9 March 2017

*** Putin Faces an Enemy of His Own Design


Russian President Vladimir Putin will face growing challenges from political elites, regional leaders and the general population. 
Though Putin will capitulate to many Kremlin elites, he will also keep purging political opponents as necessary. 

The new Duma leader, Vyacheslav Volodin, may use his increasing power to become yet another political figure defying Putin's authority. 


Russia's legislature may be the next theater of the power struggle that has rocked the Kremlin over the past three years. The Duma has been all but inconsequential during the 17 years that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been in power, serving mostly as a means to boost the leader's legitimacy and as a scapegoat for enacting tough reforms. Facing growing challenges from the Kremlin's political elite, Russia's regional leaders and the public at large, however, Putin has bestowed increasing authority on the legislature to push through the measures he needs to secure his rule. And a recent report from the Carnegie Moscow Center suggests that this power may have gone to the newly appointed parliamentary speaker's head.

Putin's Yes Men

Just after Putin took office as prime minister in 1999, his Unity Party came in second place to the Communist Party in parliamentary elections. The race was tight, and the Unity Party's strong performance helped catapult Putin to the presidency less than two weeks later. In 2004 during the next elections, the party — known by then as United Russia — secured control of the legislature. The victory gave Putin the mandate he needed to consolidate the country politically, economically, socially and across the security services. Ahead of the next elections in 2007, the Kremlin made sure that the vote would yield United Russia's strongest showing yet to legitimize Putin's choice to trade offices with Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev the following year. But the Kremlin's next attempt to manipulate elections in 2011-12, combined with Putin's decision to return to the presidency, met with backlash from the Russian people. Citizens took to the streets in the largest protests in Russia's post-Soviet history and eventually forced the Kremlin to cede to public dissent for the first time in Putin's tenure.

** Must It Always Be Wartime?

by Rosa Brooks 

Societies often go to great lengths to separate war from peace. Wars are declared, sometimes with elaborate ritual. Soldiers wear uniforms and are part of specialized hierarchical organizations. Battlefields are often delineated. Maintaining this distinction is important because what is permissible in wartime is often prohibited in peacetime. Preventing the rules of war from infecting views of moral conduct in times of peace is essential for preserving civilization. 

Yet particularly since September 11, 2001, the line between war and peace has blurred. The “war” on terrorism that President George W. Bush chose to declare was very different from, say, the confrontations between large national forces of World War II or even traditional counterinsurgency battles on a nation’s own territory. Al-Qaeda is a shadowy organization, many of its offshoots and successors even more so. The global and decentralized threat posed by the self-declared Islamic State presents a further complication. 

The decision to treat the September 11 attack as an act of war rather than a horrible crime was a policy choice (one opposed in these pages by Philip Wilcox, a former American diplomat*). We could easily imagine a President Al Gore making a different choice. But once made, the decision to pursue “war” against al-Qaeda and its associated forces had major implications. 



A downed pilot or dislocated friendly servicemember is sighted and being closed on by an overwhelming enemy force. Suddenly, coordinated airstrikes rain down to avert the enemy and protect the friendly position. This is the result of one of the most misunderstood and under-used military instruments of airpower — the airborne forward air controller. Distinguished from his ground-based brethren by an appended “(A)” for airborne, the FAC(A) is the airborne equivalent of a joint terminal air controller (JTAC). Both the JTAC and FAC(A) can nominate and mark targets, de-conflict airspace, relay critical ground schemes of maneuver, and authorize airstrikes — all for the purpose of synergizing the ground and air attack team. One does it from the ground, while the other performs it from the air.

The Air Force has the equipment, know-how, and no shortage of targets to use this skillset — yet this tool remains in its box gathering rust. With “far more mission than Air Force today” and a growing pilot shortage, some might conclude that this derivative mission should be retired. This is dead wrong.

The brewing idea by the Air Force to rapidly procure 250 to 300 two-seat OA-X aircraft to perform light attack missions could be a welcome springboard to rejuvenate the FAC(A) mission, but it also has the potential to wreak havoc on manning. Beyond the highly publicized pilot shortage crisis, there is an even worse shortage of fighter weapons system officers, those who fly in the backseats of the B-1, F-15E, and F-18D/F. It may be possible to kill threebirds with one stone by simultaneously providing an increase in force structure tailored for irregular conflicts, alleviating the shortage of fighter aviators, and restoring FAC(A) capability to the combat air force.

** Political control of the military is the new battleground


The battle of ideas between President Trump and “the establishment” is entering a new round. The first concerned America’s role in the world. A second round questions constraints on executive power. America benefits if the establishment elevates its game this time. Civilian control of the military is one of the issues at stake, but not in ways elites assume.

As a candidate, Donald J. Trump successfully challenged the post-World War Two consensus. Others dueled over policy nuances and disparaged Trump for his supposed lack of substance. The latter spent his time questioning conventional wisdom.

This resonated with Americans who saw the United States bearing the costs but reaping few benefits of the global order. Elites never bothered to defend why and how America is better off under the status quo or what they would do to address the downsides. The establishment never owned up to its 21st century fiascos. In their complacency, they never saw failure coming.

President Trump has placed retired generals into senior levels of his administration, appointed active duty 3-star general H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, hired outspoken Obama critics from the Pentagon and intelligence communities, and may give the Pentagon greater latitude in approving military operations. Critics argue that these choices threaten civilian control of the military.

India-China border dispute is here to stay

Kunal Singh

In a recent interview to a Beijing-based magazine—as India Today reported last week—Dai Bingguo, the former Chinese special representative on boundary negotiations with India, has suggested that India holds the key to a final settlement of the border dispute. If India were to concede Tawang on the eastern front, Dai believes, China will make some concessions in Aksai Chin on the western front.

This statement has reignited interest in the India-China border dispute at a time when bilateral relations are consumed by issues relating to proscription of the Pakistan-based terrorist Masood Azhar, India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

But Dai has just reiterated what has been Beijing’s stance for decades now. His statement does not generate any hope for a resolution of the boundary dispute in the near term. One, the offer of conceding Tawang is simply untenable for India. India exercises full sovereignty over Tawang and the region elects representatives to Indian legislatures both in the state of Arunachal Pradesh and in the national Parliament. Two, this offer by Beijing is not the best it has made. It has made more conciliatory offers in the past which too India had spurned.

All You Wanted To Know About GDP Numbers But Were Too Lazy To Ask


How on earth could the economy have grown 7 per cent during a quarter that saw 84 per cent of currency in circulation being yanked out of the system?

The economy appears to have airily shrugged off what were widely predicted to be the disastrous effects of Operation Demonetisation. Predictably, the demonetisation sceptics-cum-Narendra Modi critics have expressed complete disbelief in figures for third-quarter (Q3) gross domestic product (GDP) growth as well as the projections for 2016-17. The mildest reaction is that the data released by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) does not reflect ground level reality; the strongest is that the figures are fudged.

Such questioning is not new. Every finance minister has faced jibes of getting GDP numbers bumped up during scheduled data revisions to show the fiscal deficit in a better light. Many in the present government who are affronted by the disbelief over the current set of numbers have themselves mocked growth numbers achieved under other governments. It’s just that this time around, the jibes are more toxic; they are actually allegations.

'India will be world's fastest economy for the next decade'

'India is already a great success story and will continue to grow rapidly for the next decade and beyond.'

'I hope this interview will help your readers appreciate how much India has already accomplished as well as the opportunities that lie ahead.'

IMAGE: 'India will have to be much more successful in employment creation in order to exploit its demographic dividend. The most important issue in the short run is employment creation,' says Harvard economist Dale Jorgenson. Photograph: Jitendra Prakash/Reuters.

Economist Dale W Jorgenson steadfastly believes that India is the fastest-growing economy on the planet.

He declares that India is doing “very, very well” and forecasts that India might continue to outrun other world economies, including China (Chairman Xi Jinpeng, are you reading this?) over the next many years.

Many more encores of this rosy performance -- the Harvard’s Samuel W Morris University Professor of Economics (he’s been at Harvard since 1969) is cautious to point out -- are contingent on the introduction of a few long-overdue reforms and policy tweaks in connection with quick job creation and our labour market. 

Insurance and the Almighty

Nitin Pai

Can we enlist religious institutions in the cause to promote fire safety?

As part of my Beyond Carlton Memorial Lecture at the headquarters of the Karnataka Fire and Emergency Services last night, I engaged in some loud thinking on why Indians (maybe others too, but I’m primarily concerned about Indians) have a cavalier attitude towards safety.

In the following chart, we see that not only do Indians under-invest in insurance, we are below the trend line when compared to other countries in the same income group.

Non-life insurance penetration (premiums as share of GDP) vs GDP per capita (2013) — Source: Swiss Re

As the second chart (below) shows, insurance penetration among motorists, home owners, SMEs and corporates is below world averages.



Gen. John Nicholson, who commands the American-led international military force in Afghanistan, recently made headlines when he called for “a few thousand” more troops and a deeper American commitment to the fight in Afghanistan in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month.

This echoes the calls from a number of other analysts, as well as from senior government officials. The recently departed national security advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — who once served as the senior intelligence officer for the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan — seemed to support greater commitment to the region. As they say, personnel is policy: Flynn appointed senior National Security Council staffers who called for engagement in Afghanistan to potentially continue another five to ten years. There’s good reason to think these beliefs might be shared by incoming national security advisor, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, given his substantial investment in Afghanistan.

Questions will obviously be raised about allied contributions and the domestic political appetite for intensifying America’s longest war, but a more fundamental question deserves serious scrutiny: Could a renewed U.S. commitment of additional troops help turn a corner in Afghanistan?

The New Arab–Israeli Alliance

Michael J. Totten

During the early years of the Obama administration, conventional wisdom in Washington held that the Israeli–Palestinian conflict trumped everything else in the Middle East, that no problem could be resolved until that one was out of the way. “Without doubt,” former president Jimmy Carter said, “the path to peace in the Middle East goes through Jerusalem.” The reason, said his former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, now a professor of foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University, is because, “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the single most combustible and galvanizing issue in the Arab world”.

Similar views were expressed across the political spectrum, from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel and General David Petraeus.

“If we can solve the Israeli-Palestinian process,” Obama said in 2008, then that will make it easier for Arab states and the Gulf states to support us when it comes to issues like Iraq and Afghanistan. It will also weaken Iran, which has been using Hamas and Hezbollah as a way to stir up mischief in the region. If we’ve gotten an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, maybe at the same time peeling Syria out of the Iranian orbit, that makes it easier to isolate Iran so that they have a tougher time developing a nuclear weapon.

Renewed Conflict Over Nagorno-Karabakh

The likelihood that Armenians and Azerbaijanis will clash over Nagorno-Karabakh in the next twelve months is high. The situation remains tense following fierce fighting in April 2016 that marked the worst bloodshed since the 1994 cease-fire that established the current territorial division.

Nagorno-Karabakh, an autonomous region in Azerbaijan populated mostly by Armenians, sought to break away from central government control in 1988. When Armenia and Azerbaijan gained their independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the region also declared independence. This triggered a full-scale war in which Nagorno-Karabakh forces, with support from Armenia, gained control over most of the autonomous region plus seven additional provinces, totaling 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s geographic area. Tensions have built up steadily over the past six years, as energy-rich Azerbaijan enlarged its military capability, public opposition by Armenians and Azerbaijanis to a compromise settlement grew, and cease-fire violations became commonplace.

During the April 2016 military clashes, there were roughly three hundred and fifty casualties, with more than one hundred military personnel and civilians killed. Azerbaijan deployed tanks, helicopters, and assault drones to recapture two small slices of territory controlled by Nagorno-Karabakh forces. The United States, Russia, and France—co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group responsible for mediating the conflict—used diplomacy to halt the violence. They have been unable, however, to revitalize the peace process.

Russia’s Naval Shipyards Are an Unmitigated Disaster, Report

Dave Majumdar

The underlying problem for Russia is that many of its shipyards—with the exception of those engaged in submarine construction—are an unmitigated disaster. On many occasions, ships are ordered simply for the sake of keeping a shipyard open or political patronage. “Russia’s shipbuilding industry is the worst of all its defense industries,” Kofman said—delays, technical problems and rampant corruption are commonplace. “A couple of the shipyards got racked with terrible corruption, the owners basically stole billions and ran off with them, which really hurt Russia’s shipbuilding plans.”

While the Cold War-era Soviet Navy built a massive surface fleet to challenge the dominance of the U.S. Navy on the open ocean, that once mighty armada has all but disappeared. Much of the former Soviet Navy has been scrapped, sold off, or rusted away in port since 1991. As such, the present day Russian surface fleet is a pale shadow of Adm. Sergey Gorshkov’s vision of a blue water navy. Its biggest threats are not NATO or the United States, but rather a shambolic shipbuilding industrial base and poor maintenance. Indeed, more Russian warships have been lost to shipyard fires than any enemy action.

“Essentially, we have the disappearance of the Soviet blue water navy and the transition to something like a green water navy,” Michael Kofman, a research scientist specializing in Russian military affairs at the Center for Naval Analyses told The National Interest.

Andrey Kortunov: From Post-Modernism to Neo-Modernism, or Recalling the Future

Andrey Kortunov

Post-Modernism has failed for many reasons, among them its complete disrespect for legality, morality, the public interest at large, and reality. Neo-Modernism is emergent, and is characterized by four tenets: nationalism, transactionalism, holism, and historicism. Lacking within neo-modernism is a strategic construct for creating sustainable peace & prosperity within and among nations.

It is common knowledge that the concept of post-modernism came into international relations lexicon from the French philosophy of the 1970s-1980s. Shortly before the end of the last great rise of French intellectual universalism, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser, Jacques Lacan and other founders and opponents of post-structuralism formulated the basic characteristics of post-modernism as an integral sociological and historical interpretation of the modern world.

Most often cited are four of them. The first one is agnosticism that claims that truth is relative and is no more than a generally accepted view rather than a reflection of objective reality. The second one is pragmatism, which holds that the only unquestionable value is success, and success is measured solely by material achievements of individuals or their groups. The third one is eclecticism that maintains that in order to succeed an individual and society randomly blend conflicting principles, strategies and behavioral models. The fourth one is anarcho-democracy, which states that the combined effect of agnosticism, pragmatism and eclecticism consistently destroys the legitimacy of any social and political hierarchy by opposing it with a completely free “atomized” personality.

The Sri Lankan Counterterrorism Model: Intelligence Innovation Outside the Anglosphere


In reading Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) of the ongoing counterterrorism operations in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, I have noticed a pattern in Islamic State’s “modus operandi”, that of an analogical spider.

Spiders have eight legs and two body parts, including the head region (cephalothorax) and the abdomen. Most spiders have toxic venom, which they use to kill their prey. So, if the international community wants to get rid of ISIS, hypothetically speaking, they must get rid of ISIS’ cephalothorax, rather than fight with its eight legs. What I try to pinpoint here is that, while ISIS's headquarters (cephalothorax) are in Syria, their means of survival (abdomen) depend on how much area they control in Iraq. Thus, before this ISIS "spider" transforms into a "multi-headed" and "multi-pronged" spider, the international community must target their headquarters in Syria.

Although international intelligence agencies have feet of clay, particularly in dealing with an enemy of many different faces, I feel that they deserve a more involved role than just being the eyes and ears of any one nation. Recommendations for an appropriate tradecraft to achieve collective intelligence are the need of the day. Although there is no truth to search for, no absolute truth, since everything is subjective, the valuable role that intelligence agencies play in producing deterrence is paramount. Achieving a state of global terrorist deterrence is what I consider the essential argument.

A World Without Borders

By Nathan Smith

Across the West today, a rising populist right is blaming established elites for letting in too many immigrants. The immigrants, the populists complain, lower wages, dilute the local culture, and pose a threat to national security. But even as anti-immigrant sentiment gains ground, a small but growing band of open borders advocates is reaching the opposite conclusion: Western elites aren’t letting in too many immigrants—they are letting in too few. These advocates, including the author, call for a regime of nearly complete freedom of migration worldwide, with rare exceptions for preventing terrorism or the spread of contagious disease. Borders would still exist in such a world, but as jurisdictional boundaries rather than as barriers to human movement. Ending migration controls in this way would increase liberty, reduce global poverty, and accelerate economic growth. But more fundamentally, it would challenge the right of governments to regulate migration on the arbitrary grounds of sovereignty. 


The open borders position may sound new and radical, but it is simply a call for the return of lost liberties. When the Statue of Liberty was erected in 1886, most of the world’s borders could be freely crossed without passports. Passport requirements had sometimes existed before and were still in place in backward tsarist Russia, but the more liberal governments of advanced European nations regulated migration, as modern democracies regulate speech, only rather lightly and in exceptional cases, if at all. Comprehensive restrictions on international movement, which almost everyone today regards as a normal and necessary government function, are really an innovation of the twentieth century, which emerged as liberalism gave way to nationalism and socialism in the wake of World War I. Although the reasons for border control were often explicitly racist—such as the national origins quotas of the 1924 U.S. Immigration Act—the restrictions were also motivated by bona fide national security concerns, as well as a desire to protect native wages and welfare states from immigrant competition and foreign dependents.The open borders position may sound new and radical, but it is simply a call for the return of lost liberties.

How US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze


The US nuclear forces modernization program has been portrayed to the public as an effort to ensure the reliability and safety of warheads in the US nuclear arsenal, rather than to enhance their military capabilities. In reality, however, that program has implemented revolutionary new technologies that will vastly increase the targeting capability of the US ballistic missile arsenal. This increase in capability is astonishing—boosting the overall killing power of existing US ballistic missile forces by a factor of roughly three—and it creates exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.



In 1964, the Air Force officially entered the war in Vietnam. And they did so with the wrong mix of tactical airpower. The fighter force of the time bore little resemblance to an actual fighter force. It consisted largely of leftover Korean-era relics, interceptors designed to fight Soviet bombers, and “fighters” designed for a nuclear strike role. Blinded by the perceived need to engage in a massive nuclear exchange with the Soviets, the Air Force leadership of the time had built a combat aviation enterprise that was largely unsuited for anything short of nuclear war. Vietnam quickly proved this. The Air Force adapted, and did so at an impressive pace. Within five years, it added new fighters as well as attack and observation aircraft for service in Vietnam – all with new capabilities. This explosive growth increased the inventory by over 1200 aircraft, more than offsetting the 1000 tactical aircraft lost in that same time period. This was the eagle at its best, making a sharp turn to adjust to the reality of Vietnam, and incidentally laying the groundwork for the aircraft that would face the Soviets in the Cold War.

Half a century later, the Air Force encountered the same conundrum. Its high-end fighter force was designed for a climactic battle with the Soviets over Europe. By 2001, when the Air Force deployed aircraft to fight in Afghanistan, it was ending purchases of the F-15E and F-16, had no observation aircraft in the inventory, and wouldn’t produce another multi-role fighter for more than a decade. Its last attack aircraft purchase had ended in 1984. By 2001, the Air Force had been at war continuously for ten years, having sustained multi-theater, continuous combat operations since January 16, 1991. The Air Force was ripe for recapitalization, replacement, and reconstruction. But that didn’t happen.

Soft law: New tools for governing emerging technologies

Gary E. Marchant, Brad Allenby

As governments around the world struggle to govern a multitude of emerging technologies, they often seek to harmonize their regulatory approaches. But there are at least 10 different reasons why nations may seek to harmonize their oversight of a specific technology, and discerning which of these rationales will apply to a specific technology is critical for selecting the optimal harmonization approach. The traditional approach is the negotiation of formal international treaties, but, as exemplified by the challenges of cybersecurity, such treaty-based approaches are too resource-intensive and difficult to be effective for most technologies. Accordingly, a new generation of more informal international governance tools are being explored, often grouped under the term “soft law.” They include private standards, guidelines, codes of conduct, and forums for transnational dialogue. 

All around the world, governments, industry, and the public are struggling to realize the promising benefits – and manage the disruptive impacts – of one rapidly emerging technology after another. A frequent response by many politicians and policymakers to these successive waves of emerging technologies is that nations need to harmonize their regulatory response. Whether it is cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, gene editing, autonomous weapons, nanotechnology, geoengineering, 3D printing, bitcoin, or the myriad of other emerging technologies, international regulatory harmonization seems to be one commonly agreed goal.



When President Donald Trump announced the selection of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security advisor, I thought back to my days as a young lieutenant in 1991. I served as then-Capt. McMaster’s fire support officer in Eagle Troop, 2nd U.S. Cavalry, and I observed first-hand his outstanding leadership qualities at the Battle of 73 Easting, in which McMaster’s nine tanks and 12 Bradley Fighting Vehicles utterly destroyed an Iraqi Republican Guard armored brigade.

McMaster is among the most accomplished men in uniform today, but his new job provides a greater challenge than any he’s ever faced. He must work to guide American foreign policy at a time when a course correction is long overdue.

McMaster’s qualifications as an army leader are superb. His two major military operations were unqualified successes. When he took over Eagle Troop in 1990, the unit was dysfunctional, disheartened, and in poor shape. McMaster immediately infused it with focus, energy, and drive. After months of training, he led a confident Eagle Troop into the largest American tank battle since World War II, annihilating a brigade of the Iraqi Tawakalna Division. In 2005, U.S. forces in Iraq were foundering under the ravages of a full-blown insurgency. Then-Col. McMaster commanded the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, stationed in Nineveh Province near the violent, insurgent-filled city of Tal Afar. McMaster had trained his regiment on the basics of counter-insurgency prior to deployment. Working with political leaders of Tal Afar, his cavalry troopers succeeded in routing the insurgents and returned a sense of security to the city.

Missile Defense and Defeat Considerations for the New Policy Review

By Keith B. Payne, Brad Roberts, Henry A. Obering III, Kenneth Todorov, and Thomas Karako

The national defense authorization act signed into law in 2016 contained a provision mandating a review of missile defeat policy, strategy, and capability, to be completed and submitted to Congress by January 2018. This Missile Defeat Review (MDR) appears likely to serve as a successor to both the Department of Defense’s 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review and other publications by the Joint Staff.

The first of its kind, the MDR represents a unique opportunity for the Donald Trump administration to articulate a vision for the future of air and missile defense and determine how that vision is to be implemented by the Missile Defense Agency, the Joint Staff, the services, and other entities. This review will take place in the context of both an evolving strategic environment and several recent strategic analyses on related issues.

Featuring contributions from Thomas Karako, Keith B. Payne, Brad Roberts, Henry A. Obering III, and Kenneth Todorov, this collection of essays explores how the strategic environment has evolved since 2010, and offers recommendations to help guide and inform the MDR’s development.

Tallinn Manual 2.0: Stepping Out of the Fog in Cyberspace


Cyberspace is often portrayed as a new domain of international relations – a Wild West where there are no rules or guiding principles to govern the behavior of states. Such perceptions of anarchism have bred uncertainty over what is or is not acceptable activity among governments. This often leads to brash accusations of cyber attacks meeting the threshold of an act of war. At the same time, the blurred distinction between offensive and defensive capabilities in cyberspace creates a security dilemma, fueling a destabilizing cyber arms race.

Fortunately, there are hundreds of years of international law that can put norms surrounding cyberspace into motion. However, where does international law apply to countries’ operations in cyberspace, and what can states do to mitigate uncertainty surrounding cyber operations that lead to a potentially destabilizing cyber arms race?

State of encryption, part II: Policy limbo

by Brad D. Williams

The past year has seen significant developments in encryption technology, policy and legal cases. With a new presidential administration and Congress, it’s timely to consider the current state of encryption and what the future could hold. This two-part series explores some of the core issues around encryption. Part I explored legal issues and the implications of recent cases on encryption. Part II surveys recent developments in and the current state of encryption technology and policy. 

President Donald Trump’s administration is still rounding out its cabinet and agency deputy appointees, as well as acclimating new National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, who has not publicly expressed views on encryption.

Trump campaigned as a “law and order candidate.” On issues ranging from immigration to domestic crime and international terrorism, Trump aligned squarely on the side of law enforcement and the military.

Trump did not mince words on the February 2016 Apple vs. FBI case, telling Fox & Friends in February 2016:

For IBM’s CTO for Watson, not a lot of value in replicating the human mind in a computer

“Everybody and their mother is out to create their own specialized voice-activated devices,” IBM fellow and CTO for its Watson project Rob High told me during an interview at MWC. IBM, of course, doesn’t offer a direct competitor to Siri, Google Assistant or Alexa, but the company hopes that developers will choose Watson, in all its various guises, to power their AI apps, smart chatbots and similar services.

High was not very positive about the current generation of chatbots and virtual agents but he believes that IBM may have the technology to push this far enough so that its users can get more utility out of them. “Classic mobile applications, web applications, IVRs — all those channels are prone to getting advantage to having a virtual agent that has more depth to conduct a conversation than you classically see with Siri or early version Alexa chatbots,” he said. “I don’t even know why they call them chatbots. It’s really command-and-response or single-utterance interactions.”

He noted that frame-based dialoguing (think ordering a pizza with lots of options through a back and forth with the computer) is something the company will launch soon, as well as more advanced cognitive technologies that will allow for the deeper level of reasoning that’s necessary to sustain a conversation.

That’s not easy, though, the biggest challenge here is “understanding people, not just what they vocalize,” High said. “Most of the history of AI has been centered on simple translation and recognition kind of techniques. That’s why deep learning has become so popular. It’s really good at doing recognition. But that doesn’t give us a deep understanding about a person’s motivation. Our motivations are often not expressed upfront, yet it is key to understanding what people want to get done.”

Missile Defense and Defeat: Considerations for the New Policy Review

The national defense authorization act signed into law in 2016 contained a provision mandating a review of missile defeat policy, strategy, and capability, to be completed and submitted to Congress by January 2018. This Missile Defeat Review (MDR) appears likely to serve as a successor to both the Department of Defense’s 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review and other publications by the Joint Staff. The first of its kind, the MDR represents a unique opportunity for the Donald Trump administration to articulate a vision for the future of air and missile defense and determine how that vision is to be implemented by the Missile Defense Agency, the Joint Staff, the services, and other entities. This review will take place in the context of both an evolving strategic environment and several recent strategic analyses on related issues.

Featuring contributions from Thomas Karako, Keith B. Payne, Brad Roberts, Henry A. Obering III, and Kenneth Todorov, this collection of essays explores how the strategic environment has evolved since 2010, and offers recommendations to help guide and inform the MDR’s development.

(Automated) planning for tomorrow: Will artificial intelligence get smarter?

Edward Moore Geist

Artificial-intelligence (AI) researchers have made very considerable advances in their theoretical knowledge of planning over the past few decades. But the impact of AI on society in the coming years will depend on how much these discoveries improve the real-world performance of automated planning, or AP, an AI subfield that seeks to create computer programs that can generate plans to achieve a particular goal. If practical applications of automated planning continue to stagnate, it could hold back all of AI, even as its other subfields continue to mature. Modest progress, meanwhile, would facilitate modest economic and military uses of artificial intelligence. And should AP experience the same kind of spectacular breakout as reinforcement learning, which is being used practically in a wide variety of fields, from robotics to finance, the peril and promise of artificial intelligence might be fully realized.