19 May 2018

Where’s the Value? An Inside Look at Walmart’s Flipkart Deal

Rajat Kumar, COO of ABP Digital, who previously had a leadership role at the Indian e-commerce company Snapdeal and was a consultant at McKinsey, writes in this opinion piece that Walmart’s $16 billion deal to buy online retailer Flipkart says a lot about India’s e-commerce ecosystem. Walmart’s much-anticipated $16 billion acquisition of Flipkart, India’s top e-commerce retailer, which was announced last week, brings to mind the opening lines from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” The deal is all those things — and more.

China in Afghanistan: A military base in the offing?

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As the political and security situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, China’s role in the war torn nation has come into sharp relief. Though China and Afghanistan share a border barely stretching 76 km, Beijing’s worries about the deteriorating security landscape there have continued to grown. As a major global power with its perhaps only ‘all-weather’ ally on the planet, Pakistan, in the region, the preponderance of jihadist narratives are counter-productive to the country’s Xinjiang region, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has a suppressed Uyghur Muslim population in a region widely considered to be one of the most surveilled in the world.

Afghanistan-Pakistan Finalize Joint Action Plan for Peace

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Tuesday said that diplomats from Afghanistan and Pakistan have wrapped up their fourth meeting in Islamabad on the joint action plan between the two countries. The plan is known as the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS). Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to draw up a plan in April following Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s trip to Kabul where he held talks with Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani. The two leaders agreed to seven key principles to finalize the action plan.

The two leaders agreed to the following:

On China’s New Silk Road, Democracy Pays A Toll

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Great power competition is back. And China is now combining its vast economic resources with a muscular presence on the global stage. One of Beijing’s key efforts is the Belt and Road Initiative, a trillion-dollar endeavor to link together Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe through a web of mostly Chinese-funded physical and digital infrastructure. Much of Washington has fretted over China’s mercantilist approach to economics in general and views the Belt and Road Initiative largely through this lens. Yet the concerns over Beijing’s current approach should go beyond dollars and yuan. By fueling debt dependency, advancing a “China First” development model, and undermining good governance and human rights, the initiative offers a deeply illiberal approach to regions that contain about 65 percent of the world’s population and one-third of its economic output.

China Has Decided Russia Is Too Risky an Investment

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On May 4, the planned investment by the Chinese company CEFC China Energy into Russian state oil giant Rosneft fell apart, eight months after it was first announced. The tie-up’s failure reveals the strict limits on the potential for energy cooperation between China — which is in the process of taking ownership of CEFC — and Russia, and with it a broader political alliance between the two countries. Beijing has come to view Rosneft more as a tool of the Russian state than a traditional oil company, and to the extent the two countries don’t share political priorities, China has little interest in any significant economic relationship. Although China is actively searching for new political and economic partners around the world, it seems to have decided the Russian government is too risky a political investment.

A Primer on Countering Terrorism

By Isaac Kfir

This article was published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) on 2 May 2018.

Terrorism’ is usually defined as the real or threatened use of violence by a non-state actor against non-combatants or civilians to achieve political, religious or ideological objectives. This definition underlines the fact that the term carries many additional connotations. (The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies has established a database of legislation that defines terrorism.) With Daesh adjusting to a huge loss of territory and al-Qaeda resurrecting itself, we need to recognise the existence of several factors involved in terrorism if we are to respond to it effectively. There are two additional elements. One is that terrorist groups will seek to justify their actions by presenting them as a response to state oppression (the state is always the stronger party).

Fighting terrorism and storing intel in the age of big data

By: Jen Judson  
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AMMAN, Jordan — Several companies in attendance at the Special Operations Forces Exposition last week didn’t bring missiles, rockets, helicopters or drones, but rather laptops or other devices with software designed to make sense of the huge amount of data and intelligence flowing in for counterterror operations in the Middle EastThe fight against terrorism has become more complicated in a data-rich and data-dependent, international stage. Terrorists have adeptly used avenues through social media to spread philosophy and recruit members while engaging in campaigns of misinformation to influence communities.

Why Trump Can Safely Ignore Europe

By Jeremy Shapiro

Europe has reacted swiftly and with great fury to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision last week to pull out of the Iranian nuclear deal. The problem is not simply that the Trump administration has undermined one of the signature achievements of European foreign policy but that his inherent volatility, his unpredictability, and most of all his lack of commitment to the transatlantic alliance mean that any act of U.S. disruption is now possible. Righteous indignation is the language of the day, and predictions about the death of the transatlantic alliance abound. But laments and indignation do not add up to strategy. The real question is not whether Europeans are pissed off but whether they will do anything in response to Trump’s actions. The answer is most likely no.

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


Defense of the Baltic States and Poland against a notional Russian missile barrage. (CSBA graphic)

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.

Tech Companies Are Ruining America’s Image


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.

Examining Civil Society Legitimacy


The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace gratefully acknowledges support from the Ford Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the UK Department for International Development that helped make this study possible. Civil society is under stress globally as dozens of governments across multiple regions are reducing space for independent civil society organizations, restricting or prohibiting international support for civic groups, and propagating government-controlled nongovernmental organizations. Although civic activists in most places are no strangers to repression, this wave of anti–civil society actions and attitudes is the widest and deepest in decades. It is an integral part of two broader global shifts that raise concerns about the overall health of the international liberal order: the stagnation of democracy worldwide and the rekindling of nationalistic sovereignty, often with authoritarian features.

Friends With Benefits


What does an “America first” national security strategy look like in action? The White House provided a hint in April, when news broke that National Security Adviser John Bolton had asked Arab nations, including Egypt and possibly Saudi Arabia, to supply ground forces to replace U.S. troops in Syria. (This came only weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump announcedhis desire to “bring our troops back home.”) Although details are scarce, Bolton’s new initiative appears to mirror a broader talking point coming from the Trump administration: rather than putting American lives at risk, the United States will work “by, with, and through” local forces to achieve its national security objectives.

At Least Do No Harm: The Negative Effects and Unforeseen Consequences of US Contracting Practices on the Afghan Local Community and its Influence on the Perception of US Forces and Americans

Greg Kleponis


In the medical profession they abide by the edict, “Primum non nocere.” This Latin phrase simply means "first, do no harm." Another way to state it is that, "given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or even to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good." 1 It reminds the health care provider that they must consider the possible harm that any intervention might do. It is invoked when debating the use of an intervention that carries an obvious risk of harm but a less certain chance of benefit. This axiom might be applied to the entire idea of intervention in foreign countries already riddled with conflict. This paper takes a more precise look at one element of the overall intervention/stability effort in Afghanistan that many believe is having perversely, the opposite effect of that which it is intended- contracting. 

A Competitive Strategy To Counter Russian Aggression Against NATO

By Daniel Gouré

The world has entered a new era of great power competition. The 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy declared: After being dismissed as a phenomenon of an earlier century, great power competition returned. China and Russia began to reassert their influence regionally and globally. . . They are contesting our geopolitical advantages and trying to change the international order in their favor.[i] Building off the concept of a renewed great power competition, the U.S. National Defense Strategy took a broad view of the necessary actions to ensure national security:

US crude supply: longer market, lower prices

By Tim Fitzgibbon
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The US closed 2017 with crude supply up by approximately 1 million barrels/day. This put production back at the previous peak seen in 2015 at 9.6 million barrels/day, a major turnaround from the low point of 2016 at 8.6 million barrels/day. Most of this growth is coming from the Permian Basin in West Texas and New Mexico where producers were optimizing efforts to produce at below $50/bbl. And virtually all the incremental volumes are flowing to the Gulf Coast. Over-investment in pipeline capacity to the coast has provided plenty of capacity to move additional supply. While refiners on the coast have upped their intake of domestic crude to the limits that its lighter quality allows – this has still resulted in a big growth in exports, up to 1.4 million barrels/day by the end of the year.

The Problems of Defence Planning

Lt Gen Prakash Menon
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The new Defence Planning Committee needs to overcome structural flaws to be successful.
The recent establishment of the Defence Planning Committee (DPC) provides proof that the development of India’s military power is in dire need of political direction. For the most part, the Armed Forces, bereft of adequate political guidance, have been formulating their own schemes and plans based on their service-specific interpretations to shape themselves. The result has been a skewed development of the different sub-systems of military power, whose critical components have lacked integration, prioritisation, synergy and optimal utilisation of scarce resources. Coupled with a weak defence industrial base, the contemporary narrative cannot but project the notion that India is militarily ill-equipped to meet the threats posed by the growing global and regional geopolitical tensions.

Separating Better Data from Big Data: Where Analytics Is Headed

Ten years ago, the most forward-thinking companies were just starting to dive into the potential of data and analytics. Since then, brands have moved from using analytics to answer what customers are doing to exploring the how and why, and also to figure out what they will do in the future. The Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative (WCAI) is celebrating its 10thanniversary this year and has seen every step of that evolution. Knowledge@Wharton recently sat down with Wharton marketing professors Eric Bradlow, Peter Fader and Raghuram Iyengar to discuss how the field has developed over time, and what they expect to be the key trends over the next decade. Bradlow and Fader are the founding directors of WCAI, and Bradlow and Iyengar are the current co-directors.

Spy Games: Ex-Mossad Chief’s Cybersecurity Startup Counters Attacks With A Hacker’s Mindset

By Ido Levy, NoCamels

For decades Tamir Pardo worked in the shadows, in a career that began in the Israeli military’s most elite commando unit and culminated in him leading the Mossad, one of the world’s most feared espionage organizations. Now, the former Mossad chief is in his second act – as a cybersecurity startup founder. After completing his term as head of the world-renown Israeli spy agency in 2016, Pardo, a veteran of the IDF’s Sayeret Matkal who served under the command of Yoni Netanyahu in Operation Entebbe in 1976, founded XM Cyber, a cybersecurity company that has since developed an automated advanced persistent threat simulation platform and whose tagline is “defense by offense.”

Senate votes to reinstate net neutrality — but it has a long way to go

By Jacob Kastrenakes@jake_k 
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In a 52–47 vote today, senators voted to overturn the Federal Communication Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which took net neutrality rules off the books. They were able to do so using the Congressional Review Act, or CRA, which allows Congress to reverse recent decisions by government agencies. Republican control of Congress means that such a measure wouldn’t normally even make it up for a vote; but the CRA allows senators to force a vote by obtaining 30 signatures.

Air Force Electronic Warfare Push Gains Steam; C-5 Gets 3-D Printed Door Handles

We will probably never know much about it, but the Air Force's top Electronic Warfare task force has completed its first scrub and should report to top service leaders in the next month or so.The woman who leads the Air Force’s effort, Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, started the Strategic Development Planning Experimentation unit to find gaps in the service’s capabilities. Once the gap is found, the service creates an Enterprise Capability Collaboration Team (ECCT) to examine the best ways to fill it. The EW ECCT was stood up last year. While most of what it’s doing is classified, we know that cyber, which had been deemed outside its purview, is now a solid part of the work.



When I began writing this article, I had just returned from Rabin Square (the central square in Tel Aviv), where tens of thousands gathered on Monday (May 14) to celebrate the Saturday night victory at the annual Eurovision song competition by Israeli pop sensation Netta Barzilai. During the congratulatory festivities, Netta belted out her winning balad TOY, as did a dozen other Israeli former Eurovision contestants—both winners and losers. This was the second celebration of Israel’s Eurovision victory that took place within two days. Saturday night, immediately following the announcement that Netta had won, ten thousand joyous people gleefully streamed to the main square, at 2am in the morning. Rarely have I seen teeming crowds so jubilant.

Inside Google, a Debate Rages: Should It Sell Artificial Intelligence to the Military?

Mark Bergen

Last July, 13 U.S. military commanders and technology executives met at the Pentagon's Silicon Valley outpost, two miles from Google headquarters. It was the second meeting of an advisory board set up in 2016 to counsel the military on ways to apply technology to the battlefield. Milo Medin, a Google vice president, turned the conversation to using artificial intelligence in war games. Eric Schmidt, Google’s former boss, proposed using that tactic to map out strategies for standoffs with China over the next 20 years. A few months later, the Defense Department hired Google’s cloud division to work on Project Maven, a sweeping effort to enhance its surveillance drones with technology that helps machines think and see.

Will the future of work be a utopia or a dystopia?

Jack Karsten
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Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics will have a dramatic impact on the future of work. Already, today’s most valuable technology companies employ about one-fifth as many workers as the most valuable companies in the 1960s. Estimates of workforce displacement due to automation range from the OECD’s 14 percent of current jobs to the European think tank Bruegel’s 54 percent. Automation will disproportionately affect low-skill workers that are least able to adapt to these changes. On May 14, Center for Technology Innovation Founding Director Darrell West unpacked these trends in a presentation and a panel discussion held at Brookings based on his new book “The Future of Work: Robots, AI, and Automation.

Here’s how a defense committee wants to better understand the future battlefield

By: Mark Pomerleau  

The House Armed Services Committee passed its annual defense policy bill for fiscal 2019 on May 10. Included in the bill are a series of provisions related to future battlefield technologies. Here’s what to watch as the bill moves through the legislative process this summer. - The bill requires the administration to submit a report on the effects of cyber-enabled information operations on U.S. national security. The report should include a summary of actions taken by the government to protect against those threats and a description of resources needed.

Let’s Temper the Rhetoric About Civil-Military Relations

Charlie Dunlap

As readers of Duke University’s Lawfire know, I am a fan of Major Matt Cavanaugh, but I disagree with much (but not all) of his recent post, “Losing Our Profession: The Dire Consequences of a More Partisan Military .” Allow me to share a less “dire” perspective as someone who served three and half decades in the military through multiple administrations, and who has studied civil-military relations since authoring a rather well-known essay, The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012 .

Matt’s concern seems to be this:

18 May 2018

India’s Russia conundrum: a question of balance


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Russia for an informal summit with President Vladimir Putin in on May 21. This previously unannounced visit follows Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to Moscow in April to finalize the procurement of five S-400 Triumf air defense systems, a deal that may very well breach US sanctions against Russia. Against this backdrop, India is playing a careful game balancing these two powers. But with India pivoting toward the US and Russia warming up to Pakistan and China, the long-standing India-Russia relationship must be viewed through a new strategic framework that reflects changing geopolitical realities.

To understand India’s delicate balancing act between the US and Russia, we have to ask a simple question: What do these countries want from each other?


by Sylvia Mishra

On March 29, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) confirmed in a press releasethat Pakistan had conducted another test of the Babur-3 nuclear-capable submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM), after the first test in January last year. The missile, with a range of 450 km, engaged its target with “precise accuracy” and was successful in “meeting all the flight parameters.” While the yield of the Babur-3 warhead is unknown, analysts estimate from the 47 seconds of flight-testing footage shared by Pakistan’s defense establishment that the SLCM was fired underwater horizontally from torpedo tubes. 

Cascades of Violence Across South Asia

By John Braithwaite and Bina D’Costa

Our new book, Cascades of Violence: War, Crime and Peacebuilding Across South Asia, argues that one of the hidden benefits of preventive diplomacy is that it can reduce various kinds of crime and the self-violence of suicide in one’s own country. Crime and armed conflict are both what we call “cascade phenomena.” With crime, for example, every mass shooting that occurs in the United States markedly increases the probability that there will be future mass shootings. The challenge for every society is to tackle gun culture whenever it has a first mass shooting to prevent the kind of spiral that American school children suffer.

The Strategy Behind China's Diplomatic Offensive in Latin America

The story goes that the May 1 establishment of diplomatic relations between the Dominican Republic and China was long in the making, but delayed because the D.R. put up too many conditions. As a result, Panama ended up beating it to the finish line, becoming in June 2017 the first country in the region in several years to add an embassy to the already large Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) contingent of missions in Beijing. 

America’s Collision Course With China


In the future, historians will lament that America’s long-term policy toward China was not a result of calm calculation. Instead, they are likely to focus on how America’s political polarization and simplistic ideology – shared by many who should know better – drove it into a highly damaging and utterly pointless conflict. The world’s most important bilateral relationship – between the United States and China – is also one of its most inscrutable. Bedeviled by paradoxes, misperceptions, and mistrust, it is a relationship that has become a source of considerable uncertainty and, potentially, severe instability. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the brewing bilateral trade war. 

ZTE Redux

Let’s put any potential ZTE deal in perspective. More than a year ago, ZTE was caught selling telecommunications equipment to Iran that included U.S. parts, thus violating sanctions. ZTE pled guilty in November 2017, paid a $900 million fine, punished the responsible executives, and—this was unwise—agreed that if it was later caught violating the terms of the settlement, it would be cut off from all U.S. technology. This last condition was certainly not in ZTE’s interest and probably not good for the United States either.


by Tuneer Mukherjee

Over thirteen years after defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton produced a report for U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warning of China’s plans to increase its maritime footprint in littoral South Asia, the building blocks for a Chinese support network of logistical stations therein is now being put into place. Over the years, China has managed to string together a patronage network of multiple South Asian coastal nations through massive investment spending, focused port development projects, and collaborative naval equipment transfers (refer Table 1 below). The formulation of this “string of pearls” strategy, furthering China’s larger military and commercial ambitions under the guise of economic development, has managed to bait nations out of India’s strategic orbit.

Debate | The China Model

China’s rise is both unambiguous and unstoppable, whether the West likes it or not. Refusing to acknowledge reality will only generate more tension – and more risk, because failing to accommodate China will destabilize the rules-based order on which the world has come to rely. BEIJING – The global balance of power is shifting. As the United States retreats from global leadership, China is expanding its international influence. Now, many in the West fear a China-led attempt to overhaul the rules and norms that underpin the existing world order. Are they right to be afraid? The reemergence of China as a major regional and even world power certainly poses profound challenges to the US-led international order that was created after World War II. But Chinese leaders’ goal is not explicitly to upend that order, which did, after all, prove flexible enough to enable the impoverished China of the 1970s to become what it is today. Instead, the goal is to ensure that the existing order can adequately accommodate the interests and objectives of both China and the US.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving – to China


By abandoning the thoughtful policymaking of his predecessors in favor of a presidency modeled on reality TV, US President Donald Trump has failed to articulate anything resembling a credible national strategy. Trump’s threatened trade war with China, which is already benefiting that country at America's expense, is a case in point. All bad management, a business guru once remarked, is taught by example. Donald Trump is teaching a master class on how not to serve as America’s chief executive. By abandoning the thoughtful policymaking of his predecessors in favor of a presidency modeled on reality TV, Trump has failed to articulate anything resembling a credible national strategy.

Ramadan in 2018, a Threat Lens Perspective

Stratfor Threat Lens anticipates an increase in the tempo and intensity of attacks during Ramadan this year, similar to that seen in 2016 and 2017. A confluence of events — including but not limited to Ramadan — will exacerbate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The United States opened its new embassy in Jerusalem May 14, coinciding with the day Palestinians commemorate their 1948 displacement from Israel. Editor's Note: This security-focused assessment is one of many such analyses found at Stratfor Threat Lens, a unique protective intelligence product designed with corporate security leaders in mind. Threat Lens enables industry professionals and organizations to anticipate, identify, measure and mitigate emerging threats to people, assets, andintellectual property the world over. Threat Lens is the only unified solution that analyzes and forecasts security risk from a holistic perspective, bringing all the most relevant global insights into a single, interactive threat dashboard. 

Counter terrorism Spending: Protecting America while Promoting Efficiencies and Accountability

The United States currently lacks an accurate accounting of how much it has spent on the fight against terrorism. Without accurate data, policymakers will have difficulty evaluating whether the nation spends too much or too little on the counterterrorism (CT) mission, and whether current spending is doing its job effectively or efficiently.

Views on Islam in Times of Terrorism

By Darius Farman and Enzo Nussio 

How have recent jihadist terrorist attacks in Western Europe and the attendant debate over countermeasures affected Swiss attitudes towards Islam? Darius Farman and Enzo Nussio highlight that despite some fluctuations, there has been no significant increase in anti-Muslim sentiment in Switzerland since the 1990s. However, they also point out that public debate on Islam has shifted, particularly in terms of its prevalence and Islam’s portrayal as a potential threat. Further, discrimination against Muslims has risen, possibly because of the erosion of inhibitions against such behavior due to the hardening of negative attitudes.for Center for Security Studies (CSS)

Threat Report 2018: Al-Qaida Patiently Rebuilding

As the United States relocated its embassy in Israel to the city of Jerusalem, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri used the occasion to call for jihad, claiming the international system is hostile toward Muslims. Al-Qaida has rebounded in recent years, rebranding its message and building local branches across the Middle East and Africa. The following brief is from The Cipher Brief’s 2018 Annual Threat Report. For more information on how to get the whole report, please click hereBottom Line: While the Islamic State (ISIS) grabbed the spotlight of international terrorism, al-Qaida has meticulously rooted itself in several conflicts across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, where it has seized upon local grievances to appeal to disenfranchised communities and build its brand as a champion of victimized Sunnis. Consequently, al-Qaida’s strategy, combined with its long-term vision, renders the movement the most dangerous and entrenched terrorist network devoted to carrying out spectacular attacks against the West, and the United States in particular.

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

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.” That’s still true, nearly four decades later. Since Iran’s 1979 revolution, six U.S. Presidents have traded arms, built back channels, and dispatched secret envoys in an effort to heal the rupture. “It’s a bad divorce, like ‘The War of the Roses,’ ” Vali Nasr, the Iranian-born dean of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, said. “Neither side has ever gotten over it.” Finally, in 2015, Barack Obama led six major world powers into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the most significant nonproliferation pact in more than a quarter century. The deal limited but did not eliminate Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for relief from some but not all punitive U.S. economic sanctions.

Threat Report 2018: North Korea’s Nuclear Doctrine

Months of fruitful engagement between North Korea, South Korea and the United States may soon turn sour. Yesterday, Pyongyang warned that ongoing joint military exercises and aggressive statements made by the Trump administration were damaging the diplomatic atmosphere. The regime canceled upcoming talks scheduled with South Korea, and threatened to pull out of the Trump-Kim summit, slated for June 12. Today’s brief, a part of The Cipher Brief’s 2018 Annual Threat Report, looks at the history of U.S.-North Korea negotiations, and the latter’s nuclear program, with insight into the regime’s end goals and what it may—and may not—be willing to put on the table.

Assessing the Health of the Defense Industrial Base

By John Adams

This week, the Department of Defense is scheduled to send the White House a long-awaited comprehensive interagency assessment on the health of the defense industrial base, identifying areas where efforts must be taken to strengthen domestic manufacturing capabilities and highlighting materials on which the U.S. is dependent upon China. Responding to an Executive Order issued by President Trump last summer, the report promises to shake up the way DoD has managed supply chain vulnerabilities for the past decade.

Independence-Minded Catalonia Will Tread a More Cautious Path

In Catalonia, pro-independence forces are once again in control of the regional government, but they will refrain from making any substantial unilateral decisions. The new Catalan government will focus on more immediate goals, such as the freeing of secessionist leaders who are in prison, or the normalization of Catalan institutions after the conclusion of months of direct control by the central state. Madrid will refrain from making any significant concessions to the separatists, which means that the issue of Catalan independence will not go away.

The Next Israeli War

By Jacob Shapiro

Another war between Israel and Hezbollah may well be approaching. Iran, Hezbollah’s primary patron, continues to ship weapons to the Lebanese militia despite Israel’s insistence that doing so is something it cannot allow. Israel has conducted airstrikes on Iranian and Syrian targets in the past month accordingly, but to no avail. The more aggressively Israel behaves, the sooner a direct fight with Iran will come. Of course, the two have been engaged in a war of words for some time, but this contest has been confined to the battlefield of rhetoric for a simple if overlooked geographic reason: The two countries are too far away from each other to wage war. Now, though, Iranian bases are coming under attack, and casualties are beginning to mount, but Iran has yet to respond. Eventually it will have to, and when it does it will come in the form of Hezbollah.

Speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Cyber Defence Pledge Conference (Ecole militaire, Paris)

Minister Parly, 
Ladies and gentlemen.

May I start by thanking France for hosting us today. France is a strong NATO Ally, contributing to our shared security and our collective defence in many different ways. You have high end capabilities. You have professional, dedicated forces. You have the resolve and the will to deploy them when needed. And also in cyber space we see France leading the way. And just the fact that France is organising this conference. The first annual conference on the Cyber Defence Pledge. Shows France’s strong commitment to our collective defence and also to the efforts to strengthening our cyber defences. And to implement the Cyber Defence Pledge.

Blockchain Will Help ‘Drive This Next Industrial Revolution,’ Wall Street Bull Predicts; One Of 5 Key Technologies, Along With Automation, Artificial Intelligence, The Internet-Of-Things, And Robotics; And, It Has Enormous Implications For Warfare, & Espionage

Digital currency and Bitcoin may get sucking out most of the oxygen in the room; but, it is the blockchain technology that is going to fundamentally change the economic, and perhaps military landscape when all is said and done. “At this point, blockchain may still be l considered an emerging technology,” Stephanie Landsman wrote on CNBC’s webisite, May, 13, 2018; “but, Federated Investors Portfolio Manager, Steve Chiavarone, is folding the electronic system, which records crypto-currency transactions into his stock market forecasts,” she noted.

COMPASS: a new AI-driven situational awareness tool for the Pentagon?

by Heather M. Roff 

In late March, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) held a proposers day for one of its new projects: Collection and Monitoring via Planning for Active Situational Scenarios (COMPASS). The new project’s goals are to increase a commander’s “situational awareness and reduce the ambiguity of actors and objectives in gray-zone environments”—where a “gray zone” is characterized as “limited conflict, sitting between ‘normal’ competition between states and what is traditionally thought of as war.”

Hey, Big Tech, Don’t Abandon Uncle Sam’s Cyber Warriors


There’s a dangerously misguided provision in the otherwise laudable accord signed recently by 30 leading tech companies. As cyber enemies proliferate, the United States needs every tool at its disposal to protect itself from attack. But a recent cybersecurity accord between leading technology companies snubs cooperation with the U.S. government, effectively undercutting U.S. cyber deterrence and emboldening cyber adversaries. Last month, more than 30 technology companies signed the Cybersecurity Tech Accord, aimed at protecting customers from malicious cyberattacks. Facebook, Microsoft, Dell, and Oracle pledged to join forces to mitigate state-sponsored attacks, develop stronger cyber defense capabilities, and prevent bad actors from tampering with their products. However, the companies also vowed not to aid any governments in “offensive” cyber activities.

“The Damn Thing Melted”: Arctic Security in the Blue-Water Era

By Steve Tebbe

When Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer told the media last week that “the damn thing melted,” he wasn’t talking about an ice cream cone. As the Arctic faces unprecedented levels of open water, Spencer and other naval leaders recently testified to Congress about the U.S. Navy’s strategy, which is changing as quickly as the Arctic itself. The Navy’s previous Arctic strategy was released in 2014, but the significant decrease in Arctic sea ice required an update to reflect the emergence of “blue-water Arctic operations,” now that the region has become ice-free enough for open waterways. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told reporters “the Arctic triggered [the update]” of the four-year-old Arctic Roadmap, which was originally designed to last 16 years.

The Persistent Importance of an Old Cold War Concept

by Nicholas McCarty

Cold War era Kremlinologists often used to refer to a concept known as the “correlation of forces.” It was a neat way of second guessing the Soviet Union’s underlying military strategy. That concept, however, largely fell out of use with the fall of the Soviet Union. Considering the nature of today’s confrontation between Russia and the West, it is clearly a term that has been wrongly forgotten, and is due a comeback. The ideas behind “correlation of forces” draw heavily on Marxist-Leninist doctrine, at least in its emphasis on reducing a highly complex strategic reality into a mathematical blueprint. Thinking in terms of a “correlation of forces”, broadly speaking, is a way of accounting for national power that goes beyond merely the sum of a nation’s tanks, warplanes, or nuclear missiles. Instead, national power should be measured just as much by factors that are far harder to quantify: Internal cohesion, economic strength, and even ideological clarity of vision. The key lies in various calculations of underlying momentum.

RIP the Trans-Atlantic Alliance, 1945-2018


The Atlantic alliance, built to contain the Soviet Union in the aftermath of World War II, began to die when the Cold War ended. What kept it alive over the last three decades has been less strategic necessity than a convergence of values — the values of the liberal postwar order. Now, the senior partner of the alliance, the United States, has lost interest in those values. The alliance was already a corpse, but Donald Trump drove the last nail into its coffin when he decided this week to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran.