20 September 2015

Iran Deal Fixes Nothing

September 17, 2015

Some supporters of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), popularly known as the Iranian nuclear deal, argue that it is better to have some inspections in Iran as opposed to none. However, an agreement with Tehran should also take into account long-term consequences. Unfortunately, the JCPOA is an example of myopic thinking that contains serious weaknesses which will morph into future international security problems.

The Iranian nuclear deal has increased the time needed for Tehran to create a nuclear weapon from about two to three months to at least one year with a possible duration of ten years. However, President Barack Obama has acknowledged that Iran’s breakout time will be almost zero after the first decade or so. After the eighth year of the agreement Iran will be able to conduct advanced centrifuge research, and have few limitations on the speed of enrichment after the fifteenth year. Iran will eventually be allowed to produce as much nuclear fuel as desired. President Obama claims that the spread of nuclear weapons in the region has been stopped yet that will only last temporarily.

Iran Released 5 Senior Al Qaeda Officials From House Arrest Earlier This Year in Prisoner Swap With AQ’s Yemen Branch

September 18, 2015

Iran Released Top Members of Al Qaeda in a Trade

The government of Iran released five senior members of Al Qaeda earlier this year, including the man who stepped in to serve as the terrorist group’s interim leader immediately after Osama bin Laden’s death, and who is the subject of a $5 million bounty, according to an American official who had been briefed on the matter.

Iran’s release of the five men was part of a prisoner swap in March with Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, the group holding an Iranian diplomat, Nour Ahmad Nikbakht. Mr. Nikbakht was kidnapped in the Yemeni capital of Sana in July 2013.

The Iranian government, in a statement on Thursday after the release was reported by Sky News earlier this week, denied that the five men had been freed. The American official, who was granted anonymity to discuss the matter, confirmed the release of Saif al-Adl, a senior member of Al Qaeda’s ruling body, known as the Shura Council, who oversaw the organization immediately after bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs in Pakistan in 2011.

Analysts tracking Al Qaeda described the release as alarming, given the seniority of the five men. It comes at a time when much of the organization’s leadership has been lost in back-to-back airstrikes, including the death earlier this summer of Nasser al-Wuhayshi, considered to be the organization’s general manager. At the same time, the organization had been hemorrhaging members to the more brutal and media-savvy Islamic State.

Like It or Not, America and Russia Need to Cooperate in Syria

September 17, 2015

Many outside observers view the Russian military buildup in Syria as a way for President Putin to force his way through to the negotiating table with Barack Obama ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. There is some truth to that. To be effective, diplomacy should be backed by facts on the ground, and Moscow is busy creating them—in the face of mounting U.S. concerns. However, coercive diplomacy is just another form of diplomacy.

The current spike in Russia’s involvement in Syria, however, does not need to be linked solely to UNGA. Even without it, Moscow would now be sending more weapons and more instructors to Syria. As the Islamic State has expanded its control over more territory in Syria, it has posed more of a threat to the survival of the Russian-backed regime in Damascus. Thus, Moscow’s Plan A now is to help Bashar al-Assad keep his remaining strongholds; its Plan B is to help him secure the Alawite enclave around Latakia.

The Kremlin’s upping the ante in Syria is explained by its vision of IS as a threat to Russia itself, and Putin’s view of Assad as one who stands up to that threat and refuses to give up. Fighting the enemy abroad, by bolstering an ally is preferable, of course, to having to fight in the Caucasus or Central Asia. It is also important not to appear weak under pressure: in Putin’s memorable phrase, “the weak get beaten.”

Tajikistan Pins Recent Violence on Islamic Party

September 18, 2015

Slowly, over months and years, the government of Tajikistan has been eroding the peace accord that ended the civil war. On September 4, a pair of attacks in and near Dushanbe set off a chain of accusations that have seemingly ended with the final closure of the country’s only real opposition party. If the state is to be believed, a constellation of bogeymen connived to overthrow the government right under the defense ministry’s nose.

The Tajik Prosecutor-General’s office released an official statement today linking the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), its exiled leader Muhiddin Kabiri, and (until the day of the attacks) Deputy Defense Minister Abduhalim Nazarzoda. The statement says that Nazarzoda, on behalf of Kabiri and the IRPT, established 20 “small criminal groups” in recent years. The two attacks in early September–in Vahdat and Dushanbe–were preceded by an influx of “so-called charitable funds of foreign countries.”

Reading Tajik government narratives about what’s happening is like playing post-Soviet paranoia bingo. There are Islamic terrorists, warlords, conspiracies and foreign money.

EU splits in Russian media war


Even as the EU mobilizes to fight Russian propaganda, European governments are fighting each other over the best way to go about it.

A new effort by Brussels to monitor and respond to the perceived bias of Kremlin-controlled media such as Russia 24 or Sputnik has exposed familiar fissures on the Continent.

As the Russia media task force known as East Stratcom begins operating at the end of this month, a new alternative project has emerged and is gaining some traction with countries that are dissatisfied with the existing EU initiative.
Narrow mandate

The divisions reflect deep-seated foreign policy differences within the 28-member bloc that came to surface after Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea last year and stirred up a violent conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Russia has been sponsoring systematic cyberespionage in Europe, the US and Asia for seven years, Report

September 18, 2015

Kremlin-backed hackers spying on Europe, Asia, US: security firm

Russia has been sponsoring systematic cyberespionage in Europe, the US and Asia for seven years, Finnish data security firm F-Secure claimed in a report published on Thursday.

The report “links a number of state-sponsored cyber attacks to a hacking group engaged in Russian intelligence gathering,” F-Secure said in a statement.

The report identified a group of hackers called “the Dukes” and gives an outline of “seven years of their attacks against governments and related organisations in the United States, Europe, and Asia.”

The group uses a family of unique malware tools which steal information by infiltrating computer networks and sending the data back to the attackers, it said.

Some of the target organisations listed in the report include the former Georgian Information Center on NATO, Georgia’s defence ministry, the foreign ministries of both Turkey and Uganda, and other government institutions and political think tanks in the United States, Europe and Central Asia.

Newly Released Photos Show the White House Emergency Bunker on 9/11

Peter Koop 
September 17, 2015

On July 24, the US National Archives released a series of 356 never-before-seen photos, most of them taken on September 11, 2001 inside the emergency bunker under the White House.

The bunker is officially called the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC), but White House officials also call it the shelter. It was constructed in 1942 underneath the East Wing of the White House, which was primarily built to cover the building of the bunker. It is said the PEOC can withstand the blast overpressure from a nuclear detonation.

One of the very few photos from inside the PEOC available before the recent release

The photos were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by Colette Neirouz Hanna, coordinating producer for the FRONTLINE documentary film team. They focus on the reaction from then-vice president Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials during the terrorist attacks.

How Cheney reached the White House emergency bunker was reconstructed in the official report of the 9/11 Commission, which was issued on July 22, 2004:


SEPTEMBER 17, 2015

Time to crack open some dusty books to understand what drives this strategy of the weak.

There’s a hardy perennial question among practitioners and scholars of strategy. Namely, how do weaker warring parties overcome the strong? Sometimes they do. Looking back through history, one researcher found that lesser combatants prevailed around 30 percent of the time during the 19th and 20th centuries — and that their prospects for vanquishing the strong improved as that age of mechanized warfare went along. Such figures seem intuitively reasonable.

Studying how lesser antagonists won bygone conflicts is no idle inquiry, then, but a question carrying real strategic import. The weak have to do more with less. They covet the keys to victory when squaring off against the strong. The strong want to withhold those keys, preserving the mismatch of forces and guaranteeing their own triumph. Being an effective general, then, depends on understanding how the weak win.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Growing Pains

September 18, 2015

We now see that all this summer’s talk about a resurgent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was at least premature, if not enduringly overoptimistic. Earlier this month, the presidents of the leading Eurasian countries held important leadership meetings in Beijing on the occasion of the Chinese military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Tellingly, not even the Chinese hosts, traditionally the SCO’s main boosters, highlighted the institution’s supposedly new momentum following its mid-July leadership summit in the Russian city of Ufa.

The July 9-10 decision of the SCO Heads-of-State Council to, in principle, expand the institution’s roster of full members to include India and Pakistan was admittedly newsworthy. For more than a decade the SCO had been deadlocked over the enlargement issue. The same six countries that founded the SCO in 2001 – China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – are still its only full members, despite the growing number of formal observer countries, “dialogue partners,” and other SCO affiliates and aspirants seeking that status.

Is Russia Building a Top-Secret Nuclear-Armed Underwater Drone?

September 17, 2015

Russia is purportedly working on a top-secret unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), which, once operational, will be armed with megaton-class nuclear warheads Bill Gertz over at The Washington Free Beacon reports. Moscow’s newest arms program, code-named “Kanyon” by the U.S. military, has allegedly been designed to target both naval ports used by the U.S. Navy’s submarine fleet as well as U.S. coastal regions. According to Gertz:

Officials familiar with details of the Kanyon program said the weapon is envisioned as an autonomous submarine strike vehicle armed with a nuclear warhead ranging in size to “tens” of megatons in yield. A blast created by a nuclear weapon that size would create massive damage over wide areas. A megaton is the equivalent of 1 million tons of TNT.

Additional details on the program are murky. “This is an unmanned sub that will have a high-speed and long-distance capability,” one source states without offering further information.

Republican Debate #2: Game On, Gloves Off

By Mercy A. Kuo and Angelica O. Tang
September 17, 2015

It was game on as the gloves came off at the second Republican presidential debate. Under pressure to prove their potency, each candidate sought to up the ante. Amid the electrifying atmosphere at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, sparks flew from turbo-charged retorts and rebuts, against a backdrop of President Reagan’s Air Force One – a symbol of U.S. presidential power. The debate delivered symbolism, showmanship, and substance in full force. Yet the absence of Asia was a glaring gap, even if the specter of China seeped into the debate. We share four ringside snapshots of observations:

China Specter. China poses a strategic challenge that nearly all candidates recognized in differing degrees. Scott Walker’s calling into question the White House’s rationale for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit in light of China’s cyberattacks came across as political posturing rather than displaying a comprehensive understanding of U.S.-China relations. Rand Paul emphasized the importance of engaging directly and not being rash with China and Russia, and keeping lines of communication open. Jeb Bush affirmed the need to employ “offensive tactics” on issues as cybersecurity, but to use many tools in taking a strong stance toward China. Marco Rubio’s hawkish position on China accentuates his preference for a stronger U.S. global role.

World Bank: Brace For Impact

September 17, 2015

The World Bank has warned developing countries to brace for turbulence from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy shift, amid a continued slowdown in emerging economies.

Adding to its earlier warnings of potential “panic and turmoil,” on Tuesday the Washington-based international financial institution made its position even more explicit ahead of the Fed’s key monetary policy meeting, due Thursday afternoon U.S. EST.

In a new research paper, the World Bank said while the Fed’s move had been widely telegraphed to world financial markets and the public, it still ran the risk of causing increased market volatility.

“The Fed has set the stage for the tightening cycle carefully and there is every reason to envision a smooth transition with benign effects on emerging and frontier markets. However, there can be financial market volatility even around a long-anticipated Fed policy change. This could lead to a sizable drop in capital inflows to emerging and frontier markets,” the bank said in a statement.

Ukraine & Europe: What Should Be Done?

Because of the structural defects of the euro, the European authorities have had to become masters of the art of muddling through one crisis after another. This practice is popularly known as kicking the can down the road although it would be more accurate to describe it as kicking the can uphill so that it keeps coming back. But Europe now faces at least five crises at the same time: four internal ones—the euro, Greece, migration, and the British referendum on whether to remain in the EU—and an external one, Russian aggression against Ukraine. The various crises tend to reinforce one another. Both the public and the authorities are overwhelmed. What can be done to arrest and reverse the process of disintegration? 

Obviously five crises cannot all be solved at the same time. There is a need to give preferential treatment to some of them without neglecting any. I have been strenuously arguing that Ukraine should be given top priority. The internal crises tend to divide the European Union into debtor and creditor countries, the UK and the Continent, as well as “arrival” and “destination” countries. By contrast, an external threat like the Russian aggression against Ukraine ought to unite the European Union. 

There is a new Ukraine that is determined to become the opposite of the old Ukraine. The old Ukraine had much in common with the old Greece that proved so difficult to reform: an economy that was dominated by oligarchs and a political class that exploited its position for private gain instead of serving the public. The new Ukraine, by contrast, is inspired by the spirit of the Maidan revolution in February 2014 and seeks to radically reform the country. By treating Ukraine like a second-class Greece that is not even a member of the European Union, Europe is in danger of turning the new Ukraine back into the old Ukraine. That would be a fatal mistake because the new Ukraine is one of the most valuable assets that Europe has, both for resisting Russian aggression and for recapturing the spirit of solidarity that characterized the European Union in its early days. 

Rewriting the Rules

In this new report, the Roosevelt Institute exposes the link between the rapidly rising fortunes of America’s wealthiest citizens and increasing economic insecurity for everyone else. The conclusion is clear: piecemeal policy change will not do. To improve economic performance and create shared prosperity, we must rewrite the rules of our economy.

Why the Rich Are So Much Richer

by Joseph E. Stiglitz 

The fundamental truth about American economic growth today is that while the work is done by many, the real rewards largely go to the few. The numbers are, at this point, woefully familiar: the top one percent of earners take home more than 20 percent of the income, and their share has more than doubled in the last thirty-five years. The gains for people in the top 0.1 percent, meanwhile, have been even greater. Yet over that same period, average wages and household incomes in the US have risen only slightly, and a number of demographic groups (like men with only a high school education) have actually seen their average wages decline. 

Income inequality has become such an undeniable problem, in fact, that even Republican politicians have taken to decrying its effects. It’s not surprising that a Democrat like Barack Obama would call dealing with inequality “the defining challenge of our time.” But when Jeb Bush’s first big policy speech of 2015 spoke of the frustration that Americans feel at seeing “only a small portion of the population riding the economy’s up escalator,” it was a sign that inequality had simply become too obvious, and too harmful, to be ignored. 

Burkina Faso’s Elite Troops Just Took Control of the Country

SEPTEMBER 17, 2015

The West African nation is no stranger to military coups. And the latest caps months of tension between the transitional government and a unit of shadowy presidential security guards. 

Burkina Faso is in the throes of a military coup led by a shadowy presidential guard that operates above the law and threatens to derail the fledgling democracy’s progress. Members of the Regiment of Presidential Security (RSP), allied with former president Blaise Compaoré, stormed a cabinet meeting yesterday (Sept. 16) arresting the interim president and prime minister, along with two other cabinet members. Military leaders have dissolved parliament and appointed Compaoré’s ex-chief of staff as president.

Omar is a reporter for Quartz covering East Africa based in Tanzania's commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. He was most recently a Hubert H. Humphrey Fulbright Fellow at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. He has been a Senior Producer for a BBC Swahili Service weekly ... Full Bio


SEPTEMBER 17, 2015
This is a very special #NatSec2016 edition of our 5 Questions series. I had a chance to speak with Kiron Skinner, the director of the Institute of Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University and a foreign policy adviser to Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign. She answered questions about Sen. Paul, the GOP race, and Ronald Reagan. And of course, we asked our special War on the Rocks-themed fifth question!

Remember to sign up for our #NatSec2016 newsletter to get our weekly roll-up of the politics of national security!

1. You’ve advised a number of Republican presidential candidates in the past. In this election cycle, you’re advising Sen. Rand Paul. What drew you to his campaign?

From the start of his career in politics, Rand Paul has had a genuine appreciation for the factors that make the United States strong at home and abroad. Among them is continually addressing the issue of race and rights in our country. His heartfelt engagements with African Americans drew me to him. That’s one of the reasons I am part of his campaign team.

The GOP's CNN Foreign Policy Showdown: Full of False Narratives?

September 17, 2015

Wednesday night’s Republican primary debate was a grueling three-plus hour ordeal in which foreign policy received substantial coverage. Unfortunately, it was also full of misleading oversimplifications, and policy prescriptions which themselves seemed to be based on an understanding of foreign affairs no more nuanced than soundbites. By relying on such simplistic half-truths, candidates give us no idea of how they would truly handle a range of complex international issues, and worse, send the impression that they don’t even understand such complexity exists

Thanks to the many inane questions – asking candidates to choose their own Secret Service nicknames stands out as particularly fatuous – the debate seemed at times more akin to a beauty pageant than a political forum. It certainly included the usual string of incorrect or semi-true facts on foreign affairs. Donald Trump, perhaps unsurprisingly, followed up his inability to tell the Quds Force apart from the Kurdish people with an assertion that Iran is an Arab state. Ted Cruz reiterated a number of key falsehoods on the Iranian nuclear deal, chief among them the debunked idea that Iran will be permitted to inspect its own nuclear facilities. 

The GOP Fights Back

September 17, 2015

This was the debate in which the Republican mainstream began to retake control of the primary process and, by extension, their party. After seeing Donald Trump soar in the polls for too long, the GOP’s “establishment” candidates finally seized the opportunity to lambaste Trump in a public forum and make the case for his dismissal. Their concerted efforts fell far short of an all-out assault and might not put a dent in Trump’s popularity right away, but the opening salvo unmistakably has been fired. In time, this might well be remembered as the inflection point after which Trump’s political fortunes began to dwindle.

American political parties are a strange thing indeed. They are not private members’ clubs in the same way that parties are in most Western democracies; one does not “join” the Republican or Democratic parties, but instead registers an affiliation with local authorities. Parties in the United States are quasi-public institutions; almost uniquely in the democratic world, their internal rules, regulations and processes are determined by state legislatures and not party regulars. It makes no sense to talk about party “membership” but rather party “identification.”

Republicans Had a (Sort of) Foreign Policy Debate Last Night: Who Won?

September 17, 2015

Yet that was briefly the case at last night’s Republican presidential candidates debate. While Marco Rubio and Scott Walker relentlessly tried to out-hawk each other, Dr. Ben Carson sounded like the in-house therapist, gently trying to talk down the others with aphorismic advice. “There are smart ways to do things and there are muscular ways to do things and sometimes you have to look at both of those to come up with the right solution,” he counseled.

Carson’s overarching point—that after 9/11 America should have pursued energy independence instead of the Taliban—was impractical. Nevertheless his answer stood out. There was a strong contingent of uber-hawks on the dais last night. But there was also a motley brigade of less-than-hawks who provided some dissent when it was badly needed.

Take the scuffle over the Iran deal. Every Senate Republican and every House Republican but one voted against it, positioning the scenery for what should have been universal opposition. Yet the pugnacious Governor John Kasich chose instead to defend working within the deal’s framework. And while Rand Paul declared that he’d vote against the agreement, he said the idea of a future president jettisoning it was “absurd.”

The Republican Debates: Who Won, Who Lost and Who Flopped

September 17, 2015

The second round of Republican presidential debates was a whirlwind, as a seemingly limitless field of candidates engaged in a seemingly endless series of arguments. If CNN’s broadcast from Ronald Reagan’s library were a movie, it would have been The Never-Ending Story.

Despite the absence of Carly Fiorina (promoted to primetime), Rick Perry (departed from the race) and Jim Gilmore (he did not make the kiddie table), the undercard debate for lower-performing candidates was improved as a whole. No, nobody did as well as Fiorina last time but shrunk to a manageable four candidates there were some intelligent exchanges about important issues.

Lindsey Graham was the most improved. The South Carolina senator sleepwalked through his first debate, comically pairing apocalyptic descriptions of the world with an understated delivery that made it sound like he was discussing drying paint rather than imminent death at the hands of jihadists.

CNN's GOP Debates: Big on Showbiz, Less on Substance?

September 17, 2015

Somewhere in the sprawling three-hour, eleven-candidate Republican presidential debate on CNN last night there was a serious debate between serious people. But to find it, you would have to program your TiVo to clip out all the appearances by Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee, as well as two-thirds of all the other candidates’ airtime. What the debate demonstrated most of all was how active a role media organizations like CNN have played in shaping the Republican race.

As Fox News had done in August, CNN divided the Republican field into two debates, with more candidates in the top tier than the lower one. This had the effect of making the “kiddie table” debate more substantive than the main event. Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, and George Pataki may have no hope of winning their party’s nomination, but between them distinct philosophies of government emerged. Jindal played the angry outsider, calling for the “nuclear option”—discarding Senate protocol to disallow a filibuster—to stop the Iran deal. Graham, between refrains of vowing to send U.S. ground troops to Syria, accepted his role as the experienced Washington insider to insist that Jindal’s theatrics couldn’t change the legislative reality, which was that opponents of the deal didn’t have the votes to override a veto.

Nepal's New Constitution: 65 Years in the Making

By Hari Phuyal
September 18, 2015

After years of debate, Nepal is celebrating a new constitution. Out of the 598 members of the Constituent Assembly, 507 voted for the new constitution, 25 voted against, and 66 abstained in a vote on September 16, 2015. Some small parties of the Tharu and Madhesi ethnic communities organized protests against the constitution, leading to widespread violence in southern Nepal. More than 40 have people died in the violence, half of whom were members of Nepal’s Police and Armed Police Force.

President Ram Baran Yadav will promulgate the new constitution on September 20, 2015 in a ceremony expected to be attended by members of parliament, Cabinet members, members of constitutional bodies, high ranking officers of Nepal’s security forces, and members of the diplomatic community. Once the constitution is promulgated, Nepal will have completed a 65-year-old quest.

The Constitution’s Principles

F-15C, F-35 to boost US air-to-air capacity, not more F-22s

17 SEPTEMBER, 2015 

The head of US Air Combat Command says it would be his dream to restart production of the Lockheed Martin F-22 air superiority jet as potential adversaries like Russia and China “close the gap” with Western air power.

But the chances of the Raptor, which is still considered the world’s premier air-to-air combat jet, re-entering serial production is likely to remain a dream due to year-to-year defence budget uncertainty and the introduction of the air force’s top three priorities – the Lockheed F-35 multirole fighter, Boeing KC-46 tanker, and Long-Range Strike Bomber.

“I dream about it every night in the hopes it will happen, but I can’t tell you what the cost would be,” says Gen Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle. “With the fiscal environment we’re operating under, I don’t know if we’d be able to get that through Congress or OSD (the Office of the Secretary of Defense).”

F-22 procurement quantities were trimmed repeatedly, going from 750 to 339 and production was finally capped at 195 aircraft – which Carlisle calls the “biggest mistake ever”.

The Evolution of the Modern Carrier Air Wing

September 17, 2015

CIMSEC is excited to share that the Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower will release on 8 October on Capitol Hill a report on the future of the aircraft carrier. Titled “Sharpening the Spear: The Carrier, the Joint Force, and High-End Conflict”, it systematically analyzes Carrier Strike Group vulnerabilities and offers a number of innovative recommendations in terms of concepts, capabilities, and capacities. This article is inspired by the forthcoming report.

In the period following World War II, the U.S. Navy sought to leverage its relatively uncontested sea control to develop the capability to conduct nuclear strike missions from carriers. Until the removal of carriers from the Single Integrated Operational Plan in 1976, the nuclear strike mission led to the development of heavy attack aircraft that could conduct long-range missions against Communist targets. Carrier aviation also played a crucial role in providing fighter, attack, and electronic warfare aircraft for employment in conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. In 1975 Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft carriers were decommissioned, thus concentrating airborne ASW capability in the now multi-mission large deck carriers.


SEPTEMBER 18, 2015

On September 17, 1939, the Soviet military invaded Poland. In response to the Nazi German onslaught of September 1, the Polish forces had already fallen back to the southern and eastern parts of the country. The Soviet invasion eviscerated what was left of Polish defenses. By October 6, the German and Soviet forces effectively controlled the entire country. Military intervention in Eastern Europe and mendacity from Moscow were the order of the day then, as they are once again today. Thus, it may be interesting to review the battle for history over the “secret additional protocol” that sealed the fate of Poland, among other states in the region.

The carving up of Poland had been planned in August of that year. On August 23, Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop signed the Nazi–Soviet pact, a move that stunned the world and paved the way for Germany to invade Poland with impunity. While the main text of the pact was made public, a “secret additional protocol” was not publicized. This protocol said that Lithuania fell within the German sphere of influence but that the other two Baltic States and Finland were in that of the Soviets. It registered Germany’s “complete political disinterestedness” in the Romanian region of Bessarabia. Also, it declared that “in the event of a territorial and political rearrangement of the areas belonging to the Polish state,” the spheres of influence would be divided “… approximately by the line of the rivers Narew, Vistula, and San” — German to the west and Soviet to the east.


SEPTEMBER 17, 2015

Is the technological arms race offered by the third offset strategy desirable or even winnable?

Invisibility cloaks? Mako anti-antisubmarine drones? Robotic “lobsters”? Stims? F-40 Shrike fighters? Imaginative science fiction or harbingers of the future? In his recent novel Ghost Fleet, Peter Singer, one of Washington’s most influential technologists, has written a fictional account of a future war with China that has caught the attention of national security geeks. With co-author August Cole he crafts a dystopian view of America’s wartime prospects against a fictional Chinese Directorate that allies Big Business and the PLA. It features capabilities and weapons at the far edge of the current science and technology spectrum but with just enough reality to provoke strategists and planners worried about the future of conflict. The tale is all the more credible for having been written by a Brookings Institution analyst with two big technology-centric books on drones and cyberwar under his belt, a daunting speaker’s schedule, and, presumably, an insider’s access to the latest thinking about military technologies.

Nepal's Constitution: Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire?

By Alexandre Dor
September 18, 2015

After eight years under an interim constitution, and amarathon vote that started early Sunday and continued until 11:45 pm Wednesday night, Nepal has ratified its newest constitution. Erupting in loud cheer, the Constituent Assembly rejoiced as Speaker Subash Nembang officially announced the adoption of the country’s seventh constitution since 1948.

In a message over twitter, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala commemorated the historic moment by declaring, “[I]t is an issue of pride for all Nepalis that the people’s constitution has been passed from the Constituent Assembly.” The Nepali private sector, from tourism to the poultry industry, took it a step further and expressed elation over the new constitution with hopes the end of political gridlock will bring an economic boom.


A naive article in the August 26th New York Times raised the question of whether U.S. military headquarters were overstating the results of our campaign against ISIS. Of course they were, and are. How do I know? Because such puffery is standard operating procedure all the way up the chain of command.

The Times reported breathlessly that

The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating allegations that military officials have skewed intelligence assessments about the United States-led campaign in Iraq against the Islamic State to provide a more optimistic account of progress…

The investigation began after at least one civilian Defense Intelligence Agency analyst told the authorities that he had evidence that officials at United States Central Command…were improperly reworking the conclusions of intelligence assessments prepared for policy makers, including President Obama.

Yawn. The only surprise here is that the Times is, or acts, surprised. It may actually be surprised, because the quality of reporting on military affairs has gone to hell in the last three or four decades. One hopes President Obama and those close to him know most if not all intelligence estimates they are given are puffed to favor whatever the military bureaucracy wants to be true. That means whatever makes it look good and supports the case for more money.

19 September 2015

Confrontation with Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

By Maj Gen Gurbakhsh Singh
18 Sep , 2015

On the third day after the fall of Singapore, the Japanese were to take possession of the city on 17th February 1942. A day earlier, all white troops had gathered at Changi Camp in order to surrender. On that very day Lieutenant General A.E. Percival, GOC-in-C, promulgated his last ‘Order of the Day.’ In this order he announced some immediate gallantry awards. Two of the awards were DSOs (Distinguished Service Orders).

One of these was awarded to the Commanding Officer of the 5/11 Sikh Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Parkins and the other to me. Since this order could not be sent out of the camp or Singapore due to dislocation of all communications, it was nicely packed, sealed and put in a steel box and buried in the camp itself. It was made incumbent on the senior surviving officer among those who were present at the time to bring this box and the order contained therein to the notice of the Army Authorities when Singapore was re-captured. No news of the award had reached me.

Public standing of the Indian military

By Maj Gen Mrinal Suman
18 Sep , 2015

A number of social scientists and military historians have been trying to discover reasons for Britain’s success in ruling the world while retaining its own independence throughout known history. Many are of the view that the secret of the British success lies in the fact that it always values its soldiers and the military, unlike most countries who forget them the day the war is over. No other country bestows so much honour on its war heroes.

To prove their point further, they recall that before World War II; it was not uncommon to see placards hanging outside some restaurants in Paris which read, “Dogs, lackeys and soldiers not allowed.” On the other hand, even pregnant women used to get up and offer seats to soldiers in London buses. When the war broke out, they recall, France capitulated in no time while Britain remained undefeated.

Why India Needs to Make Itself Heard in Nepal

By Hannah E. Haegeland
September 17, 2015

Nepal is in trouble. Since the April 2015 earthquakes, in which over 9,000 Nepali lives were lost, hurried legislative action in Kathmandu has triggered instability across the country, particularly along the Indian border. After eight and half years under an interim constitution, on August 8 the Constituent Assembly (CA) reached an agreement on seven provinces under a contested, proposed constitution. After years of political stagnation, the desperate aftermath of the earthquake seems to have reenergized the CA which aims to announce this new constitution on September 20.

In the last two weeks alone, however, protests against the proposed document have resulted in 40 deaths—both of protesters and police. Much of the tension is in the Terai, along the Indian border, where many of Nepal’s minority communities reside, including most Nepali Muslims. Major protests by Madhesi and Tharu communities opposed to the proposed federalist mapping have become increasingly violent from lynching toburning people alive. The newly proposed 7 provinces would divide these communities, making them even smaller minorities in separate states. Unrest in the Terai has negative implications for India’s border security increasing the likelihood of spillovers of instability and terrorist attacks. India has an interest in postponing the constitutional process so the CA can ensure it is inclusive and durable.

Tackling Corruption in India

September 16, 2015

India stands to gain immensely from combining effective, inexpensive and logistically simple solutions with the more arduous task of strengthening important institutions and State capabilities.

Last year on the campaign trail, Narendra Modi touted the catchy slogan, “Na khaunga na khane dunga”. If the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were elected to power, Modi would neither indulge in corruption, nor tolerate it in his government. It was, at least in part, on the basis of such pledges that BJP stormed to power in the 2014 general election. 

Yet, 15 months into the government, corruption allegations once again dominate the headlines. The recent monsoon session of Parliament was a washout thanks to opposition protests over the Vyapam scandal haunting the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, and allegations that two party officials improperly used their influence to assist fugitive cricket magnate Lalit Modi. The BJP responded to the barrage of allegations by releasing a laundry list of scandals in seven graft-tainted states under the Congress party’s rule.

However, despite ample media coverage of corruption, there remains a gap between headline-making scandals, the policy options under discussion, and the actual evidence base drawn from empirical research on corruption. The scams that gain widespread attention are often the ones that make for the best ratings or the most sensational headlines. Our cursory inventory of corruption scandals taking place since 2000—scams that merited serious media coverage—sums to over Rs.2,607 trillion, with the median scam valued at Rs.12,000 crore. Equally costly, but far less commented upon, is day-to-day corruption that never reaches the media’s glare. Transparency International estimates Indians pay bribes totalling Rs.21,000 crore every year to access government services.