by George Washington when he said farewell to the army and returned to Mount Vernon.

The Founding Fathers had a couple of more recent examples in mind as well. Most powerful perhaps was the example in the mother country, England, which suffered several civil wars in the 1600s.
The Puritans won for a while and established a republic. But their most powerful general, Oliver Cromwell, quickly tired of the politicians’ dealings and established a military dictatorship. It was hugely unpopular, and many Brits who moved to the colonies carried with them an antipathy to standing armies.
Another example, not so well-known, is the use of a large standing army by the kings of France to stamp out democratic life and persecute religious minorities, mostly Protestants. Many of these Huguenots found refuge in America, including the ancestors of Paul Revere.

5 Lethal Israeli Weapons of War Russia Can Only Wish it Had


They could be game changers. 
August 13, 2016
In many ways, Israel and Russia have taken opposite approaches to providing for national security. Israel stands at the technological frontier, while Russia has struggled to keep its national innovation system vital and healthy. Moreover, over the years Russian arms have populated the armies and air forces of Israeli’s enemies.
Nevertheless, Moscow and Jerusalem have substantially stepped up their military cooperation in recent years, a trend that has made the United States somewhat nervous about the technology it exports to Israel. Israeli drones have flown in Russian service in the war in Ukraine, and Israeli electronics have helped improve Russian systems in other ways. Here are five Israeli defense capabilities that Russia would like to have:

Missile Defense:
Although the Soviet Union helped pioneer the first anti-ballistic missile systems, Russian technology has fallen behind the West, and especially the Israelis. The United States and Israel (often in collaboration) have committed immense resources to developing system to defend against a variety of ballistic projectiles. On the US side, the effort has concentrated mostly on medium and long range ballistic missiles; on the Israeli, it has focused on the entire array of threat, including low cost, low technology rockets.

Ballistic projectiles do not pose an overwhelming threat to Russia at the moment, but if Moscow’s efforts to improve its air defense network continues to succeed, such missiles may again come to represent the central plank of NATO’s deterrent. If so, anti-ballistic missiles systems will again become a key component of Russia’s defense strategy.

Russia boasts some excellent anti-tank munitions, including the 9M133 “Kornet” missile, designed to kill main battle tanks such as the Merkava, Abrams, and Challenger II. A laser guided missile, Kornets damaged several Western tanks in the early days of the Iraq War, and in the 2006 Israeli War against Hezbollah.

The Israeli SPIKE family of missiles has capabilities that many variants of the Kornet lack, however. This includes “fire and forget” and top attack profiles, which allow the SPIKE to hit enemy tanks at their most vulnerable. Moreover, the SPIKE has proven remarkably flexible in deployment, serving on board a wide variety of different Israeli delivery platforms.

Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR):
The experience of several wars in Gaza, not to mention the 2006 conflict against Hezbollah and the ongoing Occupation of the West Bank, has given the Israeli national security state an unparalleled ability to integrate information into its frontline operations. This integration has an administrative component (the various organizations that constitute Israeli national defense have become strikingly efficient at sharing and operationalizing information) but also a technological aspect.