8 June 2018

China’s New Financial Sector Reforms: Will They Go Far Enough?

Earlier this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged that the country will accelerate the opening up of its financial sector in a series of “landmark” measures to be launched in 2018. They include fast-tracking foreign access to the Chinese insurance industry, easing restrictions for entry and expansion of foreign financial institutions, and improving the investment climate. China, he said, “will enter a new phase of opening up.” The reality is likely to be a bit more complicated. While China has come a long way in the last four decades — liberalizing trade, property rights, foreign direct investments and other key areas of the economy — one sector where it has been more cautious to open is the financial sector.

China and India's Disputes Spill Over Into Their Water Supply

By Ambika Vishwanath

Despite the size and importance of the massive interconnected river system China and India share (along with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh), no integrated structure exists for its management, and the bilateral agreements that govern it are far from sufficient. Political disputes, such as the 2017 standoff over the Doklam Plateau, could harm the waterways China and India share. Unless the countries agree to institute a basinwide mechanism for water management, the river systems they both depend on will be at risk.

Trump’s Steel Tariffs on Allies Complicate Bigger Problem: China

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The Trump administration’s decision Thursday to slap steep tariffs on steel and aluminum from some of its biggest trading partners — Canada, Mexico, and the European Union — will make it harder for the United States to tackle the very trade abuses it claims to be fighting. Despite a flurry of last-minute negotiations with Canada, Mexico, and Europe, the United States went ahead and levied a 25 percent tariff on imports of steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports from those three trading partners, ending the temporary exemption they’d enjoyed since the spring.

A Distracted U.S. Struggles To Shift Its Global Focus

by Omar Lamrani

Changing times call for changing measures. In the face of an intensifying great power competition with Russia and China, the United States is expanding its efforts to refocus its global strategy, force deployments and resources to better position itself in a new struggle. But recalibrate as it might, the United States' enduring commitments, along with global flashpoints, will continue to sap the country's attention and resources as it wages a new global battle for influence.

The Big Picture

China’s fast climb up the value chain

By Jeongmin Seong, Kevin Wei Wang, and Jonathan Woetzel

From high-tech unicorns to specialty chemicals, the country’s economy is moving swiftly beyond its lower-margin roots. The Chinese are now the world’s most avid online purchasers of goods and services, which they are likely to pay for with a mobile device. The deepening digital ethos reflects a broader consumerization of the Chinese economy. These trends are creating fertile grounds for digital start-ups while also transforming traditional industries such as specialty chemicals as they supply materials for advanced industries and higher-margin consumer goods. Global companies in China should ensure that they’re not competing for yesterday’s markets.

China’s breakneck pace of digitization

What can we expect in China in 2018?

By Gordon Orr

The nation could be shaped by geopolitics, momentum from robust economic growth, and a host of new leaders eager to implement new policy. With so many new leaders put in position over the last six months by President Xi, an overall leader secure in his position and clear on his objectives, 2018 is likely to see much more activity to implement policies, economic and social, that move China in the direction that Xi wants. We may need to worry more about overenthusiastic implementation of policy than the inaction we have often seen in 2017.

Army to Pursue ‘With Urgency’ Autonomous Systems Strategy

By Connie Lee

The service last year released the “Robotics and Autonomous Systems Strategy,” a document that stated its intention to pursue these capabilities “with urgency.” The strategy outlines the Army’s five capability objectives, which include: increasing situational awareness; lightening soldiers’ physical and cognitive workloads; sustaining the force with increased distribution, throughput and efficiency; facilitating movement and maneuver; and protecting the force. Maj. Mike Dvorak, robotics branch chief at the Army Capabilities Integration Center, said the service is now working on an execution strategy that will “lay [out] the specific details of how we’re going to get the capabilities.” The document is being produced by the Maneuver Center of Excellence and ARCIC, he said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Ground Robotics Capabilities Conference in Springfield, Virginia.

Qatar Won the Saudi Blockade


A year ago Tuesday, a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia imposed a historic land, maritime, and air blockade on Qatar. The measures were designed to strong-arm Doha to comply with a list of demands that involved alleged support for Islamic extremists throughout the Middle East, including within the four countries — Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia — that later became known as the anti-Qatar quartet. The quartet received added momentum one day after the start of the blockade from U.S. President Donald Trump, who tweeted: “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding … extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”

Why Canada Needs a Strong U.S. Economy

To say the economy of Canada has significant dependency on the United States would be an understatement. This is evidenced by the fact that one-fourth of Canada’s GDP comes from its U.S.-bound exports. This dependence is even sharper when viewed in terms of Canada’s most lucrative and important export – petroleum oils. That’s because the U.S. is practically Canada’s only customer for this critical commodity. In fact, 99.1 percent of Canada’s crude oil exports went to the United States, according to Canada’s National Energy Board.

Israel To Pump $2B Into Ground-Ground Missile Unit

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While we can't confirm that Israel used ground-to-ground missiles against Syria, a few months ago the IDF established a new unit -- on the orders of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman -- to operate Israeli-developed ground- ground missiles. TEL AVIV: The recent massive Israeli attack on Iranian targets in Syria may mark a major shift in the way Israel uses its fire power. On May 9 Israel attacked Iranian targets in Syria in response to the launching of 20 rockets from Syria by Iranian-controlled forces. Four of the rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system; the rest exploded on Syrian territory. There were no Israeli casualties. Reports from Israel said more than 20 Israeli fighter aircraft prosecuted the attack, doubtless helped by Israel’s impressive electronic warfare capabilities. But reports from Syria claimed that surface-to-surface missiles were also used to hit the Iranian installations in Syria. Those reports may be signs of a important change in how Israel executes counter-battery strikes.

Italy, Spain: Two New Governments Threaten the Eurozone's Stability

Italy and Spain are the third and fourth largest economies in the eurozone, respectively, which means that political and economic turbulence in Rome and Madrid can have an impact on the entire currency area. In our annual forecast, we said the Spanish government would be weak, and that Italy presented the main source of risk for the eurozone. Both countries appointed new governments on the same day, introducing challenges that align with both our assessments.

What Happened

Caught on Camera: India’s Broken Media


NEW DELHI — Media companies here sometimes use hidden cameras to expose dirty deals at the highest levels of power. Last week, it emerged, the lens had also been focused within, revealing ugly warts across the entire body of the Indian news industry. In a series of video recordings released by Cobrapost, an Indian nonprofit news website, top executives of leading Indian media companies are allegedly seen negotiating contracts worth millions of dollars in exchange for spreading Hindu nationalist propaganda — ostensibly to benefit the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the lead-up to national elections next year.

Iran Wants to Stay in Syria Forever

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Hamid Rezai was among the latest batch of soldiers to die for Iran in Syria, killed by an alleged Israeli rocket attack on the T4 airbase near Homs. He was a 30-year-old native of the capital, Tehran, a pious young man whose father had also been a soldier and who left behind an infant daughter. At Rezai’s late April burial service, his weeping mother said there was no stopping him from volunteering to fight in Syria. “It offends me when people ask, ‘Why didn’t you stand in his way?’” she said, according to an account in the hard-line Mashregh News. “My son chose his own path.”

The North Korea Summit Is Back On—But Don’t Expect Miracles

By Robin Wright

On live television on Friday afternoon, President Trump had a lingering schmooze with the second-most powerful man in North Korea—a former spymaster still legally sanctioned by the United States—as they said goodbye on the White House lawn. Trump and Kim Yong Chol chitchatted through interpreters. They smiled broadly. They posed for a round of photographs. After Trump gave him a final pat on the shoulder and a hearty thank you, the North Korean departed in a motorcade of black Chevrolet S.U.V.s. With that, the summit with North Korea was back on, for June 12th, in Singapore. Trump appeared elated as he walked toward the cordoned-off area where reporters waited for him to make an announcement.

Opinion: There’s more to the Google military AI project than we’ve been told


Google, a company whose motto used to be “don’t be evil,” has had its ethics questioned lately over its insistence on developing AI for the Pentagon. If you’re among the many people who don’t understand why, against the grain, the Mountain View company would risk such damage to its reputation, you’re not alone. It’s not the money. According to a report from Gizmodo, Google is getting around $9 million. Sure, for most of us that would set us up for life, but let’s not forget that Google is worth nearly a trillion dollars. It can afford to skip a project that doesn’t suit its ethical makeup. And it certainly isn’t the prestige, you don’t hear many pundits calling on big tech companies to more deeply involve themselves with the military.

Why A ‘Human In The Loop’ Can’t Control AI: Richard Danzig

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CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: How do you stop a Terminator scenariobefore it starts? Real US robots won’t take over like the fictional SkyNet, Pentagon officials promise, because a human being will always be “in the loop,” possessing the final say on whether or not to use lethal force.
But by the time the decision comes before that human operator, it’s probably too late, warns Richard Danzig. In a new report, the respected ex-Navy Secretary argues that we need to design in safeguards from the start. “In the design of the machine, we ought to recognize we can’t rely on the human as much as we’d like to think,” Danzig said: We need to design the machine from the start with an eye on what could go wrong.

How free software tools fit into the modern cyber theater

By: Meredith Rutland Bauer  

When Boston was inundated with ransomware attacks in 2016, the local FBI office was at a loss for solutions when business owners called in a panic. The FBI already had their hands full with terrorism investigations and lacked the manpower to track down the culprits. Federal agents basically told the business owners to give in. Joseph Bonavolonta, a then-assistant special agent in charge at FBI’s cyber and counterintelligence program in Boston, told attendees at a 2015 cybersecurity summit that his office was overwhelmed with ransomware reports. “To be honest, we often advise people just to pay the ransom,” he said at the conference, according to SecurityLedger.com.

Solutions for situational awareness – battlefield innovations

By Berenice Baker

Situational awareness solutions allow soldiers to make effective use of varied information in a battlefield context. New technology offers innovative methods of bringing visual, night vision, geographical and enemy location data together in an overlaid 3D visual and audio augmented reality format, so it can be accessed and acted on in real time. Army Technology investigates groundbreaking innovations saving lives by making this sensor fusion information readily available to soldiers on frontlines.

Why Argentina's Leader Is in for a Tough 2019

Argentina’s request for a standby loan from the International Monetary Fund will force the country to carry out tighter fiscal measures, such as reducing the transfer of funds to the provinces. As a result of his decision to negotiate a deal with the IMF, President Mauricio Macri will have a more difficult time gaining congressional support for economic and labor reforms. Although divisions persist in Argentina’s political opposition, worsening economic conditions will encourage Macri's rivals in the next quarter, hurting the president's chances of winning re-election in 2019.


Lee Fang
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FOLLOWING THE REVELATION in March that Google had secretly signed an agreement with the Pentagon to provide cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology for drone warfare, the company faced an internal revolt. About a dozen Google employees have resigned in protest and thousands have signed a petition calling for an end to the contract. The endeavor, code-named Project Maven by the military, is designed to help drone operators recognize images captured on the battlefield. Google has sought to quash the internal dissent in conversations with employees. Diane Greene, the chief executive of Google’s cloud business unit, speaking at a company town hall meeting following the revelations, claimed that the contract was “only” for $9 million, according to the New York Times, a relatively minor project for such a large company.

Trump Tariffs Roil Markets, Complicate New Push For Foreign Military Sales

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WASHINGTON The significant tariffs slapped on imported steel and aluminium by the Trump administration on Thursday — despite overwhelming opposition from the Pentagon, defense industry, and Republican lawmakers — take effect today. It is still unclear what the fallout will be, but the targets are most of America’s closest allies. Canada, Mexico, and the European Union are pushing back, as the U.S. defense industry braces for what comes next. “We understand the focus on fair trade that’s driving some of these actions, but we are on record and our position hasn’t changed that we have concerns about tariffs for a number of reasons,” Eric Fanning, head of defense industry group Aerospace Industries Association told reporters on Thursday. It is unclear what impact they will have on the global supply chain “and what that can mean for our companies,” he added. “Certainly what escalation might mean in terms of retaliation.”

Army to Pursue ‘With Urgency’ Autonomous Systems Strategy

By Connie Lee

Following the release of a document that outlines the Army’s vision for autonomous systems, the service is now looking at ways to make that vision a reality. The service last year released the “Robotics and Autonomous Systems Strategy,” a document that stated its intention to pursue these capabilities “with urgency.” The strategy outlines the Army’s five capability objectives, which include: increasing situational awareness; lightening soldiers’ physical and cognitive workloads; sustaining the force with increased distribution, throughput and efficiency; facilitating movement and maneuver; and protecting the force. Maj. Mike Dvorak, robotics branch chief at the Army Capabilities Integration Center, said the service is now working on an execution strategy that will “lay [out] the specific details of how we’re going to get the capabilities.” The document is being produced by the Maneuver Center of Excellence and ARCIC, he said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Ground Robotics Capabilities Conference in Springfield, Virginia.

7 June 2018

Fake News and India’s Democracy

By Juhi Ahuja

The marriage of civilian open-source data with political disinformation campaigns has the potential to unjustly affect electoral outcomes, as seen with the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Such tinkering within the Indian electoral system could lead to the deepening of existing social discord, loss of civic trust in the electoral system, and the compromise of basic democratic principles. Recent allegations against data mining and analytics firm Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook users’ data to the advantage of the Trump campaign raises questions about how parties may follow similar tactics in India to influence the upcoming 2019 general elections. Deliberations over social media sites between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress party have focused attention of late on topics of disinformation, fake news, and accusations of populist tactics. On March 22, the Times of India reported thatRahul Gandhi and members of the BJP have accused one another of having links to Cambridge Analytica. On March 27, Christopher Wylie, former director of research of Cambridge Analytica, testified to a British parliamentary committee that the Congress party was a client of the company in India. Concurrently, reports emerged of the BJP’s alleged ties to SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, in the run-up to the BJP’s electoral victory in 2014.

Modi at Shangri-La: Covering the Waterfront While Pulling Punches

On June 1, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India delivered a keynote address at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)–hosted “Shangri-La Dialogue 2018” in Singapore. While his presence was historic, he assiduously avoided confrontational rhetoric and offered little vision for India’s future role in the region. He offered a lengthy overview of India’s current security posture but avoided any mention of hot spots such as North Korea or Pakistan. Mr. Modi portrayed India’s ties with China in a hopeful light. Upcoming bilateral meetings, such as the U.S.-India “2+2” in July, loom large to help define India’s emerging security role as an Indo-Pacific anchor. 

The Untold Story of India's Decision to Release 93,000 Pakistani POWs After 1971 War

Sashanka S. Banerjee

Indira Gandhi's biggest worry after the surrender of Pakistan in 1971 was the safety of Mujibur Rahman. The release of Pakistani POWs was the price Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (and the ISI) extracted for the safe return of the Bangladeshi leader. On August 2, 1972 – eight months after the 13-day India-Pakistan war ended on December 16, 1971 – the two countries signed the Shimla Agreement under which India agreed to release all the 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war (POW) its army had taken during the course of the war. This proved to be a controversial decision, with many in India questioning why Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had squandered a golden opportunity to bargain with Pakistan and settle the Kashmir problem on India’s terms.

China-Pakistan Relations: Challenging US Global Leadership

By Mercy A. Kuo

Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Harrison Akins – Research Fellow at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee who specializes in South Asian politics – is the 141st in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”  Explain the rationale and impact of the U.S. decision to stop military financing to Pakistan.  

The US Needs a Reality Check on China's Belt and Road

By Hunter Marston

In Washington, heads are spinning trying to apprise China’s global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Totaling nearly $500 billion in projects and pledges to date, the BRI seeks to provide much-needed infrastructure financing to underdeveloped countries and rewrite the map of global commerce by linking international markets to Beijing. Washington policy wonks are busy penning op-eds in an attempt to make sense of Beijing’s sweeping ambitions. But until U.S. policymakers come to terms with the nature of the challenge posed by China’s BRI, they will not be able to mount a credible alternative.

Brace Yourselves: The US-China Trade War Is About to Begin

By Shannon Tiezz

With the start date looming for U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, the latest round of U.S.-China trade discussions — possibly the last before tariffs take effect — ended without a breakthrough. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was in Beijing on June 2 and 3, for talks with Chinese officials led by Vice Premier Liu He, according to Xinhua. Neither side seemed particularly happy with the progress made at the latest discussions. The United States and China seemed to have reached a breakthrough previously, only for that agreement to come quickly undone. As The Diplomat reported previously, on May 20 U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared the trade war to be “on hold.” But just nine days later, a White House statement declared the U.S. intention to place a 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, focusing on technology products.


By Zhang Qiang

After the Chinese PLA Air Force disclosed on May 18 that multi-type bombers including the H-6K conducted take-off and landing training on islands in the South China Sea, some Russian media then reported that the airports on the islands would ensure that Chinese bombers be able to conduct long-range patrols over the sea routes leading to the Malacca Strait. “The Malacca Strait, as an important passage linking the South China Sea, has enormous economic and military significance. If the Chinese air force’s long-range bombers can conduct patrols over the Malacca Strait, the surrounding areas will certainly be under deterrence. We can tell the world that we have the capability, though we aren’t likely to do so,” military researcher Lan Shunzheng said in a recent interview by Science and Technology Daily newspaper. Military expert Wang Mingliang also said that the take-off and landing training involving multi-type bombers on the islands in the South China Sea enhanced the PLA Air Force’s combat capability and combat readiness to respond to various maritime security threats.

The “Indo-Pacific” Region Takes Center Stage at Shangri La

The Shangri La Dialogue, the premier regional defense forum held in Singapore, did not disappoint this year. A record number of defense ministers and other top-ranking officials from 40 countries participated in the 17th annual dialogue, which convened June 1–3. Alongside the rhetorical fireworks between the United States and China that we have come to expect at this forum, the geostrategic concept of the “Indo-Pacific” region quickly emerged as the dominant theme of the conference. 

China: The Dust Never Settles

By William A. Reinsch

I said two weeks ago that I was going to hold off on writing about China again until the dust settled. It now appears that the dust is never going to settle. Each time the United States seems to be set on a course of action, the president shifts gears and kicks the dust up all over again. Many people have commented on how bad policy chaos and uncertainty are for businesses simply trying to survive in a competitive world, so I won’t go down that particular road except to say I agree with the concern. In my experience representing businesses, what they most value from their government is policy consistency and clear lines. The vast majority of them want to obey the rules, but to do that they need to know what the rules are, and they need to have some confidence that today’s rules will be the same ones they’ll be expected to adhere to next week, next month, and next year. Sadly, we are a long way from that.

China in race to overtake the US in AI warfare


A Chinese-made CH-5 reconnaissance and combat drone and its compatible missiles at the 11th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai city in south China's Guangdong province on November 2, 2016. Earlier this month Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping met with senior military scientists as chairman of the all-powerful Central Military Commission. During the meeting, the Chinese leader was photographed at the PLA Academy of Military Sciences shaking hands with Major General Li Deyi, a leading authority on artificial intelligence, or AI, and a key figure in the Chinese military’s effort to overtake the United States in the emerging field of advanced weapons.

Faulty Chinese spy technology may help convict former CIA officer of espionage

Rachel Weiner

The phone the Chinese intelligence operatives gave Kevin Mallory was a specialized spy gadget. If it had worked like it was supposed to, he might be a free man today. The former CIA officer, on trial in Alexandria federal court for espionage, freely told his old colleagues that he had been approached by those spies on social media in February of 2017. He said he had been invited on two trips to China and given a Samsung Galaxy phone with special encryption capabilities. What he didn’t tell his U.S. intelligence contacts, and, according to prosecutors, what he thought they would never learn was that he also traded classified documents to the Chinese agents in exchange for $25,000. Mallory, a 61-year-old from Leesburg, Va., who also served in the Defense Intelligence Agency, State Department and U.S. Army, was arrested last spring. While prosecutors say he was selling secrets, he contends he was trying to expose the Chinese spies. Whatever jurors ultimately decide, the veteran intelligence operative’s trial has offered a glimpse into some of the inner workings of both Chinese espionage and American attempts to counter it.

Moscow updates playbook on making Israel, Iran happy Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/06/russia-playbook-making-israel-iran-happy.html#ixzz5HTwI6elq

Maxim A. Suchkov 

Israeli soldiers walk near mobile artillery units in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, May 9, 2018. Tensions on Israel's northern border with Syria have heated up as Israel objects to the presence of Iranian forces in southern Syria. Russian and Israeli officials met this week in Moscow to discuss Israel’s concerns over the extent of Iran’s current and future presence in Syria. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and other top Israeli officials met May 31 withRussian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. The primary focus of the visit was the situation in Syria and specifically, in Liberman’s words, “the entrenchment of Iran and its proxies” there.

Washington’s Dangerous Fixation on Iran

Doug Bandow

United States President Donald Trump appears to worry a lot about Iran, a concern that is shared by his secretary of state and national security adviser. They were so worried about a nuclear Iran that they revoked the international agreement known as the Iran deal, which was supposed to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. Instead, Trump now demands Iran’s de facto surrender. However, the administration is so far is backed only by Israel and Saudi Arabia, which want America to do their dirty work. Why is the Trump administration so fearful of Tehran? Iran is a struggling regional power. It lags well behind its competitors in economic and military clout. Even its greatest enemy, Saudi Arabia, dismisses the Islamic Republic as being no match.

Soros Is Hyping the Existential Threat to Europe

By  Leonid Bershidsky 

Any instance of political turmoil in one of Europe’s bigger economics triggers predictions of the imminent collapse of the European Union or the euro area. The latest prophet of doom is George Soros, who recently proclaimed that “everything that could go wrong has gone wrong” for Europe. But at such moments, I’m with James Gorman, Morgan Stanley’s chief executive officer, who said the billionaire’s analysis was “ridiculous.” Soros’s warnings are typical of the “Europe is in danger” school of thought. In a speechto the European Council on Foreign Relations in Paris on May 29, he said the path to oblivion started with the euro zone’s “fiscal retrenchment” after the financial crisis of 2008, which turned a once-equal alliance of nations into a union of creditors and debtors. That led to a surge in populism, which was exacerbated by the mishandled refugee crisis of 2015.

The EU Must Realize That Populism Is a Symptom of Real Policy Failure

Dr Angelos Chryssogelos

Europe is set to enter a new period of political uncertainty after two populist parties in Italy, the Five Star Movement and the League, agreed to form a new government together. After a week of uncertainty that has spooked markets, Italy, the eurozone’s third and the world’s eighth-largest economy, finds itself run by two populist parties that have in the past expressed deep scepticism of Italy’s membership of the eurozone, as well as opposing EU policies on migration. Italy is a country where the two major EU crises of previous years cross paths. Italy has suffered both from long-standing economic malaise, made more acute in the years of the eurozone crisis, and a mounting migration crisis in the Mediterranean. In both cases, Five Star and the League have fostered the perception of many Italians that the EU not only failed to help but outright harmed Italy by imposing upon it punishing economic reforms and leaving it without help to manage the influx of refugees on its shores.

Missile attacks reflect changing strategic landscape


While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marched in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Immortal Regiment in memory of Russian fighters who died in World War II, Israel was getting ready to retaliate for an Iranian rocket attack on Israeli military units in the strategically sensitive Golan. Israel attributed the missile attack to Iran’s al-Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) operating in Syria. The Quds Force reports directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, who certainly authorized the Iranian strike and must take full responsibility for the consequences.

The financial scandal no one is talking abou

By Richard Brooks

In the summer of 2015, seven years after the financial crisis and with no end in sight to the ensuing economic stagnation for millions of citizens, I visited a new club. Nestled among the hedge-fund managers on Grosvenor Street in Mayfair, Number Twenty had recently been opened by accountancy firm KPMG. It was, said the firm’s then UK chairman Simon Collins in the fluent corporate-speak favoured by today’s top accountants, “a West End space” for clients “to meet, mingle and touch down”. The cost of the 15-year lease on the five-storey building was undisclosed, but would have been many tens of millions of pounds. It was evidently a price worth paying to look after the right people.

How to win a trade war

By Peter Morici 

For decades, China has waged a trade war, targeting U.S. industries and stealing jobs from ordinary American workers, while multinationals, Wall Street banks and the Ivy Leaguers and engineers they employ have been co-opted, made rich and used as advocates of appeasement to both Republican and Democratic administrations. President Obama’s weakness on trade — along with the left’s assault on religious liberty and obsessions with guns, race and gender — put Donald Trump in the White House. Unfortunately, his administration appears clueless about how to win at negotiations with China, and the recent truce announced by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will not likely hold up.

America Is Not Ready for the Drone Threat

Jason Snead John-Michael Seibler

Drones are exploding in popularity, but if certain nefarious individuals have their way drones may soon be actually exploding. There is a real potential for enemies to use drones to harm Americans and damage our nation’s critical infrastructure. Already, overseas terrorists are deploying drone bombers. Domestic criminals are also using drones to commit an array of crimes, including ferrying contraband into prisons, with disastrous consequences. Earlier this month, an FBI official reported that a drone swarm disrupted a hostage rescue operation by driving agents from their observation post. Unfortunately, efforts to counter such threats are currently hamstrung by a series of federal laws that make it difficult, if not impossible, for law enforcement agencies to effectively interdict or engage a drone. The reason for this is because doing so would risk criminal prosecution for violating U.S. laws that make it a crime to damage or destroy an aircraft, hack a computer, or interfere with wireless communications, among others.

Are We Headed for a ‘Cyber Cuban Missile Crisis’ with Russia?


Bottom Line: The risk posed to U.S. national security by what are believed to be Russian-backed hacking groups, is similar to the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis according to Cipher Brief Experts, but different, in that the U.S. has no clear and obvious deterrent this time around. Recent Developments: The FBI recently forced its way between a hacking group known as ‘Sofacy’ – believed to be linked to the Russian military – and the unwitting owners of more than half a million wireless routers. Armed with a court order, The Bureau seized control of a broad network of infected routers as well as the domain it believed was serving as the command and control infrastructure of a world-wide botnet.

State-sponsored cyber attacks deserve tougher responses: ASPI report

By Stilgherrian 

Naming and shaming isn't enough. Deterrence in cyberspace requires consequences. Potential adversaries should put on notice about what's unacceptable, and what will happen if they cross the cyber line. 

"If cyberattacks really pose a significant threat, governments need to start thinking of them like they think of other incidents in the physical world," says a new policy paper from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).


Jason Scott


According to the British Spy Service, MI5, espionage is “the process of obtaining information that is not normally publicly available, using human sources (agents) or technical means (like hacking into computer systems). It may also involve seeking to influence decision-makers and opinion-influencers to benefit the interests of a foreign power”. The collection of unclassified publicly available information can be considered espionage but is generally not thought of as damaging unlike the collection of classified data. This type of information can be harmful to the national security and economic well-being of countries. 

Is AI the answer to Army electronic warfare troubles?

By: Mark Pomerleau 

This is especially true for Army soldiers deployed in Europe. Those officers have to deal with cell phones, radio communications and other types of spectrum interference in an environment regularly contested by Russia, considered a peer adversary. Officials say officers are saturated with sensor information that they must turn into actionable intelligence. Now, the Army is looking to artificial intelligence and machine learning to lessen the load. Specifically, through the Rapid Capabilities Office, the service is trying to help those officers through a challenge to help classify signals.

Signs of sophisticated cellphone spying found near White House, U.S. officials say

Craig Timberg

A federal study found signs that surveillance devices for intercepting cellphone calls and texts were operating near the White House and other sensitive locations in the Washington area last year. A Department of Homeland Security program discovered evidence of the surveillance devices, called IMSI catchers, as part of federal testing last year, according to a letter from DHS to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on May 22. The letter didn’t specify what entity operated the devices and left open the possibility that there could be alternative explanations for the suspicious cellular signals collected by the federal testing program last year. The discovery bolsters years of independent research suggesting that foreign intelligence agencies use sophisticated interception technology to spy on officials working within the hub of federal power in the nation’s capital. Experts in surveillance technology say that IMSI catchers — sometimes known by one popular brand name, StingRay — are a standard part of the tool kit for many foreign intelligence services, including for such geopolitical rivals as Russia and China.

Does Honor Matter?


What is the virtue we most urgently need more of in America today? A few obvious answers come to mind: honesty, to counteract the corruption at the highest levels of government; compassion, to spur action to help the poor and powerless; patience, to deal with an increasingly toxic public discourse. But in his new book, Tamler Sommers, a philosopher at the University of Houston, argues on behalf of a more unexpected virtue—one that some people don’t consider a virtue at all. What Americans ought to cultivate, he writes, is a sense of honor. “Honor,” he writes in Why Honor Matters, is “indispensable … for living a good life in a good and just society.”