18 January 2016

101 Eminent Academics Write To EPW Board Over Editor's Departure

HuffPost India | By Indrani Basu
Posted: 15/01/2016 
There is a cold war brewing at the venerable Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) and since it involves some very eminent scholars, academics and editors, the tussle is all very genteel and after reading long and multiple correspondence, you would still be none the wiser about what the matter really is.
Broadly, it seems like there is a difference of opinion between C. Rammanohar Reddy, the editor of EPW, and the board of the Sameeksha Trust that owns the magazine. The board includes such weighty names as historian Romila Thapar, economist Deepak Nayyar and sociologist Andre Beteille, among others.

The difference seems to be over the editor's plans for the 50th anniversary of the EPW. A special volume on Indian history and a film on the magazine has been planned. The board is apparently not very impressed, or wanted things to be done differently. And the editor, who had been planning to step down anyway, announced his departure abruptly and ahead of the celebrations.
The board has accepted his decision to leave. Besides, it has not included him in the search committee for the new editor, and it has also not given him a continuing role, such as, let's say, as a member of the board itself.
Thus far it seems like small internal matters of an organization. But EPW is no ordinary organization.

It is a deeply beloved publication and institution among scholars and academics interested in India. To be noticed as an academic, you must pass through the portals of the EPW early and often. Its readership is small, but staggeringly influential. And Reddy is seen as an editor who ably led the magazine after the departure of the legendary Krishna Raj, who edited EPW for 35 years. The goodwill enjoyed by EPW and its editors really has no parallel in India.
And now, some of its most influential readers feel the editor has been wronged. They have come together and written a letter to the trustees. They want Ram Reddy to both be part of the search committee for the next editor, and also be named to the board of trustees.

And if the board has some weighty names, the collective academic might of those who have come out supporting the editor, might make you faint. It is an honour roll of scholarship on India, a parade of brilliance in economics, history, statistics, sociology, anthropology and others. There is even a Nobel prize winner thrown in there for good measure. Gulp.
Ram Reddy, you lucky lucky man.
Read the full letter here:

India-China Dispute: Nehru’s Himalayan Blunder

NS Rajaram is a Indian mathematician and physicist with a Phd in mathematics with papers on statistics and artificial intelligence. He has written many paradigm changing books namely In search if the real Krishna, Sarasvati river and the Vedic Civilisation and co-authored many books. He is also credited to have worked with professor Jha to decipher the Indus script. More can be read about him on his wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N._S._Rajaram
15 Jan, 2016
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is remembered for his blunder in Kashmir, but his surrendering Indian interests in Tibet may prove to be more lasting. The border dispute is the result of a series of avoidable errors.

Nehru and the China-Tibet relations
In the year 1950, two momentous events shook Asia and the world. One was the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and the other, Chinese intervention in the Korean War. The first was near, on India’s borders, the other, far away in the Korean Peninsula where India had little at stake. By all canons of logic, India should have devoted utmost attention to the immediate situation in Tibet, and let interested parties like China and the U.S. sort it out in Korea.
But Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s Prime Minister, did exactly the opposite. He treated the Tibetan crisis in a cursory fashion, while getting heavily involved in Korea. India today is paying for this policy, by being the only country of its size in the world without an official boundary with its giant neighbor. Tibet soon disappeared from the map. As in Kashmir, Nehru sacrificed national interest at home in pursuit of international glory abroad.

India at the time maintained missions in Lhasa and Gyangtse. Due to the close relations that existed between India and Tibet going back centuries and also because of the unsettled conditions in China, Tibet’s transactions with the outside world were conducted mainly through India. Well into 1950, the Indian Government regarded Tibet as a free country.
The Chinese announced their invasion of Tibet on 25 October 1950. According to them, it was to ‘free Tibet from imperialist forces’, and consolidate its border with India. Nehru announced that he and the Indian Government were “extremely perplexed and disappointed with the Chinese Government’s action…” Nehru also complained that he had been “led to believe by the Chinese Foreign Office that the Chinese would settle the future of Tibet in a peaceful manner by direct negotiation with the representatives of Tibet…”

Even if we want it, we can no longer punish Pakistan with a short, sharp raid....

How should Prime Minister Narendra Modi manage his Pakistan policy? Let's look at it without emotion.
Foreign policy usually is the domain of a handful of experts. Neither you nor I really know what the contours are of India's policy with New Zealand, Norway or Nigeria, nor do we care.
This lack of public interest gives those handful of experts and the politicians they report to flexibility and space. If there is a tweak or change needed in the way India deals with such nations, it is easy to bring about.

Sometimes, however, foreign policy comes into the popular domain. It forced itself into the American electoral space through the attacks of September 11. Nations that America had ignored for years needed to be aggressively engaged because of public pressure. The country went to war because the population demanded retribution. Those politicians who may have otherwise counselled caution (like Hillary Clinton) were unable to resist. The fallout of those actions is still with us, and that is a different matter.
On Pakistan, our policy is at the moment in the popular domain. Two things have brought it there. The mischief in India by elements of the Pakistani state and the militias they have worked with for three decades is the first. This is episodic and the public interest in this (as represented by the number of television debates) waxes and wanes.

On the face of it, terror is not that big an issue for India. Leaving aside the conflict areas of Kashmir, the Northeast and the Naxal belt, total terrorism fatalities in 2015 were 13, in 2014 they were 4, in 2013 they were 25 and the year before that 1. These numbers include those killed as terrorists. By any measure, terrorism is not a primary concern for Indians as the data show. Five lakh Indian children die each year of malnutrition, to put the numbers in perspective.
But we must accept that because at least some of it is deliberately exported to us, there will always be more anger associated with such events. Now there is a second aspect that has brought terrorism and our Pakistan policy into the public domain. That is the BJP's and particularly the Prime Minister's insistence that previous governments were soft.

Reform A Continuous Process, No Single Budget Can Be Game-Changer: Jayant Sinha

“Reform is a continuous process. Its transformation of India is a continuous process” says Minister of State for Finance, Jayant Sinha, in an exclusive interview with Swarajya. 
After PAHAL and the give-it-up campaign to rationalise the LPG subsidy bill and trials with direct benefit transfer (DBT) in food (under way) and kerosene (proposed from 1 April), the Narendra Modi government is mulling another innovative step on the subsidy front.
“We are coming up with more rational limits on consumption,” minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha told Swarajya in an exclusive interview. Citing the example of the 12-cylinder cap on subsidised LPG that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had initiated, Sinha said“that is a good approach to other subsidies as well”.

The government, he said, is looking at whether it is possible to figure out a rational allocation per individual for, say, kerosene and food. “Can we come up with rational limits on consumption and along with strengthening delivery so that the targeted beneficiary gets it, we can ensure that there is a certain minimum threshold level that everyone gets, but no more. Because if you give more, then a lot of it is diverted into the open market.”

This will be the third prong of the government’s approach to subsidy rationalisation. The other two are universal social security – “there is a whole package of benefits that we are putting together” – and improving the delivery process so benefits reach the targeted beneficiaries.
Talking on a range of issues relating to the economy, Sinha is not unduly perturbed over the poor industrial production numbers that came in on Tuesday. “We can’t get carried away by month-to-month fluctuations. . . We have to look at the longer term picture, we have to look at the trends and the trends are very robust and positive.”
Going by the GDP growth rate, inflation, fiscal deficit, current account deficit and pick up in multiple sectors, India is doing rather well, he notes-“Particularly if you compare us globally, you will find today India is an island of stability and growth among some very stormy global waters.”

** George Soros Has Got A Backache Again And This Time It’s Because Of China

Vivek Kaul is the author of the 'Easy Money' trilogy. He tweets @kaul_vivek
15 Jan, 2016
Why is George Soros so much worried about China?
George Soros has got some of the biggest macro calls right over the years. How does he do it? If you were to get around to reading all the books that Soros has written over the years, you will come to realise that he follows something known as the theory of reflexivity to get in and out of financial markets.
Nevertheless, his son Robert, offers another explanation for his success inMichael Kaufman’s Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire. As Robert puts it-
My father will sit down and give you theories to explain why he does this or that. But I remember seeing it as a kid and thinking, Jesus Christ, at least half of this is bullshit, I mean, you know the reason he changes his position in the market or whatever is because his back starts killing him. It has nothing to do with reason. He literally goes into a spasm, and it’s his early warning sign.
Soros himself has had his doubts about how he makes money. As he writes in The New Paradigm for Financial Markets – The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means:
To what extent my financial success was due to my philosophy is a moot question because the salient feature of my theory is that it does not yield any firm predictions. Running a hedge fund involves the constant exercise of judgement in a risky environment, and that can be very stressful. I used to suffer from backaches and other psychosomatic ailments, and I received as many useful signals from my backaches as from my theory. Nevertheless, I attributed great importance to my philosophy and particularly my theory of reflexivity.

And from the looks of it, seems like George Soros has had a few backaches of late. This time his worries are coming from China. Speaking at an economic forum in Sri Lanka, Soros recently said:
When I look at the financial markets there is a serious challenge which reminds me of the crisis we had in 2008…Unfortunately China has a major adjustment problem and it has a lot of choices and it can actually transfer to the rest of the world its own problems by devaluing its currency and that is what China is doing.

Over the years, the Chinese yuan has been largely pegged against the American dollar. The People’s Bank of China, the Chinese central bank, has ensured that the value of the yuan has fluctuated in a fixed range around the dollar. This has been primarily done in order to take away the currency risk that the Chinese exporters may have otherwise faced.

In a world where so many things have changed in the aftermath of the financial crisis which started in September 2008, the value of the Chinese yuan against the dollar has been one of the few constants.

Who Owns the U.S. National Debt? The Biggest Owner Is You!

Updated November 30, 2015.
The U.S. debt is more than $18 trillion. Most headlines focus on how much the U.S. owes China, which is one of the largest foreign owners. However, the biggest owner is actually the Social Security Trust Fund, aka your retirement money. How does that work, and what does it mean?
The Debt Is in Two Categories
The U.S. Treasury manages the U.S. debt through its Bureau of the Public Debt. It's broken out the debt into two main categories: Intragovernmental Holdings, at $5.232 trillion, and Debt Held by the Public, at $13.488 trillion (Source: Debt to the Penny, U.S.
Treasury, as of November 25, 2015)
Intragovernmental Holdings - Nearly 30% of the Federal debt is owed to about 230 other Federal agencies. Why would the government owe money to itself? Some agencies, like the Social Security Trust Fund, take in more revenue from taxes than they need right now. Rather than stick this cash under a giant mattress, they buy U.S. Treasuries with it.
This effectively transfers their excess cash to the general fund, where it can be spent. Of course, one day they will redeem their Treasury notes for cash. The Federal government will either need to raise taxes, or issue more debt, to give the agencies the cash they will need.
What Is The National Debt? 

Which agencies own the most Treasuries? Social Security, by a long shot. Here's the detailed breakdown (as of September 30, 2015): 
Social Security (Social Security Trust Fund and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund) - $2.808 trillion 
Office of Personnel Management Retirement - $798 billion 
Military Retirement Fund - $531 billion 
Medicare (Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund) - $266 billion 
All Other Retirement Funds - $120 billion 
Cash on Hand to Fund Federal Government Operations - $504 billion. (Source: Treasury Bulletin, Monthly Treasury Statement, Table 6. Schedule D-Investments of Federal Government Accounts in Federal Securities, September 2015) 

Debt Held by the Public - Foreign governments and investors hold nearly half of the nation's public debt. One-fourth is held by other governmental entities, like the Federal Reserve, and state and local governments. Fifteen percent is held by mutual funds, private pension funds, savings bonds or individual Treasury notes. The rest is held by businesses, like banks and insurance companies, and a mish-mash of trusts, businesses and investors.

Here's the breakout: 
Foreign - $6.176 trillion 
Federal Reserve - $2.394 trillion 
Mutual Funds - $1.235 trillion 
State and Local Government, including their pension funds - $710 billion 
Private Pension Funds - $481 billion 
Banks - $511 billion 
Insurance Companies - $295 billion 
U.S. Savings Bonds - $175 billion 
Other (individuals, government-sponsored enterprises, brokers and dealers, bank personal trusts and estates, corporate and non-corporate businesses, and other investors) - $834 billion. (Sources: Federal Reserve, Factors Affecting Reserve Balance, November 27, 2015. Treasury Bulletin, Ownership of Federal Securities, Table OFS-2, as of March 2015) 

This debt is not only in Treasury bills, notes, and bonds but also TIPS and special State and Local Government Series securities.

As you can see, if you add up debt held by Social Security, and all the retirement and pension funds, nearly half of the U.S. Treasury debt is held in trust for your retirement. If the United States defaults on its debt, foreign investors would be angry, but current and future retirees would be hurt the most.
Why Does the Federal Reserve Own Treasury Debt?

As the nation's central bank, the Federal Reserve is in charge of the country's credit, so it really doesn't have a financial reason to own Treasury notes. So why did it double its holdings between 2007 and 2014?
That's when it ramped up its open market operations, purchases of Treasuries. This Quantitative Easing stimulated the economy by keeping interest rates low, escaping the grips of the recession.
The Fed's been criticized for simply monetizing the debt. The Fed purchases Treasuries from its member banks, using credit it created out of thin air. This has the same effect as printing money. By keeping interest rates low, the Fed helps the government avoid the high-interest rate penalty it would usually incur for excessive debt.

The Fed ended QE in October 2014. As a result, interest rates on the benchmark 10-year Treasury noterose from a 200-year low of 1.442% in June 2012 to around 2.17% by the end of 2014. For more, seeRelationship Between Treasury Yields and Mortgage Rates.
What About Foreign Ownership of the Debt?
China is the largest holder, holding $1.258 trillion in September 2015. Japan is next, at $1.177 trillion. Both Japan and China want to keep the value of the dollar high when compared to their own currencies. That helps their exports to the United States seem more affordable, which helps their economies grow. That's why, despite China's occasional threats to sell its holdings, both countries are happy to be America's biggest foreign bankers. China replaced the United Kingdom as the second largest foreign holder on May 31, 2007. That's when it increased its holdings to $699 billion, outpacing the UK's $640 billion. 

The Caribbean Banking Centers are third, at $321.8 billion. Luxembourg is ninth ($191 billion) and Belgium is 12t ($135,8 billion) billion. The Bureau of International Settlements believes both all three are fronts for sovereign wealth funds and hedge funds that don't want to reveal their positions. 
The oil exporting countries are fourth, holding $291.3 billion. Brazil is the fifth at $251.6 billion. The next largest holders are Switzerland, Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and India. They hold between $113-$227 billion each. (Source: Foreign Holding of U.S. Treasury Securities. U.S. Treasury report Petrodollars and Global Imbalances, February 2006) Article updated November 30, 2015. Data is from various reports, so the total may not add up to $18 trillion.

* Whose global development model will prevail – the West's or China's?

Whose global development model will prevail – the West's or China's?
This article is published in collaboration with Project Syndicate.
Published Wednesday 13 January 2016
As 2016 begins, an historic contest is underway over competing development models – that is, strategies to promote economic growth – between China, on the one hand, and the US and other Western countries on the other. Although this contest has been largely hidden from public view, the outcome will determine the fate of much of Eurasia for decades to come.

Most Westerners are aware that growth has slowed substantially in China, from over 10% per year in recent decades to below 7% today (and possibly lower). The country’s leaders have not been sitting still in response, seeking to accelerate the shift from an export-oriented, environmentally damaging growth model based on heavy manufacturing to one based on domestic consumption and services.
But there is a large external dimension to China’s plans as well. In 2013, President Xi Jinping announced a massive initiative called “One Belt, One Road,” which would transform the economic core of Eurasia. The One Belt component consists of rail links from western China through Central Asia and thence to Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia. The strangely named One Road component consists of ports and facilities to increase seaborne traffic from East Asia and connect these countries to the One Belt, giving them a way to move their goods overland, rather than across two oceans, as they currently do.

The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which the US earlier this year refused to join, is designed, in part, to finance One Belt, One Road. But the project’s investment requirements will dwarf the resources of the proposed new institution.
Indeed, One Belt, One Road represents a striking departure in Chinese policy. For the first time, China is seeking to export its development model to other countries. Chinese companies, of course, have been hugely active throughout Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa in the past decade, investing in commodities and extractive industries and the infrastructure needed to move them to China. But One Belt, One Road is different: its purpose is to develop industrial capacity and consumer demand in countries outside of China. Rather than extracting raw materials, China is seeking to shift its heavy industry to less developed countries, making them richer and encouraging demand for Chinese products.

** This is the Pentagon's new strategy to defeat ISIS


By Andrew Tilghman, Military Times
IRBIL, Iraq — The U.S. military headquarters here is outfitted with maps showing a "forward line of troops" — a FLOT, in military-speak — that divides northern Iraq's Kurdish region from territory held by the Islamic State group. The line is precisely drawn, following the contours of specific roads and berms. A mere 40 miles west, the terrain is pocked with trenches, fighting positions, razor wire and armed checkpoints. It's like a scene from Europe during World War I, one American official says.
Iraqi government forces and members of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service carry the body of a comrade during battles with Islamic State jihadists in Ramadi on Jan. 1. The effort to retake Ramadi will serve as a blueprint for the broader campaign to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
It's a jarring change for the personnel who've spent much of their careers fighting on far more ambiguous battlefields. Steadily, though, they are coming to grips with it as, during the past several months, the Pentagon and the White House have fundamentally shifted their strategy for defeating ISIS. The way forward will mean potentially more key U.S. support troops on the ground to back friendly local forces who will wage the fight to retake ISIS-held territory.

The new plan calls for fighting the terror group like a conventional enemy, relying on traditional military tactics such as maneuver-style warfare and attrition. This has replaced last year’s approach, dubbed the “Iraq First Strategy," which was widely criticized as ineffective, especially after ISIS fighters seized the city of Ramadi in May. Instead, the U.S. and its allies now intend to confront the extremist group and its force of about 30,000 fighters, targeting their strongholds and resources across Iraq and Syria simultaneously.

Publicly the Obama administration says its strategy to defeat ISIS has not changed significantly, but realities on the ground and discussions at home indicate otherwise. Details about the shift became clear during the past several weeks, after a series of interviews that Military Times conducted with top commanders in Iraq, senior defense officials in Washington and outside military experts keenly familiar with the Pentagon's war plans.

Political considerations in Washington and Baghdad will limit the size of the U.S. force on the ground, so the campaign relies heavily on a dizzying patchwork of local ground forces — often with competing agendas — moving in large formations to isolate and ultimately invade the two major ISIS strongholds: Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. In Mosul, the plan calls for the Iraqi army to attack from the south, while the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga squeeze Islamic State forces from the north and east. In Syria, U.S. forces will support friendly militias in the northeast as they push south toward the Islamic State's defacto capital.

"Our campaign plan's map," Defense Secretary Ash Carter told soldiers at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, on Wednesday, "has got big arrows pointing to both Mosul and Raqqa."

The Obama administration's new plan to defeat the Islamic State group relies on a patchwork of local ground forces moving in large formations to isolate and ultimately invade Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

Gauging The Jihadist Movement In 2016: Grassroots Terrorism

from STRATFOR -- this post authored by Scott Stewart
Over the past two weeks we have examined the al Qaedaand Islamic State portions of the global jihadist movement. As we discussed those two opposing - and in many locations, warring - militant organizations, we examined the core of their organizations and their franchise or affiliate groups. In doing so, we purposefully left out the phenomenon of grassroots terrorism because both the Islamic State and al Qaeda seek to inspire grassroots operatives. At the same time, potential attackers can be motivated by either, or both, organizations.
Defining the Grassroots

Jihadist ideologues such as Abu Musab al-Suri have promoted the leaderless resistance model since 2003, as we explained in the insurgent and terrorist theory portion of the 2013 Gauging the Jihadist Movement series. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula began heavily promoting the concept in 2009, and the core of al Qaeda followed suit in 2010. For its part, the Islamic State began openly supporting leaderless resistance in September 2014.

Jihadists adopted the leaderless resistance model of operations because of the difficulty they have experienced in getting trained terrorist operatives into the West to conduct attacks. In other words, the shift to leaderless resistance is an admission of weakness rather than a sign of strength. But while counterterrorism agencies and programs have proved adept at targeting known groups and individuals - as they were designed to do - they struggle with the ambiguity of leaderless resistance.
That said, the leaderless resistance model is not always strictly followed, and there is not always the strict separation between the various elements of the jihadist movement that the model calls for. Indeed, there are often links and overlaps between grassroots jihadists and other elements of the jihadist movement. As noted in last year's assessment of the grassroots jihadist threat, there is a wide spectrum of involvement between grassroots operatives and the rest of the jihadist movement, and the danger posed by grassroots operatives tends to vary depending on their connections to other terrorist elements. Grassroots operatives who receive direction and equipment from professional terrorists, such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing cell or Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tend to pose a greater danger than amateurs operating alone.
The spectrum of levels of connection has been illustrated by recent events in France. The operatives involved in the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris who were trained and directed by the Islamic State were able to conduct a far deadlier attack than the lone amateur who, merely inspired by the Islamic State, attempted to attack officers at a Paris police station with a meat cleaver Jan. 7 before being shot dead.
It is also important to keep in mind that grassroots operatives do not just operate as lone attackers. Though many choose to work alone, it is not uncommon for them to group together to form more dangerous grassroots cells. As illustrated by the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, members of a jihadist cell working together and conducting simultaneous attacks against different targets pose a far greater challenge for law enforcement than lone operatives.

What It’s Like to Live in the Capital of the ‘Caliphate’


Marwan Hisham is the pseudonym of a Syrian resident of Raqqa, Syria. 
JANUARY 14, 2016 
Religious sermons, air strikes, and itchy mandatory beards -- just another normal day in Raqqa. 

What It’s Like to Live in the Capital of the ‘Caliphate’

Religious sermons, air strikes, and itchy mandatory beards -- just another normal day in Raqqa.
RAQQA, Syria — I’d been away from home for a considerable time, so on my way back I had to reset my brain to a different setting: Raqqa Setting. I began growing out my beard, to a length that looked dense and suspiciously long in Turkey but is relatively short and daring here. I am still getting used to how it itches and scratch it often.
Luckily, the Islamic State does not yet require that residents shave off their moustaches. I adjust mine with annoyance, but at least I don’t look like the current Raqqan trend: a Salafi “brother” with a bald upper lip and a strap of beard scraggle giving the illusion of a wide jaw.

My friends and I bitterly mock how we look with these beards growing on our faces, but that does nothing to shorten them. They’ll grow, and keep growing, just like Salafism is doing in Raqqa nowadays.
Raqqa Setting consists of a number of codes you have to constantly keep in mind in order to survive under Islamic State control. If you have no prior education in sharia, or Islamic law, you better start learning. Or else, you’ll likely end up obliged to take lessons from the Salafi teachers newly installed at local mosques — lessons that require you to not only suffer the indignity of being taught their interpretation of your own religion like a child, but also to miss hours of work.

“Shave the mustache. Let the beards grow,” Abu Fatima, the lecturer, said at one of the classes, the microphone held so close to his mouth it was almost shoved inside of it. He was quoting what he said was a “well-narrated saying” by Mohammed. “It’s an order by the Prophet.”
These lecture series begin with an explanation of the Muslim statement of faith: “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah.” They end with an explanation of specific details regarding the Islamic State’s interpretation of Islam, such as the special rules pertaining to women during their menstrual periods. By the time they “graduate,” students are indoctrinated into the entirety of the Islamic State’s ideology.

War Between Saudi Arabia And Iran Could Send Oil Prices To $250 – Analysis

Location of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Source: Wikipedia Commons.
By James Stafford

The rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran has quickly ballooned into the worst conflict in decades between the two countries.
The back-and-forth escalation quickly turned the simmering tension into an overt struggle for power in the Middle East. First, the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric prompted protestors to set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic relations and kicked out Iranian diplomatic personnel. Tehran banned Saudi goods from entering Iran. Worst of all, Iran blames Saudi Arabia for an airstrike that landed near its embassy in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia’s Sunni allies in the Arabian Peninsula largely followed suit by downgrading diplomatic ties with Iran. However, recognizing the dire implications of a major conflict in the region, most of Saudi Arabia’s Gulf State allies did not go as far as to entirely sever diplomatic relations, as Saudi Arabia did. Bahrain, the one nation most closely allied with Riyadh, was the only one to take such a step.

Many of them are concerned about a descent to further instability. Nations like Kuwait and Qatar have trade links with Iran, plus Shiite populations of their own. Crucially, Qatar also shares a maritime border with Iran as well as access to massive natural gas reserves in the Persian Gulf. These countries are trying to split the difference between the two belligerent nations in the Middle East. “The Saudis are on the phone lobbying countries very hard to break off ties with Iran but most Gulf states are trying to find some common ground,” a diplomat from an Arab country told Reuters. “The problem is, common ground between everyone in this region is shrinking.”



How to Win the War on Terror


Hernando de Soto is President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy.
JAN 14, 2016 1
LIMA – It’s been 14 years since President George W. Bush declared a “global war on terror.” Today, after spending $1.6 trillion on that war and killing 101 terrorist chieftains, from Osama bin Laden to “Jihadi John,” the West remains just as vulnerable, if not more so, to extremists who can recruit fighters and strike any Western capital virtually at will. Now that another president – François Hollande of France – has also declared war on terror (as have other European leaders), are the prospects for victory really any better? I have my doubts.

It is time to consider that the strength of our opponents derives, at least to some degree, from sentiments similar to those that animated the American Revolutionary War and the French Revolution: frustration with and alienation from the prevailing system. In Britain’s American colonies before 1776, and throughout France in the years leading up to 1789, ordinary people became convinced that their lives, assets, and businesses had been subject for too long to the predations of arbitrary rulers. That same estrangement is felt nowadays in the Middle East and North Africa.
After all, the Arab Spring began when a poor Tunisian entrepreneur, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire in December 2010 to protest the merciless expropriation of his business. He committed suicide – as his brother Salem told me in an interview recorded for American public television – for “the right of the poor to buy and sell.”

Within 60 days of Bouazizi’s death, his message galvanized the Arab world. Sixty-three more small entrepreneurs across the greater Middle East replicated his self-immolation, inciting hundreds of millions of Arabs to take to the streets and topple four governments. The force of their rage continues to destabilize the entire region.
The West didn’t grasp this message. As usual, it focused on macroeconomic adjustment and technical assistance, failing even to consider the property rights of the poor majority. This is an old problem: instead of remembering that property rights are what emancipated their societies from sovereign bullies, left-leaning Westerners think that protecting property is rightist dogma, conservatives take legal property rights for granted, and economists associate them with real-estate deals and carpentry.

A Dark Cloud Is Descending Over Russia's Economy


Posted by Samuel Bendett on January 14, 2016
Russians are increasingly concerned with their country's economic situation, and despite high levels of support for President Vladimir Putin and his policies, many are worried about their economic future.
Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets recently said in an interview with Russia-24 TV that according to the latest estimates, Russia has 22 million poor -- much of that number includes families with children. Golodets said authorities will do everything to turn that around. Golodets also reported that government programs meant to facilitate employment and labor mobility helped keep unemployment numbers relatively low, but the still-depressed economy has led to a drop in wages.

Statements like these are not making Russians feel any better, especially as other forecasts paint an even darker picture. As reported by the Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP), young economist Vladislav Zhukovsky startled many Russians when he recently predicted that within 1.5 to 2 years, 80 percent of Russians will live in a state of chronic poverty. Zhukosvkyspared no words in describing how the current economic crisis will morph into a large one, calling it "Russia's most serious [crisis] since the Civil War (of 1918-1921)," pointing out that this government's economic policy will accelerate the "death of the Titanic." Complicating matters is the continued slump in oil prices, which will lead the Russian economy into a dead end since it is a "raw materials-dependent, feudal-oligarchic, offshore-comprador form of capitalism in its primitive forms of primary accumulation of capital," the newspaper said.
According to KP, there is a glimmer of hope: that this is not the 1990s. Here is the opinion of Mikhail Belyaev, chief economist at the Institute of Stock Market and Management:

Military Review

Military Review, January-February 2016, v. 96, no. 1 http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/militaryreview/

o The Future of War: How Globalization is Changing the Security Paradigm

o Comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the UN General Assembly

o The Value of Science Is in the Foresight 

o Getting Gerasimov Right

o The Future of Warfare against Islamic Jihadism 

o Jordanian Society’s Responses to Syrian Refugees

o Criminal Networks in Venezuela: Their Impact on Hemispheric Security

o The Army, Engagement, and America’s Pacific Century

o The Rise of Leftist Populism—A Challenge to Democracy?

o Action Research: A Systematic Approach to the Social Component of the Human Dimension

o Winning the Fight on Sexual Assault in our Army: Starting in Basic Combat Training

o Lessons from Yusufiyah: From Black Hearts to Moral Education

o Military Operations in Megacities: A Linguistic Perspective

o Base Nation and America Invades

Important Papers

The Collapse of Iraq and Syria: The End of the Colonial Construct in the Greater Levant https://jsou.socom.mil/JSOU%20Publications/IraqSyriafinal23Nov15.pdf

Naval War College Review, Winter 2016, v. 69, no. 1 https://www.usnwc.edu/Publications/Naval-War-College-Review/2016---Winter.aspx

o America's Security Role in the South China Sea 

o President's Forum - Rear Admiral P. Gardner Howe III, U.S. Navy 

o The Evolution of Interstate Security Crisis-Management Theory and Practice in China 

o Russian A2/AD in the Eastern Mediterranean: A Growing Risk 

o The U.S. Merchant Marine: Back to the Future? 

o Systems of Denial: Strategic Resistance to Military Innovation 

o Undersea Lawfare: Can the U.S. Navy Fall Victim to This Asymmetric Warfare Threat?

Essential Skills Veterans Gain During Professional Military Training: A Resource for Leaders and Hiring Managers http://www.rand.org/pubs/tools/TL160z2-1.html

Operation IRAQI FREEDOM: Decisive War, Elusive Peace http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1214.html

The Role of Oil in ISIL Finances: Addendum http://www.rand.org/pubs/testimonies/CT448z1.html

Toppling the Taliban: Air-Ground Operations in Afghanistan, October 2001–June 2002 http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR381.html

Strategy and Grand Strategy: What Students and Practitioners Need to Know http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=1305

Tracking Next-Generation Automatic Identification Technology into 2035 http://www.au.af.mil/au/aupress/bookinfo.asp?bid=577

What Would a Realist World Have Looked Like?


From Iraq and WMDs to Israel and Palestine to Syria and Russia, how the United States could’ve avoided some of its biggest mistakes.
BY STEPHEN M. WALT, Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.
JANUARY 8, 2016 
Here’s a puzzle for all you students of U.S. foreign policy: Why is a distinguished and well-known approach to foreign policy confined to the margins of public discourse, especially in the pages of our leading newspapers, when its recent track record is arguably superior to the main alternatives?
I refer, of course, to realism. I’m not suggesting that realism and realists are completely marginalized these days — after all, you’re reading a realist right now — but the public visibility and policy influence of the realist perspective is disproportionately small when compared either to liberal internationalism (among Democrats) or neoconservatism (in the GOP).
This situation is surprising insofar as realism is a well-established tradition in the study of foreign affairs, and realists like George Kennan, Hans Morgenthau, Reinhold Niebuhr, Walter Lippmann, and others said many smart things about U.S. foreign policy in the past. Realism also remains a foundational perspective in the academic study of international affairs and with good reason. At a minimum, you’d think this sophisticated body of thought would have a prominent place in debates on foreign policy and that card-carrying realists would be a visible force inside the Beltway and in the world of punditry.
Furthermore, realism’s predictions over the past 25 years are clearly better than the claims of liberals and neoconservatives, which have dominated U.S. foreign policymaking since the Cold War ended. Yet time and time again, presidents have pursued the liberal/neoconservative agenda and ignored the counsels of realism. Similarly, major media outlets have shown little inclination to give realists a prominent platform from which to disseminate their views.

Revisiting the matrix organization

Matrices are often necessary, but they may create uncomfortable ambiguity for employees. Clarifying roles can boost both the engagement of the workforce and a company’s organizational health.January 2016 | byMichael Bazigos and Jim Harter

Matrix organizations have been around for decades, stimulating vigorous debate between supporters and detractors for nearly as long.1 They remain prevalent at the large number of companies that need to bring functional centers of excellence together with business-specific people and processes. Eighty-four percent of respondents to a recent Gallup survey, for example, were at least slightly matrixed.
That survey, covering nearly 4,000 workers in the United States, highlights some benefits for employees in matrices, particularly in areas related to collaboration. At the same time, the survey suggests that these employees feel less clear about what’s expected of them than their nonmatrixed counterparts do. This problem has consequences: Gallup research indicates that clarity of expectations is a foundation for building an engaged workplace that performs at high levels. Furthermore, according to McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index (OHI), clear and accountable roles are among the most important drivers of organizational health. Taken together, the Gallup and McKinsey findings underscore how important it is for executives and line managers to address the role ambiguity that’s all too common in matrix organizations. (For more on the research behind these two studies, see sidebar, “About the research.”)
Ubiquitous and unexceptional

Eighty-four percent of the US employees Gallup surveyed were matrixed to some extent. Forty-nine percent served on multiple teams some days (we categorized them as slightly matrixed), and 18 percent served on multiple teams every workday but with different people, though mostly reporting to the same manager (matrixed). The remaining 17 percent reported to different managers in their work with different teams (supermatrixed).

Have the BRICs Hit a Wall? The Next Emerging Markets

Jan 12, 2016 
Until recently, when people talked about “emerging markets,” they were referring to the BRIC economies: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Undeniably, these countries have changed the face of global business over the past twenty years. Yet lately, the BRICs have been crumbling a bit, sparking many reports about their lackluster performance.
According to Trading Economics, Brazil’s GDP shrank 1.7% in the third quarter of 2015, “worse than market expectations,” and has had negative growth for over a year. The Russian economy did even worse, contracting 4.1% year-on-year. Even China’s seemingly unstoppable growth engine is slowing down. In October, The Wall Street Journal reported that China’s economic growth had fallen below 7% for the first time since 2009.

What about India, which a 2015 Fortune article called “the lone BRIC country that’s worth holding on to?” “I would say India has many things going in its favor,” agrees Mauro Guillen, Wharton management professor and director of the Lauder Institute. “Right now, it’s the fastest-growing BRIC, and there’s some momentum there.” But he cautions that India has “a long list of things” it needs to accomplish, including reforms, opening up its economy and investing in infrastructure.
Meanwhile, one can hear the rumblings of new economies arising. For example, in September American cereal giant Kellogg announced a $450 million joint venture with Tolaram Africa Foods to create breakfast foods and snacks for the West African market. Johan Burger, director of the NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Business School, calls the deal “a very clear indication that there are companies that have come to realize … Africa presents a lot more than meets the eye.”
“Right now, some of the fastest-growing economies in the world are not the BRIC countries. Clearly, the geography of growth for emerging markets in the world is shifting.”–Mauro Guillen

Land Power: More than Simply the Element of Decision

Nathan K. Finney
The opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and do not reflect those of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
Every war, and every belligerent in every war, manifests a distinctive pattern of strategic behaviour among an expanding list of geographical environments. It is true that modern strategy and war registers trends towards ever greater complexity, ever greater ‘jointness’ to offset and exploit that complexity, and in the maturing potency of new modes of combat…It is no less true, however, that land, even ground, warfare has yet to be demoted to an adjunct, auxiliary, or administrative, role vis-à-vis superficially more modern modes and foci of fighting.[i]

In a discussion over the modes of power that are employed to achieve political purpose, the above quote would likely halt all communication before it even started. Some would even immediately engage their cognitive biases and fill their slings with the tried-and-true military service-focused and parochial rhetorical ammunition. Contemporary narratives from the various services can certainly be seen to support such an assertion.
However, while the above quote captures repeated insistence on the importance of land power, Professor Gray also indicates that while land power is vital, it is not sufficient, for “In practice, thus far, no single geographical domain suffices as provider of all strategic effect that belligerent states need.”[ii]

So, when a political decision requires a definitive, more enduring answer, land power will likely be the main element of national power employed — there’s a reason Clausewitz, the key theorist of war and land power, focused on destroying an adversary’s armed forces, occupying his country, and breaking that nation’s will as his three main objectives in war.[iii] Such use of large amounts of men and women in campaigns of physical control are not the only use for land power, however. While it is the only element of national power that can compel through physical dominance (or as those that might quote Wylie, through a sequential strategy), land power can also accomplish tasks through three other approaches to the use of force — assurance, deterrence and coercion — to create strategic effect. [iv]

Beyond Physical Control
To Gray, “strategic effect is the [cumulative and sequential] impact of strategic performance on the course of events.”[v] It is the expression of how well a force translates tactical action into political gain; or said another way, how well the effects of military action maintain alliances and/or force an adversary (or adversaries) to change their behavior to match our desires. Given the fact that land power will likely be the element of national power least used to create strategic effect in today’s environment given its high political cost at home and abroad, how does an army, as the principle manifestation of land power, provide options to assure, deter, and coerce?[vi]

Why There Might Not Be a 'Brain Drain'

January 7, 2016
The military personnel system (particularly officer promotions, assignments, and evaluations) is widely thought to be broken. Dysfunction in the system causes the military to “Bleed Talent” as Dr. Tim Kane, a 1990 graduate of the Air Force Academy, described in The Atlantic, and followed in a 2012 book. General David Barno agreed, noting that many senior officers do not recognize a problem. Barno and Nora Bensahel continued this theme in a more recent Atlantic story. Other substantive voices from the Secretary of Defense to the Chief of Navy Personnel echo these concerns. Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, seems convinced.

Few voices challenge the intuitively satisfying thesis. Anyone spending time in the military witnesses arbitrary and capricious assignment actions or sees friends who are fantastic officers fail promotion because they were too focused on their mission or their family to complete a required school or get a master’s degree in the prescribed time. A recent series of articles by Tim Matthews pointed out contradictions in the ‘Brain Drain’ theme, but momentum seems to be building. Before making wholesale changes, however, policy-makers should re-consider the validity of the underlying argument.

How We Measure “Best”
As Matthews noted, there is no proof that the best officers are leaving. Opinion surveys, by definition, measure what people believe to be true; Kane’s survey of West Point graduates and similar research he cites in his book validate that most officers believe that the personnel system serves the nation poorly. In the 1970’s, 100% of doctors surveyed would likely have said that a woman could not have a safe vaginal birth after having a caesarian section, a widespread belief that proved untrue. Vast ramparts of belief have crumbled when exposed to scientific confirmation; the Earth is not flat, and it revolves around the sun.

Opinion surveys are not meaningless, but surveys only prove what the respondents believe about the underlying concept, not the underlying facts themselves. To prove that the cream of the officers leave service, one would need to 1) define what ‘best’ is, 2) measure current and departed officers against that standard, and 3) compare and analyze while controlling for all other relevant variables, which could include demographics, specialty and assignment history.
Even the semantics are daunting. How should one measure entrepreneurial spirit, why is it considered good, and how much should an officer have? Developing and advocating new and better ways to execute tactical, operational, and strategic missions is good; but failing to respect organization norms and values may be counterproductive. Aversion to risk is considered bad, but minimizing and mitigating risk are standard business practices.

The little private book that sent Silicon Valley into a whirl has now been published

'Iterating Grace' could be a deeply satirical takedown of tech funding, or just a wicked joke.

In June 2015, a chapbook showed up in the inboxes and on doorsteps of 140 of Silicon Valley’s influential twitterati. The number was an obvious reference to the character limit imposed by Twitter.
Iterating Grace: Heartfelt Wisdom and Disruptive Truth from Silicon Valley’s Top Venture Capitalists has recently been published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux; it can now be read by anyone who wants to, besides the lucky 140.

The profound and/or absurd book – it’s so short it wouldn’t even qualify as a long read on an intellectual website – which bears similarities to Mike Judge’s acclaimed HBO show, Silicon Valley, is a satire on the tech culture prevalent in the Valley and borrows heavily from the tweets of famous VCs, showing up as swirly hand-drawn typography through the book while forming an important part of the narrative.

But it’s not just what’s in the book that’s got people talking, but also the identity of the author. Is this a valley behemoth drawing attention to insider secrets? Why would anyone write a tell-all tale like this – and not reveal their identity though the book guarantees fame? Who is/are Koons Crooks?
The book is actually an introduction by Anonymous to the life of Koons Crooks. It tracks Crooks’s story from the dotcom bust in 2000 and 20011, leading to several unexpected consequences towards the end in the Bolivian highlands. The whole narrative is studded with references to the Valley. Krooks is a foot soldier of the first dotcom boom.
After the bust, Krooks goes through a process of metaphysical reflection, where he refers to the dotcom economy as “one big mandala – the Buddhist tradition of creating art out of sand and then wiping it all away”. The book is clearly satire – targeting all that goes on in the Valley, with a mock tragic obituary of sorts to an enigmatic cog in the wheel. Koons’s collection of ostensibly inspirational and insightful tweets from VCs turns to be a litany of silliness, seen in the context of the earlier bust.

Going Native: A Career Pipeline For U.S. Military Success Out in Silicon Valley

Just as we needed people who could interpret for us in Afghanistan and Iraq, so do we need soldiers who can do the same for us in Silicon Valley and other centers of technological innovation across the country. Headquartered in spacious office space adjacent to the Ames Research Center located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the DoD’s liaison office, titled Defense Innovation Unit – Experimental (DIUx), is looking to capitalize specifically on this center of innovation. Reflecting on history, the location is appropriate given that DoD laid the techno-economic seed corn for the region at Moffett Field over half a century ago. Since then, Silicon Valley has become vitally important to the economic success of both California and the United States as a whole, with a GDP of almost 200 billion dollars in 2015. Now DoD is asking Silicon Valley to return the favor by increasing research and production of dual-use technologies.

As the DoD, and its service components, matures its presence in the Bay Area, it must set the conditions for its success by investing in its people, rather than technology alone. Military personnel must not only be able to speak the language of entrepreneurship and business, but also understand the values of the start-up community. There are two steps the Military should focus on in developing its Silicon Valley bound personnel. The first is to identify and select the “right” talent, and the second is to create a comprehensive pipeline to both train personnel in the region’s lexicon and business practices and inform them of the values that drive the community. Today, there are only a handful of off-the-shelf individuals in the DoD who have the experience and background to thrive in Silicon Valley. To both sustain the DIUx platform and to increase much needed diversity of expertise in the military, DoD must put forth a concerted effort in expanding and its pool of Bay Area interpreters.

DIUx is meant to bridge the divide between the Department of Defense and Silicon Valley with its ever-evolving coagulation of technical start-ups. As the DIUx initiative becomes more seasoned, DoD should develop entrepreneurial teams and enable them with the appropriate training and exposure to the Silicon Valley culture. Mimicking the skill-set combinations of successful entrepreneurial teams – the Jobs-Wozniak team being the most infamous – these teams should aim to strike a balance of technically expert and managerially savvy individuals. Therefore, to replicate Silicon Valley’s best practices, a DoD entrepreneurial team should, at a minimum, consist of two soldiers: a technical expert and an operations expert. Though the traditional military personnel file doesn’t currently provide the requisite visibility on these skill areas, there is significant work being done across the DoD to address the issue. DIUx recruiters can be part of the effort to improve talent management while also identifying these talented individuals early in order to deliberately establish a career pipeline.

Apple's malware-blocking Gatekeeper still plagued with weaknesses

Even though security research previously revealed the Gatekeeper program contained flaws, Apple still hasn't released a patch to fully protect Mac users from malicious software attacks.
By Joe Uchill, Correspondent JANUARY 15, 2016
Over the summer, security researcher Patrick Wardle notified Apple of vulnerabilities in a critical Mac antimalware program called Gatekeeper. Soon thereafter, the press wrote about the problem and Apple released a patch. Mr. Wardle thought that was the end of the story.
Then, in December, as Mr. Wardle worked up a presentation about the Gatekeeper flaw for a security conference, he noticed something was amiss with Apple's fix.

"Their patch was horrible," said Mr. Wardle, director of research at Synack, a cybersecurity firm. Gatekeeper was still susceptible to attack. 
Technically, the Gatekeeper flaw isn't a bug. The program still does exactly what it's meant to do – authenticate programs that Apple users download from the Internet. But Web apps often come with unsigned, third-party libraries and extensions, such as Photoshop plugins or certain browser components. Gatekeeper was not built to check those for authenticity. Attackers could – and still can – hide malware in those third-party inclusions.
When Apple patched Wardle's discovery, the update did not stop authentic programs from unintentionally installing malware through the third-party libraries or extensions. Instead, the patch blacklisted the specific examples of Gatekeeper-dodging malware that Wardle had used to prove his concept.
"I told them from day one the issue was that Gatekeeper was not verifying third-party extensions and here are one or two applications I could abuse, even though I'm sure I could find other examples," he said.
Wardle worries that fixing what amounts to a symptom rather than the actual problem could unleash a host of new Mac attacks.
"If I'm a Mac hacker, and Apple has a history of not fully patching issues, I'm going to wait until they send out a patch and reverse engineer how to get around it," he said.

* Israeli Startups Arm World for the Online Wars to Come

Trained hackers are behind industrial scale cyberattacks that often operate under the auspices of government, making the problem of protection a major challenge.
Amitai Ziv Jan 14, 2016 
A mock cyber attack scenario. Israel is an emrging power in the cyber security market. AP
For a cyber superpower, Israel is surprisingly vulnerable to hackers
TechNation: Israel to certify computer hackers
Iranian hack reveals weaknesses in U.S. cybersecurity
The doomsday scenarios we’re used to worrying about are sudden and catastrophic, like earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear war. But the next catastrophe might well begin with something as a trivial and mundane as a failing traffic light that snarls up traffic. It will then widen to prolonged power cuts that catch people in elevators and gradually begin disrupting normal life. The Internet goes down, cellphones go silent and computers go haywire. The digital world we so rely on collapses.

The battlegrounds where governments, terror organizations and criminals operate is going virtual. Two weeks ago saw a small taste of things to come: Hundreds of thousands of homes in Ukraine lost power for hours in what the SBU, the Ukrainian intelligence agency, attributed to a cyber attack on the control center of the local power grid. It found the same malware at two other power stations. Kiev was quick to accuse Russia, but they aren’t sure and have retained a handful of cyber forensics experts (including Israelis) to determine the malware’s provenance.

Business such as the U.S. retailing giant Target and the Ashley Madison dating website have been hit by hackers, costing them money and their reputation. But what worries exports most of all is a cyberattack ending not in the theft of credit card data or exposure of unfaithful spouses but in damage to power stations, dams, transportation systems, hospitals and even nuclear reactors.