15 July 2015

Handle carefully

Subir Bhaumik
July 14, 2015,

MYANMAR ARMY CHIEF'S VISIT

This is one visit India will really have to handle with care. When Myanmar’s army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing visits Delhi later in July, India will have to make him feel like a head of state, though he is not one. That is because he commands an institution that has run Myanmar for nearly 50 years and which still has 25 per cent representation in the country’s parliament, giving it a de facto veto power in running the country.

The army’s continued stranglehold in Myanmar’s polity became evident when parliament recently shot down suggested constitutional amendments to change provisions that now debar someone with close foreign relatives to run for presidency. Article 59F of the 2008 Myanmar constitution is all about keeping Aung Sang Suu Kyi out of reckoning for the position of president or vice president because her late husband and both her sons are British citizens. So her party may contest the parliament polls later this year but there is no hope of her contesting for president.

India-Pakistan: Looking to the Pre-1965 Relationship

By Tridivesh Singh Maini and Tahir Javed Malik
July 13, 2015
To normalize ties, the two countries need look no further than their own histories.
Whenever we talk of the need for regional cooperation in South Asia, including closer ties between India and Pakistan, scholars and analysts tend to cite the examples of the EU, North America and ASEAN. What is overlooked is that in the years between 1947-1965, both economic and people-to-people links between the two countries were stronger than they are at present. More than the partition of 1947, it was the 1965 war that disrupted relations. Five decades later, it is worth examining some of the key features of the economic relationship as well as human ties.

Economic Ties

Assessing the Latest India-Pakistan Prime Ministers Meeting

The Indian and Pakistani prime ministers met for the first time in 2015. What did their meeting accomplish?
As planned, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met in Ufa, Russia, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit where both India and Pakistan are currently observers and slated for accession over the next year. The meeting between the leaders of the two rival South Asian states is their first since late 2014, when they met on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Kathmandu, Nepal. In August 2014, relations between the two states declined precipitously after a brief period of rapprochement immediately after Modi was elected to office in India. India called off foreign secretary-level talks after Pakistan interfaced with Kashmir-based separatists, and in the months since, other issues, including Pakistan’s treatment of anti-India terrorists and an increase in incidents along the disputed Kashmir border, have kept the bilateral cold.

The Great Tibetan Stand-off between China, Dalai Lama

By Jayadeva Ranade
14th July 2015

The year 2015 is a significant one for Tibet and China. The Dalai Lama celebrated his 80th birthday on July 6, 2015. It also marks the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) by the Chinese communist regime. Though the Dalai Lama continues to be in exile, his birthday was celebrated in several places across Tibet and abroad. In India, two central government ministers for the first time attended the function in Dharamsala in their official capacity. In Delhi, three former foreign secretaries spoke at a well-attended symposium on July 4, while the reception on July 6 evening was also attended by two central ministers. Both functions were organised by the Dalai Lama’s Delhi Bureau. In China too, the issues of Tibet and the Dalai Lama have received perceptibly increased attention over the past couple of years. Recent reports filtering out of Beijing suggest that the Tibet Work Forum, usually held every four years, is likely to be convened in August or September this year in Beijing. The Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s (CCP CC) United Front Work Department (UFWD) convenes such work forums separately for Tibet and Xinjiang almost every four years. The work forums are the highest-level body where the CCP CC’s Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) deliberates and decides on policies, budgets and plans for the Autonomous Regions.

Preparatory work for the Tibet Work Forum appears to have begun with the Central Work Conference on Ethnic Affairs held in Beijing on September 28-29, 2014 and attended by all members of the PBSC except Zhang Gaoli, and leaders of every province and the People’s Armed Police. Later on April 14, 2015, China’s State Council Information Office issued a white paper titled: ‘Tibet’s Path of Development Is Driven by an Irresistible Historical Tide’.

Great Depression or Great War: Is This China's 1929 Moment (Or Worse)?

July 13, 2015

China’s economy may be facing its 1929 moment. Or this may be only the painful burst of a big bubble. Will it become a cascading catastrophe or just a crashing correction?

Pay your money and place your bets. And hold your breath. No jests about a Communist Party flummoxed by the workings of a central motif of capitalism, please.

The obvious point for Australia is that Greece is concerning but China is the main event. For Oz, Chinese investors panicking at plunging values trump Greeks shaken by the shriveling of their economy.

In the 20th century, recession in Europe and America meant something similar would happen in Australia. In the 21st century, Australia’s economy has decoupled from the U.S. economy. America gets pneumonia but Australia doesn’t sneeze. Plugged into Asia, Australia sailed past the U.S. dotcom bust and the Great Recession. Australia is coupled to Asia. And at the head of the train is China.

As the IMF noted, Australia’s decoupling from America’s economy, made explicit at both ends of the previous decade, means the U.S. negative effect on Oz is “no longer statistically significant.”

The Real New Type of U.S.-China Relations

After decades of trying to accomodate China's rise, proposals for a cooperative relationship are now dead on arrival in the United States.
Early 2013, President Obama yielded to Beijing’s insistent backstage pressure and, with China’s authoritarian chief Xi Jinping beaming by his side, announced a “new type of major power relationship” with China: In other words, a formulation of Chinese parity with the United States. 

Since that meeting in California, even the pretense of positive feelings evaporated. Make no mistake, nothing in the world needs resolute American leadership more than dealing with a China that’s both on the march and economically erratic—as misguided steps to buttress Shanghai share prices this past week show.

In short, and despite renewed uproar in Ukraine and the Middle East, China and Asia will be dominating the 2016 U.S. elections as the most consequential foreign issue, bar none.

The Maritime Silk Road And China-Southeast Asia Relations – Analysis

By Zhao Hong*
July 12, 2015

ASEAN-China relations have improved dramatically since the inking of their strategic partnership in 2003. Bilateral trade increased more than six-fold from US$60 billion in 2003 to over $500 billion in 2014, and Chinese investment in Southeast Asia increased from US$0.12 billion in 2003 to US$7.3 billion in 2013. While the degree and nature of China’s economic importance vary among individual ASEAN countries, China is a critical economic partner for all ten of them. It is the most important export market for Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, and Cambodia and the largest foreign investor in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

However, greater economic cooperation with Beijing since 1990s seems to have failed to spill over into the political security realm, and Southeast Asian states continue to be concerned to varying degrees about China’s growing military capabilities and the lack of transparency about its intentions. Although the past few years have witnessed increasing economic ties between China and Southeast Asia, Beijing has found that its growing geo-economic strength does not necessarily translate into concomitant geopolitical influence and mutual trust.

The Belt and Road: China's Economic Lifeline?

China’s Belt and Road initiative – the Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road – have been discussed largely in terms of the geopolitical implications. What does it mean for China to be increasing its presence and economic clout in regions from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean, the Middle East, and even Europe?

However, for Chinese leaders, the focus is different. Grandiose foreign policy visions aside (although they certainly exist), the major short-term purpose for the Belt and Road is to make sure China’s economy keeps humming along – particularly by jump-starting growth in underdeveloped western and central regions.

Recent data highlighted by Xinhua provides optimism about the economic boons of the Belt and Road strategy. Chongqing, a municipality in central China just to the east of Sichuan province, registered 10.7 percent GDP growth in the first six months of 2015. That’s the highest growth rate of all of China’s provincial-level administrative regions (and far outpacing China’s expected GDP growth for the year, which is predicted to be 7 percent or even lower). Xinhua attributed this growth to the increased connectivity that is at the heart of the Belt and Road strategy, citing the example of the Eurasia International Railway that connects Europe to Chongqing via Central Asia. As the only municipality located outside China’s eastern coastal regions, Chongqing is in prime position to become the major trading hub for the Silk Road Economic Belt.

China's Anti-Corruption Campaign Hits Top Judge

Xi Xiaoming, a judge on China’s Supreme People’s Court, is being investigated for corruption.
Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign has caught its latest “tiger”: reports emerged on Monday that Xi Xiaoming (no relation to Xi Jinping), a senior judge on China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC), the country’s top court, is under investigation for “serious violations of discipline and laws.” Xi, who is vice president of the SPC and a member of the SPC’s leading Party members’ group, is being investigated for breaching Party discipline, according to a statement released by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China.

In the Philippines' South China Sea Case, Is International Law on Trial?

July 14, 2015
The Philippine team at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, before the start of the oral arguments in connection with the arbitration case against China on the dispute in the South China Sea.
Today marked the end of the first oral arguments in the Philippines’ arbitration case regarding Chinese actions in the South China Sea. From July 7 -13 ,the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague held a hearing on the question of jurisdiction, a response to China’s claims (expressed obliquely, in a publicly-released position paper) that the arbitral tribunal has no jurisdiction to resolve the case, as it cannot judge on issues of sovereignty. The tribunal expects to make a decision on the issue of jurisdiction by the end of the year. If it dismisses concerns about jurisdiction, the tribunal will only then begin to hear the meat of the Philippines’ argument regarding the validity of China’s nine-dash line and the question of the status of certain maritime features in the South China Sea.

China-Kazakhstan Copper Mine Brawl: Food for Thought?

July 14, 2015

Authorities stress that the fight was just a fight, not a pending geopolitical flash point.

Last week, a lunchtime brawl broke out in the cafeteria at Kazakhstan’s Aktogay copper mine between Kazakh and Chinese workers. Tengrinewsreports that the fight started when a Chinese worker complained about the quality of the food and small portion size.

Then, according to the police, Chinese workers began loudly expressing their dissatisfaction ignoring the efforts of their supervisor – also a Chinese – to calm them down. Security staff that was in the canteen tried to resolve the incident and walked the complaining workers out of the canteen. However, the Chinese workers used force against the security personnel and targeted the canteen’s cook. A large fight involving over one hundred men erupted.

Tibetan lama dies in Chinese prison

13 July 2015

Family call for release of the body of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, imprisoned for 13 years on what rights groups said were false charges over a 2002 bombing

A Tibetan lama, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, has died in prison in China 13 years into a sentence for what human rights groups say were false charges that he was involved in a park bombing. He was 65.

Relatives were informed of his death on Sunday, the New York-based Students for a Free Tibet said. Police in Sichuan province, south-west China, confirmed that he had died but declined to give further details.

Tenzin Delek was arrested in 2002 in relation to an explosion in Chengdu city on 3 April 2002 that injured three people. He was sentenced to death on charges of terror and incitement of separatism a few months later. His death sentence was commuted to life in prison in 2005, and later to 20 years’ imprisonment. He continued to maintain his innocence.

He was being held in a prison in Dazhu county in Sichuan province, which borders Tibet. Students for a Free Tibet said his family had not been told how he died. Last year they applied for medical parole for him on the grounds that he suffered from a heart condition, high blood pressure, dizzy spells and problems with his legs that had caused him to fall on a number of occasions.

What China’s nerve-wracking stock market looks like from inside the country

By Ana Swanson 
July 10 2015

An investor checks an index of China's stock markets on a screen at a brokerage house in Beijing on July 7. (Wu Hong/European Pressphoto Agency)

"I was just at KFC eating chicken and looking at stocks, and a beggar came in with outstretched hands. I gave him a chicken wing to eat. He sat down beside me and spouted off some impressive advice about the long-term moving averages of KFC and McDonald's. 'This stock is going to rise,' he predicted.

I was shocked. 'You understand that?' I asked him.

Uighurs face ‘grim’ return to China as authorities level terrorism claims

By Simon Denyer 
July 10 

Women pray after riot police used pepper spray to push back a group of Uighur protesters who tried to break through a barricade outside the Chinese Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, on Thursday. 

BEIJING — More than 100 Chinese Muslims faced what a rights group called “grim” prospects Friday, a day after their deportation from Thailand, as officials in Beijing accused many of them of terrorist activities and warned of possible harsh punishments.

Thailand’s military government has drawn vehement international criticism for forcing the 109 refugees, known as Uighurs, back to China, arguing that they had only Chinese documentation. Activists and others accuse Beijing of waging a campaign of repression against the Turkic-speaking minority in western China, in contravention of their religious, cultural and political rights.

On the OPM Hack, Don’t Let China Off the Hook

art of the building of 'Unit 61398', a secretive Chinese military unit, is seen in the outskirts of Shanghai February 19, 2013. The unit is believed to be behind a series of hacking attacks, a U.S. computer security company said.

In the weeks since news broke of the extraordinary cyber hack of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), presumably by China, the response by some American officials and commentators has been curious: begrudging respect for the theft of background data on tens of millions of Americans, guarded understanding, and even professional admiration. “Don’t blame the Chinese for the OPM hack,” former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden said, arguing that he “would not have thought twice” about seizing similar information from China if he had the chance. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper echoed the sentiment, saying at a recent conference, “you have to kind of salute the Chinese for what they did. . . . If we had the opportunity to do that [to them], I don’t think we’d hesitate for a minute.”

Martin van Creveld says: To understand ISIS, see its history



Summary: To gain a perspective to understand the Islamic State, Martin van Creveld looks at the history of the Middle East for its origins. Although written last year it remains as apt today as then (despite the monthly clickbait announcements of turning points in this war). 

Van Gogh sees the history of the Middle East

Van Gogh’s Wheatfield (1890).
By Martin van Creveld
From his website, 24 September 2014
Here with his generous permission
What went wrong? A brief history of the Arab world.

During the middle ages the Arabs developed a brilliant civilization, or so we are told. Next, at some time during the fifteenth century, things began going wrong. The Arabs missed the invention of print (only in 1775 did the Ottomans, who at that time ruled over most Arabs, allow the first printing shop to be established. They missed humanism, the Renaissance, and the Reformation. They missed the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. They missed the French and American Revolutions along with the principles of democracy and human rights; and they also missed the industrial revolution.

The Syria Impasse


For more than four years, Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war. Around four million people have been uprooted. The nation’s cities have been reduced to rubble. Its economy, its polity and its geography all have been shattered. Those fighting the war have been barbarized; outside powers have made the war a playground for their own interests. There are few rules, few scruples, and little discernible order. It’s no longer even clear what peace or victory would even entail.

And so there’s little cause for optimism in Syria, particularly as rumors swirl of Turkish and Jordanian interventions and analysts speculate that an Iran nuclear deal may only see more cash and more arms flowing into the Assad regime’s coffers. The story is little different in Iraq, which has suffered its own bout of chaos. Yet the Levant’s current bloody stasis may be the first step on a road to denouement. Russia and the United States, who have favored opposite sides in the Syria conflict and, in the case of Russia, provided international diplomatic cover for the Assad government, are beginning to see eye to eye on one key point: the current path in Syria leads nowhere.

America and Russia Test New Tactical Nuclear Missiles

July 13, 2015

Both Russia and the United States are scheduled to test new tactical nuclear missiles this month.
According to the Russian state-owned Tass, Moscow is currently preparing to test its Iskander tactical missile systems.

“Servicemen of a missile unit of the Southern Military District deployed in the Krasnodar Territory began preparations for drills and live-firing of tactical Iskander-M missile systems that will start in late July at the Kapustin Yar range in the Astrakhan Region," Tassquoted the unit’s press service as saying.

Earlier this year, a Russian defense industry official said that Moscow would complete all certification tests for the missile by the end of this year. “We hope to be through with government certification tests by the end of 2015. But, as you understand, anything can happen," the industry official said.

The Iskander-M missile system is a road-mobile tactical nuclear-capable missile with a range between 50 and 500 kilometers. It is Russia’s successor to the Scud missile system.

4 Big Lessons from the Greece Crisis


Europe has countered Greece’s proposed bailout deal. Athens’ latest proposals had shown a greater willingness to compromise than previously, but Europe has asked for more spending cuts, tax increases, labor market reform, and sales of state assets. Now the deal awaits ratification by the Greek and European parliaments. If all agree, Europe and financial markets should enjoy a period of renewed stability, at least for a while. But, as with so much in this soap opera of negotiations, nothing is assured. Still, for all the remaining uncertainty, four underlying considerations can place matters in perspective:

1. The Vote

The dramatic Greek referendum clearly meant nothing. The initial proposals from Athens had already flown in the face of that vote. Ratification of the new, harsher deal will stray further the sentiments expressed by Greek voters.

The BRICS: Beyond the Hype


"The BRICS as a grouping do not represent a threat to the established world order. But that doesn’t mean that their grievances aren’t worth the time of policymakers in Washington."

The BRICS grouping—comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—is as contentious as it is misunderstood. Skeptics dismiss the BRICS out of hand, arguing that the coalition is all talk and no action. Enthusiasts, on the other hand, maintain that the BRICS portend a new global pecking order—one in which the emerging economies, led by China, will challenge and eventually overtake a West in decline. More sober analysis is hard to come by.

Last week’s summit of BRICS leaders in the Russian city of Ufa offers a timely opportunity to assess what the BRICS are, what they are not, and why it’s time for the United States to begin taking them—and the grievances they represent—seriously.

Default Settings

Ajai Sahni

India's policy on Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), on terrorism, and on the principal sponsor of terrorism in South Asia - Pakistan - has often been criticized for its inconsistencies. Over the past years, however, an increasing consistency has been evident - though perhaps not in any particularly constructive sense: the consistency of a pendulum, swinging with insistent regularity from one extreme to the other.

Another Swing of the Pendulum, November 3, 2003 

Another ‘historical’ media event has been orchestrated, with ‘unprecedented’ agreements arrived at during the meeting of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit at Ufa in Russia on July 10, 2015. Modi’s attendance at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit at Islamabad in 2016 is being packaged as a ‘breakthrough’ in Indo-Pak relations, as are the restoration of routine diplomatic and military contacts between the two countries. Crucially, it was India that sought the meeting between the two Prime Ministers at Ufa.

Meanwhile, a day earlier, on July 9, 2015, a Border Security Force (BSF) Constable was killed by Pakistani troops in the Nowgam Sector of Kupwara District, along the Line of Control (LoC), in J&K. Constable Krishan Kumar Dubey of BSF’s 119th Battalion was killed when Pakistani troops fired three sniper shots at him at the Karam picket in the Nowgam Sector.

Ukrainians Worry About Russian 5th Column Inside Their Military and Paramilitary Units

July 11, 2015

Ukraine’s Self-Defense Units Look for the Enemy Within

ODESSA, Ukraine — Striding through headquarters, Todor Panevsky gleefully announced that comrades in his self-defense unit had detained a pro-Russian separatist sympathizer in this picturesque port city.

“We’ll ask him a few questions and then we’ll hand him over to the security services,” said Panevsky, a portly part-time opera singer who has refashioned himself as the commander of an armed patriotic vanguard against secessionist sentiment in Odessa.

Odessa lies more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) west of the front line in east Ukraine, where government troops are mired in a war of attrition against Russian-backed separatists. Still, anxiety about a second front emerging here is fueled by regular news of arrests of people suspected of plotting militant anti-government activities.

Panevsky says authorities aren’t doing their job and units like his are stepping in. “The fight against separatism should be carried out by the security services, which are completely corrupt and compromised,” he said.

An Unnoticed Crisis: The End of History for Nuclear Arms Control?

JUNE 16, 2015 

Beginning with the signing of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963, an international arms control regime has limited existing nuclear arsenals and prevented further proliferation of nuclear weapons. But that entire system could soon unravel.

Beginning with the signing of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963, an international arms control regime has limited existing nuclear arsenals and prevented further proliferation of nuclear weapons. But that entire system could soon unravel. Nearly all negotiations on nuclear arms reduction and nonproliferation have come to a stop, while existing treaty structures are eroding due to political and military-technological developments and may collapse in the near future. These strategic and technical problems can be resolved if politicians are willing to work them out, and if experts approach them creatively. 
A Steady Erosion 
Problems other than nuclear arms control dominate the security agenda of the polycentric world.

8 Developments in US-Vietnam Relations Show Emerging Partnership

July 13, 2015
Various analysts and commentators have erred in their analysis of the recent visit to Washington by the secretary-general of the Vietnam Communist Party (VCP), Nguyen Phu Trong, by placing too much emphasis on the lack of a break through in defense relations. Trong’s visit was not a tipping point in Vietnam’s relations with the United States and China. Nor were arms sales and U.S. access to Cam Ranh Bay the major items on the agenda.

In 2013, when Vietnam and the United States raised their bilateral relations to a comprehensive partnership, they used this formulation because both sides independently concluded that a strategic partnership was premature. Reportedly, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed a strategic partnership with Vietnam in mid-2010. Prior to her visit, the Defense Department released its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) that mentioned developing “new strategic relations” with Vietnam. The 2014 QDR identified Vietnam as a “key partner.”

US, Singapore Launch Maritime Warfare Exercise

On July 13, the U.S. and Singapore navies began a joint maritime exercise at Changi Naval Base.
The 21st annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Singapore exercise involves 1,400 personnel from both countries and will take place from July 13 to July 24. It is part of a series of bilateral naval exercises conducted by the U.S. Navy (USN) with partners and now involves nine countries in South and Southeast Asia – Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste (See: “US Eyes Expanded Military Exercises with ASEAN Navies”).

According to Singapore’s Ministry of Defense (MINDEF), this year’s exercise focuses on honing conventional maritime warfare capabilities – including anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine operations. In terms of assets, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the Republic of Singapore Air Force is contributing five ships, a submarine, a naval helicopter, a maritime patrol aircraft and a fighter aircraft, while the USN and U.S. Marine Corps is contributing three ships, a submarine, three naval helicopters and a maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft.

Limits of US-Vietnam Relations Revealed in Communist Party Leader Visit

July 10, 2015


The recent trip is not as monumental as some are making it out to be.

Was Vietnam’s de facto supreme leader Nguyen Phu Trong’s diplomatic tour of Washington, including a White House meeting with President Barack Obama, as monumental as reported? News headlines almost universally heralded Trong’s visit, the first ever by a Communist Party chief to the United States, as a historic milestone in deepening reconciliation and burgeoning ties between the one-time battlefield adversaries.

Beyond the diplomatic niceties, however, Trong returns to Hanoi with few significant military concessions at a time of dire strategic need, including a lack of progress in fully lifting Washington’s decades-old lethal arms embargo imposed against the communist regime’s poor rights record. Obama eased the ban last year, allowing Vietnam to obtain non-lethal maritime wares that so far have done little to curb China’s rising assertiveness in the South China Sea. Analysts had expected lifting the embargo to feature prominently on the meeting agenda and may have even been announced during Trong’s high profile visit.

Time for the US to Get Clear on Taiwan Arms Sales

Just as President George W. Bush raised doubts with a much-criticized “freeze” on arms sales to Taiwan, President Barack Obama has raised questions about his adherence to the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). The TRA guides US policy in making available to Taiwan defense articles and defense services for its “self-defense.” US leadership and credibility regarding the “Rebalance” to Asia requires decisive, urgent action regarding Taiwan. That policy should include tangible follow-up actions to support Taiwan, maintain stability in the Asia-Pacific, and help Taiwan avoid coercion and conflict.

Climate change threat must be taken as seriously as nuclear war – UK minister


In foreword to Foreign Office report, Baroness Joyce Anelay highlights holistic risks of global warming, including food security, terrorism and lethal heat levels

Extreme drought threatening food security is one dangers of climate change that needs the same risk assessment as nuclear weapons, according to a new UK Foreign Office report. Photograph: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty

The threat of climate change needs to be assessed in the same comprehensive way as nuclear weapons proliferation, according to a UK foreign minister.

Baroness Joyce Anelay, minister of state at the Commonwealth and Foreign Office, said the indirect impacts of global warming, such as deteriorating international security, could be far greater than the direct effects, such as flooding. She issued the warning in a foreword to a new report on the risks of climate change led by the UK’s climate change envoy, Prof Sir David King.

Reborn in the cloud

Mark Garrett biography

Adobe executives discuss the company’s move from selling shrink-wrapped products to offering web-based software and services.July 2015

Over the past five years, Adobe Systems has remade itself as a cloud company. It no longer offers its publishing and design tools in the form of physical, shrink-wrapped products to be deployed at customers’ sites under a perpetual license—where customers pay once and can use the software indefinitely. Rather, customers subscribe to Creative Cloud, the company’s online suite of publishing and design tools, and receive frequent software upgrades as well as a range of new online-only and mobile services.

In large part because of Adobe’s transition to the cloud, the company has seen its fortunes turn. Its stock price has more than tripled, overall revenue growth has climbed from the single digits five years ago to the double digits today, and recurring revenue has climbed from 19 percent in 2011 to 70 percent of total revenue today. The number of subscribing customers is more than four million and rising.

Getting Tough on North Korean Human Rights


Despite North Korean threats, the United Nations created on June 23 an office in Seoul to combat Pyongyang’s egregious human rights violations. Although basic human rights are the quintessential element in the quality of life, the international community has paid insufficient attention to the horrendous deficiencies of human rights in North Korea.

While well-meaning public campaigns were directed at human rights violations elsewhere in the world, the North Korean regime’s attacks on its own citizens were largely ignored. This was due in part to the paucity of information from within the Hermit Kingdom.

But another factor was that, for some in South Korea, there was concern that raising the sensitive issue of human rights in North Korea would negatively impact the inter-Korean relationship. This explains why—despite 10 years of legislative debate—the South Korean parliament has failed to pass a North Korean human rights act.

65 War Other Side of the HILL







Launched in broad daylight as it was over open ground in full view of one tank squadron plus and one infantry battalion and covered by their combined weapons. Tanks and artillery opened fire when the Pakistanis emerged from cover from their forming up place.It was a foolhardy venture,the attackers were literally massacred but they persisted in their attempt to close until the few remnants fell only about 50 metres from tanks of 4 Hodsons Horse.

WHEN THE YELLOW RIBBONS FADE: RECONNECTING OUR SOLDIERS AND CITIZENS

July 14, 2015

A retired Navy officer recently told us a story that happened 20 years ago in New Jersey, when he was introduced to several very successful businessmen at an elite golf course outside his base. When a friend introduced him by his rank as “Commander,” one of these well-to-do members looked deeply confused and said, “Commander? What the heck is that?”

Today, after 14 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, a Navy commander is more likely to be recognized by his or her rank when introduced in public. But as those two wars evolve into smaller conflicts, the military is coming home once more, drawing back into its often isolated and tightly guarded bases. The yawning civil–military divide that was so evident to our Navy friend in the 1990s has every chance of returning and widening — with even more damaging effects on the U.S. military and the nation as a whole.

America's Shrinking Military: The End of U.S. Primacy?

July 14, 2015


America's political class has effectively acquiesced in a winnowing away of the country’s military supremacy, come rain or shine.
The announcement that the U.S. Army is to lose 40,000 troops and 17,000 civilian employees by 2017 has taken some by surprise. Although it has long been known that the Obama administration was to pursue reductions in the size of the military in line with sequestration, the timing by which those economies are to take place is causing some controversy—especially in light of ongoing events in the Middle East and Europe.

But these cutbacks have little to do with Obama’s assessment of the short-term security environment. Instead, they are yet more evidence of a macro-level acceptance by America’s political elite that the country’s global supremacy should be allowed to dwindle—particularly in military terms. By countenancing the strictures of sequestration instead of trying to find a bipartisan escape from mandated cuts, the U.S. political class has effectively acquiesced in a winnowing away of the country’s military supremacy, come rain or shine.

Don’t Let U.S. Special Operations Forces Become the Latest Victim of a Washington Fad

Stephen Okin

Resist the Hype: Prevent SOF From Being the Next Victim of Too Much Attention 

Politicians, like the general public, are not immune to fads. Whether it be wearing American flag lapel pins and bashing the French, or enthusiastically embracing guided munitions and signals intelligence, U.S. policymakers have repeatedly shown themselves vulnerable to the latest trends in foreign policy and military operations. Such trends usually develop in response to recent shocks or successes. For example, the proliferation of flag pins was a gut reaction to the desire to show patriotism and unity following the attacks of September 11th. Yet, while always well intentioned, these fixations oversimplify the issues they seek to address. The very flag pins that were meant to be symbols of unity quickly turned into targets for mockery and protest, as many Americans rejected the narrow and partisan version of patriotism their wearers demanded. The trends, therefore, correctly recognize that an important shift has taken place but too often fail to accurately understand its true meaning, to great detriment. Today, the latest iteration of this process is occurring with special operations. For a variety of reasons, policymakers are increasingly enamored with special operations forces (SOF) and risk damaging not only the future credibility of the forces but also the national security of the United States as well.

Resist the Hype: Prevent SOF From Being the Next Victim of Too Much Attention

July 9, 2015

Politicians, like the general public, are not immune to fads. Whether it be wearing American flag lapel pins and bashing the French, or enthusiastically embracing guided munitions and signals intelligence, U.S. policymakers have repeatedly shown themselves vulnerable to the latest trends in foreign policy and military operations. Such trends usually develop in response to recent shocks or successes. For example, the proliferation of flag pins was a gut reaction to the desire to show patriotism and unity following the attacks of September 11th. Yet, while always well intentioned, these fixations oversimplify the issues they seek to address. The very flag pins that were meant to be symbols of unity quickly turned into targets for mockery and protest, as many Americans rejected the narrow and partisan version of patriotism their wearers demanded. The trends, therefore, correctly recognize that an important shift has taken place but too often fail to accurately understand its true meaning, to great detriment. Today, the latest iteration of this process is occurring with special operations. For a variety of reasons, policymakers are increasingly enamored with special operations forces (SOF) and risk damaging not only the future credibility of the forces but also the national security of the United States as well.

Japan Could Work with NATO on Deadly Next-Generation Missile

July 13, 2015
Japan’s participation in a NATO missile development consortium could lead to multi-national projects in Asia.

Ever since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s return to the top in Tokyo in December 2012, Japan has steadily been increasing its defense cooperation with a range of partners, both in Asia and elsewhere. Abe has spearheaded defense commerce, research and development, and production cooperation with a range of states, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Australia, and India. To enable this profusion of collaborative activity, Abe’s government lifted Japan’s decades-long self-imposed arms export ban (based on the “three principles” of not exporting weapons to communist states, states involved in conflict, or states subject to United Nations embargoes). The next step for Tokyo as it looks to become a “normal” state, as far as international defense commerce is concerned, may be participation in a NATO missile building consortium. According to Reuters, Tokyo is considering collaborating with NATO in what could be its first multinational defense project.

Vietnam, Belarus Ink New Military Pact

Last week, Vietnam and Belarus signed a new military technology accord in another boost to their defense relationship.

According to the Vietnamese army newspaper, the conclusion of the military technical cooperation agreement came on July 9 during the meeting of the existing Vietnam-Belarus inter-governmental joint committee on military technology cooperation.

While the exact contents of the pact are not publicly known, sources indicate that the focus is on telecommunications for the Vietnam People’s Army (PAVN). According to IHS Jane’s, it will also emphasizetraining PAVN technicians and engineers attached to the PAVN-run military industrial complex at state-owned Belarus defense industrial facilities.

Aside from the pact, the two sides also discussed how to improve their defense relationship more generally in talks led by Vietnamese Deputy Defense Minister Senior Lieutenant General Truong Quang Khanh and Belarusian Deputy Chairman of the State Military Industrial Committee Morozo Oleg Vladimirovich. Khanh, for instance, stressed that in addition to the sharing of technological and scientific applications, both sides should also focus on strengthening other areas such as personnel training and delegation exchanges.