7 December 2019

Strategic Studies Quarterly, Winter 2019, v. 13, no. 4

o On Great Power Conflict: Entangled or Untangled Alliances?

o Attrition and the Will to Fight a Great Power War

o Through the Glass—Darker

o Missile Defense for Great Power Conflict: Outmaneuvering the China Threat

o Ambiguity, Risk, and Limited Great Power Conflict

o Techniques for Great Power Space War

o Minding the Gaps: US Military Strategy toward China

o Decide, Disrupt, Destroy: Information Systems in Great Power Competition with China

Global trade takes a beating—and with it the global economy

Eswar Prasad
International trade tends to be a good barometer of how the world economy is doing and where it is headed. This is why twists and turns in the U.S.-China trade war, and other developments in world trade, receive so much attention.

What do recent trade data portend? The news is not good, and suggests that not only is the world economy weaker than it was earlier this year but that more weakness lies ahead. Still, it may be premature to call a worldwide global recession. Much will, of course, depend on U.S. trade policy and whether the Trump administration chooses to tamp down or further escalate its trade disputes, not just with China but also with other major U.S. trading partners such as the European Union. Otherwise, trade will drag down rather than boost growth.

First, what do the data show? International trade volumes usually tend to grow at the same rate or faster than global GDP growth. The World Trade Organization, which monitors world trade, recently slashed its forecast for global trade growth in 2019 from 2.6 percent to just 1.2 percent. For 2020, the forecast has been cut from 3 percent to 2.7 percent, which still suggests a rebound.

But other indicators paint a less promising picture. The Baltic Dry Index, a closely-watched indicator based on bulk commodities shipping that serves as a reliable indicator of future trade activity, has fallen by nearly 50 percent since August (after doubling in the first eight months of the year), squelching hopes for a rebound in global trade.

Top emitters must commit to a U-turn at COP25

Vinod Thomas

Epitomizing the disconnect between scientific warnings and human action, global temperatures are now on track to rise by an unacceptable 3.2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels by 2030 while greenhouse gas emissions hit all-time highs. As the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) meets in Madrid December 2-13, the big emitters need to commit to a U-turn in their emission trajectory to avert the extreme impacts that scientists project.

Leaders in the top emitting nations need to drive climate action in view of their high share in carbon emissions (Figure 1). The top 10 percent of countries (20 of them) make up 81 percent of global carbon discharges, starting with China, the United States, India, Russia, and Japan. Given the dominance of these large economies, their national policies make all the difference to whether we can expect a reversal in the carbon intensity of global economic growth. A recent U.N. report calls for a 7.6 percent a year emission decline for the next 10 years to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. Contrastingly, emissions have increased 3 percent over the past three years, led by the United States, China, and India.

To motivate far stronger steps, it would help to be convinced that the payoffs from switching to a low-carbon growth path far outweigh the costs of making the transition. The benefits of climate action include avoided damages from climate change. And there is growing evidence on the damages that can be averted by timely climate action. India, according to a World Bank estimate, could incur damages of 2.8 percent of GDP by 2050 in the current climate trajectory. A recent estimate places the loss from climate change from extreme weather events for 82 countries at 3 percent of GDP by 2050.

A Leftist Loss in Uruguay’s Presidential Race Wasn’t Exactly a Conservative Triumph

Laurence Blair 

Ending 15 years of governing by the leftist Broad Front coalition, Luis Lacalle Pou of the center-right National Party was declared the winner on Nov. 30 of Uruguay’s closely contested presidential runoff. The results of the second-round vote a week earlier, on Nov. 24, came down to just 28,666 votes out of 2.43 million cast, according to the Electoral Court. With turnout at 90 percent, Lacalle Pou, a lawyer, veteran congressman and son of a former president, edged the Broad Front’s candidate, Daniel Martinez, a former mayor of Montevideo, 48.7 to 47.5 percent.

During the Broad Front’s decade and a half in power, it pursued pragmatic economic policies and a series of socially liberal reforms, as poverty and inequality fell. Uruguay’s government is now back in the hands of the country’s two oldest political parties, the conservative National Party and Colorado Party—each founded in 1836—along with a newly formed right-wing movement called the Cabildo Abierto, or the Open Forum. After being knocked out in the first round on Oct. 27, the Colorado Party’s presidential candidate, Ernesto Talvi, and Cabildo Abierto’s candidate, Guido Manini Rios, a retired general, threw their weight behind Lacalle Pou to form a “multicolor” conservative coalition, papering over a range of disagreements and historical rivalries. ...

Rift Emerges in PKK Command Structure over Ties to U.S. Coalition Forces in Syria

By: Kyle Orton

Even by the standards of Syria’s complicated war, October 2019 was a tumultuous month. The contradictions inherent in the U.S. effort to conduct a counter-terrorism war against the Islamic State (IS) divorced from the realities of the underlying conflict erupted into view. Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria on October 6 and effectively green-lit a Turkish incursion, codenamed Operation Baris Pinari (Peace Spring), which began on October 9. Trump then changed course, applying sanctions on Turkey for moving against the United States’ Kurdish partner force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the political and legal cover for the blacklisted Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) (See TM, June 14).

There was a week of fighting, with Turkish troops and their Arab proxies, the Syrian National Army (SNA), taking over the Tel Abyad-Ras al-Ayn zone, an Arab-majority corridor that had formed the link between Kobani and Qamishli—two core Kurdish-majority parts of “Rojava”, as the PKK calls its Syrian statelet.

A U.S.-brokered ceasefire with Turkey on October 17 gave Ankara (on paper) virtually everything it had asked for, ratifying the conquests already made and, crucially, proclaiming a twenty-mile corridor inside Syria free of the PKK, plus lifting the sanctions imposed over the incursion (Al-Hurra, October 17).

The Cross Pollination of East Africa’s Armed Groups

By: Brian M. Perkins

East Africa and its peripheral countries, particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), are experiencing an evolution of their security landscapes as jihadist ideologies continue to creep into domestic conflicts. On the surface, many of the domestic conflicts and armed groups in individual East African nations are locally concentrated and driven by local issues, with violent spillover mostly concentrated in small portions of bordering countries—al-Shabaab violence spilling from Somalia into Kenya, or the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) operating in DRC and neighboring Uganda. A closer look, however, shows an increasing level of cross pollination in ideology, tactics, and financing stemming from high levels of mobility across the region as a whole, and not just between neighboring countries.

Across East Africa and its periphery, Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania have historically been the most affected by jihadist violence, with Kenya and Tanzania experiencing deadly attacks by al-Qaeda in the late 1990s and early 2000s and Somalia being host to al-Shabaab, a longtime al-Qaeda affiliate, and more recently an Islamic State (IS) branch. Mozambique, Uganda, and DRC, meanwhile, have historically struggled less with overt jihadist groups and more with anti-government rebel factions such as the ADF or FRELIMO. Over the past year, jihadist ideologies have taken root at a more alarming rate as IS expanded its presence into DRC and Mozambique through one of its newer branches, Islamic State Central Africa Province (IS-CAP) (See TM, November 6). While the pace and international focus on growing jihadist sentiment in East Africa has increased in the past year, groups that had once primarily been anti-government rebels have increasingly been exposed to the region’s jihadist-leaning groups. These groups have particularly made contact through highly lucrative smuggling and money laundering networks, as well as through loosely connected radical mosques that are exporting militants across the region.

Attacks in Northern Kenya Highlight al-Shabaab’s Enduring Ambition

By: Sunguta West

Deadly al-Shabaab attacks targeting security forces, civilians, and government installations in northeastern Kenya have continued to unfold despite security forces’ intensified actions to counter the militant group’s activities in the region.

Since 2011, when the Kenyan Defence Forces entered Somalia—the base of the al-Qaeda affiliate in East Africa—hundreds of small-scale terror assaults have been recorded.

In most of the attacks, the militants have used improvized explosive devices (IEDs) planted on roads to strike the military and police convoys on patrol. The consequence has been deadly with dozens of soldiers and police officers losing their lives. Civilians have also borne the brunt of terrorist attacks. The attacks have forced some of the region’s professionals, including teachers, nurses, public administrators, and construction workers to flee (Business Daily Africa , October 10, 2018).

The continued attacks are lending credence to suspicions that the militant group has existing cells in the region which it is using to radicalize and recruit Kenyan youths. In June, the group said it had recruited an army of fighters in Kenya. The mass recruitment strategy fits well with the latest attacks inside Kenya, including the DusitD2 office attack in January. Ali Salim Gichuge, the lead attacker on DusitD2, was an ordinary Kenyan youth who was born and raised in non-Muslim regions (Daily Nation, November 15).

EU-NATO Cooperation In An Era Of Great-Power Competition

Luis Simón

Over the past two decades, discussions on EU-NATO relations have been closely associated with crisis-management operations and transnational threats. But that is yesterday’s world. The return of great-power competition is eliciting a shift in European security and transatlantic relations toward deterrence and defense. As such the conceptual framework that has so far underpinned debates on EU-NATO relations has been, by and large, rendered obsolete.

The return of great-power competition and growing uncertainty about the United States' commitment to Europe have led to renewed calls to turn the EU into an autonomous pole in global politics. Some even toy with the notion of European equidistance in a global context that is increasingly defined by Sino-American competition. At the same time, the EU’s need to give its global role security and a transatlantic anchor underlines the potential of a more structured EU-NATO dialogue.

Great-power competition also has important implications for capability development. A key challenge is to ensure that the EU’s new defense initiatives help reinforce NATO’s ongoing efforts in deterrence and defense. One way to do that would be to give the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy the authority to bring together the industrial and politico-strategic aspects of the union’s defense policy and thus act as an effective bridge between the EU and NATO. The last three years have witnessed a steady flow of self-congratulatory remarks about unprecedented progress in the relationship between the European Union and NATO. Their joint statements in 2016 and 2018 provided a compass for greater cooperation between them. But it is important to put this in perspective and ensure that the relationship keeps apace with a rapidly changing— and worsening—geostrategic environment. Discussions on EU-NATO cooperation remain stuck on a 1990s wavelength, taking crisis management and transnational challenges as their key referents. As NATO leaders meet in London and the EU undergoes a leadership transition, they should revamp their dialogue around the increasingly important theme of great-power competition.

CCDC CBC-TR-1599, Cyborg Soldier 2050: Human/Machine Fusion and the Implications for the Future of the DOD


The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (Alexandria, VA) established the DOD

Biotechnologies for Health and Human Performance Council (BHPC) study group to continually assess research and

development in biotechnology. The BHPC group assesses scientific advances for improved health and performance with

potential military application; identifies corresponding risks and opportunities and ethical, legal, and social implications; and

provides senior leadership with recommendations for mitigating adversarial threats and maximizing opportunities for future

U.S. forces. At the direction of the BHPC Executive Committee, the BHPC study group conducted a year-long assessment

entitled “Cyborg Soldier 2050: Human/Machine Fusion and the Impact for the Future of the DOD”. The primary objective of

ENISA threat landscape for 5G Networks


This report draws an initial threat landscape and presents an overview of the challenges in the security of 5G networks. Its added value lays with the creation of a comprehensive 5G architecture, the identification of important assets (asset diagram), the assessment of threats affecting 5G (threat taxonomy), the identification of asset exposure (threats – assets mapping) and an initial assessment of threat agent motives. The information produced for this Threat Landscape is based on publicly available information published by 5G standardisation groups and bodies (i.e. ETSI, 3GPP, 5GPPP) and 5G stakeholders such as operators, vendors, national and international organisations. An expert group with experts from mobile operators, vendors, research and European Commission has contributed to ENISA’s work with information on existing 5G material, current developments in the market and research and quality assurance of the current document. Moreover, the members of the NIS CG, European Commission and ENISA have reviewed the current document. Published 

November 21, 2019 Language 

English

Internet Governance: Past, Present, and Future

BY Wade Hoxtell David Nonhoff

The internet, a global system of interconnected computer networks, is one of the most defining technologies of our time. Most aspects of our lives are touched in some form or another by the internet, including our economic and financial systems, our social interactions, our education, work and civic participation, as well as the many services we use to complement our lives, from entertainment and banking services to booking travel. In many ways, the internet has become an indispensable aspect of modern life – and peoples’ dependence on the internet and its ecosystem of services will only continue to grow.

Despite the constant and ubiquitous presence of the internet, most people have little understanding about how this complex system actually works. Internet users, particularly in areas with highly reliable connections, take it for granted that everything simply works as expected. Yet, underpinning all technical infrastructure, applications, services and content is a complex system of institutions, actors, mechanisms, and rules that govern how the internet works – termed ​“internet governance.” Internet governance is broadly defined as the processes that influence how the internet is managed – locally, nationally, regionally and globally. The United Nations Working Group on internet Governance (WGIG) defined internet governance in 2005 as ​“the development and application by governments, the private sector, and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures and programs, that shape the evolution and utilization of the internet.”

What jobs are affected by AI? Better-paid, better-educated workers face the most exposure

Mark Muro, Jacob Whiton, and Robert Maxim

Artificial intelligence (AI) has generated increasing interest in “future of work” discussions in recent years as the technology has achieved superhuman performance in a range of valuable tasks, ranging from manufacturing to radiology to legal contracts. With that said, though, it has been difficult to get a specific read on AI’s implications on the labor market.

In part because the technologies have not yet been widely adopted, previous analyses have had to rely either on case studies or subjective assessments by experts to determine which occupations might be susceptible to a takeover by AI algorithms. What’s more, most research has concentrated on an undifferentiated array of “automation” technologies including robotics, software, and AI all at once. The result has been a lot of discussion—but not a lot of clarity—about AI, with prognostications that range from the utopian to the apocalyptic.

Given that, the analysis presented here demonstrates a new way to identify the kinds of tasks and occupations likely to be affected by AI’s machine learning capabilities, rather than automation’s robotics and software impacts on the economy. By employing a novel technique developed by Stanford University Ph.D. candidate Michael Webb, the new report establishes job exposure levels by analyzing the overlap between AI-related patents and job descriptions. In this way, the following paper homes in on the impacts of AI specifically and does it by studying empirical statistical associations as opposed to expert forecasting.

Artificial intelligence: What it is and how we’re measuring it

Good Practices for Security of IoT - Secure Software Development Lifecycle


This ENISA study introduces good practices for IoT security, with a particular focus on software development guidelines for secure IoT products and services throughout their lifetime. Establishing secure development guidelines across the IoT ecosystem, is a fundamental building block for IoT security. By providing good practices on how to secure the IoT software development process, this study tackles one aspect for achieving security by design, a key recommendation that was highlighted in the ENISA Baseline Security Recommendations study which focused on the security of the IoT ecosystem from a horizontal point of view. 

Air Force Research Institute (AFRI)

· Air Force Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs, Winter 2019, v. 2, no. 4

o Strategic Expeditionary Advising

o Dueling Hegemony

o Undermining Democracy

o China in the South Pacific

o Bringing Balance to the Strategic Discourse on China's Rise

o Revision of India's Nuclear Doctrine

o Japan's Indo-Pacific Strategy

An American Failure: CAATSA and Deterring Russian Arms Sales

Jarod Taylor

The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization.

The threat of sanctions action under Section 231 of the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) is in the news again. This time it was suggested by the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, Mr. R. Clarke Cooper, at the recent Dubai Airshow regarding Egypt’s Su-35 fighter jet purchase from Russia. An unnamed U.S. State Department official spoke on background to the press on November 21, 2019 to discuss the lingering threat of CAATSA sanctions regarding Turkey’s S-400 purchase from Russia. The Egyptian and Turkish cases are only two of several that represent the inability or unwillingness to use Sec. 231 the way it was designed, which not only weakens the U.S. diplomatic position in these instances but also encourages other states to dismiss similar threats. Comments from both officials show that CAATSA Sec. 231 is failing to deter and that the strategic logic underlying the sanctions has changed.

CAATSA Sec. 231 was designed with an ambitious goal in mind: to shape the global security environment by raising the costs for third countries to do business with Russian defense and intelligence industry. The U.S. Congress resolved to use Sec. 231, and other provisions, to respond to Russia’s activities in Ukraine, aggressive cyber operations, and interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections. But resolve and design are not enough: the deterrence mechanism has to be implemented in a way that stays true to the design for it to work. CAATSA’s ambiguities leave room for divergent interpretations by officers in the executive branch. The statute mandates secondary sanctions on entities, either people or organizations or both, who execute a “significant transaction” with disallowed Russian firms. Important elements of the law are purposefully vague, giving the President significant latitude when implementing this law. Left notably ambiguous in the original statute are the definition of “significant transaction,” the timeline for implementation of specific actions, and the specification of which Russian entities are disallowed (specified by the State Department in October 2017).

6 December 2019

4 Lessons for India From China’s October 2019 Military Parade

By Suyash Desai

With the People’s Republic of China (PRC) marking its 70th founding anniversary on October 1, the grand military parade at Tiananmen Square was the highlight of the celebrations. It showcased China’s newer arms, ammunition, and technology. Over 15,000 personnel, 160 aircraft, and 580 pieces of military equipment participated in the military parade, including sophisticated weaponry such as hypersonic missiles, intercontinental-range land and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, stealth combat and high-speed reconnaissance drones, and fifth-generation fighter jets.

China intended to address both domestic and international audiences through this parade. At home, the leadership hoped that the parade would stir up feelings of nationalism. Internationally, the display of force was intended as a warning to the United States and China’s neighbors. Further, the parade reflected the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) progress toward becoming a “world-class military” by 2050.

Although policymakers and military leaders across the world were keeping a close eye on China’s military display, perhaps those in India should have been paying the most attention. The parade was not directed at India, but New Delhi can learn a lot from China’s use of military modernization and its ongoing defense reforms. Here are four key lessons New Delhi can take from China’s 2019 military parade.

Improve Electronic and Cyber Warfare Capabilities

Hot Issue – Al-Qaeda’s Long Game in the Sinai

By: Michael W. S. Ryan

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s long-game strategy has created international networks with the ultimate intention of creating a united Islamic Emirate to take the place of the lost Ottoman Caliphate, across a continuous band from Turkistan to the Atlantic coast. [1] Bruce Hoffman brought the implications of al-Qaeda’s expansive international presence, including countries beyond Zawahiri’s traditional caliphate, into bold relief over a year ago when he argued that al-Qaeda “should now be considered the world’s top terrorist group.” [2] A renewed look is especially important now that the United States has shifted its national security priorities away from counterterrorism in the Greater Middle East and North Africa to focus on the threats posed by Russia and China. Now, President Donald Trump has also signaled his intention to abandon the successful American counterterrorism strategy that is based on strategic relationships with local partners who provide ground forces and are assisted by small cadres of American Special Forces.

While the world press has been focused on the potential resurgence of Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq in the aftermath of the fall of the physical caliphate and the death of its self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a serious threat may emerge from al-Qaeda’s networks of like-minded Jihadi-Salafist groups. Many IS fighters in Syria are not Syrians. Academic studies and past experience have shown that once converted to an extremist ideology, such individuals resist surrendering to reason. If they escape from Syria, do they return to another prison in their home countries, or do they travel to another “hot jihad” location with an IS affiliate in Egypt or North Africa, or perhaps this time disappear into al-Qaeda’s networks? [3] Like others before them, will Egyptians with significant experience fighting with Jihadi-Salafist groups in Syria or Iraq decide to find their way to use their battle skills in the Sinai or elsewhere in North Africa? Al-Qaeda’s online voices are suggesting that IS fighters join them in a common struggle against the forces of unbelief. Could IS under its new caliph, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi, allow cooperation in the field with al-Qaeda networked groups without requiring a formal alliance? While this decision will likely come slowly, if at all, in the battlefields across the Greater Middle East and Africa, the lines between IS and al-Qaeda have begun to blur. If the recent past has one lesson, Sinai could provide logistical and command links from the central Muslim lands into the active fields of jihad in North Africa, the Sahel, and sub-Saharan West Africa.

The al-Qaeda Approach in the Egyptian Cauldron

The Larger Significance of Pakistan’s Army Chief Extension Debate

By Daud Khattak
Source Link

In Pakistan, the word “extension” has become synonymous with one particular usage: extending the service of a retiring chief of the country’s all-powerful military. The concept has a history as old as Pakistan itself — six army chiefs in the past have either extended their period of service upon reaching the age of retirement, or their term was extended by the then-governments.

However, the floodgates opened by the term extension of General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan’s current army chief whose service term was ending on November 28, was unprecedented.

The government notification granting Bajwa another three years as chief of the army staff (COAS) was challenged by the country’s top court and the issue remained the subject of public and private debates and speculations for three consecutive days across Pakistan.

The impasse was averted with the court decision allowing a six-month reprieve to the general, during which time the government must sort out the matter through legislation. Parliament must define the reasons for granting an extension to an army chief’s service term, tenure, and other necessary terms and conditions.

Sri Lanka’s New Government Seems Serious About Revisiting the Hambantota Deal With China

By Ankit Panda

Barely two weeks into office, it appears that Sri Lanka’s new government may follow up on one of its election manifesto promises: a bid to renegotiate the terms of its 99-year-lease on the port of Hambantota to a Chinese firm. As I discussed recently at The Diplomat, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna had pledged in their manifesto before the 2019 presidential elections that they would seek to revisit the debt-equity swap agreement, which was effectuated under the previous government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe under Maithripala Sirisena’s presidency. In July 2017, a deal saw the port transfered to China Merchant Port Holdings—a massive, partially state owned Chinese holding company—on a 99 year lease.

In a recent interview, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, a former central banker in Sri Lanka and now adviser to Mahinda Rajapaksa, the former president who oversaw the initial agreement to develop Hambantota with China and current prime minister, made the new government’s goal clear. “We would like them to give it back,” he said. “The ideal situation would be to go back to status quo. We pay back the loan in due course in the way that we had originally agreed without any disturbance at all.”

Russia and China's High-Tech Bet

By Sintia Radu 

A Huawei engineer displays parts in the research and development area of the Bantian campus in Shenzhen, China. The ban imposed by the United States on Chinese mobile giant Huawei has increased cooperation between Russia and China. The company has centers in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kazan, Novosibirsk and Nizhny Novgorod.

AS THE United States increases its geopolitical and economic pressure on China and Russia, the two countries are expanding not just their military cooperation but increasing their economic ties, highlighted by a stronger high-tech partnership spanning telecommunications, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and the digital economy, new research shows.

This increased collaboration – which includes efforts to improve censorship and surveillance techniques, create new media distribution channels and promote cyber strategies abroad – will pose new challenges for Western countries, say the authors of a report produced by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, or ASPI, an independent think tank in Canberra, Australia.

A Common Theme of Global Unrest

By George Friedman

From Hong Kong to Tehran to Buenos Aires, the world appears to be destabilizing. The question that has been raised is whether there is an underlying cause triggering this global unrest. On the surface, the answer to that ought to be no. There is so much unrest throughout the world at any point that it would appear to be merely the normal chaos. Unrest, moreover, is unique to every country and usually has multiple causes. Hong Kong, Tehran and Buenos Aires are very different places, each with its own geopolitical circumstances.

Still, there is in this instance one element that is common to them all: 2008. In 2008, the international economic system shifted dramatically, and the changes it wrought have not been fully metabolized. The weakness in the global economy is magnified by the unsolved problems left over from 2008. As a result, there are economic problems that have transformed into political ones. Add to this the shift in U.S. strategy away from military interventions and toward economic confrontations, and the problems are magnified further still. The U.S. is the world’s largest economy and importer and a shift in strategy to economics necessarily affects the economic system.

Consider the riots in Hong Kong. In 2008, China was a powerful exporter, dependent as it was on exports for social stability. The financial collapse created a profound crisis. An economy built on efficient exporting staggers when its customers are unable to buy its goods. The export crisis compounded an incipient financial crisis as cash flow from exports contracted. What followed was a series of purges designed officially to weed out corruption and unofficially to find scapegoats for China’s problems and to intimidate potential opposition. After all, the government had promised prosperity and was now facing the need for austerity. The purges were the beginning of a systematic repression in China that sought to retain Chinese economic dynamism without an equivalent political dynamism.

Chinese Use of Marmaray Subsea Tunnel Another First for Belt and Road Initiative

By: John C. K. Daly
Source Link

On November 7, at 3:30 A.M., a westbound train from Xi’an, China, for the first time ever used Istanbul’s $4 billion Marmaray sub-Bosporus railway tunnel to dispatch goods to central Europe (Haber.sol.org.tr, November 7). The train’s voyage represents another of China’s attempts to shave time off its trans-Eurasian rail shipments; the train crossed 2 continents, 10 countries, 2 seas and 7,135 miles of railway in 12 days.

Organized by China Railway Express and carrying 42 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers, each packed with 76 cubic meters of high-value, low-volume electronics, the train started in Xi’an in central China, crossing Kazakhstan before being loaded on an Aktau train ferry to cross the Caspian to Baku. From there, it proceeded to Turkey via the Baku–Tbilisi–Kars (BTK) Railroad (Star.com.tr, November 8). Upon arriving in Istanbul, the train traveled northward to Kapıkule, on Turkey’s Bulgarian border, before continuing onward to Prague.

The Marmaray passage underlines the growing potential of the Trans-Caspian Silk Road “Middle Corridor” rail route—Turkey’s vision for connecting China to Europe via Central Asia and the South Caucasus. Also known as the “Trans-Caspian International Transport Route” (TITR), the corridor’s genesis dates to 2015, when Turkey and China signed a memorandum of understanding to align Turkey’s Middle Corridor initiative with the China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR—since renamed the Belt and Road Initiative or BRI), coordinating transportation and logistics cooperation.

Japan can teach Australia how to carefully handle China

Richard McGregor

In search of a role model in foreign policy after coming to office last year, Scott Morrison, Australia's prime minister, has found himself looking north, to Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

At first blush, Japan seems like an unlikely source of diplomatic inspiration. After all, Sino-Japanese relations have always been conducted in the shadow of their wartime history, a legacy that Australia does not carry with China.

Nor does Australia have a territorial conflict with Beijing as Tokyo does, an issue which cratered Sino-Japanese bilateral ties in 2012 when the two countries last faced off over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

But the problems that Morrison and Abe share in Asia are far more striking than what divides them.

Don’t Fuel China's Paranoia in Hong Kong

by Doug Bandow 
Source Link

The denizens of Zhongnanhai have never understood democracy. In the People’s Republic of China, people are expected to do and believe what they are told. Few disobey, especially under Xi Jinping, who has moved Chinese society back toward Maoist totalitarianism.

Dictating to others does not work overseas, however. In 1996 Beijing’s leaders attempted to use missile tests to intimidate Taiwanese voters, who instead increased their support for Lee Teng-hui’s reelection.

In recent days the Xi government insisted that the Hong Kong authorities crackdown on democracy demonstrators and expected support from the special administrative region’s “silent majority.” Instead, the recent local election resulted in a popular tsunami against the PRC’s tightening noose. Even areas considered to be pro-China chose young freedom activists to dominate local councils.

Beijing was uncharacteristically stunned into silence. Eventually, the regime fell back on blaming America for manipulating public sentiment. As if pontificating diplomats convinced thousands of young Hong Kongers to create chaos on the streets and fortify universities against the unpopular, unrepresentative SAR government.

In Dire Straits?

By Ilan Goldenberg, Kaleigh Thomas and Jessica Schwed

In recent months, Iran has responded to rising tensions with the United States—particularly the US launch of the “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran—by attacking oil tankers and infrastructure in the Persian Gulf region around the Strait of Hormuz (the Strait). These actions have been designed to signal to the United States, the Gulf states, and the international community that the American strategy of strangling Iran economically will not be cost-free, and to Saudi Arabia in particular that it is highly vulnerable to Iranian retaliation.

As the Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most critical energy chokepoints, the implications of Iran’s efforts merit close scrutiny and analysis. This study was designed to examine three scenarios for military conflict between Iran and the United States and assess the potential impacts on global oil prices—as one specific representation of the immediate economic impact of conflict—as well as broader strategic implications. The three scenarios are:

Increasing US-Iran tensions that ultimately lead to a new “Tanker War” scenario similar to the conflict of the 1980s, in which Iran attacks potentially hundreds of ships in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman over a prolonged period while also launching missiles at Gulf oil infrastructure.

An escalation of tensions between Iran and the United States in which Iran significantly increases the scope and severity of missile attacks directed at major oil and energy infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

A major conflict between Iran and the United States that includes damage to Gulf oil infrastructure and a temporary closure of the Strait of Hormuz.

This Is Your Brain on Terrorism

By Scott Atran 

In September 2014, when the Islamic State (ISIS) was at the height of its power, Director of U.S. National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that the United States had underestimated the terrorist group’s will to fight. “We underestimated the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese and overestimated the will of the South Vietnamese,” he told The Washington Post. “In this case, we underestimated ISI[S] and overestimated the fighting capability of the Iraqi army … It boils down to predicting the will to fight, which is an imponderable.”

Scholars and policymakers have long sought to determine what drives people to keep fighting when the chips are down, and, if need be, to give their lives to a cause. Traditional explanations, based on rational choice theory or focused on mental abnormalities, have largely failed to explain what motivates the members of extremist insurgent movements. But Clapper was wrong to suggest that the will to fight is imponderable. In fact, it is possible to predict who is willing to fight and die, based on a combination of cultural and psychosocial factors. Research on the human brain suggests that people fight when their sacred values—that is, the values that define their identity and therefore can’t be compromised—are under threat.

Iranian regime's priority is ensuring its survival and quashing regional protests


Iranian leaders and their allies are counting on stamina to weather the storm and are hoping demonstrators’ energy and fervour will wane as the year draws to a close. In Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, the Iranian regime’s priority is securing its survival and preventing the three uprisings from bearing fruit by any means necessary – whatever the cost.

Russia remains committed to its Iranian ally and is confident of its promise to stop the spread of instability. What is new is the shift in the European position with regards to Iran. The Europeans have run out of patience with Iran’s violations, not just in terms of the 2015 nuclear deal but also the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps's direct participation in staging riots, and stoking sectarianism and violence against peaceful protests in Lebanon, from its outposts in Syria and the Bekaa Valley.

This has made countries like Germany draw closer to the US position, despite previous opposition, causing concern and anger among the ranks of the Iranian leadership. A few days ago, German daily Der Spiegel reported that the nation’s interior ministry had requested an inquiry into Hezbollah’s activities, with an agreement reached by the government in Berlin to impose a total ban on the organisation in Germany next week. The report said Germany would treat members of Hezbollah members as it treats ISIS.

Is Iran Near Collapse?

by Mohammed Ayoob
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The events of the last few weeks in Iran indicate that the country may be in for a repetition of the events of 1978 that led to the toppling of the Shah. Anti-government protests in Iran have reached a boiling point with the streets of several of Iran’s cities and towns reverberating with slogans demanding the overthrow of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. One can hear echoes of the “Death to the Shah” slogans of 1978–79 in these frenzied chants. Security forces have repeatedly opened fire, killing people by the dozens—possibly by the hundreds—in order to disperse protestors just as they did in the autumn of 1978.

Iran’s economy is in a tailspin, which is what triggered the protests. It is in far worse shape today than was the case on the eve of the Shah’s fall when there was a severe economic downturn because of economic mismanagement and misdirection despite the oil boom of the 1970s. The economic distress of the late 1970s was intimately related to the crony capitalism of the Shah’s regime that hurt the traditional merchant class, symbolized by the “bazar,” as well as the newly developing middle class. It was no coincidence that the religiously observant bazaris bankrolled the movement led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that overthrew the Shah.


National Defense University Press

· Joint Force Quarterly (JFQ), 95 (4th Quarter, October 2019)

o Strategic Army: Developing Trust in the Shifting Landscape

o Maximizing the Power of Strategic Foresight

o Strengthening Mission Assurance Against Emerging Threats: Critical Gaps and Opportunities for Progress

o Pakistan’s Low Yield in the Field: Diligent Deterrence or De-escalation Debacle

o The Second Island Cloud: A Deeper and Broader Concept for American Presence in the Pacific Islands

o America First ≠ America Alone: Morocco as Exemplar for U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy

o Why Normandy Still Matters: Seventy-Five Years On, Operation Overlord Inspires, Instructs, and Invites Us to Be Better Joint Warfighters

o Attacking Fielded Forces: An Airman's Perspective from Kosovo

o Countering Threat Networks to Deter, Compete, and Win: Competition Below Armed Conflict with Revisionist Powers

o Development Beyond the Joint Qualification System: An Overview

o 3D Printing for Joint Agile Operations

o The Chain Home Early Warning Radar System: A Case Study in Defense Innovation

o Wolfe, Montcalm, and the Principles of Joint Operations in the Quebec Campaign of 1759


o Unmasking the Spectrum with Artificial Intelligence

Breaking the impasse on strategic disinvestment and privatisation

Suyash Rai

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given an in-principle approval for strategic disinvestment of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), and Container Corporation of India (CCI), and for sale of two power sector enterprises to National Thermal Power Corporation.

In early 2016, the government announced that it would start strategic disinvestment of central public sector enterprises (CPSEs). The CCEA had approved 28 CPSEs for this purpose. Five transactions were completed, but all these were sales of CPSEs to other CPSEs.

As Minister Anurag Thakur said in the Parliament on November 18th, strategic disinvestment is about government not continuing in business in a sector. While the outcome of the recent decision on BPCL, SCI and CCI is still to be seen, the sale of stakes of one to another CPSE cannot be called real strategic disinvestment, for it is essentially taking money from one pocket and putting it in another. Why has the government not managed even one real strategic disinvestment almost four years after the announcement?

Ties that Bind: Family, Tribe, Nation, and the Rise of Arab Individualism


Social changes around the world are having a disproportionate im­pact on Arab societies. Loyalty and obligation have played a particu­larly strong role in how Arabs relate to each other and to their rulers, and a rising individualism in the region poses challenges for family patriarchs, tribal elders, and government leaders.

NETWORKS OF TRUST are a universal phenomenon. They have been partic­ularly influential in the Arab world in part because of cultural and religious affinity but also for practical reasons: sustained security challenges, limit­ed government capacity, and limited mobility. Arabs have committed time and money—and sometimes blood— to sustain ties with family and tribe.

Arabs increasingly report that these networks no longer serve their inter­ests and are too time consuming. They live farther from extended families and work longer hours, and they seek to de­vote more time to friends and immedi­ate family. Communications and social media have also given them alternative sources of information and alternative entertainment options. Technology also gives people privacy, and individ­uals seek it much more than in the past. As Arabs feel more economically strapped, and as a sense of individual­ism grows, families and tribes become less consequential. Some people are more willing to put their faith in gov­ernment; more simply feel a need to become more self-reliant.

U.S. Strategy — Strategic Triage and the True Cost of War: Supporting Enduring Commitments versus “Endless Wars”

By Anthony H. Cordesman

There are good reasons why the United States should constantly reexamine the cost of its military commitments and deployments overseas, and especially of its active uses of military force. The U.S. may not face endless wars, but it does face endless threats and instability. History has not ended and will not end, and “Globalism” has not put the world on a path towards growth, progress, peace, and stability.

The ISIS territorial “Caliphate” may be gone, but ISIS, its affiliates tied to its global network, Al Qaida, and a host of other extremist and terrorist movements survive. No MENA, South Asian, or Central Asian country has made a major reduction in the political, economic, or demographic causes of instability that triggered the political upheavals in the Arab World in 2011 or that shape the future of all too many countries in the developing world.

Defeating one movement in one location does not secure even a single country in the face of continued failures in politics, governance, economic, and demographics that have been the source of extremism, uprisings and civil war. And, these same failures affect all too many countries in the rest of Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. The U.S. cannot afford to ignore these forces, let them destabilize the global economy, or become direct threats to the United States.