24 January 2017

*** George Marshall’s 1920 Letter on True Leadership

Published on January 10, 2017
“I am certain in the belief that the average man who scrupulously follows this course of action is bound to win great success.”
George Marshall must be one of, if not the most underappreciated leaders in American history, and certainly of the 20th century.
Not only was he the military genius in charge of the US Army during World War II and the most directly responsible for its success, he was considered the primary leader of the Allied War effort by every major Allied leader. Roosevelt found him indispensable as his Army Commander, Winston Churchill called him the “true architect of victory” in the War, and even Stalin claimed he’d personally trust his life to Marshall.

It was Marshall who, from a standing start of a few hundred thousand soldiers, raised an army of millions and oversaw the major operations that would lead to the liberation of Europe.
Churchill put Marshall’s best qualities — his leadership in the worst of times — on display when he wrote:
“There are few men whose qualities of mind and character have impressed me so deeply as those of General Marshall … He is a great American, but he is far more than that … He has always fought victoriously against defeatism, discouragement and disillusion. Succeeding generations must not be allowed to forget his achievements and his example.”

Marshall is now mostly known for his genius Marshall Plan as Secretary of State, which sought to re-build Europe (including Germany) in the aftermath of the war thus being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.
Before World War II, Marshall had a long and distinguished military career, including as the primary aide to General John J. Pershing, the Commander of the American Expeditionary Force in World War I. And during this time, Marshall wrote a letter that perfectly exemplifies the qualities of a great leader. It would go on to be included in his posthumously published World War I memoir, Memoirs of My Services in the World War, 1917-1918.

Here, Marshall lays out the four qualities required to be a successful leader in a war situation.
What strikes the most about them is that they are neither complicated nor available to a select few nor specific to war at all. They are simply hard. And if Marshall’s life is a testament to anything, it’s that the ability to do hard things at the right time is the essence of a great leader.

November 5, 1920
General John S. Mallory
15 University Place
Lexington, Virginia

My Dear General Mallory,

Last summer during one of our delightful rides I commented on the advice I would give a young officer going to war, based on my observation of what had constituted the success of the outstanding figures in the American Expeditionary Forces, and you asked me to write out what I had said. A discussion with Fox Conner this morning reminded me of my promise to do this, so here it is.

To be a highly successful leader in war four things are essential, assuming that you possess good common sense, have studied your profession and are physically strong.
When conditions are difficult, the command is depressed and everyone seems critical and pessimistic, you must be especially cheerful and optimistic.

When evening comes and all are exhausted, hungry and possibly dispirited, particularly in unfavorable weather at the end of a march or in battle, you must put aside any thought of personal fatigue and display marked energy in looking after the comfort of your organization, inspecting your lines and preparing for tomorrow.
Make a point of extreme loyalty, in thought and deed, to your chiefs personally; and in your efforts to carry out their plans or policies, the less you approve the more energy you must direct to their accomplishment.
The more alarming and disquieting the reports received or the conditions viewed in battle, the more determined must be your attitude. Never ask for the relief of your unit and never hesitate to attack.

I am certain in the belief that the average man who scrupulously follows this course of action is bound to win great success. Few seemed equal to it in this war, but I believe this was due to their failure to realize the importance of so governing their course.

Faithfully yours,

George C. Marshall
Major, General Staff

*** The Spooks of Pakistan

Maxwell Carter

Toward the end of “The Spy” (1821), James Fenimore Cooper’s novel of the Revolutionary War, George Washington bids the book’s triple-agent hero, Harvey Birch, an unusual farewell: “‘Remember,’ said [Washington], with strong emotion, ‘that in me you will always have a secret friend; but openly I cannot know you.’” Nearly two centuries later, the tensions in intelligence work between patriotic glory and determined obscurity remain. Despite its outsize role in Pakistani politics—ousting the Soviets from Afghanistan, nurturing the “Islamic bomb” and harboring Osama bin Laden—the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence has mostly evaded the limelight. In “Faith, Unity, Discipline,” Hein Kiessling explores its shadowy history.

The ISI was established in 1948, the year after Harry Truman signed the National Security Act, which authorized the CIA to coordinate, evaluate and disseminate American intelligence. The nascent Pakistani government created the ISI within months of partition, partly to address the mistakes of the First Kashmir War with India, and partly, Mr. Kiessling suggests, to tend the dying embers of the “Great Game,” the contest between Great Britain and Russia for primacy in Central and South Asia. Maj. Gen. Walter Joseph Cawthorne, an Australian holdover from the Raj, drew up its organizational structure. The original mandate of the ISI, which was initially comprised of Muslims formerly in the Indian Intelligence Bureau, was restricted to reconnaissance in India and Kashmir.

N Chandrasekaran and the transformative power of IT

By R. Sukumar

Tata Sons chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran was born in Mohannur in the district of Namakkal (famous for poultry farms) and studied in a local Tamil medium school till Class X.(AFP)

The Tamil Nadu of the 1980s was a pioneer in the field of technical education, not so much in terms of what was being taught but where and how. That was the decade the state government decided to allow private engineering colleges. Tamil Nadu wasn’t the only state to do so. Around the same time, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh also decided to allow private engineering colleges. 

The motive for all states was the same – to address the demand-supply gap. 

This was particularly acute in Tamil Nadu, where 69% reservation meant anyone from the so-called forward castes who wanted to be an engineer had either the intelligence or the economic wherewithal, or both, to secure admission to a top government engineering college (The Central Engineering College, Guindy was at the top); an Indian Institute of Technology; College of Engineering, Roorkee; BITS, Pilani; or the Regional Engineering College (REC), Trichy. 

By the middle of the decade, enough private engineering colleges had emerged. By then, young people wanting to be engineers in the state had discovered software services companies (or rather, software services companies had discovered them). 

The demand for computer science soared among students seeking admission to engineering colleges. 

Read: Marathon man and Tata’s new boss has 5 leadership lessons for you

Even with the increase in supply, there still wasn’t enough to go around. Companies such as NIIT and Aptech thrived on the surplus and also on demand from science (even commerce and arts) graduates who wanted to “do computers” so as to land a job with a software services company. Loath to be left behind, government universities and private colleges decided to offer a master’s programme in computer applications, called MCA. The main objective was to target graduates in other disciplines who would otherwise end up with a private computer education institute. 

N Chandrasekaran, who was named chairman of Tata Sons on Thursday last week, was a beneficiary of this. He joined Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) after completing his MCA from REC, Trichy. 

That was in 1987, by when Chennai had already emerged as home to one of TCS’s biggest development centres (on what the city still obstinately called Cathedral Road, although the government had long ago renamed it Dr Radhakrishnan Road after one of the country’s presidents). Interestingly, the TCS office was almost strategically located – right next to the US consulate. Back then, anyone who joined TCS wanted to be sent to the US on an assignment. Many succeeded. Chennai was well on its way to becoming a city of parents. But that’s another story. 

Chandrasekaran isn’t from Chennai. He was born in Mohannur in the district of Namakkal (famous for poultry farms) and studied in a local Tamil medium school till Class X. Although he didn’t go to engineering college (he graduated in applied sciences from Coimbatore), he must have been aware of what was happening around him (and also from his two elder brothers, N. Srinivasan and N. Ganapathy Subramaniam). Back in the 1980s, it was hard to be a student in Tamil Nadu and not get caught up in the whole “computer thing”. And when Chandrasekaran completed his MCA from REC Trichy, he went to work in TCS’ Cathedral Road office. Interestingly, his brother N Ganapathy Subramaniam was already working for TCS then (and still does). 

Read: How Natarajan Chandrasekaran got the top job at Tata Sons: The inside story

Sure, Chandrasekaran’s career really took off after he served as then CEO S Ramadorai’s executive assistant for a couple of years in the late 1990s, but it would be unfair to ignore the other factors that have contributed to his success: his own abilities; an environment that encouraged computer literacy (actually, proficiency); colleges that offered the right kind of courses; and the deeply meritocratic nature of the IT industry. 

Interestingly, Chandrasekaran wasn’t the only beneficiary of this. Nor were all the beneficiaries Tamilian Brahmins (or tam-brahms for short; Chandrasekaran is one), although that was the community at the vanguard of the first great westward migration by Indian IT professionals. In pre-dominantly Brahmin parts of Chennai such as T. Nagar and Adyar and Mylapore, the joke in the 1980s (and the early 1990s) was that every family had to give at least one child to Uncle Sam. 

Thanks to the 69% reservation and the increase in both demand for and supply of software engineers, almost everyone benefited. Thanks to IT, Tamil Nadu’s affirmative action actually worked, perhaps one reason why the state’s social indicators are healthy. 

In the mid-1980s Tamil Nadu (and Chennai, which was still Madras), it was clear that if one wanted a job one should “do computers”. 

And through the 1990s, the 2000s, and perhaps the 2010s (although the last is arguable), it was clear that IT companies were among the best managed in the country. They had to be. Their clients were usually western corporations with high benchmarks; and their success meant they were tracked extensively, sometimes obsessively, by analysts. 

It is, therefore, in the fitness of things that a young man from Mohannur who “did computers” and then worked in an IT company, gets a shot at managing one of the largest conglomerates in the land. 

Chandrasekaran’s success is that of the Indian IT Everyman’s. 

* A precarious balance - Politicizing security could be a national hazard

Brijesh D. Jayal

In his book, Army and the Nation: The Military and Indian Democracy since Independence (2015), Steven I. Wilkinson of Yale University draws on uniquely comprehensive data to explore how and why India has succeeded in keeping the military out of politics, when so many other countries have failed. As 2016 draws to a close, one is tempted to revisit Wilkinson's study as, of late, one sees a determined effort by domestic forces across the political spectrum to prove these broad conclusions to be somewhat premature.

Without attempting to go too far back in time, it is appropriate to limit oneself to the aftermath of the Uri attacks termed as the deadliest in two decades on security forces from across the border. In retaliation, the Indian army carried out surgical strikes conducted by Special Forces across the Line of Control and successfully neutralized launch pads from where intelligence had indicated that further strikes were planned. Whilst such operations across the LoC are claimed to have been conducted in the past, these were consciously kept under wraps because of the prevailing policy of strategic restraint on a larger diplomatic canvas that permitted the national leadership to pursue various policy options with Pakistan including the possibility of talks.

The difference, this time, was not just the larger scale of the operation, but also, and more significantly, a major policy shift where the government decided to let the international community know of this offensive action. Briefing the media, the director-general of military operations, accompanied by the spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs, announced that based on intelligence inputs, the army had conducted surgical strikes at several launch pads across the LoC to pre-empt infiltration by terrorists. He claimed that this has resulted in significant casualties to terrorists and their supporters, that the operations had since ceased with no plans for further action and that he had so informed his counterpart in the Pakistan army. Most significantly, he said that the Indian armed forces were fully prepared for any contingency that may arise, clearly sending a message that India would respond militarily to any provocation.

The great Indian home loan puzzle

Tamal Bandyopadhyay

Competition is welcome and the drop in interest rates will help expanding the home loan market but there are a few key questions about whether lenders will be able to sustain it

At the moment, we are witnessing a rate war on the Rs13 trillion home loan market. Photo: Bloomberg

In October 2003, Romesh Sobti, then executive vice-president of ABN Amro Bank (now he heads IndusInd Bank Ltd) took the Indian mortgage market by storm, announcing home loans at 6% in the first year and 6.5% in the second year—around 1.75 percentage points lower than the prevailing home loan rate, offered by larger banks and housing finance companies. A newspaper headline screamed, “ABN Amro hits a sixer”.

Undercutting competition by a wide margin, ABN Amro wanted to build a retail portfolio and expand the market. The equated monthly instalment (EMI) dropped to as low as Rs717 per Rs1 lakh for a 20-year loan. At that time, poaching customers from other banks was not easy as a prepayment penalty was involved if the customers wanted to shift from one bank to another.

The Dutch bank started a pilot project in Delhi and eventually wanted to be among top five on the home loan turf but we did not hear much after this. (In October 2007, its parent was acquired by a consortium of banks and the Indian business came under the fold of Royal Bank of Scotland, which made its exit from the country in 2016).

Modi Has A Big Hand In Obama’s Success On The India Front

Harsh V Pant

Silencing both critics and skeptics, Modi had categorically stated that “relations between the two countries cannot be determined or be even remotely influenced by incidents related to individuals.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the few foreign leaders whom the outgoing US President Barack Obama called up ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration as the President of the United States. While the two reviewed “all round progress” in bilateral relations, Modi reportedly thanked Obama for strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries. As he leaves office, the outgoing US ambassador Richard Verma has described the period since the Modi government came to power as “the two best years we've ever had.” There is indeed a new momentum in bilateral ties and strong US-India relations is one the few successes of Obama whose performance otherwise has been quite lacklustre on the foreign policy front. But when he had started eight years back, this was not the Obama that India had encountered.

Indo-US relationship saw unprecedented progress during the Presidency of George W. Bush. When George W. Bush repealed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, India supported America’s missile defence plans. It even offered military bases to Washington for waging the ‘war against terror’ in Afghanistan. The Indian Navy escorted American ships in the Indian Ocean relieving the U.S. Navy from its constabulary services in the region. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, India considered sending Indian troops to Iraq: not under the United Nations but alongside the US. Both nations agreed on a new framework for defence cooperation in 2004, signed a maritime cooperation agreement in 2005 and by 2007, India had started purchasing major defence equipment such as amphibious ships, maritime reconnaissance aircraft and heavy transport aircrafts from the US. This process culminated in the landmark Indo-US civilian nuclear energy pact, helping India to achieve a major strategic goal: a de facto acceptance of India’s status as a nuclear weapon state.

Why China’s Submarine Deal with Bangladesh Matters

Posted By TheDiplomat.com

Three months ago, the Indian Ocean welcomed its newest submarine force: Bangladesh took delivery of a pair of Chinese Ming-class Type 035B diesel electric submarines, joining a prestigious club of Asian maritime powers.

With India and China engaged in an intensifying Great Game along the Indian Ocean rim, key battleground states like Nepal and Sri Lanka have to date attracted the most attention. But the submarine sale serves as a reminder that their far bigger and more powerful neighbor to the east is embroiled in the Great Game too.

China’s main energy security threat: South China Sea, the Malacca Dilemma and the Spratly Islands


China invested 103 billion dollars in renewable energies in 2015, becoming the first country in the world which invested the most in this type of energy. China has several reasons for becoming greener and promoting this kind of resources, but in relation to this article’s nature, the most important motivation may be the diversification in the sources of energy supply.

China’s new Law of National Security states in the articles 28 and 30 that the protection of the channels through from which China obtains its energy sources are strategic for the country’s security and therefore they must be protected. Energy resources are a very important priority for China, determining Beijing’s foreign policy and investments.

This article addresses a general view of the different energy security strategies China is developing, including crucial issues regarding this topic like the Spratly Islands and the Malacca Dilemma, the New Silk Route and the recent importance of renewable energies.

1. China’s main energy security threat: South China Sea, the Malacca Dilemma and the Spratly Islands

Until China fulfills most part of its energy needs with renewable energies, Beijing continues being dependent hugely on the hydrocarbons imported from abroad. The hydrocarbons arrive to China through land and sea routes, being these last ones the most important. Beijing has several disputes with its neighbors in the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and, especially, in the South China Sea.

China party paper says no 'provocation' can stop its military drills

FILE PHOTO: China's Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducts a drill in an area of South China Sea, in this undated photo taken December, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer/File photo

China's military will carry out drills regardless of foreign provocations and pressure, the Communist Party's paper said on Sunday, adding that exercises far out at sea like those conducted recently by its sole aircraft carrier will become normal. 

China caused unease among some countries in the region last month when the carrier the Liaoning, accompanied by several warships, cruised around self-ruled Taiwan and into the Pacific for what China called routine drills. 

Earlier this month, Taiwan scrambled fighter jets and navy ships as the Liaoning then passed through the narrow waterway separating China from the island Beijing claims as its own.For its part, China was alarmed this month when U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of state Rex Tillerson said China should be denied access to islands it has built in the contested South China Sea. 

The People's Daily said no amount of "word bombs", such as Tillerson's South China Sea remarks, could stop China's military drills. 

Coping with China’s Rise

By Bharat Karnad

At the dawn of the new millennium, there were many influential Indian voices that backed the Congress Party’s resident intellectual, Jairam Ramesh’s notion of “Chindia”. Suffused with hopes for regional and international peace and a peaceful economically interdependent world order, they predicted that this unbeatable twinned duo of Chindia — China and India would make the 21st Century an “Asian” one. Implicit in this cooperative concept is the notion of a stable Asian order. A decade on that optimism is gone. This is so in the main because India has fallen so far behind China in every respect and finds itself so unable to cope with it that, realistically, it is not even in the big power game. China seems both driven to reach the acme of global power and realize its ambition to dominate Asia and to replace the United States as the numero uno power the rest of the world takes its bearings from. In the event, stability in the Asia-Pacific Region (APR) takes on a different hue and mandates a realpolitik strategy to balance China’s power by any and all means that, at the same time, preserves and enhances India’s freedom and latitude of action.

There is also the fact that with the abrupt ending of the short era of geo-economic interdependence spurred by the imperatives of global trade, industry, and commerce, the international system based on sovereign states is reverting to its original nature, rediscovering the need for countries to find themselves by turning inward. This has resulted in a return to hard nationalism, and seeking of ties with the external sphere only insofar as it serves the state’s interest in the narrow sense of directly benefitting its citizens in the here and now. The evidence of this is everywhere. Early in 2016 summer, the Brexit phenomenon saw the British masses voting to exit the collectivist-minded European Union (EU). It was a referendum the then prime minister, David Cameron, had confidently called to secure a popular mandate for his policies seeking even closer relations with the EU.

China’s Energy Security Strategies – Analysis


China invested 103 billion dollars in renewable energies in 2015, becoming the first country in the world which invested the most in this type of energy. China has several reasons for becoming greener and promoting this kind of resources, but in relation to this article’s nature, the most important motivation may be the diversification in the sources of energy supply.

China’s new Law of National Security states in the articles 28 and 30 that the protection of the channels through from which China obtains its energy sources are strategic for the country’s security and therefore they must be protected. Energy resources are a very important priority for China, determining Beijing’s foreign policy and investments.

This article addresses a general view of the different energy security strategies China is developing, including crucial issues regarding this topic like the Spratly Islands and the Malacca Dilemma, the New Silk Route and the recent importance of renewable energies.
1. China’s main energy security threat: South China Sea, the Malacca Dilemma and the Spratly Islands

Why Does Jordan Produce So Few Terrorists?

Why do some Moslem majority countries have fewer problems with Islamic terrorism than others. In all cases it comes down to the quality of national leadership. These nations don’t make the news much, because they have managed to keep Islamic terrorists out. But for some countries the threat is right next door. Such is the case in Jordan, which borders Syria and Iraq. Despite that, and considerable and persistent efforts by Islamic terror groups to establish themselves in Jordan have failed. An incident in late December 2016 shows why. ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) launched an attack on the Jordanian town of Karnak and tried to seize its 12th century castle (built by Christian crusaders). The ISIL attackers were killed or driven away after a week of fighting and one striking aspect of it all (seen on the many cell-phone videos) was that the majority of the Jordanians fighting the ISIL force were local civilians, armed with their own (legal) weapons and often urging on the Jordanian police and soldiers to keep up with the locals. Police were seen trying to restrain unarmed civilians from joining the attack to drive the few ISIL gunmen who got into the castle.

Jordan has long been a prime target for Islamic terror groups. Yet compared to other nations in the region the kingdom has, next to Israel, had the fewest Islamic terrorist incidents within its borders. This is no accident and is the result of having one of the best trained and reliable security forces in the region and being the beneficiary of a lot of help with equipment and specialist training from the United States and Israel. This because the senior leadership of the country (a monarchy) have a centuries long track record of being effective and generally beneficial rulers.


Amos C. Fox 

The battlefields in Eastern Ukraine represent part of a new era of warfare, or so we are regularly told. Analysts, pundits, and military leaders point to cyber warfare, hybrid warfare, and the gray zone. But look away from these shiny new concepts for a moment, and it becomes clear the Russian–Ukrainian war’s conventional character is far from new. In fact, it looks a lot like the last century’s World Wars. While the new aspects of this war have generated discussion within the defense industry as to the evolving character of war, an acknowledgement of the conflict’s conventional character is largely missing from the discourse.

To be sure, Russia’s actions in Ukraine have revealed several innovations, most notably the employment of the semi-autonomous battalion tactical group, and a reconnaissance-strike model that tightly couples drones to strike assets, hastening the speed at which overwhelming firepower is available to support tactical commanders. However, even these innovations are being used within a form of warfare that looks strikingly like that of a century ago.



The scandal over Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election is only the latest in a series of geopolitical contests with Russia in which Moscow has often gotten the better of the United States. The “new Cold War” isn’t going all that well for anyone besides Vladimir Putin. Washington certainly has the least to show for it. Following public outcry, the Obama administration released intelligence on the Russian hacking operation, but the clumsily written disclosures only made Vladimir Putin look bigger and badder. Meanwhile President Obama’s ambiguous threats to respond at a “time and place of our choosing” obscured what costs, if any, Russia paid for such chicanery. One suspects that there was little pressure beyond what is publicly known. If anything, this exchange of accusations only highlighted America’s vulnerabilities while encouraging Russia and other states to try harder next time around.

The Russians earned yet another political victory with audiences at home and abroad. Meanwhile, Washington is in the midst of self-immolation. When the next peer adversary comes knocking, the United States must be better prepared. The United States can’t return to the past, but it can certainly learn from it.

As Mark Twain once said, “good judgment is the result of experience, and experience the result of bad judgment.” After Ukraine, Syria, and this latest episode, America has been on the receiving end of some good experience. Step one in learning is admitting that Vladimir Putin has been on a winning streak, arguably as far back as March 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. Based on observing Moscow’s interaction with our policy establishment, I expect the Kremlin to continue “winning” this year, whether or not U.S. foreign policy changes dramatically in the coming months.

Creating a Stable Asia: An Agenda for a U.S.-China Balance of Power


The Western Pacific is experiencing a fundamental and potentially destabilizing military and economic power transition driven primarily by China’s economic and military rise and a corresponding relative decline in American power

The Western Pacific is experiencing a fundamental and potentially destabilizing military and economic power transition driven primarily by China’s economic and military rise and a corresponding relative decline in American power. Efforts by the United States or China to secure future predominance will prove futile and dangerous, given a host of security, economic, and diplomatic factors. Instead, creating a stable de facto balance of power is necessary and feasible for both countries. This shift could take the form of a more durable balance that would necessitate major regional changes that would be difficult to achieve, or a more feasible but less stable balance involving more modest adjustments. The incremental, conditional process this would entail involves developing domestic consensus, securing allied and friendly support, deepening U.S.-China dialogue, and achieving interlinked changes in several existing regional security policies.


This trend of power transition and heightened instability is highly likely to deepen. China will almost certainly manage to significantly increase its economic and military capabilities vis-à-vis the United States and its allies. Moreover, Washington and Beijing handle volatile regional issues very differently, and their respective offense-oriented escalatory military doctrines are likely to persist under existing conditions, increasing the likelihood of severe crises. Key U.S. allies will probably remain unwilling and unable to compensate for America’s relative decline. 

Five lessons for Commander in Chief Donald Trump from the Iraq 'Surge

By Jack Keane, Maseh Zarif

FILE -- A U.S. Army Blackhawk medevac helicopter arrives with wounded soldiers at the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo/John Moore)

Donald Trump will take stewardship of U.S. national security Friday, and he will be confronting emboldened enemies across the globe. President George W. Bush’s wartime experience ten years ago in creating the Iraq “Surge” contains important lessons for the president-elect in dealing with the threatening road ahead. He should embrace them.

Some background: by late 2006, the Iraq war looked bleak. Al Qaeda and Iranian-backed forces were on the march, and U.S.-backed government troops were reeling. At home, a significant portion of the American public was disenchanted with the conflict. Members of Congress, including Republicans, were increasingly skeptical of the mission. The U.S. appeared headed for defeat.

In January 2007, President Bush announced that the U.S. would change course in Iraq to reverse the tide of the war. His decision to set in motion the 2007-2008 “Surge” of more than 20,000 additional U.S. troops – armed with a new strategy – pulled Iraq back from the abyss, decimated jihadist and Iranian terror networks, and provided an opportunity for emergence of a state amenable to long-term American interests in the Middle East.

More Trouble on the Way as Extreme Right Wing Politicians on the Rise in Europe

Alison Smale

KOBLENZ, Germany — Marine Le Pen wasted no time in proclaiming 2017 as the year of far-right awakening in Europe.

“We are living through the end of one world, and the birth of another,” Ms. Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front party, told a cheering gathering of members of European right-wing parties on Saturday in this Rhine River city to chart a joint path to success in elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany this year.

“In 2016, the Anglo-Saxon world woke up,” Ms. Le Pen said. “In 2017, I am sure that it will be the year of the Continental peoples rising up.”

The triumph of anti-Europeans in Britain and Donald J. Trump in the United States has galvanized the Continent’s far-right parties, who are making appeals to disillusioned voters already bitter over social inequality, loss of sovereignty and waves of migration. And, amid suspicions that Russia is trying to destabilize the Continent by allying with the right, Europe’s mainstream parties may be forced into awkward, or ineffectual coalitions, to preserve their power and keep extremists out.

NY Times Was Too Timid In Its Reporting of Trump’s Collusion With Russia and Its Hacking Efforts During the 2016 Election

Liz Spayd

LATE fall was a frantic period for New York Times reporters covering the country’s secretive national security apparatus. Working sources at the F.B.I., the C.I.A., Capitol Hill and various intelligence agencies, the team chased several bizarre but provocative leads that, if true, could upend the presidential race. The most serious question raised by the material was this: Did a covert connection exist between Donald Trump and Russian officials trying to influence an American election?

One vein of reporting centered on a possible channel of communication between a Trump organization computer server and a Russian bank with ties to Vladimir Putin. Another source was offering The Times salacious material describing an odd cross-continental dance between Trump and Moscow. The most damning claim was that Trump was aware of Russia’s efforts to hack Democratic computers, an allegation with implications of treason. Reporters Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers led the effort, aided by others.

Conversations over what to publish were prolonged and lively, involving Washington and New York, and often including the executive editor, Dean Baquet. If the allegations were true, it was a huge story. If false, they could damage The Times’s reputation. With doubts about the material and with the F.B.I. discouraging publication, editors decided to hold their fire.

Cost of Air War Against ISIS Climbs to $11 Billion: Pentagon


An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 134th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron takes off at the 407th Air Expeditionary Group, Dec. 29, 2016. The 134th EFS is flying combat missions for Operation Inherent Resolve to support and enable Iraqi Security Forces’ efforts with capabilities provided by the fighter squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Benjamin Wilson)

The cost of the U.S.-led air war against the Islamic State has climbed to nearly $11 billion since its inception, the latest figures show.

By the end of 2016, the Defense Department had spent $10.72 billion on Operation Inherent Resolve since the mission began in June 2014, up from $5.5 billion for the period ending the previous year.

The Air Force shouldered about two-thirds of the costs, or more than $6 billion. The Army accounted for 17 percent; the Navy, 12 percent; and Special Operations Command, 8 percent. 

Get Ready, NATO: The Secret Reason Why Russia's New T-90M Tank Could Be a Total Monster

Dave Majumdar

Russia is developing a new modernized version of the T-90—the third major iteration of the long-serving main battle tank.

Called the T-90M, the new tank will likely feature many of the technologies developed for Russia’s revolutionary T-14 Armata. However, compared to the T-14, the T-90M—most of which will be remanufactured from Russia’s existing fleet of T-90As—will be far less costly than the fearsome, but expensive, Armata.

“The new vehicle could be twice as effective as compared to its predecessors,” writes Dmitry Yurov, a defense reporter at Russia’s Tvzvezda channel. “This third ‘Breakthrough’ from Uralvagonzavod can test out many of the technological developed developed for the fourth generation of tanks. In the short term, this approach will not only improve the reliability and firepower of the tank, but also significantly increase the demand for such a machine on the world market.”

Why 2017 May Be the Best Year Ever

Nicholas Kristof

A private effort in Madagascar helps educate children from the streets. CreditHeidi Yanulis

There’s a broad consensus that the world is falling apart, with every headline reminding us that life is getting worse.

Except that it isn’t. In fact, by some important metrics, 2016 was the best year in the history of humanity. And 2017 will probably be better still.

How can this be? I’m as appalled as anyone by the election of Donald Trump, the bloodshed in Syria, and so on. But while I fear what Trump will do to America and the world, and I applaud those standing up to him, the Trump administration isn’t the most important thing going on. Here, take my quiz:

On any given day, the number of people worldwide living in extreme poverty:

A.) Rises by 5,000, because of climate change, food shortages and endemic corruption.

B.) Stays about the same.

C.) Drops by 250,000.

Polls show that about 9 out of 10 Americans believe that global poverty has worsened or stayed the same. But in fact, the correct answer is C. Every day, an average of about a quarter-million people worldwide graduate from extreme poverty, according to World Bank figures.


Covering Your Digital Tracks: The Dark Web……Is About To Get Darker; ‘Dark Net Sites To Get New, Stealthier Applications;’ The Next Weapon Of Mass Destruction May Be Downloaded From The Internet

“The Man In The Iron Mask,” is one of the most enduring mysteries in history. While many of the myths surrounding this event have been dispelled, the mask was not made of iron — the fact that there is still debate about who this individual was over four hundred years ago, is remarkable. But, the ability to hide one’s true identity is a tall task in the 21st century. DNA shedding, facial and iris recognition, body scans at airports and elsewhere, the shape of one’s ears and veins, and yes — one’s digital footprints — are all working against someone who is trying to stay hidden. No wonder there is a burgeoning off-the-grid movement. But, according to WIRED.com’s Andy Greenberg, there is a concerted effort ongoing with respect to the Dark Web, aimed at hiding our digital tracks. In a January 20, 2017 article on WIRED.com, Mr. Greenberg notes that hiding in plain sight on the Internet is about to get a big boost.

“While anyone who know’s a dark web’s site can visit it, no one can figure out who hosts that site, or where,” [well not entirely, but, close enough] Mr. Greenberg wrote. “It hides in plain sight. But, changes coming to the anonymity tools underlying the Dark Net,” he notes, “promise to make a new kind of online privacy possible. Soon,” he writes, “anyone will be able to create their own corner of the Internet that’s not just anonymous and untraceable, but entirely undiscoverable without an invite.”



Whereas the first weapon of aggression by the Kremlin is propaganda designed to subvert, to confuse and to divide the free world, and to inflame the Russian and satellite peoples with hatred for our free institutions…

While these words sound familiar, this resolution is not of recent vintage. It was passed in June 1951 and launched several Congressional investigations into America’s failing response to an expanding nonmilitary war.

Our world today is remarkably similar to that of the “cold war,” before the era became a capitalized proper noun describing a bipolar order on the brink of nuclear disaster. Today, Russia, China, and the so-called Islamic State lead prominent efforts to “subvert, to confuse and to divide” their opposition while the West, and the United States in particular, remains largely unarmed in this struggle for minds and wills.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee recently, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recommended a U.S. Information Agency (USIA) “on steroids,” in reference to the Cold War-era agency designed to centralize the U.S. government’s international information programs. These calls should be seen as yet another indictment of an aloof State Department that is not up to the present challenge.

While suggestions for a new agency concerned with influence and information are commonly put forward, they reveal how little we know of what the USIA was and what it was not. It was not a kind of Captain America’s shield against political warfare. The concerns raised in the 1951 Senate resolution persisted throughout the decade as the USIA, the State Department, and foreign aid activities failed to anticipate Soviet tactics for a variety of reasons, from a lack of training to bureaucratic lethargy. Even as the Cold War raged, the United States was never properly prepared for the cold reality of the political warfare it was embroiled in. Therefore, we have no real historical precedent to draw upon today.

Preliminary Results Indicate ‘Hack the Army’ a Success

By Mark Pomerleau

One of the main firms associated with the Hack the Army effort released the results of the service’s first bug bounty program.

In a blog post published Jan. 19, HackerOne said from Nov. 30 to Dec. 21: 
371 eligible participants registered. 
416 total reports were received. 
118 total valid reports were received 
It took five minutes to receive the first vulnerability report. 

HackerOne touted the preliminary results posted on their website as a success. Twenty-five of the 371 eligible and invited were government employees including 17 military personnel — a difference in the original Hack the Pentagon initiative.

An estimated $100,000 in bounties was paid to hackers.

‘Anonymous’ Web Browsing History May Not Be Anonymous


Raising further questions about privacy on the internet, researchers from Princeton and Stanford universities have released a study showing that a specific person’s online behavior can be identified by linking anonymous web browsing histories with social media profiles.

“We show that browsing histories can be linked to social media profiles such as Twitter, Facebook or Reddit accounts,” the researchers wrote in a paper scheduled for presentation at the 2017 World Wide Web Conference Perth, Australia, in April.

“It is already known that some companies, such as Google and Facebook, track users online and know their identities,” said Arvind Narayanan, an assistant professor of computer science at Princeton and one of the authors of the research article. But those companies, which consumers choose to create accounts with, disclose their tracking. The new research shows that anyone with access to browsing histories — a great number of companies and organizations –can identify many users by analyzing public information from social media accounts, Narayanan said.

“Users may assume they are anonymous when they are browsing a news or a health website, but our work adds to the list of ways in which tracking companies may be able to learn their identities,” said Narayanan, an affiliated faculty member at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy.