21 October 2019

Imran Khan’s incomplete narrative on the Taliban

Madiha Afzal

America is, understandably, tired of its “longest war”: Neither the Trump administration nor the American public has any desire to remain in Afghanistan. The question doesn’t seem to be if America leaves Afghanistan — this is all but a foregone conclusion — but when and how. The U.S. peace talks with the Afghan Taliban (stalled for now, but possibly inching toward a restart) after 18 years of fighting with the group, need a narrative explanation, and one that goes beyond the exhaustion of war and the inability to win militarily.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has been helping the U.S. with these talks, has provided one narrative. On his visits to the United States — two in the last three months, one for his first meeting with President Trump, and the second for a speech at the U.N. General Assembly — a key topic of discussion was peace talks with the Taliban. In that context, Khan was asked, especially during his appearances at think tanks, about the relationship between Pakistan, terrorism, and the Taliban.

WHAT KHAN SAYS

Washington to London: An inside account of how Pakistan’s deep state grooms ISI mouthpieces

C. CHRISTINE FAIR


How does Pakistan’s deep state continue to influence debate around the world? By deploying people to disrupt public events, of course. Let me explain how this happens.

I appeared recently on a television programme filmed at the Newseum in Washington DC that promised to the tell the “whole truth” about US-Pakistan relations. Ordinarily, I would have asked about the composition of the panel but, in this case, I did not because I assumed the effort was credible because the show was tied to the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.

I regretted this lapse as soon as I walked into the green room where I met my two co-panellists. One was a retired, senior American diplomat with long ties to South Asia who, in retirement, briefly became a lobbyist for Pakistan. The other was a wealthy Pakistani-American physician serving as a current lobbyist who uses his wealth to influence American policy towards countries of interest. He also is the sole US representation for former, disgraced Pakistani dictator, Pervez Musharraf, which he claims to do pro bono.

Both the past and current lobbyist reiterated tired canards that are empirically falsifiable. Doctor Sahab asserted Pakistan’s inalienable right to Kashmir and said that the Maharaja of Kashmir was obliged—as opposed to encouraged—to choose either Pakistan or India based upon geography and demography. Not only is this untrue, but Kashmir could have also have gone either way based upon these considerations. He repeated the absurd narrative about the “plebiscite” and rebuffed my efforts to explain what the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions actually say and the host similarly silenced me from clarifying basic facts.

A Sri Lankan road construction project with significant financing from China.

Dinuka Liyanawatte
Inspired by the ancient Silk Road, China is investing in a massive set of international development projects that are raising concerns about how the country is expanding its power around the world.

Initially announced in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the so-called “Belt and Road Initiative” has China planning to invest in economic development and transportation in more than 130 countries and 30 international organizations. Projects range across Asia, but also include places in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and South America.

With a projected cost of more than US$1 trillion, it may be the most ambitious infrastructure project undertaken in human history. The country hopes it will all be completed by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. My research in international economics with particular reference to China shows that Beijing has both economic and political plans for how these investments will pay off.

Economic effects

China’s All-Effects All-Domain Strategy in an All-Encompassing Information Environment

Thomas A. Drohan
Source Link

China is wielding strategies that envelop opponents with an all-effects all-domain approach to national power. These effects are neither precise nor pre-ordained because they occur in an uncertain information environment that encompasses behavior by all sensors – living, or artificial. Drawing from a rich tradition of hybrid stratagems and holistic information, China’s leaders use a variety of asymmetric approaches that exploit weaknesses in opponents’ strategies.

In contrast, US strategy is fixated on lethal capabilities for armed conflict with information considerations perhaps sprinkled on top. We make great progress at precision destruction, but too often fail to convert battlefield victories into strategic success. It should not come as a surprise then, that US military doctrine still defines “asymmetric” in terms of dissimilar capabilities and methods, rather than with respect to effects. Our doctrine does not recognize hybrid warfare by unarmed actors either, even as they proliferate impactful information effects.

The essence of Chinese strategy consists of waging complex wars that exploit opponents’ expectations of warfare. Operations create preventative and causative effects that blend confrontation with cooperation, imposing dilemmas on opponents. Such asymmetric effects win wars by producing information that changes opponents’ behavior. Let’s see how this concept works.

Is Hong Kong the Battleground for a New Cyber Cold War?

By NICK FRISCH

Earlier this month, Ip Kwok-him, a top adviser to Hong Kong’s embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam, mused about measures that, a few short months ago, would have been unthinkable. “The government,” he said, “will consider all legal means” of curtailing the monthslong protest movement. “We would not rule out restricting the internet.” On the world stage, Beijing has defended its domestic internet controls as critical to “stability maintenance” and demanded that other nations respect China’s “internet sovereignty”—a euphemism for the web of surveillance, censorship, and Chinese Communist Party policing of local tech firms. But Hong Kong—where Beijing officially has political sovereignty, but does not directly control the internet—is testing the World Wide Web’s original promise of cyberspace without borders.

In 1997, when the British colony of Hong Kong was handed back to Chinese sovereignty, the internet was in its infancy. Under the “One Country, Two Systems” agreement brokered between Beijing and London, Hong Kong preserved many of its institutions as a special administrative region: customs and immigration checkpoints on the old colonial border, independent courts, a separate system of currency, and civil liberties. Beijing pledged that Hong Kong’s freedoms would remain unchanged for 50 years and promised a pathway to elected democratic representation to match the city’s freedoms of speech and assembly.

Hong Kong leader forced to deliver key speech via video after protests

Verna Yu 

Hong Kong’s beleaguered leader, Carrie Lam, has condemned ongoing violent street protests for dampening the economy and ruining the image of the financial hub, in a key annual policy speech that she was forced to deliver via video link after after being heckled in parliament.

Pro-democracy lawmakers jeered and yelled slogans as she walked into the legislature’s chamber and started to speak, forcing the unprecedented cancellation of the speech. The legislative council resumed sessions on Wednesday for the first time after it was suspended on 12 June, when it was besieged by protesters demanding the withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill.

The chair of the legislature announced the end of the session after Lam was shouted down twice and walked out of the chamber.

The lawmakers called for her resignation and accused her of having “blood on her hands” as the police continued to use excessive force to crack down on the escalating protests, which often end in violent clashes.

Hong Kong in the Balance

MICHAEL SPENCE

MILAN – Hong Kong has long played an integral role in Asian and global economic development. But its future as a key nerve center for global business and finance is in serious jeopardy, as is its role as a bridge between mainland China and the outside world. Hong Kong has long been a place where global companies are welcome, and disputes are adjudicated impartially, transparently, and according to the rule of law. If that is no longer the case, it represents a tremendous loss for China, for Asia, for global business and finance, and especially for Hong Kong citizens.

Hong Kong has experienced an unprecedented 17 weeks of mostly peaceful demonstrations (occasional episodes of violence have attracted disproportionate media attention). The trigger was a proposed extradition law that many feared would extend the mainland’s reach into Hong Kong’s judicial system. The absence of any plan to bring together various protest groups and the Hong Kong government has become a source of growing concern.

Such a plan would need to do at least two things. First, all parties (including China’s central government in this case), need to recommit to the “one country, two systems” framework. Second, and perhaps more important, a coalition of representatives from government, business, and Hong Kong’s influential financial community should develop an aggressive plan for countering rising inequality and the disappearance of opportunities for those who are already struggling to make ends meet. Affordable housing for younger citizens is an especially urgent need.

Stuck Between China and America, Vietnam Has Its Own Strategy For The South China Sea

by Koh Swee Lean Collin

In 1287, Gen. Omar Khan of the Yuan Dynasty led a sizeable invasion force, including numerous war junks, against Dai Viet (present day Vietnam). With battle-hardened Mongols forming the vanguard, it seemed as if the campaign would be a walkover for China. But a naval battle the following year proved otherwise. In the estuary of the Bach Dang River near Ha Long Bay, Dai Viet general Tran Hung Dao repeated the feat accomplished by the earlier, celebrated general Ngo Quyen against the Southern Han Chinese invaders, back in the year 938.

Following Ngo’s approach, Tran planted iron-tipped stakes in the river’s northern distributaries—Chanh, Kenh and Rut—and waited until high tide to lure the Mongol fleet into the shallow waters. When the tide turned, those Mongol war junks were impaled upon those stakes. The much smaller Dai Viet war canoes then swarmed around the trapped Mongol fleet and their crews hurled “mud oil” grenades—little ceramic bottles filled with naphtha and sealed with betel-nut husk, which also acted as a fuse when lit—at the immobile war junks, setting them and their hapless crews ablaze. The Battle of Bach Dang saw grievous losses to the Yuan invasion fleet.

Yes, Russia or China Could Sink a U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier. Here's How.

by Robert Farley

Aircraft carriers have been the primary capital ship of naval combat since the 1940s, and remain the currency of modern naval power. But for nearly as long as carriers have existed, navies have developed plans to defeat them. The details of these plans have changed over time, but the principles remain the same. And some have argued that the balance of military technology is shifting irrevocably away from the carrier, driven primarily by Chinese and Russian innovation.

So let’s say you want to kill an aircraft carrier. How would you go about it?

Torpedo

On September 17, 1939, the German submarine U-29 torpedoed and sank HMS Courageous. Courageous was the first aircraft carrier lost to submarine attack, but would not be the last. Over the course of World War II, the United States, the UK and Japan lost numerous carriers to submarines, culminating in the destruction of the gigantic HIJMS Shinano in 1944.

The Love Field airport in Dallas is opened.

Black Monday - the Dow Jones Industrial Average falls by 22%, 508 points.

Why America Fears China

by Peter Bentley

I have become convinced that what America fears more than anything is NOT an economically powerful China, but rather a democratic ( albeit with Chinese characteristics) / rule-of-law governed China

Very simple answer: because this would "legitimise" Modern China in the eyes of the whole world. At the same time it would discredit America's recent past record of overthrowing evolving democracies in any part of the world where there were American business interests. This would, in effect, expose America as even worse imperialists and exploiters of other nations than even the British have been guilty of.

There is nothing in the "rule book" that says that western-style democracy is the "answer to everything". Just look at the awful history of British colonialism and American recent imperialism to prove that fact.

Exclusive: Satellite images reveal China's aircraft carrier 'factory,' analysts say

Greg Torode, Michael Martina

The images of the Jiangnan shipyard outside Shanghai were taken last month and provided to Reuters by the non-partisan Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), building on satellite photos it obtained in April and September last year.

Noting a series of pre-fabricated sections, bulkheads and other components stacked nearby, CSIS analysts say the hull should be finished within 12 months, after which it is likely to be moved to a newly created harbor and wharf before being fitted out.

The vast harbor on the Yangtze River estuary, including a wharf nearly 1 kilometer long and large buildings for manufacturing ship components, is nearly complete. Much of the harbor area appeared to be abandoned farmland just a year ago, according to earlier images CSIS analyzed.

It dwarfs an existing harbor nearby, where destroyers and other warships are docked.

“We can see slow but steady progress on the hull, but I think the really surprising thing these images show is the extensive infrastructure buildup that has gone on simultaneously,” said CSIS analyst Matthew Funaiole.

China Has Begun to Shape and Manage the US, Not the Other Way Around

BY JOHN POMFRET
Source Link

From the late 19th century up to World War II, Americans were seized by the idea of transforming China into a Christian, capitalist America on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

The word plastic pops up again and again in American statements about China from that era. China is “plastic” in the hands of “strong and capable Westerners,” announced President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. “China has become plastic after centuries of rigid conventionalism,”declared Selskar M. Gunn, a vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation, in May 1933.

But from the beginning, Americans were also afraid that China—or the Chinese—would change them, too. In 1870, following the Civil War, Congress limited naturalization to white people and black people. Later, the United States tried to inoculate itself against the influence of the Chinese by banning many of them from America’s shores. Starting with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the U.S. Congress passed a series of racist immigration laws which would not be significantly modified until World War II, when China was an ally in America’s fight against Japan. It looked bad for the U.S. to deny Chinese the right to travel in America while Chinese under American command were dying on Asian battlefields.

China Risk and China Opportunity for the U.S.-Japan Alliance


How should the risks and opportunities presented by a continually rising, increasingly self-assertive China be addressed? This is a pressing issue for the international community, particularly for the United States and Japan, whose alliance has proactively helped form and maintain the liberal, rules-based international order for the past several decades.

To enhance mutual understanding and encourage effective policymaking, the Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR) and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace have convened a small group of U.S. and Japanese scholars to examine the risks and opportunities accompanying China’s ascendance. This group includes China specialists, alliance experts, and authorities on trade and security issues in the Asia Pacific.

Led by Matake Kamiya and James L. Schoff, the group has conducted research and facilitated dialogue since April 2017 through private roundtables and public symposia that seek to further U.S.-Japan cooperation and coordination on China policy. The project examines different perspectives between the alliance members and discusses ways in which Washington and Tokyo can effectively respond to China’s rise. An accompanying series of policy briefs explores various China-related risks and opportunities for the U.S.-Japan alliance in the areas of regional and international order, trade and technology, security, and foreign relations. To learn more about the project, click here.

Bolstering the Alliance Amid China’s Military Resurgence

MICHAEL S. CHASE, SATORU MORI, MASAFUMI IIDA

INTRODUCTION

Recent tensions between the United States and China over trade and security issues mark the emergence of a more competitive U.S.-China economic, diplomatic, and security relationship. Indeed, this more competitive relationship between the two major powers is becoming a defining feature of the security environment in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

Under President Xi Jinping, China has shown its determination to push forward with a more assertive regional security policy. A number of developments have reflected this shift, such as attempts to challenge Japan’s administrative control over the Senkaku Islands and Chinese island building and construction of military facilities in the South China Sea.1 Beijing appears to be aiming to create a regional security order characterized by greater Chinese influence and reduced U.S. influence, one that will make other countries feel as though they have little choice but to defer to Chinese preferences, or at least refrain from any activities that China sees as an affront to its interests.

An increasingly capable and confident People’s Liberation Army (PLA) plays a key role in enabling China to achieve these goals. Moreover, the PLA is no longer content to simply copy from other countries to try to close the gap with the world’s advanced military powers. Instead, it aims to join their ranks. The arrival of a more advanced and operationally capable PLA will have important implications for the United States, Japan, and the U.S.-Japan alliance.

Trump Is Beijing’s Best Asset

PAUL HAENLE, SAM BRESNICK

Among the many themes of Donald Trump’s presidency, his contentious policies toward China stick out. U.S. foreign-policy experts have noted that Trump’s almost three years in office have witnessed the long-held bipartisan consensus on China shift further and faster than in any other period in history, leading to a rapid and dramatic deterioration of one of the world’s most consequential bilateral relationships.

Though there’s broad political agreement on the need for the United States to take a tougher line on China, the administration’s mercurial approach has led to criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike. Trump has prosecuted a costly trade war against Beijing, banned Huawei’s technology from U.S. 5G networks, and recently placed visa restrictions on Chinese Communist Party officials involved in the extrajudicial incarceration of millions of Muslims in Xinjiang. He has marketed himself as the first U.S. president who is willing to get tough on China.

Paul Haenle holds the Maurice R. Greenberg Director’s Chair at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center based at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. Haenle served as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama prior to joining Carnegie.

America's Options for the Middle East After Syria

by Seth J. Frantzman

The Assad regime was rushing to control checkpoints at key locations while Turkey pressed its offensive on October 15, just nine days after the White House decided to wrap up America’s five-year war in Syria. Washington says it isn’t ending the war on ISIS though, so it’s possible airstrikes and even special operations may continue in Syria, run from Iraq or elsewhere.

The U.S. decision to suddenly leave Syria has been excoriated as a betrayal yet also received some praise for ending the relationship with the Syrian Democratic Forces, which Turkey accuses of being linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party. That means the U.S. decision to leave Syria can be viewed through the lens of reversing an Obama-era policy of working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) instead of the Syrian rebels. But if anyone thought the United States was pivoting toward opposing the Assad regime and Iran, that isn’t the case. Assad, Iran, Russia and Turkey are swooping in to grab the spoils.

It’s no use arguing over what might have been in eastern Syria. The war is over and the United States has to decide what its role is after Syria. This could become a key point in U.S. foreign-policy history—the bookend to George H. W. Bush’s “new world order” where America eschews its role as global hegemon, or global policeman, as it has sometimes been seen. This could also be a domino effect, causing the United States to lose more influence in Turkey, in Iraq, and potentially the Gulf as well.

What Is Iran Up To in Deir al-Zour?

Oula A. Alrifai
Tehran and its proxies have been exerting hard and soft power in northeast Syria, combining military consolidation with economic, social, and religious outreach in order to cement their long-term influence.

On September 30, Syria and Iraq reopened their main border crossing between al-Bukamal and al-Qaim, which had been formally closed for five years. The circumstances surrounding the event were telling—the ceremony was delayed by a couple weeks because of unclaimed foreign airstrikes on Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps targets in east Syria following the Iranian attack against Saudi oil facilities earlier that month. What exactly have the IRGC and its local proxies been doing in Deir al-Zour province? And what does this activity tell us about Iran’s wider plans there?

OPENING THE DOOR FOR IRAQI PROXIES

The border ceremony was led by Khadhim al-Ikabi, an Iraqi government representative, raising questions about whether the decision will help circumvent U.S. sanctions placed on Iran. Although Syrian state media celebrated the event as an opportunity to increase trade with Iraq, Tehran’s reaction indicated that the crossing will mainly serve Iranian military interests. 

Averting an ISIS Resurgence in Iraq and Syria


What’s new? In Iraq and Syria, ISIS is down but not out. The group remains active but reduced and geographically circumscribed. Keeping it down requires sustained effort. Any of several events – Turkish intervention in north-eastern Syria, but also instability in Iraq or spill-over of U.S.-Iranian tensions – could enable its comeback.

Why does it matter? Iraqis, Syrians and their international partners paid a heavy price to dislodge the militant organisation from its territorial “caliphate”. Yet even as an insurgency, it still threatens Iraqis and Syrians locally, and, if it manages to regroup, it could pose a renewed threat globally.

What should be done? Keeping ISIS weak will require avoiding new conflict in either Iraq or Syria that would disrupt counter-ISIS efforts – most immediately, Turkish intervention in north-eastern Syria. Syrians and Iraqis need a period of calm to pursue ISIS insurgents and stabilise their respective countries.

Executive Summary

The War on Carbon. Five Priorities for the European Green DealÉdito Énergie, 8 October 2019

Marc-Antoine EYL-MAZZEGA, Carole MATHIEU

A very large majority of Member States have embraced the carbon neutrality by 2050 target, and reluctance from the others (especially Poland) is likely to be overcome at the European Council meeting on 12 December 2019, by assurances of EU financial support for structural change in high-emitting regions. This should lead to adopting more ambitious climate commitments for 2030.

This broad consensus on carbon neutrality was still unthinkable only a few months ago, and it marks a clear break that will involve an acceleration of efforts and their extension to all greenhouse gases and all sectors: not just electricity, but also buildings, transport, industry and agriculture. Targeting carbon neutrality will affect and mobilise all actors in society, at all levels. It will require new financing but also the better use of existing tools, and their refocusing on climate concerns.

We are embarking on a Thirty Years’ War against greenhouse gases. It is vital to make the right diagnoses, clarify decarbonisation pathways, define a strategy and adopt the right instruments. In terms of industrial and economic cycles, 2050 is practically tomorrow. The main battle will therefore be waged in the next years.

Reassessing U.S. Cyber Operations against Iran and the Use of Force

by Edwin Djabatey

It’s becoming clear that, as the New York Times’ Julian E. Barnes puts it, United States cyber operations against Iran are taking place in what is “an undeclared cyberconflict, one carefully calibrated to remain in the gray zone between war and peace.” But has the United States, with a cyber operation against Iran in June and another in late September, already crossed the line that international law draws around “uses of force”? What may that mean for any future confrontations?

Tensions between the United States and Iran have been high for some time now. Last month’s attack on Saudi oil facilities, attributed to the Iranians by the United States and others, marked the latest escalation. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the United States employed a cyber operation in response to that attack, targeting “physical hardware” central to Iran’s ability to spread “propaganda.” This news underlines the importance of cyber operations to maintaining the current U.S. administration’s delicate balancing act of responding to what it views as Iranian aggression, whilst avoiding an overt and direct confrontation. This latest report of a cyber operation, which the United States carried out in late September, follows the June 20 cyber operation conducted by the U.S. military in response to the downing by Iran of a U.S. drone. As the cycle of tit-for-tat continues, could the United States, in law if not in fact, have already gone too far?

What we know about the June strike: The reported facts

The 21st Century Space Race Is Here

by Mary Chesnut
Source Link

SATELLITES MAY be the least thrilling component of the U.S. force posture, but they are vital in providing key intelligence and upholding deterrence. As offensive technology advances and the final frontier becomes increasingly congested with thousands of satellites owned by dozens of countries and corporations, there is growing concern that our space-based assets have become sitting ducks, continuously traveling in the same, predictable orbits and equipped with few defenses.

Why are these systems at risk of being targeted? The conventional military applications that satellites provide cannot be overstated. Satellites produce critical geospatial imaging, near real-time intelligence on missile launches, and help guide troops and munitions via global positioning systems (GPS). According to Department of Defense statements, intelligence and guidance provided by Defense Support Program satellites proved essential to successes in Operation Desert Storm, the 1999 Kosovo air campaign and the 2003 Iraq invasion. A 2017 Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) report entitled “Escalation and Deterrence in the Second Space Age” describes how U.S. utilization of precision—GPS and laser-guided—munitions has increased from 8 percent at the start of the first Gulf War to over 96 percent as of the Syrian Civil War in 2014. Some have argued that the United States has become over-reliant on the national security advantages provided by satellites, calling this growing dependence America’s “Achilles Heel” in modern warfare. Curbing access to these advantageous tactics early on in a conventional conflict would certainly level the playing field for an aggressor.

Preventing a Dirty Bomb: New NTI Report Offers Case Studies on Risk Mitigation Through


The ingredients needed to build a radiological “dirty” bomb can be found in hundreds of facilities around the United States, many of them vulnerable to theft. As a result, experts believe the likelihood of a terrorist detonating a dirty bomb is much higher than an improvised nuclear device. To address the risk posed by cesium-137, the most potentially dangerous radioactive source, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) works with hospitals, research universities, and other stakeholders in the United States and around the world to encourage the replacement of irradiators in blood sterilization and research applications with alternative x-ray technologies.

The new NTI report, Preventing a Dirty Bomb: Case Studies and Lessons Learned, offers solutions for securing and eliminating radiological sources and shares case studies from successful efforts at Emory University in Atlanta, across the University of California system, and in New York City. Progress to date has been remarkable: In New York, for example, 15 of the city’s 32 cesium-137 irradiators in use as of 2014 have been replaced and seven more are pending.

Preventing a Dirty Bomb serves as a guide and a toolkit for those interested in addressing the risks and understanding the technologies involved.

Read the full report here.

In the digital era, tax, trade and competition rules need an upgrade


The benefits of digitalization are clear and welcome. Yet popular debate is growing worldwide on how best to tax and regulate digital businesses to optimize economic and societal outcomes. Because digital activities are so often borderless, actions taken in one country can spill over into others. These actions heavily influence the trade and investment decisions of many businesses, but all the more for those with geographically mobile digital footprints. Let’s look at six live areas of debate.

For a government to levy corporate tax on a foreign firm, tax rules require a “nexus” or link between the taxpayer and the taxing jurisdiction, typically in the form of physical presence such as offices or workers. In our digital world, firms can interact with users and create value in a country without needing to physically set up there. More than 130 countries are discussing new rules, under the OECD’s Inclusive Framework, to change the nexus requirement so it is not dependent on physical presence. The rules will determine how to allocate some taxable profits to (and among) market jurisdictions where users reside. The OECD Secretariat released its proposal on 9 October, to help countries reach consensus by the end of 2020.

What Would Happen If Facebook Was Turned Off?


There has never been such an agglomeration of humanity as Facebook. Some 2.3bn people, 30% of the world’s population, engage with the network each month. Economists reckon it may yield trillions of dollars’ worth of value for its users. But Facebook is also blamed for all sorts of social horrors: from addiction and bullying to the erosion of fact-based political discourse and the enabling of genocide. New research — and there is more all the time — suggests such accusations are not entirely without merit. It may be time to consider what life without Facebook would be like.

To begin to imagine such a world, suppose that researchers could kick a sample of people off Facebook and observe the results. In fact, several teams of scholars have done just that. In January Hunt Allcott, of New York University, and Luca Braghieri, Sarah Eichmeyer and Matthew Gentzkow, of Stanford University, published results of the largest such experiment yet. They recruited several thousand Facebookers and sorted them into control and treatment groups. Members of the treatment group were asked to deactivate their Facebook profiles for four weeks in late 2018. The researchers checked up on their volunteers to make sure they stayed off the social network, and then studied what happened to people cast into the digital wilderness.

Cyber Command wants to work more closely with the energy sector

By: Mark Pomerleau

U.S. Cyber Command is working with the energy sector and the Department of Energy as a way to bolster their relationship in case of a malicious, or catastrophic, cyberattack.

Cyber Command follows a philosophy of persistent engagement — the notion that it has to be in constant contact with adversaries in friendly, neutral and enemy cyberspace — and officials have stressed this includes enabling other partners. It also includes using its unique authorities to operate outside U.S. networks as a way to provide warning for domestic agencies about potential threats.

Now, the Department of Defense and Cyber Command are working on a pathfinder effort with DOE. As part of the initiative, the Pentagon has tasked staffers with better understanding how the energy sector operates.

Air Force researchers to test high-power microwave weapon to destroy or disable swarms of unmanned aircraft


KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. – The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., is investing $16 million in further field assessment of Raytheon’s Phaser High Power Microwave System outside the continental U.S. Defense Update reports. 

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

14 Oct. 2019 -- The testing phase will span over 12 months in which the Phaser will engage simulated and real unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) threats. The evaluation will explore the effectiveness of Phaser’s counter-drone engagement without disrupting the necessary installation operations.

The effectiveness of Phaser against drone swarms already has been demonstrated at the Army MFIX exercise in 2018, when the system eliminated 33 drones, two to three at a time. Currently mounted on a shipping container-like box, Raytheon plans to reduce the size significantly in future versions.

AFRL already evaluates two other high-power microwave systems -- the Tactical High-Power Operational Responder (THOR), that deploys as a means to provide base defense against drones, and ‘Counter-Electronic High-Power Microwave Extended-Range Air Base Air Defense’ system, or CHIMERA, designed to engage multiple targets over a larger area.

The Limits of US Military Power

Paul Rogers

President Trump has responded to the emerging challenges to the United States’ power from Iran and North Korea with baleful talk of military action. These threats have achieved little. What does this situation tell us about the limits of America’s military power?

Introduction

The United States engaged in many military interventions after 9/11 and the largest, in Afghanistan and Iraq, continue in different forms even though they were scaled down two years into the Obama administration. Neither is complete even now and US engagements have been maintained at a substantial level if relying more on remote warfare methods than on large numbers of deployed troops. Donald Trump came to power vowing both to bring more US troops home but also making it clear that the United States would remain the world’s pre-eminent state even if reluctant to engage in new military endeavours.

With two of the major challenges to US power, North Korea and Iran, the Trump administration has been firm in demanding comprehensive changes in regime policies and has been willing to threaten the use of substantial force. So far, the results have been very poor, but the administration is currently in some difficulty with the re-election campaign soon to get under way. It needs progress but does not want to be engaged in a war in either theatre. This briefing explores whether this is a temporary condition or has a more general implication for limits to US military power.

After 9/11

Mattis Takes Swipe At Trump: 'I Earned My Spurs On The Battlefield'

SCOTT NEUMAN

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis delivers the keynote address during the 74th Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner on Thursday in New York.Mary Altaffer/AP

President Trump fired him (after he submitted his resignation) and earlier this week reportedly called him "the world's most overrated general," but former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had a few barbs of his own to sling in a speech he gave in New York on Thursday.

Delivering the keynote address at the 74th Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, Mattis — a retired four-star U.S. Marine general — said he felt he had finally "achieved greatness."

"I'm not just an overrated general, I am the greatest, the world's most overrated," he said to laughter.

Combating Terrorism Center (CTC)

CTC Sentinel, October 2019, v. 12, no. 9 https://ctc.usma.edu/october-2019/

o Russia’s Battlefield Success in Syria: Will It Be a Pyrrhic Victory?

o A View from the CT Foxhole: Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan

o Newly Released ISIS Files: Learning from the Islamic State’s Long-Version Personnel Form

o Operation Marksburg: Frontline Field Investigation and the Prosecution of Terrorism

o Hezbollah’s “Virtual Entrepreneurs:” How Hezbollah is Using the Internet to Incite Violence in Israel

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Army University Press


o Prioritizing Active Learning in the Classroom: Reflections for Professional Military Education

o Developing an Inclusive Outcomes Statement: Adapting the Degree Qualifications Profile to a Military Context

o Preparing Navy Nurses and Other Junior Officer Health Professionals in the U.S. Navy Reserve to be Ready Now, Anytime, Anywhere: A Leadership Development Project

o Charlie Don’t Surf: The Military, War, Film, and Teaching

o Hybrid Conflict and Effective Leadership Training

o A Relational Learning Approach to New Faculty Orientation in Professional Military Education

o Comparison of Occupation Physical Assessment Test Scores Administered at United States Military Academy, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and Initial Entry Training

o Guts, Glory, and Doctrine: Films as an Educational Tool for the U.S. Army

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20 October 2019

Why property rights matter for India

By Mudit Kapoor, Shamika Ravi

In light of the economic slowdown, it is important to note that long-term economic growth is a consequence of individual rights to private property, and its protection from expropriation from other individuals as well as the most powerful entity, the state itself.

Nationalisation policies have held India back from her true economic potential and robbed hundreds of millions of people of the prosperity they deserved long ago. Nationalisation created a complex bureaucracy — a tyranny without a tyrant — eventually leading to an unparalleled economic crisis in the 1990s, compelling us to undertake courageous economic reforms.

Reform was mostly the reduction of bureaucratic red tape of “licence raj”, making it easier for private players to enter and exit markets. This led to unprecedented economic growth, the creation of a middle class, and significant poverty reduction. These reforms got a further shot in the arm under Atal Bihari Vajpayee with the disinvestment drive. For example, the telecom and energy sectors that were plagued by shortages for decades were partially privatised and very soon turned a surplus, boosting the economy and laying the foundation for a “digital economy” in modern India. This was evidence that nationalisation and socialism were not the answers to India’s poverty and social problems.

Indians are learning English through TikTok

By Matthew De Silva

Can you learn English from social media? TikTok, the viral video-sharing app, is testing the limits of its platform through EduTok, a new program it launched today (Oct. 17) in India. The company claims to have more than 200 million Indian users.

The #EduTok hashtag, which began as an in-app challenge over the summer, has already racked up 46 billion views, according to TikTok’s website. Users have created about 10 million educational videos so far, Sachin Sharma, director of sales and brand partnerships for TikTok India, told TechCrunch.

#EduTok launch. A 128% increase in educational content on the platform. In two months. Three new partners: Toppr, Gradeup and Made easy.

With EduTok, the company has essentially created virtual miniature classrooms. By watching short, free, and entertaining videos, users can learn English phrases from minor celebrities. TikTok India highlighted two language channels in particular, English with Geet and Awal Creations. Geet, a disabled woman, teaches her followers English idioms like “kicked the bucket,” “spitting image,” and “I’m on the fence.” She has nearly 5 million fans on the platform. The latter, run by influencer Awal Madaan, provides translations from Hindi to English. He has more than 6 million followers.

India Delivers 2 More Mi-24V Attack Helicopters to Afghanistan

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Vinay Kumar, handed over the the last two of four retrofitted Mi-24V attack helicopters from Belarus to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) at an air base in Kabul on October 15, according to the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

“Vinay Kumar, Indian Ambassador (…) handed over the 2nd pair of Mi-24V helicopters to Afg[han] Min[ister of] Def[ense] Asadullah Khalid at a ceremony today,” the Indian Embassy in Kabul tweeted yesterday.

Kumar noted in remarks at the induction ceremony that the new helicopters would ensure that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) maintain “a robust counter terrorism capability.”

Mi-24V are close-air support helicopters fitted with a YakB four-barreled, 12.7mm, built-in, flexibly mounted machine gun, as well as rocket and grenade launchers.