2 February 2018

Australian Defence Force (ADF) establishes new SIGINT and Cyber Command

By Gabriel Dominguez

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has established a new Defence Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Cyber Command to enhance its cyber capabilities in what it described as a “more refined” command structure, according to a 30 January statement by the Department of Defence (DoD) in Canberra.

Cryptocurrencies and National Security

In 2009, an anonymous software engineer using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency. In the years since, the market for Bitcoin and some 1,300 other cryptocurrencies has swollen to $500 billion; they are used in hundreds of thousands of transactions daily to buy everything from software to real estate to illegal drugs.

So called for their use of cryptography principles to imbue virtual coins with value, cryptocurrencies present unique challenges for governments. For others, including terrorist organizations, sanctioned states,

War Without the Internet? Commandant Says Marines Need to Revive Old-Style Comms

By: Shawn Snow

To get through a war with a near-peer competitor like China or Russia, Marines will need to master basics in communication and navigation, said the Marine Corps commandant.

Rival competitor nation states are challenging U.S. dominance across the globe, Gen. Robert Neller said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion in Washington Thursday.

America’s Military Is Choking on Old Technology

By Leo Blanken

In a seminal 1958 article, Edward Katzenbach wrote about how militaries had been determined to maintain large horse cavalry formations well into the 20th century — “a capacity for survival that border[ed] on the miraculous” — despite overwhelming evidence from World War I that a cavalry charge on the modern battlefield was ludicrous. In the words of the last U.S. Army chief of cavalry, who insisted on maintaining tactical horses in the face of armored vehicles, “When better roller skates are

Training Quick and Staffing Unfinished, Army Units Brace for Surging Taliban

by Thomas Gibbons-Neff

They are being heralded as a key part of President Trump’s new strategy to resolve the nearly 17-year war in Afghanistan. But their training has been cut short by months, and units are still short-staffed, as some of the estimated 1,000 additional military advisers prepare to arrive in Afghanistan in time for the spring fighting season, officials said.

The Army soldiers are deploying as the Pentagon begins shifting resources from the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria back to Afghanistan. As part of its new assault against an increasingly tenacious Taliban, the Trump administration is planning to send some of the advisers back to small bases scattered across rural parts of the country to help train Afghan forces.

1 February 2018

5 predictions for what life will be like in 2030

By Mike Moradi

Fourth Industrial Revolution 

You are just waking up in the spring of 2030. Your Internet of Things bedroom opens solar powered e-windows and plays gentle music while your smart lighting displays a montage of beachfront sunrises from your recent vacation. 

How Cyberwarfare Will Evolve Over 2018

Cyberwarfare is out of the shadows, USA and UK have declared cyber warfare against ISIS officially. Large number of countries are developing cyber warfare capabilities. While cyber weapons were mostly developed and used by intelligence agencies as part of secret missions, they are now becoming an acknowledged military option during conflicts. Here are predictions about how cyberwarfare will evolve over the next year.

The cyber arms race will accelerate 



Vinayak Bhat has been working hard these past months. The retired Indian colonel’s assiduous analysis of satellite images of Himalaya’s Doklam plateau has shredded the veil of peace laboriously woven by India and China since they pulled themselves back from the brink of war last summer, and is raising embarrassing questions for New Delhi on the deal it cut with Beijing to maintain peace in the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet “trijunction” area.

Six States That Account For 75 Per Cent Of India’s Exports

by Swarajya Staff

Economic Survey 2018 says that for the first time ever there is an opportunity to know the state-wise distribution of international exports of goods and services.

Table 5 provides these data.

Six states — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Haryana — in that order account for 75 per

India’s Nuclear Safeguards: Not Fit for Purpose

By John Carlson

Currently, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is considering India’s application for membership. In this context NSG members are reportedly discussing membership criteria for states not party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), including a requirement for clear and strict separation of current and future civilian nuclear facilities from non-civilian nuclear facilities. In this paper, John Carlson examines India’s Separation

The Army's Latest Weapon to Turn Around the War in Afghanistan

FORT POLK, La. — The Army has a new tool it hopes will finally tip the scales in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan — and potentially other Islamist insurgencies. But can it work?

Meet the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, the first of six units of roughly 1,000 soldiers each that are specially designed to “advise and assist” foreign armies so that they can contain guerrilla movements on their own.

America’s Longest War—and the Ally That Fuels It

How Pakistan has perpetuated the Afghan conflict. 

Two months after the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Vice President–elect Joe Biden sat with Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, in the Arg Palace, an 83-acre compound in Kabul that had become a gilded cage for the mercurial and isolated leader. The discussion was already tense as Karzai urged Washington to help root out Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan, implying that more pressure needed to be exerted on Pakistani

What the Pentagon Has Been Trying to Hide! The Taliban Have Returned and Now Threaten 70% of Afghanistan

Shoaib Sharifi and Louise Adamou 
BBC News, January 30, 2018

Taliban fighters, whom US-led forces spent billions of dollars trying to defeat, are now openly active in 70% of Afghanistan, a BBC study has found.
Months of research across the country show how areas the Taliban threaten or control have surged since foreign combat troops left in 2014.The Afghan government played down the report, saying it controls most areas. But recent attacks claimed by Taliban and Islamic State militants have killed scores in Kabul and elsewhere.

Afghan officials and US President Donald Trump responded by ruling out any talks with the Taliban. Last year Mr Trump announced the US military would stay in the country indefinitely.
How was the research carried out?
The BBC investigation - conducted during late 2017 - provides a rare snapshot of the security situation in every Afghan district between 23 August and 21 November.
A network of BBC reporters across Afghanistan spoke to more than 1,200 individual local sources, in every one of the country’s 399 districts, to build up a comprehensive picture of all militant attacks over that period.

These conversations happened either in person or by telephone and all information was checked with at least two and often as many as six other sources. In some cases BBC reporters even went to local bus stations to find people travelling in from remote and inaccessible districts in order to double check the situation there.
The results show that about 15 million people - half the population - are living in areas that are either controlled by the Taliban or where the Taliban are openly present and regularly mount attacks.

The extent to which they have pushed beyond their traditional southern stronghold into eastern, western and northern parts of the country is clearly visible. Areas that have fallen to the Taliban since 2014 include places in Helmand province like Sangin, Musa Qala and Nad-e Ali, which foreign forces fought and died to bring under government control after US-led troops had driven the Taliban from power in 2001. More than 450 British troops died in Helmand between 2001 and 2014.

After Complaints From I.G. About Secrecy of Data, US Military in Kabul Releases Data Show Growing Taliban Power in Afghanistan

Taliban control of Afghanistan on the rise, US data reveals 

Nick Patton Walsh, CNN, January 30, 2018

The Taliban strengthened its hold over Afghanistan in the second half of last year, according to new US military data released to CNN on Tuesday.
In October 2017, 14% of Afghan districts were under the control or influence of the Taliban or other insurgents, an increase of one percentage point on the previous data from August.
The official figures offer a rare and tangible measure in which to assess the ongoing war – a war that President Trump has pledged to win.

The newly released figures have been subject to some controversy, however. The US government’s own ombudsman of the war, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), had earlier complained the US military had barred the information from being released to the public.
The new data was released by US Forces in Afghanistan to CNN following inquiries on SIGAR’s complaint. According to the new information, 56% of districts were under Afghan government control or influence in October, while 30% are contested with the insurgency.
close dialog
The increase, though incremental, is indicative of the Afghan army’s loosening grip on the country in the face of a determined Taliban insurgency.
In November 2015, the Afghan government controlled about 72% of the country, while the insurgents influenced just 7%.

Afghanistan Cannot Be Resolved in Isolation from Its Neighborhood

by Mohammed Ayoob - The National Interest

The most recent carnage in Afghanistan last Saturday that left over one hundred people dead has once again made clear that the threat from the Taliban, and now increasingly from ISIS as well, is not likely to disappear any time soon. Indeed the menace seems to be growing as the Afghan regime is increasingly immobilized because of the standoff between President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Instead of providing stability the agreement between the two contenders for the presidency to share power has left the government paralyzed.

The spate of terrorist attacks seems to be intensifying with the emergence of ISIS in Afghanistan as a serious challenger to the Taliban in that arena. But it is not just terrorism that is a threat to the regime. The government, despite the support of eleven thousand American boots on the ground and the Trump administration’s promise to send in an additional four thousand troops, is steadily losing territory to the Taliban and its other challengers. According to a recent report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, created by Congress in 2008, less than two-thirds of the country’s territory is under the government’s nominal control

No, China Doesn't Want Confrontation in the South China Sea

James Holmes

It’s been said that groupthink is a bad thing, that creative tension is a good thing and that appointing a “devil’s advocate” represents the best way to counteract the former while generating the latter. With any luck the give-and-take of debate yields better insights into ambient circumstances and how to manage them. To assure there is some give-and-take against the pressure of groupthink, the wise leader nominates a devil’s advocate to his team—namely a contrarian whose appointed task is to confound emerging wisdom by lodging arguments fair or foul.

Meeting the China Challenge Responding to China’s Managed Economy

By James Andrew Lewis

The U.S.-China relationship is one that neither country can escape. Both benefit from it in important ways. The question for quite some time, though, has been whether China’s economy, international presence, and participation in global institutions would come to look more like our own, or whether it would seek to challenge the order the United States has built and led over the past 70 years. While China’s economic size does not necessarily threaten the United States, China’s willingness to use its economic leverage to forge a global economy closer to its image raises complicated questions considering its lack of transparency. The essays in this volume, written by a diverse group of CSIS scholars, address some of the key issues that currently vex the U.S.-China economic relationship.

Anatomy Of China’s Arctic Policy – Analysis

 By Wang Li

In the wake of publication of a white paper titled “China’s Arctic Policy”, a wide range of questions are raised on Beijing’s intention, goal, means and behaviors in the future. It is quite understandable whenever a rising power, like China with the largest population and the second largest economy of the world, claims its legitimate right, either afar or near, the responses from the international society are always arguable, controversial and disputable as well. Due to this, it is necessary to examine the core concepts in first Arctic policy document of China.

Growing Economies Should Bring Little Cheer

By George Friedman

For the first time since 2008, all the world’s major economies are growing. A decade after the financial crash, the impediments to growth have mostly faded away. It goes without saying that economic growth is preferable to stagnation or decline, but not all the marks of the 2008 crash have been wiped away. What happened ceased to be a primarily economic problem years ago, and the effects of 2008 on the global political and social systems are to a great extent beyond the ability of economic growth to repair.

The Global Outlook For 2018 Whose influence will rise, and whose will fall?

2017will certainly be remembered as a year of political anxiety. Between Trump’s first year in office, Brexit, populist surges in the West, crisis in the Middle East, and rising aggression with North Korea, this year offered plenty of tension and reason to worry about where the world is heading.

Will 2018 offer more of the same, or will the world enjoy more stability?

Hezbollah Goes on the Cyber Offensive with Iran’s Help


Bottom Line: Maturing under Tehran’s tutelage, Hezbollah’s hackers are quickly learning the art of cyber warfare. The formidable militant organization is increasingly turning its attention to the digital realm to engage in espionage, psychological operations, disruption of critical services and criminal activity to fund its activities on the ground.

Is National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster On His Way Out the Door at the White House?

by John Bolton

Exit signs continue to blare for H. R. “I have a job” McMaster, Donald Trump’s beleaguered National Security Advisor. On the ropes since August, the leader of the National Security Council tried to insist earlier this week that the talk was little more than piffle. “I have a job,” McMaster said from the White House. “It’s a tremendous job every day to advance and protect the interests of American people and to do my best to provide options to our president — and once he makes decisions, to assist with the execution of those decisions.”

Analysis of Russian Combat Operations in Syria

The Russian intervention in Syria, which began in mid-2015, was never meant to be a large effort in terms of manpower and intended, from the beginning, to help rebuild and revive the Syrian military forces that were already there. Over a third of the Russian troops and contractors were technical experts to assist the Syrians in refurbishing elderly (or just overworked) weapons and military equipment. Russia supplied the spare (or improved) parts and any special tools needed for get this done. New weapons and gear also arrived and the Syrian troops had to be quickly taught how to use all this stuff. By January 2016 the impact of this effort was visible to people on the ground. Western photo satellites and aerial surveillance showed the Syrian troops using new Russian artillery as well as more of their own refurbished stuff because the Russians had shipped in lots of ammo along with the new

Intel Warned Chinese Companies of Chip Flaws Before U.S. Government

Decision to disclose issue to select few customers, including Lenovo and Alibaba, has ripple effects through security and tech industries

In initial disclosures about critical security flaws discovered in its processors, Intel Corp. INTC 10.55% notified a small group of customers, including Chinese technology companies, but left out the U.S. government, according to people familiar with the matter and some of the companies involved.

Stopping the Next Cyber Conflict


The range of ferocious offensive cyber attacks by revisionist and rogue powers in recent years makes clear that the U.S. and its allies are fully enmeshed in the third generation of cyber conflict. Both the public and private sectors must elevate their responses accordingly.

The first generation of cyber conflict kicked off shortly after the dawn of the internet (then called ARPANET) in the mid-1980s. The primary actors were the old Cold War superpowers, sometimes assisted by their respective NATO and Warsaw Pact allies. The phase continued through the late 1990s, as they

Artificial intelligence: The time to act is now

By Gaurav Batra, Andrea Queirolo, and Nick Santhanam

Artificial intelligence will soon change how we conduct our daily lives. Are companies prepared to capture value from the oncoming wave of innovation? Pity the radiology department at your local hospital. Yes, they have a fine MRI machine and powerful software to generate the images. But that’s where the machines bog down. The radiologist has to find and read the patient’s file, examine the images, and make a determination. What if artificial intelligence (AI) could jump-start that process by enabling real-time and more accurate diagnoses or guidance, beyond what human eyes can see? Thanks to technological advances over the past few years, manufacturers are close to offering such leading-edge MRI solutions. In fact, they’re exploring new AI applications that span virtually every major industry, from industrials to the public sector. With better algorithms and increased stores of

On the Chinese Side

An even greater level of activity is visible from imagery of the Chinese air bases near Lhasa and Shigatse. This expansion may indicate a greater buildup by the Chinese, but it could also reflect the more advanced facilities at these bases. Furthermore, unlike India, China's lack of air bases close to the LAC forces it to concentrate more of its air power at these airports.

Imagery of the two air bases shows a significant presence of fighter aircraft (which peaked in October) and a notable increase

Do Leaders Need Emotional Intelligence?

Over the holiday break, I had the opportunity to catch up with with Dr. Joshua Spodek, author of the upcoming book Leadership Step by Step and discuss emotional intelligence. The term gets thrown around a lot in the military, but I don’t think a lot of us understand what exactly it means and why it’s so important to leading successful organizations. So, I hope readers get as much out of this post as I did! 

Joe: I’ve heard the term “emotional intelligence” mentioned in a lot of leadership conversations over the last couple of years, but what exactly does it mean? 

The Ambiguities of Franco-British Defense Cooperation


French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May will discuss their defense relationship, among other things, at a bilateral summit on January 18. Franco-British collaboration is vital for European defense. This is not only because they are the two leading European military powers at NATO, but also because they have the most ambitious bilateral military relationship of any European countries, based on the 2010 Lancaster House treaties.

31 January 2018

2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report

This is from ORF website : http://www.orfonline.org/orf-ranked-best-indian-think-tank-asian-region/

Observer Research Foundation (ORF) once again led the Indian think tanks in Asia in the latest Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, released globally today, retaining the leadership in Indian think tanks.

ORF also became the largest ranked institution from Asia with 25 appearances in various categories in the 2017 Index, prepared by the Pennsylvania University.

In the China, India, Japan and Republic of Korea region, ORF has been ranked 5th, ahead of Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (7th), Centre for Civil Society (14th), Delhi Policy Group (16th), Centre for Policy Research (18th), Indian Council for Research in International Economic Relations (21st) and Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations (26th).

In this category, Centre for Study Science, Technology and Policy came 29th, Development Alternatives 30th, Energy and Resources Institute 33rd, Centre for Land Warfare Studies 37th and the Vivekananda Foundation 41st, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies 46th, Institute of Economic Growth 48th, Indian Council of World Affairs 50th, United Service Institution of India 55th, Hindu Centre for Politics 58th and Council on Energy, Environment and Water 62nd.

Korea Development Institute also retained its position as the number one in this category, while Japan Institute of International Affairs was once again second.

ORF also jumped 16 points in the world ranking list as it finished 114 in the latest index, as against 130 last year. In the ‘Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-US)’ too, ORF finished 35th. IDSA came 28th. Brookings India was 119th, Gateway 126th and USI 132nd.

Brookings Institution, USA, continued to be world number one while the French Institute of International Relations dethroned Chatham House, UK, from the second rank. Carnegie Endowment, USA, retained the third position.

In the world’s ‘Top Defence and National Security’ category, IDSA was ranked 37th while ORF came 46th, ahead of Centre for Land Warfare Studies (67th) and the USI (104th).

In the ‘Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks’, ORF came 120th, the fifth highest ranked in India. ICRIER came 68th, Institute of Economic Growth 106th, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research 112nd and National Council of Applied Economic Research 119th.

In the ‘Top Education Policy Think Tanks’, ORF came 59th, and the only Indian think tank in the list.

In the ‘Top Energy and Resource Policy Think Tanks’, ORF has been ranked 34th, well ahead of Centre for Science and Environment 38th and Council on Energy, Environment and Water 40th.

ORF also came as the top Indian think tank in the ‘Top Foreign Policy and International Affairs Think Tanks’, coming at 37th, much ahead of IPCS (80th), Delhi Policy Group (105), Gateway House (111), Indian Council of World Affairs (115) and the IDSA (117).

In the ‘Top Domestic Health Policy Think Tanks’, Institute of Economic Growth was the topmost in India (30) while ORF was ranked 53rd worldwide.

ORF was ranked the best Indian think tank in ‘Best Managed Think Tanks’ with a worldwide rank of 51 while the IDSA came second with 71 rank and third Development Alternatives with 74 ranking.

In the ‘Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by a Think Tank’, ORF was ranked second worldwide, behind Resources for Future, USA.

ORF, which organises Raisina Dialogue and CyFy, was the topmost in India in the Best Think Tank Conference category, with a worldwide ranking of 11. It also came on top in India in the Best Use of Social Networks as well as the top think tank to watch in 2018.

ORF was also the best think tank in ‘Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program’. It again topped the category of Indian ‘Think Tanks with the Best Use of the Internet’ as well as the ‘Best Use of Media (Print)’ and ‘Think Tanks with the Most Innovative Policy Ideas/Proposals’.

Global Go To Think Tank Index Report 2017

Think tanks are public policy research, analysis, and engagement organizations. They are organizations that generate policy-oriented research, analysis, and advice on domestic and international issues that enable policymakers and the public to make informed decisions about public policy issues. Think tanks may be affiliated with political parties, governments, interest groups, or private corporations or constituted as independent nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). These institutions often act as a bridge between the academic and policymaking communities, serving the public interest as an independent voice that translates applied and basic research into a language and form that is understandable, reliable, and accessible for policymakers and the public.

Think tanks devote a substantial portion of their financial and human resources to commissioning and publishing research and policy analysis in the social sciences: political science, economics, public administration, and international affairs. The major outputs of these organizations are books, monographs, reports, policy briefs, blogs, conferences, seminars, web-based reports and commentary, formal briefings and informal discussions with policymakers, government officials, and key stakeholders.

University of Pennsylvania under its Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) every year publishes Global Go To Think Tank Index Report in the month of January.
The Global Go To Think Tank Index is the result of an international survey of over 1,950 scholars, public and private donors, policy makers, and journalists who helped rank more than 6,500 think tanks using a set of 18 criteria developed by the TTCSP.

While think tanks may perform many roles in their host societies, not all think tanks do the same things to the same extent. Over the last 85 years, several distinctive organizational forms of think tanks have come into being that differ substantially in terms of their operating styles, their patterns of recruitment, their aspirations to academic standards of objectivity and completeness in research and their engagement of policy makers, the press and the public. Despite these differences, most think tanks tend to fall into SOME broad categories as per TTCSP.

Today on January 30th, 2018, 160 organizations worldwide in over 100 cities hosted and Why Think Tanks Matter Events for release of the report.

In Delhi the event was held at ORF. There was a panel discussion on “Managing a World in Flux: Policy, Politics and Think Tanks” with the following panelists: 
   Mr. Sunjoy Joshi, Chairman, Observer Research Foundation (Chair)
   Dr. Shamika Ravi, Director of Research, Brookings India
   Mr. Alok Bansal, Director, India Foundation

The session was designed to explore the relevance of think tanks in managing disruptions in today`s world order. There was a lively discussion.

The organisers do give their criterion of nominations and assessment tools, there is lot of scope of subjectivity while giving rankingto the Think Tanks globally.People talk of lobbying, Think Tanks figuring in the list having hardly anything to show off etc. Be that what may, it does give a fair indication of state of affairs of the Think Tanks.

The results were announced in various categories. However, they are still not available in the net. What I could make out eas that in India ranking in one of the first categories listed are : IDSA(39), Centre of Civil Society, ICRIA(76), TERI(107), ORF(114), DPG(139), CLAWS(166). Rankings vary in different categories.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that CLAWS figures in almost every list concerning Indian Think Thanks. My heartiest congratulations to Lt Gen Balraj Nagal and his team at CLAWS for this achievement. With a tongue in check may I suggest the NMF, CAPS. CENJOWS to pull up their socks!

I have very strong views on Think Tanks which I have stated off and on in my e mails while in service. May be I shall share one of those. Nothing much has changed in Indian scenario.

Watch this space for that.

Six Cyber Threats to Really Worry About in 2018

By Martin Giles

Hackers are constantly finding new targets and refining the tools they use to break through cyberdefenses. The following are some significant threats to look out for this year. The cyberattack on the Equifax credit reporting agency in 2017, which led to the theft of Social Security numbers, birth dates, and other data on almost half the U.S. population, was a stark reminder that hackers are thinking big when it comes to targets. Other companies that hold lots of sensitive information will be in their sights in 2018. Marc Goodman, a security expert and the author of Future Crimes, thinks data brokers who hold information about things such as people’s personal Web browsing habits will be especially popular targets. “These companies are unregulated, and when one leaks, all hell will break loose,” he says.

10 Conflicts to Watch in 2018 From North Korea to Venezuela, here are the conflicts to watch in 2018.


It’s not all about Donald Trump.

That’s a statement more easily written than believed, given the U.S. president’s erratic comportment on the world stage — his tweets and taunts, his cavalier disregard of international accords, his readiness to undercut his own diplomats, his odd choice of foes, and his even odder choice of friends. And yet, a more inward-looking United States and a greater international diffusion of power, increasingly militarized foreign policy, and shrinking space for multilateralism and diplomacy are features of the international order that predate the current occupant of the White House and look set to outlast him.

What’s In Store For The Cyber Threat Landscape In 2018 — Be Afraid…..Be Very Afraid; What Are The Potential Sick & Twisted, Dangerous Cyber Attacks We Might See In 2018

Is 2018 the year that America suffers the devastating cyber attack that many experts have been warning about for the past decade? Maybe…..but, let’s hope not. Like economists predicting the next recession, cyber security and national security experts have been warning that America is ripe for a Cyber Pearl Harbor…that has yet to manifest itself. Are we that vulnerable? I am afraid so. But, this kind of devastating attack has not materialized, likely for a number of reasons; and, hopefully, we’ll successfully avoid that kind of event in 2018. Outside of a Black Swan cyber attack, what does the cyber threat landscape in 2018 look like. We can only make an educated guess of course; but, there are some known knowns about where the cyber threat appears to be maturing and, becoming more worrisome.

Face-off between Asia's nuclear giants raises new fears

By Frank O'Donnell

China and India have a long history of border disputes, most of them reasonably managed until last year’s standoff over Chinese road construction in the disputed territory of Doklam, which prompted an Indian military response.

Both states surprisingly asserted readiness for open conflict, and Beijing told Western ambassadors that its patience "was not indefinite” in refraining

India has forgotten its own realist strategic thought

India’s tradition of realist strategic thought is probably the oldest in the world. Yet India has forgotten its own realist strategic thought, as propounded before Christ by the strategist Kautilya (also known as Chanakya). So, despite growing realism in foreign policy, quixotic traditions from the Nehruvian era still persist to this day. 

Afghanistan On A Slow Fuse – Analysis

The attack by the Taliban gunmen at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul last weekend was a grim reminder of the deteriorating security environment in Afghanistan. The siege at the hotel lasted more than 12 hours and claimed 22 victims, including 14 foreigners, before the gunmen were neutralised.

Days earlier, in an interview with CBS, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had said that Afghanistan is “under siege”, with “21 international terrorist groups operating in this country” and “factories producing suicide bombers”. He acknowledged that without U.S.

Democracy in Peril: Ten Elections to Watch in 2018

By Timothy D. Sisk

Democracy’s resilience into the 21st century is rightly questioned. In 2017, a host of countries worldwide saw threats to civil and political liberties, popular participation, and fundamental human rights. Corruption and state capture by predatory political elites led the news in old and new democracies alike. Verbal and physical attacks on civil society, the press, and minorities were reported in virtually all world regions. And new virulent, nationalist ideologies threaten human rights and the carefully crafted post-World War II international liberal order.

Terabit Army: China Squares up on the Battlefield of Information


The People’s Republic of China has not fought a war since 1979, but the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been a very close student of other peoples’ wars. They have carefully analyzed foreign, especially American, conflicts of the past several decades, and they have assessed the impact of information and communications technologies on overall national capabilities and on war-making. As a result, the Chinese have concluded that future wars—and international competition writ large–will turn on the ability to establish “information

PLA publishes new military training outline, highlights combat

BEIJING, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has recently published a Central Military Commission-approved outline for military training.

Centering on building a strong army in the new era and building it into a world-class force, the outline focuses on the PLA's combat capability, highlighting military training under combat conditions and joint training.

The Shifting Payment System For Global Oil

by Dan Steinbock

Eroding Petrodollar Versus Rising Petroyuan

In the late 20th century, US petrodollar dominated the world economy. In the 21st century, we are witnessing the rise of the Chinese petroyuan. The former grew on the back of postwar growth in the advanced economies; the latter is fueled by industrialization in emerging and developed economies.

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Hurt China in its soft under-belly

Indian foreign and strategic policies suffer from perennial weaknesses. One of them is the Indian government’s/MEA’s lack of what the great geopolitical theorist, Sir Halford Mackinder, called “the map reading habit of mind”. That’s why India’s foreign policy is usually bereft of a geopolitical frame and undergirding. Further, even when there is a glimmer of geostrategic understanding visible in a stance, it is voided by the tardiness in following up on policy initiatives.

We can't match Russian Might': West falling behind in new Cold War as tensions rise


Last week saw two unusually sombre warnings. 

The first, from the head of the British Armed Forces Gen Sir Nick Carter, warned that Britain’s defences had fallen dangerously behind military, technological and strategic innovations by Moscow. 

The second, from defence secretary Gavin Williamson, told of Russia’s capacity to “kill

Is Venezuela on the Brink of Economic and Social Collapse?

 By Scott B. MacDonald

Venezuela is totally out of sync with most of Latin America and the Caribbean as it has headed in an increasingly autocratic direction politically, marked by stunningly inept economic mismanagement, reminiscent of Zimbabwe under Mugabe and the Congo under Mobuto. The problem is that as Venezuela sinks deeper into socioeconomic misery, many of its citizens are opting to leave. At the same time, the authoritarian regime continues to function as major conduit for illicit drugs in Latin America and the Caribbean, such is the need for cash among the Chavismo political elite. In a sense, the Venezuelan house is on fire and the neighbors are increasingly nervous of the spread of its problems into the region.

Financing Armed Groups during Ceasefires

By Véronique Dudouet and Janel Galvanek

From what sources do non-state armed groups get funding during ceasefires and peace negotiations? Further, do ceasefires represent a fundraising constraint or an opportunity for such groups? In this article, Véronique Dudouet and Janel Galvanek provide answers by reviewing the cases of ETA in the Basque Country, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, the Karen National Union (KNU) in Myanmar, and more.

While the financing sources of non-state

Welcome to Syria 2.0

by Jonathan Spyer

The idea that Syria's civil war is winding down has been repeated so often in recent months as to become a cliché. It has never been entirely true.

U.S. officials recently confirmed Washington's intention to indefinitely retain effective ownership of around 28 percent of Syrian territory, in partnership with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. But those plans are increasingly in conflict with the other major international players in the

Targeting Kurds in Syria: Making Turkey Feel Imperial Again

by Burak Bekdil

The Turkish military's General Staff meet to discuss Operation Olive Branch, on January 21, 2018. 

In Turkey these days, there is every sign of collective hysteria in a once glorious nation that fell from grace, then longed for power and grandeur for nearly a century. Turks are dizzy with joy over their army's incursion into Afrin, a Kurdish enclave in neighboring Syria.

Trump's Solar Tariffs Create Far More Losers Than Winners

by Varun Sivaram

Yesterday, President Trump announced the first sweeping tariffs of his administration, enacting tariffs on solar panels and components (as well as washing machines) from nearly every country in the world. The tariffs, which start at 30 percent, are scheduled to ramp down to 15 percent over four years and then expire.

One might generally chalk up tariffs to

Trump and the Future of US Grand Strategy

By Jack Thompson

According to Jack Thompson, US grand strategy is at a crossroads. Washington may continue to pursue internationalism, as most of the country’s conservative national security establishment would prefer. However, Donald Trump’s election and his embrace of populist conservative nationalism could mean that the US will turn its back on the liberal world order. Either way, suggests Thompson, the debates currently raging within the Trump administration will do much to determine which direction the US will eventually take, with significant consequences for the global order.
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 By Kenan Malik

The sun may have long ago set on the British Empire (or on all but a few tattered shreds of it), but it never seems to set on the debate about the merits of empire. The latest controversy began when the Third World Quarterly, an academic journal known for its radical stance, published a paper by Bruce Gilley, an associate professor of political science at Portland State University in Oregon, called “The Case for Colonialism.” Fifteen of the thirty-four members on the journal’s editorial board resigned in protest, while a petition, with more than 10,000 signatories, called for the paper to be retracted. It was eventually withdrawn after the editor “received serious and credible threats of personal violence.” 

Then, in November, Nigel Biggar, regius professor of theology at Oxford University, wrote an article in the London Times defending Gilley. Biggar saw Gilley’s “balanced reappraisal of the colonial past” as “courageous,” and called for “us British to moderate our

Opportunities amid Disorder: Europe and the World in 2018

By Jonathan Hackenbroich and Jeremy Shapiro

According to Jonathan Hackenbroich and Jeremy Shapiro, the global economic picture seems set to improve dramatically in 2018. However, they also predict that a good year of growth will not dampen great-power competition or increase security or stability in the Middle East. But that’s not all. Find out here what other key economic, security, technological and regional trends our authors think could define 2018, as well as what opportunities could open up for Europe.

The liberal world order staged something of

DHS Cyber Info Sharing Tool to Get a Reboot This Year


The goal is for organizations to use the tool to automatically block cyber threats.

The Homeland Security Department plans to update its system for automatically sharing cybersecurity threat information with companies, critical infrastructure providers and other federal agencies this coming summer or fall, a top official said Thursday.

CTC Sentinel: January 2018 Issue Now Online

During the course of nine hours in August 2017, a terrorist cell carried out two vehicle-ramming attacks in Catalonia, with the first striking pedestrians on the famous Las Ramblas promenade in the heart of Barcelona. In our cover article, Fernando Reinares and Carola García-Calvo draw on judicial documents and interviews with investigators to provide the inside story of the worst terrorist attack in Spain since the 2004 Madrid bombings. Their account reveals the 10-man cell of ‘homegrown’ radicals, led by an extremist Moroccan cleric in the town of Ripoll, had initially planned to carry out vehicle bomb attacks in Barcelona and possibly Paris, but changed and accelerated their plans after they accidentally blew up their bomb factory where they were manufacturing TATP. While it is still not clear whether the cell had any contact with the Islamic State, the authors reveal that the network behind the November 2015 Paris attacks was also plotting to launch a similar attack in Barcelona that year.

: An Uneasy Unpeace

By Graham Allison

In the cyber arena, the same technologies that are creating unprecedented benefits for billions are also democratizing destruction. Graham Allison reviews ‘The Virtual Weapon and International Order’ by Lucas Kello. 

Begin with a quiz. Which best describes the revolution in connectivity, communication and calculation driven by the internet and networked computers? Is it: (a) the transformative
By Scott Stewart

Iran's Islamic Revolution could play out, in part, online. On Jan. 4, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published a report describing the country as a "third-tier cyberthreat." The report's authors note that despite Iran's success with cyberattacks

The Overburdened Infantry Soldier

Since there were first soldiers the weight they have carried has been subject to cyclical variation. The upward trend that saw its zenith during operations in Afghanistan is now subject to a realisation that it is both unsustainable and undesirable.
The Recurring Problem of Overburdened Soldiers

None of this is new, the Athenian General Iphicrates was widely credited with introducing a light force (Peltasts) that enabled them to overcome the much heavier armed and armoured Spartans at the Battle of Lechaeum. Increasing the length of their weapons and reducing the weight of their armour resulted in a force with increased mobility and firepower at the cost of protection. During the Thirty Years War, Gustav Adolphus of Sweden often called the Father of Modern Warfare, favoured the use of combined arms where mobility was emphasised.