20 August 2018

An alignment for peace in Afghanistan

Over the past year, the long war in Afghanistan has seen no strategic breakthroughs. And in fact, a major battle is now being waged in the city of Ghazni. Yet, according to some diplomats, recent moves by the United States, the Taliban, and the elected government in Kabul may offer the best hope yet for a settlement. Such optimism rests on the US maintaining its current approach. This includes strengthening the Afghan government and its security forces while eliminating any terrorism threat, especially from the Afghan branch of Islamic State (ISIS). It also means strengthening international support for a peace deal, notably by pressing Pakistan to play a constructive role.

Time for the US to Stop Supporting Pakistan’s Military Rule

By Mark Hannah

The election of former cricket star Imran Khan as Pakistan’s next prime minister comes at a pivotal moment. Khan must decide whether he will try to break the Pakistani military’s stranglehold over policymaking and institute much needed reforms, or preserve the status quo and become the generals’ charismatic puppet. Unfortunately, the current U.S. policy of supporting the country’s military at the expense of its civilian government risks nudging him in the wrong direction. Pakistani democracy is often seen as a “charade.” The military enjoys a virtual monopoly over foreign and economic policy, and the country’s parliament is dismissed as a mere patronage scheme, which preserves family fortunes and perpetuates tribal dominance. But Western critics often fail to appreciate how their own governments have undermined the country’s democratic institutions and empowered its unelected military rulers.

Whatever happened to Osama bin Laden’s original Al Qaeda in Afghanistan?

Wesley Morgan

The troops waging America’s 17-year-old war in Afghanistan are confronting a puzzle: What has become of the enemy who drew them there? Al Qaeda, the group whose Sept. 11 terrorist attacks provoked the U.S. invasion in 2001, has shrunk to relative obscurity among the military’s other missions in Afghanistan, supplanted by newer threats such as a local branch of the Islamic State. And it is a matter of debate how much Al Qaeda’s remaining Afghan presence still focuses on launching attacks overseas, according to current and former military officers and government officials, experts, and Afghans from areas where the group operates.

The Haunting Memories of the PAK-1 Crash

By Fred Burton

On Aug. 17, 1988, the Pakistani presidential aircraft, code-named PAK-1, plummeted out of the sky into a dusty field outside Bahawalpur in southeastern Pakistan. Within a matter of hours, I found myself overlooking the still-smoking crater that the C-130 Hercules aircraft had dug into the earth in a region near the Pakistani border with India. The investigation that followed, long before the days of instant internet and cellphone communications, may have been the most complex I'd ever worked in my career as a special agent for the U.S. State Department.

Losing by "Winning": America's Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria

By Anthony H. Cordesman 

The U.S. has now reached the point where the third Administration in a row is fighting wars where the U.S. often scores serious tactical victories and makes claims that it is moving toward some broader form of victory but cannot announce any clear strategy for actually ending any given war or bringing a stable peace. Once again, a new Administration seems to have focused on the tactical level of conflict and called this a strategy but has failed to have any clear strategy for ending the fighting on favorable terms. More than that, the new Administration seems to have accepted the legacy of the previous Administration by largely abandoning the civil side of each war. It is dealing with major insurgencies and civil war as if they were limited terrorist movements. It has no clear civil-military strategy, plans for stability operations, or options to create the level of governance and development that could bring a lasting peace. It has no grand strategy and is fighting half a war. 

Assam’s ‘Miya’: Proving You Are Indian

By Priyanka Borpujari

“Finally, we are Indians.”

Rubul’s relief and elation, his identity no more in question, travels over the long distance phone call from Guwahati as he speaks with me. The 24-year-old social worker – whose official name is Iftikar Hussein Siddiqui – recently found his name on the second draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which was released on July 30. His name, including those of his entire extended family, was missing from the first draft that was released on January 1, 2018. With his family now mentioned on the second list, Rubul – a Bengali-speaking Muslim man living in the northeastern Indian state of Assam – feels that he will no longer need to prove his patriotism in India.

Sirisena does a Rajapaksa, changes stand on Chinese investments


Over the last few years, Sri Lanka has become a case study of how Chinese money and clout have the capability to buy favors and concessions. The government under Mahinda Rajapaksa gave China a free hand in how it chose to invest in Sri Lanka. Beijing put a lot of money into economically non-viable though strategically important projects, especially the Hambantota Port and Airport. With time, the projects failed to achieve any benefit for the Sri Lankan economy. Rajapaksa lost the presidential elections in 2015 to Maithripala Sirisena. The issue of mounting Chinese debt played a major role in the latter’s victory. However, the Hambantota loan forced the Sri Lankan government to lease the port for 99 years to a Chinese shipping company with the hope of repaying the debt in due course.

The Man in Xinjiang

Ottessa Moshfegh
The guidebook said that if we got off the bus at a certain point on the Karakoram Highway, a shepherd would greet us and let us stay in a yurt for a modest fee. The highway was a dirt road in Xinjiang, in northwestern China. I was travelling with a man I’ll call Tim, and we had been on buses for more than twelve hours. When we reached a pasture between snow-capped mountains and saw Karakul Lake glittering in the distance, we got off. The bus pulled away, and it was suddenly very quiet, the late-afternoon sky irrevocably clear, as if nothing bad could happen—not here, not anywhere.

Why Western Digital Firms Have Failed in China

Feng Li

The widely touted reasons for these failures include censorship by the Chinese government and cultural differences between China and the West. While these factors undoubtedly have played a role, such explanations are overly simplistic. Google, for example, has succeeded in dominating many foreign markets that have radically different political systems and cultures (including Indonesia, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia). And these factors have not stopped Western multinationals from succeeding in China in car manufacturing, fast-moving consumer goods, and even sectors where culture plays a key role, such as beer, coffee shops, fast food, and the film industry. There are deeper reasons behind the systematic failure of Western digital firms in China. (The term “digital firms” refers to those companies that from their inception have focused on digital services enabled by the internet and related technologies, including mobile. It does not include traditional IT firms that rely on sales of hardware or software as their main source of revenue.)

Pentagon barred from funding Confucius Institutes on American campuses

By Josh Rogin

Concern about Chinese influence operations on American campuses hit a new high this year after officials at Arizona State University bragged about mixing the school’s Pentagon-funded Chinese language programs and its Chinese Communist Party-funded Confucius Institute. Now, all schools may have to choose between Washington or Beijing paying for its students to learn Chinese. Tucked inside the $716 billion John McCain 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that President Trump signed Monday is a provision barring any U.S. university from using Pentagon resources for any program involving Confucius Institutes, Chinese government-funded language schools embedded inside U.S. colleges. In the future, any universities that have Pentagon-funded and Chinese government-funded Chinese language programs will have to secure a Pentagon waiver if they want to keep both.

Rebalancing China and Bracing for the Trade War

It has been 40 years since Deng Xiaoping launched China’s “reform and opening up” policy. By most metrics, China’s economic “miracle” has indeed been nothing short of preternatural, with some 800 million people rising out of poverty over the span of just a few generations and the country becoming an indispensable part of the global economy. But this growth happened neither evenly nor sustainably, and it’s running out of the sort of low-hanging fruits that fueled China’s rise.

Why the U.S. and Others Are Casting a Wary Eye on Foreign Investment From China

Kimberly Ann Elliott

While the U.S.-China trade war has been getting the headlines, investors from China are running into resistance in countries around the world, including the United States. Typically, governments welcome foreign investment, especially local governments, as a mechanism to create—or save—jobs, reinvigorate their economies and gain access to new technologies. Growing investment outflows from China, however, are pushing some national governments to take a more skeptical look at Chinese money. 

China’s photo reconnaissance spy satellites are getting better fast

Andrew Tate

A Chinese Earth-observation satellite launched on 31 July from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre may be capable of achieving ground-image resolution of 10 cm or less. If confirmed, this would give China a satellite-imaging capability second only to the United States and possibly comparable to the maximum resolution provided by US imaging satellites. China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency reported that the Gaofen 11 satellite is an “optical remote-sensing satellite” that was carried aloft by a Long March 4B rocket “as part of the country’s high-resolution Earth observation project”. An article in the Science & Technology Daily , the news outlet of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, noted that the satellite’s ground resolution was “at the sub-metre level”.

China’s military capabilities are booming, but does its stodgy defense industry mirror that trend?

Mike Yeo

MELBOURNE, Australia — China’s massive military modernization program over the past two decades has been matched to a large degree by a parallel development in its state-owned military-industrial base, and that trend is set to continue as China continues it efforts to build up its forces to challenge U.S. military primacy in the western Pacific. Despite accusations that a lot of the technology has been acquired through espionage or outright intellectual property theft, there is no question that China’s military might has taken a big leap in capabilities since the turn of the century as it has transformed itself into an economic powerhouse.

Control Issues are Feeding China's 'Discourse Power' Project

by E. John Gregory

The Chinese Communist party-state recently ordered international airlines to change their website destination lists to convey the false impression that the democratic bastion of Taiwan is part of Communist China. Faced with the possibility of losing access to one of the world’s largest and fastest growing markets for international aviation, the airlines complied .
Being able to control what comes out of foreigners’ mouths is fundamental to the Party’s current multibillion-dollar push for what it has coined its international “ discourse power (huayu quan) ,” an effort the Chinese State Council has identified as a multifaceted strategic imperative. Translating this Foucauldian-soundingneologism huayu quan as “discourse power” reflects the Party’s internationalization of its domestic discourse-practice.

Turkey's Economy Takes a Tumble. What's Next?

After recent elections, the biggest challenge for the Turkish government was stabilizing the worrisome economy. But poor U.S.-Turkey relations and investor uncertainty about Turkey's ability to stabilize its volatile economy have pushed its currency, the lira, to an all-time low. Its crash is pressing on the country's dollar-denominated debt and raising questions about whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will temper his political moves to allow room for economic stabilization.

What Happened?

Heat: the next big inequality issue In India

by Amy Fleming with Ruth Michaelson
Source Link

When July’s heatwave swept through the Canadian province of Quebec, killing more than 90 people in little over a week, the unrelenting sunshine threw the disparities between rich and poor into sharp relief. While the well-heeled residents of Montreal hunkered down in blissfully air conditioned offices and houses, the city’s homeless population – not usually welcome in public areas such as shopping malls and restaurants – struggled to escape the blanket of heat. Benedict Labre House, a day centre for homeless people, wasn’t able to secure a donated air-conditioning unit until five days into the heatwave. “You can imagine when you have 40 or 50 people in an enclosed space and it’s so hot, it’s very hard to deal with,” says Francine Nadler, clinical coordinator at the facility.

The reality of digital in oil and gas

By Matt Rogers

Digital has been the big buzz word in the industry for some time now – but what exactly does it mean. McKinsey & Company Senior Partner Matt Rogerssat down with the Financial Times US Industry and Energy Editor, Ed Crooksin the first of the Digital Dialogues in Oil & Gas series to discuss the impact of digital in the industry.

For more on this conversation, click here.

Trump, Seeking to Relax Rules on U.S. Cyberattacks, Reverses Obama Directive

Mr. Trump signed an order on Wednesday reversing the classified rules, known as Presidential Policy Directive 20, that had mapped out an elaborate interagency process that must be followed before U.S. use of cyberattacks, particularly those geared at foreign adversaries. The change was described as an “offensive step forward” by an administration official briefed on the decision, one intended to help support military operations, deter foreign election influence and thwart intellectual property theft by meeting such threats with more forceful responses. It appeared to be the latest effort by the Trump administration to address doubts, spurred chiefly by the president’s repeated equivocation about Russian interference in the 2016 election, that it is taking national security cyberthreats—particularly those posed by Moscow—seriously enough.

Lockheed Takes Another Shot at Multi Domain War

SUFFOLK, VA: Multi-domain command and control, one of the most important efforts the Pentagon is pursuing, is getting plumbed again by Lockheed Martin at its fourth wargame this week where the company will be testing four systems it believes can fuse data from sensors around the world and allow rapid communications to troops. “Integrated teams” of air, space, and cyber experts representing the transparently named country of “Pacifica” will be planning missions and creating kinetic and non-kinetic effects. That’s a major shift from the war game I attend a year ago, when separate groups of space, cyber and air tried to work together through a command and control unit.

The U.S. Needs a Cyber Force More Than a Space Force

By James Stavridis

Sadly, the proposal for a new U.S. Space Force is has become a punchline on late-night TV. It is being battered as a needless new bureaucracy, a competitor for the private sector, and an idea that will lead to a vicious militarization of space. None of these arguments is correct. Many of those denigrating the idea are under-informed and spring-loaded to dislike the idea because it is proposed by President Donald Trump. I have plenty of policy disagreements with the Trump administration, but on this issue it is boldly going in the right direction. And while the idea of a space force is smart, the new service component we really need is a Cyber Force. And it makes a lot of sense to bring both of these small, elite, high-tech branches to life right now.

How To Get An Open Source Developer Job In 2018

Louis Columbus

The 2018 Open Source Jobs Report published by The Linux Foundation and Dice.com provides many useful insights into which skills are the most marketable, the technologies most affecting hiring decisions, and which incentives are most effective for retaining open source talent. Taken together the many insights in the study provide a useful roadmap for recently-graduated students and experienced open source, developers, and technical professionals. The study is based on a survey of over 750 hiring managers representing a cross-section of corporations, small & medium businesses (SMBs), government agencies and staffing firms worldwide in addition to 6,500 open source professionals. Additional details regarding the methodology can be found in the report downloadable here (PDF, 14 pp., opt-in). The following findings show how strong demand is for developers with open source expertise and which skills are in the most demand.

Don’t make this big machine learning mistake: research vs application

These days, everyone’s getting in on Machine Learning (ML). It’s definitely a great direction to pursue for many businesses since it gives them the ability to deliver tremendous value in a fairly quick and easy way. The demand for machine learning skills is at an all time high. There’s a nice comprehensive report done by McKinsey about how AI is shaping industries and where the opportunities are.


After having the Declaration of Independence read to his troops, General George Washington issued the order, July 9, 1776: “Commanding officers of each regiment are directed to procure Chaplains … persons of good Characters and exemplary lives – To see that all inferior officers and soldiers pay them a suitable respect and attend carefully upon religious exercises. The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger – The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier, defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country. … The peace and safety of his Country depends (under God) solely on the success of our arms.”

To win future conflicts, combatant commands must be integrated

By: Mark Pomerleau  

The head of Strategic Command has outlined a vision for the future to better integrate war-fighting functions and capabilities to keep pace with adversaries in an increasingly dynamic environment. Responsible for a diverse set of missions, STRATCOM has been structured in stovepipes: the nuclear triad (itself three stovepipes), space, conventional global strike and missile defense. Yet Gen. John Hyten, speaking Aug. 13 at the annual DoDIIS conference in Omaha, Nebraska (STRATCOM’s home), envisions a future in which the command is one innovative war-fighting team that deters conflict and delivers decisive capabilities from, in and through all domains, wherever and whenever needed.

U.S. Special Operations Command’s Future

As U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) celebrates its 30thanniversary, it faces a future characterized by increasingly complex, dynamic, and ill-defined security challenges. And since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, USSOCOM has been at war for half of its existence. During this period, USSOCOM has rapidly evolved into a global enterprise with broad joint warfighting, interagency, and international partnering responsibilities.1 To better address the highly complex challenges of modern conflicts, USSOCOM developed the USSOCOM Design Way (SDW), an approach to problem-solving that encourages creativity, critical thinking, and innovation.

Approaching a “New Normal”: What the Drone Attack in Venezuela Portends

Colin P. Clarke 

When two drones, each equipped with a kilogram of powerful plastic explosives, were used on August 4 to attempt to assassinate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, it may have ushered in a foreboding new era—terrorism by unmanned aircraft. The use of weaponized drones by lone individuals and small groups—some acting as proxies of nation-states—is no longer just a concern for the future, but very much for the present. The proliferation of certain emerging technologies has effectively diffused power and made it available at the lowest levels. The barriers to entry have never been lower for individuals to gain access to commercial off-the-shelf technology that can be used to lethally target individuals. Lone actors or small cells of terrorists, criminals, or insurgents can effectively harness the tactical flexibility of a small drone to wreak havoc, including potentially using a drone to take down an airliner.



The U.S. military has been ordered to evaluate the critical language skills of its personnel within the next six months, according to the National Defense Authorization Act signed Monday by President Donald Trump. The 2019 NDAA has made specific reference to the languages spoken by top U.S. foes, including Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and the various nations and groups across the Arab World. In one section, the act calls directly on Defense Secretary James Mattis to review the U.S. military's foreign language capabilities by February and report back to Congress with the results. 


Gil Barndollar

Perhaps no army in history has ever juggled as wide and challenging an array of campaigns and conditions as the British Army did from 1897 to 1945. Battling enemies from Burma to Belgium, the British Army rapidly transformed itself from a small imperial constabulary to a war-winning conscript mass army, shrank back almost overnight, and then repeated the trick barely twenty years later. Through it all, from the height of empire to the Pyrrhic victory of the Second World War, one of the army’s few constants was ceaseless mountain warfare on the Northwest Frontier of India. The Northwest Frontier, now the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, is a mountainous region that sits above the fertile plain of the Indus valley. Today the FATA is known as a sanctuary for the Taliban, a lawless region rife with insurgents, arms manufacturers, and drone strikes. But the Frontier, and especially its heartland of Waziristan, has always been a source of trouble for its neighbors. Living in poor, rocky land with little opportunity for more than subsistence farming, the Pathan (or Pashtun) tribesmen of the Frontier raided and stole from the rich Indian lands to the south for millennia. The Frontier also provided a route for more serious invaders. Indeed, in the entire recorded history of India the British had been the lone conquerors not to come from the northwest. 

19 August 2018

The Modi Phenomenon and the Remaking of India

Brahma Chellaney

In the four years that he has been in office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has animated domestic politics in India and the country’s foreign policy by departing often from conventional methods and shibboleths. A key question is whether the Modi era will mark a defining moment for India, just as the 1990s were for China and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s return as prime minister has been for Japan. The answer to that question is still not clear. What is clear, however, is that Modi’s ascension to power has clearly changed Indian politics and diplomacy.

India’s Place in the New World Order

Anirudh Kanisetti

Over the last two weeks, US President Donald Trump has claimed thattraditional allies such as the EU are “foes”, barely averted a trade war, and has insisted that the US will put its own interests first. What such actions mean for a world order which was underpinned by American economic and military might is not clear. Already, as the global economic centre of gravity shifts towards Eurasia[1], countries like China are subverting international norms to national interest. This has led to speculation[2] about the New World Order that may emerge. This phrase tends to enter popular discourse in periods of international turmoil. In the aftermath of WWI, for example, American President Woodrow Wilson outlined Fourteen Points for a “new world”[3]. It is increasingly obvious that we live in a similarly pivotal period. It’s worth asking, then, what kind of new world order will we see, and what would it mean for India?

Planning for the Future

New trouble for India: China occupies North Doklam, with armoured vehicles & 7 helipads


New visuals show PLA deployment is close to last year’s face-off point and hasn’t thinned down as Indian Army chief Gen. Rawat claimed last week.

Need to focus on state government finances

Rajani Sinha

The widening of the fiscal deficit has re-emerged as a cause of concern for the Indian economy. There is a fear that the Central government could overshoot its fiscal deficit target for FY19 as goods and services tax (GST) revenue has been falling short of target and there could be increased expenditure commitment in a pre-election year. Also worrying are the finances of state governments. As per a recent Reserve Bank of India (RBI) report on state government finances, the consolidated fiscal deficit of the state governments in FY18 was 3.1%, against the budget estimate of 2.7%.

Opinion: Did Trump forget his own Afghanistan strategy?

This month, a year ago, US President Donald Trump announced his administration’s Afghanistan strategy in a speech in Arlington, Virginia. Trump admitted that his initial instinct was to pull out of what was already by then a 16-year-old war. However, he understood that an immediate withdrawal would not provide “an honourable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made”. Trump decided to commit the US to the battle without the Barack Obama-style withdrawal timelines. Even as his speech was being widely pilloried in Washington, there was also a view, notably in India, that Trump’s strategy deserved a fair chance.

Taliban Fighters Rout Afghan Security Forces Across Country


Any illusions that the Taliban were interested in negotiating a peaceful settlement with the Afghan government and its international partners have been dashed by four days of grueling fighting across the country, during which the Taliban have reportedly occupied Ghazni city and wiped out up to 100 Afghan commandos in a demoralizing blow to Afghan security forces. Since August 10, the U.S. military has launched at least 24 airstrikes from B-1 bombers, A-10 Thunderbolt II attack craft, AH-64 Apache helicopters, and MQ-9 Reaper drones to support Afghan troops and police fighting to retake Ghazni, killing more than 140 Taliban fighters, Resolute Support spokesman Army Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell told Task & Purpose

Why Sushma Swaraj Is Wrong On The ‘Rising Hindu Count’ In Bangladesh

by Shantanu Guha Neogi

Persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh is not a new phenomenon. Rather, it could be truly said that neither Bangladesh, nor India, nor even the international community care about their plight seriously enough to warrant a public conversation in recent times. Yes, there are some noble and courageous people from both countries and the outside world working with genuine concern to draw the attention of the international community to the fate of Bangladeshi Hindus, but the world at large, and not to forget certain vested interests, is indeed working overtime to ‘cleanse Bangladesh of unfaithfuls.’ On 19 July 2018, when Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj declared in Parliament that the number of Hindus in Bangladesh had increased by 1 per cent, she did so by accepting Bangladesh government records as axiomatic.

Maldives: A crisis in paradise

Bruce Riedel

The Maldives are the central part of a chain of islands that begins on the west coast of India with the Lakshadweep Islands and ends deep in the Indian Ocean at the Chagos Archipelago, including the major American military base at Diego Garcia. The Republic of the Maldives is comprised of almost 1,200 islands spread out over 35,000 square miles. It’s the lowest country in the world, with an average height of less than five feet above sea level. Some islands have become home to high-end expensive hotels, and over one hundred islands are resorts. Of its roughly 418,000 people, a majority are Muslims.

Globalization with Chinese Characteristics


The Trump administration’s “America First” policies have done more than disqualify the United States from global leadership. They have also created space for other countries to re-shape the international system to their liking. US President Donald Trump’s erratic unilateralism represents nothing less than abdication of global economic and political leadership. Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, his rejection of the Iran nuclear deal, his tariff war, and his frequent attacks on allies and embrace of adversaries have rapidly turned the United States into an unreliable partner in upholding the international order. But the administration’s “America First” policies have done more than disqualify the US from global leadership. They have also created space for other countries to re-shape the international system to their liking. The influence of China, in particular, is likely to be enhanced.

This is why China could collapse like the Soviet Union

Source Link

China’s dying labour-force boom, like the Soviet Union’s in the 1970s, may not revive even with Silk Road project’s heavy investments.

What causes empires to fall?

According to one influential view, it’s ultimately a question of investment. Great powers are the nations that best harness their economic potential to build up military strength. When they become over-extended, the splurge of spending to sustain a strategic edge leaves more productive parts of the economy starved of capital, leading to inevitable decline. That should be a worrying prospect for China, a would-be great power whose current phase of growth is associated with an increasingly aggressive military posture and a tsunami of capital spending in its strategic neighborhood.

Burying ‘One Child’ Limits, China Pushes Women to Have More Babies

By Steven Lee Myers and Olivia Mitchell Ryan
Source Link

BEIJING — For decades, China harshly restricted the number of babies that women could have. Now it is encouraging them to have more. It is not going well. Almost three years after easing its “one child” policy and allowing couples to have two children, the government has begun to acknowledge that its efforts to raise the country’s birthrate are faltering because parents are deciding against having more children. Officials are now scrambling to devise ways to stimulate a baby boom, worried that a looming demographic crisis could imperil economic growth — and undercut the ruling Communist Party and its leader, Xi Jinping.

Trump’s Trade War Is Rattling China’s Leaders

By Keith Bradsher and Steven Lee Myers
Source Link

BEIJING — China’s leaders have sought to project confidence in the face of President Trump’s tariffs and trade threats. But as it becomes clear that a protracted trade war with the United States may be unavoidable, there are growing signs of unease inside the Communist political establishment. In recent days, officials from the Commerce Ministry, the police and other agencies have summoned exporters to ask about plans to lay off workers or shift supply chains to other countries. With stocks slumping and the currency dropping 9 percent against the dollar since mid-April, censors have been deleting a torrent of criticism online, some of it directed at President Xi Jinping’s leadership. State news outlets, by contrast, have sought to promote the official line, with the authorities restricting the use of the phrase “trade war.”

Xi Jinping Thought Is Facing a Harsh Reality Check


Rumors were racing everywhere I went in Beijing this July. Had a secret coup toppled the government? Was the Chinese economy on the verge of collapse? Had popular discontent, triggered by U.S. tariffs, reached the point of explosion? One deeper question lurked beneath these others: Had Xi Jinping—China’s top leader, who presents himself as all but omnipotent—overstepped his limits thanks to overconfidence in the inevitability of China’s rise? At the center of this question are not simply the facts that fill headlines about China under Xi. The “personality cult” that Xi has built up since coming to power in 2013 is extraordinarily visible—on posters, on websites, in competitions to read the president’s work with the most sincerity—and some observers criticize it as reminiscent of the Mao era’s fervid devotion to the “Great Helmsman.” The intensified repression that Xi has overseen across China, especially in the western province of Xinjiang, which has become an unprecedented “digital police state,” has been condemned around the world.

Turkey's Economy Takes a Tumble. What's Next?

After recent elections, the biggest challenge for the Turkish government was stabilizing the worrisome economy. But poor U.S.-Turkey relations and investor uncertainty about Turkey's ability to stabilize its volatile economy have pushed its currency, the lira, to an all-time low. Its crash is pressing on the country's dollar-denominated debt and raising questions about whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will temper his political moves to allow room for economic stabilization.

What Happened?

Iran Is Throwing a Tantrum but Wants a Deal


Even in its afterlife, the Iran nuclear deal continues to polarize. Those who supported the agreement proclaim loudly that Iran will never negotiate any adjustment to it, while its opponents argue U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of it will produce a better deal. Trump himself seems to believe a better deal is possible, having recently offered to talk to the Iranians without preconditions. On Monday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei indicated he disagrees, declaring: “I ban holding any talks with America. … America never remains loyal to its promises.” Khamenei’s ban came after Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, had already insisted: “The Iranian people will never allow their officials to meet and negotiate with the Great Satan, we are not North Korea.”

Terrorism: U.S. Strategy and the Trends in Its “Wars” on Terrorism

By Anthony H. Cordesman 

The United States has now been at war in Afghanistan for some seventeen years and been fighting another major war in Iraq for fifteen years. It has been active in Somalia far longer and has spread its operations to deal with terrorist or extremist threats in a wide range of conflicts in North and Sub-Saharan in Africa, South Asia, and South East Asia. In case after case, the U.S. has moved far beyond counterterrorism to counterinsurgency, and from the temporary deployment of small anti-terrorism forces to a near "permanent" military presence. The line between counterterrorism and counterinsurgency has become so blurred that there is no significant difference. 

The Turning Point of 2008


At first glance, the Georgian war ten years ago this month and the global financial crisis that erupted the following month seem unrelated. But this is to neglect the deeper currents driving the confrontation in the Caucasus. Ten years ago this week, Russian tanks halted a few hours’ march short of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. That short war in the Caucasus brought down the curtain on nearly two decades of post-Cold War Western hegemony in Europe. Encouraged by US President George W. Bush’s administration, Georgia had initiated NATO membership talks, impelling Russian President Vladimir Putin to defend the red line he had drawn the previous year. Russia, Putin announced at the Munich Security Conference in February 2007, would regard any further eastward expansion of Western institutions as an act of aggression.

The security strategies of the US, China, Russia and the EU: Living in different worlds

This report analyzes and compares the security strategies of four major international actors: the United States, China, Russia and the European Union. The rules-based liberal international order is increasingly under strain due to tightening geopolitical competition and the decline of the Western hegemony. In this context, the report explores the conceptions of the four major powers with regard to the world order, the self-defined position of each actor in it, and their possible aspirations to change the existing order. Furthermore, the report analyzes how each strategy defines security threats and risks, as well as ways to address these threats. The report highlights the ongoing rapid change of global structures and instruments of power as a challenge addressed in all four strategies. Increased competition is visible not only in the field of military power, but also in economic relations and at the level of values. While the US strategy defines Russia and China as key adversaries whose increasing influence is to be contained, both Russia and China correspondingly aim at building a counterweight to the US power in a multipolar world. Among the four actors, only the EU maintains a strong commitment to the rules-based order and explicitly rejects a worldview centred around zero-sum rivalry between great powers.

How higher-education institutions can transform themselves using advanced analytics

By Mark Krawitz, Jonathan Law, and Sacha Litman

Many college and university leaders remain unsure of how to incorporate analytics into their operations. What really works? Leaders in most higher-education institutions generally understand that using advanced analytics can significantly transform the way they work by enabling new ways to engage current and prospective students, increase student enrollment, improve student retention and completion rates, and even boost faculty productivity and research. However, many leaders of colleges and universities remain unsure of how to incorporate analytics into their operations and achieve intended outcomes and improvements. What really works? Is it a commitment to new talent, technologies, or operating models? Or all of the above?

Why Hitting the Gas on Car Tariffs Could Stall Everyone

The United States will continue to threaten tariffs on the imports of automobiles in an attempt to gain leverage in critical trade negotiations, although it's possible that Washington will eventually enact such tariffs. Mexico and Canada might escape strong measures since they would also inflict domestic harm due to the nature of NAFTA integration, but Washington will strive to extract concessions from the two countries by threatening such measures. Germany and the European Union — which has little overall integration with the U.S. auto market — are most likely to face tariffs, even if Brussels has sought to escape the measures by offering a trade deal to the United States. At moderate risk of tariffs, Japan and especially South Korea will hope to avoid U.S. measures by highlighting their automakers' investments in the United States.

Russia wants universities to design robots for war

By: Kelsey Atherton   
Building robots is a skill, and one that Russia’s Ministry of Defense wants more Russians to have. To that end, the Russian newspaper Izvestia reported Aug. 3 that the Ministry of Defense had completed work on a federal educational standard for “Robotics for Military and Special Purposes,” teaching students at both civilian and military universities how to design new robots. This includes, at the military institutions, robots designed for combat. “Russian Ministry of Defense already has a center for unmanned aerial vehicle training ― it’s the 924th Center, outside of Moscow ― and it’s been operating for about five years at this point and is dedicated to teaching soldiers and officers the operation of various UAVs,” says Samuel Bendett, a research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses. “These academic programs will involve all manner of unmanned military systems, unlike the 924th center, which only deals with UAVs. According to the development standards described here, after several years military students will be able to graduate as engineers, unlike those military students in the 924th center which get an operator certificate after a few months.”