26 September 2018

Jack Ma’s American Dream Runs Up Against China First

By Pete Sweeney

Jack Ma’s American dream has woken up to a bitter reality. Alibaba’s retiring founder rescinded a promise to create 1 million jobs in the United States. He blamed tariff tensions between the United States and China, but his $420 billion company has not given foreigners a level playing field on his international e-commerce site. Like any exporter, Mr. Ma’s public championing of free trade blends enlightenment with self-interest.

Alibaba.com was originally built to connect small Chinese wholesale manufacturers to overseas buyers. As domestic consumption boomed, however, the export operation was eclipsed by Taobao, Alibaba’s eBay-like marketplace, and the complementary Tmall, which hosts stores for bigger retailers. When Mr. Ma met Donald Trump in January 2017 before his inauguration, the Alibaba chairman vowed that 1 million small American businesses would gain access over five years and lead to a similar number of jobs, helping rebalance trade in the process.

The Future Is in Africa, and China Knows It

Noah Smith

Some Western observers worry that this represents a new form of colonialism. Given the continent’s history with European conquerors and rich countries trying to cheaply exploit its natural resources, that suspicion is understandable. But although China can sometimes be predatory — for example, when uneconomical projects saddle African companies or governments with unpayable debt — the new African investment bears little resemblance to the colonialism of old.

Colonialism, and the pseudo-colonial exploitation that sometimes followed independence, was mostly about extracting natural resources (and sometimes slave labor). Although securing access to natural resources is surely one of China’s goals, its investments in Africa go beyond extractive industries. The sectors receiving the most Chinese money have been business services, wholesale and retail, import and export, construction, transportation, storage and postal services, with mineral products coming in fifth. In Ethiopia, China is pouring money into garment manufacturing — the traditional first step on the road to industrialization.

Ending the Curse in the DRC: A Game of Thrones, Mines and Militias

Erik Grossman

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been in a continuous state of violence since its independence in 1960. For most, the problems of the DRC are multifaceted. These problems include weak democratic traditions and political representation, poor infrastructure, low standards of living, rampant corrupt, and the famed resource curse. Further, few explanations have been as pervasive as the argument that historical tribal enmities are the true scourge in the Congo. Ethnicity and identity however, are often exploited by warlords to increase recruitment and feign legitimacy, rather than a driving factor. This has been rightly referred to by Wendy Isaacs-Martin, an African scholar and professor with the University of South Africa, as "opportunistic associations of convenience”.

Trump's cyber strategy: what they are saying

By Derek B. Johnson 

The Trump administration's new cyber strategy is meant to clarify the roles of different federal agencies in a new, more-aggressive posture to combat and deter nation-state hacking groups.

The reaction to the rollout was largely positive across the political spectrum, even as Democrats and Republicans acknowledged much of the actual strategy contains little that is new or different from the strategies proposed (though not necessarily implemented) by past administrations.

A statement from Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) indicates there may still be some work left to do hashing out the various roles played by different agencies. Ratcliffe said the House Homeland Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection subcommittee he chairs will collaborate with the White House to "define DHS' specific role in its implementation" to "most effectively address our top cyber priorities both foreign and domestic."

Stop Fighting a War Against a Tactic

Abigail Gage

The United States is engaged in an unusual global war, fighting a tactic rather than an enemy nation. Unlike traditional warfare, it is possible that this war between the US and terrorist networks will not produce a clear winner. The US and its allies have been involved in military engagements over the past decade and a half, costing the US taxpayer an estimated $1.5 to $5.6 trillion dollars. The longer the US remains embroiled in this armed conflict, the less likely it is that such a war ends favorably from an American perspective. While US defense strategy will need to include counter-terrorism efforts for decades to come, it is time to end the war by beginning to reframe the narrative behind the Global War on Terror (GWOT).

The Bolivian Insurgency of 1966-1967: Che Guevara’s Final Failure

Christopher Rodriguez

On October 9th, 1967 at 1:45 PM, Colonel Joaquin Zetenento announced to the world that Che Guevara was dead.[i]Many were surprised to hear the news – and it was even more surprising that he died in Bolivia of all places. Questions began to swirl around his death while world leaders began to take sides concerning his legacy. Some, such as Cuba’s Fidel Castro, publicly mourned his death and vowed to continue Guevara’s vision of global revolution. Others, such as U.S. President Lyndon Johnson, made no such public statements but quietly celebrated the demise of what they saw as a global pest. But the public question remained, what happened to Che Guevara in Bolivia?

Managing the new threat landscape Adapting the tools of international peace and security


In 2018, we face an international security environment measurably worse than that of a mere five years earlier. Increased war-related violence accompanies an international order under challenge and rent by tensions. Global conflict deaths peaked in 2014 at magnitudes second only to the Rwandan genocide during the post-Cold War period. Proxy wars in Ukraine and Syria are reminiscent of the great-power-fueled conflicts of the Cold War.

However, this does not signal a universally more unstable world. Rather, violent conflict is concentrated in specific regions and reflects specific challenges. Four key features of today’s security environment, and one key emerging threat, deserve closer attention from the U.N. and other international actors.

Cuba’s Stalled Revolution

By Richard E. Feinberg and Ted Piccone

For Cuba, 2018 marks the end of an era. For the first time in almost six decades, the country’s president is no longer a Castro—neither the late guerilla fighter, revolutionary caudillo, and international icon Fidel, nor his lower-profile brother Raúl, who succeeded Fidel as president in 2008. This April, the mantle was instead passed to former vice-president Miguel Díaz-Canel, a younger post-revolutionary politician who raised paradoxical hopes of both continuity and change.

Yet for those who imagined that the post-Castro era would quickly bring major reforms, Díaz-Canel’s tenure so far has been sorely disappointing. Five months in, progress in the country has come either slowly or not at all. The island’s economy continues to decline, just as it has since the collapse of the Soviet Union nearly 30 years ago, and this despite the carefully calibrated reforms Raul Castro instituted in 2011. Investment rates are alarmingly low, foreign exchange scarce, and shortages of consumer goods widespread. Many discontented Cubans, especially educated youth, continue to emigrate in search of higher living standards and better career choices, depleting the current and future workforce.

Huawei executive says unified, objective security standard needed to take politics out of 5G roll-out

Li Tao

All countries need to recognise the importance of setting better common standards, adopting ­industry best practice and implementing risk-mitigation procedures to ensure that there is an objective basis for choosing technology vendors, said Andy Purdy, chief security officer of Huawei USA, in a video interview from this week’s Singapore International Cyber event.

Taking politics out of the decision-making process is vital “so there’s an open, objective, and transparent basis for trust, so that the users can trust it, the government can trust it, and the vendors can know what the requirements are”, he said.

Recently, Huawei and ZTE Corp, Chinese providers that have both invested heavily in research and development of next-generation networks, were excluded from building Australia’s 5G infrastructure after Canberra laid out new rules in August, citing national security concerns.

Trump Has a New Weapon to Cause ‘the Cyber’ Mayhem

BY ELIAS GROLL

The White House took a first step this week to fulfill President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to launch “crippling, crippling” cyberattacks on adversaries to protect U.S. computer systems, unveiling a new strategy that will allow the United States to take the offensive in cyberspace. But experts warn that the new cyber strategy risks exposing the United States to blowback and turning the internet into a Wild West of hacking operations.

In rolling out the administration’s new “National Cyber Strategy,” National Security Advisor John Bolton said that Trump had removed restrictions on the use of offensive cyber-operations and replaced them with a more permissive legal regime that gives the Defense Department and other agencies greater authority to penetrate foreign networks to deter hacks on U.S. systems.

Machine Learning Confronts the Elephant in the Room


A visual prank exposes an Achilles’ heel of computer vision systems: Unlike humans, they can’t do a double take.

Score one for the human brain. In a new study, computer scientists found that artificial intelligence systems fail a vision test a child could accomplish with ease.

“It’s a clever and important study that reminds us that ‘deep learning’ isn’t really that deep,” said Gary Marcus, a neuroscientist at New York University who was not affiliated with the work.

The result takes place in the field of computer vision, where artificial intelligence systems attempt to detect and categorize objects. They might try to find all the pedestrians in a street scene, or just distinguish a bird from a bicycle (which is a notoriously difficult task). The stakes are high: As computers take over critical tasks like automated surveillance and autonomous driving, we’ll want their visual processing to be at least as good as the human eyes they’re replacing.

How the UK’s £250m cyber force will wage war on terrorists


According to The Times, experts are being brought in from the military, security services and the cyber security industry to tackle the rising online threat from terrorist groups including Islamic State and from nations such as Russia and Iran. 

The 2,000-strong unit will “quadruple the number of personnel in offensive cyber-roles and marks a step change in the nation’s ability to disrupt and destroy computer networks and internet-connected devices”, the newspaper reports.

“The MoD and GCHQ have a long and proud history of working together,” a government spokesperson told IT Pro. “We are both committed to continuing to invest in this area, given the real threats the UK faces.”

5 things to know about the future of jobs


The future of work is increasingly becoming today’s reality for millions of workers and companies around the world. The findings of our latest Future of Jobs Reportlook at the trends expected in the 2018-2022 period in 20 economies and 12 industry sectors. Here is what you need to know to be ready:

1. Automation, robotization and digitization look different across different industries

High-speed mobile internet, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, and cloud technology are set to spearhead companies’ adoption of new technologies between 2018 and 2022. Many will also look to machine learning and augmented and virtual reality for considerable business investment. By contrast, investment in the kind of robotic technologies imagined in movies and popular fiction will remain somewhat more niche over the period – but is nevertheless picking up pace. Stationary robots are likely to be the most widely adopted by 2022 – but different industries have distinct use cases and preferences.

Machines will create 58 million more jobs than they displace by 2022, World Economic Forum says

By Hamza Shaban

In the next four years, more than 75 million jobs may be lost as companies shift to more automation, according to new estimates by the World Economic Forum. But the projections have an upside: 133 million new jobs will emerge during that period, as businesses develop a new division of labor between people and machines.

The Future of Jobs Report arrives as the rising tide of automation is expected to displace millions of American workers in the long term and as corporations, educational institutions and elected officials grapple with a global technological shift that may leave many people behind. The report, published Monday, envisions massive changes in the worldwide workforce as businesses expand the use of artificial intelligence and automation in their operations. Machines account for 29 percent of the total hours worked in major industries, compared with 71 percent performed by people. By 2022, however, the report predicts that 42 percent of task hours will be performed by machines and 58 percent by people.

The Coming Crime Wars

By Robert Muggah, John P. Sullivan

Wars are on the rebound. There are twice as many civil conflicts today, for example, as there were in 2001. And the number of nonstate armed groups participating in the bloodshed is multiplying. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), roughly half of today’s wars involve between three and nine opposing groups. Just over 20 percent involve more than 10 competing blocs. In a handful, including ongoing conflicts in Libya and Syria, hundreds of armed groups vie for control. For the most part, these warring factions are themselves highly fragmented, and today’s warriors are just as likely to be affiliated with drug cartels, mafia groups, criminal gangs, militias, and terrorist organizations as with armies or organized rebel factions.

Magic Leap is Bidding on an Army Combat Contract

Joshua Brustein

Magic Leap Inc. is pushing to land a contract with the U.S. Army to build augmented-reality devices for soldiers to use on combat missions, according to government documents and interviews with people familiar with the process. The contract, which could eventually lead to the military purchasing over 100,000 headsets as part of a program whose total cost could exceed $500 million, is intended to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy,” according to an Army description of the program. A large government contract could alter the course of the highest-profile startup working on augmented reality, at a time when prospects to produce a consumer device remain uncertain. 

Why History Matters: Making Junior Leaders More Effective

Tyler Fox

With posters on Mission Command adorning virtually every classroom at the US Army’s Command and General Staff College, and with its prominence as one of the pillars of the Army’s Operational Concept, the term Mission Command has become a buzzword.[i] One of the concept’s true benefits relies on quality personnel, and developing those leaders through the proper use of historical case studies can help to not only make military history engaging but also useful in everyday duties for even a young officer or a non-commissioned officer, and contribute to developing quality personnel.

Comparing The Costs Of Submarine Maintenance At Public And Private Shipyards


Recently, several Navy attack submarines have been delayed in receiving maintenance at public shipyards. As a result, they have missed deployments or had shortened deployments. CBO was asked by the House Armed Services Committee to compare the maintenance costs at public and private shipyards.

CBO’s analysis focused on the most common type of overhaul, the Docking Selected Restricted Availability (DSRA), for SSN-688 class submarines. CBO found that no matter which method it used to calculate costs, private shipyards were less expensive, on average, than public shipyards for DSRA overhauls. The methodology and findings in this slide deck will be more thoroughly documented in a forthcoming CBO report.

Data vs. knowledge: Why only the wise understand the difference

TIMOTHY SNYDER

You are leaking data, and absorbing it, says Yale historian Timothy Snyder. But for whose benefit?

Timothy Snyder is the Levin Professor of History at Yale University and the author of On Tyranny, Black Earth, and Bloodlands. His work has received the literature award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Hannah Arendt Prize, and the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

Timothy Snyder:I think that history is a way of dealing with data. One of the things I’m really struck by when I give lectures in Silicon Valley, for example, or when I talk to people who are doing things—that I’m very impressed by, and I’m not going to say that I completely understand them—but one of the things I’m struck by is a certain kind of naïveté that data automatically produces knowledge, which it doesn’t at all.

25 September 2018

India Is Still Losing to China in the Border Infrastructure War

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

It has been a year since India and China ended the 73-day border crisis in Doklam. And for all the focus on the crisis itself and its implications for Sino-Indian relations, it is worth recalling that along their border, Doklam is arguably an exception where the Indian military may be perceived to have a slight advantage over the Chinese military because of its slightly better infrastructure there.

Relatively speaking, however, the infrastructure on the rest of the border is quite appalling. Indeed, unless India accelerates the pace of the physical border infrastructure build-up, New Delhi will face serious difficulties in any future confrontation with China.

US unlikely to succeed in weaning India away from military ties with Russia

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By Sandeep Unnithan

Russian president Vladimir Putin flies into New Delhi in his customised IL-96 jet on October 4 to participate in the 19th instalment of what will be one of the most closely watched Indo-Russian summits. Geopolitical shifts this year have fuelled such uncertainty-India’s perceived tilt towards the US after a recently concluded ‘Two Plus Two’ dialogue in New Delhi last month and the prospect of US sanctions being applied to India if it buys Russian defence equipment. This would explain why New Delhi is currently working out the modalities of what will be a vastly symbolic photo-op during President Putin’s visit-the gift to Russia of a flight-worthy Indian-built MiG-21 during the 19th Indo-Russian Summit on October 5.

The Sino-Russian Entente and India’s Choices

By Harsh V. Pant

Last week saw Russia joining hands with China to conduct its largest military exercises since the Soviet era. Chinese President Xi Jinping was in Russia as well to attend the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok and he bonded with Russian President Vladimir Putin over pancakes, caviar, and shots of vodka. They were sending messages to multiple audiences: to those back home in Russia and China as the two leaders use military nationalism to consolidate their positions at home and then to the West and the U.S. in particular that two major powers are seemingly joining hands.

SCARY! What Pakistan and China's nuclear weapons mean for India


'Once the military starts to draw up plans for using nuclear weapons, then nuclear weapons could be used earlier in a crisis than otherwise.'

Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is growing at a faster rate than predicted, with a reliable report from the non-profit Federation of American Scientists putting the figure at about 150 warheads now.

In the FAS's Nuclear Notebook: Pakistani Nuclear Forces, 2018, the authors, Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris, suggest that this could mean the country is not only on target to have up to 250 warheads by 2025, but that its production of tactical nuclear weapons risked a quicker slide from conventional clashes to a nuclear war.

The Nepalis Fighting America’s Wars

By Peter Gill

In his farewell address days before vacating the Oval Office in 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned Americans about an emerging “military-industrial complex,” saying, “In the councils of government, we must guard against [its] acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought.” The former five-star general added, “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”

Eisenhower was concerned that the rising influence of the weapons industry amid a Cold War arms race would unnecessarily divert government funds from domestic priorities like education, health-care, and infrastructure. In the over-a-half-century since his speech, the role of private defense companies in America’s wars — from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq, and the smaller conflicts in between — has grown immensely. In addition to arms suppliers, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) now relies on contractors to manage most of its bases abroad and to run and guard the bases’ supply lines for everything from diesel to water, food, and laundry services. The DoD receives nearly one-fifth of the U.S. federal budget. In 2013, it spent roughly one-half of this on contractors — in other words, approximately 9 percent of the entire U.S. federal budget went directly to for-profit contractors who arm, supply, feed, and guard the military.

The US-China Trade War is Steering the World into the Unknown

BY ABIGAIL GRACE

A new Cold War is a possibility — but not the most likely one. 

“New U.S.-China Tariffs Raise Fears of an Economic Cold War,” proclaimed a Washington Post headline. The New York Times alleged that the United States and China were already “on the cusp” of such a “new Cold War.” Driving this hysteria was the Trump administration’s Monday announcement unveiling tariffs on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports, followed nearly immediately by a Chinese promise to retaliate. This back-and-forth has been ongoing since January, and a resolution does not seem anywhere close, if one’s even possible.

As the U.S.-China competition expands across multiple domains, there are even worries that trade tensions could, over the long term, make the prospect of a military confrontation between the two more likely. Which raises the urgent question: How does this end?

China’s Surreptitious Advance in Afghanistan

By Shubhangi Pandey

Given the dysfunctional state of affairs in war-torn Afghanistan for the past decades, and the country’s strategic location on the world map, it is unsurprising to witness China’s fast-growing interest in the region. The progressively deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, and the potential risks that could pose to Beijing’s long-term economic and strategic endeavors, is an unsettling prospect for China. However, the geographical proximity between Afghanistan and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China is arguably the most crucial motivation for greater Chinese involvement in the region.

International media outlets and intelligence agencies worldwide have been circulating reports pointing toward the creation of a Chinese military base in the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province for a while now. Although China has not embarked on militarization programs on foreign soil historically, and has profusely denied the rumors about building an Afghan “mountain brigade,” China’s first overseas military base in Djibouti provides an example of China’s newly adopted strategy of leveraging economic influence to further its strategic objectives.

Political Turmoil Throws Australia Off Balance


With a razor-thin majority in parliament, new Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will struggle to build a consensus among members of his Liberal-National coalition and prevent the Labor Party from winning elections next year.

Until Australia solves the problem of parliamentary fragmentation, it will encounter difficulty in balancing economic ties with China and political ties with the United States.

Due to Canberra's mixed signals on its ties with Beijing, China may choose to put engagement on hold until Australia's elections next year.

For the past decade, Australia has been politically adrift. Like some counterparts in the Western world, it has been experiencing a cycle of deep fragmentation, polarization and swings in the political balance that have put its governments off kilter. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's downfall in late August ushered in the country's sixth prime minister in less than a decade — with that period nearly evenly split between the country's two political pillars: the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal-National coalition.

China’s Sea Control Is a Done Deal, ‘Short of War With the U.S.’

By Hannah Beech

NEAR MISCHIEF REEF, South China Sea — As the United States Navy reconnaissance plane banked low near Mischief Reef in the South China Sea early this month, a Chinese warning crackled on the radio.

“U.S. military aircraft,” came the challenge, delivered in English in a harsh staccato. “You have violated our China sovereignty and infringed on our security and our rights. You need to leave immediately and keep far out.”

Aboard the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, flying in what is widely considered to be international airspace, Lt. Dyanna Coughlin scanned a live camera feed showing the dramatic evolution of Mischief Reef.

China could be exposed in trade war as US allies choose compromise

Wendy Wu

Wendy Cutler, vice-president of the Asia Society Policy Institute and a former deputy US trade representative, made the assessment from the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Tianjin, northeast China, following sustained pressure from Trump on US allies to compromise in trade negotiations.

Trump has touted the success of negotiations with Mexico to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement, while Canada is showing signs it may make concessions in its Nafta talks with the US. In July, meanwhile, the EU and US reached a deal pledging zero tariff and zero barriers on non-car products.

Despite efforts by South Korea and Japan to diversify trade patterns, Seoul is about to sign a trade deal with Washington in the coming weeks and Tokyo, a close ally, is also on Trump’s agenda in trade talks.

How China's GPS 'rival' Beidou is plotting to go global

By Pratik Jakhar

China has ambitions for its rapidly expanding Beidou satellite navigation system to serve the whole world, not just Asia, but will it really be able to rival the well-established - and US-owned - GPS system?

Dalintai - a herder in northern China - used to travel miles every day on his motorcycle to deliver water for his livestock.

Now, according to the the Xinhua news agency, all he has to do is send a text message to operate an automated water delivery system.

"I am able to deliver water to my sheep and cattle wherever and whenever I want via this system," he says.

The message is relayed over China's expanding Beidou satellite navigation system, which is already being used used for transport, agriculture and even precision missiles.

U.S. sanctions China for buying Russian fighter jets, missiles

Lesley Wroughton, Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration imposed sanctions on the Chinese military on Thursday for buying fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, in breach of a sweeping U.S. sanctions law punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

In Beijing, the Chinese government expressed anger and demanded the sanctions be withdrawn.

The U.S. State Department said it would immediately impose sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department (EDD), the military branch responsible for weapons and equipment, and its director, Li Shangfu, for engaging in “significant transactions” with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms exporter.

Time for Peace Talks With ISIS and Al Qaeda?

BY MARTHA CRENSHAW

After almost 17 years of focusing on the threat from terrorists, the U.S. defense community has, under President Donald Trump, set its sights back on powerful states. But that might be myopic; terrorism committed by jihadi groups or inspired by jihadi propaganda remains a potent threat. If anything, the future is likely to bring more conflicts that combine transnational terrorism and civil war, more collaboration between jihadis and local non-jihadi rebels, and more splintering and diffusion within the jihadi universe—not less. It will be impossible to eradicate terrorism through military force, as the United States should have already learned all too well, but feasible alternatives for the management or containment of the threat are in short supply. It might therefore be timely to consider negotiations. The United States is prepared to back talks with the Afghan Taliban. It is worth considering whether the same spirit of accommodation—or, more accurately, resignation—could be extended to other groups associated with al Qaeda or even the Islamic State.

Idlib Province and the Future of Instability in Syria


While some claim that an end to the conflict in Idlib marks the final stage of the Syrian war, there are three major factors that will shape the future of instability in Syria:

An estimated 70,000 opposition militants with legitimate grievances against the Assad regime are positioned for a low-level insurgency that could last for years to come. Moreover, an estimated 12 million displaced Syrians offer a potential pool of recruits for this insurgency.

Humanitarian and economic costs totaling an estimated $200-350 billion will require serious outside investment. A failure to address these conditions will almost certainly result in continued instability and a future relapse into civil war.

The presence of outside and non-state military forces —including Russia, Turkey, Iran, the United States, Hezbollah, Syrian Kurds, and others—will continue to pose an obstacle to stability in Syria and exacerbate ethnic and sectarian tensions.

Washington’s Endless Sanctions Are Finally Backfiring

By DOUG BANDOW

Washington is filled with talk of American exceptionalism. Policymakers insist that the U.S. has a unique mission in the world: to represent the aspirations of all mankind. This hubris has become the foundation of American foreign policy, especially when it comes to economic sanctions.

Sanctions proponents routinely extol the supposed benefits of their policies, without ever providing much evidence. Studies have found that sanctions are most likely to work when restrictions are international, applied to a limited number of products, and intended to achieve modest goals. Even then, governments rarely sacrifice fundamental interests in response to economic pressure. Rather, they respond like Washington would in a similar situation, resisting concessions even more fiercely.

Is the World Becoming a Jungle Again? Should Americans Care?

By Steven Erlanger

BRUSSELS — President Trump seems determined to upend 70 years of established American foreign policy, especially toward Europe, which he regards as less ally than competitor.

The Trump turnabout has set off a fervent search on both sides of the Atlantic for answers to hard questions about the global role of the United States, and what a frazzled Europe can and should do for itself, given a less reliable American partner.

The German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, speaking before a conference of all Germany’s ambassadors last month, argued for a stronger European foreign and defense policy in the face of a suddenly uncertain future.

“The rules-based international order” is eroding in a world where “nothing can be taken for granted any more in foreign policy,” he said.

America and China are in a proper trade war


ANOTHER week, a further ratcheting up of trade tensions between America and China. On September 17th President Donald Trump announced that he had approved a further wave of tariffs on Chinese imports. From September 24th, imports of products which in 2017 were worth as much as $189bn, including furniture, computers and car parts, will be hit with duties of 10%. The Chinese have promised to retaliate on the same day with duties on $60bn of American exports. Unless peace breaks out before the new year, the American rate will increase to 25% on January 1st.

The Trade War Just Started

by UPFINA

With the US stock market near its all-time high and having a solid year, it’s easy to miss out on the global growth deceleration. The global economy is by no means terrible, but it has seen deceleration as the global synchronized growth narrative disappeared, with emerging markets feeling a significant burden from the new reality.



White House rolls out new national cyber strategy

By Derek B. Johnson

The Trump administration released its long-awaited cyber strategy to the public on Sept. 20, promising a more aggressive willingness to deploy offensive operations against nation-states and criminal groups in the digital domain.

In a call with reporters, National Security Advisor John Bolton cited a number of high-profile cyberattacks over the past two years, such as 2017 WannaCry and NotPetya, as well as a 2018 attack that shut down much of the IT operations for the city of Atlanta, as examples of how the U.S. and other governments are under siege from both nation-states and criminal hacking groups.

Bolton confirmed press reports that President Donald Trump had officially rescinded PPD-20, an Obama-era presidential directive that laid out a complex interagency process governing offensive cyber operations, earlier this month. A new classified directive will replace it that lays out a “very different” process. While he declined to discuss specifics citing national security concerns, Bolton indicated that the Pentagon, U.S. Cyber Command and “other relevant departments” will be charged with taking the fight to malicious cyber actors in order to deter future attacks.

Regulating free speech on social media is dangerous and futile

Niam Yaraghi

We know that an overwhelming majority of technology entrepreneurs subscribe to a liberal ideology. Despite the claims by companies such as Google, I believe that political biases affect how these companies operate. As my colleague Nicole Turner-Lee explains here, “while computer programmers may not create algorithms that start out being discriminatory, the collection and curation of social preferences eventually can become adaptive algorithms that embrace societal biases.” If we accept that the implicit bias of developers could unintentionally lead their algorithms to be discriminatory, then, with the same token, we should also expect the political biases of such programmers to lead to discriminatory algorithms that favor their ideology.

Data Manipulation: How Security Pros Can Respond to an Emerging Threat


Industry leaders are scrambling to address the issue, which will take new thinking to overcome.

This year, the US government paid out its largest bug bounty yet — during the government run "Hack the Air Force" program — for a vulnerability in its software. The flaw, if not proactively found, would have allowed hackers to run malicious code on its systems and manipulate data. It's the latest example of an emerging threat that has industry leaders scrambling and requires new thinking from security professionals.

Former national intelligence chief James Clapper warned as early as 2015 that "the next push of the envelope" in cyber warfare was likely to involve data manipulation. Now, financial services companies, healthcare organizations, and other industries in which data integrity is critical to business are running cyber war games to figure out how to prepare for such threats.

Inside Facebook’s Election ‘War Room’

By Sheera Frenkel and Mike Isaac

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Sandwiched between Building 20 and Building 21 in the heart of Facebook’s campus, an approximately 25-foot-by-35-foot conference room is under construction.

Thick cords of blue wiring hang from the ceiling, ready to be attached to window-size computer monitors on 16 desks. On one wall, a half-dozen televisions will be tuned to CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and other major networks. A small paper sign with orange lettering taped to the glass door describes what’s being built: “War Room.”

Although it is not much to look at now, as of next week the space will be Facebook’s headquarters for safeguarding elections. More than 300 people across the company are working on the initiative, but the War Room will house a team of about 20 focused on rooting out disinformation, monitoring false news and deleting fake accounts that may be trying to influence voters before elections in the United States, Brazil and other countries.

Britain launches £250m cyber‑force to wage war on terrorists


Lucy Fisher
 
An offensive cyber-force to combat hostile states, terrorist groups and domestic gangs will be set up by the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ, The Timesunderstands.

The £250 million unit will comprise about 2,000 digital warriors, with experts recruited from the military, security services and industry. It will quadruple the number of personnel in offensive cyber-roles and marks a step change in the nation’s ability to disrupt and destroy computer networks and internet-connected devices.

The creation of the force comes as the threat from Russia is escalating and follows successful UK cyber-attacks against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Recruits will also target criminal gangs, including people-traffickers and paedophile rings.

The force is expected to be announced soon and follows a review ordered by Gavin… 

Remembering A Professional Soldier


LUKE FLOWERS

There is a lot of talk about the profession of arms and what a professional soldier should look like.

I would like to share a little about a professional I once had the honor and privilege to serve with.

The Professional was a non-commissioned officer that everybody came to see at one time or another. Regardless of rank or position, the Professional treated everyone with respect and courtesy. When somebody needed a part, or services coordinated, or fluids or tires or a tool; they came to the Professional. If it concerned a piece of military equipment it most certainly concerned the Professional. He didn’t care if you were a line grunt, a driver, a cook with an MKT trailer or a Commander whose vehicle was down.

The Ivory Tower And Academic Ignorance Of What The Armed Forces Actually Do


ADRIAN LEWIS

I have heard a number of my colleagues at the University of Kansas voice their dissatisfaction with the defense budget and the armed forces. They tend to believe the nation spends too much on defense, and that the armed forces are involved in foreign lands doing things they should not be doing.

What bothers me most about these complaints is their ignorance of what the armed forces actually do, and how they benefit. They also tend to equate political decisions made in Washington with the actions of the men and women who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

Since I am sure this situation is not unique to KU — when it comes to the military, people in Ivory Towers tend to be divorced from reality—I think a few facts would be valuable for all. 
The armed forces are considerably smaller than they were during the Reagan years. During the Reagan years the Army had 16 active duty combat divisions, now it has 10. The Army had almost 800,000 soldiers, now it has fewer than 500,000. The Navy had 16 fleet carriers, now it has 11. The Navy used to talk about a fleet of 600 ships, now it has fewer than 300. The Air Force has suffered similar cuts. 

24 September 2018

Here's how India can soar in the Fourth Industrial Revolution


Manufacturing is fundamental to a country’s economic success. Industrialization has driven the growth of many developed economies, boosting innovation and creating jobs. Workers migrating from farms to factories fuelled the economic miracles of Taiwan, Korea, China, Thailand and Singapore, reducing poverty and raising living standards. According to a research report by the World Economic Forum, over 70% of the income variations between 128 nations can be attributed to differentiated manufactured product export data alone. However, despite its past success, the traditional industrial model that propelled many economies into prosperity is now being challenged.