22 August 2019

Data is wealth. India must protect it

Brahma Chellaney 

Data is the oil of today’s digital age, in which every individual, through Internet activity, leaves a footprint of personal information, which is controlled by others. In fact, just like oil in the past century, data is now the most valuable resource in the world — an engine of growth and change. Akin to uranium, data is a game changer. But like oil or uranium, data must be processed to create something of value.

How data is processed and stored carries major implications for national and international security. Hacking and theft of critical data is central to cyber-espionage.

The global “data economy” is dominated by a few tech titans like Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. These giants vacuum up vast troves of data that help build a digital profile of every individual, including the person’s preferences, foibles and secrets. Data collection can reveal as much about a person as government surveillance, if not more.

Today’s “data brokers” are financially incentivised to collect and monetise personal data of people all over the world. The collected data, however, is used not just for business purposes. Nor does it stay in the private sector alone. Thanks to Edward Snowden and other revelations, we know that the United States government employs several tools to acquire data from the Internet giants. And through its National Security Agency, it directly accesses the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and others. America’s massive databases arm it with an Orwellian capacity to track digital footprints and personal information of individuals, both Americans and those overseas, including decision-makers. In fact, the 2015 US Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act has essentially legalised all forms of government and corporate spying. This serves as a reminder that the Internet, although a major boon that we cannot live without, facilitates surveillance.

Sino-Indian Relations: Wuhan Spirit Under Growing Strain

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Last week, in his typically dramatic fashion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced India was changing its relationship with the State of Jammu and Kashmir, withdrawing the provisions of Article 370 of the Indian constitution that gave the state special rights in the Indian Union. The move included also splitting the state into two, making Ladakh, the eastern part of the state that abuts Tibet, a separate “Union Territory” that will be administered directly from New Delhi.

The decision appears to have wide popular support in India (outside of the State of Jammu and Kashmir), though the manner in which it has been implemented has been severely criticized. In particular, elected local leaders of the state have been detained, telecommunication facilities in the state have been completely cut off and the population itself has been subjected to repeated curfews and other restrictions. Some of these restrictions are now being slowly lifted though as of this writing, political leaders have not been released.

Researching The Unresearched: Left-Wing Extremism And The Future Rules Of Governance – Analysis

By Dr. Bibhu Prasad Routray

In the last week of July 2019, a brother and sister pair, in a representation of the two principal adversaries in India’s left-wing extremism (LWE)-affected heartland, came face-to-face. In Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, Vetti Rama, a member of the Chhattisgarh state police, was fired upon by a group of extremists that included his own sister, Vetti Kanni. Rama, himself an extremist until a year ago, has since surrendered and is now a part of the ‘eye and ear’ scheme of the state police. Kanni continues to be a member of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist). Both escaped unhurt in the encounter. Apart from being a human interest story, the incident can be seen as a coalescing of multiple issues that LWE, and the efforts to counter it, have laid bare. Each of these issues potentially is a subject of serious research. This article is an attempt to throw light on four of them.

First, the one and a half decades of intense conflict, beginning with the formation of the CPI-Maoist in 2004, has left tribal societies across the affected states deeply fractured. Tribals enlisted by the Maoists and the state have fought against each another, leaving villages burnt and deserted, agricultural fields untilled, and thriving self-sustaining economies of the rural belt in ruins. Schools, roads, and health care facilities have been rendered unusable. Kanni and Rama, in a way, represent this division, which has significant societal ramifications. Irrespective of the direction the weakened LWE takes in the coming months, either towards resolution or further weakening, the state will have to address such faultlines to restore normalcy. Somehow, this manmade disaster-in-waiting has escaped the attention of most researchers, barring perhaps the activists operating in the region.

Creating a National Electricity Market: India’s Most Important Power Sector Reform


India’s general election is over, and the newly reelected Modi administration has a slew of reforms that are ripe for implementing to shore up India’s teetering power sector. In the first term of the Modi administration, the government focused on providing electricity connections to all houses, aiming to deploy 175 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy capacity (mainly from solar and wind) by 2022 and to enact the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana, also known as UDAY, a reform meant to improve the technical and financial performance of the cash-strapped state-owned utilities (discoms). These major initiatives were not aimed at altering the structure and operation of the Indian electricity market as it exists today. 

With a second term mandate to govern, the Modi administration has wasted no time in putting together a 100-day action plan to reenergize and address structural issues affecting India’s power sector. The plan includes, among other things, a “power sector council” to synchronize and resolve central government versus state issues that are common in the country’s power sector (such as compliance with central government guidelines for tariff rationalization, reductions in aggregate technical and commercial losses, renewable energy purchase obligations, etc.) and the creation of a national power distribution company that can help ensure quality, around the clock electricity to all households in the next five years. 

A look at the Islamic State affiliate’s rise in Afghanistan


KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bombing at a wedding party in Kabul claimed by a local Islamic State affiliate has renewed fears about the growing threat posed by its thousands of fighters, as well as their ability to plot global attacks from a stronghold in the forbidding mountains of northeastern Afghanistan.

The attack came as the Taliban appear to be nearing a deal with the U.S. to end nearly 18 years of fighting. Now Washington hopes the Taliban can help rein in IS fighters, even as some worry that Taliban fighters, disenchanted by a peace deal, could join IS.

The U.S. envoy in negotiations with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, says the peace processmust be accelerated to put Afghanistan in a “much stronger position to defeat” the Islamic State affiliate. On Monday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani vowed to “eliminate” all IS safe havens.

Here's a look at IS in Afghanistan, a militant group some U.S. officials have said could pose a greater threat to America than the more established Taliban:

AS US PRESSES NEGOTIATIONS, TALIBAN PROMOTES TRAINING OF FIGHTERS AND ATTACKS


As the US government pushes for a deal with the Taliban that will pave the way for the withdrawal of US forces, the Taliban continues to promote the training of its fighters and attacks on Afghan and Coalition forces.

In the Taliban’s latest video, which was released today on its official Website, Voice of Jihad, the group shows its fighters training for war as well as a montage of attacks on Afghan and Coalition forces. The video, titled ‘Caravan of Khaibar,’ is named after the battle of Khaibar in 628 in which Muslims conquered a Jewish community in the Arabian Peninsula.

The video opens with well equipped Taliban fighters in various levels of training. In one scene, the Taliban practice movements in brand new Toyota H-Luxs adorned with large white Taliban flags. The location of the training was not disclosed; it could be in either Afghanistan or Pakistan. Either way, the Taliban is operating in broad daylight without fear of being targeted from US, Afghan, or Pakistani forces…Read on.

Taliban Trolls Could Adopt New Terrorist Tactics in the Wake of America's Peace Plan

by Robin Simcox

If the United States does negotiate a durable peace settlement in Afghanistan, then it is possible that some of the most hardcore Taliban elements that want to carry on fighting may be drawn to the transnational jihadism of ISIS-K.

President Donald Trump wants out of Afghanistan by 2020. He may get his wish. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan, has been negotiating with the Taliban for a nearly a year and is hopeful that the next round of talks will produce a “lasting and honorable” peace agreement.

While peace would be wonderful, the United States should not be too hasty in reaching a deal. Two of the Trump administration’s top counterterrorism priorities—defeating ISIS and preventing Afghanistan from once more becoming a hub of global terror—are sometimes viewed as separate objectives. In fact, they are part of the same fight—and that fight is complicated.

As US presses negotiations, Taliban promotes training of fighters and attacks

By Joanne C. Lo

War is nothing but a duel on an extensive scale. If we would conceive as a unit the countless number of duels which make up a war, we shall do so best by supposing to ourselves two wrestlers. Each strives by physical force to compel the other to submit to his will: his first object is to throw his adversary, and thus to render him incapable of further resistance. War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will. Violence arms itself with the inventions of Art and Science in order to contend against violence.

—Carl von Clausewitz, On War

Technology is a tool for warfare. It is certainly a valuable tool, but its value comes from how it is used in the battlespace. “Everything in war is very simple,” Clausewitz contends.[1] The objective is to compel our opponent to submit to our will, and we do it by maneuvering to optimize our defense and offense in the physical, moral, and mental domains. “But the simplest thing is difficult,”1 Clausewitz continues, with difficulty brought on by friction and compounded by danger, physical demand, and the fog of war.[2] The role of technology is to reduce the overall friction of war such that simple actions can be carried out as rapidly and effectively as possible. This requires a flexible technology tool kit that enables each warfighter to attack enemies physically, mentally, and morally; seize the strategic initiative via every conduit in a joint battlespace; and attack relentlessly in a synchronized manner whenever a vulnerability opens up until the adversaries are completely paralyzed.

It Matters If Americans Call Afghanistan a Defeat

Jim Golby

The Trump administration appears poised to announce, within days or weeks, a deal with the Taliban that will involve a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. If that happens, the administration may soon find itself in a new battle over public opinion. The question then would be: Did the United States win or lose?

The answer depends partly on the terms of a potential deal, but also on the public narrative that forms around it. A negotiated peace normally involves concessions by both sides, and can therefore be characterized in multiple ways; critics of the deal now taking shape are describing it as a U.S. surrender, while proponents will likely portray it as an honorable end to America’s longest war. Whether the deal comes to be seen as a victory or a defeat could influence relations between the military and civilian leadership for years to come.

Following the Vietnam War, a narrative developed among the U.S.-military officer corps that civilian leaders had stabbed military leaders in the back by cutting a deal to withdraw U.S. troops, rather than allowing them to win. A broader literature suggests that a “stabbed in the back” narrative is a common cultural response among militaries that have failed to achieve their wartime goals. Many of these frames have staying power. The Powell Doctrine—war should be a last resort, and exercised only with a commitment to using overwhelming military force—played a major role in national-security debates in the 1990s, but had its roots in Vietnam.

Afghanistan: Quetta Blast Slow Reverberations – Analysis

By Ajit Kumar Singh*

Amidst reports emerging that the long-drawn talks between the United States (US) and the Afghan Taliban were at the ‘concluding stage’, a blast inside a mosque in the Kuchlak town area of Quetta (Quetta District), the provincial capital of the Balochistan Province of Pakistan, on August 16, 2019, killed four people, including the prayer leader Ahmadullah Akhundzada, the brother of Afghan Taliban ‘chief’ Hibatullah Akhundzada. Some 25 people were also injured in the blast. The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Quetta, Abdul Razzaq Cheema, stated, “An explosive time device was planted under the wooden chair of the prayer leader.”

Columnist Rahimullah Yusufzai disclosed that the mosque was attached to a madrassa (seminary) that had earlier been run by Hibatullah: “After he [Hibatullah] became the emir he left this place. His younger brother [Ahmadullah]… was running the madrassas…”

The targeted mosque has long controlled by and linked to the Quetta Shura the ‘executive council’ of the top leadership of the Afghan Taliban. An unidentified Taliban source corroborated, “This mosque was a place where most of the Taliban members used to meet and discuss issues. The duties of the mosque were handed over to Ahmadullah by Hibatullah after he was appointed as the emir of the Taliban group [in 2016].” 

Hong Kong: Despite a Lull in Violence, the City Remains on a Knife-Edge


Anti-government protests in Hong Kong that erupted over a now-suspended extradition bill and escalated dramatically and violently over the past few weeks have put the city's all-important business and transport activities at risk and raised the prospect of direct intervention by Beijing. Protests over the weekend, although sizable, remained relatively peaceful. But given the general course of the protest movement and the demonstrators' deep — and unaddressed — grievances, the path to a resolution is far from certain.

What Happened 

Hong Kong's standoff is no closer to resolution — this weekend's otherwise peaceful protests notwithstanding. On Aug. 17, teachers rallied against the government and the actions by the city's police before opponents gathered in support of the security forces. Another protest in the city's Mong Kok neighborhood nearly touched off clashes between police and protesters before cooler heads prevailed. Far larger protests followed the next day, as hundreds of thousands of people, many clutching umbrellas, rallied peacefully at an event organized by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), which previously staged several peaceful protests, including two large gatherings in June against the extradition bill that ignited the territory's unrest in the first place.

A Malaysian Rare Earth Processing Plant Looms Large in the U.S.-China Trade Spat


The extension of Lynas' mining permit removes a key threat to the global supply of rare earths from outside China — at least for now.

Domestic Malaysian political maneuvering could jeopardize the project, as Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad maintains a tenuous hold on his coalition government.

Additional rare earth processing plants are likely to come online in the coming years, especially if tensions remain high between the United States and China, thereby slowly reducing the significance of the Malaysian facility. 

A key link in the global rare earth supply chain is set to stay in business — albeit perhaps not for very long. The Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board officially decided on Aug. 15 to extend an operating permit for Pahang state's Australian-owned Lynas Advanced Materials Plant, which processes rare earths that the company mines in Australia, for an additional six months ahead of a Sept. 2 expiration date. The decision addresses an eight-month dispute between Lynas and Kuala Lumpur regarding the processing and disposal of low-level radioactive materials like thorium that are mined alongside rare earths but become waste after the rare earth elements are separated. 

Will Hong Kong Survive China's Crackdown?

by Doug Bandow 
Source Link

Perhaps the greatest threat to liberty is disorder. Not because chaos necessarily begets violence. But because the fear of lawlessness often encourages repression.

The Chinese government poses the greatest threat to Hong Kong’s liberties. However, activists are increasing chances of a crackdown by making the territory impossible to govern. Beijing will choose violence over mayhem.

Hong Kong long led a privileged existence. More than a century ago Great Britain misused its power to force the cession and lease of lands which made up the colony of Hong Kong. However, that protected residents from the debilitating weaknesses of Imperial China, violent chaos of battling warlords, and revolutionary madness of the Red Emperor, Mao Zedong.

Of course, Hong Kongers lived under benevolent tyranny rather than parliamentary democracy. But they enjoyed British civil liberties and prospered in the freest economy on earth. The exigencies of history sheltered them from the impoverishment of China’s Great Leap Forward and insanity of the Cultural Revolution.

The game of chicken in Hong Kong

Noah Millman

The key to winning a game of chicken is to convince your opponent that you're willing to crash. Whether you project recklessness, suicidal tendencies, or confidence that you would survive a collision, you need your opponent to believe that swerving is simply not an option for you. And, if you're bluffing, you'd better know whether you've succeeded in making them believe it.

What's happening in Hong Kong is a game of chicken with very high stakes — higher than the fate of the enclave itself. And what makes the stakes so high is the other players watching from the sidelines and preparing their own next moves.

China Seeks Solutions For Economic Slump – Analysis

By Michael Lelyveld

China’s government may have few remedies for declining economic growth as it faces the combined pressures of U.S. tariffs and the domestic slowdown.

Regulators have already broken through one major policy barrier by allowing the value of the yuan to drop below seven to the U.S. dollar on Aug. 5, slipping under the psychological threshold for the first time since 2008.

The surprise devaluation sparked a debate over whether the currency was dragged down by external forces or driven down from inside in an attempt to soften the sting of new 10-percent tariffs on U.S. $300 billion (2.1 trillion yuan) of goods that were threatened to take effect Sept. 1.

In a possible sign that the tariff conflict could ease, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced last week that some items would be removed from the “List 4” of threatened tariffs while others would be delayed until Dec. 15.

China’s response has been largely negative. The government has threatened “necessary countermeasures” if the remaining listed tariffs are imposed on Sept. 1.

Tiananmen Option: Would China Use Military Force in Hong Kong?

by Peter Harris
If push comes to shove, then overwhelming force might yet be viewed by Beijing as necessary to avoid imperiling the regime as a whole.

Will Xi Jinping deploy the People’s Liberation Army to suppress the peaceful protests in Hong Kong, or will Beijing opt for a more conciliatory approach to quieting the unrest that has rocked the city for the past several months? So far, China has refrained from pursuing the so-called “Tiananmen option” in Hong Kong, instead relying on local police and criminal gangs to mete out nonlethal violence against the city’s pro-democracy protesters. But if the movement for political reform in Hong Kong continues to gather strength—or if it shows signs of spreading to the Chinese mainland—then it might be difficult for China’s panicked leaders to resist using overwhelming force to crush the dissention.

The dispute between Hong Kong’s protesters and the Hong Kong Government will be difficult to resolve through dialogue alone. This year’s unrest began as a reaction against Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s proposal for an extradition law between Hong Kong and the mainland, which would have made it possible for the Hong Kong authorities to send people accused of crimes to face trial in regular Chinese courts. If enacted, such a law would have undermined Hong Kong’s judicial independence and had a chilling effect on free speech, with activists in the territory always under threat of extradition to the mainland on politically motivated charges.

DIA Director Outlines Top 3 Priorities

BY DAVID VERGUN

These tools are used to collect, analyze and secure data accurately and at high speeds. Both China and Russia realize that "whoever can leverage the data and understands that can dominate," Army Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr. said today at the 2019 Department of Defense Intelligence Information System Worldwide Conference in Tampa, Fla.

China already is moving rapidly ahead with digital advances, he said, citing Huawei's Smart City Intelligent Operation Center, which is using big data, 5G, machine learning and AI to collect, monitor and analyze security, transportation and emergencies, and to track people.
DIA's efforts at improving intelligence gathering have a three-pronged focus:

U.S. Security Policy in the Trump Era Has Been Marked by Change—and Continuity


When President Donald Trump entered office under an “America First” banner, it seemed to herald a new era of U.S. isolationism. More than two years into his term, though, and the shifts in military strategy are minimal. Though their numbers are down, U.S. troops are still stationed in Afghanistan, and the Trump administration left unchanged the strategy against the Islamic State that it inherited from its predecessor. 

Nevertheless, Trump’s isolationist instincts have come into regular tension with his closest advisers, many of whom espouse a more traditional view of American power projection. This was never clearer than in December 2018, when Trump ignored his aides and announced his decision to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, prompting then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign in protest. Trump subsequently softened his rhetoric, without definitively articulating a final policy, contributing to the sense of uncertainty over America’s security policymaking. 

Meanwhile, Trump’s vision has not stopped his advisers from hinting at military intervention as a path to regime change in places like Venezuela and Iran. In the latter case, Trump has recently made his opposition to war clear. Trump’s America First agenda has actually taken its heaviest toll on long-standing alliances. While he has prompted moderate increases in European defense spending, his vocal criticisms of NATO have weakened the alliance’s cohesion. 

1989-1992: A Global Pivot

By George Friedman

It was a time that changed everything.

Thirty years ago this month, the world began a massive pivot from one era to the next. It started in August 1989, when Hungarians, Austrians and East Germans gathered for a pan-European picnic in the Hungarian border town of Sopron. Hundreds of East Germans took the opportunity to flee to the West, and the once-feared Hungarian border guards did nothing to stop them. On Monday, European dignitaries – including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, two rivals competing for the soul of Europe – marked the occasion at a ceremony in Sopron. European history was defined there some three decades ago, but since then, the Continent has been trying to come to a common understanding of that definition.

Hope and Illusion

The events in Sopron were the beginning of the end of Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe. In 1945, the Soviets had reached as far west as any Russian power ever had before. But by the late 1980s, the Soviets had been unraveling for some time, in part because the decline in oil prices and the rise in defense expenditures weakened them in such a way that their already inefficient system could not cope. Mikhail Gorbachev tried to buy time and gestured that...

When Populist Nationalists Tempt Geopolitical Fate

By Reva Goujon

U.S. President Donald Trump, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have been providing ample evidence as to why the campaign promises and election manifestos of latter-day populist-nationalists should not be easily dismissed as mere rhetoric that will be tempered once in office. In claiming to be the vox populi for a narrow segment of the population, populist-nationalists will claim an outsize political mandate that makes them far more willing to defy traditional constraints. But when populist-nationalists rely on tribalism to strengthen a nation in their own image, they may also end up fundamentally threatening the geopolitical foundation of their states. 

Last week, the leader of the world's largest democracy unilaterally redrew borders in a territory that lies at the heart of a dispute with the country's two nuclear-armed neighbors. Meanwhile, the leader of a once-almighty global power could pull an electoral stunt within the next 11 weeks that drives his land into constitutional and economic bedlam. And in less than 17 months, voters in the world's longest-living modern democracy will decide whether a presidential record of global trade wars, stressed alliances and thick-skinned immigration and environmental policies deserves a renewed mandate. 

The Population Bust Demographic Decline and the End of Capitalism as We Know It

By Zachary Karabell 

For most of human history, the world’s population grew so slowly that for most people alive, it would have felt static. Between the year 1 and 1700, the human population went from about 200 million to about 600 million; by 1800, it had barely hit one billion. Then, the population exploded, first in the United Kingdom and the United States, next in much of the rest of Europe, and eventually in Asia. By the late 1920s, it had hit two billion. It reached three billion around 1960 and then four billion around 1975. It has nearly doubled since then. There are now some 7.6 billion people living on the planet. 

Just as much of the world has come to see rapid population growth as normal and expected, the trends are shifting again, this time into reverse. Most parts of the world are witnessing sharp and sudden contractions in either birthrates or absolute population. The only thing preventing the population in many countries from shrinking more quickly is that death rates are also falling, because people everywhere are living longer. These oscillations are not easy for any society to manage. “Rapid population acceleration and deceleration send shockwaves around the world wherever they occur and have shaped history in ways that are rarely appreciated,” the demographer Paul Morland writes in The Human Tide, his new history of demographics. Morland does not quite believe that “demography is destiny,” as the old adage mistakenly attributed to the French philosopher Auguste Comte would have it. Nor do Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson, the authors of Empty Planet, a new book on the rapidly shifting demographics of the twenty-first century. But demographics are clearly part of destiny. If their role first in the rise of the West and now in the rise of the rest has been underappreciated, the potential consequences of plateauing and then shrinking populations in the decades ahead are almost wholly ignored. 

Climate Change To Shrink Economies Of Rich, Poor, Hot And Cold Countries Alike Unless Paris Agreement Holds


Prevailing economic research anticipates the burden of climate change falling on hot or poor nations. Some predict that cooler or wealthier economies will be unaffected or even see benefits from higher temperatures. 

However, a new study co-authored by researchers from the University of Cambridge suggests that virtually all countries – whether rich or poor, hot or cold – will suffer economically by 2100 if the current trajectory of carbon emissions is maintained.

In fact, the research published by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that – on average – richer, colder countries would lose as much income to climate change as poorer, hotter nations. 

Under a “business as usual” emissions scenario, average global temperatures are projected to rise over four degrees Celsius by the end of the century. This would cause the United States to lose 10.5% of its GDP by 2100 – a substantial economic hit, say researchers.

Canada, which some claim will benefit economically from temperature increase, would lose over 13% of its income by 2100. The research shows that keeping to the Paris Agreement limits the losses of both North American nations to under 2% of GDP. 

US President Donald Trump. Photo Credit: DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr

By Ayaz Gul

The fate of a much-anticipated peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban is hanging in the balance after both adversaries in Afghanistan’s 18-year-old war said they still have “some details” to discuss.

Taliban and U.S. negotiators in recent days have repeatedly asserted they are ready to sign a deal. The statements triggered widespread media speculation that a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his national security team this past Friday could lead to a formal announcement about a U.S. troop drawdown.

Trump shared details of the meeting with reporters on Sunday as he headed back to the White House from New Jersey, suggesting the drawdown plan is still in the works.

“We’re having very good discussions [with the Taliban]. We will see what happens. We’ve really got it down to probably 13,000 people [troops] and we’ll be bringing it down a little bit more and then we will decide whether or not we will be staying longer or not,” he said.

The U.S. plans to leave behind a “very significant intelligence” force, Trump stressed, for operations against Islamic State and al-Qaida, maintaining that Afghanistan remains “a breeding ground” for terrorists.

Deterring Hybrid Threats: The Need for a More Rational Debate

By Michael Rühle 

Michael Rühle writes that following Russia’s use of hybrid warfare in Ukraine, it wouldn’t take long before the Western strategic community would examine how to best deter hybrid threats. After all, deterrence was the central paradigm of Western security throughout the Cold War. However, Rühle contends that this examination is being held back by the West’s own debate on hybrid warfare, which is characterized by alarmism, fuzzy terminology and sweeping generalizations. In response, he here outlines five key factors hindering this debate and their implications for hybrid threats deterrence policy.

Since Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine in 2014, the Western strategic community has been trying to come to grips with the concept of hybridity.1 Some observers were quick to point out that the idea of combining military and non-military tools was far from new, and they warned against exaggerating hybrid warfare.2 However, Russia’s apparently seamless and effective blending of political, diplomatic, economic, electronic and military tools in order to annex Crimea and support separatists in the Donbas seemed to herald a new era of hybrid warfare: a revisionist power was using both old and new means to undermine and, eventually, tear down a post-Cold War order it considered unfair and unfavourable.

Silicon Valley’s Crisis of Conscience

By Andrew Marantz

There are two kinds of people: those who know nothing about Esalen and those who purport to know everything about it. To find out which kind of person you’re talking to, simply utter the three syllables (stress on the first, slant-rhyme with “mescaline”) and wait. In response, you’ll get either an uncomprehending stare or an effusion of tall tales. Have you heard the one about the poet and the astrophysicist who met in the Esalen hot springs and eloped the next week? How about the accountant who visited for the weekend, cured his depression with a single dose of ketamine, and became a Zen monk? The secret full-moon dance parties? The billionaire-C.E.O. sightings? “This isn’t a place,” a staffer told me while rolling a joint on a piece of rough-hewn garden furniture. “It’s a diaspora, a guiding light out of our collective darkness, an arrow pointing us toward the best way to be fully human.”

What’s the best way for the Pentagon to invest in artificial intelligence?

By: Adam Stone 
Drones like the Reaper are the backbone of the targeted killing program, but they also provide a valuable ISR capability when not on strike missions. AI tools, like Project Maven, are being built to help parse the information collected by drones like this, though the drone's use in targeted killing programs has led to some objects in the technology sector. (Michael Meredith, USAF)

The Department of Defense is poised to spend nearly $1 billion on artificial intelligence in the next year.

The Pentagon’s proposed budget for fiscal 2020 includes some $927 million for AI, as well as machine learning, according to Ainikki Riikonen, a research assistant for the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

This includes $208 million earmarked for the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, which was created in 2018. The Center’s initial efforts have delivered “a very mature, insightful high-level view” of issues surrounding AI, said Ian McCulloh, chief data scientist at Accenture Federal Services.

The Mark of a Terrorist Is Behavior, Not Ideology

By Scott Stewart

Terrorism is a tactic used by radical extremists of many different ideologies, which means there is no fixed ethnic, religious or gender profile for what a "terrorist" looks like.

But while their motives may vary, all would-be attackers are still bound to generally follow the same attack cycle. Thus, tactics used to disrupt terrorism of one strain can also be successfully used against others.

Combating terrorism, however, is not just the responsibility of the government but of society at large. "See something, say something" works, which is why the public must be educated on how to spot activities associated with the terrorist attack cycle. 

The Las Vegas Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested a 23-year-old man Aug. 8 who was allegedly plotting to attack Jewish houses of worship and bars frequented by the LGBTQ community in the city. In 2017, he began to frequent websites peddling a narrative that people who shared his extremist views were under attack. And as he began to relate to that narrative, he started frequenting online forums and social media groups that peddled even more radical messages that contained urgent and overt calls for violence. This eventually mobilized him to gather bombmaking materials and firearms, as well as establish contact with like-minded individuals to discuss potential targets and attack tactics. But little did he know that the co-conspirators he thought were his allies were actually undercover FBI agents who had been monitoring his online activity.

Theory of Battlespace Technology – Introduction

By Joanne C. Lo

War is nothing but a duel on an extensive scale. If we would conceive as a unit the countless number of duels which make up a war, we shall do so best by supposing to ourselves two wrestlers. Each strives by physical force to compel the other to submit to his will: his first object is to throw his adversary, and thus to render him incapable of further resistance. War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will. Violence arms itself with the inventions of Art and Science in order to contend against violence. —Carl von Clausewitz, On War

Technology is a tool for warfare. It is certainly a valuable tool, but its value comes from how it is used in the battlespace. “Everything in war is very simple,” Clausewitz contends.[1] The objective is to compel our opponent to submit to our will, and we do it by maneuvering to optimize our defense and offense in the physical, moral, and mental domains. “But the simplest thing is difficult,”1 Clausewitz continues, with difficulty brought on by friction and compounded by danger, physical demand, and the fog of war.[2] The role of technology is to reduce the overall friction of war such that simple actions can be carried out as rapidly and effectively as possible. This requires a flexible technology tool kit that enables each warfighter to attack enemies physically, mentally, and morally; seize the strategic initiative via every conduit in a joint battlespace; and attack relentlessly in a synchronized manner whenever a vulnerability opens up until the adversaries are completely paralyzed.

Should We Just Let the Army Do It?

by John Clarke
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PROFESSIONAL ARMIES often toil in obscurity until they are needed. Absent a sense of external threat, militaries are often unappreciated and lack constituencies of their own. These professional armies, as is the case in most European and North American countries, are generally small, have little lobbying power and few friends in high places. They are vulnerable. But they are available for what often appears to be whatever task comes up. Unless they are carrying out an overseas contingency operation or domestic deployment, the perception on the part of the public is that the armed forces are not truly being fully utilized—and are thus available for these tasks.

Nearly every nation worldwide has some experience with their armed forces in a domestic capacity. Some countries, such as China, have armies that are vertically and horizontally integrated into the economy, often running major business enterprises. Other countries take the opposite view; Germany, for instance, has long viewed the employment of the Bundeswehr on German soil as anathema.

There Once Was a President Who Hated War

BY STEPHEN M. WALT

Along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt is often hailed as one of the United States’ greatest presidents. FDR gave Americans hope during the Great Depression, created key institutions like Social Security that remain broadly popular today, led the country to victory in World War II, and created a broad political coalition that endured for decades. He made mistakes—as all presidents do—but it’s no wonder he’s still regarded with reverence.

On Aug. 14, 1936—83 years ago—FDR gave a speech at Chautauqua in upstate New York, fulfilling a promise he had made at his inauguration in 1933. It is a remarkable speech, where FDR lays out his thoughts on the proper American approach to international affairs. He explains his “good neighbor” policy toward Latin America, along with his belief that although a more liberal international trade may not prevent war, “without a more liberal international trade, war is a natural sequence.”

21 August 2019

The Chinese Panchen Lama on the Indian Border


The Chinese Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu is said (by the Chinese media) to have conducted an 'inspection tour' of the region, including a village bordering Ladakh.


Hundreds pictures were published showing the Chinese-selected 11th Panchen Lama touring areas such as Purang/Taklakot, Mt Kailash, Manasarovar lake, Minsar, the monasteries in Tholing/Tsaparang, Ngari town, Rutok, the Panggong tso Lake and even a village on the Indian border in East Ladakh.

He visited monasteries, villages, and larger towns such as Tholing, Nagari and Rutok; he ‘inspected’ many projects i.e. an Ecological Agricultural Industry Park of Gar County. 

The Chinese media extensively covered his two-week long visit.

Norbu had come to Ngari prefecture five years ago, but he then had remained in Purang and Kailash area. 

China Tibet Online reported that on July 26, Gyalsten Norbu (called Choskyi Gyalpo by the Chinese media) traveled to Jaggang Village in Rutok County “for survey and research”; he paid a visit to two Tibetan families named as Wangdul Phuntsok's and Tashi Dundrup's.

Is there a way forward for India-China in Ladakh?


'The best trust building measure would be to undo what was done in 1954 and reopen the Demchok-Tashigang route on the border for trade as a first step; the next one would be to let the pilgrims visiting Kailash-Manasarovar use this route,' says Claude Arpi.

On March 23, 1954, after three months of tough negotiations, the Indian and Chinese representatives were still far from an agreement on trade between India and Tibet (a month later, it would become the infamous Panchsheel ‘accord’, which saw India surrendering all its rights in Tibet without getting anything in return, not even an agreed border).

On that day, Ambassador N. Raghavan cabled Delhi about the routes in East Ladakh, the Chinese were reluctant to concede Rudok (near the Panggong lake) or Rawang (further east) simply because China was building ‘military installations’, wrote Raghavan (the Aksai Chin road would be ‘discovered’ four years later).

Was the fact that China was building this important axis on Indian territory known to the Indian negotiators? Perhaps not, Indian diplomats were living on their own cloud. 

Afghanistan Endgame, Part Two: How Does This War End?

Melissa Skorka

Should the Haqqani network manage a collapse of the Afghan government, Pakistan threatens to make winning the next war more difficult than previous ones.

This is a guest post by Melissa Skorka. She served as a strategic adviser to the commander of International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan from 2011-14 and is a doctoral candidate at Oxford University’s Changing Character of War Centre. 

Many senior scholars and analysts argue that the “forever war” in Afghanistan long-ago evolved, expanding from “a limited focus on counterterrorism to a broad nation-building effort without discussion about the implications for the duration and intensity of the military campaign.” In the latter years of Barack Obama’s presidency, that broader effort was scaled down dramatically, but it was extended in the face of a renewed understanding of Afghanistan’s potential to serve as a Petri dish for transnational terrorist organizations such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State and al-Qaeda. Consequently, as a recent Center for Strategic and International Studies report concludes: “After expending nearly $800 billion and suffering over 2,400 killed, the United States is still there, having achieved at best a stalemate.”

Bailing Out China’s Belt and Road


On August 3, in his first visit to the Asia-Pacific region, new U.S. secretary of defense Mark Esper called out several examples of aggressive conduct by China, including “using predatory economics and debt-for-sovereignty deals.” The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has created some conflicts between recipient governments and international institutions in the past. Perhaps the latest and starkest example is in Pakistan, where a wave of BRI projects was followed by this summer’s bailout by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

When the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was announced in 2015, it should have been easy for followers of the BRI to foresee where the initiative was heading. Even at its initial announced value of $46 billion, the initiative would have amounted to more than 20 percent of Pakistan’s GDP. While details were unclear, as they often are with the BRI, the majority of lending would inevitably come in the form of direct bilateral loans from The Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM) or the China Development Bank (CDB). This was the case for Pakistan’s precedents in Sri Lanka, Kenya, Montenegro, Congo, and other recipients of ambitious bilateral lending initiatives, each of which led to a debt crisis several years later.