3 April 2019

The Myths of Traditional Warfare: How Our Peer and Near-Peer Adversaries Plan to Fight Using Irregular Warfare

Reyes Cole

Introduction

Military leaders received a post-holiday gift on January 19th of 2019, in the unveiling of the new National Defense Strategy (NDS). The document is exactly what the services have waited for since the fall of the Soviet Block: designated high-end threats. Threats on which the services can effectively focus their efforts in capability development and prioritize service funding. Per the NDS Summary the central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is “strategic competition.”[1] Revisionist powers and peer threats such as China and Russia seek regional hegemony. Rogue regimes and near-peer threats like Iran and North Korea continue to create regional instability. And lastly, threats from designated Violent Extremist Organizations (VEOs) will persist. However, the services seem to be focusing less on competition, in lieu of focusing energies into traditional warfare scenarios and capabilities.

The belief that peer/near-peer/VEO competitors and adversaries will only fight us via traditional warfare, man to man, tank to tank, ship to ship, and plane to plane, are missing the historical and present day reality that these designated threats are currently competing and prevailing over us via Irregular Warfare (IW) activities in the competition space, and doing so quite successfully. Additionally, those same threats have had a long history of effectively using IW to achieve their strategic goals. Many of the IW skills developed during Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, are the same skills needed in irregular activities needed in great power competition. If this is all true, it begs the question; why are the services retreating from IW and its lessons learned in favor of its preferred method, traditional warfare.

This is How the Army Fights Wars "In the Dark"

by Charlie Gao

In the 2000s, the U.S. Army fielded the AN/PSQ-20 Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (ENVG I). The ENVG I combined thermal imaging and image intensification technology to give soldiers the ability to see both in the thermal spectrum and in regular night vision in a capability sometimes called “fusion” or “fused” vision. Now, this technology appears to be ready for the prime time, with most major night vision companies making optics with fusion vision technology.

But how does it work? What advantages do fusion vision optics provide?

When fusion vision first came out in the ENVG I, it was not very popular with troops. The monocle was far heavier than the PVS-14 it replaced and the advanced electronics drained batteries quickly. Unlike the PVS-15 binocular NVGs, soldiers wearing it had no depth perception.

VOLUNTEERING FOR WAR: THE CITIZEN SOLDIERS SHAPING THE MODERN BATTLEFIELD

Liam Collins and Lionel Beehner 

Hunched over a long table strewn with plates of chicken Kiev, tucked away in an underground restaurant beneath Kiev, Ukraine’s Maidan Square, Olena Bilenka, a partisan Ukrainian nationalist with tattoos and a strong physique, looked at us intently. When one of our cadets, a dual Russian-American, offered to interpret, Bilenka barked, “Nyet!” Refusing to speak the language of the occupier, she would only speak through a Ukrainian interpreter.

Bilenka is one of thousands of proud Ukrainians who quit their day jobs to take up arms fighting separatists in the Donbas, the conflict zone in Ukraine’s east. These volunteers helped stem the advance of the Russian-backed separatists in the spring and summer of 2014. The volunteers’ role in the conflict is more than a localized anomaly. Learning from Ukraine’s experience, other nations are taking proactive measures to improve their own defenses by arming civilian militias and volunteer reserve forces and instituting training not unlike The Hunger Games to teach civilians how to fight like guerrillas.

NATO´s Framework Nations Concept

By Rainer L Glatz and Martin Zapfe for Center for Security Studies (CSS)

According to Rainer L Glatz and Martin Zapfe, NATO’s Framework Nations Concept (FNC) currently serves as a practical guideline for defense cooperation within the Alliance. But what does the FNC, with its emphasis on national sovereignty, actually mean for defense cooperation? To help provide an answer, Glatz and Zapfe here review 1) the three different FNC approaches that exist within NATO; 2) the opportunities and limits of the FNC; and 3) how the FNC’s approach to cooperation might be especially attractive to states that are not NATO members.

Within NATO, the so-called “Framework Nations Concept” is currently one of the driving paradigms of multinational defense cooperation. All nations retain full sovereignty, and no “European army” is in sight. This opens the concept to non-member states. 

Within NATO, the Framework Nations Concept (FNC) currently serves as a pragmatic guideline for defense cooperation. Until recently, programs such as “Smart Defence” (NATO) or “Pooling & Sharing” (EU) appeared without alternative. Given the huge budget pressure created by the global financial crisis, NATO and EU states decided either to pool their resources centrally or to make joint use of them.

2 April 2019

A-SAT Missile Test: A Testimony to India's Growing Military and Scientific Prowess

Amb Satish Chandra

India's successful conduct of ‘Mission Shakti’ - an anti-satellite (A-SAT) missile test - on March 27, 2019 is testimony to its growing military and scientific prowess. The test entailed the destruction of an Indian satellite operating in lower earth orbit through the use of a ballistic missile defence interceptor which is part of the ongoing Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme.

The test required a very high degree of precision and technical capability as the 740 kg satellite presented a relatively small target, was nearly 300 km into space and was travelling at over 27000 km per hour.

Successful conclusion of this test, therefore, amply demonstrates India's capability to interdict and intercept a satellite in space. The only other countries to have so far demonstrated such capability are the USA, Russia and China. Mission Shakti is clearly a matter of justifiable pride for the entire nation, and all the more so as it was accomplished through indigenous efforts and technology.

What Akshay Kumar’s Kesari won’t tell you: The real military account of Battle of Saragarhi

LT GEN H S PANAG

The Battle of Saragarhi of 12 September 1897, recently dramatised in Akshay Kumar-starrer Kesari, is one of the greatest ‘last stands’ in military history.

The account of the battle is recorded in the Digest of Service of 36 Sikh (now 4 Sikh) and I was its custodian for two years from 1971 to 1972 as the Adjutant. The battle is also described in the personal letters of Lt Col John Haughton, who was the commanding officer of the unit, as reproduced in his biography The Life of Lieut.Col. John Haughton.

The battle saw one non-commissioned officer, Havildar Ishar Singh (played by Akshay Kumar in the movie), 20 other ranks and one ‘follower’ (civilian employed for menial tasks), Daad, of 36 Sikh fighting the Pashtuns till the ‘last man last round’.

But as it often happens, many myths come to be associated with great ‘last stands’, and the Battle of Saragarhi is no exception.

Here is what really happened in the Battle of Saragarhi.

Could Offensive Cyber Capabilities Tip India and Pakistan to War?

By Reda Baig

Tensions ratcheted up in South Asia following the Pulwama suicide bombing against Indian police forces on February 14 and India’s retaliatory strikes against Pakistan. Although officials from the two countries met a couple of weeks ago, the meeting did not signal a definitive thaw in relations. The international community fears further escalation, in this moment or in a future crisis, which could lead to an all-out war between two nuclear-armed powers.

While experts have focused on the risk of a kinetic conflict breaking out, they should give more attention to the potential for conflict in the cyber domain. In recent years, both nations have built up their cyber technology capabilities and arsenals. Activity in cyberspace could matter in two ways: first, contributing to escalation and helping to bring about a conflict; and second, being part of a “hybrid” kinetic and cyber conflict.

The role of cyber in escalation or conflict could go far beyond the website defacements that accentuated recent tensions. The cyber element of conflict is an emerging yet understudied dimension of geopolitics, and experts must consider it when analyzing the latest security developments involving India and Pakistan and the future trajectory of South Asia.

How Japan Can Help Africa Escape China’s ‘Debt Trap’

By Xiaochen Su

After years of watching Chinese-financed infrastructure blossom across Africa, Japan is finally getting in the game. At the 2016 Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), the Japanese government reportedly pledged $30 billion in financing, including $10 billion for infrastructure loans.

To be sure, the amount Japan pledged is much less than what China offers. The Diplomat reported that in 2018 alone, China pledged $60 billion in aid and loans. However, having an additional choice is good for African countries in need of infrastructural development.

That additional choice is particularly welcome today, given the increasing suspicions toward Chinese financing. As I argued in a 2017 article for The Diplomat, massive Chinese loans for building infrastructure saddle African countries with unsustainable debt. The resulting “debt traps” threaten African countries’ very sovereignty as they face the potential of ceding strategic assets to China as a form of debt repayment. African countries should think twice about taking up additional loans from China after witnessing Sri Lanka ceding a port and previously enthusiastic loan-takers like Malaysia and Pakistan distancing themselves from China-financed infrastructure projects.

China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ Gamble: Will it Bring the World to China?


China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative has the potential to be a win-win for China and for the countries involved, but only if it can overcome some major obstacles. Find out more when you subscribe to World Politics Review (WPR). 

China is using its influence to build a global economic network for trade and development, with itself as the driver. China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative—known as OBOR as well as the Belt and Road Initiative, and unveiled by President Xi Jinping in 2013—has been touted as the blueprint for this new global vision. Beijing’s aspirations are clear in its claims to want to reshape world commerce through new trade routes and transportation links.

Yet even as China gears up to rain hundreds of billions of dollars on projects spanning Asia, Europe and Africa in the years ahead, it is far from clear what its vision is, or how it will make this plan a success. As a business-led initiative, OBOR looks like an obvious win-win for all involved. Most of the countries expected to receive Chinese investment badly need new infrastructure, but lack the financing and know-how to build it alone. And with growth slowing at home, China needs other markets for its homemade steel and cement, as well as construction contracts for its companies and workers.

China ahead of US, EU in AI and data privacy, expert says

By Cheng Yu 

China is surpassing leading powers, including the US, in artificial intelligence and problems that Facebook faces with regard to data privacy will not happen in China, said a world-renowned AI expert Kai-Fu Lee.

With AI bringing huge benefits, privacy issue has become a major concern and China has an edge in terms of privacy protection, said Lee at the annual China Development Forum.

"Unlike The General Data Protection Regulation in European Union, China has a severe punishment for illegal transfer or sales of data," Lee said, adding that thereby, Facebook data privacy problem will not occur in the country.

The GDPR is a regulation that requires businesses to protect personal data of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states.

"The GDRP is not a well-rounded design and is actually slowing down the pace of AI. It doesn't solve the root problem," he added.

China's Twenty-First Century Difficulties

by Leland Lazarus John Brunetti

Tensions continue to simmer between China and its neighbors over the South China Sea. Just days ago, Vietnam accused a Chinese vessel for ramming a Vietnamese fishing boat. U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said the United States will continue freedom of navigation operations to prevent Beijing from turning the area into “a new Chinese province.” These examples demonstrate the twenty-first century difficulties for China to overtly assert control over the maritime arena as regional competitors seek to check ambitions. Instead, China must offer cooperative norms and economic incentives that are mutually beneficial for its neighbors so that they voluntarily accept Chinese leadership. Recent Chinese progress in the maritime arena—establishing maritime codes of conduct, supporting port improvement projects, and providing ships to other countries—is a modern example of this buy-in strategy.

Asia's Nightmare Begins: This Is How China Would Try to Invade Taiwan

by Ian Easton

It is estimated that Taiwan will have approximately four weeks advanced warning of a Chinese invasion. Given China's skill in the dark arts of strategic deception, this cannot be taken for granted. Yet the vast scale of the PLA's envisioned amphibious operations necessarily means its offensive intentions would be foreshadowed.

The ever-tense political and security environment across the Taiwan Strait necessitates an accurate depiction of PLA capabilities, strengths, and shortfalls.

Various sources from within the People's Republic of China have allegedly suggested that time is running out for Taiwan's democracy. In their narrative, China's iron-fisted leader, Xi Jinping, is "losing patience" and could order the invasion of Taiwan in the early 2020s. The world's most dangerous flashpoint might witness an overwhelming amphibious blitz, perhaps before July 2021 to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

Jeff Bezos’ security chief says the Saudi government spied on Bezos’ personal phone

By Kevin J. Delaney

Jeff Bezos’ security chief Gavin de Becker is now alleging that the Saudi Arabia government had been surveilling the Amazon CEO’s personal mobile phone.

The possibility that Saudi officials had access to private communications of the world’s richest man is a new twist in the already-incredible story surrounding a tabloid newspaper’s threat to publish racy texts and photos sent between Bezos and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.

Bezos in February published allegations that American Media Inc.’s (AMI) National Enquirer tabloid tried to blackmail him in return for not releasing the compromising photos of him. Bezos said he was entrusting de Becker to investigate the matter “with whatever budget he needed.”

Now, writing in the Daily Beast, de Becker says his investigation has concluded, and his findings are with US officials. He said he wouldn’t share details except for one blockbuster allegation: “Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information. As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details.”

De Becker doesn’t provide specifics behind the surveillance allegations apart from references to spyware and his consultation with cybersecurity experts.

Israel and Hamas Need Each Other

By Aaron David Miller

War, like politics, makes for strange bedfellows. Israel is currently preparing for a potentially dramatic faceoff with Hamas. Over the past week, the group has launched rockets into Israel, and it has called for a million man march this weekend along the Israeli-Gaza border to mark the anniversary of last year’s March of Return. The protests may either fizzle or spark an intensified round of conflict. Whatever happens though, it will not undermine the curious, co-dependent relationship that has evolved between Hamas and the Israeli government, especially under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. These two key Middle East actors despise yet depend on one another.

Israel and Hamas are unlikely partners. They call for each other’s destruction and have been through three major military confrontations, most recently in 2014. Nevertheless, these two sworn enemies have long cooperated out of practical necessity. On certain issues—including managing their conflict through Egypt and preventing the Palestinian Authority from reunifying Gaza and the West Bank—their objectives even align. Although neither wants to admit it, Israel and Hamas need each other.

THE ODD COUPLE

Globalization in transition: The future of trade and value chainsJanuary 2019 | Report

By Susan Lund, James Manyika, Jonathan Woetzel, Jacques Bughin, Mekala Krishnan, Jeongmin Seong, and Mac Muir

Although output and trade continue to increase in absolute terms, trade intensity (that is, the share of output that is traded) is declining within almost every goods-producing value chain. Flows of services and data now play a much bigger role in tying the global economy together. Not only is trade in services growing faster than trade in goods, but services are creating value far beyond what national accounts measure. Using alternative measures, we find that services already constitute more value in global trade than goods. In addition, all global value chains are becoming more knowledge-intensive. Low-skill labor is becoming less important as factor of production. Contrary to popular perception, only about 18 percent of global goods trade is now driven by labor-cost arbitrage.

Three factors explain these changes: growing demand in China and the rest of the developing world, which enables these countries to consume more of what they produce; the growth of more comprehensive domestic supply chains in those countries, which has reduced their reliance on imports of intermediate goods; and the impact of new technologies.

Coal Power: New Projects Are Declining Globally

by Niall McCarthy

A new report has found that the number of coal-fired power plants around the globe is in steep decline. The research was conducted by the Global Energy Monitor, Greenpeace India and the Sierra Club who say there was a 20 percent drop in newly commissioned coal power capacity between 2017 and 2018. As well as that, pre-construction activity and new construction starts also fell 24 and 39 percent respectively. Since 2015, the number of newly-completed plants fell 53 percent while new constuction starts plummeted 84 percent.

The following infographic visualizes the decline across the world with planned capacity in pre-construction status falling from 1,090 GW in 2015 to just 339 GW last year. The biggest drops were seen in India and China with the latter planning 515 GW of new coal capacity in late 2015. That has now declined 86 percent, falling to just 70 GW. In India, the trend is similar with pre-construction dclining from 218 GW in 2015 to 36 GW in 2018, a fall of 83 percent.

Russian "Hybrid War: The U.S. Needs a Post-Mueller Reality Check

by Leonid Bershidsky

The conspiracy narrative wasn't borne out. Now Americans should dismiss the idea of a Russian "hybrid war."

In “Gruffalo,” Julia Donaldson’s children’s book, an enterprising mouse casts an oversized shadow to scare a powerful but naive monster. It’s clear now that the myth of a Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin conspiracy presented the Russian president as an exaggerated threat, when he is more of a mouse. American Russia watchers should be looking for other mistakes of this kind.

The concept of a Russian “hybrid war,” fought simultaneously with weapons, cyber intrusions and propaganda, is a good place to start this reappraisal.

The conspiracy theory about Trump as a Russian asset was grotesque and implausible, the plot of a cheap Cold War-era spy thriller. The narrative was built on the shakiest of foundations: A retired British spy’s unattributed fantasies, an obscure Russian lawyer’s lobbying efforts in the U.S. on behalf of her client, a real estate project that never even got as far as serious discussions and, most recently, on a campaign manager’s decision to share some polling data with a Russian national.

Japan’s Historic Immigration Reform: A Work in Progress

Menju Toshihiro

Japan will embark on a new era in immigration on April 1, 2019, when it officially opens its doors to lower-skilled and semi-skilled foreign workers. Under the amended Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, passed on December 8 last year, foreigners who qualify for the new Specified Skills visa status will be able to enter Japan for the express purpose of working in designated sectors (including agriculture, nursing care, construction, specific manufacturing industries, and food and hospitality services) for a maximum period of five years.

Current plans call for the admission of up to 345,000 workers under the new visa over the next five years. This is not a flood by any means, but given the purpose of the new policy—to address growing labor shortages in Japan’s rapidly aging society—those numbers can be expected to rise.

The policy change has been fraught with controversy, peaking during the final months of 2018. The vigorous debate in the Diet and the media was in itself a refreshing development in a country where immigration has long been treated as a political third rail.

Mueller’s Done. Now Can the U.S. Figure Out How to Deal With Russia?

Judah Grunstein

The vaudeville and at times burlesque spectacle that has dominated U.S. politics for over two years now reached a pivotal climax last week, when special counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report on alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia to the Justice Department. The culmination of an investigation that dates back to the early months of Trump’s presidency, Mueller’s report—according to the summary of it released by Trump’s hand-picked attorney general, William Barr—failed to establish evidence of coordination on Russia’s efforts to influence the election.* Mueller also refrained from reaching a conclusion on whether or not evidence that Trump sought to obstruct his investigation supported an indictment. 

Predictably, Trump’s supporters claimed the Mueller report totally vindicated the president and confirmed his characterizations of the collusion charges as a hoax and the special counsel’s investigation as a witch hunt. The narrative of a great victory for Trump and a turning point in his presidency has gathered momentum and seems to be establishing itself as the conventional wisdom among a chastened national media.

Brexit is part of a wider European struggle


Brexit is part of a wider European struggle All of the EU’s big six countries are facing deep internal divisions GIDEON RACHMAN Add to myFT Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Share Save Save to myFT Topic Tracker Gideon Rachman MARCH 25, 2019 Print this page485 The largest pro-EU demonstration in history took place last Saturday. Ironically, this display of Europhilia happened in a country that is about to leave the EU, as up to 1m people took to the streets of London to protest against Brexit. Leaving the EU has had the paradoxical result of creating something entirely new — a passionate pro-European movement in Britain. Ransacking my memory for the last time I can remember so many demonstrators carrying the EU flag, the best I could come up with was Kiev in 2013-14, when Ukrainians protested in the streets against their government’s decision not to sign an association agreement with the EU. 

That is a less than happy parallel, given that many of the Kiev demonstrators were shot in the streets, setting off a train of events that culminated in a war. Britain’s Brexit agonies are unlikely to lead to anything quite so drastic. But the country is now split down the middle over the European question, with the divide between Leavers and Remainers representing a new form of identity politics that goes well beyond attitudes to the EU. In all probability, the Remainer surge has come too late to prevent Brexit. But the Brexiters’ victory — if it is finally achieved — will come at the price of a bitterly divided country and a lousy deal that most people (including most Leavers) will detest. The Brexiter fantasy of a happily united Britain celebrating its “independence day” from the EU was deluded, like so much else in their prospectus. 

What White Supremacism and Jihadism Have in Common

By Scott Stewart

The respective ideologies driving white supremacist and jihadist terrorism share a number of similarities despite their different tenets and opponents. Law enforcement in the West has more history investigating white supremacist terrorism than jihadism.
While the 9/11 attacks led to a major focus on the jihadist threat, pressure on white supremacists has not relented — but neither have the white supremacists.

In last week's On Security column about the Christchurch attack in New Zealand, I noted that white supremacists adopted the leaderless resistance model of terrorism before jihadists did. A knowledgeable reader subsequently asked about the similarities between white supremacist and jihadist terrorism. Like jihadism, the various ideologies driving white supremacism are not going away any time soon, and comparing the two can provide valuable lessons for understanding the ongoing threat.

The Big Picture

How Generational Trends Could Complicate the U.S.-Israeli Relationship


Demographic changes in both the United States and Israel are creating a political dynamic that will cause the allies to disagree more often over major aspects of their regional strategies, including Iran and the Palestinian Territories. That will inject volatility into their future relationship and put Israel into a position where it must consider new backup partners to supplement times of waning U.S. support. U.S. pressure on Israel to fit into its own regional strategy will strain Israel's political system, potentially radicalizing Israelis and further empowering its nationalist-religious voters.

Since the Cold War, bipartisan political support for Israel in the United States has remained strong enough to influence U.S. strategy in the Middle East. Often, U.S. officials who wanted to take action in the region running counter to Israeli interests found themselves having to weigh their decision against the possible electoral penalty. But political and demographic shifts underway in both the United States and Israel are changing the nature of that limitation, potentially injecting a measure of volatility into their relationship that will often be defined by the political party in power in Washington.

Russia Takes on Its Demographic Decline


Russia's demographic decline will be a key concern for Moscow in the coming years as a result of emigration and low birth rates. Contradictory data sets and the Kremlin's plans to attract migrants make it difficult to predict the exact extent and speed of Russia's demographic decline, but it will nevertheless impact the Russian economy and Moscow's ability to project power abroad. Even if Russia succeeds in attracting significant numbers of migrants to mitigate its population decline, Moscow will face greater difficulties associated with managing domestic ethnic tensions and political instability.

From great power competition with the United States to internal unrest, Moscow has plenty of issues to deal with, but another problem looms ominously on the horizon: demographic change. Because of emigration and low birth rates, Russia's population is projected to decline precipitously in the next few decades. This could have significant geopolitical implications, impacting everything from the country's economy to its military power to its ability to project influence around the world — especially in its near abroad. But due to the disparities between population projections, and to Moscow's efforts to mitigate its decline, the true scale of the demographic threat facing Russia is unknown. While a perusal of various data sets suggests that fears of Russia's imminent demographic demise might be exaggerated, the country's planners still have much work to do to arrest the decline. 

The Big Picture

Issue the Executive Order


Now that the United Kingdom’s report on Huawei is out, concluding that there is no way to manage the risk of using Huawei equipment, it is time for the U.S. to take the next step. You may think with all the recent clamor that the U.S. position is clear, but foreign partners say it is not. An executive order (EO) on the security of telecom network supply chains and the use of suspect foreign technology would remedy this.

People say there is no smoking gun of Huawei being used for espionage. This is almost true. The experience of the African Union, whose headquarters built as a gift by China using Chinese network equipment found that its data was being sent every night to Shanghai, is an obvious example of how network equipment can be used in China’s expanding global espionage enterprise. Huawei equipment gives China greater intelligence insight into foreign networks. More importantly, it offers tremendous coercive leverage. If a country depends on Huawei, what happens if China decides to turn its networks off for a day or two to signal displeasure? Under Chinese law, there is no way for the company to refuse such requests. In any case, there are deep ties between Huawei and the Chinese state.

The Changing Role of Energy in the U.S. Economy


The CSIS Energy Program conducted research, commissioned papers, held a workshop, and developed this report on the changing role of energy in the U.S. economy. The purpose is twofold: (1) improve understanding of how energy impacts the U.S. economy at multiple levels; and (2) evaluate the performance of policies designed to create economic opportunity in the energy sector.

The Report : The research, commissioned papers, and workshop culminated into this final report, The Changing Role of Energy in the U.S. Economy. The report identifies 13 propositions, which represent the emerging energy issues that policymakers might not be aware of and the areas in which the research community could make further contributions.

The Research: In addition to in-house research, background papers (see below) on key issues were commissioned ahead of the workshop to inform workshop participants and discussions, as well as this final report. The authors presented their work at the workshop.

Robert Kagan’s Cloudy Crystal Ball

By ANDREW J. BACEVICH

Once labeled a neoconservative, Robert Kagan is actually a Friedmanite. Like Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, Kagan specializes in elegant oversimplification, regularly producing artfully constructed polemics that are superficially persuasive but substantively misleading. Taken seriously, they can even be dangerous.

Friedman describes himself as “a big believer in the idea of the super-story, the notion that we all carry around with us a big lens, a big framework, through which we look at the world.” Fastening onto some big framework enables Friedman, in his words, to “order events, and decide what is important and what is not.” Choose the correct—or most convenient—big framework and everything becomes clear. This describes Kagan’s approach as well, along with a tendency to deploy act-now-or-all-is-lost rhetoric.

Certain policy types have a particular susceptibility to super-stories that purport to explain everything. It liberates them from actually having to think. For those eager to remain au courant, it signals which way the herd is heading.

Don't Let the Headlines Scare You: The Trade Deficit Isn't That Bad

by Milton Ezrati

It is possible to be technically correct and still mislead, either inadvertently or intentionally. That surely has happened with recent reports on the U.S. trade deficit. These counted imports of goods and services some $59.8 billion in excess of exports in December, making the trade deficit for all 2018 some $621 billion, 12.4 percent deeper than 2017 and the reddest ink ever recorded for a year (though lower than a few months in 2007). Still, for all the superlatives invited by this report, a little perspective shows that this deficit is less imposing than it seems and fundamentally much less severe than at times in the past.

The first point of perspective emerges in the reasons why the trade deficit has widened. The U.S. economy has accelerated. Overall real economic growth last year amounted to just about 3 percent, far faster than the 2 percent a year average during most of the time since the 2009 end of the great recession. Every major economic sector joined this recent acceleration, most notably capital spending by business, which grew in real terms 6.7 percent a year in 2017 and 2018, a huge change from the near-zero growth average in the two prior years. As this faster rate of expansion stepped up demands for both domestic and foreign products, imports naturally rose.

Trump’s Unrealistic Approach to the Middle East

by Paul R. Pillar

Realism in foreign policy recognizes that all countries have some interests that conflict and some that conform with the interests of one’s own country. A U.S. foreign policy grounded in realism would see all countries as potential targets of engagement and of attempts to influence their behavior in directions more congenial to U.S. national interests. Some foreign countries obviously have more in common with the United States than do other foreign countries, but in the realist perspective this is more a difference of degree and emphasis than of a rigid division between friends and foes in which fundamentally different methods are used to deal with each.

A non-realist foreign policy may be based on such a rigid division, offering nothing but confrontation to those labeled as foes and generously accommodating those labeled as friends. The drawbacks of such a policy appear on both sides of the divide. Opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation with the foes are lost, and unrelenting hostility directed toward them elicits—as one of the most natural of all human reactions—hostility, resentment, and distrust in return. Meanwhile, those considered friends are given free rein to indulge in destructive behavior, unchecked by any serious attempt to steer them in a direction that is less damaging and more in conformity with U.S. interests.

Want to know what’s next in Russian election interference? Pay attention to Ukraine’s elections

Alina Polyakova

No one knows who will come out on top among the 39 candidates running for president in this Sunday’s election in Ukraine, but one thing is nearly certain: The winner won’t be a pro-Russian candidate. As Ukraine marks five years since its democratic revolution, Russia’s war against Ukraine has solidified the country’s path toward Euro-Atlantic integration. Despite differences on domestic policies, the top contenders all support Ukraine’s eventual membership in NATO and the EU.

With Russia’s continued occupation of Crimea and war in the Donbas, Ukraine also remains a key arena of contestation between Russia and the West. Ukraine is a large European country with a population of 45 million people. It is rich in natural resources and human capital, and its success or failure in achieving long-lasting democratic and economic reforms can tip the balance in great power contestation. The Kremlin seeks to prevent Ukraine from moving toward the West by keeping it in a permanent “grey zone.” To achieve that goal, Russia continues to destabilize Ukraine through conventional and nonconventional military means while seeking to undermine Ukraine’s democratic and economic reform process. Deterring an increasingly aggressive Russia must start in Ukraine.

A LITANY OF RUSSIAN ATTACKS

A Triangular Strategy For The Mid East

By RAM YAVNE

After eight years of upheaval, the Middle East might seem incurably unstable, violent, and volatile to Americans. It is no surprise many have had enough of the region. But it also beckons with opportunity for those ambitious enough to capitalize on it.

The United States can both reduce its Middle Eastern footprint and secure its vital regional interests. This requires a triangular strategy to mitigate what ails the region — Sunni extremism and Iranian expansionism — while amplifying the region’s strengths: capable and increasingly cooperative U.S. partners, as well as emerging economic opportunities.

NATO Is Thriving in Spite of Trump

By Charles Kupchan

NATO’s foreign ministers will gather in Washington, D.C., on April 4 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the alliance. But their festivities will hardly mask the profound anxiety about NATO’s future that is building on both sides of the Atlantic. U.S. President Donald Trump is, of course, the leading cause of the disquiet. His broadsides against allies for not spending enough on defense, his public ambiguity about whether the United States will stand by its commitment to collective defense, and his reported desire to withdraw the United States from the alliance raise fears that 2019 could be a year for eulogizing NATO rather than feting it. 

Trump’s diatribes are not the only cause of the unease. A broadening chorus of realist strategists claims that the United States is overdue for a major strategic retrenchment and that it is past time for Europe to tend its own garden. Even staunch defenders of NATO express doubts about its future. Some worry that the growing U.S. preoccupation with East Asia will lure the United States away from its Atlantic calling and generate transatlantic tensions over how to deal with the rise of China. Others fear that democratic backsliding among members is compromising the alliance’s values-based solidarity. Close NATO watchers are concerned that EU efforts to more deeply integrate European foreign and defense policy could ultimately weaken the Atlantic link. And debate rages on both sides of the Atlantic as to whether NATO enlargement has enhanced or eroded European stability and whether to continue expansion despite the costs to the West’s relationship with Russia.

Huawei’s profit soars despite battle with US


Huawei’s profit soars despite battle with US Chinese telecom group posts 25% rise in net income on strong domestic and overseas sales © Reuters Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Share Save Save to myFT Topic Tracker Yuan Yang in Shenzhen MARCH 29, 2019 Print this page76 Huawei Technologies on Friday reported record profits and strong overseas growth for 2018 despite mounting pressure from the US for countries to ditch the Chinese telecoms company from their 5G networks. The Shenzhen-based group said its calendar-year net profit rose 25 per cent last year compared with 2017 to Rmb59.3bn ($8.8bn). Revenues rose 19.5 per cent to a record Rmb721.2bn, buoyed by a 45 per cent jump in sales for its smartphone unit. The company said while 52 per cent of its sales are still in China, revenue grew more than 20 per cent in the Americas as well as in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. 

Asia-Pacific growth was 15 per cent. Huawei, which is privately owned, is under rising international pressure from the US and other countries concerned that its equipment could be used for spying by the Chinese government. Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested in Canada on a US extradition request that she face charges related to breaching Iran sanctions. “The US government has a loser’s attitude,” said rotating chairman Guo Ping. “They want to smear Huawei because they can’t compete with us.” He added that “the US has abandoned all table manners”. Responding to the mounting international criticism of the company, Mr Guo said that external pressure had helped Huawei improve. “[The US’s] actions have troubled us to some extent,” said Mr Guo. 

Huawei sales cross US$100 billion mark in 2018 as smartphones overtake flat network gear business

Zen Soo

Huawei Technologies’ consumer business group became the biggest contributor to a record revenue for the first time last year, reflecting the gains that Chinese smartphone brands have made both at home and abroad amid flat sales at its network equipment business.
The world’s largest telecommunications equipment supplier on Friday reported a 19.5 per cent jump in annual revenue to 721.2 billion yuan (US$107.1 billion) in 2018, capping a year in which it came under siege as the US government 

sought to block use of the company’s 5G gear in mobile networks around the world.

With its latest financial results, Shenzhen-based Huawei has joined the ranks of multinational technology companies in the US$100 billion club, which includes the likes of Apple and Google parent Alphabet.

Revenue for Huawei's carrier business reached 294 billion yuan, roughly the same as the previous year, as revenue at its consumer business surged 45 per cent to 348.9 billion yuan. Revenue at Huawei’s enterprise business rose almost 24 per cent to 74.4 billion yuan.

This new Army unit could help the US win the next Cold War

By: Meghann Myers  

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. ― In January, the Army took a step forward in its march toward the Multidomain Operations concept, standing up the first unit designed specifically to integrate land, sea, air, space and cyber capabilities across the services.

Dubbed the Intelligence, Information, Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Space battalion ― nicknamed I2CEWS ― the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington-based unit is playing a key role in U.S. Army Pacific’s Multi-Domain Task Force, and a second iteration has been approved for U.S. Army Europe as well.

1 April 2019

US employers, Indian employees—everybody wants a piece of Canada

By Ananya Bhattacharya

More than six in 10 American employers consider Canada’s immigration policy to be more favourable than that of the US, and plan to expand their business there, Chicago-based Envoy Global said in the fourth edition of its global immigration trends report released this month. Over 400 HR professionals were surveyed from Nov. 27 to Dec. 17, 2018.

“Canada has been using friendly immigration policies as one of its key tools to aggressively attract tech companies,” the report said. Recently, it announced a plan to bring 350,000 foreign nationals into the country annually between now and 2021, amounting to approximately 1% of its total population by then.

A fifth of the employers in the survey said they already have at least one office in Canada, while 38% are thinking of expanding to the country.

To increase their presence in India, companies are not only sending their existing employees, but also hiring talent there.