17 August 2018

How the U.S. Helped Prevent North Korea and South Korea From Reaching Real Peace in the 1950s


In the long history of Korea, nothing compares to the 20th century division of the peninsula or the war that followed. That war has not finished, and a peace treaty remains elusive. China, North Korea and South Korea all seek a peace treaty, but 11 U.S. presidents since 1953 have been unwilling to agree. If President Trump turns out to be the exception, that shift could help put an end to more than a half-century of conflict — and the role of the United States in determining whether peace arrives is not a small one. Neither is it coincidental: in fact, the U.S. has played a key role in keeping the conflict going as long as it has. The division of Korea is not what Franklin Delano Roosevelt intended as World War II ended. As President, he had discussed with British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin an “international trusteeship” of Korea that would help bring the country out of Japanese colonial rule and restore its sovereignty. But Roosevelt died in April 1945 and President Truman had different priorities. The change of thinking by the Truman administration led to a change of direction that altered the course of history in northeast Asia.

The Changing Risk Landscape

This graphic plots the change in the perceived likelihood and impact of various societal, technological, geopolitical and environmental risks between 2012 and 2018. For more on resilience and the evolution of deterrence, see Tim Prior’s chapter for Strategic Trends 2018 here. For more CSS charts, maps and graphics on risk and resilience, click here.

History’s Lesson Regarding Russian Cyber Warfare

Daniel Hoffman

Ten years ago this month, war erupted between Russia and Georgia after Georgian troops attacked South Ossetia and shelled the town of Tskhinvali, in response to alleged Russian provocations. Russia justified its military action based on countering Georgia’s aggression- President Medvedev’s called the attack an attempted “genocide” against innocent civilians. Seeking to discredit Georgia’s national sovereignty, Russia also portrayed the conflict as a proxy war against the U.S., the first of its kind since the end of the Cold War. Russia blockaded the Georgian coast with its Black Sea Fleet, dispatched combat troops to Abkhazia to deter a Georgian attack, and conducted combat air missions against Georgian targets. Using a justification which would be repeated when Russia annexed Crimea, Medvedev claimed there were regions where Russia has “privileged interests” to defend the rights of Russians wherever they might be located. South Ossetia and Abkhazia declared their independence, and Russia created a “frozen conflict”, which would serve Russia’s national security strategy by indefinitely delaying Georgia’s NATO membership.

Trump’s Secret War on Terror


President Donald Trump has dramatically expanded the war on terror. But you—and perhaps he—would never know it. Since he came into office, Trump has reportedly abandoned Obama-era rules governing the use of drones in non-combat theaters such as Somalia and Libya. Whereas Obama operationally expanded but bureaucratically constrained drones’ use, from what we can tell, Trump’s new rules instead vest strike decisions with military commanders, without requiring approval from the White House.

The Missile Arsenal at the Heart of the Israeli-Iranian Rivalry

Iran and Hezbollah will continue efforts to enhance their missile and artillery capabilities by threatening Israel where it is most vulnerable; in the economic realm. In response, Israel will seek to lobby Washington and Moscow to restrict Tehran's activities in Syria. In the event of a war, Israel will seek to take a load off of its missile defense system by launching a ground incursion into Syria or Lebanon to destroy possible launch pads for Iranian or Hezbollah missiles as well as the projectiles themselves. Following a string of recent successes, Syria's government is in a dominant position as the Syrian civil war transitions to a new phase. Meanwhile, the two largest outside powers involved in the conflict — the United States and Russia — are looking to make an exit as their primary foes lose ground. But even as the war appears to be winding down for some, it's beginning to ramp up for one key player: Israel.

Looking Back on the Russian-Georgian War, 10 Years Later

By Eugene Chausovsky

Russia's invasion of Georgia in August 2008 gave it a new geopolitical foothold after decades of weakness in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse. The war paved the way for Russia to increase its influence throughout Eurasia, although the collapse of global oil prices and the Euromaidan uprising in Ukraine later demonstrated the limits of Moscow's reach. In the years since, Russia has maintained its clout on the world stage and revived its rivalry with the West, which, in turn, has redoubled its support for Georgia and other countries in the region.

The Unlikely Activists Who Took On Silicon Valley — and Won

By Nicholas Confessore

The way Alastair Mactaggart usually tells the story of his awakening — the way he told it even before he became the most improbable, and perhaps the most important, privacy activist in America — begins with wine and pizza in the hills above Oakland, Calif. It was a few years ago, on a night Mactaggart and his wife had invited some friends over for dinner. One was a software engineer at Google, whose search and video sites are visited by over a billion people a month. As evening settled in, Mactaggart asked his friend, half-seriously, if he should be worried about everything Google knew about him. “I expected one of those answers you get from airline pilots about plane crashes,” Mactaggart recalled recently. “You know — ‘Oh, there’s nothing to worry about.’ ” Instead, his friend told him there was plenty to worry about. If people really knew what we had on them, the Google engineer said, they would flip out.

1 big thing: How the robot revolution is changing our lives

We're entering a new, robot-fueled tech boom that is already disrupting the world's balance of power, and is changing how we fight wars, stay alive, drive, work, shop and do chores. The future is now: We keep talking about what's coming, but we're already on the leading edge of a profound global change that will create tremendous opportunity for new power and wealth. In this new age of automation, businesses are frantically installing machines and algorithms that eventually will make them far more efficient — and wipe out jobs and sectors at blinding speed. This has touched off a tech race between the U.S. and China. And the other major economies — the U.K., France and South Korea in particular — are also spending big to own a piece of this future.

We should fear the use of killer drones like in Venezuela – all you need is £5,000 and some tinfoil

Barry Jenkins

The last Zeppelin attack off Great Yarmouth during the First World War was unintentionally marked a hundred years ago to the day by the drone attack wreaking similar terror from the skies on Nicolas Maduro. But we are long past the days of manned Zeppelin raids. The new kid above the block is an illegally modified drone. They have been around for decades, but the Venezuelan attack has now dramatically put them centre stage. And having designed force protection solutions against this type of small hybrid threat in both Iraq and Afghanistan, this attack came as no surprise to me. 

Space Warfare Is Here


The White House has announced its intention to create a space force. Until now, a series of treaties have prevented the weaponization of space. Yet, even with things like the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 and other fantastical agreements, space has been militarized almost from the start. The only reason no space war occurred during the Cold War was that the technology to get humans into space was so rudimentary and the costs of such operations were too high. Today, costs have come down and space is much more accessible (as it should be) to humans. As the costs for entering a strategic domain lower, the potentiality for warfare increases. This is a fact of human nature: we compete with each other.

When Would Russia's Cyber Warfare Morph Into Real Warfare? Refer To The Tallinn Manual

James Conca

Cyberspace is the new global battlefield and its soldiers sit in front of computer screens. What happens when the escalating cyberattacks by Russia on our most critical industries - energy, finance, healthcare, manufacturing and transportation – succeed too well? Like a hippo being nibbled to death by a thousand piranha, the United States is an old cyber behemoth bleeding from the savvy carnivores of the digital age. Our regulations are not current, our defenses are not adequate and our people’s understanding is not sufficient. We are wide open to attack. It is no wonder that Russia has developed a suite of more and more effective cyber weapons that are being used against the United States and several other nations around the world. With impunity.

Army Cyber Command has many roles

David Vergun 

WASHINGTON — A misconception of U.S. Army Cyber Command’s mission is that it’s only about defensive and offensive cyber, said Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty. But equally important, he said, are other “tribal members” of ARCYBER — signals intelligence, electronic warfare and information operations. Fogarty, commander of ARCYBER, spoke Aug. 2 during an Association of the U.S. Army-sponsored forum on cyber warfare. ARCYBER needs to provide the combatant commander with an entire array of options from each of those communities that will provide him or her freedom of movement on the battlefield and deny the same to adversaries, Fogarty said. “We want to present multiple dilemmas to the enemy, not just cyber,” he said.

Science Board Advises Fighting War Without End in Cyberspace

Robert Levinson

A Pentagon advisory panel recommends that the military and other government agencies seek authority to engage in a permanent state of conflict in cyberspace. It also recommends that the military become much more deeply involved in protecting key private-sector networks. The Defense Science Board, an independent federal advisory committee providing scientific advice to the Defense Department, in July released the executive summary of its report, “Cyber as a Strategic Capability.” The summary promotes the idea that the military’s efforts in cyberspace must be integrated with the other agencies of the U.S. government as well as the private sector. No. 15 of the report’s 16 recommendations would direct DOD officials to review existing statutes governing Pentagon and U.S. action in cyberspace and “update or draft replacement language to enable continuous offensive and defensive actions for protecting and promoting national interests in cyberspace.”

Air and Missile Defense Integration Needed Now…More Than Ever

By Dave Mann, Dick Gallagher
“Success no longer goes to the country that develops a new technology first, but rather to the one that better integrates it and adapts its way of fighting…Cultivating a lethal, agile force requires more than just new technologies and posture changes; it depends on the ability of our warfighters and the Department workforce to integrate new capabilities and adapt warfighting approaches. -SECDEF Mattis; 2018 National Military Strategy

The Threat

It has never been more important to integrate our current and future air and missile defense capabilities, especially considering the current global threat environment. Potential adversaries have carefully observed U.S. successes in recent conflicts and seek to exploit perceived gaps and vulnerabilities. Given the cost of fielding large land, air, and maritime formations, many are turning to relatively cheaper and “difficult to defend against”

New Navy Boards Will Send Underperforming Officers to Early Retirement

The Navy as a whole is poised to grow in coming years -- but top brass say there's still no room for senior officers who don't carry their weight. In a new move aimed at rooting out officers who are underperforming or causing problems at their units, the Navy on Thursday announced the creation of a new Selective Early Retirement Board, set to convene this fall.  The move was made possible by a provision in the Fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that gives military service secretaries the ability to look within subsets of paygrades to find officers who aren't making the cut, Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke told reporters this week.

16 August 2018

The political stature and clout of the Taliban is rising in Afghanistan

Taliban’s political stature rises with talks in Uzbekistan 

ISLAMABAD (AP) — In a rare diplomatic foray and the strongest sign yet of increasing Taliban political clout in the region, the head of the insurgents’ political office led a delegation to Uzbekistan to meet senior Foreign Ministry officials there, Uzbek and Taliban officials said. Taliban political chief Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai represented the insurgents in the four-day talks that ended on Friday and included meetings with Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov as well as the country’s special representative to Afghanistan Ismatilla Irgashev. The meetings follow an offer made by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in March to broker peace in Afghanistan.

Inside Bangladesh’s Bloody War on Drugs

Arrested and killed: inside the Bangladesh prime minister’s war on drugs 

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh police arrested Riazul Islam as he was walking home from his in-laws’ house. At 3:15 a.m., he was shot dead in a sandy field beside a set of railroad tracks north of Dhaka. Police say he was killed in a gunfight with other drug dealers, and they recovered 20 kg of marijuana from the site. His parents say the officers extorted money from them and then killed him. “I knew my son was in police custody. All of a sudden my son was dead. I couldn’t believe it. The police took money and they still killed him,” said his mother, Rina Begum. Bangladesh is the newest frontline in state-backed drug crackdowns in Asia, and Islam is one of more than 200 people shot dead by police in Bangladesh since May, when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the campaign.

China’s New Missile Force: New Ambitions, New Challenges

Adam Ni and Bates Gill

At the end of 2015 the missile branch of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Second Artillery Force (第二炮兵部队), was formally elevated to a full service and renamed the Rocket Force (火箭军; PLARF) part of a sweeping drive to improve the PLA’s joint operations, command and control, and combat effectiveness. The establishment of the PLARF signals the increasing importance of conventional and nuclear missiles to PLA warfighting and deterrence capabilities. It also foreshadows continued, substantial investment in missile force modernization at both tactical and strategic levels in the years ahead. Since its creation, the PLARF has made notable progress in upgrading missile capabilities, reorganizing command and control systems, developing realistic combat training for its troops, and growing its pool of talent. However, deep-seated challenges remain in all these areas. This two-part series will examine the rationale for the PLARF’s creation, its mission, and the challenges that stand in its way. The challenges are real, and could frustrate the PLARF’s aspiration of becoming a world-class missile force if not addressed effectively.

The Chinese GULAG: U.N. says it has credible reports that China holds million Uighurs in secret camps

U.N. says it has credible reports that China holds million Uighurs in secret camps 

GENEVA (Reuters) - A United Nations human rights panel said on Friday that it had received many credible reports that 1 million ethnic Uighurs in China are held in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy.” Gay McDougall, a member of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, cited estimates that 2 million Uighurs and Muslim minorities were forced into “political camps for indoctrination” in the western Xinjiang autonomous region. “We are deeply concerned at the many numerous and credible reports that we have received that in the name of combating religious extremism and maintaining social stability (China) has changed the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internship camp that is shrouded in secrecy, a sort of ‘no rights zone’,” she told the start of a two-day regular review of China’s record, including Hong Kong and Macao.

China, The Language Of Virtue, And The Global Order

by James Watt

From a Western viewpoint, never has the international scene looked more provisional, more uncertain. Some of the confusion is self-inflicted (Trump, Brexit). Some results from a century of political failure and social crisis inflicted for the most part by outsiders (the Middle East). Western weakness has been exploited (Ukraine, Crimea). Western control of global economic governance is challenged by the greatly increased size and trading weight of developing economies. Foremost among these of course is China.