13 October 2018

We’ve All Deceived Ourselves About Why We’re Fighting In Afghanistan


MIKE MARTIN on October 11, 2018
It took me a long time to work out what was going on in Afghanistan. What I saw in front of me—everyone’s behaviour—did not match any of the narratives describing the war. This mess was thrown into stark relief when I observed British company commanders in charge of the predominant fighting unit, a company of approximately 120 soldiers. My job was to train and advise such commanders, and I often worked with them from pre-deployment to the end of their tours in Afghanistan.

Before going to Afghanistan these men spoke, and mostly believed, in an ideologically defined war. By this, I mean the contemporaneous ideology in the army, the organizing principle to our actions: counter-insurgency. The population was the prize to be won, and the Taliban were a scourge on that population. In other words, they felt it really was about democracy, women’s rights, and defeating the extreme Islamist ideology of the Taliban.
Almost as good as a DD-214. 
This idealism never, except in very rare cases, survived the first casualty. Then, subtly, the rhetoric would change, and the war would be stripped back to its essentials: killing the other side, and making sure that your comrade had not died in vain. The war became more visceral. I also saw something else: teams pulling together in a way that I have not seen before or since. This dissonance also extended to the people trying to kill us. It was most obvious with so-called insider attacks when the Afghan army or police that we were trying to train and mentor turned their guns on us. At first, we explained these as ideologically motivated: the Taliban had ‘got to’ certain recruits, and their ideology had caused them to attack us. But, in all the instances that I investigated, there had always been a previous incident involving the killer. Perhaps one of their trainers had slighted them, or they had endured some other humiliation; perhaps revenge had been inspired by something, like their brother’s accidental killing in a coalition airstrike.

Farewell to South Asia

Written by C. Raja Mohan

Two recent developments on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly suggest that “South Asia” as a political construct, at least the one built from top down, may have had its moment. Perhaps it’s time India moved on. According to reports, three of the eight South Asian foreign ministers left the room after making their speeches at the annual gathering in New York. They were from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and India. This could just be a clash of schedules in a busy diplomatic week in New York. But it also says something about the deepening crisis of credibility of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

China's Just Been Caught Spying. Or Has It?

By Matthew Bey

The accuracy of a report that China inserted specialized chips in electronic hardware used by the U.S. government and major companies still needs to be verified. Nevertheless, the United States will use the claim as evidence in its wider campaign against China, both domestically and abroad, while working to secure critical aspects of its supply chain. Though Washington may wish to untangle the interwoven supply chains between the United States and China, companies will not do so by themselves, meaning the government will have to enact new regulations if it wishes to enforce change.

In Standoff With China, Trump Opts for Platitudes Over Policy


In a speech last week that seemed as much an effort to catch up to recent events as a formal declaration of policy, Vice President Mike Pence put Beijing on notice that “the United States of America has adopted a new approach to China.” The address, delivered at the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington, for the most part covered familiar ground in terms of American grievances with the bilateral relationship. Having spent the past 20 years seeking to invite China into the international order as a “responsible stakeholder,” the U.S. has now run out of patience over Beijing’s unfair trade practices, domestic repression and assertive militarization of the South China Sea. Perhaps scrambling to lend weight to President Donald Trump’s recent charge of Chinese interference in America’s midterm congressional elections, Pence also added a new item to the list: “a whole-of-government approach, using political, economic and military tools, as well as propaganda,” that China is deploying “to advance its influence and benefit its interests in the United States.”

Why it’s time to end the tit-for-tat tariffs in the U.S.-China trade war

David Dollar and Peter A. Petri

But President Trump’s demands on China have ranged all over the map, demanding at one point that China reduce its bilateral trade surpluses, later that it drop the “Made in China 2025” technology initiative, and now that it eliminate tariffs that adversely affect Republican voters. This new charge of election meddling—which President Trump laid out in remarks on nonproliferation to the U.N. Security Council—has been recently amplified by Vice President Pence in even harsher terms that stopped just short of calling for full disengagement from China.

The EU Can’t Avoid U.S. Sanctions on Iran

By Elizabeth Rosenberg

Late last month, the European Union and China announced that they intended to set up a special global payments system to allow companies to continue to trade with Iran despite U.S. sanctions. Some of the sanctions are already in place, but the bulk will to go into effect in November, thanks to the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year. The announcement marks a small but notable step toward the fragmentation of the global economic order. Friends and foes of the United States were already seeking paths away from the traditional, dollar-dominated financial system. The Trump administration’s policy on Iran provided additional incentive to those who strive to undermine U.S. economic primacy and the effectiveness of U.S. economic statecraft. Washington should take note of the danger.

Will Donald Trump’s Booming Economy Go Bust Before Working-Class Wallets See the Benefits?

BY BILL POWELL AND NINA BURLEIGH

Paul Grilli remembered the implosion clearly. It was April 28, 1982, and the Youngstown, Ohio, native stood across from U.S. Steel’s Ohio Works, one of the last massive plants in the city. His father was an unemployed steelworker. The family watched as four blast furnaces collapsed, brought down by dynamite a few years after the facility had been shuttered. It was the symbolic end of an era. A huge U.S. company had been devastated by Japanese competition. The steel, aluminum and auto industries seemed to be dying. “My father, my uncle, my grandfather, they had all lost jobs. They didn’t know what was going to happen,” recalled Grilli.

The Global Financial System Is Dying in a London Courthouse

BY MAXIMILIAN HESS

In the four years that Russia and Ukraine have been at war, the front line has hardly shifted—and when it has, it has generally been in Russia’s favor, as when the town of Debaltseve was seized in February 2015. Last month, however, Ukraine finally notched a major victory. It wasn’t the result of fighting in the Donbass but rather a ruling by the Court of Appeal in London. The fact that a London courthouse has become one of the key battlefields of the war underscores that there’s far more at stake in the Russia-Ukraine war than territory in eastern Ukraine—the fate of the international financial system, at least in its current shape, also hangs in the balance. The only thing that is certain is that, as a result of the war in Ukraine and the ongoing court case it has produced in London, the global financial system will never be the same.

Merkel: Germany Should Emulate Asia

By George Friedman 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has proposed a new model to help increase the competitiveness of European companies. On Monday, she said she disagrees with the European Union’s approach to corporate organization and antitrust regulation. Similar to the U.S. model, the European policy has been to avoid having one or even a few major players dominate an industry by encouraging competition and limiting corporate mergers. This is in contrast to places like China, as Merkel noted, where a very small number of telecommunications companies provide services for a very large population. Merkel predicted that more mergers in Europe would come in the future. In her view, “if we want to keep up, we’ll have to be able to develop ‘global players.” 

What We're Reading

By Walter Isaacson

There are so many dimensions to Einstein’s mind that any statement about it is by definition insufficient. After reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of him, I think I will try making some statements anyway. Einstein was a magisterial rejection of common sense. Sir Isaac Newton took the world as it was and provided a rigorous framework for understanding it. Einstein did not reject the world that Newton and the rest of us know; he simply said that that world was surrounded by realities that violate our notions of the obvious. He discovered a set of truths, hidden from view, that was at once brilliant and frightening. Imagine being told one day that what you know about time – that it is fixed, moving at the same rate and in the same direction – is false. That time has a duration and even a direction. Imagine looking at your alarm clock and thinking it is an avatar of another dimension of reality, one that can be compressed and stretched by motion and gravitation and all the other forces that exist within the dimension we thought was fixed and familiar. It’s frightening. What other uncanny strangeness shapes our existence without our knowledge?

Australia’s Other Great (and Threatened) Coral Reefs

By Livia Albeck-Ripka

MELBOURNE, Australia — The United Nations issued a dire alert on Monday, warning that many of the world’s coral reefs could die as soon as 2040 as a result of climate change. Already, warming waters have bleached more than two-thirds of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, which covers more than 130,000 square miles and is visible from space. But the Great Barrier Reef, despite its status, is not the only unique or threatened marine ecosystem in Australia. Here are some other Australian ecosystems to keep in mind:

How climate change could be a spark to create a better world


One great taboo in the climate change debate is how much has improved over the past three decades: in public perception; in transnational consensus and determination; in scientific understanding and discovery. To stress these things seems to ignore the urgency of the situation, minimise the scale of the potential disaster, and let the air out of tyres that really need to be at their most pneumatic. As climate scientists “politely urge, ‘act now, idiots’”, (as the life-affirming BBC news story has it) the last thing we should do is congratulate ourselves on how far we’ve come. The fact that global warming has gone from something routinely dismissed as the dreamchild of cranks to the animating campaign issue of the age, over roughly the same period as we’ve forgotten all kinds of other basics of progressive politics – how to argue for universal human rights, for example – is at best a diversion, at worst a bromide.

The Willing, the Hesitant and the Late-comer

By Christine Nissen and Peter Albrecht

Starting from different points of departure, the Nordic countries are coming closer together regarding their outlook on security, due to a perceived Russian threat and lack of American leadership. Multilateral forums like NATO, the EU and the UN remain their best chance of contributing to defining and addressing threats to their own and global stability. 

Recommendations 

The Nordic states must promote multilateral and institutional responses, particularly at a time when they are under considerable pressure.

The Nordic states can use their different organisational memberships to promote common Nordic interests in regional security in the Baltic Sea. 

8 ways the NSA is spying on you right now


Five years on from the revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) collects personal data on every American—and many more people worldwide—the storm has passed. But, the NSA continues to monitor every American and the citizens of many allied countries, with the backing of the U.S. government and large portions of Congress. And it’s not only the NSA—its counterparts at the CIA are also spying on and hacking targets of interestIt is important to learn about the methods the NSA uses to spy on citizens. Once you understand how your liberties are violated, you can start defending your data and reclaim your privacy.

Pentagon struggling to meet cyber challenges, as modern warfare goes high tech

By Carlo Muñoz

The Pentagon’s increasing reliance on cutting-edge technologies, from semi-autonomous weapon systems to artificial intelligence applications, have revolutionized America’s way of war but also exposed critical gaps in the department’s cybersecurity operations. Investigators at the Government Accountability Office found the Defense Department’s approach to protecting vital cyber networks and the systems that operate some of the Pentagon’s most advanced weapons from attack is woefully inadequate. As U.S. military leaders increasingly rely on largely autonomous weapons, with cyber-based command and control systems, the threat of those weapons being compromised through network attacks will only get worse, a new GAO report released Tuesday states.

Cyber Offensive Operations: Is There a Digital Delta Force?

Kane S. VanVuren

As cyber-attacks become more frequent and cause more damage, the US government and the vast majority of private and commercial companies dig deeper into a defensive posture. Offensive cyber operations do not happen, except for maybe a few confidential US military or government (NSA) operations that cannot be confirmed or denied. Over 90 percent of the internet, including the massive amounts of data the travel through it; belong to non-government entities that so far are unable to punch back against their attackers. 

‘A Perfect Harmony Of Intense Violence’: Army Chief Milley On Future War

By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR

AUSA: How will the US fight the next war? Today, the Army’s top general declared that the military means “to shift from battles of attrition to battles of cognition, where we think, direct, and act at speeds the enemy cannot match in order to achieve a perfect harmony of intense violence.” The goal is to combine US forces on land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace in a seamless multi-domain operation, assailing the enemy from all sides at once until they’re overwhelmed. The Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, is famous for his blunt and powerful rhetoric, which sometimes achieves a kind of brutal poetry. At the Association of the US Army conference two years ago, Milley declared that the spread of long-range sensors and precision weapons means that, “on the future battlefield, if you stay in one place longer than two or three hours, you will be dead.” But at this year’s AUSA, his last before his term as Chief is over, Milley set forth a confident vision of how the US Army can prepare to prevail on this kind of battlefield.

Religion and the Prevention of Violent Extremism

By Owen Frazer and Anaël Jambers for Center for Security Studies (CSS)

Owen Frazer and Anaël Jambers highlight that one of the more sensitive topics in discussions on preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) has been the relationship between violent extremism and religion, and the implications for P/CVE programs. In response, our authors here offer five tips for Western governments for a religion-sensitive approach to P/PVE, which include the need to 1) engage with religious viewpoints; 2) address the context-specific social, economic and political drivers that influence extremist groups; 3) avoid linking religious identities and violence, and more.

White House warns of ‘domestic extinction’ of suppliers in industrial base report - and DoD is ready to help with cash

By: Aaron Mehta 

WASHINGTON — A combination of Chinese influence and budgetary uncertainty means America’s defense industrial base is decaying at the lower levels, with some vital suppliers facing “domestic extinction,” a new study from the Trump administration is warning — and direct investment from the administration appears to be the solution. The study, the result of an executive order issued by president Donald Trump last July, also warns that if the situation is not remedied, the Pentagon faces “limited capabilities, insecurity of supply, lack of R&D, program delays, and an inability to surge in times of crisis.”

LEAKED TRANSCRIPT OF PRIVATE MEETING CONTRADICTS GOOGLE’S OFFICIAL STORY ON CHINA

Ryan Gallagher

“WE HAVE TO be focused on what we want to enable,” said Ben Gomes, Google’s search engine chief. “And then when the opening happens, we are ready for it.” It was Wednesday, July 18, and Gomes was addressing a team of Google employees who were working on a secretive project to develop a censored search engine for China, which would blacklist phrases like “human rights,” “student protest,” and “Nobel Prize.” “You have taken on something extremely important to the company,” Gomes declared, according to a transcript of his comments obtained by The Intercept. “I have to admit it has been a difficult journey. But I do think a very important and worthwhile one. And I wish ourselves the best of luck in actually reaching our destination as soon as possible.”

Many of the US Military’s Newest Weapons Have Major Cyber Vulnerabilities: GAO

BY PATRIK TUCKER
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Testers achieved access with simple tools, default passwords, and long lists of known-yet-unfixed vulnerabilities. Many U.S. weapons have “mission-critical cyber vulnerabilities,” including some currently under development and some whose flaws were first identified years ago, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, or GAO.

This new approach to powering the soldier could transform capabilities

By: Todd South  

And with each new device or capability comes not only more weight and space on the kit, but another item that needs a processor and powerThat translates to a host of burdens on not just the soldier, but also on the long logistical tail that supplies the dismounted troop on the front edge of battle. Traditionally, the focus was to reduce battery weight, extend battery life, and shave ounces on everything to save pounds overall. That work continues, but one budding initiative is taking a different approach. A new program at Program Executive Office Soldier seeks to look at the soldier’s kit much like a smartphone, and the individual items as the apps that are downloaded to give the system new capabilities. Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, who leads PEO Soldier, sat down with Army Times recently to lay out some of the early stages of the project called Adaptive Soldier Architecture.

12 October 2018

How India saved the Empire in the First World War

Andrew Lycett

Indian participation in the First World War has had a poor press. Less than two decades ago, John Keegan, doyen of military historians, voiced a generally held professional opinion when he dismissed the Indian army as "scarcely suitable" for the Western front. George Morton-Jack's fluent and colourful account of the Indians' role across the globe tells a different story. It shows how crucial they were to Allied success, especially early in the conflict. Lord Curzon, the former Viceroy, said that they "arrived in the nick of time", while the pugnacious Conservative politician F E Smith stated unequivocally that they "saved the Empire".

We Can't Win—and Don't Have To—in Afghanistan

By Charles V. Peña

This month marks the anniversary of America's longest war: 17 years in Afghanistan. On this anniversary we must ask, why are we still engaged in what amounts to a forever war? Even before he was a candidate for president, celebrity citizen Donald Trump tweeted in 2013: "We should leave Afghanistan immediately" and "Let's get out of Afghanistan." But he's done a complete reversal as president. In August 2017, President Trump acknowledged that his “original instinct was to pull out" but that "our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made, especially the sacrifices of lives." Indeed, the president declared, "We will fight to win,” but what President Trump needs to understand is that we can't win and, more importantly, we don't have to win.

When America forgets about those who are dying in Afghanistan

BY AMBER SMITH

While most of America has been fixated on the Kavanaugh accusations and the Senate’s embarrassing attempt to handle those, the eighth U.S. service member of 2018 was killed in America’s longest war on Thursday. You likely didn’t hear about it in the news unless you saw a defense reporter tweet about it or you know a veteran who mentioned it. A single U.S. death in Afghanistan no longer draws media attention because Americans have become apathetic to the never-ending conflict, which has allowed our elected representatives to become indifferent to any sort of sustainable solution or realistic withdrawal.

Nepal: Getting federalism right

by Madhukar SJB Rana

So far, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision for "cooperative federalism" was a commitment shown in public that has not been realised through action and outcome. Under his leadership, his party, the BJP, is forced to pursue a polity without an inclusive outlook. Precisely, all that was said was not done. Of late, Niti Aayog is holding the baton to seek a bottom up development through its "Aspirational Districts Programme"The programme aims to quickly and effectively transform the selected districts. The broad contours of the programme are convergence (of Central & State Schemes), collaboration (of Central, State level 'Prabhari' Officers & District Collectors), and competition among districts driven by a mass movement. With States as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.

China's economic warfare can be just as damaging to U.S.

By L. Todd Wood

As the trade wars with Beijing slog on, we’re learning that China may have infected thousands of American computers in business and in government with tiny microchips in a massive exercise in espionage. As with past episodes of total war, we are in the beginning stages of an all-encompassing conflict with China, waged with economic weapons that can be just as powerful as bullets and bombs when deployed properly. Chinaunderstands how to wage economic warfare very well and has had lots of practice — largely uncontested by the U.S. government — over the last few decades. America is starting to wake up, but it may be too late.

China’s Human Rights Abuses Against Uighurs in Xinjiang

By Hilary Hurd

During a 2013 trip to Kazakhstan, Xi Jinping announced the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI)—China’s ambitious plan to enhance its “friendship” with the rest of the world through expanded investments in infrastructure and trade. Xinjiang, a resource-rich autonomous region in Northwest China lying at the border of Kazakhstan and seven other central Asian countries, was to be a crucial economic artery for this new world-embracing plan. Five years later, Xinjiang looks nothing like Xi’s vision of an internationally cooperative, friendly China. Under the guise of “fighting terrorism,” China has created a large-scale program for the mass surveillance, incarceration and re-education of Xinjiang’s Turkic-speaking Muslims, the Uighurs, as well as other minority groups. These actions clearly contravene China’s international commitments as well as its own domestic law—but it’s unclear what actions the international community will take in response.

China's Just Been Caught Spying. Or Has It?

By Matthew Bey

The accuracy of a report that China inserted specialized chips in electronic hardware used by the U.S. government and major companies still needs to be verified. Nevertheless, the United States will use the claim as evidence in its wider campaign against China, both domestically and abroad, while working to secure critical aspects of its supply chain. Though Washington may wish to untangle the interwoven supply chains between the United States and China, companies will not do so by themselves, meaning the government will have to enact new regulations if it wishes to enforce change.

U.S. Puts Money Where Its Mouth Is on China

BY LARA SELIGMAN

The Trump administration is touting as momentous its shift in military focus away from counterterrorism to competition with peer adversaries such as China—and its boost in military spending to confront Beijing’s economic and military heft. But caps on defense spending and possible setbacks for Republicans in the U.S. midterm elections in November could put the new strategy in jeopardy. Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan outlined the new national defense strategy to a small group of reporters at the Pentagon last week, describing it as “historic.” “It is the beginning of the retooling of the Department of Defense for great-power competition,” he said.

Trump’s US ‘deal’ with the EU puts pressure on China in trade war

By GORDON WATTS 

The distance between Washington and Beijing is more than 11,000 kilometers or nearly 7,000 miles. But it could be light years when it comes to the deteriorating trade dispute between the United States and China. During the past 24 hours, the chasm has deepened after President Donald Trump appeared to take relations between the US and the European Union out of the deep freeze following crucial White House talks. As discussions were about to start with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to resolve the EU trade spat, China’s President Xi Jinping was making his keynote speech at the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg with the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa in attendance.

Will Israel and Iran Go To War in Syria?

By Daniel Byman

Israel was dealt a bad hand when it comes to regional security, and Syria is the latest—and trickiest—card in the deck. On the one hand, the weakness of the Bashar al-Assad regime diminishes a leader whose country has never reconciled its past conflicts and territorial disputes with Israel and often proved a remorseless foe. On the other hand, Iran and Hezbollah are exploiting Syria’s instability, and Israelis fear the country will become a new launching pad for Iranian influence and attacks—essentially, another Lebanon. Ehud Yaari, a respected Israeli analyst, describes the risk of war between Iran and Israel in Syria as “almost inevitable.”

Predicting the Next ISIS

by Colin P. Clarke

With the Islamic State’s caliphate in ruins, one of its affiliates could grow to become even more deadly and operationally capable than the core organization was during its peak in 2015. With ISIS franchise groups and affiliates across the globe, there is no shortage of contenders to supplant ISIS as the world’s most dangerous terrorist group. Many factors could fuel the rise of a new Islamic State (ISIS) offshoot, including the relative weakness of the security forces in the area where the terrorists are operating, so it difficult to discern which affiliate could become the next major threat. Additionally, measuring the threat will require an intimate understanding of an affiliates’ capabilities, the degree to which safe haven and sanctuary are available, and the relative ease with which the group can replenish its resources.

Does Japan Need an Aircraft Carrier?

BY JEFFREY W. HORNUNG

In 1983, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone promised U.S. President Ronald Reagan that he would make Japan into an “unsinkable aircraft carrier.” The irony was, and remains, that Japan has not possessed an actual aircraft carrier in more than 70 years. But that may soon change. The Japanese government is debating retrofitting a class of destroyers to turn them into aircraft carriers. Beyond answering the expected questions of whether such ships would violate its constitution, Japan will need to decide whether the operational need offsets what is expected to be a significant resource strain.

Austria Ignores Threat of Iranian Islamism

by Potkin Azamehr

In June 2018, the Austrian government announced it would shut down seven mosques and expel sixty imams, because of their putative links to Salafi-jihadists or Turkish regime networks. The government’s decision was made in the wake of a 2015 law that banned foreign funding of religious institutions and required Muslim organizations to express a “positive approach towards the society and the state” of Austria. Austria’s determination to clamp down on Sunni Islamist extremism and the Turkish regime network was applauded by some, including prominent think tanks, but condemned by a number of American media outlets. Few have noted, however, that while Sunni extremists are under the spotlight, Shiite Islamists continue to operate with impunity.

The Agreements That Ended the Cold War Are Disintegrating

By: Pavel Felgenhauer

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) was probably the Alliance’s most important and secretive institution during the Cold War. Notably, it worked out NATO members’ joint strategy and tactics for using non-strategic nuclear weapons in a possible all-European war with the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. Such a confrontation seemed all too possible—and sometimes almost inevitable—during acute crisis situations that brought the Cold War opponents to the brink in 1949, 1956, 1962, 1973 and 1983. In the last of the aforementioned crises, tensions spiked as the United States deployed nuclear-tipped land-based cruise missiles as well as medium-range Pershing II ballistic missiles on the territory of several European NATO allies to counter the threat of the deployment of hundreds of Soviet SS-20 nuclear intermediary missiles known in Russia as Pioneer. The Soviets produced over 800 Pioneer missiles, and each carried a heavier payload than the Pershing IIs; but their US counterparts were stealthier and much more accurate.

Will New Technologies Help or Harm Developing Countries?

DANI RODRIK

Trade and technology present an opportunity when they are able to leverage existing capabilities, and thereby provide a more direct and reliable path to development. When they demand complementary and costly investments, they are no longer a shortcut around traditional manufacturing-led development. CAMBRIDGE – New technologies reduce the prices of goods and services to which they are applied. They also lead to the creation of new products. Consumers benefit from these improvements, regardless of whether they live in rich or poor countries.

Who Wins in Trump’s Trade War?

DANIEL GROS

US President Donald Trump has set the scene for an escalating trade confrontation with China, with all of its weighty and unforeseeable geo-strategic implications. But, for the rest of the world – and especially the European Union – the best outcome might be a long Sino-American conflict. The contours of US President Donald Trump’s trade strategy are becoming clearer by the day. America’s trading partners face dramatic threats. But, as the revamp of the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement and the “reform” and renaming of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) demonstrate, most countries need to offer only minor concessions to appease Trump. The only country Trump really cares about – his “public enemy number one” – is China.

Takeaways from the Trump administration’s new counterterrorism strategy

Daniel L. Byman

Like many of its predecessors, the strategy document is often short on specifics, so it’s hard to make too many judgments. However, it correctly warns about the continued danger of the Islamic State even as the group has suffered major losses in Syria and Iraq, the more limited threat posed by al-Qaida affiliates, and the risks that state sponsors of terror like Iran pose to U.S. interests. In addition to standard post-9/11 policies like trying to deny terrorist havens, it also calls for fighting the “hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism,” working with the technology sector and religious leaders, and otherwise taking a broad approach to the problem and to potential solutions.

Geopolitics Keeps Pushing Turkey and Israel Back Together



Turkey and Israel's strategic alliance in the Middle East, fostered by their shared aim to limit Iran and prevent Arab states from aligning against them, will preserve their relationship through most external shocks. Intensifying U.S. efforts to find regional allies it can rely on to contain Iran helps keep the two countries together. Turkey's defense of Palestinian statehood will always be a caustic wedge between the two: While it provides Turkey with important credibility in the Muslim world, it conflicts with Israel’s defense strategy. 

U.S. Auto Tariffs Would Deliver a Particularly Painful Sting to South Korea


Although South Korea renegotiated its free trade agreement with the United States this year, it failed to secure protection from threatened U.S. tariffs on automobiles.  While South Korean auto manufacturing on U.S. shores provides the sector with some insulation, with its reliance on the U.S. market, tariffs would have sweeping effects. However, South Korea's smaller market for imports means that it cannot hope to eliminate the trade deficit. South Korea is likely to offer some sort of side agreement capping auto exports, while also dangling the prospect of stepping up its purchases of U.S. goods and its investment in the country.

Russia is Winning the Information War in Iraq and Syria: UK General

BY KATIE BO WILLIAMS

Moscow is “better than us” in using social media to shape the strategic landscape, says a former deputy commander of the West’s anti-ISIS coalition. A senior general in the international fight against ISIS has a pointed warning for Western governments with troops in Iraq and Syria: You’re being played by the Russians. The Russian and Syrian regimes are mounting “extremely aggressive” information operations, spreading disinformation and distorted narratives on social media in a bid to shape the strategic landscape as the ISIS fight comes to a close, said UK Army Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney, who just finished a year as deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Takeaways from the Trump administration’s new counterterrorism strategy

Daniel L. Byman

Like many of its predecessors, the strategy document is often short on specifics, so it’s hard to make too many judgments. However, it correctly warns about the continued danger of the Islamic State even as the group has suffered major losses in Syria and Iraq, the more limited threat posed by al-Qaida affiliates, and the risks that state sponsors of terror like Iran pose to U.S. interests. In addition to standard post-9/11 policies like trying to deny terrorist havens, it also calls for fighting the “hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism,” working with the technology sector and religious leaders, and otherwise taking a broad approach to the problem and to potential solutions.

How Russian hybrid warfare changed the Pentagon’s perspective

By: Justin Lynch  

In 2014 Russia-backed separatists used a blend of digital and traditional fighting during their takeover of Crimea, and the Pentagon took note. As the Russians blitzed the contested eastern region of Ukraine with cyberattacks, electromagnetic jamming and unmanned aerial systems, the U.S. military closely monitored the battle tactics, according to officials speaking Oct. 8 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meetingWhat Pentagon officials observed sparked change. The events in Ukraine helped the U.S. military become more “threat informed in how we develop our future capabilities,” Maj. Gen. Garrett Yee told reporters while speaking about electronic and cyber warfare. How the Russians embraced hybrid warfare showed just how effective overlapping these tactics could be.

New Report Says Pentagon Cyber Security Is A Huge Dumpster Fire

By PAUL SZOLDRA

It only took an hour for Defense Department hackers to gain access to a weapons system, and just a day to gain full control over it, according to a new Government Accountability Office report warning the Pentagon that it’s “just beginning to grapple with the scale of vulnerabilities” in its arsenal. As DoD systems become increasingly more high-tech and interconnected, the problem of adversaries being able to defeat the military’s weapons systems without firing a shot has only gotten worse over the years. The unclassified report didn’t mention vulnerabilities in specific weapons systems, for obvious reasons, but it did make clear that DoD isn’t doing enough to address the problem. Indeed, the GAO included a table showing a number of warnings it has offered on the issue going back to the 1990s.

The View From Olympus: What’s an Army For?

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Both the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps are failing to meet their recruiting and end-strength goals. One obvious reason is the hot economy which offers plenty of jobs. A less obvious cause, mentioned to me by a friend in the National Guard, is the effect on recruiting of the endless television ads about “wounded warriors”. These ads bring home to young men the unpleasant reality that joining the military can lead to life-changing injuries. A third cause is the endless, pointless wars we continue to pursue in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Whatever the initial rationale for these conflicts was, most people have since forgotten it, including both the decision-makers in Washington and the young men in the recruiting pool. Who wants to sign up to fight halfway around the world for a cause no one can remember?

This new approach to powering the soldier could transform capabilities

By: Todd South 

And with each new device or capability comes not only more weight and space on the kit, but another item that needs a processor and powerThat translates to a host of burdens on not just the soldier, but also on the long logistical tail that supplies the dismounted troop on the front edge of battle. Traditionally, the focus was to reduce battery weight, extend battery life, and shave ounces on everything to save pounds overall. That work continues, but one budding initiative is taking a different approach. A new program at Program Executive Office Soldier seeks to look at the soldier’s kit much like a smartphone, and the individual items as the apps that are downloaded to give the system new capabilities.

11 October 2018

Why Vladimir Putin's India visit is of great significance

KANWAL SIBAL

The 19th annual summit between India and Russia held last week testifies to the highest level attention that both countries give to their bilateral relationship. That India and Russia held their 19th annual summit last week testifies to the highest level attention that both countries give to their bilateral relationship. For Russia, the relationship with India is not the most important and for India, ties with Russia are not uppermost in foreign policy priorities. Yet, the annual summits have been held without break, which is exceptional. This suggests that for Russia, the bilateral relationship is worth nurturing because, apart from direct bilateral benefits, it gives to Russian foreign policy a strong Asian dimension. The esteem that the Indian leadership shows for President Vladimir Putin contrasts with his demonisation by the West.

Pakistani Poker: Playing Saudi Arabia Against China – Analysis

By James M. Dorsey

Desperate for funding to fend off a financial crisis fuelled in part by mounting debt to China, Pakistan is playing a complicated game of poker that could hand Saudi Arabia a strategic victory in its bitter feud with Iran at the People’s Republic’s expense. The Pakistani moves threaten a key leg of the USD60 billion plus Chinese investment in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a crown jewel of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative. They also could jeopardize Chinese hopes to create a second overland route to Iran, a key node in China’s transportation links to Europe. Finally, they grant Saudi Arabia a prominent place in the Chinese-funded port of Gwadar that would significantly weaken Iran’s ability to compete with its Indian-backed seaport of Chabahar.