17 May 2018

Unbeatable: Social Resources, Military Adaptation, and the Afghan Taliban

Theo Farrell

Insurgencies are famously difficult to defeat, yet the Afghan Taliban have proven especially so. Accounts of Taliban resilience have focused on both the deficiencies of Western efforts and the Afghan state and on Pakistani support for the Taliban. These accounts fail, however, to reveal the full picture of how the Taliban have been able to survive. Drawing on original field research, this article explores how the Taliban’s success has been shaped by factors internal to the insurgency, namely, the social resources that sustain it and the group’s ability to adapt militarily.

Challenging the ISK Brand in Afghanistan-Pakistan: Rivalries and Divided Loyalties


Abstract: The launch of the Islamic State Khorasan (ISK) brand in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region in 2014-2015 attracted droves of opportunistic and disgruntled militants from local groups. But the arrival of a new entrant in a crowded space also threatened existing groups’ regional power and resources, leading to the inception of multiple rivalries, as evidenced via expressions of leaders’ disapprovals and warnings toward ISK between 2014 and 2017. A close look at the incompatibilities between ISK and its rivals suggests continued resistance by groups whose relevance and resources are directly threatened by ISK’s mission of a global caliphate.

MAKING SENSE OF THE INDO-PACIFIC STRATEGY: AN INHERITANCE FROM THE PAST

by Takuya Matsuda

The term “Indo-Pacific” has gained wider currency as the Trump administration promotes the Indo-Pacific Strategy as its flagship policy towards the region. Since the substance of this strategy has yet to be made clear, one could easily make speculations that the Indo-Pacific Strategy is a “containment policy” towards China given the emphasis the new National Defense Strategy has given to great power competition. However, a brief overview of this concept may offer a different narrative. It is worth highlighting here that this increasingly popularized term is nothing new. “Indo-Pacific” is a concept that emerged as a culmination of policy choices made since the mid-1990s to incorporate India into the US strategic framework in the Western Pacific and to encourage allies including Japan to upgrade their roles in international security. In other words, this concept, which originated in the mid-1990s, gained momentum in the 2000s, before Chinese maritime expansion started to challenge American primacy in the Western Pacific.

What Has Karl Marx Ever Done for China?

By Kerry Brown

One of the paradoxes of modern Chinese history is that, during the most xenophobic and anti-foreign period in the country’s modern history, in the depths of the Cultural Revolution half a century ago, the words of German émigré Karl Marx and the ideology that bore his name imported from that maligned, distrusted, and hated outside world were untouchable parts of the dogma. Nien Cheng in her celebrated memoir of the era, Life and Death in Shanghai, put her finger on this paradox. Responding to her interrogators when attacked for working for a foreign company in Shanghai, she asked, why was that such a problem? The Communists, after all, she said, were serving a set of ideas born abroad, created by a foreigner. She could have gone further. The Red Guards were idolizing a foreigner whose vast corpus of work, when it mentioned China (which was rarely), did so with lofty disparagement and disdain. The country, Marx thought, was decades, if not centuries away from the revolutions he predicted were about to topple governments in Europe and the West.

The Role of Investors in Promoting Sustainable Infrastructure Under the Belt and Road Initiative

Alison Hoare

China is seeking to increase its overseas investments in infrastructure projects, and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is its strategic vehicle to help achieve this. The initiative aims to improve connectivity between China and the world by encouraging investment in transport, energy and communications infrastructure. In light of the profound impacts of infrastructure on societies and the environment, the BRI will be crucial in determining whether countries are able to achieve more sustainable development patterns, and whether global emissions can be aligned with a 2°C pathway. One of the intended outcomes of the BRI is that it will help achieve sustainable development in partner countries, but this will depend on the nature of the investment projects. The use of sustainable procurement for infrastructure projects is a potentially valuable tool to reduce environmental risks for investors as well as to help drive best practice and innovation in sustainable design, construction and operation. 

Mekong River nations face the hidden costs of China's dams

YUKAKO ONO

STUNG TRENG, Cambodia -- Sam In, a 48-year-old rice farmer from Cambodia's northeastern province of Stung Treng, never knew that people paid for water until he was forced to move out of his home on the banks of a Mekong River tributary two years ago. Along with hundreds of other households, Sam In and his 10-member family were relocated to make way for a dam development that left his entire village, Sre Sronok, underwater. Now they live in a newly created village where government-funded houses with identical blue rooftops are neatly lined up on a spacious, dusty plot of land. Instead of a river, a national road runs alongside the village.

Iran Deal: The EU Has The Most To Lose

by Niall McCarthy

European companies have enjoyed success developing and strengthening commercial ties with Iran since the deal was inked in 2015. In exchange for sanction relief, Tehran agreed to limit uranium enrichment activities and eliminate its stockpiles. That saw European companies flock to do business in Iran, resulting in a mini-investment boom. Back in 2015, the value of trade in both directions was $9.2 billion and that increased sharply to $16.4 billion in 2016 after the deal was signed. Last year, the impressive pace of growth continued, reaching $25 billion. European companies enjoying success in Iran include French company Total which is involved in the development of a gas field in the southern part of the country, along with Royal Dutch Shell who have invested in the Iranian energy industry. Airbus is another well-known European company involved in replacing Iran's outdated and dangerous fleet of airliners. Renault also signed a lucrative deal last year worth $780 million which will include a production plant capable of producing 150,000 vehicles every year.

Claiming Responsibility in Cyberspace: ISIL and a Strategic Redefinition of Terrorism

Jonathan Lancelot

This paper is designed to examine how ISIL has used the Internet to communicate their agenda, and how they can use cyberspace to commit acts of cyberterrorism. We will be looking at the strategic advantage of terrorist organizations claiming responsibility for attacks, and how the Western legal system’s definition of terrorism solidifies this advantage in cyberspace. In the anonymous environment of the Internet, what incentive does a terrorist organization have to give up the advantage of stealth and claim responsibility for a cyber-attack? If western governments are seeking to find a motivation in an attack to label the act as terrorism, and the public is in fear, it is the contention of the paper to show that claiming responsibility is a problematic strategy for cyber terrorists and waiting for confirmation from a terrorist organization to define an act of terrorism has been a questionable strategy for Western governments. In cyberspace, Western governments are prevented from enacting a legal deterrence strategy against cybercrimes and cyberterrorism because the burden of proof resides within proving the intent of cyberterrorism, and not the intent of cybercrime.

Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy.

Trump’s decision to blow up the Iran deal is a massive attack on Europe

By Carl Bildt

Few ideas are as holy in President Trump’s international liturgy as the concept of national sovereignty. His National Security Strategy speaks of a “beautiful vision—a world of strong, sovereign, and independent nations,” and the Trump himself is keen to repeat some form of “sovereignty” as often as he can. Sovereignty to Trump seems to mean that the United States can do whatever it wants without taking the interests of others into account. It’s the ultimate embodiment of “America first.” In reality, other actors have the right to their sovereignty, which is what the National Security Strategy proudly proclaims.

Assad Is Desperate for Soldiers


In late March, the Assad regime released a propaganda video aimed at the young men of Syria. In the video, titled “Braids of Fire,” Asma al-Assad, the wife of Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, stands before a squad of female army volunteers dressed in camouflage and army boots. “You are far stronger and more courageous than many men because when the going got tough, you were on the front lines, and they were the ones running away or hiding,” she declares. Her words are intercut with images of the women volunteers in combat training, as well as testimonials from the women and their mothers. The underlying message: Shame on you men for fleeing military service—a “sacred duty” enumerated in Syria’s constitution.

Trump vs. the “Deep State”

By Evan Osnos

Two months after Donald Trump’s Inauguration, the White House took a sudden interest in a civil servant named Sahar Nowrouzzadeh. At thirty-four, she was largely unknown outside a small community of national-security specialists. Nowrouzzadeh, born in Trumbull, Connecticut, grew up with no connection to Washington. Her parents had emigrated from Iran, so that her father could finish his training in obstetrics, and they hoped that she would become a doctor or, failing that, an engineer or a lawyer. But on September 11, 2001, Nowrouzzadeh was a freshman at George Washington University, which is close enough to the Pentagon that students could see plumes of smoke climb into the sky. 

The United States has become identified with the global internet economy — for better and worse.

BY JOSHUA A. GELTZER, DIPAYAN GHOSH

Not long ago, Americans used to worry — constantly and loudly — about what their country’s main cultural export was and what it said about them. In the 1990s, after the Iron Curtain came down, many Americans wondered whether the appealing lifestyles the world saw on U.S. sitcoms and blockbusters deserved some credit for energizing global resistance to communism. Then, as the optimism of the ’90s gave way to the shock and horror of 9/11, Americans asked, with palpable chagrin, whether the materialism and vulgarity of their TV shows and movies were contributing to the virulent anti-Americanism that had spread throughout much of the globe.

he End of the Iran Deal, and Trump’s New, Confrontational Foreign Policy

By Robin Wright

On January 20, 1981, John Limbert and fifty-one other American diplomats were taken to Tehran’s international airport on a bus, after being held in captivity by young revolutionaries for four hundred and forty-four days. The diplomats were all blindfolded. “Listening to the motors of the plane warming up—that was the sweetest sound I’ve ever heard,” Limbert recalled last week. The Air Algérie crew waited to uncork the champagne until the flight had left Iranian airspace. The next day, however, the Timescautioned, “When the celebrations have ended, the hard problems unresolved with Iran will remain to be faced.”

The cyber battlefield isn’t all about Russia

BY GREG KEELEY

Not since President Reagan’s off mic quip has the American chattering class worked itself into such a lather about the Russian menace. Unfortunately, while the interminable discussion over Moscow’s “election hacking” continues, The Big Three — Iran, China, and North Korea — continue to assault our cyber flank, driven by a force as committed to malice as the Gipper was to a good laugh. The cyber battlefield is fluid, difficult to monitor and has a low barrier of entry. Initially, Russian hacks and propaganda drew attention and appropriate, quiet response. Now, we risk supersizing the damage by being pulled into a dangerous cave of tunnel vision. 

Exclusive: North Korea's Unit 180, the cyber warfare cell that worries the West


SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea’s main spy agency has a special cell called Unit 180 that is likely to have launched some of its most daring and successful cyber attacks, according to defectors, officials and internet security experts.  North Korea has been blamed in recent years for a series of online attacks, mostly on financial networks, in the United States, South Korea and over a dozen other countries. Cyber security researchers have also said they have found technical evidence that could link North Korea with the global WannaCry “ransomware” cyber attack that infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries this month. Pyongyang has called the allegation “ridiculous”.

Boko Haram Beyond the Headlines: Analyses of Africa’s Enduring Insurgency


In a conflict that has no easy answers and no solutions in sight, Boko Haram is already and will remain one of Africa’s enduring insurgencies. In order to better understand Boko Haram now and in the future, this report, edited by Jacob Zenn, challenges some key misconceptions about the insurgency and provides new analyses and insights based on many exclusive primary source materials and datasets. To provide these unique insights, several authors with on-the-ground experience contribute to six areas that are increasingly important but under-researched about Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa:

Industrial Espionage: Keeping An Eye On The Quiet Guy


When it comes to industrial espionage, "one-hit wonders" - employees, such as Chelsea Manning or Reality Winner, who take valuable proprietary information to a competitor, the media or a foreign government - are just half of the equation. Companies also need to remember the threat of low-key spies on staff who may quietly provide their handlers with sensitive facts and figures over months, years and even decades. The damage these employees can inflict may rival or exceed the harm caused by a one-time loss.

One year on from the WannaCry attack, are we more vulnerable than ever?

Cara McGoogan 

It was like a scene from an apocalyptic science fiction film: on the morning of Friday May 12, 2017, computers around the world started to shut down. Screens flashed red with a ransom note that read, “Ooops, your files have been encrypted” and demanded a payment of between $300 and $600 (£230 and £470) in bitcoin . The attack, called “WannaCry”, spread rapidly across 150 countries. Within hours of Spanish mobile operator Telefonica first announcing it had been hacked, NHS hospitals reported they too were having problems.

How information warfare in cyberspace threatens our freedom

Roger Bradbury

Just as we’ve become used to the idea of cyber warfare, along come the attacks, via social media, on our polity. We’ve watched in growing amazement at the brazen efforts by the Russian state to influence the US elections, the UK’s Brexit referendum and other democratic targets. And we’ve tended to conflate them with the seemingly-endless cyber hacks and attacks on our businesses, governments, infrastructure, and a long-suffering citizenry. But these social media attacks are a different beast altogether – more sinister, more consequential and far more difficult to counter. They are the modern realisation of the Marxist-Leninist idea that information is a weapon in the struggle against Western democracies, and that the war is ongoing. There is no peacetime or wartime, there are no non-combatants. Indeed, the citizenry are the main targets.
A new battlespace for an old war

CIA to Use Amazon Cloud to Run Big Data Intelligence Experiments

Robert Levinson ,Chris Cornillie

The Central Intelligence Agency is looking to team up with industry experts to run a series of open-source intelligence projects using its Amazon cloud. The agency released a revised acquisition schedule on May 7 for a project known as Mesa Verde that will test the frontiers of big data and open-source intelligence. The project calls for using the CIA’s C2S cloud, built by Amazon Web Services LLC, to pore through thousands of terabytes of data, including data publicly available on the Web, and apply tools such as natural language processing, sentiment analysis, and data visualization to draw conclusions others might have missed.

Five myths about the US embassy move to Jerusalem

By Aaron David Miller

Aaron David Miller is a vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and author of "The End of Greatness: Why America Can't Have (and Doesn't Want) Another Great President." Miller was a Middle East negotiator in Democratic and Republican administrations. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. (CNN)On Monday, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel, the Trump administration is set to shatter decades of US policy toward Jerusalem by opening an embassy in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Could the US Navy Blockade China in Wartime?

By Robert Farley

Could the United States blockade China’s oil during a time of war? The idea is appealing, as it might enable the United States to force a negotiated settlement to the conflict without having to content with China’s formidable anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) system. But would it work? A new study in the Naval War College Review expresses some skepticism. China is deeply dependent on foreign oil, and its sea lanes of communication are vulnerable to disruption. This has allowed some analysts to ruminate about how best the United States could exploit this vulnerability during war. Blockades sometimes work, even in great power conflict; the British blockade of Germany in the First World War helped bring the latter to its knees. Although German efforts to establish a submarine blockade of Britain failed in both world wars, they caused no end of trouble to British authorities. In the waning days of World War II, the United States blockaded Japan so successfully that the Japanese economy and military ground to a halt.

Generals Worry US May Lose In Start Of Next War: Is Multi-Domain The Answer?

By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR

QUANTICO: Russia or China could “overrun” US allies at the outbreak of war, senior military leaders fear, and our plan to stop them is very much a work in progress. Iraq and Syria have given sneak previews of how the US can combine, say, hackers, satellites, special operators, and airstrikes in a single offensive, but we’re not yet ready to launch such a multi-domain operation against a major power.

16 May 2018

Will mobile kill Maoism? Certainly technology can help improve governance for the Adivasis

Shubhranshu Choudhary

Just after rains, in the year 1980, seven batches of seven armed people entered Dandakaranya forest, the Amazon of India. They have now become “India’s biggest internal security threat,” as our former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh once called them. These people, now members of Communist Party of India (Maoist), came there to “hide”. They believed revolution, will still be led by Indian peasants from the mainland villages who will encircle the cities as followers of Chairman Mao once did in China. In their document, the ‘Rear area document’, they wrote “revolution will not happen in forests. These Adivasis do not have political consciousness. We need to develop these areas as place to hide when we encounter rough weather in plains and cities.”

No, the War in Afghanistan Isn't a Hopeless Stalemate

By Robert M. Cassidy

The war in Afghanistan has become so protracted that it warrants the epithet the “Groundhog Day War.” Fighting has gone on for nearly 17 years, with U.S. troops in Afghanistan seven years longer than the Soviets were. The U.S. leadership claims to have a strategy for victory even as warm weather brings in yet another “fighting season” and new rounds of deadly violence in KabulSixteen years and seven months of violence, loss, sacrifice and significant investment, without victory, is alarming – but is it without hope?  As a scholar of Afghanistan and strategy and a soldier who has served four tours in the country, I’d like to explore both the apparent stalemate and the reasons for harboring hope of an eventual resolution.

Trump Effect Comes to Afghanistan

By James R. Van de Velde

Before President Donald Trump’s August 21, 2017, speech on Afghanistan (the ‘new South Asian strategy’), in which the President announced a renewed commitment to ‘win;’ to avoid nation-building; and to stay until conditions allowed for U.S. withdrawal, Afghanistan’s ‘proxy-insurgency’ was a political-military strategy-free zone, intellectually empty, heading to a miscarried future. The war resembled the final scene in any Rocky movie where the two parties just hit each other at the same time over and over. No thoughtful, comprehensive diplomatic-military strategy existed.

Could Bangladesh Be Heading for One-Party Rule?

By Amit Sengupta

Two visuals dominate the cityscapes of Dhaka in central Bangladesh, Jashore (Jessore) in the southwest, and Khulna in the south: posters of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of the country born of genocide and schism in 1971, and of his daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed, leader of the ruling Awami League (AL). Posters of leaders from the opposition are rare. Rarer still is opposition graffiti. Even in the vast Khulna Division, one of the eight in Bangladesh and a stronghold of the right-leaning Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), it is almost impossible to see a poster or banner of the party or its leader, Begum Khaleda Zia.

Xi Jinping's Excerpt on the Overall National Security Concept


Xinhua News Agency, Beijing, April 15th: A book edited by Xi Jinping on the exposition of the overall national security concept published by the Central Party History and Literature Research Institute of the Communist Party of China was recently published by the Central Literature Publishing House and distributed throughout the country. Adhering to the overall national security concept is an important part of Xi Jinping’s socialist ideology with Chinese characteristics in a new era. The report of the 19th CPC National Congress emphasizes that coordinating development and security, enhancing awareness of hardships, and making peace at peace times are a major principle for our party to govern the country. Comrade Xi Jinping’s series of important expositions on the overall national security concept are highly ambitious, rich in content, and profound in thought. 

CHINA WILL TAKE OVER THE WORLD, ONE PORT AT A TIME

VANDANA MENON

New research suggests China’s port investments as part of the Belt and Road Initiative are aimed at generating political influence and military presence in the Indo-Pacific. New Delhi: Launched in 2013, China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been pegged as a trade masterstroke meant to recreate the ancient Silk Road, facilitating development along the way in a win-win situation. But new research suggests a clear political agenda behind the initiative, aided by the exercise of ‘corporate obfuscation’ by the Chinese companies involved. In a report by Washington-based nonprofit research group C4ADS, titled ‘Harboured Ambitions: How China’s port investments are strategically reshaping the Indo-Pacific’, China analysts Devin Thorne and Ben Spevack noted, “Questions surrounding China’s intentions plague the BRI”.

CHINA MEDIA REPORTS A NEW MISSILE BRIGADE THAT CAN HIT MUMBAI/GUAM: WHAT IS REALLY NEW ABOUT IT?

VINAYAK BHAT (RETD)

The Dongfeng-26 or DF-26 is an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) whose primary target is the US base in Guam in the western Pacific Ocean. New Delhi: The Chinese media Sunday reported that the People’s Liberation Army-Rocket Force had commissioned a new brigade of its DF-26 missile, capable of striking key Indian cities such as Mumbai. This claim, however, appears to be factually inaccurate given that the existence of an operational brigade of DF-26 was first reported at least four years agoAn analysis of Google Earth imagery reveals that the Chinese army’s DF-26 brigade could be located at a garrison in Xinyang in southeastern Henan province.

China will take over the world, one port at a time

VANDANA MENON 

New research suggests China’s port investments as part of the Belt and Road Initiative are aimed at generating political influence and military presence in the Indo-Pacific. New Delhi: Launched in 2013, China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been pegged as a trade masterstroke meant to recreate the ancient Silk Road, facilitating development along the way in a win-win situation. But new research suggests a clear political agenda behind the initiative, aided by the exercise of ‘corporate obfuscation’ by the Chinese companies involved.

Report: Chinese government is behind a decade of hacks on software companies

Dan Goodin

Researchers said Chinese intelligence officers are behind almost a decade’s worth of network intrusions that use advanced malware to penetrate software and gaming companies in the US, Europe, Russia, and elsewhere. The hackers have struck as recently as March in a campaign that used phishing emails in an attempt to access corporate-sensitive Office 365 and Gmail accounts. In the process, they made serious operational security errors that revealed key information about their targets and possible location.

China's first homegrown aircraft carrier heads out for sea trial

By Ben Westcott and Brad Lendon

(CNN)China's first domestically built aircraft carrier began sea trials on Sunday, a historic step in the country's mission to build a navy capable of rivaling the world's leading maritime powers. The new aircraft carrier, temporarily named Type 001A, sailed out at around 7 a.m. in Dalian, in the northeast province of Liaoning, according to reports in Chinese state media. The 50,000-tonne ship will become the country's second aircraft carrier, and the first to be entirely built and designed inside of China, when it joins the navy sometime before 2020.
The carrier's maiden sea trial follows a speech given by Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 12, in which he announced plans to build a "world-class" navy under the banner of the Chinese Communist Party. 

China Wants 'Transformer' Drones (And It's More Likely to Happen Than You Think)

Lyle J. Goldstein
Source Link

Drones of all types are leading a revolution in military technology. Originally spurred on by the battlefield imperatives of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, unmanned aerial vehicles are now emerging at the heart of future warfare plans; not just at the low end, but increasingly to address high-end threats as well. For example, the MQ-4C Triton may well be the most promising new technology to undergird U.S. strategy across the vast expanses of the Asia-Pacific region. Progress on and under the water has not been quite as rapid, but there have been some exciting breakthroughs there as well. For example, the testing by the U.S. Navy of an extreme long-endurance unmanned surface vessel (USV), Sea Hunter—a development covered in this Dragon Eye column early last year.

Why a Trade War Shouldn't Wreck World Markets

Todd Royal
Source Link

Geopolitical spats taking place in Syria, tensions over China’s militarization of the South China Sea, nuclear threats from North Korea, and daily tweets from President Trump have caused market turbulence in 2018. Yet the ten-year United States Treasury yield reached 3 percent for the first time in ten years, which is a sign of investor confidence and stable economic growth. The IMF also reiterated strong market fundamentals and U.S. jobless claims are at their lowest level in forty-eight years. Then why are markets considered so volatile at this time? The reason seems to be geopolitical-news-headlines-of-the-day trumping market sanity and strong macroeconomic fundamentals.

What Keeps Xi Jinping Awake at Night

By Chris Buckley

BEIJING — As the leader of the world’s most populous country and biggest communist party, China’s president, Xi Jinping, has plenty to worry about, and a new book sheds light on what probably keeps him up at night. The recently released 272-page book of Mr. Xi’s remarks on “national security” includes previously unreleased comments that give a starker view of the president’s motivations than found in most Communist Party propaganda. Here is a selection.
Winning the Technology Race The recent trade dispute between China and the United States has brought new attention to China’s zeal to become technologically self-reliant. The book shows that Mr. Xi was determined that China master its own microchips, operating systems and other core technologies well before this recent quarrel. In two speeches — in July and August 2013 — Mr. Xi pointedly said that Western domination came thanks to technology.

Plastics mines? Europe struggles as pollution piles up


OSLO (Reuters) - Europe has sent just over half the plastic waste it used to ship to China to other parts of Asia since Beijing’s environmental crackdown closed the world’s biggest recycling market in January. The knotty problem is what to do with the rest. Some of the surplus is piled up in places from building sites to ports, officials say, waiting for new markets to open up. Recycling closer to home is held back by the fact that the plastic is often dirty and unsorted, the same reasons China turned it away. Countries led by Malaysia and Vietnam and India imported far more of Europe’s plastic waste in early 2018 than before, European Union data show, but unless they or others take more, the only options will be to either bury or burn it.

Trump made a savvy psychological evaluation of Kim Jong-un – so should we trust his judgment on Iran?

Mary Dejevsky

The television pictures of the prisoners’ return are the perfect prelude to the main act: the Donald and Kim show. The second perfect prelude, in fact. The first was the North-South Korean leaders’ handshake across the demilitarised zone at Panmunjom. And the warm-up act for that was the joint Korean team at the Winter Olympics. From winter to spring, how much distance has been travelled. And it looks – though in matters of personality and diplomacy, you never quite know – as though one of the least probable turns in international relations of recent times is on course to be accomplished: the bringing in of North Korea from the cold. What is more, it would be fair to say that this would not have happened – or not have happened with such speed – without the intervention, and instincts, of Donald Trump.

The US Should Embrace the EU’s New Defense-Cooperation Plan

BY RACHEL RIZZO, GENE GERMANOVICH

In late December, all but three European Union nations agreed to activate the continent’s latest, and perhaps most promising, effort to coordinate their defense investments. This initiative, dubbed PESCO for Permanent Structured Cooperation, has largely been met with bewilderment and concern on this side of the Atlantic. But U.S. officials should welcome it — and press the EU’s leading nations to use its framework to move from project-based collaboration to properly resourced militaries with credible capability.

Don't Bet Against American Shale

James Clad, James Grant
Source Link

The United States stands on the precipice of global energy supremacy. Over the past decade, the confluence of innovative drilling techniques with favorable market and regulatory conditions has made the extraction of tight domestic resources economical. This has resulted in an energy boom which has transformed fears of American energy shortages into proclamations of energy dominance. But is it here to stay?

Russia Confirms a Revolutionary New Tank Was Sent to Syria

Eugene K. Chow
Source Link

Russia has been on the forefront of building unmanned ground vehicles and last week the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that their armed drone tank Uran-9 was tested in Syria. The Uran-9 is powerfully armed with anti-tank missiles, an automatic cannon and a machine gun. It can also be reconfigured to carry different weapons like surface-to-air missiles. Additionally, the unmanned vehicle is equipped with advanced optics and targeting systems including a laser warning system and thermal imaging. While the deployment of the Uran-6, a minesweeping drone, in Syria has been widely reported on, little has been said publicly about the Uran-9, and military observers and analysts have yet to see it in Syria.

3 Reasons Israel Would Start a Nuclear War

Robert Farley
Source Link

Israel’s nuclear arsenal is the worst-kept secret in international relations. Since the 1970s, Israel has maintained a nuclear deterrent in order to maintain a favorable balance of power with its neighbors. Apart from some worrying moments during the Yom Kippur War, the Israeli government has never seriously considered using those weapons. The most obvious scenario for Israel to use nuclear weapons would be in response to a foreign nuclear attack. Israel’s missile defenses, air defenses, and delivery systems are far too sophisticated to imagine a scenario in which any country other than one of the major nuclear powers could manage a disarming first strike. Consequently, any attacker is certain to endure massive retaliation, in short order. Israel’s goals would be to destroy the military capacity of the enemy (let’s say Iran, for sake of discussion) and also send a message that any nuclear attack against Israel would be met with catastrophic, unimaginable retaliation.

CATACLYSMIC EVENT OR GRADUAL EROSION? THE DECLINE OF US DIPLOMATIC POWER

Sam Wilkins 
Source Link

Last week Mike Pompeo, the newly-confirmed Secretary of State, announced to his new workforce that together they would “get our swagger back,” an unspoken but clear reference to the rock-bottom morale in Foggy Bottom during the tenure of his predecessor, Rex Tillerson. While Pompeo may see the Department of State’s doldrums as related solely to the management-style of his predecessor, Ronan Farrow argues persuasively in The War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence, that the department’s declining capacity and gradual exclusion from policy making began long before Tillerson’s ill-fated “restructuring” or what he sees as the militaristic inclinations of the forty-fifth president.

On Brexit island it’s all getting a bit Lordships of the Flies

Marina Hyde

How promising to learn that there is going to be another cabinet “crunch meeting” next Tuesday to discuss the customs issue. Cabinet “crunch meetings” on Brexit are like Super Sundays on Sky Sports. There seems to be one every week, and the only thing that changes is the definition of the word super. And now the word crunch. A friend of mine at university once pressed snooze on his alarm clock for eight and a half hours. Can you imagine? Every 10 minutes – a sort of torturous, self-punishing deferment that ends up being the worst of both worlds. This remains Britain’s Brexit strategy.

LITTLE MEN IN BLACK: THE FROGMAN THREAT IN MARITIME HYBRID WARFARE

By Ben Ho Wan Beng

Introduction

Maritime hybrid warfare is upon us, so proclaimed James Stavridis, a retired United States Navy admiral. “(I)t will sail out to sea and prove a formidable challenge,” he contended in a December 2016Proceedings article. According to security analyst Frank Hoffman, ahybrid opponent is one that “simultaneously and adaptively employs a fused mix of conventional weapons, irregular tactics, terrorism, and criminal behavior in the battlespace to obtain desired political objectives.” Indeed, Beijing’s use of its maritime militia, or “little blue men”, in the South China Sea (SCS) and similar measures by Teheran in the Persian Gulf are worrisome signs of hybrid warfare taking on a nautical slant.

What a cyberwar looks like — and what it doesn't

Daniel Dobrygows

President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith of Microsoft in April told the RSA cybersecurity conference about attacks that don't involve tanks and warplanes, but bytes and bots. And they are aimed at our energy grids, our infrastructure, and even our private financial information. We've increasingly seen reports of cyber incursions, attributed to nation-states, into critical infrastructure and financial systems. We've seen further attempts to affect countries' internal political institutions. Nations are reportedly stockpiling software and network vulnerabilities, to use for espionage or in the event of an internet-enabled conflict.

Future Challenges for Special Operations Forces

Michael Vickers

The U.S. Special Operations Command has about 67,000 troops and an annual budget of around 14 billion dollars. That may not seem to be a huge dent in the overall DoD budget (about 2%), but it greatly outnumbers the special operations budgets of other U.S. allies around the world. With deployments operating at high frequencies today and with operations increasing in places like Syria, what should we be thinking about in terms of the impact on U.S. Special Operations in the coming decade?

Forget Stealth Fighters: The Army Wants 'Stealth' Uniforms

Michael Peck
Source Link

First there were stealth fighters that didn’t show up on radar. Now the U.S. Army wants uniforms that allow ground troops to escape the notice of electromagnetic eyes. Radar has become an integral part of ground warfare, which makes it that much harder for soldiers to hide on the battlefield. Thus, the Army wants uniforms woven out of a material that will absorb rather than reflect radar waves. "Radar absorbing and shielding technology has attracted a growing interest due to the recent advances in enemy electronic warfare and detection capabilities, leaving U.S. forces, especially infantry forces, vulnerable to detection across the electromagnetic spectrum," according to a new Army research solicitation. "Advanced battlefield and ground surveillance radar (BSR/GSR) are readily available in military markets that are highly effective, portable, and automated for large area monitoring."