4 January 2018

India’s Advanced Air Defense Interceptor Destroys Incoming Ballistic Missile in Test

By Franz-Stefan Gady

India has successfully test fired its indigenously designed and built Advanced Air Defense (AAD)/ Ashvin Advanced Defense interceptor missile on Abdul Kalam Island, home to the Indian military’s principle missile test facility, the Integrated Test Range, off the coast of Odisha in the Bay of Bengal on December 28, according to local media reports. This was the third supersonic interceptor test carried out in 2017. Other tests were conducted on March 1 and February 11. The last successful AAD interception test took place in May 2016. According to sources within the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), the Indian Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) research and development wing which oversaw the December 28 test, the AAD interceptor destroyed an incoming Prithvi ballistic missile within 30 kilometers of the earth atmosphere.

Grading India's Neighborhood Diplomacy

By Vinay Kaura

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charismatic personality and determined push for India’s economic development have made him immensely popular at home. Modi’s foreign policy initiatives are driven as much by his government’s domestic political strength as by India’s rising concern over rapid expansion of China’s economic clout and military might in Asia.India’s rise is taking place in the shadow of China’s even more dramatic rise. China’s assertive, and often aggressive, behavior has been viewed as a huge challenge for India because it opens up the likelihood of China dominating India’s immediate neighborhood. By focusing a great deal of energy in the neighborhood, the Modi government is demonstrating that India has the capability to promote regional peace and economic integration. Rather than merely complaining about external intervention in South Asia, New Delhi is developing a regional strategy based on India’s natural geographical advantages, economic complementarities, shared cultural heritage, and preeminent strategic position. Modi is perfectly aware that New Delhi’s ability to deal with Washington and Beijing can be significantly enhanced if India achieves greater strategic confidence in South Asian geopolitics.

Raja Mandala: Where geography is destiny

by C. Raja Mohan

A series of developments in the Subcontinent at the end of 2017 cast a pall of gloom over Delhi’s foreign policy discourse. The lament was about India losing to China in its own neighbourhood. After all, China has just signed a free trade agreement with the Maldives, has won a long-term lease with Sri Lanka for the Hambantota port, and seen the “pro-China” parties win the elections in Nepal.These may be immediate political setbacks for Delhi. But they do not in any way change the geography that binds — for good or bad — India to its neighbours. Instead of mourning China’s rising profile in the Subcontinent, Delhi should reflect on its past failures to respect the logic of geography in the neighbourhood and find ways to correct them.

Seize the Asian century: why India and China must take the lead

Dhiraj Nayyar

Eighteen years ago, as the millennium drew to a close, the annual ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle in the U.S. was derailed by the fury of thousands of street protestors denouncing the forces of globalisation and the governments which represented them. Last month, at the dusk of 2017, a ministerial meeting of the WTO in Buenos Aires, Argentina ended in a whimper with the U.S. leading a general apathy towards free trade and globalisation. Perhaps 2017 will be remembered as the year when the liberal economic consensus on free markets and globalisation was finally buried in its homelands, the U.S. and U.K. One wonders though what the street protesters of Seattle make of the cast of characters administering the last rites to the “Washington Consensus”. Not Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez or even Lula da Silva but instead a Republican President of the U.S., who also happens to be a billionaire, and a powerful faction of the Conservative Party of the U.K. For the global Left, the “victory” must be bittersweet.

Afghan, Chinese Ministers of Defense Meet in Beijing

By Ankit Panda

Last week, Xu Qiliang, the vice chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission, hosted Afghanistan’s minister of defense, Tariq Shah Bahrami, in Beijing. The meeting underlined the increasingly close military-to-military ties between the two countries. According to Chinese state media, Xu undelined Afghanistan’s friendship with China and noted that “in recent years, bilateral relations have maintained a good momentum of development with increasingly close high-level exchanges and continuously enhanced strategic communication.”

Has the Pakistan Army Changed Its India Policy?

By K.S. Venkatachalam

The history of India-Pakistan relations show that, every time an attempt is made to build relations, Pakistan’s army sabotages the peace talks by either escalating tensions at the Line of Control (LoC) or sending trained militants to India to launch attacks. On January 2, 2016, for example, a heavily armed group from Pakistan attacked the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot. This attack came immediately after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s impromptu visit to Lahore to meet his counterpart, Nawaz Sharif. This was followed by another attack carried out on September 18, 2016, where four heavily armed militants, belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed, managed to cross the porous border and launch a surprise attack on an army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir, resulting in the deaths of 17 soldiers.

C. Christine Fair on US-Pakistan Relations

By Shannon Tiezzi

The Trump era in the United States may mark a turning point in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. Top officials like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have been upfront about the new U.S. preference for India and frustration with what Washington sees as Pakistan’s continued inaction on terrorism. Meanwhile, Pakistan seems increasingly willing to defy the United States thanks to a newly-deepened partnership with China. These trends were underway during the Obama administration, but seem set to come to a head under Trump.

Seize the Asian century: why India and China must take the lead

Dhiraj Nayyar

Eighteen years ago, as the millennium drew to a close, the annual ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle in the U.S. was derailed by the fury of thousands of street protestors denouncing the forces of globalisation and the governments which represented them. Last month, at the dusk of 2017, a ministerial meeting of the WTO in Buenos Aires, Argentina ended in a whimper with the U.S. leading a general apathy towards free trade and globalisation. Perhaps 2017 will be remembered as the year when the liberal economic consensus on free markets and globalisation was finally buried in its homelands, the U.S. and U.K. One wonders though what the street protesters of Seattle make of the cast of characters administering the last rites to the “Washington Consensus”. Not Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez or even Lula da Silva but instead a Republican President of the U.S., who also happens to be a billionaire, and a powerful faction of the Conservative Party of the U.K. For the global Left, the “victory” must be bittersweet.

Beijing is pursuing a complex strategy to corner natural resources

Brahma Chellaney

While international attention remains on China’s expansionist activities in the South China Sea’s disputed waters, Beijing is quietly focusing on other waters also — of rivers that originate in Chinese-controlled territory like Tibet and flow to other countries. This shows that China’s new obsession is freshwater, a life-supporting resource whose growing shortages are casting a cloud over Asia’s economic future.

Maldives: Free Trade Agreement with China: Regional Impact:

By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

Of the twelve agreements signed with China, during the recent visit of President Yameen to China, the Free trade agreement signed between them is the most important one. Surprisingly, the agreement that runs into a few hundred pages was passed in an attenuated parliament when the opposition was not present and was over in 30 minutes without any discussion on the merits or the demerits of the agreement. The present one, is a second such agreement China has with a South Asian country with the other one being Pakistan that has already become a colony of China. While there was no need for such an agreement with Maldives being able to offer only fish exports that not carry import duty into China, it is China that is going to benefit from this arrangement with all the goods coming into Maldives without any duty. It is just a matter of time before Maldives will be flooded with Chinese goods. 

Can China Internationalize the RMB?

By Saori N. Katada

The jury is still out on whether the Chinese renminbi (RMB) will displace the U.S. dollar in the foreseeable future. What is clear, however, is that challenging a hegemonic currency is not simple. For the RMB to eventually reign supreme, not only would the Chinese leadership, particularly the country’s monetary authority, need the political will to prioritize the internationalization of its currency over concerns with domestic stability, it would also have to gain the support of the financial markets and other economic and political players. All that is easier said than done.

What Caused China’s Squeeze on Natural Gas?

By Li Jing

Air quality has improved significantly in Beijing this year but an overzealous program to ban coal heating and switch to gas ran into trouble earlier in December. Severe shortages of natural gas – estimates vary from 4.8 billion to 11.3 billion cubic meters – left thousands of rural people shuddering in the cold.This included students in a Hebei primary school, who were forced to study outdoors in the sunshine to keep warm. And in another report, construction workers in Shanxi were detained for burning coal to keep warm.

Islamic State Returns to Guerrilla Warfare in Iraq and Syria

By Raja Abdulrahim 

Despite Syrian and Iraqi claims of victory over Islamic State, thousands of militants still holed up in both countries have mounted a number of recent guerrilla-style attacks on civilians and military forces, according to the U.S.-led coalition fighting the extremist group and others.The fighters, hiding in isolated desert or mountain regions or among civilian populations in the neighboring countries, are stepping up hit-and-run style attacks now that they have lost much of the territory they seized several years ago, according to coalition officials, local activists and other experts. “Their way of fighting is like a wounded wolf,” said Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi expert on Islamic State. “A wolf is the only creature that does not flee when wounded. It attacks.”

Korean War, a ‘Forgotten’ Conflict That Shaped the Modern World

By LIAM STACK

The Korean War has been called “the Forgotten War” in the United States, where coverage of the 1950s conflict was censored and its memory decades later is often overshadowed by World War II and the Vietnam War. But the three-year conflict in Korea, which pitted communist and capitalist forces against each other, set the stage for decades of tension among North Korea, South Korea and the United States. It also helped set the tone for Soviet-American rivalry during the Cold War, profoundly shaping the world we live in today, historians said.

The American empire is crumbling

Ryan Cooper

What President Trump is destroying is a product of the postwar years. In the years after the Second World War, America constructed what amounted to a globe-spanning empire, with the active assistance of Western Europe. The immediate justification was to build a military coalition capable of countering and containing the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc — and an important secondary objective was setting up a solid economic system to ensure prosperity, manage trade, and avoid depression.

U.S. NATURAL GAS IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY

By Sarah Ladislaw, Jane Nakano, Adam Sieminski, and Andrew Stanley 

Background

This report summarizes a one-day CSIS-International Energy Agency (IEA) workshop held in May 2017, with government, industry, and policy experts exploring the outlook for natural gas markets in the global energy landscape. The workshop addressed key issues concerning the role of natural gas in North America, as well as the evolving strategic role of U.S. natural gas exports and liquefied natural gas markets (LNG) in the global energy system. The workshop was the third in a three-part workshop series, with the first workshop examining key issues concerning the role of U.S. tight oil production in the global economy and the second workshop focusing on the societal and environmental risks associated with U.S. onshore oil and gas development. 

Whither nationalism?


JAN PIETRZAK has just one demand. He’s not fussy about the design of the centennial arch with which he wants to mark the Polish victory over the Bolshevik armies in 1920. But he does insist that it must be taller than the 237-metre (778-foot) Palace of Culture and Science, given to the Polish nation by Stalin. Mr Pietrzak is a gruff old man with white hair and a fine, bushy moustache, a popular entertainer best known for a patriotic song that became an anthem for Solidarity in the 1980s. Although the Warsaw authorities have balked at his dream of a triumphal arch, he has the backing of the Law and Justice party, which forms the national government. It will be a symbol, he says: “Young people …will know that Poland was victorious—like Trafalgar Square.”

2017 Was the Year of False Promise in the Fight Against Populism

BY YASCHA MOUNK, MARTIN EIERMANN 
This map shows the change in election results of 102 populist parties across 39 European countries between 2000 and 2017. 

An AI-Powered Network Could Save the US Navy Billions of Dollars


The hope is that CANES will reduce the number of sailors required to maintain operations, thus potentially saving the Navy billions of dollars over years of use. The systems could also automate tactical information processing, such as threat and target information, thereby making the Navy’s fleets safer and more formidable. By 2020, the Navy hopes to deploy CANES on 190 vessels and Maritime Operations Centers. “We are very interested in artificial intelligence being able to help us better than it is today,” Rear Adm. Danelle Barrett, Navy Cyber Security Division Director, told Warrior. “We want to trust a machine and also look at AI in terms of how we use it against adversaries.”

Pandora’s Bot: How Cyber Weapons Can Wreak Havoc


LEVI MAXEY 

Bottom Line: U.S. cyber defenders know how to take down botnets – networks of computers that have been hacked to act as one – but not how to keep them from coming back, nor necessarily how to determine who is behind them and hold them accountable. These networks under the remote control of hacktivist, criminal or state-sponsored hackers are able to wreak havoc on modern society by enabling theft, espionage, information warfare and disruption at an unprecedented scale.

Cybersecurity in the 2017 National Security Strategy


Today, the Trump administration released its National Security Strategy. This piece will address one narrow element of the document: cybersecurity. It’s a hot topic, but compared to North Korea’s nuclear-tipped missile program, Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East, China’s muscle-flexing across almost all domains of statecraft, and Russia’s growing role as a spoiler around the world, I thought the National Security Strategy wouldn’t have much to say about cybersecurity. I was wrong.

Infographic Of The Day: The Most Overhyped Sectors In Tech


Founders are at the very ground level, and their pursuits have a ripple effect on the entire startup ecosystem. Founders are at the very ground level, and their pursuits have a ripple effect on the entire startup ecosystem. As a result, how entrepreneurs think about different subsectors within tech is of utmost importance. Not only do their perceptions influence what projects they themselves choose to build, but how founders allocate their time and energy may also be a useful gauge of where future economic potential lies.

Nobody's Ready for the Killer Robot

Tobin Harshaw 

It was another busy year for everybody's favorite automotive-industry disruptor, space-travel visionary and potential James Bond villain Elon Musk. Tesla surpassed Ford and General Motors in market capitalization; the Gigafactory began churning out lithium-ion batteries; his neighborhood roofing company began installing solar panels that aren't crimes against architecture; he's sending two rockets to Mars; he started digging a giant tunnel under Los Angeles; and he dissed President Donald Trump over the Paris Climate Accord. (OK, he had a few misses too; just ask anybody on the Model 3 waiting list.)

Integrating Humans and Machines


The military holds an enduring interest in robotic capability, and teaming these early robots with humans. From the use of remote controlled boats by the Germans in the First World War, unmanned, tracked Goliath robots filled with explosives used in World War Two, through to contemporary EOD robots and unmanned aerial and ground vehicles, military organizations have long sought to leverage robotic capability. At the highpoint of the Iraq War in 2006, the U.S. military fielded over 8000 robots in theater.

3 January 2018

PLA REVIEW OF ‘WORLD MILITARY SITUATION’

PLA REVIEW OF ‘WORLD MILITARY SITUATION’
--  Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM(Retd)

It is very important to understand, what Captain Sir B. H. Liddell Hart had said, the "Other Side of the Hill" thinks.

We must see how the Chinese look at the world events of last year.

Lin Zhiyuan, the deputy director of the Foreign Military Branch of the Institute of War under the PLA Academy of Military Science wrote a paper on Overview of world military situations in 2017 in China Military Online.

Here is the Chinese observations on World Military Situation.

The world landscape has changed at a faster pace in 2017. Inter-power cooperation and competition coexisted, with the latter becoming more prominent. Major countries paid more attention to contention for regional dominance, for buffer zones and “strategic strongholds”, and for emerging fields. But be it confrontation or standoff, all sides remained restrained below the traditional “threshold of war”.

Some countries, while focusing on the “gray zone” contest, updated their military theories and developed disruptive technologies and equipment to improve cross-field combat strength and prepare for winning the “high-end conflicts” in the future.

China’s military has increasingly become a staunch force safeguarding world peace. 

China announced in September the completion of registration for an 8,000-strong peacekeeping standby force in the United Nations, which covered 10 professional categories in urgent need for United Nations peacekeeping tasks, such as army, navy, air force and medical support units. The troop is expected to be organized into peacekeeping troop units as per the invitation of the United Nations for overseas missions.

The hospital ship “Peace Ark” of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy visited Angola for the first time in October. During its port-visit there, the ship saw a 100-meter queue at the pier formed by visiting patients every day.

The 28th Chinese naval escort taskforce has started to take on escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and waters off the Somali coast in December. Since the first escort mission in 2008, Chinese escort taskforces have rescued, picked up and helped more than 60 Chinese and foreign ships in trouble, and verified and expelled around 3,000 suspected pirate ships.

Contests among great powers and geopolitical rivalries got bitter. But all parties stressed using “hybrid war” means to cultivate a strategic posture in their own favor, which managed to sustain the strategic balance.

The Trump administration stressed “America first” and the determination of restoration of America’s global leadership. Its national security strategy returned to traditional geopolitical gambling with major powers and Trump positioned China and Russia as “strategic competitors”.

The US military continued to reinforce its front-line deployment and launched four “freedom of navigation” vessel sailing operations in the South China Sea in the year. These moves fully exhibit the US government’s Cold War mentality.

Eyeing to “restore the dominance of the world”, Russia placed more emphasis on flexibly employing military power to gain strategic benefits. Russia’s military operations in Syria have successfully shifted the concerns of the United States and other western countries on the Ukrainian issue, consolidated the status of Bashar al-Assad’s regime and fundamentally changed the strategic containment on Russia.

The United States used NATO to keep squeezing the strategic survival space for Russia and enhanced troop deployment against Russia. As a result, the United States and Russia have been mired in structural antagonism with intensified tensions. There are no signs of a thaw in their relations.

Shinzo Abe’s government in Japan, relying on the United States, continued to create troubles on such issues as the Diaoyu Islands and the South China Sea.

In short, great powers paid more attention to long-term military competition this year. They scrambled for regional presence and discourse power. They sought ground for military operations and stopped before going too far to avoid head-on conflicts.

Hot and knotty issues continued but within a controllable range. The issues were eased to some extent through political negotiations and compromise. 

Two major issues have challenged regional security and stability in the year. First, the Syria issue, which, to a certain extent, can be regarded as a “war of agents” between Russia and the United States. The year-end turnabout of the war situation provided an opportunity for a political solution to the issues.

Second, DPRK’s nuclear issue. After Trump came into power, he explicitly asserted to put an end to the “strategic patience” policy, and highlighted military deterrence as evidenced by the repeated escalation of US-ROK joint exercises.

The DPRK responded with an even tougher attitude to the toughness of the United States and ROK. The risk of chaos and war on the Korean peninsula increased dramatically.

Anti-terrorism fights reaped important progress, but terrorist threats were still spreading. The international community faces a new round of challenges.

The Islamic State, entrenched in Syria and Iraq for many years, retreated in defeat again and again, with vast areas of land lost and military might severely weakened and dispersed, under joint attacks by the United States and Russia, among other countries. However, the global anti-terrorism effect was not obvious overall.

Islamic State will probably linger on for many years as a terrorist organization. Some of its members will hide underground fighting in Syria and Iraq. Some foreign “holy warriors” may secretly return to their home countries or move to Africa to carry out “lone wolf” terrorist attacks.

It needs the international community to establish and improve the anti-terrorism cooperation system to aid the international fight against terrorism and to eradicate the conditions that breed terrorism.

Some countries promoted plans to “build up” or “expand” military forces in active preparation for winning the information-based and intelligent wars of the future. 

The Trump administration pursued “force to promote peace”, and proposed to rebuild the U.S. military and expand its scale.

The U.S. recently signed a defense authorization bill involving a value of nearly $700 billion, continued to expand nuclear arsenals, and comprehensively enhanced the “Trinity” global strike capability. It also stressed the development of unmanned systems and artificial intelligence to ensure the military technical superiority.

Trump also put forward the “multi-domain warfare” concept and re-designed future wars. The U.S. Congress demanded that a major reform of “national security space” be carried out to create conditions for the formation of an independent “space force” in the future.

Russia stepped up its armament construction following asymmetrical thinking and is about to issue a new edition of the State Armaments Program. Russia plans to spend $320 billion focusing on the development of a nuclear deterrent system, with special attention paid to high-precision weapons and hypersonic and laser weapons.

Japan’s military spending increased for five consecutive years with a focus on strengthening naval and air forces in the “southwest areas”. India emphasized joint operations of the army, navy and air force and is now transforming to a network-centered army building and combat mode.

It is evident that outdated ways of thinking, such as the Cold War mentality and the zero-sum game, remained flourishing in 2017. At the same time, all countries vied for the development of new military technologies.

Technology and philosophy are in fact very close to each other. For old conceptions, such as the Cold War mentality, advanced technologies can be an “accomplice”. But for new concepts of peace maintenance and others, technology can also play a catalytic role.

Muddy Waters and Information Warfare


An excellent article ('Muddy Siang is sign of danger ahead, wake up call for Indian authorities') on the recent developments on the Yarlung Tsangpo/Siang/ Brahmaputra has been published by the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP). It is worth reading. Two important questions have been raised. Why China kept quiet if it was ‘only’ a earthquake and why India remained ‘unaware’ when it was not too difficult to ‘know’ the facts with remote satellite imagery.

Make jobs the priority in 2018

Source Link
Manas Chakravarty

Demonetisation and the goods and services tax have led to disruption in the informal sector and the performance of the industrial sector has been lacklustre. 

It’s a trend that has happened in every developing economy. As the economy develops, the number of persons employed in agriculture drops, with people migrating to the towns to take up better jobs. Productivity improves, wages go up and the economy prospers. That’s the optimistic take on the trend. There’s also another side to it, when farm plots become smaller and unviable as they’re subdivided among a growing population. Industry is unable to absorb the surplus and destitute people crowd city slums searching for work. The “Lewisian Transformation”, the trend of underemployed labour moving out of agriculture into more productive jobs, named after economist Arthur Lewis, has in many Third World countries become the “Lewisian Trap”, with most workers stuck in precarious low-wage jobs. India is no exception.

Election Year in Pakistan: Key Dynamics and Prospects

Rana Banerji

Despite several hiccups, on 19 December, the Senate of Pakistan passed the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2017 - resulting in the amendment to Article 51 (5) of the Pakistani constitution - which will enable elections to the National Assembly (NA) to be held on the basis of the 2017 provisional census results. Under the newly demarcated constituencies, of the 342 NA seats, Punjab will have 141 General seats and 33 Women seats (7 General and 2 Women seats fewer); Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will have 39 General and 9 Women seats (4 General and 1 Women seat added); Baluchistan will have 16 General and 4 Women seats (2 General and 1 Women seat added); and the Federal Capital Area will have 3 General seats (1 General seat added). The existing 61 General and 14 Women seats in Sindh and 12 General seats in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) remain unchanged. The term of the present parliament ends on 31 May 2018. After the Election Commission implements these changes, elections could be held, after Ramadan, sometime in mid-August 2018.

China to bring paramilitary police force under military's wing


Since taking power five years ago, President Xi Jinping has overseen a sweeping modernization of the People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest military, laying off troops, streamlining its organization and investing in advanced weapons.In a brief report, the official Xinhua news agency said that from midnight on Jan. 1 the People’s Armed Police would no longer fall under the purview of the State Council, or cabinet, and instead report to the Central Military Commission. Xi heads the Central Military Commission in his role as armed forces chief and commander in chief. Xi has steadily consolidated his power over the military, and has appointed allies to key positions of power in the armed forces.

China lashes out at German ambassador over cyber security

China’s foreign ministry lashed out at the German ambassador on Wednesday after he said Beijing failed to respond to requests to discuss Chinese internet controls foreign companies worry will disrupt business. Ambassador Michael Clauss told the South China Morning Post newspaper of Hong Kong the two governments agreed in 2016 to set up a group to discuss cyber issues but it “has yet to see the light of day.” He said requests for a “meaningful dialogue” about Chinese curbs on virtual private networks, which are used for encrypted communication and can evade Beijing’s web filters, have “regrettably not yet received a positive response.”

China Is Pushing Its Luck With the West

By LUKE PATEY

Beijing has baited some of America’s leading corporations with offers of access to its giant consumer market. In return, the likes of Apple and LinkedIn have agreed to play by China’s rules and submit to what amounts to censorship. On American college campuses, accepting money from the Beijing-backed Confucius Institute has come at the price of academic freedom: There are mounting concerns that the language and cultural centers financed by the institute prohibit discussion on issues that place China in a critical light. Elsewhere, Beijing has been accused of pulling the strings of Western democracies. In Australia, Chinese businessmen with ties to the Chinese Communist Party have donated millions of dollars to the country’s two leading political parties in an effort to shape domestic and foreign policy. A rising political star, Sam Dastyari of the opposition Labor Party, announced his resignation from the Senate in the face of allegations that he was peddling Beijing’s positions for financial support.

China’s Education Boom

By Dmitriy Frolovskiy

During the Chinese Communist Party’s recent 19th National Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed the role of education as a driving force for the country’s development in the future. He suggested that education should play a leading role in spearheading China’s domestic transformation, boosting its international recognition and soft power. These goals are expected to be achieved by 2049, while according to Education Minister Chen Baosheng, available data already marks substantial achievements in the field during the past years.

China’s underwater surveillance network puts targets in focus along maritime Silk Road

Stephen Chen

A new underwater surveillance network is expected to help China’s submarines get a stronger lock on targets while protecting the nation’s interests along the maritime Silk Road, from the Korean peninsula to the east coast of Africa. The system, which has already been launched, works by gathering information about the underwater environment, particularly water temperature and salinity, which the navy can then use to more accurately track target vessels as well as improve navigation and positioning.

Putinism with Chinese Characteristics

By Kevin Carrico

Since 2012, Chinese Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping has consolidated more power than any Chinese leader since at least Deng Xiaoping. This consolidation of power has coincided with a growing cult of personality, which portrays Xi as “the right leader at the right time” for China. Analyses of this cult often make comparisons to that of Mao Zedong, modern China’s founding figure, which dominated political culture in China until the late 1970s (China Brief, March 6, 2015). A reexamination of the evolution of the cult of personality around Xi, however, suggests that a far more appropriate point of comparison is with a more recent figure: Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Can China Internationalize the RMB?

By Saori N. Katada

The jury is still out on whether the Chinese renminbi (RMB) will displace the U.S. dollar in the foreseeable future. What is clear, however, is that challenging a hegemonic currency is not simple. For the RMB to eventually reign supreme, not only would the Chinese leadership, particularly the country’s monetary authority, need the political will to prioritize the internationalization of its currency over concerns with domestic stability, it would also have to gain the support of the financial markets and other economic and political players. All that is easier said than done.

Making China Great Again

By Evan Osnos

When the Chinese action movie “Wolf Warrior II” arrived in theatres, in July, it looked like a standard shoot-’em-up, with a lonesome hero and frequent explosions. Within two weeks, however, “Wolf Warrior II” had become the highest-grossing Chinese movie of all time. Some crowds gave it standing ovations; others sang the national anthem. In October, China selected it as its official entry in the foreign-language category of the Academy Awards. The hero, Leng Feng, played by the action star Wu Jing (who also directed the film), is a veteran of the “wolf warriors,” special forces of the People’s Liberation Army. In retirement, he works as a guard in a fictional African country, on the frontier of China’s ventures abroad. A rebel army, backed by Western mercenaries, attempts to seize power, and the country is engulfed in civil war. Leng shepherds civilians to the gates of the Chinese Embassy, where the Ambassador wades into the battle and declares, “Stand down! We are Chinese! China and Africa are friends.” The rebels hold their fire, and survivors are spirited to safety aboard a Chinese battleship.

In 1969, Nuclear War Almost Broke Out Between Russia and China

Kyle Mizokami

On the minus side, a nuclear strike against China would have earned the Soviets worldwide condemnation. An attack into Manchuria would have also played to China’s “People’s War” strategy of slowly dissolving invading forces with a combination of Chinese army forces and peasant militias. China’s leadership, which had already proven itself bloody minded against its own people, would have had little compunction in sacrificing millions in a war against the Soviets. From the Soviet perspective, a grinding, never-ending war with China had no clearly defined ending. A Soviet attack against China would have been a tactical success but a strategic failure—or worse, an open-ended strategic commitment that would have dwarfed the invasion of Afghanistan.

Where ISIS Gets Its Weapons

by Niall McCarthy

Some of the hardware was U.S.-made and the group subsequently attracted headlines for using American M4 and M16 rifles in its propaganda videos as well as humvees in suicide bombings. In 2015, the Iraqi prime minister said that ISIS managed to capture 2,300 humvees when the group took over the city of Mosul. Despite its seemingly impressive haul of western weaponry after its conquests in Iraq, about 90 percent of all weapons and ammunition deployed by ISIS are of Warsaw Pact calibers, mainly originating in China, Russia and Eastern Europe. That was the result of an extensive analysis of 40,000 items of ISIS weaponry recovered in Syria and Iraq, conducted by Conflict Armament Research between 2014 and 2017.

Reform or Revolution? Iran’s Path to Democracy

By Haleh Esfandiari

Iran has often seemed to be on the brink of democracy. During the twentieth century, the country experienced three major political upheavals: the Constitutional Revolution of 1905–11, the oil nationalization movement of 1951–53 and the Islamic Revolution of 1978–79. Each differed from the others in important ways, but all constituted a reaction to corruption, misrule, and autocracy. They all reflected the spread of literacy, the rising expectations of a growing middle class, and the impatience of a wealthy business community with official mismanagement. They were all characterized by an aspiration for some form of democratic government. Yet each time, that aspiration was disappointed. 

Its dreams of a caliphate are gone. Now ISIS has a deadly new strategy

Hassan Hassan

Its much-vaunted caliphate has gone, crushed by the might of Russian, Syrian and US warplanes, Iran-backed militias, Kurdish forces and armies launched by Damascus and Baghdad. But while 2017 might have seen the end of Islamic State’s dream of ruling over its twisted vision of an ideal society, the year ended with an ominous sign that its deadly international campaign against the many people and faiths it sees as spiritual foes has gathered new energy. Last Thursday, dozens of civilians in Kabul were killed in a suicide attack that targeted a Shia cultural centre in the Afghan capital. The assault was the latest in persistent attacks by an affiliate of Isis, which has proved to be resilient despite a relentless campaign against it in recent months.

America Would Benefit from a Balance of Power in the Persian Gulf

Doug Bandow

President Donald Trump once was skeptical of the totalitarian dictatorship commonly known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). He complained, correctly, that Saudis had funded terrorism against America and wondered why the United States subsidized the protection of a wealthy petro-state. After taking office the president, perhaps affected by abundant flattery judiciously employed by people highly skilled in the art, acted like just another Westerner hired by the Saudi royals to do their bidding. After his visit, highlighted by his uncomfortable participation in the traditional Sword Dance, he added the KSA to America’s pantheon of “special relationships.” Riyadh’s wish seemingly became Washington’s command. The result has been a steady assault on American interests and values.

6 European elections to watch this year

By EMMA ANDERSON

Europeans have barely had time to draw breath after a big year of elections in 2017. But it won’t be long before much of the Continent heads for the polls in 2018.Some of Europe’s political big hitters will be in action. Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán are seeking re-election while Silvio Berlusconi is campaigning to get his party back into power in Italy. What’s at stake: The provocative and blatantly politically incorrect incumbent Miloš Zeman is hoping to win another term after becoming the first Czech president to be directly elected in 2013. If Zeman succeeds and fellow populist Andrej Babiš manages to form a stable government as prime minister, it is likely to be even more difficult for the European Commission to make the Czech Republic fall in line on issues like immigration and gun control.

How solid is Donald Trump’s Asia strategy?

By MIKHAIL MOLCHANOV,

President Donald Trump’s tweet on Saturday on the US support of anti-government demonstrations in Iran has underscored America’s continued course of regime change in Asia, and everywhere else where the country’s politics do not follow the US scripts. This echoes Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s earlier statement of the US support of “those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of government.”  Iran has long been a thorn in America’s side, up to the point of Trump’s insistence in October on using the term “Arabian Gulf” in place of “Persian Gulf” while announcing plans to decertify the Iran nuclear deal. The hostile rhetoric had actually helped hardliners in Iran to close ranks even while escalating tensions in the region.

Peace, War or Chaos?: The 5 Big National Security Challenges of 2018

Daniel R. DePetris

If, before Election Day 2016, you predicted Donald Trump would win the presidency, that a special counsel would be appointed to investigate potential collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Kremlin, and the U.S. military would take military action against the Syrian government, there’s a good chance that your family or friends would call you crazy. If you happened to add that provocateur Marine Le Pen would qualify for the French presidential runoff and that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un would threaten to bombard the U.S. territory of Guam, your loved ones might have tried to arrange an appointment with a psychologist.

Nobody's Ready for the Killer Robot

By Tobin Harshaw

It was another busy year for everybody's favorite automotive-industry disruptor, space-travel visionary and potential James Bond villain Elon Musk. Tesla surpassed Ford and General Motors in market capitalization; the Gigafactory began churning out lithium-ion batteries; his neighborhood roofing company began installing solar panels that aren't crimes against architecture; he's sending two rockets to Mars; he started digging a giant tunnel under Los Angeles; and he dissed President Donald Trump over the Paris Climate Accord. (OK, he had a few misses too; just ask anybody on the Model 3 waiting list.)

Cybersecurity review of 2017: The year of wake-up calls

BY TOMÁŠ FOLTÝN 

Fresh from peering into our crystal ball and outlining some of the trends that we expect to dominate the cyber-landscape in the coming year, we will now offer a snapshot of 2017. In a way, this year may be seen as a ‘year of wake-up calls’. Alarm bells barely stopped ringing as we kept waking up to the reality of a rash of fresh cyber-incidents. Striking far and wide, such incursions provided everybody who goes anywhere near the Web with abundant fodder for reflection on how unsafe our online worlds can be. Rather than ‘sit back and relax’, it is now often ‘sit up and take notice’.

What U.S. Enemies Stand to Gain – and Lose – in Cyber War


Those two actors are very different in their motivations and how they proceed. The Iranians view their cyber activities as proportional responses to things being done to them, things related to sanctions of various kinds. They also view their activities as part of their goal to be a regional dominant player, and so cyber is an important component of that. The North Koreans, on the other hand, use cyber as a means to also avoid sanctions, but in a very different way. They’re using them for overtly criminal activities, like their theft of funds from the Bank of Bangladesh, other bank robbery-sort of things that they’ve done, and their use of the WannaCry tool to attempt to get ransom payments from people. And then their alleged activities in the theft of bitcoin as well.

Can't Kill Enough to Win? Think Again


When is the United States going to do the killing necessary to beat its terrorist enemies or eliminate them entirely?

Those given the awful task of combat must be able to act with the necessary savagery and purposefulness to destroy those acting as, or in direct support of, Islamic terrorists worldwide. In 2008, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Admiral Michael Mullen said, “We can’t kill our way to victory.” Ever since, many have parroted his words. But what if Admiral Mullen was wrong? The United States has been at war with radical Islamists four times longer than it was with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in World War II. And those previous enemies were far more competent and aggressive than the terrorists. It is time to kill a lot more of them.

For the U.S. Army, the Future Is Robots

Kris Osborn

Not only have robots been able to use GPS waypoint technology to travel from one location to another, but the systems have slowly learned how to maneuver independently around other objects or obstacles in real time. Systems like the well-known Packbot progressively leveraged technology to use different software packages for different sensing or detection missions with greater levels of autonomy. The Army is transforming its fleet of transportable robots to a common set of standards to expedite modernization, interoperability, autonomy and mission flexibility.