20 January 2018

Modi govt saddling India’s military with more bureaucracy


Recent media reports indicate that India’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has decided to allow private companies to manage and operate all Army Base Workshops (ABWs) and station workshops in eight cities across six states. The scheme is called GOCO (Government Owned, Contractor Managed). Ostensibly, the move is part of a major restructuring by the government of India to modernize the military. It claims that this will sharpen the teeth (fighting units), while shortening the tail (logistics). But if one takes a closer look the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, substantial reforms haven’t even taken off. The Modi administration, despite being in charge since May 2014, has not even commenced the process to define a national-security strategy.

China and India: An Emerging Gulf in Infrastructure Plans

By N. Janardhan

As 2017 drew to a close, Beijing made two surprising proposals to further the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): one, extending the China-Pakistan Economic Cooperation (CPEC) to Afghanistan; and two, linking Pakistan’s Gwadar and Iran’s Chabahar Ports. These propositions assume significance because as BRI continues to hog the global limelight, India has been quietly promoting its own North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC). These infrastructure plans not only intensify Sino-Indo competition — even potentially working at cross-purposes — but also risk duplicating partnership opportunities for several countries, including those in the Gulf interested in contributing to the projects.

Is China really building a military base in the northern province of Afghanistan?

By Kemel Toktomushev

Beijing has long refrained from engaging militarily beyond its borders. However, as some recent reports suggest, this situation may soon change. Ferghana News reported that China will build a military base in the northern province of Afghanistan, and, according to the news agency, the Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan is already expecting a Chinese expert delegation to discuss the location and further technicalities for the base. If these reports are true, China will fully fund the new military base in Badakhshan, covering all material and technical expenses, including both lethal and nonlethal weaponry and equipment.

Rohingyas and the Unfinished Business of Partition

As Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) celebrated70 years of independence in January 2018, the “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing unfolding in the northwestern part of the country continued. The plight of the Bengali-speaking Muslim population of Rakhine state (formerly Arakan province), which can be traced back to the 19th century, follows the larger pattern of violent ethnic conflicts rooted in religion, language, and mass migration that have plagued the Indian subcontinent immediately prior to and soon after its 1947 Partition.

China Is Hard At Work Developing Swarms Of Small Drones With Big Military Applications


Amass drone attack on Russian forces in Syria has highlighted the very real danger that small unmanned aircraft increasingly pose, even in the hands of non-state groups. At the same time, it underscores how small drone swarms could be a game-changing capability for larger nation states, including the United States’ near-peer opponents, such as China, who are already developing this technology in more structured environments.

As North Korea Goes Nuclear, U.S.-China Relations Sour

By Jacob L. Shapiro

The decision to attack North Korea or to allow its government to acquire nuclear weapons was always a choice between the lesser of two evils. One option brings with it the death and destruction that come with war. The other option brings with it the chance, however remote, that the United States could be nuked by an enemy state. Both options bring an additional consequence that must be taken into account: a worsening of U.S.-China relations. China promised to help with North Korea so that the U.S. wouldn’t have to choose either evil. China has failed, and the U.S. appears to be moving toward a decision to accept a nuclear North Korea. That, in turn, creates yet another decision the U.S. must make: whether to hold China accountable.

As North Korea Goes Nuclear, U.S.-China Relations Sour

By Jacob L. Shapiro
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The decision to attack North Korea or to allow its government to acquire nuclear weapons was always a choice between the lesser of two evils. One option brings with it the death and destruction that come with war. The other option brings with it the chance, however remote, that the United States could be nuked by an enemy state. Both options bring an additional consequence that must be taken into account: a worsening of U.S.-China relations. China promised to help with North Korea so that the U.S. wouldn’t have to choose either evil. China has failed, and the U.S. appears to be moving toward a decision to accept a nuclear North Korea. That, in turn, creates yet another decision the U.S. must make: whether to hold China accountable.

China’s big favor

According to Bloomberg, China is considering whether to slow, or even stop, purchases of U.S. Treasuries. At $3.14 trillion, China holds the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves. It is also the largest underwriter of U.S. debt. Financial experts and political observers have long worried that becoming financially dependent on an unfriendly and rival nation is not good for the U.S. in the long term. In the short term, however, should Beijing choose to pull back its major underwriting of America’s $20 trillion debt, it could force politicians to do something they have heretofore seemed incapable of doing: halt spending and start reforming or eliminating unnecessary and outmoded government programs.

Africa Should Think Twice About Accepting China's Aid

By Ibrahim Anoba

A recent report on Chinese loans and aid published by the College of William & Mary found that Beijing has disbursed $350 billion across the world since 2000. Out of that substantial figure, Africa received $94 billion, including $3 billion in the form of foreign aid. While China remains secretive in most of its dealings in Africa, its financial assistance has increased in a similar way to how U.S. funds to Africa grew in the 1980s, a process that created economic problems for the latter. Much of the continent is still recovering from the burden of U.S. foreign loans, and contemporary Chinese activities could condemn it to carry a new and similar debt load. It also threatens to increase corruption and build African economies dependent on China.


By Peter Pomerantsev

The other week, I was looking at a photograph of a penis-shaped vegetable, wondering about its significance for geopolitics. The picture, and thousands like it, had been posted by a pro-Kremlin Twitter account popular in Germany. But between images of bum-like pumpkins, the handle retweeted horrific photographs of children wounded or killed as a result of the war in East Ukraine, their fates blamed on Kiev and the West. The amusing vegetables were there to pull in followers; the other images to promote a political cause. Later the Twitter feed transformed, instead retweeting Kremlin state media and far-right parties.

I Heard Their Screams, and Then They Were Gone'

By Fiona Ehlers
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Seven Muslim refugees from Africa were recently convicted in Italy of throwing Christians from a dinghy on the journey across the Mediterranean. Prosecutors say it was a crime of faith. But was it? Eight men from Africa step in front of the prison gate. It is a dark night and they look around expectantly. It is their first step into freedom, a moment for which they have been waiting for quite some time - the end of a journey during which they have faced more than human beings can bear: crossing the desert,the war in Libya, fleeing across the sea, people drowning, and then two years locked away in this high-security prison near Palermo, Sicily.

Korea's Place In History

by Rodger Baker
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"In the dynamic world of international relations in which the struggle for power among the great is the basic reality, the ultimate fate of the small buffer state is precarious at best." The approach of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, may bring a respite, however brief, from the perception of imminent war on the Korean Peninsula. Feeling squeezed by the United States and China, the two sides of the 38th parallel agreed to resume talks with each other. Seoul and Pyongyang alike face economic pressure from Beijing, after all, and both fear Washington's military posturing, because while North Korea would be the target of a U.S. preventive war,

While Germany Slept


Many Germans may prefer the modesty and incrementalism that have characterized Angela Merkel’s past chancellorships. But a minority government forced to muster coalitions of the willing to address the critical issues confronting Germany and Europe could escape the constraints of such expectations, enabling much-needed reform. BERLIN – Few people outside Germany are familiar with the caricature of themselves that many Germans hold in their minds. Far from the aggressive bully of twentieth-century war propaganda, the perfectionist engineer of Madison Avenue car advertisements, or the rule-following know-it-all of the silver screen, the German many picture today is a sleepy-headed character clad in nightgown and cap. Sometimes clutching a candle, this German cuts a naïve, forlorn figure, bewildered by the surrounding world.

Here Is What America Should Learn from Hawaii's Missile Scare

Wallace C. Gregson
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Hawaii endured a now-famous false alarm on Saturday. The alarm this time was about an inbound ballistic missile, not a tsunami. Ridicule of Hawaii’s system and management followed quickly, validating the cliché that no good deed goes unpunished. Hawaii’s effort should be applauded, not scorned, but dismissive scorn is easier. Politicians demand action to find cause, and assurance that it won’t happen again. Translation: Fire the poor blighter who pushed the wrong button, fire all the officials in the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s chain of command from the top to the button, and change the system to require more supervisory layers. Washington’s response is “not our problem, this is a state issue.” Perhaps this belated recognition of the nature of our federal system—with states’ rights and responsibilities—will turn out to be a good thing. But now it sounds like disregard.

Europe’s biggest test will come in Poland

Europe’s biggest test will come in Poland The country has become a proving ground for the strength of populism across the west GIDEON RACHMAN Add to myFT Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Share on Whatsapp (opens new window) Save Save to myFT Gideon Rachman JANUARY 15, 2018 189 Poland was where the second world war started and where the Soviet empire began to crumble. Now the country may once again play a crucial role in European history. A struggle between the European Commission in Brussels and the Polish government is shaping up as an existential test for the EU. In December, for the first time ever, the commission started a formal procedure that could strip a member state of its voting rights. 

DISA preps for the ‘terabyte of death’

By: Amber Corrin 

When Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn retires as director of the Defense Information Systems Agency next month, he’ll leave behind a tangle of threats to the agency’s networks and a host of cutting-edge commercial technologies to offset them. Naturally, those networks are a target for attackers and DISA leaders such as Lynn are anticipating a worst case scenario. “We call it the terabyte of death,” he said. “We’re preparing for it, we know it’s coming and it’s just a matter of time before it hits us.” This approach is indicative of the evolution of threats. “When I first took over as director, we’d get a 1-gig to 2-gig attack at the internet access point, and we thought, ‘Ooh that’s a big deal.’ And we did all the things we were supposed to do. Fast forward a couple years, now we get 600-gig attacks on the internet access points. Unique, different ways of attacking that we haven’t thought of before,” Lynn said.

NotPetya: From Russian Intelligence, With Love

Mathew J. Schwartz 

Citing no sources by name, The Washington Post report instead references "classified reports cited by U.S. intelligence officials." It says the CIA concluded last November with "high confidence" that Russia's GRU military intelligence agency was behind NotPetya, aka SortaPetya, Petna, ExPetr, Diskcoder.C, Nyetya and GoldenEye. The CIA didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about the report. European intelligence agencies also reportedly attributed NotPetya to the Kremlin, which may have been probing how quickly Ukraine could respond to a cyberattack. The Ukrainian government was quick to blame Russia for unleashing NotPetya. The Kremlin has denied those accusations.

Terrorists Could Use Teslas to Kill Us


It's a calm Saturday morning in August of next year. Suddenly, across the nation, 12,000 Tesla Model S sedans start up at the same time. They engage Tesla's vaunted autopilot feature and head out onto the road. Some of them make their way to local gas stations. Some to electrical substations. And then, as they approach, they accelerate to top speed. The explosions are fantastic as the Model S batteries rupture and spark fires, which ignite anything flammable in the area. The power grid in the Los Angeles area is brought down almost immediately. Hundreds of fires rage. America is under attack. This might sound like science fiction. It's not. * * *

Business​ ​Risk​ ​Intelligence​ ​-​ 2017​​ ​Review​,​ ​2018​ ​Flashpoints

by Grace Johansson

China leads the hacking charts with the highest combination of impact factors ticked off on a matrix combining the potential capability and impact of possible attacker groups, thus presenting the highest risk.  China leads the hacking charts with the highest combination of impact factors ticked off on a matrix combining the potential capability and impact of possible attacker groups, thus presenting the highest risk, forming one of three actors with a potential tier 6 catastrophic impact (alongside Russia and the Five Eyes) according to a new report by Flashpoint. The authors say that this Decision Report reinforces the need for decision makers inside the enterprise to incorporate Business Risk Intelligence (BRI) into their risk assessments and strategies.

Cyber-attacks are a top three risk to society, alongside natural disaster and extreme weather

By Danny Palmer

Nations' reliance on the internet and connected services means the potential damage from cyber-attacks is one of the biggest risks facing the world today, according to a report from the World Economic Forum (WEF). The threat of cyber-attacks and cyberwarfare sits behind only extreme weather events and natural disasters in terms of events likely to cause disruption in the next five years, according to the WEF's Global Risks Report 2018. The WEF is an international body which brings together business, political, academic, and other leaders to help shape the global agenda. The report highlights ransomware in particular as a cyber-threat, and says that 64 percent of all malicious phishing emails sent during 2017 contained file-encrypting malware.

A Year After Trump, Davos Elite Fear Cyberattacks and War

Stephen Morris 

The threat of large-scale cyberattacks and a “deteriorating geopolitical landscape” since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump have jumped to the top of the global elite’s list of concerns, the World Economic Forum said ahead of its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. The growing cyber-dependency of governments and companies, and the associated risks of hacking by criminals or hostile states, has replaced social polarization as a main threat to stability over the next decade, according to the WEF’s yearly assessment of global risks, published Wednesday at Bloomberg LP’s new European headquarters in London. The Davos forum starts Jan. 23 in the Swiss ski resort. While the economic outlook has improved, nine in 10 of those surveyed said they expect political or trade clashes between major powers to worsen. Some 80 percent saw an increased chance of war.

Planning for Electronic Warfare - The Communication Problem

by Oliver B. Gagne

The purpose of this essay is to generate discussion regarding a new way to incorporate near-peer Electronic Warfare (EW) threats into the operations planning process. In my experience, maneuver commanders have been known to focus less on Electromagnetic Spectrum (EM)[i][ii] considerations in a decisive action environment. The root cause of this often boils down to a communication problem: On one side, the information owner must present information which can be difficult to deliver to decision makers in an impactful manner. On the other side, nearly 20 years of COIN operations and the habit of containing EW to a counter-IED role has created an institutional bias regarding the role of EW that must be overcome. EW is often cast aside during planning with the ever-ready catchall of “well, that’s METT-TC dependent.” In other words, we will get to it if it becomes an issue, but I do not see this as having an operational impact. There is little U.S and NATO experience opposing an adversary capable of employing EW measures against a friendly maneuver element. The operational impact has remained largely theoretical. That being the case, EM considerations have largely remained in the purview of the Cyber, Signal, and Air and Missile Defense communities, receiving much less subject matter expertise in battalion level infantry formations.

What An Artificial Intelligence Researcher Fears About AI

by Arend Hintze

As an artificial intelligence researcher, I often come across the idea that many people are afraid of what AI might bring. It's perhaps unsurprising, given both history and the entertainment industry, that we might be afraid of a cybernetic takeover that forces us to live locked away, "Matrix"-like, as some sort of human batteryAnd yet it is hard for me to look up from the evolutionary computer models I use to develop AI, to think about how the innocent virtual creatures on my screen might become the monsters of the future. Might I become "the destroyer of worlds," as Oppenheimer lamented after spearheading the construction of the first nuclear bomb?

Deception as a Pervasive and Elemental Force

by Chris Flaherty

The purpose of this short review is to present a different concept of deception, from how it is typically formulated in classical military doctrine as a tactical component, rather it should be viewed as a pervasive and elemental force in operations. The key argument will be that the world around us, is universally deceptive, and it is the successful ability of commanders in operations to who can bend this environment to advantage, one in which deception has synergistic effects. This approach is based on much earlier military writing, that pre-date the 20th century military doctrinal approach that identifies deception as part of a hierarchy of components, found in various operational concepts. Current doctrine formulations are not necessarily incorrect, as these represent a traditional 20th century approach that sought to harness the forces that shape operations converting these into guiding principles that didactically direct thinking, and planning. However, the doctrine components approach also represents a fundamental problem, ignoring that deception in military art has always had a fundamentally dualistic-role, it is about what impression is created in the opposing commanders’ mind; but it is also about the how the operational picture is distorted by the ‘fog of war’.

Hawaii and the Horror of Human Error


The Cold War came to an end, somehow, without any of the world’s tens of thousands of nuclear warheads being fired. But there were decades-worth of close calls, high alerts, and simple mistakes that inched world leaders shockingly close to catastrophe.Saturday’s terrifying, 38-minute episode in Hawaii will not go down as one of those close calls: Residents of the state waited for the bombs to fall after receiving text messages that a ballistic missile was on its way. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Sunday said “the government of Hawaii did not have reasonable safeguards or process controls in place to prevent the transmission of a false alert”—a case of human error, in other words.

19 January 2018

PM, Def Min Missing Army Day Event Sends Wrong Signal Before R-Day


In an unprecedented development with some curious overtones, the Army Day reception hosted by Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Monday, 15 January, saw a visible political void with the absence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the annual event. The President, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, was all alone at 4 Rajaji Marg, as the Vice-President was not present either. Many senior veterans and former service chiefs that one spoke to were unanimous in expressing their deep disappointment and anguish at this turn of events and noted that as much as they can recall, such a void – where the VP, the PM and the RM ‘skipped’ an Army Day reception – was never witnessed before. One of them wryly noted that this pattern of disparaging the military by the Modi government has now become par for the course.

US renews call for steps against ‘externally focused terrorists’

ISLAMABAD: The first diplomatic engagement between Pakistan and the United States after the mini-crisis created by President Donald Trump’s tweet ended with Washington renewing its demand for Islamabad to clear its territory of “externally focused terrorists”. “Ambassador [Alice] Wells urged the government of Pakistan to address the continuing presence of the Haqqani network and other terrorist groups within its territory,” said a US embassy statement at the conclusion of a two-day visit by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells. Her visit followed the US military’s outreach to Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa to contain the damage caused by the Trump tweet which accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit”. During her meetings in Islamabad, she conveyed to her Pakistani interlocutors that the US wanted to shift to a “new relationship with Pakistan” based on “mutual interest”.

The Islamic Republic of Hysteria

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To the extent the Trump administration has a discernible Middle East strategy, it is to contain and confront Iran. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and President Donald Trump himself have all denounced Iran’s regional activities. (In February, after Iranian ballistic missile tests, Trump tweeted that the country was “playing with fire.”) In October, the White House announced that moving forward, the official U.S. policy is aimed at “neutralizing Iran’s destabilizing influence and constraining its aggression.”

Top U.S. General says ‘not giving up’ on Pakistan ties

The top U.S. military officer, Marine General Joseph Dunford, said on Monday he was committed to the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, which has been strained in recent weeks as Washington piles pressure on Islamabad to crack down on militants. “Do we agree on everything right now? No we don‘t. But are we committed to a more effective relationship with Pakistan? We are. And I‘m not giving up on that,” Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a small group of reporters during a trip to Brussels. The United States has long blamed militant safe-havens in Pakistan for prolonging the war in neighboring Afghanistan, giving insurgents, including from the Haqqani network, a place to plot attacks and rebuild their forces.

Beware Iran: The Current Middle East Lull Is Transient

by Jonathan Spyer

A common but mistaken reading of the current strategic situation in the Middle East presents the region as approaching the end of a period of instability. The "return of the Arab state" is one of the more arresting refrains that this perspective has produced.According to this view, the wars in Syria and in Iraq are drawing to a close. The defeat of the Islamic State in these countries represents the eclipse of the political ambitions of Salafi jihadi Islamism for the foreseeable future. Assad is set to restore his repressive but stable rule in Syria. In Iraq, the firm reaction by the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to the Kurdish bid for independence has ended prospects of the imminent fragmentation of the country. In Lebanon, attempts by Sunni jihadis to export the Syrian war have failed, and all is quiet.


By Tuan N. Pham

At the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), President Xi Jinping opened the assembly by delivering a seminal report to its members. The three hour-long speechemphatically reaffirmed a strategic roadmap for national rejuvenation and officially heralded a new era in Chinese national development. Beijing now seems, more than ever, determined to move forward from Mao Zedong’s revolutionary legacy and Deng Xiaoping’s iconic dictum (“observe calmly, secure our position, cope with affairs calmly, hide our capacities and bide our time, be good at maintaining a low profile, and never claim leadership”). Beijing also appears poised to expand its global power and influence through the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, expansive build-up and modernization of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), assertive foreign policy, and forceful public diplomacy. Underpinning these strategic activities are various ancillary strategies – maritime, space, and cyberspace – all interlinked with the grand strategy of the Chinese Dream.

What Xi Jinping’s New Year’s Speech Means for America

Jonathan D. T. Ward

The United States must accept the truth that China is now its first superpower rival since the USSR. Xi’s New Year Speech fittingly revives a Cold War Communist tradition: using the New Year as a platform for a counterpoint to an American-led world. Recent Chinese presidents would have ended with statements on development and prosperity. Xi has gone farther. From commemorating China’s space and military achievements in 2017, to highlighting China’s new international initiatives, Xi has set the stage for a China that is becoming ever more comfortable voicing global ambitions. More importantly, the subtext of a series of new Xi speeches is that China is in direct competition with the United States.

A Year in Review: More Problems, More Reforms, More Cooperation for Central Asia in 2017

Central Asia in 2017 recalls Charles Dickens’ observation in A Tale of Two Cities: it was truly the best of times, if far from perfect, and the worst of times, if far from disastrous. And depending on whether one focuses on the problems the five regional countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) face, or instead emphasizes examples of reforms passed last year as well as increased intra-regional cooperation, including with the Russian Federation, one would be driven to draw dramatically different conclusions.

Shock and Awe: Surprises That Could Stun Asia in 2018

By Anthony Fensom

Asia is expected to enjoy stronger economic growth in 2018 as the world economy picks up speed. But there are still plenty of potential surprises that could rattle financial markets in the Year of the Dog, according to analysts.China has already followed the U.S. lead in tightening monetary policy, but the rest of Asia’s central banks are far from willing to follow the U.S. Federal Reserve in hiking interest rates given their diverging economic outlooks. Should the Fed increase rates more than the anticipated three or four times this year, Asia could suffer the fallout, particularly if a strengthening dollar drains capital from emerging economies. India, Indonesia, and the Philippines are considered the most exposed, based on their current account balances and levels of net foreign direct investment. Yet the eruption of private debt levels, which has reached more than 200 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in China and nearly as high in South Korea, poses a high risk also, particularly for those companies with dollar-denominated loans.

Terrorists Stalk Dark Web for Deadlier Weaponry

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Bottom line: Terrorists are turning to the dark web’s crypto-bazaars, social media channels and e-commerce sites to buy more coveted military equipment than the usual rocket launchers and AK-47s in the traditional black market. These digital black markets are also allowing terrorist organizations from Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as self-radicalized individuals in the West, to access a larger assortment of arms, explosives material and expertise from the comfort and anonymity of their home computers. 

Turkish president vows to ‘drown’ US-backed Syrian Kurdish force

Turkey’s president on Monday denounced U.S. plans to form a 30,000-strong Kurdish-led border security force in Syria, vowing to “drown this army of terror before it is born,” as Russia and Syria also rejected the idea President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also warned U.S. troops against coming between Turkish troops and Kurdish forces, which Ankara views as an extension of Turkey’s own Kurdish insurgency. Turkey has been threatening to launch a new military operation against the main Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the People’s Defense Units, or YPG, in the Kurdish-held Afrin enclave in northern Syria. The YPG is the backbone of a Syrian force that drove the Islamic State group from much of northern and eastern Syria with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes. Russia has also warned that the nascent U.S. force threatens to fuel tensions around Afrin.

In 2018, Chavismo’s Time May Finally Run Out


Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s embattled regime ended a tumultuous 2017 by having to suppress renewed food riots resulting from the government’s failure to import sufficient supplies of pork leg, a traditional holiday staple. In one disturbance, a pregnant woman was shot dead by security forces on Christmas Eve. Yet if 2017 ended poorly for Venezuela, 2018 is shaping up to be even worse.  Already, there have been new outbreaks of looting in the face of rampant shortages of food and basic goods. Inflation, which hit a reported 2,616 percent last year — the highest in the world — will continue to surge in 2018. And, worst of all, due to bad management and corruption, oil production has fallen to one of its lowest points in three decades, “further depriving the cash-strapped country of its only major source of revenue and adding to the suffering of its people,” according to CNN.

Russia Revisits an Old Cold War Battleground

Moscow looms large in sub-Saharan Africa's Cold War history. Across the continent, the Soviet Union competed with the United States and its Western allies for influence in a series of long-running proxy battles. Russia's interest in sub-Saharan Africa waned, however, after the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991. The region may have lost much of its geopolitical significance in the intervening time, but as the Kremlin asserts its influence in more and more conflicts abroad, sub-Saharan Africa presents Russia another opportunity to extend its global reach — should it so desire.

North Korea meeting to stress importance of sanctions: Canada

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - A summit on curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions will focus in part on how to ensure countries fully implement all the sanctions imposed on the reclusive state, a Canadian government source said on Monday. Senior officials from 20 nations will gather in Vancouver on Tuesday for the full-day meeting, which is designed to increase diplomatic and financial pressure on Pyongyang to scrap its nuclear programs. Canada and the United States are co-hosts. The United Nations Security Council, which has already imposed a wide range of sanctions, last month approved new punitive measures seeking to limit Pyongyang's access to refined petroleum products and crude oil and its earnings from workers abroad.

A U.S.-Ukraine Weapons Deal Has Russia Up in Arms

Since the war in Ukraine began in 2014, the United States has considered sending arms to the country. Now Washington is ready to follow through with the idea. U.S. President Donald Trump approved the sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine on Dec. 22, signing a $47 million deal that includes 35 FGM-148 Javelin command launch units and 210 anti-tank missiles, along with smaller arms. Wary of provoking Russia, the United States has been careful to frame the recent decision as a purely defensive measure, and not a means to encourage military action against separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. But Moscow, viewing the move as an act of escalation, will doubtless respond in one way or another.

In the EU, East and West Are Falling Out of Tune

In its mission to bring peace and prosperity to a landmass wracked by war, the European Union has always been a marriage of convenience. Between 2004 and 2007, the union incorporated several countries from Central and Eastern Europe into its expanding bloc. EU governments and institutions viewed enlargement as a path toward fostering the emergence of prosperous, democratic and stable nations on its eastern border after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In turn, the new member states regarded EU membership as a gateway to funds, investment, modernization and protection. In exchange for Brussels' financial largesse, new members introduced deep economic, political and institutional reforms to comply with EU standards. Now, however, the increasing unwillingness of eastern members to heed the EU's demands threatens to deepen the divide between the bloc's west and east.
Stopping the Rot

What the Hell Happened in Hawaii?


Early this morning, residents of Hawaii received an emergency alert on their cell phones and on their television screens: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEKIMMEDIATE SHELTER.” If that wasn’t enough to spark panic in a state where Cold War-era nuclear-attack alert sirens have been undergoing testing, the warning ended with those five dreaded words: “THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” Following several minutes of panic and confusion, various authoritative sources confirmed that the alert had been sent in error. Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard took to Twitter to say that she had “confirmed with officials” that there was no ballistic missile threat. U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) issued a statement noting that the “Earlier message was sent in error,” and that the State of Hawaii would issue a correction. Thirty-eight minutes after the original alert, a second followed: “There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm.” Russian, Chinese, or North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) could make it to Hawaii in less than 38 minutes, mind you.

EU names China and Russia as top hackers

Andrew Rettman

Beware of opening emails entitled ‘Official Data Breach Notification’ or 'UPS Label Delivery’ if you are a CEO, the EU’s cyber-defence agency, Enisa, warned on Monday (15 January). Those subject headings were the most popular sent in fake or 'phishing’ emails that installed malware on victims’ computers in 2017, along with 'IT Reminder: Your Password Expires’, 'Please Read Important from Human Resources’, and 'All Employees: Update your Healthcare Info’. The Greece-based EU agency noted in its annual report that cyber criminals out to steal money were the main “threat agent” who were “responsible for at least two-thirds of the incidents registered”. It said phishing “was reportedly responsible for 90 to 95 percent of successful attacks worldwide” and that the most sophisticated attacks were aimed at CEOs of large companies.

What 2018 has in store for the markets

WHAT is in store for economies and markets in 2018? Around this time of year, a large number of analysts and fund managers are giving their views. Among the most interesting and thoughtful approaches can be found at Absolute Strategy Research (ASR), an independent group founded by David Bowers and Ian Harnett. ASR adds extra depth to its analysis by contrasting its own views with those of the consensus. To do so, the group polled 229 asset allocators, managing around $6trn of assets, for their views on the outlook for economies and markets. They found a groundswell of optimism; the probability of equities being higher by the end of 2018 was 61%, and that shares will beat bonds is 70%. The allocators think there is only a 27% chance of a global recession. And they are not worried about the prospect of the Federal Reserve pushing up interest rates.

A Year in Review: Ukraine Faced Mixed Fortunes, Missed Opportunities in 2017

By: Oleg Varfolomeyev

Ukraine missed some chances to improve the domestic situation last year, with the fight against corruption not as efficient as Western creditors expected and the economy growing at only a sluggish pace. Among the country’s achievements in 2017 were the long-awaited ratification of the association and free trade agreement plus a visa-free travel bonus from the European Union, and Naftogaz Ukrainy’s victory over Russian Gazprom in an international arbitration court. Nonetheless, there is still no light in the end of the tunnel as far as the conflict with Russia-backed militants in Donbas is concerned, and Ukraine deepened the split by stepping up the economic blockade of the area. The governing coalition led by President Petro Poroshenko proved stable, but it will face challenges ahead of both presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled for 2019.

Telecom to lose more jobs; on course to cull 90,000 more: Report

Faced with uncertainty, the once-sunshine telecom sector will continue to witness decline in headcounts for the next six-nine months taking the total number of job losses to 80,000-90,000, says a report. The sector, which has been witnessing rough weather in terms of profitability due to rising competition and lower margins, has witnessed large scale lay-offs making job scenario uncertain, said a CIEL HR Services in a report on Monday. The report is based on a survey among around 100 senior and mid-level employees of 65 telco and software and hardware service providers to telecom companies.



This test was an example of the “bytes and blood” scenario that national security analysts generally predict when they talk about “cyber war” or conflict in cyberspace. For most of cyberspace’s short history, defense analysts, policymakers, and many computer experts have been focused on cyber-attacks that cause physical destruction and death. In 2012, for example, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta cautioned Americans that they someday could face a “cyber Pearl Harbor” as a terrorist group or enemy state gained control of “critical switches,” to “derail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, derail trains loaded with lethal chemicals.”



A series of scandals from Russian meddling in the U.S. elections to China’s influence over Western politicians, like Australian Sen. Sam Dastyari and U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, has brought American attention back to the Cold War-style fight for influence and narratives. Congress has started to act, incorporating counter-propaganda funding into the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act and proposing reforms to the Foreign Agent Registration Act and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The United States finally may be waking up to the challenge that its NATO allies and Taiwan have been facing for years. As Americans try to make sense of modern political warfare, the struggle to polish the rust off of the Cold War toolkit for countering foreign influence has run into the problem of insufficient to explain the challenges now faced by the United States and its allies.

On Technology and War


As anyone who casts even an occasional and superficial view at the media knows, military-technological development, driven by hundreds of billions in R&D funding, is proceeding at a furious pace. Not a day passes without the announcement of some new and revolutionary weapons and weapon systems that have recently transformed the entire face of war or are about to do so in the near future. The objective is always the same: namely, to obtain that elusive and often ill-defined thing, military-technological superiority. As one who has spent much of his life studying military history, specifically the interaction between technology and war, today I want to address the following question. Suppose you have got this kind of superiority. In that case, how do you go about using it?

Hawaii’s Nuclear Wakeup Call (and Why We Should Take MLK’s Advice)


What is it like to live on the nuclear brink? For professional golfer John Peterson playing in the Sony Open in Honolulu, it meant huddling terrified “under mattresses in the bathtub with my wife, baby and in-laws,” he said, on Twitter. “Please lord let this bomb threat not be real.” It was not real. But there are thousands of Hawaiians with similar stories after they got the official warning:  “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEKIMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” It took 38 minutes for state officials to cancel the alert, saying an employee had pushed the wrong button. “False alarms of the apocalypse are not a new feature of the nuclear age,” explains analyst Ankit Panda in an excellent summary of Saturday’s incident. There have been dozens of mistakes and false alerts, some bringing us a few minutes and one decision away from a nuclear disaster.

18 January 2018

Fresh provocation: China’s building a 36-km long road in strategic J&K valley near Siachen


New Threat Spotted: China’s 36-km road, troop locations in PoK’s Saksham valley “gifted” by Pakistan. Gives Chinese Army access to Line of Actual Control near Siachen. 

Rebuilding on the Beatles, an Ashram in India Hopes for Revival

A meditation pod atop an ashram in Rishikesh, India, where the Beatles went to study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1968. The mural by Miles Toland complements a planned new museum on the grounds dedicated to the band’s tenure there. In 1968, the Beatles and a crew of hangers-on traded hip London threads for kurtas and wreaths of marigold, trudging through dense forest to an ashram in Rishikesh, India, where they spent weeks writing songs. There was George Harrison, a devoted follower of Transcendental Meditation; John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who had started to feud over the band’s direction; and Ringo Starr, the band’s drummer, who was so perturbed by India’s famously spicy food that he packed a reserve of beans for his stay at the ashram. He lasted 10 days.