17 February 2018

The theory and practice of war termination Assessing patterns in China's historical behavior

Whether China will rise peacefully is hotly debated in both academic and policy communities. Power transition theory presents the possibility of conflict as largely dependent on relative power, with the most dangerous stage emerging when the rising power is approaching parity with the dominant power. Conflict can erupt then either because the rising power is dissatisfied with the current system and seeks to change it in its image, or because the declining power launches a preventive war as a last-ditch attempt to hold onto its position in the international system (Organski and Kugler 1980, Gilpin 1981, Copeland 2000). Offensive realism focuses on balance of power more broadly, and how increased power—and the expanding military capabilities that tend to accompany it—will inevitably encourage revisionist and expansionist behavior (Mearsheimer 2001). Scholars have tried to understand Chinese behavior through these theoretical lenses, most recently by evaluating the degree to which China harbors revisionist intentions, with a particular focus on its assertiveness in territorial disputes (Johnston 2013, Mastro 2014). Leveraging international relations theory on how crises escalate to war has also been a fruitful avenue for evaluating the likelihood of conflict between China and the United States (Goldstein 2013, Swaine and Zhang 2006).

16 February 2018

When should India employ hard power? There’s an urgent need to answer the question thoughtfully

Nitin Pai

I write this after the president of the Maldives has arrested judges of the Supreme Court instead of following its orders to release all political prisoners arrested under trumped up charges. It’s only the latest turn in a drama that started exactly six years ago when the country’s first democratically elected pro-India president was ousted in a coup. Among others, his successor repudiated an airport development contract that had been awarded to an Indian company. The $270 million in damages that international arbiters forced the Maldives to pay was financed through funds injected by Chinese and Saudi investors.

An Idea or a Threat? Islamic State Jammu & Kashmir


In early February 2016, the Islamic State announced its intention to expand into Kashmir as part of its broader Khorasan branch.1 One of the causes of concern associated with the spread of the Islamic State affiliate in Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) is the existing instability within the region due to the controversial Line of Control (LoC) that divides the region into Indian and Pakistani controlled areas. The highly militarized Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) region constitutes a long-running territorial dispute between India and Pakistan, which has triggered at least three wars. The region also hosts three prominent militant groups—the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)—which historically have been linked to elements of the Pakistani state and largely favor Pakistan. If successful, an Islamic State-inspired movement may have severe negative consequences in the already volatile environment of Jammu and Kashmir, such as increased rivalry amongst militant groups and sectarian violence. This would not only exacerbate Pakistan’s current instability but also antagonize relations between the two nuclear-armed countries.

The Major Flaws in Afghanistan’s Intelligence War

Javid Ahmad
The National Interest

As the dust settles after the latest string of ghastly bombings in Kabul that took nearly 150 lives, including foreigners, the failure to prevent the attacks should be debated through one important prism: fixing the Afghan intelligence.

By any measure, the new wave of violence across Afghanistan is a forceful response by the Taliban—and, arguably, by Pakistan—to President Donald Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy, indicating that any American attempt to pressure them is not only ill-advised but it would fail. For Afghanistan, the recent spate of violence signifies important intelligence failures.

In Afghanistan, Hard Is Not Hopeless—but Time Is Running Out

By Mike Gallagher

Two weekends ago, a Taliban bombing killed more than 100 and injured over 200 more in Afghanistan. The bombing took place in the heart of Kabul in an area considered among the country’s most secure. Along with a recent flurry of terrorist violence, the attack demonstrates the magnitude of the challenges facing the coalition effort in Afghanistan.

When he announced a new way forward in South Asia, the President made clearthat he was going against his initial instincts to withdraw American forces. Instead, after listening to his senior advisors and military leaders, he decided to modestly expand our footprint in the country. In light of the President’s reservations, this may be our last chance to get Afghanistan right. Seventeen years into the longest war in our nation’s history, we still have enduring interests in South Asia—but securing them requires an honest look at our goals and the resources we are willing to spend in pursuit of those goals.

Chinese Projects in Pakistan Prove Tempting Targets for Terrorist Groups

By: Sudha Ramachandran

On December 8, 2017, the Chinese embassy in Islamabad warned its nationals of possible terrorist attacks targeting “Chinese-invested organizations and Chinese citizens” in Pakistan (Dawn, December 8, 2017). It gave no details of how it had come by this intelligence or who the potential attackers might be. However, attacks on Chinese nationals in Pakistan are not uncommon, and a range of possible actors have put China in their crosshairs.

What Is China’s Military Doing on the Afghan-Tajik Border?

By: Paul Goble

Perhaps few places on earth are as wrapped in mystery and intrigue as the northern reaches of Afghanistan, where, 150 years ago, Russia and the United Kingdom played the great game against one another and where, most recently, Moscow and the West were locked in geopolitical competition with each other and then with insurgent Islam. Now, China has entered the fray as a major player. Although, as has historically been the case with most activities in this almost inaccessible region, Chinese actions thus far have allowed for ample misrepresentations or denials.

What happened in Mauritius

Britain took over Mauritius from France in 1810. In 1968, Mauritius became free from the United Kingdom. However, the UK carved the Chagos Islands out from Mauritius three years before Mauritius's independence. It subsequently evacuated Mauritian residents from the Chagos Islands. Then, the United States of America leased Diego Garcia in Chagos Islands from the UK to set up its Indian Ocean military base. The UK renewed the lease for another 20 years in 2016.

The 'globalisation' of China's military power

Jonathan Marcus

China's modernisation of its armed forces is proceeding faster than many analysts expected.

Now, according to experts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies - the IISS - in London, it is China and no longer Russia, that increasingly provides the benchmark against which Washington judges the capability requirements for its own armed forces.

This is especially true in terms of air and naval forces - the focus of China's modernisation effort. Events in Europe mean that for the US Army, it is still largely Russian capabilities that provide the benchmark threat.

Seven Chinas A Policy Framework

The debate about China’s changing role in global affairs is often framed as a dichotomous choice between a peacefully rising China that seeks to be a constructive stakeholder and an increasingly dangerous China that is challenging the status quo, both in terms of its norms and the place of the United States. The reality is more complicated. There are not only signs of both elements, but the foundations shaping Chinese behavior is multifold. Most international relations scholars examine China through one or another version of realism or liberalism. David Kelly, head of research at China Policy, offers an alternative approach that examines the nature of Chinese identity, or rather, Chinese identities, plural, and how they exhibit themselves in Chinese foreign policy. Using his renowned skills in reading Chinese-language official documents and the broader commentary, Kelly teases out seven narratives that Chinese tell themselves and the world, and he provides a codebook for explicating shifting Chinese behavior in different arenas. Kelly concludes that some of these narratives facilitate cooperation, but most point toward deep-seated tensions between China and the West in the years ahead.

Rejecting The Grey Zone

By Angie Gad

For most of my life, terrorism and Islam have occupied overlapping spaces in the public consciousness. It goes without saying that the attacks on September 11 dramatically changed the world, and the West’s relationship with Islam took a turn along with it.

I recall the week after 9/11, a boy at school asked me if I was Muslim. It was the first time anyone had asked me; religion never came up in a conversation before then. I was ecstatic about a chance to finally talk about Islam. I abruptly and jubilantly said “yes!” Before I could finish taking a deep breath to start my next sentence, he said with a twisted face and condescending tone, “so just like the terrorists that killed people with planes?” I was never able to muster a response because what does an eleven-year-old say to that? I was too young and oblivious to comprehend his comment. What terrorists? What is a terrorist? What did they have to do with Islam? We had never discussed planes or terrorists during our weekly lessons at the mosque. 

Japan’s North Korea Strategy: A Solid Defense

By Phillip Orchard

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe isn’t having the best Olympics. Over the weekend, at a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in ahead of the opening ceremonies, Abe’s goal was to secure a commitment that Seoul would resume joint military drills with the U.S. after the Paralympics end in March and to sustain sanctions pressure on Pyongyang, while refraining from spiking a 2015 accord intended to resolve lingering animosity over Japanese abuses in World War II. According to South Korean media, Moon told Abe not to meddle in the South’s “sovereignty and internal affairs,” and essentially sent Abe to his room to think about Japan’s past bad behavior.

Ukraine’s Grey-Zone Conflict: What Lies Ahead?

by David Carment

On Jan. 18, 2018, Ukraine’s parliament voted in favour of a controversial full draft of a new law on the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.1 The law has gained a lot of attention, despite the fact there is no final document yet, because it identifies Russia as an aggressor and occupying state. The new law is important for a few other reasons. First, its primary purpose is to stymie Russia’s geopolitical aspirations by having Ukraine retake the disputed territories by force. Second, it makes no mention of the Minsk agreements, the acceptance of which was a provision for the lifting of sanctions against Russia. Nor does it recognize the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) as legitimate parties to the conflict. Indeed, there is no reference to the peace agreement brokered by France and Germany in 2015, which obliged Kiev to develop legislation regarding autonomy and amnesty for its minorities. Instead, the trade and transport blockade between Ukraine and the Donbass will be strengthened. And last, the law dramatically realigns Ukraine’s military forces by granting extra powers to the Ukrainian president, commander of the country’s united forces.

Israel Lost a Jet, but Proved it would Win the War


It was no surprise when two strategic vectors clashed this weekend on Israel’s northern front: The Iranian determination to build an advanced military force in Syria collided with Israeli determination to prevent that from happening.

On a broader strategic level a conflict of this sort was expected, though the timing and tactics were set by the Iranians in the latest round. The context of this particular incident was the Iranian led-axis’ rising self-confidence in light of its success in the Syrian civil war, and this led Teheran to field test a new UAV (based on reverse engineering a U.S. model) as well as Israeli air defense by sending the drone into Israeli skies.

America’s Strategy, or Absence of a Strategy, in Syria is Failing

Institute for the Study of War

Key Takeaway: America’s adversaries in Syria are using military force to undermine U.S. forces and their partners. The Russian and Iranian military coalition backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad coordinated a major attack against the U.S.-led Anti-ISIS Coalition in Eastern Syria. The U.S. responded tactically by striking its attackers in self defense, stopping the offensive. But this tactical success demonstrates that U.S. strategy in Syria is failing. Russia and Iran seek ways to capitalize on U.S. failures and act to constrain, disrupt, and ultimately expel the U.S. from Syria and the Middle East. Turkey, meanwhile, has invaded Syria to challenge Kurdish forces, some of which the U.S. backs. The U.S. risks losing the gains it has made fighting ISIS to Russia and Iran. 

A war that began with peaceful protests against Bashar al-Assad has morphed into a global scramble for control over what remains of the broken country of Syria

Liz Sly and Loveday Morris
Washington Post

BEIRUT — A war that began with peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad is rapidly descending into a global scramble for control over what remains of the broken country of Syria, risking a wider conflict.

Under skies crowded by the warplanes of half a dozen countries, an assortment of factions backed by rival powers are battling one another in a dizzying array of combinations. Allies on one battlefront are foes on another. The United States, Russia, Turkey and Iran have troops on the ground, and they are increasingly colliding.

South Africa Moves Beyond Zuma

The new president of South Africa's ruling party, Cyril Ramaphosa, is set on ousting South African President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma's eventual removal will benefit the African National Congress in upcoming 2019 general elections, as it will strip the opposition of the ability to use the president's many corruption scandals as political fodder.

Ramaphosa wants to steer the party away from its recent history of corruption and mismanagement, but pulling it out of its long-term decline will be a challenge.

Tit for Tat? The Shape of U.S. Restrictions on Chinese FDI

In hopes of forcing China to open further, the United States is considering investment restrictions that would mirror those imposed by China.

China’s investment goals are to cement its position in the stable, developed U.S. economy and fuel growth in sectors key to its economic transition.

As such, China has two concerns: Sectors where its own restrictions will mean harsh U.S. measures and those sectors of high priority to Beijing.

Assessing the Conventional Force Imbalance in Europe Implications for Countering Russian Local Superiority

by Scott Boston, Michael Johnson, Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga, Yvonne Crane
PDF file 2.9 MB 

This report outlines how NATO and Russian force levels and capabilities have evolved in the post–Cold War era and what recent trends imply for the balance of capabilities in the NATO member states that border Russia in the Baltic Sea region. It is intended to inform debate over appropriate posture and force structure for NATO forces to respond to the recent growth in Russian military capability and capacity and to increased Russian assertiveness in the use of force. Given NATO's current posture and capability, including European battalions and a rotational U.S. armored brigade combat team, Russia can still achieve a rapid fait accompli in the Baltic states followed by brinksmanship to attempt to freeze the conflict. Nothing about this analysis should suggest that Russian conventional aggression against NATO is likely to take place; however, prudence suggests that steps should be taken to mitigate potential areas of vulnerability in the interest of ensuring a stable security relationship between all NATO members and Russia. NATO has sufficient resources, personnel, and equipment to enhance conventional deterrence focused on Russia; a more robust posture designed to considerably raise the cost of military adventurism against one or more NATO member states is worthy of consideration.


IT WILL START with a flash of light brighter than any words of any human language can describe. When the bomb hits, its thermal radiation, released in just 300 hundred-millionths of a second, will heat up the air over K Street to about 18 million degrees Fahrenheit. It will be so bright that it will bleach out the photochemicals in the retinas of anyone looking at it, causing people as far away as Bethesda and Andrews Air Force Base to go instantly, if temporarily, blind. In a second, thousands of car accidents will pile up on every road and highway in a 15-mile radius around the city, making many impassable.

Moore's law has ended. What comes next?

by Adam Dove

The speed of our technology doubles every year, right? Not anymore.

We've come to take for granted that as the years go on, computing technology gets faster, cheaper and more energy-efficient.

In their recent paper, "Science and research policy at the end of Moore's law" published in Nature Electronics, however, Carnegie Mellon University researchers Hassan Khan, David Hounshell, and Erica Fuchs argue that future advancement in microprocessors faces new and unprecedented challenges.

Fake News: National Security in the Post-Truth Era

Fake news is not a new issue but it poses a greater challenge now. The velocity of information has increased drastically with messages now spreading internationally within seconds online. Readers are overwhelmed by the flood of information, but older markers of veracity have not kept up, nor has there been a commensurate growth in the ability to counter false or fake news. These developments have given an opportunity to those seeking to destabilize a state or to push their perspectives to the fore. This report discusses fake news with regard to the ways that it may manifest, how its dissemination is enabled through social media and search engines, how people are cognitively predisposed to imbibing it, and what are the various responses internationally that have been implemented or are being considered to counter it. This report finds that efforts to counter fake news must comprise both legislative and non-legislative approaches as each has its own challenges. First, the approaches must factor in an understanding of how technology enables fake news to spread and how people are predisposed to believing it. Second, it would be helpful to make a distinction between the different categories of falsehoods that are being propagated using fake news as the medium. Third, efforts should go hand in hand with ongoing programmes at shoring up social resilience and national consensus. Fourth, efforts need to move beyond bland rebuttal and statements, as these may be counter-productive. Fifth, counter-narratives that challenge fake news must be released expeditiously as fake news is able to spread en masse at great speed due to technology. In sum, collaboration across the whole of society, including good public-private partnership, is necessary in order to unravel fake news and ensure better synergy of efforts in countering it.

Cyber peacekeeping: A cyberwar issue businesses need to consider now

By Michael Kassner

Enterprise C-level execs might ask soon: What is cyber peacekeeping, and how will it affect our business? Here's what you need to know, including adaptations to some UN peacekeeping doctrines.

Military strategists, academics, politicians, and government officials have debated the inevitability, ethics, and even the "how it will happen" of cyberwarfare for years. What, curiously, is not being discussed is what takes place when cyber hostilities stop or, more to the point, how "cyber-normal" is restored and maintained after a cyberwar. Both points are of interest with the world's ever-increasing reliance on digital computing and the internet to augment or enable critical services.

Soldiers will inevitably put devices in their bodies. Then what?

By: Kelsey Atherton

When the military asks for fiction, it’s for the purpose of sketching out the landscape of future war. Not the exact players - fickle elements prone to political circumstance and random accident - but the stuff of war: the tools, the people, the kinds of locales that will see battles and the use of force.

Today, the blog of the Army’s Mad Scientist Laboratory (part of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command) is showcasing an entry on how AI will shape the future of the Army itself, down to the electro-mechanical organs of individual soldiers. In his short story “Sine Pari,” senior concept developer Howard R. Simkin of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command imagines a typical day recruiting for Special Operations in the middle of the 21st century.

Improving the Understanding of Special Operations A Case History Analysis

by Linda Robinson, Austin Long, Kimberly Jackson, Rebeca Orrie
PDF file 1.1 MB 

This report examines major U.S. decisions related to the development or employment of special operations forces (SOF). The purpose of the report is to analyze how change has previously occurred in Army, Joint, and U.S. Department of Defense policy regarding SOF to inform future development of options for policymakers and to better articulate the ways in which the varied Army Special Operations Forces capabilities can help to meet U.S. national security objectives. The report aims to assist the special operations community to better understand the policy process; formulate appropriate, sound courses of action; and engage with other members of the U.S. government interagency community in a constructive manner.

5 Reasons The Army Must Keep Modernizing Today's Weapons While It Tries To Leap Ahead

Loren Thompson

Back in the 1920s when most aircraft were biplanes, wing-walking became a favorite stunt of daredevils at air shows. People would actually get out on the wings of planes as they were flying, holding onto spars and wires to avoid falling to their deaths. The first rule of wing-walking was to not let go of what you already have in hand until you have a firm grasp of something else.

The U.S. Army would do well to keep that rule in mind as it plans how to modernize combat equipment over the next few years. Having just received their first sizable increase in funding since the beginning of the decade, the Army and its sister services are looking forward to replacing Cold War weapons with a new generation of more mobile, lethal and survivable systems.

15 February 2018

A New Reality Confronts India in the Middle East

By Harsh V. Pant

India is still stuck in the age-old debates of the Israel-Arab rivalry whereas the Middle East has moved on. Can Modi change that?

As India seeks to pursue multi-dimensional engagement with the Middle East, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest visit to the region has merely underscored the growing salience of the region in the Indian foreign policy matrix. While a lot of focus is often given to India’s ‘Act East’ policy, India’s ‘Look West’ policy too has evolved rapidly. This was Modi’s fifth visit to West Asia in the last three and a half years and sustained high-level engagement has ensured that India’s voice is becoming an important one in a region that is witnessing major power rivalries playing out in the open like never before.

Could Russia Design a Fifth-Generation Variant of the Su-35 for India?

 By Abraham Ait

A stealth-capable Su-35 could be just what India needs to keep pace with China and Pakistan.

With the future of India’s HAL fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), a program to design an Indian next generation fighter based on the Russian Su-57 fifth-generation air superiority platform, currently uncertain, Moscow and New Delhi are reportedly discussing developing a “fifth-generation” version of the Su-35 for India’s needs. This would provide the Indian Air Force with a fifth-generation air superiority platform at a lower cost that the Su-57 derivative — a capability the country sorely needs in light of the induction of the J-20 heavy fifth-generation fighter in neighboring China.

The Major Flaws in Afghanistan's Intelligence War

Javid Ahmad

As the dust settles after the latest string of ghastly bombings in Kabul that took nearly 150 lives, including foreigners, the failure to prevent the attacks should be debated through one important prism: fixing the Afghan intelligence.

By any measure, the new wave of violence across Afghanistan is a forceful response by the Taliban—and, arguably, by Pakistan—to President Donald Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy, indicating that any American attempt to pressure them is not only ill-advised but it would fail. For Afghanistan, the recent spate of violence signifies important intelligence failures.

Pashtun Uprising 3.0

by Asim Yousafzai

Pakistan's relationship with its tribesmen along the Afghan border can best be described as transactional and the events of the 70-year history of the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland has just proved that.

It was 1948, a million people were killed and 15 million displaced in the bloody partition riots; Pakistan was less than a year old when its charismatic leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah decided to take the State of Jammu & Kashmir by force. Regular army of the nascent state was ill-organized and ill-equipped to engage in a full-scale war. The Pashtun tribes from the then Northwest Frontier Province were called upon and they did not hesitate to oblige. The tribesmen readily formed militias to invade Kashmir.

Emerging Asia risks never growing rich

James Crabtree

This should be a moment of grand optimism for Asia. The world economy is enjoying its fastest expansion in a decade. Forecasts show growth in developing nations accelerating especially quickly. Yet even putting this week's global stock market wobble to one side, such bullish projections do not tell the whole story.

They hide the fact that emerging countries as a whole are still growing more slowly than before the 2008 global financial crisis. More importantly, deeper structural changes, notably the way technology is reshaping global manufacturing, are now threatening important parts of Asia's development model.

How to Live with China in the Balkans

By Filip Vojvodic-Medic

The Balkans have recently seen a spike in Chinese investment activity similar to that being witnessed across Central Asia and Central and South America. While concerns about the geopolitical implications of this new trend are legitimate, all strategic calculations need to take into account the kind of influence an investment portfolio can buy, as well as the behavioral pattern of the investor and the investment recipient that is known from the past.

China-Russia Relations Reality Check

By: Peter Wood

In 2017, China and Russia trumpeted the closeness of their relationship, calling it a historic highpoint. Xi Jinping has made good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin a priority, visiting Russia six times and meeting with Putin on 21 occasions since taking office.

Authoritative statements by Chinese government mouthpieces, officials and think tank researchers suggest that China views Russia as a key partner in advocating its view of the international system.

China’s Evolving Nuclear Strategy: Will China Drop “No First Use?”

By: Nan Li

The PLA Rocket Force is continuing to upgrade its missile forces and shift its emphasis from a posture of immobile and vulnerable positions hidden deep in mountains to a highly mobile and more survivable mode. A new CCTV documentary also reveals that China’s multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV)-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) DF-41 will begin active service in 2018 (PLA Daily, December 25, 2017; People’s Daily Online, November 28, 2017).

Artificial Intelligence: China’s High-Tech Ambitions

By Sophie-Charlotte Fischer 

China aims to become the world’s premier artificial intelligence innovation center by 2030. But does Beijing have the innovation capacity and strategy in place to achieve this goal? In this article, Sophie-Charlotte Fischer responds. She contends that while the US is still the global leader in AI, China’s ambitions should not be underestimated. Further, this is not just because of the state support behind Beijing’s plans but as Washington lacks an AI strategy of its own.

China aims to become a world leader in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) by 2030. This goal is linked to Beijing’s efforts to make its economy more innovative, modernize its military, and gain influence globally. While the US currently retains an edge in AI, China’s ambitions are likely to set off a new technology race. 

Turkey and Iran: On a Collision Course

By Jacob L. Shapiro

The Turkish military said on Feb. 6 that one soldier was killed and five more were wounded in a mortar attack while attempting to set up a military outpost in northwest Syria. The Turkish military statement did not include any details about who had attacked its soldiers, but Arab News – an English-language daily based in Saudi Arabia – claimed that the attack had been carried out by “Iranian militias.” A Saudi media outlet has an interest in playing this up, but various other reports simply noted that “pro-regime forces” had carried out an attack on Turkish forces. Either way, Turkey and Iran are on a collision course.

Israel’s power show on northern border aimed at Hezbollah

Ben Caspit 

The visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the northern border and the extensive paratrooper drill last week sends a clear message to Lebanon and Hezbollah: Israel is prepared for an attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits a military outpost on Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, Feb. 4, 2015. 

On Feb. 6, Israel’s Security Cabinet paid a visit to the country’s northern border. The ministers, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, were photographed in fashionable windbreakers, baseball caps and binoculars looking out over the Syrian border from the Golan Heights. Photos from the tour that reached the press were shot in the Golan Heights, with the ministers looking northeast, or in other words, at the Syrian front.

Security and Stability in Turkey

By Fabien Merz 

Fabian Merz contends that Turkey has witnessed a significant deterioration of stability and security in recent years. So what’s behind this development and what might the future hold for Turkey’s stability? In this article, Merz provides answers by looking at the driving factors that have contributed to Turkey’s current security situation, including 1) Turkey’s growing authoritarianism; 2) the 2016 military coup attempt and its aftermath; 3) jihadist terrorism related to the war in Syria, and 4) the reignition of the Kurdish conflict.

Who Will Protect the Next Olympics From North Korea?

By Austin Duckworth

In less than six months, the XXIII Olympic Winter Games will begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But with an increasingly militant North Korea located less than 161 kilometers (100 miles) away, legitimate concerns have arisen over the event's potential disruption. Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), recently said he was closely monitoring the situation, adding that it would be a topic of discussion at the committee's upcoming meeting in Peru. Even so, it's hard not to wonder who will bear the responsibility of ensuring the safety of athletes and spectators in Pyeongchang. The answer has been constantly evolving for over four decades.

Another Unnecessary War

by Idan Landau

The writing is already on the wall: Israel will soon launch a military operation in Lebanon. Not a targeted attack on a weapons convoy or factory, but a simultaneous attack on Hezbollah’s missile production and launch sites. The operation will take place at the same time as, or immediately after, a series of assassinations of known Hezbollah operatives. That organization will, of course, react by launching a massive missile barrage at population centers in Israel, and Hamas may contribute its share in the south. Last week we were informed that missile interceptor systems have already been deployed throughout the country as part of a joint “drill” between the IDF and the U.S. military. Washington has already given a green light, or so we learn from Thomas Friedman’s most recent column — a faithful mouthpiece of American foreign policy.

Bloody Noses And Black Eyes: What's In A Limited Strike On North Korea?


Numerous stories are circulating once again, both in the media and in the halls of policy and punditry in Washington, Seoul and Beijing, that the United States is considering a "bloody nose" strike against North Korea. By some accounts, the U.S. administration withdrew backing from its candidate for ambassador to South Korea, Victor Cha, because of his opposition to a limited strike against Pyongyang. Other reports suggest there is an emerging cadre of "hawks" on North Korea who are expanding their influence over U.S. foreign policy, raising the likelihood of at least some form of military action. The challenge in deciphering the signals is that, with or without a planned strike, there is strong logic not only in keeping the option on the table, but also front and center in the minds of all actors in Northeast Asia.

This is America's Top-Secret Plan to Crush North Korea in a War

Michael Peck

For years, the expectation had been that a second Korean War would resemble with the first, a big-unit conventional war with U.S. and South Korean forces first stopping the enemy and then counterattacking into North Korea. But OPLAN 5015 reportedly takes a more twenty-first century approach of limited war, special forces and precision weapons. Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported in 2015 that the plan resembled guerrilla warfare, with special forces assassinations and targeted attacks on key facilities. The goal was to consolidate several older war plans, minimize casualties in a war and even prepare for the possibility that the North Korean regime might collapse.

A Dangerous Course Israel Should Avoid


TEL AVIV — When Vice President Mike Pence spoke to the Knesset on Jan. 22, legislators who oppose a two-state solution sent a clear signal that they have taken President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as a green light to proceed with initiatives to annex portions of the West Bank.

The signal came in two parts: As Mr. Pence reiterated America’s commitment to Israeli-Palestinian peace, every member of the governing right-wing coalition stayed silent while opposition legislators rose to applaud. More stunningly, the Knesset’s speaker, Yuli Edelstein, declared that Israel will “develop the whole of the country, including Judea and Samaria,” referring to the biblical names for the entire West Bank.

Is There a Deep State?

Jacob Heilbrunn

IN ALFRED Hitchcock’s 1959 movie North by Northwest, the protagonist Roger Thornhill, a genial New York advertising man played by Cary Grant, is suddenly swept up into clandestine Cold War machinations. Only after he encounters an American spymaster named the Professor, who is based on CIA director Allen Dulles, the brother of John Foster Dulles and a charter member of the American Establishment, does Thornhill begin to decipher the turbulent series of events, including a harrowing encounter with the anonymous pilot of a crop duster, that have put his life in jeopardy. “I don’t like the games you play,” Thornhill declares. “War is hell, Mr. Thornhill,” the Professor retorts, “even when it’s a cold one.” Thornhill is enraged. “Perhaps you ought to start learning,” he says, “how to lose a few cold wars.”

The Economic Impact Of Terrorism On Developing Countries

 Terrorists can inflict heart-breaking loss of life and costly destruction of property. But does terrorism also have an economic impact that extends far beyond the violent act itself?

Subhayu Bandyopadhyay, a research officer and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and Javed Younas, an associate professor of economics at American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, explored the question of whether terrorism can also hurt a developing nation’s economic growth, ability to attract foreign investment and trade flows.

Retraining and reskilling workers in the age of automation

By Pablo Illanes, Susan Lund, Mona Mourshed, Scott Rutherford, and Magnus Tyreman

Executives increasingly see investing in retraining and “upskilling” existing workers as an urgent business priority that companies, not governments, must lead on. 

The world of work faces an epochal transition. By 2030, according to the a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation, as many as 375 million workers—or roughly 14 percent of the global workforce—may need to switch occupational categories as digitization, automation, and advances in artificial intelligence disrupt the world of work. The kinds of skills companies require will shift, with profound implications for the career paths individuals will need to pursue. 

Weaponize Social Media?


ATLANTA – Ever since the 2016 US presidential election, with its revelations about Russian meddling, European officials have been on the lookout for similar attacks. But Europeans aren’t the only ones paying attention. So, too, are China’s leaders, who are considering what they might learn from the Kremlin’s successes.

The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

US Air Force & Army Launch New Cross-Domain War Strategy, Doctrine

by Kris Osborn

The Army and the Air Force are launching a new, collaborative war-gaming operation to assess future combat scenarios and, ultimately, co-author a new inter-service cross-domain combat doctrine.

The concept of cross-domain fires, something inspiring fast-growing attention at the Pentagon, is grounded in the premise that future war challenges will require air, land, sea, space and cyberspace synergies to a much greater extent than may have been envisioned years ago.

Back to the Future: The Potential of Great-Power Conflict

Gabriel Glickman

“We are facing global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order.”

The world is going backwards into the future—the latest evidence being the new National Defense Strategy (NDS), which anticipates a possible great-power transition from the United States to China. There are two components of the new release: one is an unclassified synopsis that is eleven pages long and is available to the public, the other is a much longer (and presumably detail-oriented) report that will remain classified for the foreseeable future.

The Bridge Between Awareness And Action

"Oh-da," they giggled, repeating the term. "Oh-da." The Dominican human rights and nongovernmental organization workers I was instructing took delight in repeating the word, which in their Spanish-inflected pronunciation rhymed with "Yoda," rather than "Buddha," as most Americans would say it. Indeed, to the uninitiated, the term in question, "OODA," sounds strange. But regardless of its pronunciation, the acronym - short for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act - is a critical component of personal security. Consciously following the OODA Loop, the bridge that connects situational awareness and action, can keep you a step ahead of an assailant and help extricate you from a tricky situation, whatever it may be.

Infographic Of The Day: Visualizing The Changing Landscape Of Big Media

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With immense pressure on revenues, market share, and distribution stemming from platforms and the migration to digital, the traditional big media players are scrambling to find new models and tactics that work.

In addition to forcing companies to evaluate new ways to monetize and distribute content, this industry turmoil has also served up the perfect environment for massive mergers and acquisitions. Big conglomerates aren’t going to go down without a fight, and as a result they are willing to “bet the farm” on M&A to try and compete.

The Big Media Landscape

Today’s visualization comes to us from Recode via media reporters Peter Kafka and Rani Molla, and it does an excellent job in summing up the changing landscape of Big Media.

Notably, it helps visualize the significance of the recent $52.4 billion merger between Disney and 21st Century Fox, as well as the $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner. The latter is set to go to antitrust trials in March.

It’s worth noting that the graphic only shows the big players in the media landscape – and new media companies like Buzzfeed ($1.7 billion valuation) and Vox Media ($1.0 billion) are “too small” to include.

As such, it focuses primarily on the conglomerates that own many different media assets, with a heavy slant towards video content and distribution. 

14 February 2018

Can the SCO Bring India and Pakistan Together?

By Sabena Siddiqi

Since Pakistan and India’s formal induction into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) last year, the group now represents 40 percent of the world’s population and almost 20 percent of its GDP. Bringing these two South Asian neighbors into the folds of the SCO in June 2017 initially gave rise to conjecture as to whether they could coexist. On a positive note, in the SCO the participation of all member states in its activities is mandatory so interaction and dialogue is unavoidable. Considering the tense relations between India and Pakistan, it should be interesting to see them participating in multilateral military exercises under the auspices of the SCO, as the memorandum of obligations makes joint military exercises compulsory.

How Can America Change Pakistani Behavior?


The US has plenty of incentive to put pressure on Pakistan, a country that has long pretended to be an ally, even as it continues to aid the militant groups fighting and killing US soldiers in neighboring Afghanistan. In fact, it is partly because of that aid that Afghanistan is a failing state, leaving the US mired in its longest-ever war.

US President Donald Trump’s recent decision to freeze some $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan as punishment for the country’s refusal to crack down on transnational terrorist groups is a step in the right direction. But more steps are needed.