16 December 2018

Fair Observer talks to Brahma Chellaney


Bordered by the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, India is the second most populous country and, arguably, the biggest democracy in the world. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund recognize India as the sixth largest economy on the planet.

Despite significant economic growth in recent decades, India faces its own set of challenges. Poverty in India is still a serious concern, even though the country is no longer home to the largest number of poor people in the world; that country is Nigeria. However, figures show two-thirds of people in India live in poverty.

India’s dynamic foreign policy and the willingness of countries to forge a close partnership with New Delhi as a nascent global power pose a serious challenge to a world order in which the US, Russia, China and the EU are competing for dominance. India’s huge energy demands also mean that oil and gas producers have a difficult job vying with each other and satisfying the needs of the third biggest energy-consuming country in the world.

Are Big Powers Pivoting Towards India? – Analysis

By P S Suryanarayana

China, Russia, Japan and the United States sought to pivot towards India on the margins of the recently-concluded G20 summit. For Delhi, which wants to become a leading power rather than a balancer, the choice of right partners is challenging.

Surprising as it may seem, India was a key interlocutor for both China and the United States, trade adversaries, on the margins of the 13th summit of Group of Twenty (G20) in Buenos Aires on 30 November and 1 December 2018. This was a manifestation of big-power geopolitics.

Besides these two countries, Russia, China’s “coordinating” partner, and Japan, America’s foremost strategic partner in Asia, interacted closely with India on that occasion. Such a flurry of diplomacy was a pointer to the possibility of India being viewed by major powers as a potential swing-state or balancer in the current nebulous global order.
A Flurry of Summits: Indo-Pacific ‘Nucleus’?

PAKISTAN’S CONSOLIDATING CONVENTIONAL DETERRENCE: AN ASSESSMENT

Maimuna Ashraf

Before the overt nuclearization of South Asia in 1998, three major wars between India and Pakistan highlighted the latter’s struggle to bridge the conventional imbalance. During this time, Pakistan’s latent nuclear capability provided an effective deterrent, which served to offset the conventional and nuclear threats from India. However, twenty years since India’s entrance into the nuclear club, followed by Pakistan, conventional deterrence remains integral to the maintenance of strategic stability in South Asia. In view of these developments, this article aims to analyze Pakistan’s strategic direction since the nuclear tests, particularly in terms of its conventional military capabilities.

Political Legitimacy: Why We Are Failing in Afghanistan

By Thomas H. Johnson & Larry P. Goodson

Political legitimacy is the critical foundation for success in governance. Whatever its source, when legitimacy exists a government is secure. Max Weber famously suggested there are three sources of legitimacy—charismatic, traditional, and legal.[1] A government with a high degree of legitimacy cannot easily be challenged, but when legitimacy is low or lacking, any number of issues can undermine a government. In the absence of legitimacy, only the ability to exercise coercive power can secure the state. Niccolò Machiavelli alluded to the belief that it is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot have both.[2] Insurgency theorists and practitioners such as Mao Zedong have argued a key indicator of insurgent success is if the regime in question has 80% legitimacy in the view of its citizens.[3] A government with this level of legitimacy, which is distinct from popularity, is extremely difficult to unseat through an insurgency.

A Path Forward in Afghanistan

By Bharath Gopalaswamy

One year on, there appears to be little to show for U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s strategy for Afghanistan. The administration needs to implement this strategy in a way that creates an opportunity to end the war in Afghanistan while advancing core U.S. interests of defeating terrorism and demonstrating that a moderate Islamic state, aligned with the international community, can succeed.

The Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center convened policymakers, analysts, and diplomats to assess the gaps in and imminent challenges facing the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. In a resulting report, “A Review of President Trump’s South Asia Strategy: The Way Ahead, One Year In,” these experts provide some important recommendations to the administration. Here’s a look at those recommendations.

China’s Boldest Experiment

DANI RODRIK

The conventional wisdom among social scientists is that the demands of advanced economies and growing middle classes can be met only through greater political freedoms and competition. By doubling down on authoritarian single-party rule, China is now testing that proposition.

BEIJING – Forty years ago this month, China’s leaders set the country on a path of reform that has produced the most dramatic economic transformation in history. Mao Zedong had died two years earlier, in 1976, and the newly rehabilitated Deng Xiaoping succeeded in stamping his vision of economic development and modernization on the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee held in December 1978. In the four decades since, China has transformed itself into an economic powerhouse, portending an equally momentous makeover of the global economy and geopolitics.

The Geopolitics of Oil and Gas in the South China Sea

By Mercy A. Kuo

Diplomat author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Eufracia Taylor and Hugo Brennan – Senior Asia Analysts at risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft – explores the motives of China’s push for joint oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea, and the broader consequences for geopolitics.

Explain the agenda behind Beijing’s offer of “joint oil and gas exploration” in the South China Sea to Southeast Asian countries.

The assertion of sovereignty over disputed areas is the name of the game, and Beijing considers joint oil and gas exploration as an important policy tool in pursuit of this goal. Signs of claimant states negotiating with Beijing to jointly explore for resources in their own Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) go a long way towards legitimizing China’s nine-dash line.

China’s ‘Belt And Road Initiatives’ Must Be Based On ‘Peaceful Rise’ Arguments – Analysis

By Dr. Manoj Kumar Mishra

The Chinese sponsored ‘BRI’ has reportedly gathered more criticisms and cautions from the Western powers as well as from international financial institutions on the grounds of rising indebtedness among the participating countries without accruing significant benefits to local economy, lack of transparency, disregard for an open and inclusive approach and sustainable financing.

Who’s Afraid of China’s Influence?

MINXIN PEI

What is most notable about China’s efforts to spread its influence abroad is not their success, but the ease with which they are exposed. Portraying these efforts as a genuine threat to the world's democracies not only betrays the West’s insecurity, but also gives China more credit than it deserves.

HONG KONG – Since the Cold War ended, the West has invested huge amounts of resources in efforts to induce political liberalization in China, including through programs to promote the rule of law, civil society, transparency, and government accountability. The results have been disappointing. Far from becoming more democratic, China has lately been backsliding toward hard-line authoritarianism. And now it is investing resources in efforts to do some inducing of its own in the world’s democracies.

China’s influence-peddling in the West has been the subject of media reports and think tank studies, and has elicited the concern of high-profile politicians, from US Vice President Mike Pence to former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. China’s “influence operations,” they argue, include cultivating ties with Western politicians, establishing Confucius Institutes around the world to promote Chinese language and culture, expanding the global reach of China’s official propaganda networks, and donations to and exchange programs with academic institutions.

What about Huawei?

William Alan Reinsch

Both media and markets were roiled last week by the arrest in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, also known as Sabrina Meng, the Huawei chief financial officer as well as the daughter of the company's founder. This might be an important event, but it is too soon to panic or overinterpret. So far observers seem to be conflating four separate issues. Let's unpack them one by one.

First is the arrest itself. We learned at the bail hearing Friday that the United States is seeking Meng's extradition on fraud charges, alleging that she misrepresented to banks the relationship between Huawei and an "unofficial subsidiary,” Skycom. The United States warrant for her arrest was issued in August, so this is not a new development. That means that despite all the fevered speculation, this case on its face is not about sanctions violations or about Huawei products compromised by Chinese intelligence agencies or about Chinese telecom taking over the world. It is about fraud, which is a crime in both the United States and Canada. The Chinese, lacking both rule of law and an independent judiciary, will see this as part of a Trumpian plot to gain leverage in the upcoming negotiations or simply to embarrass China because that is what they would do under similar circumstances. And they will demand that our president and Prime Minister Trudeau fix it by making it go away—a common practice in their country but something entirely unacceptable in ours, even though we have a president who seems to have no compunctions about doing it. The more likely outcome is the correct one—the independent wheels of justice in Canada and the United States, will grind along, the case will be argued, and justice will be done.

Chinese Court Says Apple Infringed on Qualcomm Patents


Apple employees introduced new iPhone models at a store in Shanghai last month. A Chinese court ordered Apple to stop selling some iPhone models in the country, but Apple said all models remained on sale.

A two-year legal battle between Apple and its chip supplier, Qualcomm, reached a new level of contention on Monday when Qualcomm said a Chinese court had ordered Apple to stop selling older iPhone models in China.

The court ruling is the latest turn in the two companies’ fight over Apple’s use of Qualcomm technology in iPhones. But Apple and Qualcomm disagreed on the impact the decision will have on iPhone sales in China.

Qualcomm said a Chinese court ruled on Nov. 30 that Apple had infringed on two Qualcomm patents and issued a preliminary injunction that bars Apple from selling the iPhone 6S, the iPhone 6S Plus, the iPhone 7, the iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone 8, the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X in China. The ruling did not apply to Apple’s three newest iPhones: the XS, the XS Max and the XR.

ROBERT REICH: TRUMP'S CHINA TARIFFS COULD PUSH AMERICA INTO A RECESSION | OPINION

ROBERT REICH

“I am a Tariff Man,” Trump tweeted last week. “When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so… We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN.”

I'm sorry, Mr. President, but you got this wrong. Tariffs are paid by American consumers. About half the $200 billion worth of Chinese goods you’ve already put tariffs on come almost exclusively from China, which means American consumers are taking a hit this holiday season.

These tariffs function exactly like taxes. By imposing them, you have in effect raised taxes on most Americans. You have made Americans poorer.

The Geopolitics of Oil and Gas in the South China Sea


Diplomat author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Eufracia Taylor and Hugo Brennan – Senior Asia Analysts at risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft – explores the motives of China’s push for joint oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea, and the broader consequences for geopolitics.

Explain the agenda behind Beijing’s offer of “joint oil and gas exploration” in the South China Sea to Southeast Asian countries.

The assertion of sovereignty over disputed areas is the name of the game, and Beijing considers joint oil and gas exploration as an important policy tool in pursuit of this goal. Signs of claimant states negotiating with Beijing to jointly explore for resources in their own Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) go a long way towards legitimizing China’s nine-dash line.

The War on Huawei

JEFFREY D. SACHS

The Trump administration's conflict with China has little to do with US external imbalances, closed Chinese markets, or even China’s alleged theft of intellectual property. It has everything to do with containing China by limiting its access to foreign markets, advanced technologies, global banking services, and perhaps even US universities.

NEW YORK – The arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is a dangerous move by US President Donald Trump’s administration in its intensifying conflict with China. If, as Mark Twain reputedly said, history often rhymes, our era increasingly recalls the period preceding 1914. As with Europe’s great powers back then, the United States, led by an administration intent on asserting America’s dominance over China, is pushing the world toward disaster. 

Strasbourg Attack Fits Previous Model of Criminal-Terror Nexus in Europe

by Seth Frantzman

On Tuesday night a man shot at a crowd in central Strasboug. Three were killed and 12 injured in the attack that took place next to a Christmas market. By Wednesday morning security forces were still hunting the suspect, who is known to counter-terrorism services. He initially fled in a taxi from the city of 270,000 which is located near the German border.

According to reports the perpetrator appears to have acted alone. This conjures up memories of the murder of 12 people in the 2016 Christmas market attack in Berlin. The perpetrator in the Germany attack, who was born in Tunisia in 1992 had been in prison in Italy where he was allegedly “radicalized.” German security services had warned of his terrorist connections in the spring of 2016 and he was supposed to be deported.

Troll Factory Contributes To Russia's Worldwide Interference

TIM MAK

Russia's disinformation campaign has gotten a lot of attention in the U.S., but it isn't just an American phenomenon. Two-thirds of the tweets posted by Russia's "troll farm" aren't even in English.

In many ways, the United States of America is like no other nation on Earth. But there is one way this country is not unique at all. It's just one of the places where Russia interfered in elections. In 2016, Russians worked to oppose Hillary Clinton and support President Trump, according to the bipartisan findings of a Senate committee. NPR's Tim Mak reports on other Russian disinformation efforts.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: Russian disinformation specialists have been masquerading online as Americans since the last U.S. presidential campaign began. But the Russian government also imitates Brits and Germans and Italians and the French.

MARK WARNER: There are 29 nations affiliated with NATO. Every one of those nations have indicated that they have seen Russian cyber incursions or Russian misuse of their social media.

Why the United States Needs a Cohesive NATO


If a conflict with China arises, the United States will need a strong, cohesive NATO, as well as other partnerships around the world to maintain order and security in Europe’s neighborhood, and perhaps even beyond. The United States remains committed to Europe’s security and stability. But it also expects its European allies to pick up their share of the burden for collective security so as to help maintain order in the continent and around the globe. It is of vital importance to the United States that its defense and security relationship with European countries, especially within NATO, not only remains healthy but is correctly oriented to current and likely future challenges.

U.S. National Defense Strategy Commission Report Conclusions

Marcin Andrzej Piotrowski

A recently published report by the U.S. National Defense Strategy Commission (NDSC) is an important non-partisan document that may influence debates on the defence budget in the new Congress. The NDSC assessed the main problems within the U.S. armed forces and the necessary steps for modernisation and budgeting. The unclassified report gives good insight into the scale of the challenges and efforts ahead of the U.S. and other NATO-member militaries. However, the NDSC report does not directly address the issue of the U.S. Army permanent forward presence on NATO’s Eastern Flank but it recommends to the Pentagon and Congress to fully re-create in the long term its heavy division in Europe.

Nefarious nations will take the lead on AI if the US doesn't

BY THOMAS VARTANIAN

As an op-ed in The Hill on Jan. 24 explained, the U.S. has no comprehensive national strategy to address the development and deployment of artificial intelligence.

Since then, the Trump administration has held summits, published reports and even established a select committee of government officials to study it. But experts say that the U.S. is falling behind in the race for dominance in the field. Vladimir Putin has said that the artificial intelligence (AI) winner will be the "ruler of the world."

The way that people and businesses move, save, store and transmit money is being revolutionized by technology, and AI is increasing the velocity and scope of those changes.

As part of the country’s critical infrastructure, the highest priority should be given to the development of a financial services and capital markets strategy to foster AI innovations while at the same time protecting against its unprecedented threats.

Will Artificial Intelligence Revolutionize the Art of War?


Despite the development of artificial intelligence (AI) only being in its early stages, it has already had an impact on armed forces.

Some weapons systems are now automatically able to determine their targets. In time, the progress of AI could lead to a true military revolution and even a change in the human relationship to war. The most pessimistic prognosticators envisage apocalyptic scenarios, but the worst is by no means inevitable.

Jean-Christophe Noël is associate research fellow at Ifri's Security Studies Center.