14 April 2018

Reorienting India’s export strategy

By Ajit Ranade

The global headlines these days are dominated by the unfolding trade spat between the United States and China. It seems to be following a tit-for-tat sequence. First, the US imposed higher tariffs on import of aluminium and steel, mainly from China. To which, China responded by imposing tariffs on goods worth $3 billion imported from the US. This was followed by the US imposing 25 per cent penalty tariff on 1,300 Chinese items including electronic components, medical devices, auto and aircraft components. This was to punish alleged theft of intellectual property of US patents. China retaliated within hours, extending their list by another 106 items, affecting US export of beef, cars, soybean and aircrafts to China. This is escalating into a trade war and the world markets are watching nervously.

Peace In The Himalayas? A tale of war, colonisation, and rather dubious legality

Far from being eternally peaceful pilgrimage sites, the Himalayas have seen centuries of brutal conflict, religious divides, wily entrepreneurship, and intellectual and cultural flourishing on par with any place in the world. The 17th and 18th centuries were particularly momentous years for the scattered, warring peoples who lived in the world’s highest mountains. Gushi Khan, the founder of the Mongol Dzungar Khanate that politically united Tibet and established the primacy of the Dalai Lama. Tibet, at the time, was very much the politico-cultural center of the Himalayan peoples, and was torn by conflict between the great noble houses and ambitious monastic schools. Appealing to Mongol aid, the Dalai Lamas eventually emerged from the chaos into the political and spiritual role through which they would rule the Tibetans until the present day. Meanwhile, a certain lama fleeing powerful rivals in Tibet had subdued most of Bhutan’s tribes, turning it into a united kingdom for the first time. From Tibet, also, came a family, supposedly descended from another great monk, who united Sikkim and extended it up to the Chumbi Valley, where it was contested with the new state of Bhutan.

Pakistan’s Nuclear Bomb by Hassan Abbas – An Excerpt

In this inside view of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, Hassan Abbas profiles the politicians and scientists involved in the development of the country’s nuclear bomb, and the role of China and Saudi Arabia in supporting its nuclear infrastructure. Drawing on extensive interviews, the book also examines Pakistani nuclear physicist A.Q. Khan’s involvement in nuclear proliferation in Iran, Libya and North Korea. 

Taliban overruns Afghan district, kills governor

BY BILL ROGGIO | April 12, 2018 |

The Taliban overran the district of Khwaja Omari and killed at least eight people, including the district governor, earlier today. Seven policemen were also killed in the attack. Khwaja Omari was considered to have been one of the more secure districts in Ghazni province.

The attack and death of Ali Shams Dost, the district governor, and seven policemen was confirmed by the Ghazni provincial police, according to TOLONews. Nine other policemen were wounded during the fighting.
A statement released by the provincial police force said the Taliban launched the raid at 2:00 AM local time. The Taliban routinely launches strikes on district centers and military bases at night. Videos documenting the attacks often show Taliban fighters using night vision devices.
The Taliban torched the governor’s compound before withdrawing its forces. The police claimed that 27 Taliban fighters were killed in retaliatory airstrikes.
The district of Khwaja Omari was previously considered to be one of the more secure areas in Ghazni, which is a hotbed for the Taliban and other foreign jihadist groups such as al Qaeda. Resolute Support listed Khwaja Omari as “Government Influenced,” according to a report issued by the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. A government influenced district means that the government holds sway and the Taliban presence is minimal.

The New Great Game: China And The Intense Maritime Contest In Indo-Pacific Region

by Abhijnan Rej

China’s growing naval force projection has sparked anintense maritime contest in the Indo-Pacific, where traditional notions of spheres of influence are being challenged. Over the past five years or so, China has adopted an increasingly assertive foreign policy that stands to upend, if unchecked, the political and security order in maritime Asia. This has included blatant disregard for international law, construction of artificial islands and other features to reclaim contested waters, weaponising capital and trade, and adoption of a military posture that seeks to keep other powers out from parts of the western Pacific. Coupled to growing authoritarianism at home — President Xi Jinping is now effectively president for life — as well as efforts to influence and shape domestic politics of other states, a super-powered China could very well spell the end of the liberal international order that the world has known since the end of the Second World War. China is well into becoming Middle Kingdom 2.0: the apex of a deeply hierarchical Asia, where all powers pay obeisance to the all-powerful Chinese state.

Conquest And Memory

by Makarand Paranjape

If there is an unhappy and distressing truth that historians the world over have withheld from us, it is this: the classical world was destroyed by Christian and Islamist armies both in the West and in the East. In my last column, I chronicled, nay, lamented the destruction of Nalanda. The wanton demolition of great temples of learning and the decimation of their inhabitants, deplorable and outrageous as they were, are not the only things that gall. It is the deliberate and insolent devastation of this great seat of ancient education that is so saddening. No doubt, information, teaching and research in a variety of disciplines including mathematics, philosophy, linguistics and natural sciences were set back by centuries. The mass execution of so many learned professors, scholars, monks and students resulted in a huge knowledge deficit and pedagogical vacuum.

How China won the battle of the yuan

“THE horse may be out of the proverbial barn.” So wrote Ben Bernanke, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, in early 2016, arguing that capital controls might be powerless to save China from a run on its currency. He was far from alone at the time. As cash rushed out of the country, analysts debated whether the yuan would collapse, and some hedge funds bet that day was coming fast. But two years on, the horse is back in the barn: the government’s defence of the yuan has succeeded, in part through tighter capital controls. The latest evidence was an 11th consecutive monthly increase in foreign-exchange reserves in December. During that time China’s stockpile of official reserves, the world’s biggest, climbed by $142bn, reaching $3.14trn, roughly double the cushion usually regarded as needed to ensure financial stability. Another sign of China’s success is the yuan itself. At the start of 2017 the consensus of forecasters was that the currency would continue to weaken; it finished the year up by 6% against the dollar.

The U.S. vs. China: A Trade War (II)?

Two weeks ago, I warned the U.S. against starting a trade war with China (The U.S. vs. China: A Trade War?). Since then, the situation has worsened, with both sides throwing more punches at each other (China retaliates against Trump tariffs with levy on US food imports and Trump Doubles Down on Potential Trade War with China). I must therefore escalate my warning accordingly ... Please share this article - Go to very top of page, right hand side, for social media buttons.

1. A trade war is war!

Civil-Military Fusion and the PLA’s Pursuit of Dominance in Emerging Technologies

By Lorand Laskai

China is intensifying its nearly two-decade push to meld together the civil and defense economies through what officials term “civil-military fusion” (军民融合). On March 2, 2018, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping chaired the third meeting of the recently formed Central Commission for Integrated Military and Civilian Development (CCIMCD), where he emphasized the strategic importance of ‘unifying’ (体化) national power through reducing barriers between the commercial economy and defense industrial base (CCTV, 03/02). Days later, speaking to a delegation from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and armed police at the 13th National People’s Congress, Xi called civil-military fusion (CMF) a “prerequisite” for realizing the goal of building a strong military (Xinhua, 03/12) [1].

China As a Responsible Stakeholder: 5G, Your Toaster and the CCP (Part 2)

By Michael Shoebridge

The Australian government’s exclusion of huge Chinese telecom company Huawei from the National Broadband Network in 2012 turns out to have been a little thing hiding a bigger thing. The bigger thing is the implementation of a 5G network across Australia and whether or how Huwaei participates. 5G isn’t just a tagline for the next-generation, faster, more reliable mobile network that’ll connect your smartphone or tablet while you are away from home or the office and give you the bandwidth to watch Netflix on the move. 5G technology is the new high-speed, low-latency backbone technology that will enable the ‘internet of things’. It will allow companies to run power plants through internet-connected sensors and control systems. It will enable healthcare data to be shared electronically across multiple portable and fixed devices between patients, doctors, specialists and hospitals. It will enable your fridge to tell Woolworths when you need milk and salsa delivered, and enable you to tell your TV and toaster when to turn on and off.

The US should tame finance to tame China

V. Anantha Nageswaran

In February this year, Ashton B. Carter, defense secretary in the Barack Obama administration, had given an interview to Politico (“Ash Carter: Full Transcript”, 19 February 2018). The interviewer, strangely and yet unsurprisingly, dedicated more than half the interview to real and imagined threats to America from Russia, ignoring the bigger elephant in the room, China. Towards the end of the interview, in response to a somewhat tangential question, Carter spoke about the threat from China to America. He said America did not have an adequate playbook for competition with China and that economists had not given (the government) much of a playbook to protect American companies and the American people. He is quite right. Economists have been quick off the block to criticize President Donald Trump for his seemingly disparate and uncoordinated actions on trade and intellectual property disputes with China. But they had not offered better answers.

Syria: Country's Largest Airbase Attacked, Israel Likely Responsible

As we said in our 2018 Second Quarter Forecast; "troops loyal to al Assad, along with their Iranian allies, will also risk coming face to face with Israel as they conduct operations against rebel positions in southern Syria. Israel has a narrow window in which it can strike at its longtime adversary, Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, and at Iranian targets across its northeastern border with Syria. Israel will probably take it, with the aim of preventing the entrenchment of Iranian-backed fighters along the edge of the Golan Heights." 

Israel Wages a Growing War in Syria

By Robin Wright

Israeli forces near a border fence between the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan Heights and Syria. The Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw forces from northern Syria could trigger broader Israeli military intervention in the region. Jihad Mughniyah is buried under the same black marble slab as his father, Imad Mughniyah, the legendary Hezbollah military commander, at a special cemetery created by the Lebanese militia for its “martyrs” in Syria. Life-size posters of both men, dressed in fatigues, stand above it. During a recent trip to Beirut, I counted the number of the graves in the cemetery, a barometer of the price Hezbollah is paying to prop up Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad. Mughniyah’s grave also reflects the impact of Israel’s quiet but escalating campaign to challenge Hezbollah and Iran in Syria. The younger Mughniyah was a rising Hezbollah star mentored by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards after his father’s death. In 2015, he was killed, in an Israeli air strike on Syria, along with five other Hezbollah fighters and a general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as their convoy neared the village of Quneitra, in the Golan Heights.

Is the US Still a Reliable Ally?

Cipher Brief experts Matt Olsen and Nick Fishwick tackled the state of the U.S. alliance with the “5 Eyes” – the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – in discussion with Executive Editor Kimberly Dozier at Sea Island. Their overall conclusion? Despite the Trump administration’s early controversial comments about NATO and criticism of Britain among others, intelligence sharing and counterterrorism cooperation continues unabated – for now.

Relationships Between Highly Asymmetric Nuclear Powers

By Rod Lyon

The current tensions between Washington and Pyongyang aren’t just about history. Nor are they simply the result of personal frictions between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. At their core, they reflect the difficulties that typically attend adversarial relationships between two highly asymmetric nuclear powers. Bernard Brodie, one of the doyens of deterrence thinking during the early days of the Cold War, canvassed some of the problems in this sort of relationship in his 1958 essay, The anatomy of deterrence. There he considered how the Soviet Union might be strategically hampered by the emergence of a much inferior adversary which could, however, threaten nuclear damage to a small number of Soviet cities. The following extract is taken from pages 7–9 of his essay:

Misconceptions About Trade Deficits

by Timothy Taylor

The competition for most misunderstood economic statistic is hard-fought, but there is a clear winner: the trade deficit. No other number is interpreted so differently by professional economists and the general public. Common reactions to the U.S. trade deficit range from belligerence to dejectedness: It is thought that America's trade deficit exists either because of the skullduggery and unfair trade practices of countries that shut out U.S. products, or because American companies are failing to compete against their global competitors. In either case, the preferred solution is often to get tough in trade negotiations for the sake of protecting U.S. jobs. But, according to most economists, cutting across partisan and ideological lines, such mainstream beliefs about cause, effect, and solution are wrong. Even more bothersome, these popular beliefs are wrong not simply because the evidence is against them - although it is - but because they reflect fundamental misunderstandings of what the trade deficit is and how it interacts with the rest of the economy.

The Future of Education: How A.I. and Immersive Tech Will Reshape Learning Forever

Education is an odd bird: we all know it could be better, while at the same time it is the best it has ever been in human history. For the last two centuries the world went through a great expansion in learning: our literacy rate skyrocketed from 12% to 88% worldwide, and Primary, Secondary and Tertiary education have all seen drastic growth (in schools and students), breaking records on almost a yearly basis.

It Is Climbing Season On Mount Everest; Legendary Mountaineer Reinhold Messner Explains ‘The Art Of Not Getting Killed;’ And, Some Key Ingredients To Overcoming Our Fears

It’s that time of year again. It is nearly mid-April and as I write this, there are those hearty souls, excessively driven to push the limits of their physical and mental abilities; and, summit the highest mountain on Earth. So, perhaps it is appropriate to get a better appreciation of how those who succeed in summiting Everest and the descent — confront the emotion of fear — and, find a way to survive. Last October, 2017, NDTV (New Delhi Television Limited) conducted a sit-down interview with legendary mountaineer, Reinhold Messner, about the ‘Art Of Not Getting Killed.’ Mr. Messner, for those of you who do not know about him — has lived quite a remarkable life. The Italian born Mr. Messner, as the publication noted. “became the first person to summit Mount Everest solo; and, without the help of oxygen in 1980. Perhaps one of the world’s last great adventurers: he has conquered the world’s highest peaks; crossed Antarctica; and, hunted for the elusive Yeti,” the publication noted.

Marketing and the Delegitimization of Elections

By George Friedman

Last week, I wrote about the use of marketing in elections. This week, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faces a congressional hearing on how Facebook data was used during the 2016 presidential election, I will address one of the critical consequences of marketing. It is a tool used on a global basis to delegitimize elections and, with it, democracy. As I argued last week, the use of marketing, particularly online marketing, has been growing. But this doesn’t necessarily mean it is becoming more effective. It has been claimed that the Russians interfered in the U.S. election by spreading fake news stories to help Donald Trump get elected. It has also been revealed that consulting firm Cambridge Analytica helped run the Trump campaign’s data operations and used social media user data to target certain voters with customized content. The connection between alleged Russian interference and Cambridge Analytica is murky, but they are both being used as examples of how the internet can sway election results. This assumes that such techniques are effective enough to change voters’ minds and influence the outcome of a presidential election.


THE HEADLINES ABOUT the trade wars being touched off by President Trump’s new tariffs may telegraph plenty of bombast and shots fired, but the most consequential war being waged today is a quieter sort of conflict: It’s the new Cold War over data protection. While the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica crisis currently burns as the latest, hottest flare-up in this simmering conflict, tensions may increase even more on May 25, 2018, when the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect.

Minister Reveals Cyber Attack On Iranian Data Centers, Blames Foreign Hackers

Iran’s Telecommunications minister has criticized the government’s cyber-attack monitoring center for failing to detect an attack that led to the hacking of several Iranian data centers on the evening of April 6, despite a warning about the attack ten days before it took place. Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi first said in a tweet Friday evening “Several Iranian data centers came under cyber attacks tonight. Some of the smaller routers have been changed to factory setting.” Later, in another tweet, Jahromi claimed that MAHER, Persian acronym for the Computer-related Events Operation and Coordination Center, “Has monitored and controlled the attack and the data centers’ settings have been brought back to normal.”

Cyber Needs to Be Center Stage for Every World Leader

By Christopher Painter

It seems every day brings news of another high-profile cyberattack or intrusion affecting our personal data, national security or the very integrity and availability of the institutions and infrastructure on which we depend. These cyber threats come from a range of bad actors including ordinary criminals, transnational organised criminal groups and nation-states. Indeed, in mid-February, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and several other countries attributed the devastating NotPetya ransomware worm—that caused billions of dollars of damage across Europe, Asia and the Americas—to the Russian military as part of the Kremlin’s efforts to destabilise the Ukraine. At the same time, special counsel Robert Mueller in Washington unveiled a remarkably detailed criminal indictment charging a range of Russian individuals and organisations with a concerted effort to undermine the 2016 U.S. elections.

The Pentagon is asking for 3 times as many drones for 2019

By: Kelsey Atherton  

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Bobbie with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, replaces the battery for an InstanEye quadcopter during a Quads for Squads training event on Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Feb. 28, 2018. Quads for Squads is a program intended to train and equip individual squads with small unmanned aircraft systems. (Cpl. Miguel A. Rosales/U.S. Marine Corps)  The Pentagon’s enthusiasm for drones has never been greater. A new report published today by the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard University found that in the president’s new budget request, the Department of Defense is asking for three times as many uncrewed vehicles for 2019 as it did in 2018.

The math of military modernization

Benjamin Schwartz

The Chinese are on track to dominate the security architecture of the Asia-Pacific. This is not to suggest that the People’s Liberation Army will set out to conquer the region. But it is to acknowledge the foreseeable outcome of the growing gap between China’s ability to project military power in Asia and the defence capabilities of other regional militaries. Obscuring this gap, and matching it in some sense, is the growing distance between political rhetoric and reality.

Gunboat Diplomacy and the Ghost of Captain Mahan

By Alfred W. McCoy

Amid the intense coverage of Russian cyber-maneuvering and North Korean missile threats, another kind of great-power rivalry has been playing out quietly in the Indian and Pacific oceans. The U.S. and Chinese navies have been repositioning warships and establishing naval bases as if they were so many pawns on a geopolitical chessboard. To some it might seem curious, even quaint, that gunboats and naval bastions, once emblematic of the Victorian age, remain even remotely relevant in our own era of cyber-threats and space warfare.

13 April 2018

The terrible price ordinary Pakistanis have paid for hating India


Pakistan’s ideology has not really enhanced its functionality even if it helped its first generation get through the transition of seeing themselves as Pakistanis. A favourable international environment, specifically Pakistan’s cold war alliance with the West, enabled the country to sustain hostility towards India and to justify its Islamic orientation as a barrier to communism. The current dependence on China might pay for anti-Indianism for a few more years but is unlikely to help Pakistan overcome its fundamental contradictions.

How Fake News Spreads in India

By Alisha Sachdev 

When U.S. President Donald Trump began crying “fake news,” and prime time news slots in India began to hold debates on photoshopped WhatsApp forwards, we knew post-truth times had truly arrived. But as is the nature of governments, it took some time for the arrival of fake news to register with the government of India. On April 2, India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) woke up to the “increasing instances of fake news in electronic and print media” in the country, and released a circular announcing amendments to guidelines that the Press Information Bureau (PIB) follows while granting accreditation to journalists.

Afghan-Pakistani Cross-Border Terrorism Cuts Both Ways

By Franz J. Marty

KABUL — Reports about Afghan Taliban safe havens on Pakistani soil are abundant and such refuges are seen as crucial for the militants’ ability to sustain their insurgency inside Afghanistan. What is often overlooked is that some extremist groups, like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), do the same, but in reverse – seeking shelter on the Afghan side of the border (which Kabul does not officially recognize) to launch assaults on the Pakistani side. While Pakistani officials have been making such accusations for years, they – unlike the allegations from Afghan and U.S. officials regarding Afghan insurgents hiding out on Pakistani soil – never really gained much traction or attention.

Afghanistan’s Comparative Perceptions of Pakistan and India

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Afghanistan was posed with mighty challenges on the Partition of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947 wherein Pakistan despite its Islamic commonality with Afghanistan became interposed as a “Hostile Neighbour” between Afghanistan and India which for centuries had civilizational and friendly ties. Afghanistan’s geostrategic location on the Western flank of the Indian Subcontinent and with contiguity to Central Asia and the Middle East endows it with geopolitical significance far outweighing its size, population and resources. Afghanistan in 2018 is not only a crucial chess-piece in the global geopolitical chequer-board but has emerged since 1947 as the underlying defining adversarial strategic characteristic of Pakistan-India relations.

The Indo-Pacific? The Quad? Please explain …

Graeme Dobell

Australia’s embrace of the Indo-Pacific concept over the past five years drew mild interest from the region and curious discussion. The US adoption of the Indo-Pacific in both its national security strategy and national defence strategy means the construct/label/geographic vision suddenly matters big time. What does the Indo-Pacific frame portend or predict for the way business will get done around here? Understandings aren’t agreed. The meaning of the Indo-Pacific matters if it’s ‘an organising principle for US foreign policy’.

Why the South China Sea is critical to security


When the U.S. aircraft carrier, Carl Vinson, recently made a port call at Da Nang, Vietnam, it attracted international attention because this was the first time that a large contingent of U.S. military personnel landed on Vietnamese soil since the last of the American troops withdrew from that country in 1975. The symbolism of this port call, however, cannot obscure the fact that the United States, under two successive presidents, has had no coherent strategy for the South China Sea.

China eyes Vanuatu military base in plan with global ramifications

By David Wroe

China has approached Vanuatu about building a permanent military presence in the South Pacific in a globally significant move that could see the rising superpower sail warships on Australia’s doorstep. Fairfax Media can reveal there have been preliminary discussions between the Chinese and Vanuatu governments about a military build-up in the island nation. While no formal proposals have been put to Vanuatu's government, senior security officials believe Beijing’s plans could culminate in a full military base. The prospect of a Chinese military outpost so close to Australia has been discussed at the highest levels in Canberra and Washington.

China, Russia 'Show Americans' Their Close Relationship

By Shannon Tiezzi

Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi visited Russia from April 4 to 5, making up for a previously scheduled visit that was postponed. Wang’s trip overlapped with that of Chinese Defense Minister and State Councilor Wei Fenghe. Wei was in Russia from April 1 to 5 both to attend the Moscow Conference on International Security and to conduct his first visit abroad since assuming his post. While in Russia, both Wang and Wei made it clear that their visits signaled increasingly tight China-Russia cooperation amid tensions on both sides with the United States.

South China Sea: China Deploys Jamming Equipment

By Ankit Panda

According to U.S. military officials, China has deployed communications and radar jamming equipment to Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly group in the South China Sea. The deployment took place during the last 90 days, according to U.S. intelligence. First reported by the Wall Street Journal, the deployment marks a significant capability improvement for the Chinese military in the South China Sea. Fiery Cross Reef is the site of one of China’s seven artificial island facilities in the Spratlys. The U.S. military commissioned commercial satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe to point out the deployment to reporters with the Journal. “China has deployed military jamming equipment to its Spratly Island outposts,” one Pentagon official told the reporters.

How Do We Prevent ISIS 2.0? Withdrawing From Syria Is Not The Answer.

By Pavel Baev, Ryan Crocker and Michael O'Hanlon 

The international community also has some assets in Syria. Collectively they do provide raw materials out of which a plausible strategy can be built. American and international strategy towards the horrific conflict in Syria is at a crossroads. ISIS has been largely defeated militarily on the physical battlefield. The top goal of both President Obama and President Trump has been partially achieved, through a strategy they both helped develop and implement. The temptation for Americans in general, and the Trump administration specifically, may be to declare victory and go home — as in fact Trump has just signaled he would like to do, as soon as possible.

Stability in the Middle East: The Range of Short and Long-Term Causes

Anthony H. Cordesman

The Middle East has long been one of the most unstable regions in the world, and there are no present prospects for change in the near future. This instability is the result of ongoing conflicts and tensions, and a variety of political tensions and divisions. It also, however, is the result of a wide variety of long-term pressures growing out of poor governance, corruption, economic failures, demographic pressures and other forces within the civil sector. The Short and Long-Term Forces Shaping Stability and Instability The immediate sources of instability are clear. Most of the region has some form of internal conflict, faces rising external threats, or is dealing with violent extremism. The violence and wars that have resulted from the political upheavals in 2011 will at best leave lasting challenges for unity and development even if the fighting ends. All the major causes of violent extremism remain, and there are few prospects that the fight against ISIS will eliminate the extremist threat in even one MENA country. Tensions between Israel and the Palestinian persist, each side has seen rising internal political barriers to a compromise peace, and the tensions between Israel and Iran and Hezbollah are creating new military threats.

The potential futures of British power projection

Our allies and potential trading partners want to see that the UK is serious about its desire to play a leading role, both politically and economically, in all regions of the world. Especially once we leave the European Union, we will need to retain and build on the goodwill that already exists in many regions and maintain and sustain our capabilities in the future. This article was contributed to the UK Defence Journal by Geoffrey James Roach and is about the UK’s ability to carry out Amphibious Operations in the 21st Century and how suggested and so far theoretical defence cuts impact our capabilities, is there a better way forward?

U.S. Deficit to Surpass $1 Trillion Two Years Ahead of Estimates, CBO Says

By Erik Wasson and Sarah McGregor 

The U.S. budget deficit will surpass $1 trillion by 2020, two years sooner than previously estimated, as tax cuts and spending increases signed by President Donald Trump do little to boost long-term economic growth, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Spending will exceed revenue by $804 billion in the fiscal year through September, jumping from a projected $563 billion shortfall forecast in June, the non-partisan arm of Congress said in a report Monday. In fiscal 2019, the deficit will reach $981 billion, compared with an earlier projection of $689 billion. The nation’s budget gap was only set to surpass the trillion-dollar level in fiscal 2022 under CBO’s report last June.

Israel’s strike on Syria’s nuclear plant The compelling story behind Israel’s strike on Syria’s nuclear plant – and its ramifications.

By Yossi Melman

It wasn’t a real bombshell when Israel formally claimed responsibility on March 21, 2018 for the September 2007 raid that destroyed the Syrian nuclear reactor. Nevertheless, it created shock waves that lasted for a week – almost an eternity in terms of the shelf life of Israeli news stories. On that date, the Israeli military censor allowed the Israeli media and Israeli-based foreign journalists to publish stories about how the Israel Air Force (IAF) carried out the operation whose code names included “Outside the Box,” “Operation Orchard” and “Arizona.”

The West’s defeat in Syria is complete

The Syrian civil war is in its endgame, and the ‘political solution’ that the leaders of the Western democracy talk about is in sight. That is one meaning of the appalling images from the chemical weapons attack on Eastern Ghouta. In 2011, Western intelligence agencies unanimously declared that Bashar al-Assad was finished, and that it was only a matter of time before he fell. Today, Assad, with massive Russian and Iranian support, has regained control over most of Syria.

New Zealand military confirms spending millions on controversial spy software produced by secretive Silicon Valley firm Palantir Technologies

Matt Nippert

The New Zealand Defence Force has spent millions on controversial spy software produced by secretive Silicon Valley firm Palantir. After refusing for more than a year to reveal the extent of links to Peter Thiel’s big data analysis company, prompting a complaint by the Herald on Sunday to the Ombudsman, the NZDF were forced to disclose annual spending with Palantir averaged $1.2 million. The figures suggest since contracts were first signed in 2012 the defence force has spent $7.2m with the firm.


The strengths and weaknesses of Russia’s military

Deutsche Welle

The US, Russia, and China are considered the world’s strongest nations when it comes to military power, with the US the undisputed number one. Even so, Russia’s still has plenty of arrows in its quiver, most notably the massive nuclear arsenal of some 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads. Leaving the nuclear weapons aside, however, the US has an overwhelming advantage in conventional forces, including a much stronger navy and air force, Russian military analyst Aleksandr Golts told DW. China, according to Golts, would also have the advantage of numbers in any conventional showdown with Russia. In other areas, however, things are not as clear-cut. “Russia’s air force is much stronger than the Chinese for now,” he told DW. “It questionable about the navy, as the Chinese are now undertaking a very ambitious program of ship building and they are much more successful in building a [global] blue Navy fleet than Russia.”

Three Flashpoints in the Syrian Civil War

The Syrian civil war is heading in a new direction. As various operations in Afrin, Idlib and Damascus play out, the front lines of the Syrian civil war will become more static. Despite a decrease in major offensives, the presence of so many foreign powers with intersecting interests heightens the risk of violence. Since the start of the year, three prominent regions in the Syrian civil war have emerged as its current flashpoints: Afrin, Idlib and Damascus. These hotbeds of military activity represent the intersection of the various proxy battles underway in Syria. Turkey, Russia, Iran, the Syrian government, and the many loyalist and rebel militant groups active throughout the country all have unique goals. In the flashpoint regions, however, their objectives are overlapping to move the Syrian conflict into a new, more static phase. As these three remaining major offensives wane in the coming months, they will give way to constant deadly skirmishes and attacks along the front lines, with few significant changes in territorial control.

A Global Arms Race for Killer Robots Is Transforming the Battlefield


Over the weekend, experts on military artificial intelligence from more than 80 world governments converged on the U.N. offices in Geneva for the start of a week’s talks on autonomous weapons systems. Many of them fear that after gunpowder and nuclear weapons, we are now on the brink of a “third revolution in warfare,” heralded by killer robots — the fully autonomous weapons that could decide who to target and kill without human input. With autonomous technology already in development in several countries, the talks mark a crucial point for governments and activists who believe the U.N. should play a key role in regulating the technology.

Autonomous weapons and the law: the Yale and Brookings discussions


One of the hottest topics these days in the law of war is the increasing autonomy in weaponry. We are not yet seeing (and may never see) the emergence of a “Terminator” robot, but there are still plenty of complex issues to discuss. In anticipation of this week’s meeting at the UN of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), events were held at Yale and Brookings last week. I was privileged to participate in them, and here are some observations about those discussions. At Yale Law School, the dialog was cast as a debate between my friend Professor Rebecca Crootof and myself entitled “Killer Robots: Is Existing Law Sufficient? A Debate on How Best to Regulate Autonomous Weapons.” Professor Crootof has a new paper, entitled “Autonomous Weapon Systems and the Limits of Analogy,” in which she argues that analogies often made to “weapons already in use” as well as “analogies based on unconventional entities that participate in armed conflict—namely, child soldiers and animal combatants” do not work for autonomous weapons.

Meet the scholar challenging the cyber deterrence paradigm

By: Brad D. William 

In recent years, U.S. thinking on a national cyber strategy has included, at least in part, a focus on the concept of cyber deterrence. The deterrence theme has been prevalent in civilian government and military leaders' speeches, as well as congressional hearings and scholarly literature. (See, for instance, Fifth Domain coverage While many agree on the need for a U.S. national cyber strategy, few have challenged the premise of a strategy built largely around cyber deterrence. But one scholar has recently published a series of academic papers that do exactly that — question the very premise for and the effectiveness of a deterrence strategy in cyberspace.

Forecasting the Future of Warfare

By Robert H. Scales

“No one in this room can accurately predict the future, least of all me. The nature of war is never gonna change. But the character of war is changing before our eyes — with the introduction of a lot of technology, a lot of societal changes with urbanization and a wide variety of other factors.” 

The Army’s decision to create a “Futures Command” is long overdue, well-intended, and absolutely necessary if the Army is to emerge from the malaise that has held modernization in its vice for all of this new century. But accelerating the pace of modernization without a rigorous understanding of how militaries anticipate the future of war might run the risk of creating an accelerating engine with greater thrust, but no vectors.

Modern Political Warfare Current Practices and Possible Responses

by Linda Robinson, Todd C. Helmus, Raphael S. Cohen, Alireza Nader, Andrew Radin, Madeline Magnuson, Katya Migacheva

Research Questions 
What is political warfare? 
How is it (or an appropriate analogous term) applied today? 
How might the U.S. government, along with its allies and partners, most effectively respond to or engage in this type of conflict to achieve its ends and protect its interests? 


by Linda Robinson, Austin Long, Kimberly Jackson and Rebeca Orrie - RAND Corporation

How has successful change previously occurred in the U.S. Army, Joint, and U.S. Department of Defense policy regarding SOF? How can these observations inform future development of options for policymakers and to articulate ways in which the varied Army Special Operations Forces capabilities can help to meet U.S. national security objectives? How can future planning and execution by the Army Special Operations Forces, the Army, and the joint operations community be informed by an analysis of past decisions? 

The Era of Urban Warfare is Already Here

By Margarita Konaev and John Spencer

Aleppo. Mosul. Sana’a. Mogadishu. Gaza. These war-ravaged cities are but a few examples of a growing trend in global conflict, where more and more of the world’s most violent conflicts are being fought in densely populated urban areas, at a tremendously high cost to the civilians living there. Despite their aversion to urban warfare, American and NATO military strategists increasingly acknowledge that the future of war is in cities. Concurrently, humanitarian agencies such as International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are adjusting their response to relief operations in urban centers in real time. This rise in urban violence and the resurgence of warfare in cities comes from three key factors: the global trend toward urbanization, increasingly volatile domestic political conditions in developing countries, and changes in the character of armed conflict.

12 April 2018

*** Gene Editing for Good How CRISPR Could Transform Global Development

By Bill Gates

Today, more people are living healthy, productive lives than ever before. This good news may come as a surprise, but there is plenty of evidence for it. Since the early 1990s, global child mortality has been cut in half. There have been massive reductions in cases of tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. The incidence of polio has decreased by 99 percent, bringing the world to the verge of eradicating a major infectious disease, a feat humanity has accomplished only once before, with smallpox. The proportion of the world’s population in extreme poverty, defined by the World Bank as living on less than $1.90 per day, has fallen from 35 percent to about 11 percent.


By Simon Mundy

Clad in a bright red sari on the veranda of her home in rural eastern India, 34-year-old Sudha Yenigalla patiently works her way through a crowd of elderly villagers gathered to withdraw their monthly pension. Each payment is processed in a matter of seconds, thanks to the “micro-ATM” she carries: a lightweight device comprising a Chinese-made touch screen and a fingerprint scanner, which she uses to verify the pensioners’ identities through the government’s new biometric ID system. As a local agent for the recently established IDFC Bank, Yenigalla is part of a new generation of banks in India. Her micro-ATM is the closest thing to a bank branch that the 2,300 residents of Inapuru, in Andhra Pradesh state, have ever had — enabling them to set up and access bank accounts without a grueling journey to the nearest town.

The New Great Game: China And The Intense Maritime Contest In Indo-Pacific Region

by Abhijnan Rej

China’s growing naval force projection has sparked anintense maritime contest in the Indo-Pacific, where traditional notions of spheres of influence are being challenged. Over the past five years or so, China has adopted an increasingly assertive foreign policy that stands to upend, if unchecked, the political and security order in maritime Asia. This has included blatant disregard for international law, construction of artificial islands and other features to reclaim contested waters, weaponising capital and trade, and adoption of a military posture that seeks to keep other powers out from parts of the western Pacific. Coupled to growing authoritarianism at home — President Xi Jinping is now effectively president for life — as well as efforts to influence and shape domestic politics of other states, a super-powered China could very well spell the end of the liberal international order that the world has known since the end of the Second World War. China is well into becoming Middle Kingdom 2.0: the apex of a deeply hierarchical Asia, where all powers pay obeisance to the all-powerful Chinese state.

Resetting India-Nepal Relations

By Kamal Dev Bhattarai

Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Oli just paid a three-day state visit to India, his first foreign visit after taking office on February 15 this year, and his second visit to India as prime minister. During the visit, from April 6 to 8, Nepal and India signed just three new agreements — a partnership in agriculture, as well as plans for connectivity through inland waterways and expanding linkages to connect Indian railway lines to Kathmandu — breaking the tradition of signing a long list of documents. Both sides described the three initial agreements as “path breaking agreements” to boost connectivity between the two countries. The two prime ministers also inaugurated a petroleum pipeline to be constructed between India and Nepal.

This Pentagon Paper Explains Why the Trump Administration Is Reining In Tech Trade with China


China’s investment in sensitive U.S. technology has the Trump administration so worried that it imposed tariffs on Chinese tech goods on Tuesday, while lawmakers are looking for ways to bar similar future investments. Why now? One reason is a recent Pentagon white paper that warns about Beijing’s plans to appropriate made-in-America tech.